Anything Goes?


MOST OF THE OLD restraints are gone or going. Such purely practical restraints as the fear of pregnancy and venereal disease have been all but eliminated by the ingenuity of modern science. Pornography is available to anybody who has the money to buy it at the newsstand. As much as you can generalize about such matters, in the realm of sexual behavior the word seems to be increasingly, "Anything goes," or, among the more responsible, "Anything goes as long as nobody gets hurt," the trouble with which is how can anybody know in advance, in any complex human relationship, sexual or otherwise, who is going to get hurt psychologically, emotionally, spiritually? Or the word is, "Anything goes as long as you love each other," the trouble with which is that love here is likely to mean a highly romanticized, sentimental sort of enterprise that comes and goes like the pink haze it is.

What makes this a tragic situation, I believe, is not so much that by one set of standards or another it is morally wrong, but that in terms of the way human life is, it just does not work very well. Our society is filled with people for whom the sexual relationship is one where body meets body but where person fails to meet person; where the immediate need for sexual gratification is satisfied but where the deeper need for companionship and understanding is left untouched. The result is that the relationship leads not to fulfillment but to a half-conscious sense of incompleteness, of inner loneliness, which is so much the sickness of our time. The desire to know another's nakedness is really the desire to know the other fully as a person. It is the desire to know and to be known, not just sexually but as a total human being. It is the desire for a relationship where each gives not just of his body but of his self, body and spirit both, for the other's gladness.


-Originally published in The Hungering Dark