Why Sex Matters

I decided to make my first diary at RedState about a topic that may not matter much in two months.  It is possible that in two months the Supreme Court will hand down a decision that will require us, all of us, to accept “homosexual marriage” as a constitutional right.  Once that happens it will be a generation or more before that ruling will be able to be overturned.  More than likely the position will never be overturned and history will judge the results as she always does.  But that isn’t the point of this diary.  I want to examine to how we got here, and where “here” is.

My argument is simple: sex matters.  This isn’t just a Christian principle (though I am a Christian).  In fact every culture on the face of earth for the last several thousand years has regulated sex in some way.  Every culture recognized that sex matters.  Yes, there were prostitutes, there were religious orgies, and there were all kinds of sexual activities that were allowed in society, but regardless, sex was still regulated and seen by society as having civic importance.

If you want evidence that sex was regulated you need look no further than the institution of marriage itself.  Let us consider source material like the Bible, not as a religious text, but as an historical text.  We see that culture in the time that Scripture was written assumed that a woman would not engage in sexual activities unless she was married.  For instance in Genesis, after Judah refused to give his son to Tamar, she dressed up like a cult prostitute and fooled Judah into sleeping with her.  She conceived from this event and when Judah heard that she was pregnant his order was to have her executed.  He did this because as a widow of his son, she was considered his daughter-in-law, and thus her getting pregnant indicated that she had engaged in sex outside of her officially existing marriage (it was his other son’s responsibility to get her pregnant for the line to continue).  Thus Judah had legal cause to have her executed, because by having sex outside of marriage resulted in her being pregnant.

But, let us look not only to questions of heterosexual activity, but even homosexual activities were regulated.  Most often homosexual relationships were punishable by death, if not social isolation.  For instance in Greece, Japan, China, and even Rome, it was not considered appropriate for two men to engage in sexual activities together.  Many people say that in Greece homosexuality was at least accepted as young boys sometimes had sexual relationships with older men.  However, that statement is false on two fronts, first of all there is little evidence that such relationships occurred, and secondly upon reaching manhood it was expected that boys would act like men, and that meant work, military service, marriage, and the raising of children.  This is almost universally true for every culture.

Why did sex matter in these cultures though?  Because all of these cultures understood two basic truths about sex: 1) Sex is pleasurable; and 2) Sex results in children.  These two immutable truths are why sex has a moral dimension to it.  And why cultures throughout history have always regulated sex morally and legally.

No one would argue that sex is not, for the vast majority of the populace, pleasurable.  This is why sex is so common.  Let’s just assume everyone will agree with this point and move on.

The problem is that because sex is pleasurable, people want to have sex.  This is a “problem” in the sense that it is in having sex that children are produced.  Yes, many people have sex to have children, but likewise, many children are the results of sexual activity without the intent of having children.  That hasn’t changed in all the history of civilization.  Because sex produces children, society has to regulate sexual activity.

What I mean by this is also two fold: 1) A just society protects all members of society, and 2) A healthy society has a vested interest in encouraging the generation of children.

In a “free-for-all” world of sexual activity, with no rules and no government regulation, women are the losers.  Men are larger, stronger, and generally able to over power women.  And, when it comes to sex, men have essentially no consequences (outside of diseases, but that’s another consideration) for engaging in as much sex as they want.  However, women have distinct disadvantages in this arena, forcible sexual activity can cause women serious bodily harm, and pregnancy is difficult on a woman’s body.  Additionally, the child so produced requires protection, food, shelter, and the general needs of life.  In all of this, if there were no rules preventing men from acting like animals, many women would be seriously hurt.

Society acts to prevent this by creating a healthy method of engaging in sexual activity: marriage.  By requiring marriage men are not able to simply grab any and all women they want, instead there are now rules as to which woman a man can have.  A stronger man cannot simply take a woman from a weaker man because society intervenes and says which man she is married to.   A man cannot simply take a woman and rape her because society says he must marry her.  If you think I’m treating humans with too much scorn, again notice the historical record of Genesis wherein Dinah was raped, effectively with impunity, because Jacob’s family were strangers in the land and thus had no legal protection.  Ultimately his sons got revenge by destroying a whole town.  The power of society regulating sexual activity within marriage prevents this kind of violence while also serving to protect women by establishing a means of support for them in the case of pregnancy and children.

Additionally, society has an interest in women having children, and in the children learning what it means to be a member of that society.  This is how societies work.  When a group with like ideals come together and form a community around those ideals they then desire to pass those ideals down to their children, because they see the moral importance of what they believe in.  Shared morality, language, knowledge, religion, etc., is passed from one generation to the next generation.  Healthy societies recognize this and want people to have children so that their ideals continue to be handed down.

Marriage is an important part of this social order because of sex.  The children that society wants are produced by the sexual activities that society has an interest in regulating.  Thus, marriage serves not only the purpose of protecting women and restraining the otherwise powerful passions of the average male, it also serves as the soil in which the future of society is planted.  Marriage allows a stable family unit to develop so that children have an environment in which they can learn what it is to be a member of society.

It is precisely at this point where our society has faltered.  When government, through public education and public programs becomes the one to train children in what it means to be a member of society, the importance of marriage is diminished.  When sex is no longer seen as having anything to do with procreation, but purely about pleasure, then marriage is weakened.  When we allow that there is no moral significance to encouraging long lasting, monogamous, heterosexual relationships for the benefit of society as a whole, then marriage is effectively broken.  We have made marriage into a matter of “rights” and “privileges” and have forgotten that the very reason that government so favored marriage is because of its incredible significance to culture as a whole.

Ironically, the very things that the Left in our country is currently so upset about would be addressed if the Left would return to a stronger protection of the historic institution of marriage, instead of trying to destroy it.  Children who grow up with parents who teach them the importance of our culture, and who pass on the ideals of society are less likely to engage in violence and drug abuse, which would solve a lot of the problems facing inner city American neighborhoods.  Establishing the importance of marriage as the proper avenue for the outlet of sexual desires, and then giving people reasons to seek marriage, has historically been shown to keep rape and the abuse of women to a minimum.  (This relationship between marriage and a decrease in violence in culture has generally been accepted by historians.  However, if you really want to see examples of it you can study the effects of polygamy in Chinese culture and see how revolts were often linked to periods where poor men were unable to obtain wives.  This wasn’t the primary cause of conflict, but certainly played into the problems based on the documents of the times.)

What’s my point with all of this?  We will never get back to winning the war for marriage until we get back to understanding that sex really does matter.  I don’t want police running around checking to see who is sleeping with who, but in public we should be advocating that heterosexual, married unions, really are morally superior to other sexual unions.  Not just for religious reasons, but because it matters for the life of our society as a whole.