Sabbath Ramblings: Sex, Porn & Polyamory Part 3.

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In Part 1 of this series on sex, porn, and polyamory, I shared with you my thoughts on polyamory, open relationships, and multiple sexual partners. In Part 2, I detailed what I think the root problem with porn is, how porn problematically affects our brains and our neurotransmitters, the pain porn can cause in our relationships, and the nature of “just looking” vs. full-blown adultery in general.

And in both those previous articles, I alluded multiple times to the potential for both polyamory and porn to cheapen and bastardize the special, sacred, spiritual, and reverent nature of true, loving sexual intercourse between two committed partners.

In this article, I'll explain exactly what I mean by that, why I think most couples really don't experience sex in all the glorious pleasure that it can actually be, and how you can make your own sex life much, much better.

Why is this so important?

Frankly, sex is a subject you can't ignore.

After all, the world is obsessed with sex.

From the moment we wake up to the moment we go to bed, we are constantly bombarded by a culture that seems obsessed with the message that sex is good, sex is free, sex doesn't have consequences, and you should be free explore as many different avenues of sex as you desire.

Furthermore, we're often told that sex can be casual, sex can be no big deal, and you can and should have sex with as many people as you want (in fact, in many cases, the more the better). For those who have decided to save themselves for a marriage partner, this can be quite a conundrum, since a common belief is that by the time you get married you should have some semblance of sexual experience, know exactly what you want in bed, be free to “try before you buy,” never be tied down sexually, and therefore have already experimented with and honed your sexual chops with a wide variety of partners. This is all accompanied by the mistaken belief that the practice of and desire for sex with multiple partners will somehow magically disappear once you find that “right person” and settle down with them. After all, unless you have sex before you get married, how do you know if you're even getting a good deal?

So, not only are we surrounded by this message and a generation of young people growing up and wondering how to navigate this entire confusing sexual realm, but we're also bombarded by screens and imagery that significantly mold our sexual worldview. Often, especially via porn, modern media destroys our expectations of what sex could and should be and decimates our understanding of what a healthy relationship with sex should be like. Porn in particular erects (heh!) unrealistic expectations that are not rooted in love and intimacy, but rather in a desire to give rather than to take—showcasing an unattainable version of sex that often denies the humanity of the other person in our sexual relationship. Sex, therefore, turns into an exploration of “what's in it for me,” rather than a golden rule-based philosophy of how we can serve the other person.

Are you getting the idea that you should care about this topic, not only for yourself, but for generations to come? If so, keep reading.


The Importance Of Sacred, Spiritual Sex

I can't say that I fully experienced sex the way sex was “meant to be” until I was probably in my mid-30s.

Up until that point, I'd roughly define my experience with sex as kind of a mutual masturbation with my partner in which we pretty much vigorously rubbed both of our bodies together while grunting, groaning, and moaning until we reached some kind of a mutual orgasmic peak, then perhaps cuddled for a little while, cleaned up, and moved on. 

It's only been for the past decade or so, through engaging with my wife Jessa in everything from tantric breathwork to plant medicine to eye gazing to breathwork to a deep spiritual bonding through mutual meditation and prayer that sex has absolutely transformed into a deeply spiritual and sacred experience that I'm frankly shocked I was missing out on for so much of my life.

So what do I mean when I refer to sex being sacred? 

The dictionary defines sacred as “made or declared holy, dedicated or devoted exclusively to a use, purpose, or person worthy of reverence or respect.” The root of the word is derived from the Latin sacra, which means “sacred, holy, consecrated,” and is often used to describe something considered to be highly blessed or revered. The noun, singular version of the word sacred is sacrum, which you're no doubt familiar with as the term used to describe a specific bone of your pelvic regions, but sacrum also translates to “a holy thing or place.”

While we so often—especially in modern, logical, rational, scientism and religion—separate the sacred and spiritual from the physical and fleshly (a conundrum I mention in this recent podcast episode on environmentalism and the sacred intelligence of plants with Gordon Wilson), these Latin roots imply something altogether different, as do other ancient belief patterns. For example, Tantra—the esoteric traditions of Hinduism and Buddhism that developed in India from the middle of the 1st millennium CE onwards—teaches that the seat of the so-called kundalini (spiritual energy or life force located at the base of the spine) or Shakti (spiritual energy of ability, strength, effort, power, and capability) energies originate in this second sacral chakra of the pelvis regions; and, particularly when aroused through Tantric-like sexual practices, these energies travel up the physical spine to deep spiritual centers housed in the higher energetic crown chakra near the top (crown) of the head – centers that we now know from the study of neuroscience physically manifest in a host of pleasurable and mind-altering neurotransmitters and bonding hormones emitted by anatomical regions of the brain.

When you think about it, this makes sense. After all, the culmination of sexual intercourse is the inception of life. It is the very method via which a unique spirit and soul is brought forth into the world. To acknowledge that life force and sexual energy originate from the same source definitely makes one think differently about their sacrum and pelvis, especially when it comes to the way in which those body parts interact with another human being. In other words, the very fact that sex is capable of bringing forth a new life into the world makes sex incredibly sacred, and something to indeed be blessed, revered, and treated with deep respect and consideration.

In addition, a mutually satisfying sexual exchange that naturally intensifies the strength of a relationship is sacred because of its unique role in bonding two human beings together. Sure, sex can take place without bonding, but when sex occurs between humans with two open hearts who are using Tantric sexual practices such as slowing down, awakening each of the senses, tuning into subtle energies via breath and body awareness, releasing judgment and blame, expressing intense gratitude, and savoring the present moment in an act of intentional mindfulness, there is a rare intimacy of bonding that cannot be created in any other human interaction I can think of. Sex can bring people together and keep people together (in a much more fun and pleasurable way than other bonding activities such as, say, natural disasters, war, or political turmoil).

Speaking of politics, perhaps this strong bonding power of sex is why sex can act as such a powerful political manipulation tactic. Sex can indeed be highly political and is something that has been used repeatedly in history as a way to advance political agendas and motives. Case in point: the recent Chinese spy Fang Fang sex scandal (headline: Don’t Govern While Horny), which of course has been preceded by countless historical instances of so-called sexpionage (the use of sexual activity, intimacy, romance, or seduction to conduct espionage), with many such examples thoroughly highlighted in the book Sex, Power, and Politics: Exploring the Femme Fatale’s Mastery of the Political throughout History, and even in Bible stories such as Samson and Delilah or other Biblical femme fatales such as Judith, Esther, and Jael—all women who used their feminine charms and sex appeal to dispatch an enemy of Israel.

One comment left by reader Veronica on Part 2 of this sexual health series really got me thinking more about how profound the biological and energetic bond is that we experience during sex. Among other observations, she noted: “…just imagine what our bodies can be subjected to with actual, physical sexual interactions; the energies, toxins, hormones, foreign DNA…fluids that are so readily absorbed… taking onboard our physical body and its energetic fields…”. It really is a powerful thought when you dwell upon it: During sex, you are exchanging with another human being's most intimate of fluids, saliva, urine, skin cells, biome, and other biological matter while simultaneously deeply enveloped in that being's heart and brain's electromagnetic field, all while physically dancing in close coordination with the energies of each of their chakras, from sacrum to crown.

Based on all this it's shocking how standard it is—especially in a modern, Westernized, speed-dating, serial-divorcing, polyamorous society—for sex to be…

…a casual event appropriate for a random fling or one-night stand that is largely disconnected from any emotion of love or commitment, despite it being near impossible to disconnect the physical and the spiritual aspects of sex, no matter how calloused one has become…

…something that can be shared in a polyamorous style with a wide variety of lovers, absent of devotion or loyalty to any one particular partner, resulting in what I can best describe as a random series of “weak bonds” vs. a single “strong bond,” similar to having 5,000 shallow relationships with Facebook friends but no close and deeply appreciated physical friends…

…an opportunity to create a 90+ billion dollar porn industry based around us viewing strangers engage in and largely bastardize via sexual objectification, orgies, beastiality, child abuse, and beyond what should instead be a private, blessed, revered, spiritual, and sacred act…

…a quite nonchalant “que sera sera” approach amongst many married couples that if “sex happens, it happens,” with almost no forethought, calendaring, or planning to create intentional and highly meaningful sexual experiences similar to what I discuss in this podcast

In other words, most of us could do a better job recognizing sex for the sacred experience that it is and taking sex far more seriously—not in a sober and boring sort of way, but rather with the same type of mindfulness, preparation, education, and immersion as we might devote to becoming a concert pianist, a watercolor maestro, or a finely tuned athlete. As a matter of fact, in the same way that I think children should be taught from an early age to have an intimate understanding of how to use their breath and prana life force to control their emotions and physiology (a concept I discuss in detail here), I also believe a core part of any human's educational curriculum should include some kind of formal training in how to truly become physically, mentally, and spiritually intertwined during the act of lovemaking—including learning and incorporating the type of tantric practices I'll describe later in this article.


What The Bible Says About Sex

Of course, coming from a Christian background, I've repeatedly witnessed my Bible-believing friends shy away from any element of fancy lovemaking or deep, immersive sexual experiences with their spouse, often considering a sacred approach to sex to be associated with some type of extreme sexual infatuation of orgiastic Pagan ritual origins or an obsession with fleshly, carnal, lust-infused pursuits. God forbid any good Catholic or Protestant be caught with a Kama Sutra floating about their bedside. This Victorian-esque pessimistic and pragmatic approach to sex is perhaps best illustrated by the words of Queen Victoria when she purportedly instructed the Christian ladies in her realm to simply “Lie back and think of England.

But the great Creator made all things good (see 1 Timothy 4:4 and Genesis 1:31), including our sacrum, our genitals, and sex. Sure, in the same way we can bastardize alcohol, cannabis, or any other potential vice; gluttonize on wine, milk, and honey; or become addicted and attached to exercise or other pleasurable pursuits, we can certainly make sex sinful (e.g. see my articles on polyamory and porn); but that doesn't mean that recognizing the special sacredness of sex or practicing mindful, connected sex with our spouse is a sin. Christianity is generally considered to be a somewhat sexually repressive religion, and furthermore, since Christians are known for being opposed to gay sex, pre-marital sex, and extramarital sex, it is often assumed by many Christians that erotic sex is “bad” or “shameful” or “unspeakable” in and of itself—but nothing could be further from the truth!

For example, I would challenge any Christian—who considers sex to simply be a quick way to, perhaps, conceive a child or make a partner feel briefly satisfied—to spend some time reading the Song of Solomon, an entire Scriptural poem that can be shockingly, sublimely, and sensually sexy, including elements of extravagant lovemaking, male and female oral sex, breasts compared to fawns, a man’s penis as sweet fruit and his genitalia as a bag of myrrh, and a woman’s genitalia as a garden of pomegranates that should be eaten, with lips and mouths described as “honey and milk.”

From the very beginning, sex was part of the created order. In the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve were “naked and were not ashamed” (Genesis 2:25). In the Book of Proverbs, the wise father instructs his son to “rejoice in the wife of your youth, a lovely deer, a graceful doe. Let her breasts fill you at all times with delight; be intoxicated always in her love” (Proverbs 5:18–19). Hebrews 13:4 says “Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled,” indicating that sex should be not be a cause for shame, but should be honored (back to that sacred sacra!), cherished, and enjoyed as a good gift from God.

Heck, we husbands actually owe sex to our wives! In 1 Corinthians 7:3-4, the Apostle Paul writes that “The husband should give to his wife her conjugal rights, and likewise the wife to her husband. For the wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. Likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does.” In other words, sex was to be mutual and husbands actually owed sex to their wife, while the wife had the right to claim sex from her husband. This idea that sex within a marriage was to be free, generous, and reciprocal was actually a revolutionary thought in the ancient world. Perhaps more disruptive to our modern perceptions of sex, it also means that—despite many young men and women being taught that they should only have sex when both partners desire it—this passage of the Bible indicates that in the context of a marriage, sex should be gifted to a partner whenever that partner desires it!

In addition to encouraging couples to engage in generous and reciprocal sex within a marriage relationship, the Bible indicates that frequent sexual intercourse is a good thing. Paul also says “Do not deprive one another, except perhaps by agreement for a limited time, that you may devote yourselves to prayer; but then come together again, so that Satan may not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.” (1 Corinthians 7:5). Based on the idea that if we drink deeply from our own cisterns we will be less tempted to draw from our neighbor's well (Proverbs 5:15), as is encouraged in the Old Testament, in the New Testament, frequent sexual intercourse is encouraged as a guard against a wandering eye and a lustful heart. Married couples are encouraged to set aside at most a few days of mutually agreed upon abstinence to instead focus on prayer or other spiritual practices,  but then to come together quickly lest they be tempted to sexual immorality.

Next, and contrary to the belief of many Christians I know, sex is not just for “making babies.” Don't get me wrong: children are a blessing from the Lord and there is certainly an encouragement and blessing in the Bible in multiple locations when it comes to bringing new human life into the world through procreation (e.g. …God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it”). But even before God spoke those words, he first, in Genesis 2:18 says: “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.,” then, in Genesis 2:24, “Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.” This indicates that sex and partnership between the first male and female were first and foremost about intimate friendship and becoming one flesh (bonding!). As a matter of fact, the Hebrew term used in this passage implies more than physical union. It means “becoming one person.” It means union. It means bonding. So sure, sex, when done right, often results in children, but it doesn't need to be done purely or only for the purpose of making children.

All of this being said, I must also emphasize that while the Bible supports and celebrates human sexuality, it also makes it very clear that you can be fully and entirely human without sexual intercourse being a part of your life.

After all, Jesus didn't have sex. Neither did the prophets Jeremiah or Elijah or John the Baptist. The Apostle Paul was even asked by early Christians whether abstinence or celibacy were necessary for true spiritual health. And while Paul noted what I've written above, speaking of the need to be sexually generous and reciprocal in a marriage and the benefits of married couples having sex on a regular basis, he also, in Corinthians 7:7, says that he has the “gift” of not having to had to go to the trouble of getting married in the first place. See, in Paul's view, much work needed to be done before the return of Christ, and since those who are married are obligated to take time for their spouses and tend to their spouses' needs, those who are married cannot be fully committed to being a missionary for Christ (1 Corinthians 7:25-38). Thus, according to Paul, it is better to remain single, but if you cannot stand the heat and sexual temptations while being committed to a life of abstinence, it is better to “marry than to burn” (1 Corinthians 7:8-9).

So while sex is indeed fully natural, blessed, and reverent—and highly important in the eyes of God—it does not define our worth as human beings. We are worthy because we were created in the image of God, and whether or not we have sex does not define that worth. A person can live a rich, meaningful, and honorable life without ever having sex. Ultimately, in the eyes of God, marriage and sex are good, but so also are singleness and celibacy. If you are a man or a woman reading who is not married and does not have sex with a husband or wife (yet or perhaps ever in the future), perhaps that simply means that, like the Apostle Paul, God has set you aside to work wonders for His kingdom, and that's nothing to be ashamed or frustrated about. Sex does not define you as a human.


Three Practical Tips For Sacred, Spiritual Sex

After reading all of this, I'm sure you're wondering exactly what I've meant when I've alluded several times above to Tantric sex, and the heightened meaning, thrill, and excitement of being spiritually intertwined with your lover during sacred lovemaking. So I'd like to finish with three quick practical tips and resources for engaging in this kind of sacred, spiritual sex. These tips only scratch the surface of “the places you can go” with sex, and for even more—including how to combine many of the tactics below with additions such as microdoses of plant medicine or psychedelics, the perfect style of music, other breathwork styles and much more—listen to my podcast with Jamie Wheal entitled “Recapture the Rapture: Biohacking Sex, Tantric Breathwork, Plant Medicines For Orgasmic Enhancement & Much More!

My first tip for you is to be mindful and aware of your breath, especially during sex. Quality breathing, even during sex, can improve cognition and circulation, focus, attention, and provide you with a boost of lovemaking energy. Appropriate breathing techniques can also help you relax, concentrate, and last longer in the bedroom.

The lower the nervous system stress you have during sex, generally the more connected, exciting, and fulfilling sex will be. Deep breathing is crucial to remaining calm because it is linked to your parasympathetic nervous system, the reflex responsible for the “rest and digest” response. Shallow breathing, on the other hand, is more closely associated with the sympathetic nervous system, the reflex responsible for the “flight or fight” response. Irrespective of the “type” of sex you are having, sex in a relaxed, parasympathetic state is much more appealing than getting it on under acute stress (as anyone knows who has tried to “duck away for a quickie” during a day of work and found themselves unable to get as deeply aroused, as, say, in the evening after a glass of wine).

During sex, try to breathe in deeply and imagine the breath flowing into your genitalia. This will enhance pleasure and allow a sexual rhythm to unfold between you and your partner. As pleasure increases and you are both reaching climax or intensity, slow your movement down and continue to breathe even deeper. This focus on breath may seem as if it is taking you away from focusing on your partner, but what is actually happening is you are deepening your connection to your partner through breathing rhythmically, aligning your breath, and slowing it down—inhaling as your partner inhales, and exhaling as your partner exhales.

Finally, regarding breath, ensure you are breathing through your nose. This brings in more oxygen than breathing through your mouth and can provide you with a “natural high” from the accumulated nitric oxide. It also engages your core and pelvic floor in such a way that can enhance your sexual experience. If you want to dive deeper into the power of nasal breathing, check out Patrick McKeown's book, The Oxygen Advantage: Simple, Scientifically Proven Breathing Techniques to Help You Become Healthier, Slimmer, Faster, and Fitter, and my podcast with Patrick here. Another very helpful resources for becoming a true “breathwork ninja” for sex, work, workouts, and beyond, is this breath course I recently took myself and my twin boys through and also this Breathwork and Meditation Series (code BEN knocks 30 bucks off) taught by my friends Christine Hassler and Stefanos Sindos, a couple who also came to my house and taught my wife and I a tantric breathwork course, which we discussed in this podcast.

Second, embrace grunts, groans, and sound. When it comes to this kind of audible lovemaking, you may feel self-conscious—but please don’t. It is natural to make all sorts of sounds, particularly in association with intense pleasure. Inhibiting this natural function can retract intimacy. When you are not vulnerable and open, even with your sounds, your partner can feel that and move with trepidation. Opening your voice when feeling pleasure is useful in connecting and deepening intimacy, arousal, and sexual exploration. Push your edge here a little and sound even though you may feel uncomfortable doing so.

Third, explore Tantra. Tantric sex revolves around sexual practices that focus on creating a deep, intimate connection with yourself and your partner. During tantric sex, the aim is to be present in the moment to achieve a sensual and fulfilling sexual experience.

To be in more of a Tantric space, you can practice the following:

  • Make sex non-linear. It needn't be about direction and orgasm. Explore the body, the mind, stop, connect, talk, feel, be silent, breathe, go back to intercourse, then finally come back to feeling. Eat during sex, or be sensual through sounding and breathing (see above) or movement. Explore each other through all of your senses.
  • Make eye contact and gaze into each other's eyes deeply. Take your time absorbing your partner and really feel their expression.
  • Slow things down and don't rush. Place your inner focus on your pelvis, then bring it to your heart, your mind, hands, thighs, and then to your partner’s body. Be fully present to the environment and the room.
  • Synchronize your breath. At the same time, you and your partner can breathe in deeply through your noses, hold for 5 seconds, then exhale through the mouth. Feel each other’s abdomen expanding on the inhale by pressing against one another, and then hold and feel the release by paying close attention to it. For males, if you are getting close to orgasm you can try Kapalbhati breathing. If you are about to ejaculate, forcefully exhale all the air out through your mouth, then engage in an automatic deeper (yet passive) inhale through your mouth. Kapalbhati breathing helps prolong/lengthen ejaculation in males. This level of self-control also transfers to other areas of life, reinforcing discipline and confidence. The book The Multi-orgasmic Male by Mantak Chia is quite good for learning this technique.
  • Yab-yum is a position where you can practice matching breath and also eye-gazing. One partner sits with their legs crossed, and the other partner sits on their partner’s lap, wrapping their legs around their waist (usually the female or feminine dominant person). You can rub your genitals against each other, engage in penetrative sex, or just sit there in the moment (clothed or unclothed).

Tantric sex is essentially about being in tune with and fully mindful of both your body and the body of your partner. It involves slowing down the moment of peak sexual arousal and instead coming back into the presence of your breath, your body, and your partner's breath and body. Tantric sex involves full-body orgasmic experiences, multi-orgasmic experiences, and non-ejaculatory practices to prolong sexual intimacy—based on the premise that if two people can remain in this space long enough, they can experience a profound spiritual connection. For more on tantric sex, check out the book Tantra – Sex, Secrecy, Politics and Power in the Study of Religion (available as a free PDF).


Summary

Ultimately, sex can be a highly spiritual, sacred, and incredibly special experience. But unfortunately, many people never experience sex in this way due to lack of sexual knowledge and instruction, dilution of spiritual connectedness in sexual relationships by engaging with multiple partners, cheapening and bastardization of the entire sexual experience via immersion in porn, and a belief among some that sex should be plain, unimaginative and functional.

But as you've discovered in this article, God made sex and declared it good—not just for the creation of children, but for satisfaction, bonding, and long-lasting, fulfilling, and meaningful relationships.

And, as you've learned in this entire sexual health series, you can defy the cheapened and bastardized version of sex so prevalent in modern culture and modern media by discovering sacred, spiritual sex with a committed partner whom you love as you yourself would want to be loved.

Finally, to better understand the sacred and spiritual nature of sex, I highly recommend the following resources:

If you enjoyed this article, I also highly recommend that—if you haven't yet—you read Part 1 and Part 2 of this sexual health series.

How about you? Do you engage in sacred, spiritual sex? If so, do you have particular tantric practices or other tactics you use to enhance the sexual intercourse experience? Your own helpful resources to add? Do you have your own questions about porn, polyamory, sex, or all three? Leave your comments, questions, and feedback below. I read them all. 

Ask Ben a Podcast Question


7 thoughts on “Sabbath Ramblings: Sex, Porn & Polyamory Part 3.

  1. Janey says:

    Hi Ben – Thank you so much for sharing your heart and wisdom on this topic – I am 46 and my husband and I have been married for almost 20 years – After some fractured in our marriage over the past year, we are rebuilding and I feel like we are trying to embrace more vulnerable, honest, and passionate love making –

    Knowing we have lived so much of our lives out of sync with God’s perfect design for sacred sex and that we still have so much to learn (which hopefully will be fun!), I feel ill equipped to lead and counsel our own teenage children -While this article may be helpful to share with them, I would also love it if you are looking for yet another book to write if you wrote a book targeted towards adolescent kids – One you would write for your boys that I could buy and share – Thank you for all you do!

  2. Iulia Goiana says:

    Thank you, Ben!

  3. Kylene says:

    Yes yes and yes! Thank you for this well thought out article.

    Because of an unfortunate childhood event plus being raised in a very conservative home, processing everything as an adult has been a journey!

    My husband has made me feel safe and secure and we have worked through much together. I’m thankful for the reiteration from a Christian perspective that indeed it is something that should be enjoyed and spiritual and a deep experience.

    Releasing fear and trauma is hard, but I would love to continue learning how to more deeply connect with my husband who I love so much!

    Thank you for your thoughtfulness and resources always!

  4. Ailee says:

    I have read all three parts of this series and am grateful for your willingness to put them out there. Lots of great information. As your boys get older, may I recommend Jason Evert’s work? He speaks all over the world to teens, and has many videos (available on YouTube) for young people on how to navigate the culture, porn and chastity. He has written many books for teens, including “If You Really Loved Me” and “Pure Manhood” (more of a pamphlet). He and his wife do amazing work.

    1. Ben Greenfield says:

      Thanks for the suggestion. I was not familiar with Jason I will look into him.

  5. Chris says:

    FYI as a young man I was much happier before engaging in pre-marital relations and fairly miserable thereafter until I found a great partner and wife, children and many years of love.

  6. Samuel says:

    Thank you for writing this whole series Ben!

    I grew up in a dogmatic Christian household and sex was never to be talked about. This series, and this article specifically have brought together much of my perceptions and feelings toward sex that I was conditioned to see as contrarian to living a spiritually aligned life. It’s wonderful to see a Christian talk openly about such craved for information without chastising.

    “it is better to “marry than to burn”” This makes sense now :)

    Sex is sacred!

    Thanks again

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