Disclaimer: The subject of this post is human sexuality in the context of Christian belief. It is intended for mature audiences. If you are under the age of 18 you should have your parents read it and judge if it is appropriate for you to read. Parents, lighten up about this with your teens because quite frankly I am trying to undo a lot of Christian mistakes in informing and educating people about sex. You have been warned and encouraged, enter at your own risk. Also, I am by no means a sexual expert, just a guy who has been married to the same woman for 25 plus years and a pastor who has for what ever reason been exposed to a lot of sexual issues during his ministry. If you don’t find your answer here, keep searching there is probably someone out there that has it.
One of the more funny moments in my ministry involving sex and getting older was at prayer group about four years ago. A member of my congregation is pharmacist and she was talking about a man who when given a choice between his Viagra and his pain killers chose his Viagra even though his pain killers are far less expensive. Viagra is pricy for some. The comment was made by her: “I am not sure it (sex) is worth it”. The funny part was that every woman hearing that line giggled but the men in the room didn’t laugh at all. They all looked very grave all of a sudden. It is just one more event that showed to me that sex is a very deep and spiritual thing to men, that is why they are driven to it so forcibly. I am not saying that women are not driven to sex as much but when you talk about things related to the idea of not being able to have sex, it seems it is a far more serious matter for men than women. Perhaps some more research might look at women who can’t have sex for whatever reason and how that affects them. There are however far more Viagra and other ED commercials than the equivalent for women.
All that said, it should be noted that much of what is thought about sex and intimacy in relationship to getting old is pretty much mythological. Old people do have sex and quite far into their lifetimes as well. The erectile dysfunction people say 10% of men over 60 have ED. I want to look at the flip side of that – that means 90% don’t. By contrast, 25 percent of women experience vaginal dryness after menopause, but that also means 75% don’t. In short the vast majority of older people do not have problems with the mechanics of sexuality as they get older. If anything might kick you in the butt it is cardiovascular disease. This becomes the problem where you can but you can’t because of other medical problems. I believe this is more the cause sexual dysfunction as people age than the actual sexual plumbing not working.
That aside, we are still talking a majority of people and couples that as they age can still not only engage in sexual activity, but also enjoy it. The only people who seem to have a problem with older people having sex is younger people. I don’t know what it is but it seems that once people get passed the so called time to procreate, other people think they should shut down sex because it is waste of time. Trust me old people don’t have problems having sex or enjoying it. If I hear any complaint over the years it is that the younger people in these people’s life think what they are doing is gross or morally wrong. I would remind people how old Abraham was when he did finally procreate and it wasn’t done by immaculate conception. For an old coot, Abraham not only had many wives he produced many children is his old age. I don’t think he had ED and it was not morally frowned on or thought of as gross. This is an age discrimination thing really that younger people introduce when they talk this way and they need to drop it.
My belief is that in order to be spiritually intimate at times at the level you need to be with your spouse requires physical intimacy. Whether that intimacy is achieved through actual sexual intercourse or through some other means; there is something about cuddling, hugging, spooning and yes being naked while doing it that draws a couple closer together on more than the physical level. No one no matter how old they get should not be denied this. That said, the act of intercourse is as much spiritual as physical and so it is something that also should no be denied to anyone if they are able to do so. Sorry, just be cause your procreative days are over, there is still a need for spiritual and physical intimacy and your spouse is the best place to find this even if you’re 100.
What then is the greatest challenge to getting older in the context of sexuality? For me it is keeping that intimacy fresh and to be blunt exciting. Now some of this is the romantic notions that are garbage but I think as I age my motivations (and it should be noted this is a middle-aged male talking) for being intimate have become more spiritual and emotional than physical. I love the cuddling afterglow of sex when my wife is in my arms probably more than the sex itself that takes to get there. At the same time the challenge is to not lose the wonder of sexual intimacy and get bored or routine about it. There is nothing routine about two souls being joined on all levels and having fun at it at the same time. It sometimes requires that we renew this understanding in our minds and heart and maybe do something we have never done before with the caution that as we age there are some things that we might want to double consider because we are getting older. I think as I look down the road, it is the wonder of staying close, intimate and active is the challenge and imagine that the longer you are with the same person it becomes even more challenging.