Karl Ove Knausgaard once reminisced about an author he referred to as “the man with his sweater tucked into his trousers” who, upon entering the room, would declare as if it was his creed, “I write because I am dying.” Knausgaard acknowledges this to be one reason among many why one may write. Some artists produce work because they are living. Some create in order to be approved of by an audience. No doubt, the reasons often blur together and become indistinguishable to the individual. Regardless of the motivations, all acts of creativity are analogous to sex. Artists often call the present work-in-progress their “baby.” The art of making ought to be recognized as belonging to the greater field of procreation. In this way, when men conceptualize sex drive as fuel, they can turn from seduction to production.
There have been times when my desire for my wife was not simply a drive for experiencing mutual pleasure, but a specific desire to produce children with her. In those moments, the joy being tracked is one that extends far beyond the boundaries of arousal and release; it becomes an eternal hunt, an unending chase. The gestation period alone is nine months. Once the act of conception has been reached, life has begun, and the true arc of life is to penetrate the barrier of the temporal and go on and on and on. Conception allows perpetuity to extend an encounter that would have begun unwinding after climax.
A father remains conscious of the bond he has with his child forever, despite the fact that, according to Jesus, death changes the nature of many of our earthly relationships. While there is neither marrying nor being given in marriage in the new earth, the spiritual realm does gather people to their ancestors and so something of the temporal identifying markers is retained after death. What this establishes then is that procreation may usher in with it significant economic changes along the way. I may not eternally understand Siiri to be my wife, but I will be eternally bound to her in a number of formats. If nothing else, beyond the marriage covenant and the commonality of faith, we also share tribe, nationality, culture, and language. Similarly, when a man builds a box and gives it to his friend as gift, the act of creativity has crossed the border. There is no going back. The “I” has engaged the “thou” and memories have been built outside of one’s own individual experience. Connectivity has taken place. Courses have been altered, whether the box holds up well or not. Of course, the better the box, the more efficacious the legacy.
Men ought to be pulling this layered view of procreative drive into their endeavors to build, let alone the pursuit of their wives. Sex is for getting children and experiencing pleasure. Augustine may have lost the plot when he isolated its Biblically-defensible uses to procreation alone, but, at present, the West has abandoned the value of the child-bearing aspects of sex entirely. A little more Augustine wouldn’t hurt the generation that made sex-robots a reality. Men ought to aim for having children when they aim for sexual pleasure. Men ought to aim for a similar fecundity when they engage in craft and artistry. Music, painting, carpentry, cooking, martial arts, shooting, building, hunting . . . all of these should not be done for release or catharsis alone, but as channels of procreative avidity. These genres are avenues for a man’s libido. Sex drive can lead a man to build, not just breed; however, it should propel him to breed as well and not just build.
One need only peruse a few passages of The Song of Songs in order to find overwhelming evidence that an inspired view of marital intimacy is well within its limits if one desires one’s spouse for no other reason than the sole joy and gratification of the union. The fact that the male libido does not exist only for the begetting of progeny should be freeing. But the joyful interaction that results in pregnancy is freeing as well since the narrative arc has now jumped the fence of the artist and is, in many ways, beyond his control.
Sexual purity is essential to godliness and sexual sin is the number one cause of spiritual death in men. When non-celibate single men are working on disciplining themselves, the primary method is abstinence. But men need to know that when it is not possible to fight sexual temptation with marital sexual intimacy, it is possible for men in combat with sexual sin to harness the drive and employ it in other genres that are conversational with sex. All forms of building, making, and creativity are eligible.
A final note of warning. In the same way that a man can lose himself in his job, a man can lose himself in his craft. When I was growing up, my father was a pastor. He was regularly taking men to task for spending all of their time in the woods during hunting season while their wives were breaking under the stress of managing the house entirely by themselves. Creativity is as addictive as sex. Men have to fight in order to keep craft from becoming a veiled form of consumerism.
Making and craftsmanship are kinds of procreation that not only precede but also qualify a man for the acquisition of a wife. A single man needs to hone his ability to invest and to bring things to fruition without the constant presence of pleasure and release as his motivations. If a man doesn’t develop these things, his wife will be perpetually unsatisfied and he won’t care; his children will rarely see him because of the chaos and high level of need that accompanies them; and before long his house will be vacant.
Garrett Soucy lives in Maine with his wife and nine children where he is the pastor of Christ the King Church. He is also a writer and musician.
To download Theopolis Lectures, please enter your email.