I copped out a bit in my last blog about sex and the Fifty Shades thing, because I called for “a frank, celebratory discussion” — and then proceeded not to have one.
Sex is just difficult to talk about, but I’m going to talk about it, because I’m tired of the Godless scum hogging the stage on this one.
Christians who take their holiness seriously, who have an interest in shielding the innocence of their children, find the topic difficult, to put it mildly. James Dobson, formerly of Focus on the Family, advocated that couples talk openly to each other about their sexuality, what makes them happy, what gets them excited, what turns them on and off, whether they are “lights on” or “lights off” lovers, how often they feel they need it, all of that.
Another Christian sex expert — this one a woman — took the opposite approach. On a “talk radio” show she stated it very bluntly: “talk” wasn’t necessary. “A woman expects her man to know what she wants without having to tell him.” She doesn’t want to teach him how to dance. She wants him to lead — and read her mind at the same time.
As much as I like Jim Dobson, I suspect the sex-expert chick is likely more right than wrong on this one. There is some fundamental mystery about the act itself, and the dance leading up to it, that makes terms like “technique” and “position” reek of clinical bad breath. That sort of talk feels like the nerdy lamentation of the lonely guy, or the bald vulgarity of a “Vagina Monologues” feminist. We all tend to look better, in other words, over wine, across a dinner table, with music playing, and not under a microscope. And dancing is better if someone isn’t shouting 1-2-3 in your ear the whole time.
But that doesn’t mean silence. Silence is deadly. Imagine for a moment you’re a little boy who loves airplanes and your parents spend all of their time looking slightly guilty about airplanes. You can tell they like airplanes. They take lots of business trips in airplanes. But when they come back from those trips, they never mention airplanes for fear you’ll run away from home and become addicted to them. When they catch you looking at a picture of an airplane, they don’t say anything, not directly, but you can tell they are disgusted with you, or troubled, about your looking at an airplane. You catch them looking at an airplane together. It’s all terribly awkward.
Like all metaphors, this breaks down a bit upon examination, but it’s true enough in this respect: if you communicate so much secretiveness about sex, either at home, or from the pulpit, pastors, you are going to be building up a weird, powerful inventory of guilt that might just break out in some very unhealthy ways.
Let’s go back to the airplane pictures for a minute. The absurdity is just too much fun:
Suppose a dad sees his son looking at a picture of an airplane, and he suddenly gets all nervous, very quiet, and he appears to swallow something distasteful before speaking. “Now, Tommy, someday, you’ll be able to afford an airplane ticket, or perhaps you’ll learn how to be a pilot.” At this point, the nervous father actually appears to perspire a bit, above his eyebrows. “Flying is a sacred, beautiful thing,” the father continues, gulping hard, “and someday, you’ll be able to appreciate the blessings, and the costs of flying an airplane.”
Little Tommy is feeling very weird at this moment. He doesn’t think there’s anything particularly sacred about airplanes. He just thinks they’re hot. A few more of these lectures, and awkward silences, and he learns that if he looks at an airplane, or thinks about one, he better keep it to himself, or he will make his dad look silly again.
Enter Hollywood. Talk about a reckless celebration of airplanes. Fast airplanes, slow airplanes, fat airplanes. Big, loaded, high-flying bombers. Reckless maneuvers. Horrible airplane crashes that never seem to get anyone really hurt. It’s a regular airplane extravaganza. You might say it’s Airplane Idol. Tommy, who originally wanted to fly an airplane, winds up content to just sit in a theater and watch airplane movies. At least there, no one seems to have any weird hangups about flight.
Why is the church so reluctant to celebrate airplanes, er, I mean sex? It’s all over our Book. It starts out with two beautiful naked people in a garden and it rolls on right through to Abraham getting frisky with Sarah and Jacob sharing tent time with his four wives and Joseph doing the right thing and running away from his master’s temptress wife and Bathsheba bearing it all on the rooftop and if I have to remind you about sex in the bible, then I’m pretty sure you’ve never read the Book.
The point is that God is effortless, tasteful, poetic, frank, and utterly unapologetic about sex in the way He tells His story. He tells the good, bad, and the ugly without censoring Himself. There certainly are quite a few “fair women” and “damsels” to go around. King Solomon drinks fine liquor from his wife’s navel. David dances naked. Esther uses her beauty to save her people. Paul gets very blunt about it: if you haven’t been given the gift of solitude, it’s better to marry than to burn; and don’t hold yourselves back, married couples. Give yourselves away to each other and be satisfied with your wife’s breasts “constantly.”
There’s nothing, in other words, “secret” about it. “Secret” is from the devil — the great liar, the great confuser, the one who desperately wants to keep you blind and ashamed.
So when the good father hears his son talking about airplanes, he chimes in: “Yup, they’re gorgeous all right. You have to learn how to fly them, and take care of them, but God knew what he was doing when he gave us airplanes, all right.”
Tommy ends up a pilot, and not a voyeur.