Back in September my son wrote a post titled SEX. In part he wrote it as a response to all the Miley Cyrus hoopla and in part because he believes frank conversation about sex and the attitudes we have about sex should be happening more not less frequently! I agree. In fact, I started a post to talk more about sex back in January. But, I got distracted and didn’t finish it. Then in May Julie Clawson at One Hand Clapping wrote an interesting post titled Sex Shame and Rape Culture. Again, my interest was piqued and I worked on my post. But again, I was distracted by other issues and didn’t finish. Today (July 15), I was reminded that the Synchroblog postings were just around the corner and the topic was Liberty. Doesn’t everyone want to write about sex when they think of LIBERTY?! 😉 I certainly do! But rather than work on an old post that wasn’t working well enough to get itself posted three or seven months ago I thought I’d try a new approach.
Romans 13:8 tells us we are to: “Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law.” Two things are very telling for me in this single verse. First, loving others is the fulfillment of the law. Second, we are not supposed to owe anyone anything except love–the kind of love we can give to everyone. I’d hazard a guess that the kind of love the verse references is NOT sexual or erotic love. That said, the Church doesn’t exactly have a healthy understanding of what the Bible does say about erotic love.
Ironically, when media talks to us about sex or shows us sexually heightened images even when most of those images are disconnected from meaningful relationships, their goal is to make us think they’re talking about love because society in general understands that love (that wildly abstract concept) is a good thing. Just as interestingly, when the Church talks to us about sex they almost always do so with such a negative connotations that the Body completely disassociates sex from any healthy components of love. Pointing fingers at an outside world, which granted uses eroticism to sell us everything from computers and cars to food and dish soap, the Church warns its members (often by making women the object or source of the problem) to avoid sexual temptations and wait for marriage as if marriage can miraculously save one from the inherent evil of erotic love.
Sadly marriage has no such powers. Even though the Church promises women marriage will protect them, it can’t deliver on it’s promise. Marriage cannot suddenly reprogram the messages women have received through the years of shame in their adolescence–that they shouldn’t have erotic feelings, shouldn’t desire sexual pleasure, and shouldn’t engage in provocative behavior. Marriage cannot suddenly undo the multiple ways women have been blamed for all things wrong with sex. Marriage cannot suddenly erase the subtext passed on to boys that after marriage sex will be theirs for the taking. And, marriage cannot suddenly replace the messages of fear and control with compassion by telling couples: now you must consider your spouse’s needs, desires, energy, health, etc. if you want to have a healthy sex life. No matter how accurate the new message might be, marriage isn’t a miracle drug.
Media also seems powerless. It promises women if they become more sexual they will be empowered. Repeated images of women enjoying sexual freedom coupled with happily ever after or quick fix scenarios paint this false message with bold colors. Yet, the media can’t actually deliver on its promise either since it cannot undo the very real consequences of sexual behavior–pregnancy, STDs, and emotional trauma. Neither does it seem willing to challenge society’s default setting when it comes to the problems relating to sex: blame women.
The worst part about the sex messages delivered by the media or by the Church is that they avoid the foundational problem. Women may have been given the vote in 1920. They may have gotten some freedom to make decisions about their own bodies in the 1970’s. But, they have never been seen or treated as equal to men. Until we have serious conversations to expose the underlying attitudes that continue to hold women beneath men we cannot hope to find solutions for the symptomatic problems–whether we’re talking unequal pay, female poverty, healthcare inequalities, or living in a rape culture.
Here’s the list of links to other Synchroblog post on the topic of Liberty:
- Jerry Wirtley – Liberty …
- Bobbi Ann Allen – My Allegiance Has Changed
- Justin Steckbauer – The Topic Of Liberty
- Jeremy Myers – Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death?
- Carol Kuniholm – Liberty and Constraint
- K.W. Leslie – Why I Don’t Want Go To Church: No Freedom
- Jesus Without Baggage – Where The Spirit of The Lord Is, There Is Liberty
- Glenn Hager – Rebel
- James Carter – The Law of Liberty
- Mallory Pickering – Don’t Give Up
- Leah Chang – Free To Be
- Liz Dyer – Fighting For Freedom & Equality
I know Rachel Held-Evans isn’t part of the Synchroblog but this too needs a look: