God is a fan of sex….in case you hadn’t heard
Christianity Today has excerpted a section of Phillip Yancey’s new book (Rumors of Another World) for an article entitled Holy Sex: How it ravishes our souls. You should read it. It’s exceptional and important. A few crumbs to entice you….
Schizophrenic is the best way to describe modern society’s view of sexuality. On the one hand, scientists insist that we are organisms like any other animal, and that sex is a natural expression of that animal nature. The pornography industry (which in the U.S. grosses more money than all professional sports combined) happily complies, supplying sexual images of the famous and the anonymous to anyone willing to pay.
But when people truly act out their animal natures, society frowns in disapproval. John Nash (A Beautiful Mind) gets slapped for telling the truth. A few states in the U.S. allow legalized prostitution, but no parents encourage their daughters to pursue such a career. Hollywood may glamorize adultery onscreen, but in real life it provokes pain and a rage sometimes strong enough to drive the wounded party to murder the rival or jump off a bridge.
The root cause of this schizophrenia is the attempt to reduce sex between humans to a purely physical act. For humans, unlike sheep or chimpanzees, sex involves more than bodies.
When a society loses faith in God, lesser powers arise to take God’s place. “Every man who knocks on the door of a brothel is looking for God,” said G. K. Chesterton. In modern Europe and the U.S., sex has a near-sacred quality of mythic, numinous power. We select our sexiest individuals and accord them the status of gods and goddesses, fawning over the details of their lives, broadcasting their bodily statistics, surrounding them with paparazzi, rewarding them with money and status. Sex no longer points to something beyond; it becomes the thing itself, the substitute sacred.
Mmm…Chesterton. One more….
I dwell on the church’s severe attitude toward sex because I believe we Christians bear heavy responsibility for the counter reaction so evident in modern society. Jesus treated those who had fallen into sexual sins with compassion and forgiveness, and reserved his harshest words for the hidden sins of hypocrisy, pride, greed, and legalism. How is it that we who follow him use the word “immoral” to signify sexual sins almost exclusively, and reserve church discipline for those who fail sexually?
Perhaps worse, though, the church in its prudery has silenced a powerful rumor of transcendence that could point to the Creator and originator of human sexuality, who invested in it far more meaning than most modern people can imagine. We have de-sacralized it, in effect, by suppression and denial, and along the way our clumsy attempts at repression helped to empower a false infinite. Sexual power lives on, but few see in that power a pointer to the One who designed it.
Uptight Christians forget the fundamental fact that God created sex. Having studied some anatomy, I marvel at God laboring over the physiology of sex: the soft parts, the moist parts, the millions of nerve cells sensitive to pressure and pain yet also capable of producing pleasure, the intricacies of erectile tissue, the economical and ironic combination of organs for excretion and reproduction, the blending of visual appeal and mechanical design. As the zoologists remind us, in comparison with every other species, the human is bountifully endowed.
A connected view of life assumes this is God’s world, and that despite its fractured state, clues of its original design remain. When I experience desire, I need not flinch in guilt, as if something unnatural has happened. Rather, I should follow the desire to its source, to learn God’s original intent.
And that’s all from the first half of the article. He goes on to mention that guys like Martin Luther seemed to understand all of this better than we do today, even though Luther didn’t have to deal with MTV and endless photos of Britney and J-Lo and Anna Kournikova. Good stuff.
Read the rest. You’ll be glad you did.
Oh, and who’s missing the ad robot about now?