|Bonobo (Pan paniscus)|
Even for these favoured people, sex is supposed to be something of a guilty activity, definitely not for enjoyment, especially for the woman, and not something to be discussed in polite circles.
For a possible explanation of how this sex obsession became a central part of the religion meme, see The Evolution of Gods.
This seems to appeal to fundamentalists in particular, though not exclusively so, because it gives them an excuse to interfere in other people’s lives at the most private and personal level and so ensure that they aren’t getting more fun out of life than the person doing the condemnation.
One of the excuses put forward to justify this sanctimonious condemnation and interference is that sexual activity is in some way degrading; not worthy of an exulted creature like Man who is above such base, ‘animal’ activity. Animals don’t know any better and are driven by base instincts but Mankind is possessed of intelligence and so should know better. Getting pleasure from sex is being like an animal.
Let’s look at that in some detail.
Of all known non-human species, hardly any use sexual activity socially or for pleasure. Two exceptions to this are bonobos (so-called pygmy chimpanzees, and one of Man’s closest relative) and dolphins. Both these species are amongst the most intelligent of all non-human animals.
Almost without exception, sex between males and females of all other species is for procreation. Even amongst the other great apes sex only occurs during the female’s oestrus period when conception is likely. In these apes, females only become receptive at a particular time in their oestrus cycle when conception is most likely.
On the other hand, sex between humans is possible and frequent outside the female's oestrus period; indeed the oestrus period is only detectable by measurement of body temperature and then not with any certainty. The human female is almost always potentially arousable and sexually receptive regardless of the point in her ovulatory cycle.
Human females cease to be fertile in mid life, yet many women find their sexual appetite actually INCREASES after the menopause and sex becomes more pleasurable, not less. For these couples there can be no possibility of procreation yet sexual activity continues, often in advanced years.
Clearly, sex has evolved in humans for other uses than just procreation. Sex is used socially to maintain pair-bonds between a man and a woman for the long childhood of offspring and to retain this pair-bond into grandparent hood. And, as with our close relative, the bonobo, sex is not restricted to male-female sex; sex is used recreationally and for social bonding between some same gender couples too. This strongly suggests this behaviour has its origins from before divergence of Homo and Pan.
Sex is not purely procreational in humans; sex is recreational and a social activity too, unlike its function in most animals. In short, recreational and social sex is one of the things which distinguishes us from most other species where sex serves an almost entirely procreational function.
Ironically, the very thing which sanctimonious Christians, Jews and Muslims insist mankind should use sex for, is the one thing which almost all other animals use it for. The use of sex for recreational and social purposes which they most decry is one of the basic things which set us apart from almost every other species and is probably due in part to our intelligence.
If censorious religious bigots had their way, sex would not elevate mankind above other animals; it would reduce us to their level. We would truly be behaving like animals when it came to sex.
The tension this produces between the very strong desire for sex and the feelings of guilt it produces in people infected by the religion meme for even feeling these desires, let alone giving in to them, is a very frequent cause of mental health problems. Religion imposes an intolerable burden of unjustified guilt on people who are merely behaving naturally in ways in which millions of years of evolution have prepared them.
And of course, priests, rabbis and imams offer the only 'salvation' from this guilt. Without them and their magic spells and incantations, and above all, their permission or 'blessing', all is lost once you have yielded to the ‘temptations of the flesh’. Please give generously so that we can help other poor ‘sinners’... Yeah, right! Much easier than working for a living.
If Christians, Jews and Muslims truly wanted to celebrate our ‘elevation’ above the level of other animals, they would promote and extol recreational sex. Couples should be exhorted to enjoy sex for the sake of pleasure and to use it for social bonding and group cohesion, the way it has evolved almost uniquely in humans and certainly in ways which are unique to species with a high level of intelligence.
Clearly, they are pursuing some other agenda. Whatever it is, it’s nothing to do with humans being better than other species.