February 26, 2007

Is he 107 because he stopped having sex when he was 30?

Chan Chi's wife died in the Japanese invasion. Imagine going 77 years without sex. Few would do it on the hope it would make life last longer. And who even believes that it could? But it's touching to think of a man who lost his wife and remained faithful to her.

15 comments:

downtownlad said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
downtownlad said...

It's very possible. Married people live 10 years longer than unmarried people on average. And maybe it's because of the lack of sex, not the marriage that's doing it.

Eli Blake said...

Didn't the former pope live into his nineties?

I've always admired (though not desired to be) those people who because of their religious persuasion completely live an abstinent life, i.e. the Shakers, nuns, and Catholic priests (though obviously not including those who indulge in buggering boys).

Flexo said...

It's a sad day when what should be common virtue (chastity) is seen to be super-human heroism. That the man did not have sex outside of marriage is hardly something that we should be admiring or slapping him on the back for. Rather, it is something that should be expected in any event. And it is really sad and something of an insult to this man that we expected him to lack such virtue.

mcg said...

It's very possible. Married people live 10 years longer than unmarried people on average. And maybe it's because of the lack of sex, not the marriage that's doing it.

A couple of random tidbits I've read make this even more interesting. For one, married people are on average more satisfied with their sex lives than unmarrieds. Secondly, cohabiting couples have more sex than married couples, but are less satisfied with it. God only knows what that all means.

Revenant said...

For one, married people are on average more satisfied with their sex lives than unmarrieds.

Selection bias makes that statistic pretty useless -- the overwhelming majority of people who decide to GET married are, after all, happy with their sex lives at the time they decide to get married. Few people opt for a lifetime of monogamy with someone who doesn't scratch that special itch for them.

The more interesting statistic is what percentage of married men and women consider their sex lives to be better than they were before they got married. That's a statistic I've never seen gathered, at least in a way that did a good job of controlling for the variables like income and such.

Peter Palladas said...

Celibate monks and nuns tend to live longer than average and also show markedly lower prevalence rates for dementia. (They also, by and large, look at least a decade younger than their chronological years.)

Mind you none of the studies have used a control group - monks and nuns who are not celibate - so don't feel you have to rush to the cloister to lose the wrinkles anyone.

Mortimer Brezny said...

Yeah, it's touching alright. 77 years of touching yourself.

Balfegor said...

Imagine going 77 years without sex. Few would do it on the hope it would make life last longer. And who even believes that it could? But it's touching to think of a man who lost his wife and remained faithful to her.

There's a longstanding Taoist tradition that having sex (or even just ejaculating) drains your lifeforce. Or something like that. It appears in Ming era works, and I recall that as late as the Qing era novel, The Dream of the Red Chamber, there's an episode in which a man wastes away and dies from that sort of thing. I suppose in some form the idea must have survived in Hong Kong.

George said...

Is that what that song "Wasting Away in Margaritaville" is all about? Ew.

ada47 said...

It's well establihed from controlled experiments that fruit flies life span and sexual activity are inversely correlated. Less sex, longer life.

I'm not sugesting that these results are directly translatable from flies to humans, but it's pretty interesting anyway. Caloric restriction also increases life span.

Still, you gotta ask yourself, is a few more years of life worth it if you ahve to starve yourself and abstain? Moderation, moderation, moderation.

Revenant said...

Our current knowledge of human genetics suggests that our genes are programmed to kill us off after a certain point -- that's why we age and die. This may be a population control measure. If it IS a population control measure, then it would make sense for it to be influenced by our sexual activity, since our sexual activity correlates to how many new humans we add to the population.

That's all purely speculative, of course.

LutherM said...

Two thoughts; (1)
A man can die but once:
we owe God a death:
...he that dies this year is quit for the next.
Henry IV part 2 Act 3 Scene 2

(2)
Methus'lah lived nine hundred years, Methus'lah lived nine hundred years,
But who calls dat livin' When no gal'll give in
To no man what's nine hundred years?
Gershwin - It Ain't Necessarily So

figleaf said...

According to various sources the idea that going without sex extends mens' life or increases their vitality is widely accepted.

The sociologist's term for it is "semen conservation" and if you Google for that you'll find all kinds of, um, helpful information.

It's allegedly a central (philosophical) principle in the Hindu tradition. Taoists and Buddhists believe in it too.

Closer to home, late 19th-Century and early 20th Century movements including Muscular Christianity, the Boy Scouts, health food, infant circumcision, and opposition to "self-pollution" were based on the obviously-unfounded but widely held view among British and American doctors that the "loss" of semen during a single act of sex was equal to losing a pint of blood. It was generally believed that sex *with one's wife* even twelve times a year was a one-way ticket to insanity and early death. Dr. Kellogg invented corn flakes, and Dr. Graham developed his crackers with the expressed belief that a sufficiently bland diet would preserve and extend men's lives by curtailing their libidos. And finally, the Victorian euphemism "to spend" was based on the idea that men produced only so much semen in a lifetime and once it was gone so were you.

The point being that while it seems daft to us (ok, it is daft), the idea that it's not just moral but health-improving to abstain has been and remains a very popular belief.

Not that such belief takes anything away from Chan Chi's faithfulness or devotion. 77 years is a very long time, and 30 is very young. Dr. Kellogg notwithstanding, most traditions allow a "grace period" during one's reproductive years. Abstinent or not he certainly could have remarried. That he chose not to is very touching.

figleaf

Simon said...

LutherM said...
"Two thoughts; (1)
A man can die but once:
we owe God a death:
...he that dies this year is quit for the next.
Henry IV part 2 Act 3 Scene 2
"

"They say the coward dies a thousand deaths, but the brave, they die just one."