Sexuality has been and will be part of our nature forever. We begin our lives as sexually aware creatures. Just ask any mother who has watched her two year old child’s body exploration and body play in the bathtub, or her five year old playing doctor. We end our lives as sexual creatures. Some of the stamina and vitality may be gone in later years but the desire, awareness and self interest is not.
I worked for several years as an inspector in assisted living facilities in Arizona. You could often sense the sexual awareness and frustration in some of the older clients. In some of the clients with full dementia you didn’t have to sense it, they not only still felt it, they flaunted it! It was always interesting to me to see the reactions of others to this overt sexual behavior. The other elderly clients were usually very matter of fact about it and treated the behavior as no big deal. The reaction of the adult children of the flaunters, however, was another story completely. Most of them seemed totally unable to accept that their parents still wanted to touch one another, to kiss one another or even to try going beyond that. The desire to have sexual activity in our lives encompasses so many things: love, touch, intimacy, excitement, sharing and simply the comfort of being close to someone whom we know cares about us.
Human sexuality has gone through so many phases. At the beginning it started with openness for Adam and Eve. How did it get from there to the buttoned up stiffness of the Victorian age? Or how did the pendulum swing from the rip-snorting free sex of the 60s to the ascendency of the conservatives reaching out to young people to encourage chastity oaths or chastity bracelets?. My own mother, who confessed to liking sex, nevertheless believed that to use our bodies for pleasure was a sin. It has always been impossible for me to believe that God would create our bodies as designed for pleasure, then decree that it is sinful to enjoy them. Not that I’m advocating wild and unrestrained sex. No, the downsides to that are too numerous to count and most of them are brutally obvious. But, what I do believe is that each of us should be able to embrace our sexuality, enjoy it in what seems to be an appropriate manner, and most important of all, not have to feel guilty about being a sexual creature.