We Don't Need Sexual Healing
Sexual surrogacy, therapy through sexual touch, doesn't get a lot of attention in the U.S. Few professional surrogates are still working today, and many Americans are uncomfortable by the ethical and legal implications of the practice. I had no idea sexual surrogacy existed until this article came across my screen a few weeks ago, leaving me uncomfortable, dumbfounded, and, if I'm honest, torn.
But there's a growing conversation around the practice. Last year, Helen Hunt was nominated for an Oscar her portrayal of sexual surrogate to a man with an iron lung in The Sessions. Next week, Showtime will debut Masters of Sex, based on the researchers credited with popularizing sexual surrogacy, among other groundbreaking studies on sexuality.
Sexual surrogacy is on the rise as an ethical discussion in Europe; in France, this issue is being championed by women and men with physical disabilities who aren't able to find sexual fulfillment through any other venue. It's legal in Denmark, and by some, it's being promoted as the next "Right to Choose" cause.
Surrogates work with individuals who have intimacy issues, either physical or emotional, or those with mental or physical disabilities and would otherwise not get the chance to experience sex. The act is meant to humanize them and meet a physical need that probably wouldn't be met otherwise.
The coverage of sexual surrogacy, from the starkly honest perspectives of people with disabilities or in some cases their families, offers an intriguing picture at a difficult, often lonely life. A wheelchair-bound woman on the streets of Paris, loudly proclaiming to passer-byers that she has sexual needs, too, is hard to ignore. My initial response was, "Go ahead. They deserve sex. Every human deserves sex." Right?
That's the underlying argument for surrogacy, a compassionate defense of the necessity and right to sex. Sex is considered an integral part of the human experience-- the pinnacle of adulthood, affection, human closeness, and enjoyment.
That line of thinking, though, goes against what we know about the power of sex as a relational experience and the ability for people to live healthy, fulfilling, celibate lives. As a Christian, I can't defend sex as a need. We've forgotten that sex was created for a purpose. As my pastor recently pointed out, sex is made for bonding (and babies). It draws us to one another. Scripture refers to sex as two people becoming one person, one flesh.
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