“Sex is the closest thing to magic that exists in this world, and we should treat it with the reverence and respect it deserves.”
— Jasmine Guillory
“The only way to enjoy anything in this life is to earn it first.”
— Ginger Rogers
“Unfortunately, avenues to experience sex
are much more plentiful
than methods to understand it.”
— Kevin Bergen
The Gift of Sex:
How to Enjoy Its Benefits and Avoid the Difficulties
Celebration | Damage-prevention | Repair | Enjoyment
This How-to article is to
• celebrate sex,
• prevent damage to it,
• repair the damage we couldn’t prevent, and
• be free to enjoy all its benefits.
From a conversation I had with a local community leader about open and helpful conversations around healthy, enjoyable, and well-timed sexual behavior (see points about audiences at the end).
When it comes to sex, our collective society now takes a three-pronged approach:
1) we tell each other to “be yourself” and just do whatever feels good,
2) we avoid thoughtful discussions of sex (especially with our partners),
3) we leave our kids to figure out whatever they can, and discussion of sex itself stays off-limits.
Instead of learning about sex and sexuality in their homes, kids now get it from a couple lessons in school (that are rarely discussed thereafter), from their friends, in movies/TV, and from online pornography (children are now exposed to hardcore porn on average by age 11).
It’s tricky for everyone (kids especially) because sexual behavior is laughed at as the focus of most stand-up comedy routines. Sex is poked at with F-bombs punctuating virtually all conversation. Sexual situations are flirted with in movie and TV depictions that surpass the X-ratings of 50 years ago.
Since the “sexual revolution,” blatant sexual imagery and innuendo appear in virtually all public media. Straightforward discussion and honest instruction concerning sex is now more rare than nudity was in the 1950s.
Those who are tired of social problems that
continue to plague our society can actually
change things by the way we ACT and TALK about SEX.
Some of those societal problems include
• sexual violence,
• teen parenthood,
• over dependence and co-dependence,
• poor body image,
• high divorce rates,
• lack of maturity in adults,
• the sense of abandonment,
• over-focus on the self
Preoccupation with sex is everywhere, but mature, non-arousing discussion of sex is just too awkward to bring up for most people.
Let’s normalize what’s healthy and helpful about sex. Let’s appreciate sex as the valuable opportunity in life that it is. Let’s pursue its potential for lifelong happiness instead of exploiting it for temporary comic relief and physical release.
By celebrating, discussing, and teaching how terrific sex can be without violating its special nature, we can promote clearer understanding and helpful preparation for enjoying this practice for mature adults without degrading this valuable gift.
| “Sex is a sacred act, and we should treat it with the reverence and respect it deserves.” —Anais Nin
Let’s give permission to celebrate and appreciate sex while avoiding the awkwardness and shame that so often surrounds it.
Sex is not just for stress relief, a temporary fix for loneliness, or a marital expectation. It’s also a gift to be appreciated, celebrated, and enjoyed.
We honor a gift when we care for it and express gratitude for it. This includes thoughtfully speaking of the gift in appreciative, respectful ways.
A good example is how we’ve all been taught to reverence our country’s flag. We show respect by keeping it from touching the ground. Is this because the cloth so fragile? Is there something magic about its shapes and colors? No, we hold our flag in reverence because there’s something special about what it represents. We hold it dear.
But we’re also encouraged to display our flag with pride. We sing of it. We salute it. We pledge our allegiance to it. We celebrate our country’s flag while we treat it carefully and respectfully.
Just as there’s always a risk of theft or damage to anything of value, this gift of sex can easily be twisted and maligned to cause damage and pain to both self and others. When sex is taken by force or manipulation, it usually leaves a deep sense of grief and loss. Whether physical or emotional, violence and coercion are only part of the many ways sex can be misused and leave harmful effects, but it well underscores the need to counter the misinformation that is so prevalent. Misinformation has quickly overtaken facts and common sense because there is just not enough reasonable and mature conversation about this basic part of life.
Prevention of misuse includes constantly educating ourselves — even after we are mature and experienced. We also need to warn those we’re responsible for about how casual treatment of sex so often leads to either subtle disturbance or deep pain. Sex can also be mis-experienced causing a minimum of confusion and misunderstanding.
[my group trainings include The Sex Matrix® showing how the “Focus” of sex and the “Intention” for sex can enhance our perspective and sharpen how we evaluate sex — this applies for both individuals and couples]
If prevention has not been adequate, it becomes necessary to repair the pain, confusion, or damage that we’re left with.
When trauma occurs during something as enjoyable as a birthday party, even a birthday cake can evoke associations of discomfort and fear. In like manner, sex, too can be damaged by associations with shame, inadequacy, incompetency, or worse, violation.
Selfishness, ignorance about the impact of sex, or even misguidance about sex itself, often leads to physical, emotional, psychological, and spiritual damage.
The Four Types of Damage Wrought by The Misuse of Sex
• Physical Damage
• Emotional Damage
• Psychological Damage
• Spiritual Damage
Repair is possible for all four types of damage, though.
Repair is sometimes quick, sometimes protracted, sometimes simple, sometimes difficult. It is most-often, painful.
But repair is always possible.
This claim may be difficult for some to believe, but I firmly stand by it — repair of injuries sustained because of the misuse of sex and sexual ideas is possible for everyone.
[In my workshops and group events, we cover many forms of repair for sexual damage. We also conduct some of that repair right in the group when requested.]
Understanding sex is more than having “the talk” about the birds and the bees. And it’s certainly more than “just do it” (sorry, not sorry, Nike).
Right about now you may be thinking, but hold on! I’m an adult! (or old enough!) Don’t talk to me as if I’m a child.
But knowing about sex and understanding it is like the difference between using your smart phone and knowing how to troubleshoot its problems . . . and understanding how it functions with the Internet . . . and knowing how Wi-Fi works . . . and how to code an app . . . and just where that “cloud” is, anyway.
Sex is way more complicated than the average adult even imagines. For a clearer way to appreciate the complexities of understanding sex, let’s talk about some of its characteristics.
You likely already know about these characteristics, but you probably haven’t considered how each of them apply to sexuality. ( . . . even considering all the time you’ve likely spent thinking about sex!)
Delicate and Fragile
Sex is delicate and fragile. It is also sensitive. When sex is used casually or carelessly, our ability to appreciate it — or sometimes feel anything at all — can become dull. People can become numb. This numbness can affect either physical or emotional feeling (and sometimes both).
This is why we see some people driven to more intense or deviant* forms of arousal. Their capacity to appreciate sex has been dulled, so to feel something, they seek variety or danger or that which is odd.
Repair is still possible.
*A note on deviancy:
Just as no one chooses to like certain foods, no one chooses what arouses them. If you have an unknown appetite for giant roasted grasshoppers, you’ll never crave them unless you first have a taste. No one sets out hoping to get a sexual rush from watching cockroaches being stomped on by high-heel-clad feet. Neither does anyone want to be attracted to elderly people in diapers. (and yes, both of these are a thing)
This is why some people warn that pornography has a real potential to ignite fires that were never expected to burn. Problematic sexual interests will never be an issue if there is no initial exposure. Too many unsuspecting people have accidentally awakened weird sexual interests by stumbling across the material online. In those cases, what they discover to be sexually enticing to them is perplexing, nauseating, or infuriating to others. But you can’t un-know what produces pleasure for you.
Sex is also powerful. The hormones associated with sex have driven people to expend great effort, sacrifice greatly, manipulate, and even physically force it on others.
The procreative power of sex can literally bring an actual human being into existence!
In no other way is sex’s power more evident than in how the act itself assigns responsibility for any life it produces to any person who engages in it.
Sex also has great power to affect our emotions. This includes the effects it has on happiness, fear, sadness, confidence, shame, anger, and love just to name a few. Sex’s emotional effects alone could fill several volumes of an encyclopedia of understanding sex.
Sex is also mysterious. Many people don’t adequately understand sex. That is primarily why we’re having this discussion right now. [or lesson, talk, conversation, class, article, book, training, therapy, fireside, etc.]
Because it is so mysterious (and therefore enticing), many people explore sex with resources that are intended to elicit immediate experience rather than provide a clear understanding.
Unfortunately, avenues to experience sex
are much more plentiful than methods to understand it.
Something as mysterious, little understood, and powerful as sex, can also be quite volatile. People can be volatile. A person can go from calm to explosive in an instant.
Guns are volatile. We obtain food with guns, engage in sport, and even protect life and property with them. But they are made with safety mechanisms and require training because when not handled with care, people can cause devastating outcomes with guns.
Sex is volatile in similar ways. When we confuse “understanding sex” with “experiencing sex” and we carelessly put the latter before the former, we put ourselves at great risk of shooting ourselves in the foot — or much worse.
This brings us full circle to appreciation, celebration, and deep, lasting enjoyment of this valuable, precious gift we’ve come to simply call, sex.
What if the images and associations this little word evokes were as positive as words like gift, valuable, enjoy, celebration, or appreciation?
The only way to shift our associations with the word sex is to keep developing our understanding of it.
The more we understand sex, the more we can preserve its benefits and prevent the damage its misuse can cause. And the more we understand it, the more equipped we are to repair the damage that wasn’t prevented.
As we implement both prevention and repair regularly — for ourselves and for those we bear responsibility for — we are further guaranteed lasting enjoyment of this volatile, mysterious, powerful, fragile, and highly valuable gift.
Sex! Ensure that it’s a positive force in your life and the lives of your loved ones.
Who should hear this message?
- DADS: to repair their own hurts and then to prepare their sons to understand sex as the valuable gift that it is (whether the son is very young, a teen, or a full-on adult). This preparation effectively begins around age 2, and how to begin at ANY age is covered extensively in my group training for dads)
- GIRLS: to better navigate things in case they learn that their boyfriend/fiancé/husband is addicted to sex, porn, masturbation, or just lust & fantasy
- PRE-TEEN BOYS: to prepare before (hopefully before) they are hurt or they hurt themselves or hurt someone else in matters of sex
- POST-PUBERTY BOYS: to either prepare before or repair after they get hurt, hurt themselves, or hurt another in matters of sex
Contact Kevin about this subject in church gatherings, on youth nights, or in men’s meetings.
Group trainings (not therapy) are also available
– for dads,
– for dads with their sons, and
– for couples.