A: Is it bad to talk about sex?
B: It is not very easy to answer that question. Many people talk about sex nowadays as if it were just another commodity. There seems to be an attempt to trivialize it in order to downplay or completely remove the taboo that goes with it.
A: You mean it was not treated like that before?
B: Not quite. And not as openly talked about as it is nowadays. Although the sexual revolution started in the late 60’s, talking about sex casually was not as prevalent—in my personal opinion—until the song “Let’s talk about sex” hit the market in the early 90’s, followed by songs that mention sex very casually like “I wanna sex you up.”
A: That was some years ago…
B: I was in high school at that time, at least in my hometown, you would not hear those songs being played at home. They were considered to be just too vulgar to be heard at home. You would hear them mostly in noontime TV shows and in disco houses.
A: They seem to be quite common nowadays…
B: That is why those who do not make an effort to keep away from songs with a lot of sexual content, as well as curses, eventually become desensitized.
B: Yes. It means getting used to something. In the context of our discussion, it means that frequent exposure to what is wrong may eventually lead to accepting it. With songs full of sexual content and curses played day in and day out throughout the years, and with the emergence of dance groups like “Sex Bomb”, introduction of explicit sex scenes in movies, proliferation of sexy billboards and TV programs such as “Sex and the City”, what do you expect young people nowadays to think about?
A: But why do you think so dirty? They are just showing the reality of sex!
B: Thank you for that accusation, rather, question. It leads me to the meat of the matter. What is sex really all about?
A: Is that a rhetorical question?
B: Well, let me go straight to the point first and I will explain it in detail later.
B: Put simply and just to start off this conversation, we can say that sex is an intimate carnal union between a man and a woman in marriage open to life.
A: But isn’t that only a Christian definition of sex?
B: Not really. It is a definition that can be accepted by any human being from whatever religion or lack of it. Perhaps it would help if we try cutting it into parts.
A: Okay. Let’s give it a try.
B: Sex is an intimate carnal union. Intimacy is proper to the carnal union between humans. It is not so with animals and so we call theirs ‘mating’. When you see dogs mate on the street, you know that they are just acting according to their nature.
A: But sex scenes are shown in some movies…
B: When movies show explicit sex scenes—exhibiting naked bodies—the intimacy that is proper to sex is violated. And so is the intimacy that is proper to the nakedness of the human body. When you see someone on the street walking naked, you start wondering whether that person is crazy. Sure, dogs run around naked and that is pretty natural for them.
A: You mean it is wrong to have those sex scenes in movies? How will they portray the reality of sex?
B: When a film director argues that he is showing a sex scene because he wants to show the ‘reality’ of sex, he misses the point. Sex is intimate and so what is proper to it—what is real—is that it is not shown for the public to watch. You do not watch your parents have sex. You do not watch anyone having sex for that matter because you want to respect the privacy—the intimacy—of the couple having sex. And why do you show it on film as if it were a public spectacle?
A: Oh. I did not realize that. It actually makes me think of the actors and actresses in those movies…
B: Same here. I feel very bad for them and have pity on them especially if they are used and manipulated. They may not realize it, but they unwittingly promote a culture of sexual permissiveness, which affects young people most of all. It may also provide a false sense of ‘licitness’ to similar behavior in adults because of its proliferation and the consequent perception that it has become rather common.
A: Is it really possible that the actors could have been manipulated, as you said?
B: I actually do not want to use that word because it sounds very strong and accusatory of directors and producers. However, that was the word used by the French actress Maria Schneider to describe the director who made her undress at a young age. She later confessed that she felt being looked at like an animal and then fell into drug abuse, suffered nervous breakdown, had suicide attempts and broken relationships.
A: That’s rather sad. Did she realize her mistake?
B: I guess so, since she later advised young actresses never to take their “clothes off for middle-aged men who claim that it’s art”.
A: That’s another thing. Some filmmakers say it’s art.
B: To help you know the difference between art and pornography, you may want to read the article written by Dr. Paul Dumol entitled “Art and Pornography” published in the book I edited called “Back to the basics”. Among other things—referring to pornography’s violation of intimacy proper to man and woman as persons—he mentioned that the opposite of being a person is being an object, and that it is a violation of personhood to treat someone like an object. I guess you have to look into the whole article yourself.
A: Okay. I will do that. How about in the local movie industry?
B: The renowned film director herself, Marilou Diaz-Abaya, was actually courageous enough to expose the malaise that was plaguing the movie industry in a position paper she wrote some years ago. She urged “aspiring movie stars to resist their exploitation by moviemakers” and that “there are many ways to pursue a movie career other than by taking off one’s clothes”.
A: But they say that removing their clothes is a sign of their maturity in show business.
B: I want to reserve the word ‘mature’ to those who are brave enough to stand up for what is right in spite of pressure, and to those who think of contributing positively to the building up of our nation. This means safeguarding its timeless values and keeping them intact. You may be surprised but Ms Abaya observed that those who take off their clothes have “very limited professional life span”. Some producers think that “once a bold star has bared all, there’s nothing more to see. She is replaced by the next, new, young, bold star”.
A: That is quite sad, after being exploited and all…
B: Perhaps ‘deceived’ could be a better word?
A: Oh. I begin to feel pity for these movie stars as well.
B: Yes, you and I should. Perhaps they could have been pressured in one way or another. But we have to find ways to make known to them the negative effects of becoming sex objects in these films and becoming bad influences to the youth, given their unwitting contribution to the weakening of the moral pulse of the society.
A: How do I do that?
B: You can write them a letter, send them a Facebook message, tweet them… I am sure you will be able to find ways to reach them in one way or another. You can also write letters to the editors to newspapers and magazines and—why not—write the producers themselves… I guess you can also include them in your prayers.
A: Okay. Sounds doable. Shall we go now to the next part of the definition?
B: Oh yes. This chat is getting very long. The next part is: sex is between a man and a woman united in marriage. It is also biology—not only religion—which tells us that sex is between a male and a female. It is therefore un-natural for people of the same sex to have sex. The body parts are in fact structured in such a way that this act can only be carried out naturally by two persons of opposite sexes.
A: That’s pretty reasonable. And how about marriage? Isn’t that a particularly Catholic thing?
B: Of course all Catholics are asked to get married in the Church. But marriage or the family, for that matter, is not an invention of the Church. It is not a mere ‘social convention’ whose definition may change according to the whims of legislators. Guess who gave this definition on the family: “A union of those who cannot exist without each other; namely, of male and female, that the race may continue”?
A: The Pope?
B: Nope. It was Aristotle, the famous Greek philosopher who was born even before Jesus Christ. He further wrote that “the family is the association established by nature for the supply of men’s everyday wants”. Take note of the phrase “by nature”. Hope it is a bit more clear with you now that it is not established “by religion”.
A: I will try. And so…
B: Marriage as the proper place for sex is also specifically human as opposed to animal. Given that what makes sex properly human is its intimacy, it is only shared with someone to whom one can entrust that intimacy. And that intimacy is sealed and protected in marriage, thereby making sex exclusive between the spouses. This is one reason why prostitution, fornication and adultery are considered social maladies. In these cases, sex is shared among people outside marriage. It becomes too casual. There is no intimacy in the proper—human—sense of the word. It is like mating which does not require marriage.
A: Are you also referring to babies?
B: Well, marriage also assures that whatever be the natural fruit of that carnal union (biology says it is a zygote, a fertilized egg, even recognized by our Constitution as a human being) is treated according to its nature. When two fertile dogs mate, they produce baby dogs. And these puppies are treated according to what they are—as dogs. Humans also have to be treated according to what they are—as humans. Human psychology attests that humans develop their potential to the optimum if they are cared for within the context of a family. If you again argue that this idea is only Christian, it is like saying that non-Christians do not have families.
A: Okay. But can you explain it a bit more?
B: Let me refer you to an article that precisely says that “religions may bless marriage but they did not invent it”. The author gave four characteristics of marriage, among which is the topic of our chat. He argued that “If sexual acts did not naturally lead to offspring, it is just as hard to explain how marriage would have appeared in human history, for it would serve no purpose.” This is why the use of contraception within marriage goes against the very nature of sex. And that “rearing of children is a lifetime responsibility… It is easier for those who enter this project that they have affection for each other, and that they form a self-giving friendship. To perform these actions lovingly is the properly human way”.
A: Can we talk more about contraception next time? I can already hear the footsteps of the next fellow who will chat with you.
B: Sure. I hope you will read all the materials I mentioned in our discussion for you to be able to study them more deeply. But we have not actually talked about what truly makes sex human and why intimacy is proper to it, without which sex is empty: LOVE. But we can talk about it in another chat. This is already getting too long.
A: I guess so too. Till next time!