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There is no wrong way to love.

Valentine's Day is a convoluted Hallmark holiday drawing from Christian (as in Saint Valentine), pagan (as in the creepy baby with love-magic weaponry), and capitalist sources. Traditionally, it is a celebration of romantic love... and also candy-enriched platonic love in elementary school classrooms nationwide.

I don't celebrate this holiday with cards and candy and blah blah blah. February 14 means nothing to me personally. But it has got me thinking about romantic love, which I think is a sadly complicated issue for us Americans. Life has enough challenges, and love is free. Why not embrace it fully, and on every day of the year?


Keep Out! Unsafe Area!

Romantic love is a tricky subject in a culture with many sexual hangups. In my opinion, there is much unnecessary anguish over sexuality, which harms individuals, romantic relationships, and even platonic friendships. I wish everybody could agree that there is no wrong way to love. It's only important that we DO love, fully and honestly.

Classic sci-fi writer Robert A. Heinlein famously said,
"Sin lies only in hurting other people unnecessarily. All other 'sins' are invented nonsense."

There's all this Old Testament mumbly jumbly about "sins against God" that came from (let's face it) a crappy, ancient time and place in which there was no modern medicine, no birth control, and no paternity testing. Any intimate physical contact between people that was not necessary to create an intentionally fathered baby was incredibly dangerous, in a society in which people could easily die of a urinary tract infection or now-treatable skin condition. Nomads in the desert couldn't just sleep with whomever; it was better to drive the fear of God into all children and make them feel deep shame about their bodies than risk disease or babies of unknown parentage--carrying the risk of accidental incest. Yuck. But the sex sins in the Old Testament sections that forbid things like homosexuality or women leaving the house while menstruating also allow things like a man raping his slaves if his wife is "barren." It makes no sense to pick through those chapters and try to find sex rules "relevant" to modern Western culture.


Safe sex in America today is no more risky than driving to work. So why should non-procreative sex (or even sexual feelings) be a mortal sin, while driving is fine? Some people think that non-monogamous, non-committed sex is wrong. Most people prefer sex in a committed relationship, but casual sex is not necessarily harmful just because it is not as deeply meaningful. I think two people having a one-night stand, using protection and enjoying each other's pleasure, is just as much an act of love as dropping change in a stranger's parking meter.

Besides, human sexuality serves many purposes, not just procreation. Human societies are complex. Thriving cultures need people in many roles besides baby-maker. The baby-makers have healthier, happier children when the children are raised by a "village," not just two worn-down parents. Human sex releases hormones that bond couples, relieve stress, increase longevity, and more. Sexuality extends beyond physical acts to fuel creativity and expression. Bisexuality, homosexuality, and a framework with more than just two gender roles persist through generations of "less developed" animals. In our mentally, emotionally, and socially complex human species, it is only natural and healthy that there is a huge variety of sexual and gender expressions.

Oh, and it's not like we have a low population problem. In my humble opinion, it's much more harmful and irresponsible to become a baby-mill than to have sex that isn't intended to result in pregnancy.

Shaming a person for their sexuality and withholding love (romantic/sexual, parental, or otherwise) based on judgment of their identity is terribly damaging and cruel. Loving someone, no matter who and no matter how (as long as we are talking about love here, not a euphemism for something sinister), is good and healthy. Everyone deserves love, and no human being can be healthy and fulfilled without it. Although I certainly cannot rule out the possibility of asexual people (we are a diverse species), most people require romantic and/or sexual love, in addition to non-sexual relationships, to be happy and whole.


Fear of loving the "wrong" way puts a strain on relationships of all kinds. How many heterosexual buddies hold back from "too much" expression of affection for each other so it doesn't seem "too gay?" In my experience, straight men with the most confidence in their own sexuality (and the least shame) are less--or not at all--concerned with "looking gay." Because who cares? Sometimes looking gay is fun.


Whether your love is gay, straight, interracial, committed, open, monogamous, devoted, fleeting, kinky, raunchy, gentle, serious, playful, federally sanctioned, or any other kind, it is a legitimate blessing to you and everyone who shares your love. All love is good love. And the world needs more of it, not less.

You don't need to buy a card or flowers, but love somebody today, any way you want to, any way you've got to. Happy Valentine's Day!

Comments

  1. Well said! More love, not less!
    Happy Love Day ;)

    ReplyDelete
  2. Very well said. I still just can't help but be against the day that Americans turned into such a commercial day. I'm married and I love my hubs but I'm STILL against V-Day. Maybe I'd be more open to it if it wasn't shoved down my throat ya know?

    ReplyDelete

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