“Create in me a clean heart, O Lord, and renew a right spirit within me.”
Aha! Now that I have your attention, let’s talk about something that is highly over-rated and miserably misunderstood. Trust me. I know from experience that all the hype before I actually became a participant was gleaned from locker room banter and behind the barn experimentation. That’s just the way my generation’s parents dealt with the “birds and the bees.” I can’t recall any of my friends receiving the father-son talk at puberty. What we learned about sex was learned from older brothers or older friends who had as much insight into sexual relations as the bull in the barn. After we had been active for several years, the school’s gym teacher broached the subject in junior high school with instruction that covered only the physical aspects of anatomy and not the emotional/psychological/spiritual responsibilities. At home instruction consisted of a terse, one sentence directive: “Keep it in your pants.”
Easy to understand why, as budding alcoholics, the sexual aspect of our lives was most often colored by a hodgepodge of misinformation and selfish activity directed by the developing “self-will run riot” mantra which controlled us. Of all people, alcoholics were the least qualified people to enter into committed relationships and rear families.
In order to attain a completeness in sobriety we had to make drastic changes in thinking and behavior. Of course, the grace of a Higher Power guided us into that new way of sober-living. Giving up old ideas about sex was probably the most difficult change to master but we knew that gaining healthy attitudes about sex was necessary for us to return to roles as husbands and fathers in our families and community. To that end, pubescent boyhood sex-play had to mature into adult manhood sexuality.
Understanding that sex is a God-given, joyful responsibility rather than a sinful, hidden activity, for some of us, was a huge hurdle. Our early experiences were often saddled with guilt and shame. Our religious upbringing did nothing to enlighten and dignify the most powerful human force known to mankind.
As Peggy Lee lamented in “Is That All There Is?”, a very popular song of 1969, we often developed in our sex lives the same addictive behavior which controlled our use of alcohol and drugs. More experimentation, riskier encounters, and less emotional satisfaction drove us to places in which only fools and derelicts attempted to find fulfilment. Not surprisingly, we became losers, misfits, and runaways in our addictions of substances and behavior. Only the grace of a loving God was able to restore us to sober-living in all aspects of our lives.
“We tried to shape a sane ideal for our future sex life. We subjected each relation to this test: was it selfish or not? We asked God to mold our ideals and help us to live up to them. We remembered always that our sex partners were God-given and therefore good, neither to be used lightly or selfishly nor to be despised and loathed.” Bill W., AS BILL SEES IT, pg. 142