Are we even allowed to love plant managers?

I’ve written about this before, but during a conversation the other day about the role of sex in redemptive films, I thought of another way of illustrating it.

Picture a father and his adult son pondering a serving of Atlantic lobster in a fine restaurant:

Son:  Drawn butter, lemon in a cheese cloth. I’m in heaven.
Father: Beautiful, I agree, but is your heart in the right place on this?
Son: I think so.
Father: Do you really love that lobster, I mean with all your heart?

Or, to avoid the problem of comparing women to edible sea creatures, picture two executives pondering a new plant manager:

Vice President: She graduated with high honors from Cal Tech
President: Is that really what’s important here?
Vice President: She increased productivity by 17% at the Toledo plant?
President: You’re just talking about things that are useful to you, and the company.
Vice President: I thought that’s what I’m supposed to..
President: Do you love her?
Vice President: Are we even allowed to love plant managers?

The point being that we allow lobster to be good on its own, and we allow plant managers to be good at what they do, and we allow ourselves to celebrate all that goodness without insisting that “love” be buckled onto that appreciation like an ankle bracelet on a dangerous convict. Sex can never be just good on its own; it must be smothered over with a healthy dollop of “love,” or it’s nothing but harlot debauchery.

When some believers talk about sex, you can almost hear the sort of maternal advice they would give a teenager caught with pornography. Translated, without the varnish, it goes like this: “Listen, Johnny, someday the Lord will give you a woman who loves you enough to do these disgusting things with you.”

Just when I think the church is learning its lesson on this, a friend writes, in response to my last blog:

A Christian filmmaker, whom I consider very conservative, just had a film rejected for consideration from a Christian group for being “unGodly.” The reason? The main character was wearing a dress that was a few inches above the knees.

At the root of this false holiness is the belief that sex and beauty have no place in God’s universe because they simply must revert, in our dark hearts, to primal, selfish lust.  Could the hem line have been “above the knee” in a bedroom scene between married people or would that make it all “less loving?” Can the woman’s beautiful leg be good on its own, as a proof of God’s incredible craftsmanship, or must we spray it with a little “love” disinfectant first?

Another friend observed that quite a few Christians will allow non Christian filmmakers to get a little steamy, on their way to making a redemptive film, in a way they would never allow a fellow believer. A believing filmmaker who gets even the hemline wrong can’t expect support from his own people.

It’s more than just a film problem though. The next time your church sponsors a couples’ retreat, and your husband gets restless listening to platitudinous reveries on the value of “love,” you might remember that some of the teaching time should be given over, without apology, to the beautiful power of great sex.