Sexual Drives
Rabbi Moshe Ben-Chaim
Reader: Why is it all sex-related behavior and thought are completely prohibited outside of marriage? Isn't it dangerous to practice repression in such an absolutist fashion? Won't the pent up energies manifest themselves in some other negative way? I mean, look at the whole Church scandal -- that certainly resulted from sexual repression, and while the Torah doesn't require life-long chastity, it does prohibit all sexual behavior and thought for at least an eight year period (between puberty and the usual earliest age of marriage). Is it because we men are so prone to sexual indulgence, that we can't be trusted to even think about sex without the danger of actually transgressing? Or is it because the thoughts themselves are harmful in some way? Thank you for your time.
Mesora: The instincts are strong for the reason that God wishes man to procreate. When procreation is not feasible, repression is not the answer, as you have shown with your example of the priests who become sexual offenders. Repression does not satisfy the emotions, and emotional energies do not subside. It is against nature and reason to use repression, attempting to squelch that which keeps surging. However, reason dictates and nature demands that the emotions find satisfaction. God's intent is that these strong emotions route themselves towards wisdom where much energy is required. Wisdom is the one area where man can successfully satisfy his tremendous energies. As one progresses in his learning, his energies redirect from the instincts, to the intellect.
It would be best if people married at young ages, as the Talmud states about one person who married at age 15, "If I were married at 14, I would have spit the Satan in the eye" meaning, younger is better precisely for the reasons quoted. If a thought poses itself to us, this is not something for which the Torah holds one accountable. This is a case of "oh-nase", coercion.What's damaging is purposeful imagination, or gazing at that which is prohibited. This Torah reprimands one who gazes at even the small toe of a woman lustfully. Here, man is missing his chance to engage his intellect, but unfortunately, engages the emotions. The Rabbis also said, "there is a small limb in man, if man satisfies it, it becomes hungry, if he starves it, it becomes full." This means that if man feeds the sexual drive, his lusts will increase, but if he controls them, they will decrease. This is how the desires function by design.
Man can control himself, we don't have to act. We can divert our thoughts, and once we engage in learning, our energies remove from the sexual. Sometimes it is more difficult than others. But with time, we condition ourselves, and we even forget those thoughts that at times preoccupied us.

Philosophy | Tnach | New Postings | JewishTimes | Audio Archives | Suggested Reading | Live Classes | Search | Letters | Q&A's | Community Action | Volunteer | Links | Education | Chat | Banners | Classifieds | Advertise | Donate | Donors | About Us | Press | Contacts | Home


Mesora website designed by
© 2003 Mesora of New York, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Articles may be reprinted without permission.