"Love! Do you know the meaning of the word?" 'How should I not?' said the Lady, 'I am in love...in Love Himself.'
~C.S. Lewis
The Great Divorce

Monday, April 12, 2010

Trivialized Sexuality

"How do they do it? The ones who make love without love?"-Sharon Olds

Who knows what it is that makes something stick with you. Yet we all have this capability to remember things that to anyone else might be just as easily forgettable. In my sophmore year of college I read a poem for literature appreciation that began with the line cited above.

I hadn't thought about it in years...until tonight. I was watching one of my favorite tv shows and became disgusted with two of the main characters. After sleeping together, the one said "I love you" and the woman refused to respond in kind. It was slightly clever; usually it is the uncommitted male who is put in this role with the inability to say "I love you." But how, if I may be blunt, can you have sex without love? How is it that sex has gone from the prized gift of God, to the 97 billion dollar/year porn industry?

I would like to suggest a couple of the big stepping stones:

1.) Overall rejection of Christ, the Bridegroom. It is not possible to understand the full importance of sexuality outside an understanding that Jesus Christ is married to his Church. The figure of marriage is used in Matthew's Gospel, St. Paul's letter to the Ephesians, and the beautiful prophecy of Hosea, to describe how Jesus would redeem humanity. It would be through a marriage, quite literally made in heaven.

2.) Acceptance of contraception. Is there any bigger reason for the trvialization of sexuality? Not sure. What I am sure of is that contraception creates the possibility for sex without responsibility. That will only encourage sexuality divorced from its ultimate purpose-the creation of life.

2b.) If sex is all about what pleasure I can get, even to people in the Church, how can we ever say with any authority that homosexuality or beastiality is wrong? Is it not forbidden because it is sex separated from the purpose God intended? When Christians, en masse, began seeing contraception as acceptable, it lost its opportunity to witness effectively against the trivialized position of sex in our culture.

3.) Desensitization. You can blame your media of choice. The tv, the computer, billboards, whatever your pleasure. The point it, we don't have to look. But the blood of Lot's wife runs through our own veins. It is in our nature to look at the filth that surrounds us. And all too often, we reach the point where looking doesn't seem so bad anymore. This may be where the rubber meets the road for so many of us: can we turn it off of our tv? Catholic Christians, if they are living faithfully, do not fall under the condemnation of the first two "stepping stones", but I think we all suffer from some degree of desensitization.

We need to look away now. We need to ask God for a restoration of innocence. I'm sure there are other problems that have led to untold millions "making love without love." Anybody else have thoughts that might help us recover sex's true meaning?

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