Chapter One
(or Four, depending upon how you count Forewords)

Everything You Always Assumed You Knew About Sex*
*And So Didn't Bother to Ask

It is true that this chapter heading bears a certain superficial resemblance to the title of the popular book by Dr. David Reuben (M.D., as you might guess). That could be sheer coincidence.

Well, it could be!

Yes, he did write his book first, but you can't prove that I didn't think of mine first. Actually, there is a big difference between his book and mine. His book is one of the all-time bestsellers; as of this writing, mine hasn't sold a copy.

Nevertheless, Reuben's book needs mine (he hasn't admitted that, but I will). His tells only half the story of sex--although the half that sells books, it must be noted. The half he does tell, he tells thoroughly and well. All the ins and outs of sex as bodily activity (of infinite variation) get described in detail. But Reuben pictures man too small. Oh, it is true that he points out that the largest and most important of man's sex organs is his brain; but he does not sufficiently recognize that, through his brain, man's sex gets linked up with a great many other interests and functions as well. Reuben fails to treat the sex beyond sex, as it were.

Our two books, then, can divide the field between them. I do not propose to handle the aspects of sex which he treats. Likewise, be hardly touches upon what I propose to treat. The difference, however, is this: I am well aware (sometimes too much aware) of sex as bodies in motion and glands in commotion. I am happy to grant the validity and need for his book and the sort of sex education it represents. However, I am not sure that he shows a similar awareness of the story I want to tell.

The point I am intent to make should be obvious enough. It is, therefore, the Eller Elucidation: A person is bigger (or should be bigger) than his sex organs--even if his brain is counted among his sex organs.

The view of man underlying Reuben's book is deficient. Whether or not it marks his deliberate position, he manages to leave the impression that human beings essentially are discrete atoms, each propelled by his "pulsating genitals" (Reuben's phrase) whose thrust should not and ultimately cannot be denied. His concern, then, is that as these atoms bump into sexual contact one with another, the vibrations between them be as good as possible. He is emphatic that the secret lies much more in the state of the brain than in the form and comeliness of the other apparati involved. He shares countless helpful hints on how to insure high-level vibes. He makes a strong case for the fact that homosexuality and relations with prostitutes almost inevitably fail to produce quality experience.

All this is well and good, but it needs to be recognized that a human being is much more than just a giant spermatozoon jetting around at random until it happens to find its destiny in a happy bump and boin-n-ng (that is, sex only as genital activity--humans only as individuals). If human beings are atoms, they are the sort that are unstable until they have joined with other atoms in the formation of a molecule--molecule then joining with molecule in the formation of a compound; particle then joining with particle in the formation of an object; object then joining with object in the formation of a universe. (Whoever thought up the idea of calling the conglomeration in which we live a "universe" did well; certainly the intention behind it is that everything be integrated into a well-ordered whole, even though we may be a long way from achieving such coordination in fact.)

But this sort of "build in here," "tie together there," "weld another piece on that point," "consolidate this structure into that larger pattern"--this sort of construction is something far different from bump/vibrate/"yecch!"; bump/vibrate/"interesting!"; bump/vibrate/"fair!"; bump/vibrate/"heaven!"; bump/vibrate/"I should a stood in heaven!"

Our view of man sees his life as consisting in commitments rather than mere experiences. A man and a woman commit themselves to each other to form a marriage. The commitment is enlarged and new commitments are made to form a family. Both individuals and families make additional commitments to form communities of many different sorts. Communities make mutual commitments to form peoples and nations. Peoples and nations should commit themselves to one another to form the family of man. And the family of man should commit itself to live in harmony with the world of nature.

And according to the view here being developed, this overall commitment-structure is not thought of as the spontaneous invention of men, a parlor game in which each successive generation adds a paragraph to an undirected and entirely open-ended story. Rather, all these human commitments are to be seen within the commitment of the Author and the story he is intent to tell. His is the story of the creation of a universe (actually the re-creation of a universe that had fallen apart when men decided that they would rather live by experiences than by commitments). By the way, the theological name for universe is "the kingdom of God," because the only commitment that ultimately carries any hope of integrating the present "untidyverse" is commitment to the kingly rule of God.

It is this consideration that gives sex its theological dimension. On first thought it might seem as though this view of life--which is as broad as the universe itself and as long as the stretch from its first creation to its final re-creation--reduces the significance of an individual and his actions to almost nothing. Quite the contrary, here is the setting which for once recognizes the true importance of the individual. The universe is built through, is constructed out of, human commitments; and human commitments, whether made alone or in concert with others, cannot be made other than by individual humans. Without your help the consummation of the universe is hindered in its coming. God's greatest interest is in forming and maintaining "covenant,"--promoting "fidelity" like his own.

Puritanism, then (our brand of Puritanism), does not disparage the individual or even what Reuben refers to as the power of his pulsating genitals. To the extent that man is a sexual being (which is a considerable extent indeed), to that extent sex is one of the motivating powers behind his commitments, a power that has its part to play in the building of the universe.

Sex, then, is more important than Reuben would have it, not less so--and that precisely because sex is not an end in itself. In other words, flights of ecstasy do not mark the highest reward sex has to offer. Man's greatest satisfaction, joy, fulfillment, and usefulness come, not in romping around this world's playground for a few short years, but through making the commitments that build him into his proper slot in the universe that is coming to be. And not only does the individual find his own highest happiness by getting himself rightly positioned, he helps make the whole universe a happier place at the same time.

So, when a person is faced with the choice between experiencing some better-than-ever sex vibrations or making (or standing by) a commitment that fits another piece into our erector-set universe, he would do well to sacrifice the first and go with the second. The power of sex can be dedicated to some great and lasting accomplishments.

Of course, if Dr. Reuben or anyone else can give some help that will upgrade the vibrations occurring within a universe-building commitment that already has been made, God bless him. And for that matter, the time-honored experience of high-class Puritanism has been that, in nine cases out of then if not ninety-nine out of a hundred, one is more likely to achieve the heights of sexual ecstasy by working to improve the experience within his commitment, rather than by cutting out to chase a vision of sexual heaven through the bump/vibrate/bump/vibrate/bump method.

The concepts of gender attraction and genital sex have theological value:

Gender Attraction
Gender distinctions tend to divide the race--we might call them the roots of the very human "war of the sexes." But gender attraction is God's design for holding the human community together in a rich unity.
Genital sex
Genital sex is the most profound sort of human bonding--a "two-become-one" cross-gender bonding. It serves the purpose of pro-creation and even provides personal enjoyment--but it's importance lies in its help in, and expression of, marriage and family.

Profound commitment to another person is not at all the same thing as an overwhelming physical and emotional experience with another person. Yet these two tend to get all confused with each other, precisely because both are marked by deep personal involvement. (I am deliberately avoiding the word "love," because we are accustomed to use it to cover either or both elements indiscriminately.)

The difference is that commitment centers on duration, stick-to-itiveness, and lasting power, whereas experience has its end and goal in the moment of the experience itself. Thus, the young woman who defended her sex adventures on the grounds that they were motivated by love, that she gave herself completely and totally to each man she slept with, may have been telling as much of the truth as she understood, but it cannot have been the whole truth. She could mean only that she gave everything she could to the experience that was taking place. But obviously she did not understand this to entail giving herself from this time forward, giving every aspect of her life and her self (present and future) to be united with him--forming a molecule.

Although there is much temptation to do so, the strength of one's commitment cannot be gauged by the excitement of the experiential moment but must be measured by the fidelity demonstrated in the absence of pleasurable experience and even in the face of negative experience. In the ecstatic instant of bump and boin-n-ng anyone would like to have the experience go on forever and can fool himself into thinking that this feeling is the equivalent of an until-death-do-us-part commitment. Yet once the experience is over (and the very nature of the case dictates that there must be this sort of parting long before death effects it), the supposed commitment often proves as transient as the experience itself.

Now, of course, the best sort of sex is that which brings together long-term commitment and thrilling experience into one package. But even there the situation is not simply half of one and half of the other. The subtraction of one or the other does not leave equal remainders. Commitment is the much more crucial ingredient of the two.

Sexual commitment lacking the component of bodily sexual experience is handicapped sex, but handicaps can be overcome or risen above. The relationship still can be made a satisfying and significant one. For example, if a man became injured so that it were physically impossible for him to perform the sex act, it still would be quite possible for him and his wife to make adjustments permitting their marriage to continue as a very valid sexual relationship, i.e., a relationship made possible by and deriving its value from the fact that the partners are of opposite sexes.

But sexual experience lacking the component of commitment is truncated sex. A vital part is missing, and the couple has substituted a pathetic half-sex for what the relationship could be and was meant to be.

However, when Reuben fosters such implications as the suggestion that religious celibates (priests, monks, nuns, and others) necessarily are limiting their own humanity and depriving themselves of their true destiny as human beings, he is way off the mark. He does not acknowledge the possibility that these people may be using their sex power in a different way than most of us do--yet, even so, in a way that truly signifies sex dedicated to the highest goals of their own humanity and the humanity of the race.

You see, sex is one of the pwers that propel men, but it is by no means the only one. Man's sex urges are part of a mix with a whole host of other urges and motivations--physiological, psychological, emotional, intellectual, and spiritual. The intention, then, is that the mix be governed by motives of the mind and will so that the whole moves the man in one direction (rather than a confusion of directions) and that the movement be along the vector that spells universe-building and true humanity. Puritanism asks, not that sex be denied, but that it be harnessed and put to work for both the individual's truest enjoyment and the achievement of his own humanity along with that of the rest of the world. Reuben's view of sex is seen to be not so much false as narrow.

The difference, then, between Puritanism and Impuritanism is not that Puritanism is opposed to sex while Impuritanism favors it. Not at all. Rather, Impuritanism values sex only for the experience, the good vibrations it provides. Puritanism enjoys good vibrations but sees that sex, when harnessed to commitment, also can be used to forward the greatest dreams of man and God.

So our battle cry is not "Down with Reuben; Up with Puritanism." It is:

"Come on Reuben, Rachel, and All the Rest. Think Big. Dream Sex Dreams that Can Take in the Whole of Humanity and a Real, True Universe. Join the Revolution!"

Copyright (c) 1971