The life of an exchange student is a constant influx of new experiences, knowledge, food, ideas and people — basically whatever you can put into your mouth, grab by the hand or both. So naturally, I meet characters each day who challenge, contradict and shock my beliefs to the core. Nothing, however, could have prepared me for what a new class project partner said to me this week. He told me that not only is he a virgin (in his late 20s), he has never been brought, by his own hand or another’s, to the point of ejaculation. In short, homeboy has lived an orgasm-free life, by choice. If there was ever a muse for a college sex columnist, this man was it.
[media-credit name=”Chanel Miller” align=”alignleft” width=”250″][/media-credit]After a brief hyperventilation episode on my part, the anti-pleasurist was happy to patiently answer the rush of questions I thrust upon him. Of course this entire conversation came up in a specific context, one I bet you can take a stab in the dark and guess in less time than this guy’s going to take to come for the first time. I’ll take ‘conservative religion’ for 500, Alex. Indeed, my classmate is a strictly adhering Muslim from northern Morocco whose religious beliefs forbid him to indulge in any form of sexual gratification until marriage.
Personally, I have always considered myself to be much more spiritual than religious, favoring general morality over the specificities of organized religion. Although I have chosen this particular spiritual path, I am of course aware that credence in religion is the foundation of many people’s lives. Likewise, sexuality, either the performance or restraint thereof, is as important in personality determination. The choice this young man has made about his sexuality is a determining factor of who he is, and this is all rooted in his faith.
If religion plays a major role in one’s sexuality, and sexuality is a key component to one’s lifestyle, where does that leave the body’s desire to seek pleasure in the eyes of religion? Sex, kissing, touching or at the very least flirtation is how we mingle. It’s our way to break the ice and test compatibility. Could my perfect sexual match pass me by because he’s waiting and I’m not pure enough? How can we ever find someone to marry and have all this ‘sinless’ sex with if we are taught to be ashamed of that desire in the first place? Could faith and the learned avoidance of earthly pleasures be keeping us from finding love?
In the book of Genesis, before Adam’s rib-baby gives into temptation and fucks up any chance we future generations may have had at sexuality free of remorse or disdain, a fascinating sentiment felt by both Eve and her male counterpart is highlighted. To quote the Old Testament following the creation of Eve, “And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed” (Genesis 1.2-25). It is not until paradise is lost that any shame is felt between the two unclothed individuals. Thus, there is a moment when bodily sexuality and spiritual sensuality are completely at one, and neither is something to be embarrassed about.
I admire the steadfast devotion many of my friends have for their faiths, so I truly mean no disrespect when I say that if I were religious, I would like to believe in a higher power that would want me to be proud of the body I have been given and not feel ashamed about the way I consent to use it. I do not choose to see my sexuality as inherently evil. Perhaps this is why I could not imagine subjecting myself to the life of self-restraint my colleague and so many others have chosen.
Nevertheless, I am utterly captivated by such discipline. The fact that someone can feel so strongly about what he/she believes as to completely cut out a part of human nature is pretty incredible. So I’m thinking it’s time for secular and devout communities to come to a major compromise, because if there’s one thing I do believe, it’s that a religious debate between believer and nonbeliever cannot be won.
When it comes to sexuality and religion, it’s as simple as this: withhold judgment. My promiscuity should be of as much concern to you as your repression is to me — none at all. The majority of the population isn’t making sexual decisions to personally offend another party. Just be who you are and let everyone else do the same.
And if there is a God, I can tell you that he’s getting a whole lot of ironic attention from my orgasms. Now, do climax screaming fits count as prayer?