Regrettably, there are many people who still prefer to live in the dark where sex is concerned, although I'll never understand why. Yet, much of American society has a huge problem accepting the idea that sex can be enjoyed with pleasure and comfort instead of shame and guilt.

Anyone looking for a book to enable them to enjoy sex freely without worrying about the reactions of the religion and morality police, needs to look no further than the book whose title says it all. Sex Without Guilt In The 21st Century by Dr. Albert Ellis, President of the Albert Ellis Institute for Rational Emotive Behavioral Therapy in New York City. It shines its light on the dark myths about sex as brilliantly as did the original title Sex Without Guilt written in 1958. Almost everything in his first work is still present in the second, with the addition of much more essential information. Ellis explains in his new introduction that some of the previous material was not included, as he felt it was out of date and not appropriate for the recent version. Personally, I found nothing lacking, although others who have read both books may disagree on minor points.

What surprised me when reading this book was the hard and simple truth that not much has changed regarding American attitudes about honest sex information. Regrettably, there are many people who still prefer to live in the dark where sex is concerned, although I must admit Ill never understand why. When we look at the disturbing views many have about sex, one would think that people would jump at the chance to read a book that would blow the anti-sex theories and myths right out of the water. Yet, according to the chapter "Adventures With Censorship," most of American society still has a huge problem accepting the idea that sex can be enjoyed with pleasure and comfort instead of shame and guilt. I wonder why that is.

In reading the chapter "Why Americans Are So Fearful Of Sex" I found a few things that could easily explain the prevailing anti-sex reasoning, although these are entirely my perceptions. Ellis makes the following points about sex, with which II completely agree:

1. Americans are specifically taught to be fearful of sex.

2. Americans are raised to be overly-competitive about sex.

3. Americans are brought up to fear tenderness and love.

4. Americans are often generally fearful and neurotic.

The following quote really gave me some insight as to why these fears about sex persist today: "Innumerable specific examples can be found of American (as well as world-wide) puritanism, and iresulting in helping to make us, despite our recent increase in sexual liberalism, much more fearful of sex and guilty about various kinds of accepting it fully."

It is the word "puritanism" that explains a lot of things for me. Since the Puritans made up the majority of the Pilgrims who first landed from England onto Americas shores, we need to take a very close look at the Puritan philosophy about pleasure and sex. The Puritans, by all accounts, were rather grim, dour folks to begin with. They heavily frowned on the most innocent and non-sexual pleasures, considering them either a sinful or foolish waste of time, time which they believed was better spent in prayer. Im just glad I was not a young person raised in that time period. Had I been, I would probably have found myself praying for a little happiness in an otherwise miserable existence. Considering their harsh and unyielding views of non-sexual pleasures, one can only imagine what they felt about pleasure when it came to sex. My guess is that they felt sex and pleasure must never be mixed. Given that mindset, sex was only tolerated or just barely provided it was within marriage, and for a specific purpose, which of course was procreation. Any other purpose of sex was no doubt discouraged at best and forbidden at worst.

Lets fast forward to the 21st Century now. When you read the doctrines of the more orthodox religions, including traditional Catholicism, orthodox/conservative Christianity and Mormonism, to name just three, you can see that very little, if anything, has changed regarding the issue of sex. They appear to have the same attitudes toward sex solely for pleasure that the Puritans did in centuries long past. Procreation is still the main purpose of sex, with pleasure given almost no mention at all. Sexual acts that avoid the pregnancy risk altogether, such as masturbation, petting to orgasm and gay/lesbian sex are specifically labeled as "sins," not to be indulged in, PERIOD. Why? Because none of them result in the "responsibilities" or "consequences" of pregnancy, childbirth and parenthood, thats why! And given the attitudes of more than a few of the 21st Century religious groups towards sexual pleasure for its own sake, it is hardly surprising that Dr. Elliss books have gotten such a bad rap over the years. The reason is quite simple in my opinion: They dont WANT anyone enjoying sex without guilt, no matter how its done. In their minds, sex should be indulged in only with their permission, and only for the reasons they decide are acceptable.

But despite what I believe is a strong and persistent anti-sex feeling in America today that results in the prevailing censorship of Elliss work, we are very fortunate that he hasnt given up on us. He wants us to know that enjoying Sex without Guilt is within easy reach. His first three chapters, which cover the topics of masturbation, petting, and premarital sex relations in detail, are invaluable to teens and young adults who want to learn how to enjoy true "safe sex" without the risks of unwanted pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases. His chapter on premarital sex explains the advantages of knowing ourselves and our partners sexually before taking on the commitment and responsibility of marriage. This alone can save hundreds, even thousands of couples from making the mistake of marrying for the wrong reasons.

We owe ourselves no less than the best when it comes to having healthy, joyful and pleasurable sexual relationships. Thanks to Dr. Albert Ellis, we have it. So buy the book already. And when you do, read it over carefully, from the first page to the last. It will be the best investment and education in your sex life you could make.