According to Republican Presidential candidate Rick Santorum, using contraception is “not okay” because it is somehow “counter to how things are supposed to be”; sex, according to this would-be leader of the free world, should be “for purposes of procreation,” not “simply [for] pleasure.” (Thanks to blogger Ace of Spades for commenting on this yesterday.)
But Santorum’s view is totally corrupt. Sure, couples who want to have children engage in sex partly in hopes of conceiving. But romantic couples rightly have sex for the sheer pleasure of it, even if they don’t want or are unable to conceive a child. And if they don’t want a child, they properly use birth control to prevent pregnancy. Contra Santorum, the primary purpose of sex is not procreation (an optional value) but pleasure (a requirement of human life), which corresponds to the fact that the latter purpose is far more widely embraced.
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As Ayn Rand pointed out, pleasurable sex is not the surrender to some lowly animalistic impulse; it is instead the pinnacle of a thriving life appropriate to a rational being. In her essay condemning the Catholic renunciation of birth control, Rand writes, “To a rational man, sex is an expression of self-esteem—a celebration of himself and of existence.”
Valentine’s Day is a great time to commit to celebrating life as it should be—full of spiritual joy and sensual pleasure. Santorum and his wife can do as they please tonight, but we who love life should feel free to indulge in lovers’ bodies—just for the pleasure of it.
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