Is giving up sex really going to bring you closer to Jesus?
Lent, for those of you are not among the roughly 77 million Americans to describe themselves as Catholic, is the period between Fat Tuesday (woooo to the hooooo, Mardi Gras) and Easter (40 days seems to show up a lot in Christianity, but this one represents the time that Jesus spent in the desert, contemplating, thwarting Satan, chillaxing).
During this time, those who genuflect are asked to follow a handful of mildly inconvenient rules (and it varies from place to place): no meat (no mammals or birds, generally) on Fridays, a few days of fasting (really light eating), prayer and charitable works. These days, us twice-a-years (Christmas and Easter) generally skip some of the dietary restrictions and just give up a favorite food, beverage or activity. (Note: I assume our sacrifice of pork, port or porn is meant as a tip of the cap to Jesus for dying on the cross and then coming back for more. Or whatever John 3:16 says.)
The film 40 Days And 40 Nights focuses on Josh Hartnett's attempt to abstain from sex (including solo sex) during the Lenten times and hilarity ensues. (Note: I'm sure, if certain Greenwich Village lore is remotely accurate, that Josh Hartnett would struggle to make it 40 hours without something-something.) And I have heard of a ton of folks seeking to emulate this sac-a-ri-fi-i-i-ice. Granted, most of these people are single and probably have never seen the Hartnett film, but it's sort of a weird thing (activity) to shelve. Don't get me wrong, sex is pretty sweet (right up there with falling asleep in the sun and not waking up burnt or sweaty), but does quitting it make you a better person?
Sure, if you're engaging in a series of one-night stands and you feel guilty about the whole bit (which is likely if you're Catholic) or like you may be getting all kinds of God-knows-what on your privates, it may be a good idea to take 40 days and nights to reevaluate but why do it if you're just a regular, sex-liking person?
If you're in a relationship and your partner isn't fully on-board then it's just blue-ball sadism (and a not-so-naked power play). If you're in a singleton, you could miss out on a really good time (though I'd imagine true love would wait for you because you can't kill true love, only delay it a while) just because of some one-sided covenant.
The better plan is to forget giving things up (especially things you're not missing anyway, like those three decades I gave up needle drugs) and concentrate on doing new things. Not to sound New Year's Resolution-y (which I uniformly reject), but make a pact with yourself to get out of your comfort zone, in a constructive way. If you're a single broad who has never asked out a dude before, make the first move. If you're a macho dude, give the inside spoon a try. Sure it's like resolving not to have any resolutions or wishing for more wishes but who gives a tiddley wink?
Life is too short to stop doing the things you like (if they're relatively safe); and life is way too short not to try new things because you might not like them.