You raised a lot of important issues, none if them is easy to answer.Sam Vara wrote: ↑Fri Jul 20, 2018 10:05 amYes, I think sex is an issue which tends to evade a comprehensive intellectual understanding. Without getting too Freudian about it, there is a tendency for our rationalisations and theories about it to be coloured by our hormones and unresolved issues in a way that is quite unique. As Camille Paglia said, it's the place where nature and culture intersect, so we need to be well-informed about both.
I don't think that marriage is a solution to the "problem of lust". I think it is worth being clear with ourselves why we think that sexual desire is a problem at all - especially within the context of Buddhism. On the one hand, the wariness might stem from the damage to others that unrestrained sexual activity leaves in its wake; a kind of consequentialist ethic which would point to the betrayals, loss of confidence, feelings of being used, trashed reputations, etc. which can occur. DooDoot makes this point very clearly above. Our sexual expressions harm other people because we are using them.
On the other hand, the wariness might focus on the damage to ourselves which occurs when we follow our impulses and become preoccupied with a source of pleasure. The kammic damage here is the more immediately obvious one of being trapped in samsara, being unable to pull oneself out of the cycle of excitement, discharge, and ennui. This applies to our sexual fantasies and also masturbation. Our sexual expressions harm us, because those expressions are using us.
Depending on which of these two aspects of sexual desire we are concerned with, there might be answers to the question of whether marital sex is in any sense morally superior.
I, as an unenlightened human, almost always act with mixed intentions. The question you raised "why sexual desire is a problem at all" is not too different from the question "why do we want to get enlightened" in the sense that both questions can be used to reveal unpleasant truths about us.
While hedonism and enlightenment are perceived as the opposite of each other, both seem to be an outcome/reaction to living in impermanent world. I don't think hedonism can be truthfully and easily dismissed by an unenlightened beings. If sensuality is what i want, then why one partner? my natural tendency is wanting more.
Why marriage is better than prostitution for instance? at least, in prostitution, using each other is the obvious (hence no false expectations is built on it), while in marriage, much of this is disguised under shiny slogans such as love and romance ...etc.
If you extend the argument of harm and using each other, is not our existence and livelihood depend on both? why sex is different?
There are no clear intellectual answers.