I never want to tell other people how to live, but I’ve had some ideas for a long time I thought deserved to be heard and thought through. Tell me what you think.
We live in an oversexualized culture and sometimes I get tired of it. I’m tired of coworkers trying to make innuendos out of my innocent words while I’m trying to tell them something important. I’m tired of people giggling when I talk about the biology of invertebrates (apparently penis-fencing hermaphroditic flatworms are funny). I’m tired of preachers ruining movies for me by warning me of all the double entendres that I was happily unaware of. I’m tired of people telling me the intimate details of their encounters when such things are best enjoyed privately between two people. Sex is a small part of life, but most people focus on it unhealthily to the exclusion of all else, bringing up the subject all the time. Furthermore, we certainly do have a problem with some giving in to temptations to extramarital sex, divorce, rape, homosexuality, pedophilia, bestiality, and more.
However, while sex is a small part of life, it is still a very important part of it. God created humans with the same basic physiology as other primates and clearly planned on us mating often. There is a certain minimum level of sexual awareness that allows us to be attracted to others in the first place and this awareness permeates every social situation. I know firsthand how abstinence can wear on a person and how torturous it sometimes is. We cannot fight sexual sins by fighting sex; we must do so by promoting the Christian marriage ideal and bringing people to Jesus. While not affecting as many people as promiscuity, abstinence is another evil that must be addressed. The human body and psyche is not designed for it, yet many people remain single for years until finally giving in to pornography or prostitution when they can’t take it anymore. It isn’t enough to simply tell people not to do wrong without giving them a way out because we are fighting against a powerful, God-given biological drive to be fruitful and multiply. If Christians really wanted to help these people, they would marry them. When people are starving, we don’t simply preach about the sins of theft. Instead we feed people and then train them how to become self-sufficient. Why don’t we do something similar with sex? Why don’t we offer matching services?
We are so oversensitized to sex that we are quick to proscribe the harshest punishments for those who break the rules. Someone is accused of pedophilia or homosexuality and they are considered by the public guilty until proven innocent. Even teenagers can be convicted of a sex crime for urinating outdoors (something every guy (and several gals) I know has done at least once) or innocently suggesting that a ten-year-old take off her shirt (kids dare each other to do things all the time and are naturally curious about that which is normally kept hidden). Sex offenders are restricted in where they can live, what kind of jobs they can get, and in their internet use. All these things make it very difficult for them to find a spouse so they can finally enter into a healthy relationship and no longer be tempted. I’m not saying that their hardship in any way excuses recidivism, but so long as these hardships are placed on them by society, society should expect to be violated.
We are so oversensitized to sex that we see it when it isn’t even there. When I read a news article about a man sucking women’s toes on a subway, I understood that he was weird and probably annoying but could not fathom why the police were calling it a sex crime. There is much that I find perfectly innocent that religious conservatives want to interpret as sexually deviant and make a big deal of. One has to admit that much of the increase in sexual deviancy in our culture might be an illusion and that talking so much about it only adds strife to the relationship of the church to the world it is trying to reach. I have heard of cases of possibly gay couples being asked not to return to church because they were seen holding hands, but in Saudi Arabia men hold hands all the time and the Muslims are less tolerant of homosexuality than we are. In France, one might greet another with a kiss rather than a handshake, but do this in America and you will be assaulted. Within America, so many people have different life experiences with subtly different cultural exposure that we can’t even agree on what is and isn’t a sexual signal. Is it possible that some see sex where it wasn’t intended and this is why we think the media is pushing it on us and our children even when they aren’t?
I hear over and over that the media (especially advertising) sets a particular standard for feminine beauty that most cannot attain. This is only true if women take it that way. Just because a woman in an ad looks a particular way is no reason to expect that you have to. The problem is not the advertisers, but the attitude of the women at home viewing the ads. When it comes to sports, we celebrate talent without putting others down. When it comes to business, we pay extra for good talent. We celebrate musical, artistic, and scientific talent. Why then do we have such a hard time celebrating God-designed physical beauty? Should beautiful women be banned from advertising? Shouldn’t we instead share their beauty with the world to give glory to the one who created it? The problem is not only that Satan is using the media to push sexual sin on us; the problem is that we are so obsessed with sex that we see it everywhere and do Satan’s work for him. We fight sin but we still play by sin’s rules.
I have heard it suggested that depicting Supergirl as a large-breasted woman sends the message that to be attractive one must have large breasts, making average women feel inadequate, yet no one suggests that Superman makes average men feel inadequate for lacking his large muscles or the ability to fly or fire heat rays from the eyes. Some women really do have large breasts and to put down Supergirl is to put down them as well. I have even heard of a case where a woman was told to cover up more than others because someone deemed her “too” attractive – but God made her that way! I hear about actresses and models being put down for being “too thin” and thus promoting unhealthy attitudes about food and how women are supposed to look – but some women are naturally thin and to put down the models is to put them down as well. God made them that way!
The one biggest sexual symbol I hear talked about is nudity, but I have never thought of pure nudity as sexual. In fact, I have always believed that if we were all accustomed to experiencing nudity on a daily basis from birth onward, we would not and could not associate it with sex. If most people were naked most of the time, strip clubs would go right out of business. If you want to eradicate pornography, the obvious solution has been right there in Genesis 2:25 the whole time! As Christians, we are right with God and should feel no shame over that which is “fearfully and wonderfully made.” We instead have freedom to be what God created us to be and saw “was good.” What kind of world do we live in where the victims of clothing theft have to feel more ashamed than the thieves? This happens with no other kind of theft. What kind of world do we live in where I have to worry about a visit from the police for simply trying to keep cool on a hot day? We all have bodies and so every one of us is vulnerable and lives in constant fear. I have always believed that it is psychologically and sociologically unhealthy to both hide our bodies from others and to shield our eyes from the sight of others’ bodies. Do not call unclean what God has made clean!
We live in an upside-down world where every sitcom can include dialogue implicitly and explicitly referring to sex (including perversions), bedroom scenes with characters writhing under the sheets, breast-grabbing, and scenes of kissing – and no one thinks anything of it, but if a mother breastfeeds her baby in public, we call for censorship! We want to battle the oversexualization of our culture, but we do so by attacking the human body. This is like banning airplanes because terrorists might use them, banning guns because criminals might use them, banning cars or alcohol because somebody might drive drunk, or banning soda because somebody might get fat.
We especially go bananas over children seeing nudity, but no child in history has ever been hurt seeing nudity that wasn’t first taught that they were supposed to be hurt. We certainly aren’t born with the knowledge of the existence of clothes. I remember a case wherein a man was naked in his own home, not visible from the street or the neighbor’s homes, but only visible from one spot on the edge of his yard where a mother and daughter were walking by for some reason. The mother complained not that she was offended, but that her daughter was “having nightmares.” My thought was immediately that the mother must have filled her daughter’s mind with her own fears and prejudices and that this was child abuse! The man didn’t abuse anybody simply by being himself, but the mother did abuse her daughter by teaching her there was something so wrong with seeing bodies that they should always be covered. What kind of message does that send the daughter about her own body? No wonder we have eating disorders in America!
Swimsuits make especially little sense to me. For me, by covering certain parts, they only bring special attention to those parts. To divert the focus, one should either be fully dressed or fully naked. Swimsuits represent a sort of reverse psychology. By conspicuously covering something, I notice things that could otherwise hide in plain sight. One might even think that swimsuits are designed to call special attention to the body. In fact, they are; swimsuit designers openly admit this! It annoys me that not only do I have to cover up, but I have to help perpetuate the idea that certain parts of the anatomy are sexually special by what I wear. This is a free speech issue. I do not want to be party to perpetuating such falsehoods. I do not think it appropriate to force others to discuss which parts they find most attractive. That’s a private thing. It is because sex is private that I reject the idea of covering special parts based on one person’s biased ideas of which parts are sexual. I don’t want to know what others consider the “sexual parts.”
To be clear, I firmly believe that sex is a special, private thing shared between committed romantic partners not to be shared with others. When one is romantically entangled, they want to make the partner feel uniquely entitled to receive their affections. That’s what makes it romantic. I do not want to talk about my sex life, I don’t want to hear about the sex life of others, and I don’t find that romance or pornography make good entertainment. I dislike porn. It cheapens the sacred, but modern culture does this all the time and it isn’t even thought of as porn. Society praises those that dress up to show off the body and look pretty (and therefore sexually attractive) but puts down those that are pretty without dressing up. Putting in extra effort to dress (including makeup and jewelry) to attract a mate is just normal, but being oneself as God made them is somehow sexual and must be censored? Seriously?
In America, people are even having sex even as young as Junior High. I agree that this is a problem, but why is this a problem? Did God err when he arranged for sexual feelings to enter the mind during puberty? Why would he have put those feelings there if he did not intend us to act on them in some way? In hunter-gatherer societies, members of the tribe are married off between the ages of 13 and 16. Their resulting children are watched by the whole tribe, sharing the burden. Social support is available to prevent divorce. The problem with Jr. High kids having sex is that in American society, we lack the social support structure to enforce commitment and it is nearly impossible to raise a family and make a living by hunting. We require so much education just to navigate our institutions and to get a decent job (and have laws against child labor and age restrictions on entering legal contracts) that it becomes extremely risky to get pregnant before 18 – even riskier if the father doesn’t stick around. Due to the instability of the economy many couples are putting off having children until much later in life. I find this very sad. The problem isn’t as much the sex, but the lack of love, commitment, and economic opportunity for the young.
In conclusion, I see that the only way to fight those obsessed with promoting sex is not to become obsessed with fighting sex, but rather to stop being obsessed with sex at all. The deepest human drive is to commune with God. When God is put first, every lesser drive will fall into place.
My name is Dan. I am an author, artist, explorer, and contemplator of subjects large and small.