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Sunday, July 02, 2006

Word For The Week

One of the greatest crooners of all time was an abject heathen by the name of Marvin Gaye. When Marvin would come to town women of all ages - from the cradle to the grave - would drop everything to go see Marvin. Marvin would start singing his sweet melodies and women would melt like butter on a hot biscuit. This is why back in the day only Marvin Gaye could produce a booty-call song and women would actually embrace it and sing along with it:

Ooh, now let's get down tonight
Baby I'm hot just like an oven
I need some lovin'
And baby, I can't hold it much longer
It's getting stronger and stronger
And when I get that feeling
I want Sexual Healing
Sexual Healing, oh baby
Makes me feel so fine
Helps to relieve my mind
Sexual Healing baby, is good for me
Sexual Healing is something that's good for me

Marvin was raw with his, and while Marvin wasn't thinking anything about Jesus, the Bible actually agrees with Marvin to an extent. The difference, as always, is context.

We have to keep sex within its proper context. One thing that we need to understand is that we are being played. Anyone who has studied communication theory or worked in sales knows that in order to persuade anyone to do anything you have to bypass the rational mind and speak directly to the irrational, emotional mind. All decisions are based on emotion and subsequently justified by reason and logic - the cerebral cortex, part of the brain that is responsible for rationality, does not even fire until it receives information from the brain stem and limbic system, the part of the brain responsible for emotions and drives. In other words, by the time you consciously think about something your brain has already tagged the information with an emotion and a desired emotional response - your cerebral cortex simply tries to justify it logically, and when it fails to do so you end up feeling cognitive dissonance.

Stay with me, I'm going somewhere.

It is not by accident that sex is so pleasurable. It's not like while God was creating man someone distracted Him so God screwed up and sprinkled too many nerve endings into the genitalia. No, God knew exactly what He was doing, and it was good. Understand, sex is not essential for the survival of an individual human being, but it is essential for the survival of humanity. No evolutionary process would design an altruistic function for the survival of an entire species that does not in and of itself increase the likelihood of the survival of the individual organism. That requires an intelligence that cares about the survival of an individual species. That requires an intelligent designer, and we have such a one in the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the Father of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Are you still with me?

The human sex drive is the duct tape of human motivation - much the same way that duct tape can be used to fix just about any problem human sexuality can be used to motivate just about any behavior or psychological process. What's more is that virtually any conceivable stimulus can be associated with sex and subsequently used to arouse the sex drive. Marv Albert would be an outlier of the normal distribution of sexual arousal while Sir Mix-A-Lot would be in the 50th percentile. Some folks have foot fetishes while others get turned on by legs, or pecks, or abs, or hair, or the gentle blowing of the breeze - any conceivable stimulus can arouse the sex drive, and the sex drive can be used to motivate any conceivable behavior.

See where this is going?

In the United States of America we claim to believe in the rule of law but the truth of the matter is that we ultimately believe in the golden rule - he who has the gold makes the rules. Those who have the gold keep their gold and, in fact, increase their pile of gold by ensuring that consumers continue to consume the goods and services that are produced by the owners of the means of production (the gold), and that is best achieved by appealing to the consumers' sex drive. Sometimes the appeal to the sex drive is overt (see: beer ads) while sometimes it is masked in multiple layers meaning, such as when they continually show Black men as suspects in violent crimes - White men are motivated to protect their White women from those animals (with the Mandingo thing looming subconsciously as well), purchasing the goods and services that they perceive to facilitate that end.

We're being played.

This is nothing new. Satan is well-versed at sharpening our appetite to the point that it can split atoms and then sitting back to watch us destroy ourselves trying to fulfill the perceived need that he feeds, laughing. He did it with Adam and Eve in the garden. "You will not surely die." "God's just player-hatin' - do yo thang, gurl! You know you want some." There is nothing new under the sun, and while the devil may or may not wear Prada, he most certainly maintains a mailing address on Madison Avenue. We are barraged with sexually suggestive messages every day. The billboards that we see on the way to work, the attire and scents of our coworkers designed to highlight their assets and mask their perceived deficiencies, the commercials on radio and TV God forbid you jump online. Sex and sexuality is ubiquitous in this culture, and considering the fact that America was in large part modeled after Rome it should come as no surprise that we are equalling Rome's depravity. This is why Paul said to the Corinthians, the most depraved of Roman provinces, "But since there is so much immorality, each man should have his own wife, and each woman her own husband." Sex is a good thing - a very good thing - within its proper context, and that context is marriage. The first thing that we see in this passage is that sex must be constrained to its proper context.

American society has divorced action from value and has embraced the idea that pleasure is the highest good, or in an ethical formulation that whatever causes pleasure is right. This is known as hedonism, and while it fits well with humanism it is directly contradicted by the Word of God. Man is not the measure of all things - man didn't create the heavens and the earth. Man didn't hang the stars in their place and separate the waters from the dry ground. Man didn't create the birds in the air or the fish in the sea. Man just showed up on the scene after God breathed the breath of life into him, so man can be in no ways the measure of all things - that role belongs to God alone, He is the standard bearer and the standard giver. Again, man has been tempted to usurp God's role since the Garden of Eden - "...and you will be like God" - and perpetually falls for the okiedoke. We can't keep sex in its proper context because too often we won't keep ourselves in our proper context - submitted to God. When it's all about us then it's all about fulfilling our desires, but when it's all about God then it's all about fulfilling His desire for us.

Does this mean that God wants us to suffer and to do without pleasure? Hardly, He wants to protect us from us. He wants us to operate within His guidelines for our own good - how much baby-mama drama would be avoided if sex were kept within its proper context? How many abortions would be avoided if sex were kep within its proper context? How many broken hearts would be whole if sex were kept within its proper context? God essentially constrained men (males) by commanding that sex was to be limited to the context of marriage. The male sex drive is primarily physical and biological, driven by the build up of seminal fluids, and after so long a man will jump just about anything that moves, as Eddie Murphy colorfully pointed out in 48 Hours. But God says that if a man wants to have sex with a woman then he has to take responsibility for her for the rest of his life, that she is then entitled to all of his stuff. That is the proper context of sex - marriage - but our society values benefits without responsibilities, wealth wthout work, and pleasure without restraint. America wants its sexual healing but it doesn't want the obligation of marriage, the obligation of raising children, the obligation of submitting to God. America acts like a petulant 5 year old - "No! Gimme that! Gimme that! Gimme that!" - and could use the same solution: the rod of correction drives folly far from the child.

But some folk might get turned on by a good spanking.

That leads to the second point that we find in this text - it is the responsibility of the husband to please his wife and the responsibility of the wife to please her husband. I have no clue as to where the Puritanical idea of boring sex came from - it surely wasn't the Bible. There is nothing in Scripture that mandates conformity to the Missionary Position. There is nothing in Scripture forbiding specific orifi from being penetrated by specific members. There is nothing in Scripture that mandates any performance requirements, but what I do find in Scripture is a clear command for husbands to bring pleasure to their wives and for wives to bring pleasure to their husbands. Missionary might work for Ward and June Cleaver, but the Huxtables might have some other ideas. Lord knows that Bobby and Whitney had other ideas, but within the context of marriage (cocaine notwithstanding) it's all good - the two shall become one flesh. There's a wide variety (be careful with that link - it's graphic) of techniques available to the married couple, limited only by their creativity and the constraint that it's just the two of them - the two shall become one flesh, not the three or the four becoming one flesh. Wives have to so pleasure their own husbands that any time that a husband is aroused his wife immediately comes to mind. Husbands have to so pleasure their wives that the idea of sex with anyone else invokes a visceral revulsion in the wife. Paul is saying that it is the responsibility of the married man or woman to have their spouse's toes curling on the regular, to have their eyes flipping to the back of their heads, to beat it up.

But sex is more than techniques, it is an emotional connection and a spiritual bonding experience. The one-flesh phrase transcends the physical experience to the extent that the two can truly become one, of one mind and body, blessed by the Holy Spirit. That is true pleasure, pleasure that will bring tears from the man and the woman, pleasure that will bond a couple for life.

It's in the Bible.

The Bible also affirms our third point in this Pauline text: abstinence is a good thing. Unwanted children, broken emotional bonds, viewing people as consumables to be used and disposed, where do we begin? It is an exceedingly good thing if you have the discipline to keep your sex drive in check. Paul concedes the obvious - many (most?) people lack that discipline and their sex drives demand an outlet - but Paul reaffirms that which Jesus affirmed and God originally stated: the proper context for sex is within marriage, one man and one woman, and within that context whenever you get that feeling, it's time for sexual healing.

May the LORD bless you and keep you;
May the LORD make His face shine upon you and be gracious to you;
And may the LORD,
Who wants you to find pleasure in its proper context,
May He turn His face toward you and give you peace.

Emancipated by Athanasius @ 11:00 AM

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