I had a stranger on Facebook — one who looked to be a conservative Christian by the profile — ask me, “What exactly is sexology and why do we need to study it? Is there some purpose for it? Most people know how to have babies. Just trying to understand.”
It was an important and seemingly innocent question. I responded: “Sexology is the study and education of what people do sexually and how they feel about it. Sexuality is not just about the act of procreation, but a whole beautiful aspect of each person’s life, like our mentality, emotions, body, spirituality, etc…”
The FB inquirer responded: “You make it sound like if someone is unable to have sex they are missing out on a whole lot of life. I don’t agree with that – do you?”
My response: “I have a few thoughts about that. First: In answering your original question, I fail to see how I was suggesting that anyone has to miss out on anything. On the contrary, as I said: Sexuality is an aspect of humanity that everyone has the potential to experience in their own way — whether alone or with someone special.
Second, there are all kinds of people that choose to define their sexuality, whether celibate, or monogamous with only someone of the opposite gender, etc… Let’s say like Amish Mennonites who live simple and cloistered lives. There are billions of people in this world that live their lives radically and beautifully different from each other and I think that’s great. I do my best to accept and understand them with as little judgement as possible. As long as they feel they are authentically living who they are meant to be and what they believe, I wish them all the happiness they can muster. It’s a wildly diverse world and we can all live happily in it.
Thirdly, let’s follow the Amish analogy a bit more. There is absolutely nothing wrong with an Amish person living out their full and robust life within the confines of their hometown. However, if that person asked me if they are missing out on what they could experience in the world, I’m gonna have to respectfully and knowledgeably say, “Yes.” No storytelling, photo book, slideshow or movie, compares to standing at the edge of the Grand Canyon, or swimming under the spray of a 1200ft. Hawaiian waterfall, or viewing the lights of the city of Paris from the top of the spires of ancient Notre Dame. To me, sexuality can be that amazing.
We know a lot more about sexuality than we did fifty years ago. Plenty of research has shown that to understand yourself as a sexual being as well as responsibly manage and enjoy your unique sexuality can bring about a wonderful, fulfilling and abundant life, whether that’s experienced by yourself, or with a partner. There is also substantial research that shows when we repress, deny, or shame our sexuality, we experience all manner of negative repercussions — stress, depression, anxiety, self deception, a dichotomous lifestyle, and more.
But hey, all kinds of people have lived their whole lives denying their sexuality — so who am I to judge? I’m just explaining what I have learned.
I think it’s also noteworthy to point out that the Amish have minimal influence on real world problems like, solving poverty in India, or even determining how a car might be more fuel efficient, because the choices they have made severely limit their relevance in the greater world.
There’s nothing ultimately wrong with that, it’s simply a choice that limits their perspective. The same is true for many Christian’s views of sexuality. If they only view it as procreation, there’s little left to contribute to the larger conversation of healthy, pleasurable sexuality outside of those structures.
Finally, I want to speak from personal experience. I spent the first 25 years of my life suppressing (and hating) my sexuality, conforming to what a fundamentalist church and others told me, without finding out the truth about sexuality for myself. I was miserable. It was a living hell that brought me to the brink of death. Only when I learned to love myself and my sexuality unconditionally, like I believe God loves me, did I blossom. My relationship with family, friends, and with myself became far more authentic and loving. My spiritual journey took off into a beautiful technicolor experience. I now feel balanced, whole and honest. I spend whole seasons of my life enriched, deeply happy and enjoying it thoroughly. That is why I have dedicated my life and profession to helping people better understand their sexuality. I can’t help but wish the same joy and communion, however that works best for you.”