the sex knot - part 2

If you have't read Part 1, start there.

Why do we have sex knots in our brains? the answer to that question is almost as complex as our knots themselves. We could be quick to point a finger at religions and claim they are the problem, but that is an oversimplification. The problem is legalism, or the making of rules, in situations where rules alone shouldn't be made. I was just listening to this sermon, From Moses to Jesus, and the ever-wise Bruxy Cavey said something to the effect of: rules exist where there is either a lack of love or a lack of maturity. When you have both love and maturity, you don't need rules because you desire within yourself, within your heart, to follow the ideas that the rules would give you.

Maturity and love are both things that are achieved through understanding. If all we can understand is the physical effect sex has on us and we never look at the emotional affects. If we never try to unravel our sex knot, then we can't have love or maturity in our relationship with sex. And we most definitely can not pass the ability of having love and maturity in our relationship with sex on to anyone else. So we are left with rules. Rules we have given to ourselves and rules that we project on to other people. Rules that we can use as a check list when we're trying to decide something that involves sex.

Healthy sex is easily achieved within a healthy monogamous relationship because there is maturity, trust and love in place. In a healthy relationship, the emotional attachment to the person is healthy- it is mature, it is full of love. You want to show the person you are with that you love and care for them, so you demonstrate it by making healthy decisions when it comes to sex. You have a healthy relationship with a person and by benefit you obtain a healthy relationship with sex itself. This is the reason why the idea of only having sex after you have entered marriage is encouraged. This is the reason religions have come up with the rule. They assume a marriage is a healthy relationship between two people, and so they can assume that those two people together can achieve a healthy idea of what sex is and how it should be used.

There are two problems that are ignored when spouting the idea. The first, obviously, being that just because two people are married, it doesn't mean they have a healthy relationship, and it's quite possible within their relationship that sex is being used as a weapon, as leverage... any number of bad things.
The bigger problem, I think, is that the context of the healthy relationship with the idea of sex is incredibly limited. If a person achieves their healthy relationship with sex as a consequence of being in a healthy monogamous relationship, they can't automatically explain to someone not in a healthy monogamous relationship how to have a healthy relationship with the idea of sex. With lots of things in life I like to do what I call "the teenager test." I think about how I would explain something to a teenager, a person smart enough to understand but without enough life experience to really know anything. You have to make them believe what you are saying and why you are saying it, otherwise they will just have to learn by building up their own experiences. In this case, if I only understand a healthy relationship with sex as combined with a marriage relationship (or equivalent), the only thing I can say to a teenager for guidance of how to have a healthy relationship with sex is to say "wait until you have what I have." To a teenager, who is filled with hormones, curiosity and no real concept of time relative to life, this is a failure.

We know it is a failure because studies show that teenager who get abstinence only sex education do not refrain from sex any more than teenagers with other types of sex education. It fails because people don't understand why they should wait. And no one is helping them maneuver the questions that follow the command. The irony you come to realize growing up is that all the adults that are telling you to wait: they didn't wait. Yes there are exceptions, but those people are normally much more expressive about their personal experiences. When you tell someone to wait, you have to elaborate. You have to share your experiences that brought you to the conclusion. You have to unravel your sex knot and lay it out for their benefit. Even if you didn't wait. Even if you are just saying it because you're looking at your kid going "when did you turn 12?! I am so uncomfortable talking to you about sex!" They have to understand why, otherwise they will dive in head first with the physical part of sex and realize the emotional consequences after the fact.

As a teenager, what I needed most was an honest, in depth and personal explanation of why a healthy relationship with the idea of sex should have been one of my top priorities as a developing person. Even if that came from a text book, it would have made an impact. I was missing an entire aspect of  my understanding about sex. I needed someone to give me a map and mark out some landmarks for me. I needed someone to say "you know the fact that you grew up without regular affection from your father has made you more emotionally vulnerable to any male that is willing to give you affection." But of course when it comes to talking to a teenager about sex, the prevailing argument is that it is irresponsible to give any kind of information that doesn't make sex look like a horrible thing. I reject this argument based solely on its simplicity and lack of context. Plus, the fact that the media has done an amazing job of explaining to children since before they can talk why sex is not a horrible thing.

This study (The Journal of Political Economy's The Effects of Sex Education on Teen Sexual Activity and Teen  Pregnancy) looks at the relationship between access to sexual education and sexual activity in teenagers from the 1970's. In the theory section, it says that "rational individuals become sexually active at the first age at which the perceived benefits from sex exceed the perceived costs." The map of my sex knot, the one I lay out to the next generation, is going to highlight the emotional costs of an unhealthy relationship with sex. I am assuming the kids will not have trouble figuring out the physical aspects on their own, so physically, the focus will be on using protection ALWAYS. The emotional side of things is what the sex knot is all about. It's easy to have sex, it's much more difficult to understand the effect sex has on you. Some people can handle the emotional effects, but many people don't understand what they are doing to themselves. Most people can't identify whether the sex they want to have is healthy or not. And society (read: the parent) doesn't help by just giving a single, limited context rule. We have to do better than that. And we do better not because it will help people follow our rules, but because it allows for love and maturity instead of rules.

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