Now that the left is trying to cope with the possibility that sex may result in a child–without the option of using murder as a do-over–it seems our culture needs a refresher on one of the basics: Sex is (and always has been) all about making babies.
It’s a strange time to live in when such a simple and obvious contention seems so ridiculous to so many. But then, I remember a time in my life when I thought the same. Like most of my generation, I was trained to think that knowing how to avoid pregnancy was the most important thing to know about sex. Having children didn’t exactly come to mind otherwise in pursuit of it in my younger years. And because I imbibed the mechanical thinking of modernism, I presumed that even by the standards of chastity, the exceptions (e.g. barren married couples) unequivocally disproved the rule.
But just as gravity still pulls you to the ground even if you don’t believe in it, so too does the procreative nature of sex exert its influence regardless of our errant thoughts.
It persists in how attraction works. Physically speaking, most of what men and women find attractive has to do with fertility in one way or another. Men, for example, generally appreciate youth and health in women because that’s where the fertility window lands. Women generally appreciate strength and fitness in men because they need support in the long time it takes to bring children to maturity.
The same holds true psychologically. Women tend to be sexually repulsed by weak & insecure men because their instincts are telling them that if they were to have a child with such a man, it would die. Likewise, men prefer debt-free virgins without tattoos because they want to be able to trust that their mate’s children are also their own.
Even when such impulses aren’t part of our conscious deliberations, they remain active. Women generally put on blush because they think it makes them look good, not because they think it makes them look aroused. And yet, simulated arousal is ultimately why blush makes them look “good.” Young men generally work out because they want to be strong & healthy and to look good, not because they think it will make them a better father. And yet, their strength and health are important to their household, which it why being fit looks “good.” And because so much of this takes place instinctively, it doesn’t go away if we decide not to have children. The successful career woman who wants wine & cats instead of children doesn’t suddenly find weak and insecure men attractive just because she doesn’t really need their provision anymore.
But what our psychology whispers subconsciously, our biology screams. Sex makes babies; that’s it’s biological purpose. It’s so obvious that a society like ours which hates children has to come up with an unprecedented variety of potions, pills, equipment, and techniques to try and subvert that purpose. And despite all of that effort, sex is so good at making babies that millions of them are murdered in the womb by those who falsely believed sex wasn’t about making babies.
Recognizing that the reproductive system is for reproducing shouldn’t be any more controversial than recognizing that the respiratory system is for breathing or that the circulatory system for circulating blood. And yet it is. Because behind that harmless and clinical word, “reproduction” lies the awesome power to create new human beings. And with that great power comes the great responsibilities of caring for them and remaining united to the one whose flesh and blood you now share in your children.
For those with no faith even in Providence, these responsibilities are too terrifying to behold. And so, they desperately try to make reality go away and leave them in peace. Accordingly, many people work hard to come up with objections that will give them the authority to have sex without the responsibility to care for their own children. Let’s look at just a few of them:
“Sex isn’t about making babies because 99% of sex acts don’t result in conception!”
This one is the “missing the forest for the trees” objection. They look at sex too granularly–as a collection of discrete “acts” rather than a living whole–because they’re too narrow-minded to appreciate that whole.
It’s akin to saying that gardening isn’t about growing plants because most acts of gardening don’t result in germination. So what? Planting and watering result in germination; tilling, weeding, fertilizing, and pruning don’t. But all of them are done for the sake of growing plants well. Plants have a life cycle that would not exist without germination but encompasses far more than that.
Humans also have a life cycle–and it’s a long one. It takes about 18 years for sex to finish coming to fruition. While only one specific sex act resulted in a child’s conception, the process doesn’t stop there. The child still needs to gestate for nine months. After that, he or she still needs to learn to walk, to speak, to work, and so forth. And throughout all that time, the mother and father need to maintain their relationship because children need both parents. Sure a child can survive with only one, just like they could survive with only one lung or a faulty heart or with brain damage. But there’s a reason the outcomes for single-parent households are so dismal.
Children need their parents’ marriage. A mother and father are bound forever by their flesh & blood even if they refuse to live as husband and wife. But a good parent will do absolutely everything in their power to fulfill that unity and make their marriage work. Marriage is a sexual relationship. And because humans take so long to mature, that relationship needs to persist throughout the various natural fertility changes in life: a woman’s monthly cycle, pregnancy, breastfeeding, menopause, and so forth. Accordingly, there will always be many sexual events that don’t result in conception. Nevertheless, sex is still about having babies because just like gardening revolves around growing plants, marriage revolves around creating a family.
And by the way, there have been many Christian theologians through the centuries who made this same mistake in the opposite direction. They’ve tried to forbid certain sexual activities between husbands and wives because they can’t result in conception. But even though they come to the opposite conclusion of a pagan looking for sexual license, they’re making that same error of missing the forest for the trees. Marriages should be fruitful, yes. But marriages in which the husband and wife actually enjoy one-another are going to be more fruitful in the long-run. Kissing your husband before work or playfully smacking your wife’s bottom don’t result in conception by themselves, but things like that build and maintain a loving relationship which will result in not only conception, but joyfully raising a family together. Same goes for sexual acts in the bedroom that don’t result in conception.
“Sex isn’t about having babies because the barren and the elderly get married and have sex even though they *can’t* have kids”
In engineering, one often goes by Antoine de Saint-Exupery’s famous saying, “Perfection is achieved not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.” By that rationale, this argument makes sense. Children can be taken away, therefore they are irrelevant to the design. The trouble is, humans aren’t machines, and we aren’t engineered like them. You don’t reach the essence of humanity by stripping away parts. Many people have lost arms and legs, for example, but we don’t therefore conclude that limbs are irrelevant to the human condition. Likewise, losing the ability to have children doesn’t mean they are irrelevant to sex and marriage.
One could ask why the barren get married in the first place, and the answers wouldn’t be too surprising: love, companionship, sex, partnership in life, and so forth. Those are all good reasons. But the next inquiry should be why marriage provides these things. And the answer is something we just covered: All of these things which develop a husband’s and wife’s relationship also serve to provide children with the parenting that they need.
Those who are involuntarily barren are already keenly aware of this fact. They usually mourn that they cannot fill this place in their lives which nature has already prepared for them. Many such couples end up adopting children instead so that they may have a family related by love if not by blood. It is similar for those who marry later on in life–past the age of bearing children. They may not grow their families through new births, but they tend to become step-mothers, grandfathers and so forth to the families their spouse raised earlier in their lives. It still revolves around family.
When all is said and done, marriage isn’t only about creating a family, but it encompasses those other things because marriage is about creating a family. So even in these cases, sex is still all about having babies.
“Sex isn’t about having babies because gay sex isn’t about having babies!”
It does seem that way at first glance. Gay sex is certainly sterile by its nature, after all. But that’s only because in certain respects, gay sex has more in common with masturbation than with the real thing.
The word sex implies male & female. That’s why, when organisms reproduce solo, we call them asexual–without sex. Likewise with homosexuality, we’re talking about a couple that only possesses one sex between them. It’s incomplete; only half of the human reproductive system is present. Sure, that half is stimulated in ways that vaguely resemble what happens when both halves are present, but it’s ultimately a simulation.
Well, simulated sex is usually called masturbation. Maybe it’s a simulation with half the reproductive system plus a hand and an imagination. Maybe it’s a simulation with half the reproductive system plus pornography. Maybe it’s a simulation with half the reproductive system plus a sex toy. Maybe it’s a simulation with half the reproductive system plus another instance of that same half. But anyway you slice it, it’s incomplete. There’s still a void where the opposite sex should be.
But even so, it’s still a simulation of something that’s about having babies, and that’s abundantly clear even among homosexuals. The push to pretend two men or two women can be married should make that obvious enough–an enforced layer of pretense to make that void seem a little less empty. Or look at the photoshoot that Pete Buttigieg and his partner had for the babies they acquired. They’re laying there in hospital beds they had no need of and holding babies they purchased rather than delivered. It’s a deliberate simulation of motherhood minus the mother. So even in the extreme perversion of homosexuality, the echo of sex’s true nature is still very apparent.
Sex is all about having babies. That is a brute fact of human nature. What we do with that fact comes down to a simple question: Do you love your humanity or hate it? Those who hate their humanity will try to dissect it and keep only what they like. But in doing so, they’re only cutting away swaths of who they are. Attacking one’s own nature is inevitably an act of self-hatred whose logical conclusion is suicide.
But those who love their humanity have an opportunity to live and to grow instead. They know it is a gift of God, so they will learn to love sex precisely because He designed it to offer life instead of death. They will also learn to respect it according to the awesome power of creation inherent in it. In other words, they will learn to be chaste. And in learning to love that part of human nature, they will learn to love themselves as well–not according to selfish and sinful desire, but according to what God has created and called us to be in the first place.
“Sex isn’t about having babies because gay sex isn’t about having babies!”
That depends on what you mean by “gay sex”. Male and female organs are complementary. Almost any healthy man and woman can copulate with each other. But same sex attraction cannot be consummated. Those who attempt it end up with makeshift activities which are as imaginative as they are unhealthy. The homosexual raconteur, Quentin Crisp put it succinctly: “When a man and a woman want to do it, they just do it, but every homosexual act has to start with a conference.” Gay sex is not sex; it is a grotesque attempt at it.
“They’ve tried to forbid certain sexual activities between husbands and wives because they can’t result in conception……..Same goes for sexual acts in the bedroom that don’t result in conception.”
C.S. Lewis writes of Christian modesty while noting that it’s not possible to delineate an exact set of rules for how e.g. women should dress.
Similarly, I can’t give you a precise set of rules for the marital bed e.g. “what goes too far.”
That said, I’m going to assume, lecherous mind that I have, that the above is a reference to marital sodomy or sodomitic mimicry. I’m assuming that because I see endorsements of that all over the Christian web and most specifically the Christian manosphere.
If so I respectfully disagree. Lots of notes I could make (including citing a Lutheran paleocon whom I greatly respect) but I’ll just note that up until very recently, there were laws in this PROTESTANT country against sodomizing your wife. In a time when you couldn’t be charged with raping your wife.
I’m going to posit that there’s two types of heterosexual sodomy. Type 1 and type 2 (“2” seems appropriate).
We were raised on He-Man and type 1. 1980s R-rated movies and kids making references to p0rn movies, the most famous one from 1972 having a titular reference to type 1).
Among the kids now, type 2 is what type 1 was to us, generationally speaking.
Here’s the 100% secular John Derbyshire speaking of the lack of milder type 1 in his childhood in PROTESTANT England:
“There has been some large cultural change here. Until a generation ago, fellatio was considered an aberrant activity practiced only by fringe groups — homosexuals, bohemians and jailbirds. Fellatio was no part of my own adolescence in 1960s provincial England. Tentative enquiries among older male colleagues and friends suggest that it was not widely practiced by well-brought-up Americans either until the early 1970s. A friend who grew up in a small midwestern town in the 1940s and 1950s says he heard of the practice in adolescence, but in a context which assumed that no respectable woman would do it. A colleague — a smart, worldly & successful married man in his late 50s, reports never having been fellated. Another, aged early 60s: “I suggested it to the wife once. She said: ‘You want me to put what? where? What have you been reading?'” Fellatio was actually illegal in many states until the 1970s. I cannot find the word in my complete 1971 Oxford English Dictionary (which includes an updating supplement). The worldly and depraved Humbert Humbert, in Lolita (1955), thought the practice so far beyond the pale he would refer to it only at two removes, via a French euphemism.
Fellatio’s first steps towards its current universality may have come with G.I.s returning from France after WW2. It was a common saying among these servicemen that “the French f— with their mouths and fight with their feet,” and “French” is to this day prostitutes’ slang for fellatio. (While the longstanding French term demi-vierge prefigures the attitudes of those football-team comforters.)”
Lots of good info in this column. Notice the cultural acceptance coincides with legalized, popular p0rnography. The 1970s as with so many other things. We don’t remember how things were a decade or two prior because we were both born in the 1970s after the big changes. Just as I’ve never lived without legalized, popularized abortion.
I’m prepared for charges of Augustinian-Manichaean-Gnosticism which I get when I discuss this. I can cite a traditional Lutheran with a PhD is Church History who agrees with me.
You make good points, B. Gordon. But I will note that they all have to do with styles of the times rather than morality per se. Which sex-like acts are popular or expected, we learn from the culture–and so it depends on the culture. But all of them are continually re-invented among individuals regardless of culture. In my own lecherous youth, I suggested some of these things without learning about them from the culture first. I didn’t even know the popular terminology until later.
At the end of the day, my stance is effectively this: I cannot discern a word from the Lord on the matter; and what wisdom I have been given is insufficient for me to discern a blanket rule. So I must leave it to each husband to use his own wisdom to decide what’s best–while respecting his wife as the weaker vessel in those deliberations.
That said, I respect dissenting opinions on the matter precisely because they’re so counter-cultural. We need to consider the possibility we’ve been led astray as a result. I know I’ve changed my mind on things like usury because of that.
But thus far, I haven’t found any convincing cases against Type 1 and only weak cases against type 2. And the fact that the culture changed to be more permissive isn’t sufficient; after all, there have been times and places where even romance between husband and wife was considered improper. So for now, I leave it to Christian freedom.
Thank you for the respectful consideration of my position Matt. FWIW it wasn’t meant as a “I’m holier” – my history is quite sinful/lecherous.
I have to follow my church – the act should be open to life – types 1 and 2 aren’t any more than Onan’s act is. The church with its lenient modern bishops says the act must be finished in the proper place. That’s my most libertine possibility though I think that’s kind of a workaround. That’s an internal Catholic matter though. Papists can’t bind you 🙂
It seems what we do with our sex organs is a matter of morality. Again I can’t draft a detailed, exhaustive set of rules just like with female dress. When it starts to mimic the form of same sex copulation it becomes too close for my personal comfort.
I remembered something. I read the early church fathers taught against type 1 and 2 and (this was interesting to me) believed type 1 was worse since that’s where the holy eucharist goes. I don’t have the references at my finger tips.
Here is something I thought I would pass along for you to tear apart at your leisure. The sheer sophistry and Pharisaical hair-splitting is mind-boggling in its brazenness.
Just to add a few of my own thoughts:
The author likes to talk about contraception as though it were a form of cultivation; this is obvious nonsense, since the purpose of cultivation is to increase fruitfulness, not to render barren. The author also likes to compare using contraception as a means of restraining procreation to using levees as a means of restraining rivers. This is also obvious nonsense because levees exist to keep rivers in their proper bounds, not to destroy them. The better analogy is that chastity is like a levee, in that it keeps sex (and procreation) within its proper bounds (in marriage).
At one point, the author even claims that there is no Scriptural support for the idea that procreation is the telos of sex. One wonders how he thinks the command to be fruitful and multiply is to be carried out. True, the Bible never explicitly says, “the purpose of sex is making babies”, but this is something so blindingly obvious that it doesn’t need to be said. The only people who would need to be told this are so willfully ignorant that telling them would be pointless (they would probably just deny that it actually means what it says).