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    Posts: 1982
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First of all, I would like to apologize for not having responded sooner, and I would like to thank you MM, for responding to my post so thoroughly in posts 59 and 60. 

I have to say, it appears that we both see the world through a very different set of filters. 

Because it can be, for so many people. You'd have to agree that the amount of suffering in this world of a sexual nature is huge. But what causes the suffering? That's a very big question, one I doubt we could ever resolve on an internet forum. Sadly, some of the suffering is caused by folk who use the bible to make homosexuals feel like they alone are sinners. I hate that it happens, because we're all sinners according to the bible. (that we all do wrong I won't get an argument on, but I know you'll all hate hearing it called sin).

I just can't agree that it is the sex that causes the suffering.  I think some people feel guilt and suffering because they think that their sexual nature or sexual actions are "bad" or "sinful."  I blame religion for that.  But I think the more serious pain associated with sex has to do with power imbalances and exploitation, rather than the sexual act.  Rape, forced marriage, pedophilia, are examples of sex as power over, or exploitation. 

Sex has also been used as a currency throughout human history. It has be exchanged for money or food or protection or promotions or even in exchange for apprenticeships and training.  Usually the person with the money or power or food or strength or ability to promote or teach is the one who wants the sex, and the person who offers the sex in exchange for these services or commodities would not engage in the sexual act with the other person if there were not something being offered that she or he needs. 

Sexual attractiveness is also tied up with a person's self image and ego and physical being, and also with perceptions of youth.  People want to be good at sex.  Young people, whose bodies have not yet discovered the rhythms or ways to touch someone else's body, might feel inadequate.  Older people, whose bodies have endured the tolls of time, might have health issues that impact on sexual activities.  Some people seek sex to boost their own egos.  Others consider sexual conquest a game to be won. 

And then there are more complex issues.  Sex is both a simple biological act, that fulfills a natural desire, and it is also an expression of intimacy.  When two people engage in sex together for different reasons (one, just for the physical sensation, and the other to build intimacy) there can be feelings of pain or deception or even betrayal, because of different expectations. 

Vows of fidelity are meant to both symbolize and nurture that intimacy. And intimacy is hard.  There are so many other issues competing with any given relationship, ranging from money to life goals to disappointments to perceptions that the other person is not fulfilling his or her share of the household responsibilities. Different philosophies on child rearing can create a rift in a relationship, and perceptions that a partner is not working hard enough, or is working too hard, or is paying to much attention to extended family, or not enough, can all decrease feelings of intimacy.  Stress and busy schedules also take a toll on healthy sexual and intimate relationships.  Sometimes, the qualities that made the person attractive in the first place change.  The person's body changes, the person's aura of mystery or success or fade.  Or seeing a partner in the routines of daily life take away some of the magic that existed early in the relationship, and other people, who are only seen in appealing contexts become more desirable.  Or maybe someone was just not hardwired for monogamy, but tried to fit in to the societal standards, perhaps unsuccessfully.  When vows of fidelity are broken, trust is violated and there is a great deal of pain. 

So yeah.  I guess there is a lot of human suffering around sex.  But as I look at each example of human suffering related to sex, I can't help but believe that the pain is about the sex.  I think the pain is about exploitation, power imbalances, arrogance, weakness, lies, deceptions, violations of trust.  Most of those are sins in your book too, aren't they?  I would consider those to be the problems.  Not the sex.

And then different expectations about intimacy, and fading intimacy, and changing self image, and changing bodies and aging and acknowledging mortality and all that stuff that is so intertwined with the human condition.  But sex just holds up a mirror to those realities. 

And then there is the pain of guilt, that has nothing to do with any of the other issues.  The guilt I blame on religion. 
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