You knew it was coming sooner or later. The sex talk. After all, we’ve covered all sorts of other subjects on We Run and Ride. From body parts to body functions, diet to flatulence. It’s only natural we touch occasionally on the subject of sex.
I have this friend who is a football coach. He insists that the only reason his players go out for the sport is to get laid. Seriously. All that mind-crunching, bone jarring, ligament-tearing action is designed for one thing: to get girls.
That makes sense if you’re a guy. The males of most species of animals on earth spend a considerable amount of time in elaborate displays of their fitness. Honestly, the goal there is to get laid, and lots of times if you’re lucky. For example, the Alpha male often does all the breeding in an elk herd. The rest of the elk basically gets to stand around and jerk off, which can really hurt when you have hooves.
You can’t beat fun
That reminds me of a phrase our college cross country coach used to yell to us during practice, “Ah, boys, you can’t beat fun!”
And we would mutter in reply, “Yeah, it’s like a sore dick.”
To have a sore dick means you either just got laid a lot or have had to take matters into your own hand. To quote Jackson Browne: “Rosie you’re all right, you wear my ring…”Yes, we’re talking about masturbation, which is part of sex, but certainly not the whole part. Guys do it. Gals do it. Monkeys and sea otters do it too. Whacking it one way or the other is part of being alive.
I know a guy who proudly claimed to have whacked it seven times in one 24-hour period. But the real goal of sex of course is to not have to whack it. The goal is to get someone else to whack it for you. Fappy may be good when necessary, but f****** is that much better. Usually.
Sexual union is both a plain object and the ultimate mystery of the universe. Even the Bible can’t resist a good sex tale. Consider this excerpt from Song of Songs,
Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth—
for your love is more delightful than wine.
3 Pleasing is the fragrance of your perfumes;
your name is like perfume poured out.
No wonder the young women love you!
4 Take me away with you—let us hurry!
Let the king bring me into his chambers.
Oh boy. Now things are cooking.
On being horny
We all know what it’s like to be in our prime, horny and young and eager to find someone to hump. The entire Hollywood movie industry is founded on such fare it seems. Same with the Internet. Without porn the whole thing probably would not have been successful. Our sex drive makes us hungry for content that feeds our sexual minds.
The question is whether the sex drive is tied into our mutual hunger for speed. Is it sex that makes us want to run and ride and swim faster? Are we prepping ourselves to attract a mate or simply catch up with one? Then again, we could all be running away from our own sexual needs. You can’t run a 10K with a hardon, now can you?
The gals rule
It has become evident over the last few years that women have sex drives just as valid and driving as men. This is distressing to many who view the gals daily exposing themselves on Reddit Gone Wild as a depraved sign of moral and cultural decay.
Yet one wonders if those women don’t now something about themselves. After all, how long in life will they look like that? It either takes the fortune of good genes or a lot of work to keep a body in good shape. As women move along in years and they work through having babies or simply combat the vagaries of aging, they might try to recover the body they once had. In that process there are health benefits including prevention of heart disease, one of the biggest threats to women’s health. It’s all part of a convergence of image and desire.
So the sex drive and the strength of self-perception that goes with it may perform a valuable role in women’s health just as trying to keep fit and not get out of shape and become less desirable does for men.
Speed of life
It all comes down to speed. The more we keep moving and the faster we are able to go, the more we’re prepared in some ways to play the mating game.
Then it’s often a matter of being smart enough to go slow. To revel in the moment and let the whole sex thing build to its natural climax. It really is miraculous that we spend all that time trying to go fast only to turn around and slowly screw ourselves into a state of happy exhaustion.
What about the perils of lust and sin? Are we all just biological humping machines or is there a higher moral standard to which we should all be held. There’s good news and bad news on the whole sin front. This bit of scripture from the book of Mark comes down on the razors edge of what lust can do, and what you should do about it.
“And if your eye causes you to stumble, pluck it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into hell…”
Well, the Bible is full of parables and symbols and metaphors. I guess we can take this whole thing literally and pluck out an eye when we lust after others. But that would leave another eye to lust away at will.
Or, we could consider that the “eye” as it were stands for sexual desire. Which would mean that whacking off or rubbing one out to release sexual tension might actually be a rational response to irrational desires. Of course with some people, it might take several “eyes” a day to reach a state of sexual calm. Hence the joke about the sore dick we used to make when our coach told us that we “can’t beat fun.”
The Pope speaks
Recently none other than the Pope revealed a bit of scriptural wisdom that is driving conservatives crazy. He said, and I paraphrase, “We should consider that all laws that do not lead to Jesus and the love of Christ are obsolete…”
Which means that the definition of Christian love just got a whole lot broader from a sexual perspective. Seriously, it’s never really been a sin to whack off or rub one out. Not when it releases sexual tension and plucks out the eye of desire that might lead us to distraction.
More than one productive person has realized that creativity and productivity can be blocked by sexual desire. It’s a simple truth that an orgasm clears the mind. Perhaps that’s what the book of Mark was really talking about. The “eye” to which it refers is that of sexual distraction, not lust alone. God wants us to be sexual beings. We’re wired that way.
The lessons of the Bible point again and again to the fact that sexual excess is the enemy of a wholesome life. It’s not heterosexuality versus homosexuality. It’s not even sex within marriage that is the sole definition of fidelity. One of the key scriptural passages long used to indict masturbation was the story of Onan, a dude who was called to screw his brother’s wife in order to continue the family line. Here’s how it played out.
“Then Judah said to Onan, “Sleep with your brother’s wife and fulfill your duty to her as a brother-in-law to raise up offspring for your brother. But Onan knew that the child would not be his; so whenever he slept with his brother’s wife, he spilled his semen on the ground to keep from providing offspring for his brother.”
Typically, a long line of uptight people took that passage all wrong. The words “spilled his semen” were translated to mean that he jerked off. That was turned into an indictment of masturbation as a whole, called Onanism. But from the context of this passage we should actually derive that Onan committed coitus interruptus. He pulled out during intercourse, in other words. Of course that is not that effective a form of birth control, and it was his intent to avoid conception that was the sin. In truth the story of Onan should be an indictment of the Catholic recommendation of the rhythm method as a superior and acceptable alternative for birth control. But of course that would mess with centuries of very stupid tradition on the part of the Catholic Church, which like the Pharisees has always leaned toward a control freak obsession with laws over love.
It’s not about sex
And please take notice that the lead character in the story of Onan is named “Judah.” That’s a symbolic name for the entire population of Jews. This passage is actually about Onan participating in propagation of the race of people known as Jews. Thus the story isn’t really about sex. It is about following the orders of God to be fruitful and multiply the Jewish race.
But when it comes to sex, conservative people love to focus on how bad it is and that obsession makes them miss the real meaning of so much of what they’re reading. The same thing holds true with the story of Sodom and Gomorrah. It’s been presented as a clear case against homosexuality when in fact the real purpose of the story is to point out the injustice of abusing helpless strangers. That’s also the primary and real message of the Judeo-Christian tradition as a whole, a fact that is affirmed by the tale of the Good Samaritan who cares for an abused man when so-called religious leaders walk on by.
Freedom from unnecessary guilt
It’s important that none of us torture ourselves over sexuality or feel guilty where we need not suffer our own doubts. These attractions we’re feeling can be so affirmative, joyful and creatively constructive when we keep it all in perspective.
Yes, we’d all love to think that sex only occurs within the bonds of Christian marriage. But take a look at the story of Onan in the Bible! He’s literally pressed into service by his tradition to screw his brother’s wife! That’s adultery for hire. Traditions were strong about family life, but when rules needed to be broken, there were wholly (and holy) exceptions at work.
Levels of desire
In real life, there are millions of so-called Christian marriages where one or the other partner has a far different level of sexual desire. Some marriages become essentially sexless and the mate with sexual desire is left to fend for themselves. Literally.
Still other marriages are torn apart by sexual desires and infidelity, porn addictions and a host of other sex-related challenges. But there are constructive approaches to dealing with the full range of sexual desire. We’re not all calibrated the same. Some with uncontrollable desires aren’t calibrated at all and need help coming to grips with their own biology. The appropriate response is to get help with those challenges, not force them into a funnel of judgement and condemnation based on really bad theological interpretations.
First do no harm
It is now clear that homosexuality falls well within the range of normal human behavior. The few indictments found in the Bible are the product of cultural aversions, not sexual perversion. We should discard these views as obsolete just as we disregard laws in Leviticus and Deuteronomy that have nothing to do with modern knowledge of medicine, science and biology.
That does not mean that harmful or abusive homosexual relationships do not exist. It is just as important that two partners respect and honor each other in homosexual relationships as it is in heterosexual relations.
As for those of us who run and ride, there’s a certain amount of common sense to be gained involving ourselves in generally positive and physical activities such as running and riding and swimming. These can also provide a release for physical and mental tension. It’s not that we’re trying to run away from our sexual selves. It’s more that we can form an identity of confidence and self awareness.
It happens that sometimes people going through life changes find themselves suddenly and dramatically attracted to other people who run and ride. It’s all about matching up identities. Let’s not deny this happens or pretend that marriages don’t get broken up by lust for life.
Finding our way
Way back in the early 80s I was introduced to a young married woman who began training with me on the roads. She was fast and attractive. Finally one of our runs resulted in a moment when she stood on her toes and gave me a kiss on the lips. The world began to spin and I did not know what to do. So I did nothing. She went back to her husband who frankly did not like the fact that she loved to run. He seemed jealous of her time and involvement in the sport in which she frankly excelled.
I’ve often wondered how that marriage turned out. She confessed that he was not affectionate toward her. Hence she went searching for that affection and affirmation somewhere else. These things just go together. The feed but are not constituted solely by sex. That’s just the expression of a set of deeper emotions. Sometimes sex is just a method to find our true selves. And sometimes we run or ride a long way to find that out as well. It’s funny how similar those two pursuits really are.