A chain of new diseases is shackling the freedom of the sexually liberated.
by Satyaraja dasa
The free-wheeling sexual revolution is upwards of a decade old, and it seems there’s no going back. We’ve shrugged off the foolish and primitive shackles of sexual restraint and opened ourselves to progressive and liberating conceptions of male and female sexuality. But there’s one catch: Those who feel free to have unrestricted sex contract sexually transmitted diseases just as freely.
And the diseases now raging through the ranks of the sexually liberated are not merely the simple syphilis and gonorrhea we knew in more innocent times, when sex was hardly mentionable in public. Today’s sexual encounters engender such risks as herpes and chancroid.
As many as twenty million Americans have genital herpes, and up to half a million more catch it every year. And once you’ve got herpes, you’ve got it for life. The virus burrows into nerve cells and stays there, unaffected by any known treatment. The psychological effects of the herpes stigma are often worse than the physical effects of the disease itself.
Chancroid, a newly discovered venereal disease that features painful genital ulcers and blisters, was relatively rare a year or so ago. But now it has become quite common, with a growth rate that rivals herpes. We should not wonder at the astronomical growth rates for venereal diseases, however, for every year many more individuals join the march for sexual freedom.
Where has this march led us recently? AIDS. (AIDS is an acronym for Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome.) AIDS victims, due to a breakdown of their immune systems, are prone to a grab bag of ravaging diseases. Once thought to be a condition peculiar to homosexuals, AIDS is now affecting many heterosexuals as well. The number of cases has doubled every six months since 1981, and so far almost forty percent of all AIDS cases have proven fatal. Some researchers believe that no one who has it will survive it.
Even if AIDS doesn’t kill you, in time you may wish it had. When you first get the disease, you feel like you’ve got the flu. But a year later the “flu” hasn’t gone away. Gradually the AIDS victim loses his ability to fight off even the mildest disease. AIDS victims are prone to an arm-long list of so-called opportunistic infections—rare cancers and other diseases that don’t affect people whose immune systems are working properly. About a third of all victims have developed Kaposi’s sarcoma, a cancer of the skin and internal organs. Many others have come down with an unusual pneumonia caused by a protozoan, Pneumocystis carinii.
In addition to the mounting plague of sexually transmitted diseases, promiscuity also generates detrimental social effects. Unwanted children, despite having escaped the gauntlet of birth control and abortion, are often neglected. Many times the father abandons the mother and child, and sometimes both parents abandon the child. Such unwanted children are raised with insufficient affection and guidance and easily fall prey to bad association. City streets and jails abound with these youngsters. And it all began with sexually preoccupied parents.
Why has nature engulfed us in such a nightmare? Why can’t we enjoy a full, healthy sex life, free from horrible side effects? Perhaps we should seriously reassess the purpose of sex. Perhaps we are abusing sex, and being abused by sex in turn. Perhaps our ideas of sexuality are more perverse than progressive, more lewd than liberating.
Sex is meant for having children—the natural result of sexual enjoyment is pregnancy. Bent on avoiding nature’s arrangement, however, people use contraceptives, have abortions, incur diseases—and spoil society. So we shouldn’t consider promiscuity’s backlash an unjust retribution from a merciless God. It’s simply one of nature’s ways of telling us that unrestricted sexuality is unnatural.
The difficulty is that sex is the source of the strongest sensual and emotional stimulation, and to restrict it—what to speak of giving it up all together—appears impossible. To put aside any enjoyment is certainly difficult. But if we find something more enjoyable, then it is equally as natural to give up our previous enjoyment—especially if that enjoyment, like unrestricted sex, has detrimental side effects.
In the Bhagavad-gita (2.59) Lord Krsna explains, “Although one may artificially repress the desires of the senses, the taste for sense enjoyment remains. But by getting a higher taste, one remains fixed in consciousness.”
In the Krsna consciousness movement we practice bhakti-yoga, or devotional service to the Supreme Lord, Krsna, the reservoir of all pleasure. The central point of bhakti-yoga is chanting the holy names of Krsna—Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. Because Krsna is absolute, He is nondifferent from His names, and we can associate with Him through sound vibration. Associating with the reservoir of pleasure makes sex pleasure look pale by comparison.
We therefore find no unwanted children in the Hare Krsna movement, nor do we find abortion or contraception. We indulge in sex only in marriage, and then only to have children. And we raise the children in Krsna consciousness. This is the original purpose of sex, and when one uses sex only for this purpose, nature does not retaliate—no herpes, no AIDS.
But don’t believe us just because we say so. Try the process of bhakti-yoga and see if your desire for enjoyment does not become refined. See for yourself whether or not you develop a higher taste.