The Mistake of Equating Sex and Love

We said before that all real pleasure comes from doing God’s will. Whenever it is not done, an experience of lack results. This is because not doing the will of God is a lack of self.
A Course in Miracles: Complete and Annotated Edition, T-1.46.3:3-5

The pleasure which is derived from sex as such is reliable only because it stems from an error which people shared. Awareness of the error produces guilt. Denial of the error results in projection. Correction of the error brings release. The only valid use of sex is procreation. It is not truly pleasurable in itself.
A Course in Miracles: Complete and Annotated Edition, T-1.46.5:1-6:2

Though mistaken you have often been,
You have never committed a mortal sin,
For a mortal sin would condemn you to hell,
With no release, as you seem to know well;
But all your errors can be undone
By the Holy Spirit, one by one.
—Alan Steinle, from “Your Salvation Is Not Far”

This essay will discuss the mistake of equating sex and love. I define love as the sharing of all of oneself with all that is. Love is, therefore, unlimited spiritual union. I will also begin with the premise that our true identity is free and unlimited love, and that we share our Creator’s nature, but that we have become unaware of our real identity. We are not aware of our real identity of love, which joins us to every other part of creation.

In the world at this time, sex is often seen as an expression of intense love for another person. In fact, sex has become the foundation of the “special relationship,” which is a relationship of specialness and exclusivity between partners. However, sex cannot be equated with real love, as defined above, for the following reasons: (1) Sex is limited. That is, one cannot have sex with everyone. (2) More importantly, sex is not an effective means of sharing or union.

To begin with point (1), sex is limited. One cannot have sex with everyone in the world. Sex is usually limited to one partner in a special relationship, and it becomes the focal point of that relationship. If a person has sex with someone outside of the relationship, that person is called promiscuous, unfaithful, and untrue. The very fact that sex is limited in this way makes sex different from love, as defined above, which seeks to be shared with everyone in all dimensions. Many have tried to make sex more like love by experimenting with “free love,” wife swapping, and polygamous marriages, but this compromise approach still limits sex to a finite group and this limitation is not satisfactory and it keeps sex from being the same as real love. To exclude anyone from our love is to try to limit love and to keep love from being what it really is.

Even if one could have sex with everyone without limitations, sex still could not be equated with love because of point (2). That is, sex is not an effective means of sharing or union. Although bodies can touch, they cannot join. Only minds can join in union. Therefore, to search for sharing or union in the act of sex is to be disappointed and dissatisfied, again and again. In fact, the separation of minds and lives is the usual result of sexual relationships. Those who attempt to maintain special relationships over time, in the face of disappointment, often live in a fantasy world and believe that they cannot find anything better.

Specifically, sex produces different sensations in the two partners. Because of different body types, the partners do not feel the same physical sensations. In addition, one partner could be feeling pleasure while the other partner could be feeling pain or nothing. One partner could be intent on conquering the other as an exploit, while the other partner could be feeling exploited or used. One partner could desire to have sex often, while the other partner could come to see sex as boring and overrated. One or both partners could be thinking of someone else while having sex. One or both partners could desire to be with another person. Since sex has been associated with love, and love is naturally unlimited and free, the partners naturally become attracted to individuals outside of the special relationship. Because this attraction is taboo and censored in most societies, the partners can feel guilty and then project this guilt onto each other and accuse each other of unfaithfulness.

Thus, sex has a way of alienating the partners, and bringing about dissatisfaction and disappointment, even while bodies are close to each other. The Chinese have a saying: “One bed, two dreams.” John Lennon made an album called Double Fantasy. And Stevie Wonder wrote and sang, “Do I do what you do, when I do my love for you?” The answer to this musical question is most certainly “No.” Partners in special relationships tend to become isolated and to live in separate fantasy worlds that continue to clash with each other.

For the above reasons, we can see that it is a mistake to equate sex and love and to value the special relationship that has sex as its foundation. If sex is not love, and bodies cannot really join, then what is the alternative? The solution is for all minds to join in the joy of oneness and love and for all physical actions, including sex, to be subordinate to the will of the mind. In this way, all actions will be guided by the will of the collective, and sex will not be any more or less enjoyable than any other physical action. And it will not separate people into exclusive special relationships.

Sex is not sinful, but as long as we equate love and sex, we will be blind to the real love that is in us and that is us. Love is what we are, not something that we need to look for guiltily in a limited area, as if we were beggars who do not really deserve the sustenance that is given to us, and which we have not earned. If love is, by nature, unlimited and free, then we should not look for it in a limited, exclusive relationship. If love is also our own nature, and if someday we will regain the awareness of ourselves and know our true nature, then we should not feel guilty about wanting or seeking what is truly ours. Let’s accept correction for our tired old mistakes, although our new thinking may contradict the thinking of most of the people in the world.

All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident.
—attributed to Arthur Schopenhauer

The ultimate purpose of the body is to render itself unnecessary. Learning to do this is the only real reason for its existence.
A Course in Miracles: Complete and Annotated Edition, T-1.46.8:5-6