Men, why is sex so important? There are the obvious reasons, like the powerful presence of testosterone in our bodies. And our “built-in” human desire for pleasure, connection, and affection.
But here’s another way to look at sex that gets less attention and goes a little deeper. Perhaps we are looking for transcendence. Sex is one of the few experiences that take us away from our daily, sometimes boring, lives.
Orgasm may be one of the only times we are fully present in the moment.
Transcendence doesn’t get much attention these days. We live busy lives. Few us of look to religion for transcendence anymore, and religious organizations that feel welcoming to gay men are hard to find.
And yet for most of us, something seems missing. Life can easily fall into a deadening routine of commute/work/commute again/gym/television/masturbation/eat/sleep and repeat. That, plus laundry.
“Men lead lives of quiet desperation,” said author Henry David Thoreau.
Some of us look for a feeling of transcendence with drugs or alcohol. That works great for the first few times but then we never seem to be able to get back to those first experiences. It’s like a mean trick. And so we may try to increase our dosage in a futile attempt to get back there.
Sex is the closest thing most of us ever have to a spiritual experience. It is an “ecstatic state” that is similar to what people in evangelical churches are attempting to find. During sex we can leave the planet for a time. The longing for that experience is universal. And the impulse is stronger than we think.
Unfortunately, even sex doesn’t reliably take us to a transcendent place. Hook ups can leave us empty. Sex with our long term partners can become “meh” sometimes.
So where does that leave us?
Is that all there is?
Finding the answer to that question takes a lifetime of exploration, and the answer changes over time. Bringing a feeling of transcendence or meaning into your life is a worthwhile pursuit that doesn’t get much support from contemporary culture.
Currently the culture is more focused on reality television than the big questions.
No one can or should answer these questions for you. It’s the wrestling with them that brings meaning into life.
But if you are curious about how other men grapple with these issues, here are some pathways that others have used to leave the planet for a while:
And not just the “go for the burn” class, but also something more gentle.
Like What Matters Most by James Hollis, The Road Less Traveled by Scott Peck or The Artists Way by Julia Cameron.
LGBT-friendly religious groups
When we reject all religion we may be throwing the baby out with the bathwater.
It’s so easy—it’s right there on your phone.
Making it, seeing it, letting it in.
Many of us are afraid of it. But pushing this edge is where transformation happens.
By definition it allows you to connect to something bigger than you.
This is so much easier to do in a group than by yourself, at least at first.
The Body Electric School teaches this or you can read about it. It’s about the breath.
Even for a few minutes a week, just write down whatever comes into your head, with no editing.
To use a scary word: it may come from the divine.
In your room or in the club or in dance class.
Time in nature
Puts your life in a much bigger perspective.
This means joining groups like gay sports teams, 12-step groups, or political causes. People who are involved in community know a secret: it feels really good.
I’d be very interested in hearing your thoughts or personal experiences on this topic. Care to share on the blog?