@Brueggers Bagels, Phoenix
6 How beautiful you are and how pleasing,
my love, with your delights!
7 Your stature is like that of the palm,
and your breasts like clusters of fruit.
8 I said, “I will climb the palm tree;
I will take hold of its fruit.”
May your breasts be like clusters of grapes on the vine,
the fragrance of your breath like apples,
9 and your mouth like the best wine.
I first read these verses as a teenager. Asking my pastor about them and the Book Song of Solomon, I was told that the book was an allegory for Christ and the Church and their love for one another. Maybe, I thought. Still, they seemed pretty graphic to a 1950’s teenager. I gave up on understanding the meaning.
Some thirty years later, I was reading a novel, and two of the characters repeated parts of the book to each other. I knew, instantly then, the true meaning of the book. It had nothing to do with Jesus and his church. It was about men, women, love and sex. Indeed, it is a celebration of love and sex.
The Song of Solomon (AKA the Song of Songs) popped into my thoughts as I was reading a blog about unfaithfulness. The blog or column was written by a man that was a son of a father that had cheated. He remembered growing up with problems caused by the father’s infidelity. He swore he never would never cheat– and did, of course.
Most people I know condemn unfaithfulness and express the view that sex is wonderful but best between people that love each other. The Song of Solomon viewpoint. The Song goes a bit further and implies that the woman should be a virgin. Except for the virginity bit, many in modern western culture would agree if asked. Why then, is there so much straying by people in marriage or committed relationships?
The breach of the ideal appears to be as universal as the ideal.
And, not just in modern times. Homer said that the war with Troy was started because of Helen, (married at the time), hooking up with Paris. Roman history is full of examples such as Mark Anthony and Cleopatra. Precocious Churchill figured out that his mother fooled around by keen observation. The twenties had The Great Gatsby, the thirties had FDR, and the forties had Ike. The fifties music is full of sex and the sixties even more so. I lost track of what the seventies, eighties, nineties and millennial decades did with sex except to note that there was and is lots of it around. Public figures, pastors, televangelists, presidents, us commoners, all partake of sex. It seems prevalent at all levels of society.
I’m not going to bore you with statistics; you can goggle them for yourself. I will say “everyone doesn’t fool around”. But why do so many? Many are monogamous but many are not. Is sex a cultural or a biologic thing? I am convinced that humans are hardwired for sex which means that sex itself (including being gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgendered or just plain queer) is a biologic deal. What about monogamy, polygamy, polyandry, celibacy, or “open” marriages? Is it OK to have multiple sexual partners serially with or without the sacrament of marriage? Is marriage a sacrament? Where does the hard wiring end and the cultural begin.
I don’t know the answers to any of the questions I have asked. I had thought that by the time I achieved my present age, 70, I would know. Sex is still in my life. Not to the extent it was, but still around. I think sexual thoughts, and feel sexual desires. I am working on my third and last marriage. I am just as clueless about the whole business as I was as a teenager. As a teen, I professed to believe that sex outside marriage was wrong. That belief did not stop me from trying to get in my girlfriends’ pants.
Experience has taught me that there is more to life than fulfilling my sexual desires. I am not sure that if I had the body, including hormones, of a teenager and my present state of mind, I would do the same things I did when younger. I like to think not, but hormones have a way of letting our bodies ignore our minds. I wonder if that is to reason why monogamy is more preached than practiced in the United States. Could it be that simple? I’m not sure. Rarely is anything about human beings simple.
Then again, today I am not convinced that sex before marriage is necessarily a bad thing. The sex I had before, outside of or in marriage did not cause any permanent harm to me or anyone else. So perhaps, I would just not feel guilty. If I did believe it was wrong, I would hope, I would not engage in it. The knowledge of what I did when younger reminds me that I don’t always manage to do what I believe to be the right thing.
I know people that have been celibate, others that have “cheated” in their marriages or committed relationships. I also know people that have remained monogamous throughout long marriages. In my personal experience, practice of sexual conduct doesn’t seem to be related to sexual orientation, race or religious belief. It just seems to be related to being human. Some humans are monogamous. Some are faithful and others unfaithful to that ideal. I think it works for some and not for others.
Problems arise only when the biological impulses cause humans to cross cultural or religious lines. Then we feel guilty and ashamed.
What about me? I am hardwired to be straight – heterosexual. I have decided, through trial and error, that being - serially - monogamous is good for me, and that too works for me.Apparently it doesn’t work for everyone. I am willing to accept that others have their own trials and errors, and so I don’t bother to read about it in the news.