Another column from Jennifer Roback Morse about the role of sex in love and attachment. She writes,
Sex is an organic reality, with two natural purposes written on the human body. The first is procreation. The second is not so obvious but equally important. Sex builds up and solidifies the relationship between the members of the couple. We know now that sexual activity physiologically creates a bond between the partners.
She says that sex and the attachment it creates [through the release of oxytocin at orgasm] gives an incentive to the parents to cooperate in rasing children.
The fact that sex is fun is along for the ride. The fun is nature’s way of getting us to keep the species going.
I think evolutionary psychologists and anthropologists would agree with this position, so I:m not going to argue.
Roback is the author of "Smart Sex: Finding Lifelong Love in a Hookup World." In this interview with Zenit, a Catholic news agency, she says,
The marriage crisis is really a sex crisis. The modern world completely misunderstands the meaning of human sexuality. In spite of all our sex education and overtly sexual entertainment, we don't really understand what sex is all about.
We have the idea that sex is a private recreational activity, with no moral or social significance. If that's true, our sex partner becomes a commodity that may or may not please us. And in a consumer society, when we are no longer satisfied with a product, we get rid of it.
As a child of the 70s who also had an unhappy home life with parents who didn't seem to even like each other, I spent my 20s and 30s engaging in what are now called hook-ups. I am so lucky and happy to be mated to a wonderful man, and now that I've experienced the intense bonding power of sex with love, I have to agree with Morse.
At the same time, as an agnostic, a feminist and a believer in individual freedom, this position makes me very nervous, because it's a slippery slope to fundamentalist teachings.
Morse talks about the religious underpinnings of her views with Zenit.
"... many egalitarians are offended by gender, because men and women can never be made completely equal," she says. "Some interpret equality to mean that each spouse do exactly half of every household chore. Other couples are completely baffled when their spouses do not react the same way as they would.
Social science research has shown that couples who are strongly committed to gender equality have a lot of stress when their first child is born. People find themselves sliding into traditional gender roles spontaneously, almost against their will.
The radical egalitarian cannot understand what is happening to them, and they become angry at each other and at themselves.
I believe they would be happier if they could embrace the fact that babies usually prefer their mother, and that mothers often enjoy caring for the baby more than the fathers do."
"By contrast, the late Holy Father viewed gender as a gift from God. The subtitle of "The Theology of the Body" gives a hint of this: "Human Love in the Divine Plan."
"John Paul II asks us to consider: What was God trying to say to us by creating us male and female?"
That in itself doesn't sound so bad, but it makes me nervous because, in my view, the Catholic church doesn't see women as equal to men, and it denies a woman's right to choose when and how many children she bears by using birth control. Nor does it teach that gay and lesbian people should have the right to create families.
Sometimes I find it comforting to learn about how my body's neurochemistry influences my behavior and feelings. Sometimes I find it alarming to see how my choices really are so much determined by biology.