From an excellent article by Betsy Hart at the Gospel Coalition:
“That’s where the pornography comes in. Just as sexual pornography twists an understanding for men about real women’s bodies and sexual appetites, so romantic pornography twists the perception for women about real men and how they “ought” to behave toward women, which tends to amount to, well, behaving like a woman. I have a dear friend who once didn’t like a fellow I was dating. Among other shortcomings, he didn’t arrange spa treatments for me, she explained. Seriously. No more chick flicks for that girl.
The notion that the ideal fellow is sensitive and devoted to his woman didn’t start with Nora Ephron or even Jane Austin, of course. Our true husband, Christ himself, “wept.” And Scripture is clear that the ultimate bridegroom jealously pursues his bride, the church. In fact romantic pornography has a ring of truth to it, which is one reason it is powerful. A man in love with a woman is stubborn in his pursuit. Hence I’ve passed down to my children the maxim my mother shared with me: “Girls don’t want a boy they have to call themselves.”
But both kinds of pornography go wrong by portraying genders as unidimensional. And the unidimension of men in romantic porn gets magnified because our mainstream culture has a “man bad, woman good” view that opposes traditionally male qualities (unless they turn up in women, but that’s another column). In a symptom of what’s going on in the culture at large, “rom coms” and many television sitcoms denigrate such traits such as aggression, competitiveness, a certain amount of stoicism, and even the desire to protect and care for a woman.”
Jennifer Moses comments in her recent WSJ articleWhy Do We Let Them Dress Like That on the regrets of her generation and witnessing the next repeat them:
Still, in my own circle of girlfriends, the desire to push back is strong. I don’t know one of them who doesn’t have feelings of lingering discomfort regarding her own sexual past. And not one woman I’ve ever asked about the subject has said that she wishes she’d “experimented” more.
As for the girls themselves, if you ask them why they dress the way they do, they’ll say (roughly) the same things I said to my mother: “What’s the big deal?” “But it’s the style.” “Could you be any more out of it?” What teenage girl doesn’t want to be attractive, sought-after and popular?
And what mom doesn’t want to help that cause? In my own case, when I see my daughter in drop-dead gorgeous mode, I experience something akin to a thrill—especially since I myself am somewhat past the age to turn heads.
In recent years, of course, promiscuity has hit new heights (it always does!), with “sexting” among preteens, “hooking up” among teens and college students, and a constant stream of semi-pornography from just about every media outlet. Varied sexual experiences—the more the better—are the current social norm. (more…)
“With respect to sex and marriage, the normal Puritan view was a robust and healthy one. The Rev. William Gouge, in Of domestical duties (London, 1634), used Proverbs 5:18, 19, to express the joy and beauty of marital sex: “Let thy fountain be blessed, and rejoice with the wife of thy youth. Let her be as the loving hind and pleasant roe; let her breasts satisfy thee at all times, and be thou ravished always with her love.” The Puritans often spoke of marital sex as one of the great delights and joys among earthly blessings. Frye tells us that a “favorite Biblical passage cited by Puritan churchmen is Genesis XXVI. 8 where it is recorded that ‘Isaac was sporting with Rebekah his wife.’”
A typical employment of this passage is that made by William Gouge, who uses it for an attack upon Stoical abstinence–”A disposition,” said the Puritan Gouge, “no way warranted by the “Word.” Thomas Gataker provides a final and summarizing statement of Puritanism’s anti-ascentiticism in a marriage sermon published in 1620. Gataker is discussing the Christian life, with particular reference to marriage, and observes that it is a tactic of the demonic to misrepresent Christianity as a damper placed upon the joys of living; in other words, to misrepresent it as opposed to human happiness. This false picture of Christianity, says the Puritan Gataker, is “an illusion of Sathan, whereby he usually perwades the Merry Greekes of this world; that if they should once devotoe themselves to the Service of Jesus Christ, that hen they must bid an everlasting farewell to all mirth and delight; that then all their merry dayes are gone; that in the kingdome of Christ, there is nothing, but sighing and groning, and fasting and prayer. But see here the contrary; even in the kingdome of Christ, and in his House, there is marrying and giving in marriage, drinking of wine, feasting, and rejoicing even in the very face of Christ.”" (Rushdoony, The Flight from Humanity)
Rushdoony writes this in the context of a notable exception to the typical Puritan delight in marital love and other physical blessings, Michael Wigglesworth. Wigglesworth does aptly represent the false impression for the that merry lot who built a brewery among the first buildings of America. Here is to recovering Puritanism!
Stories about “evangelical” churches embracing homosexuality hardly seem like news anymore, but still the headlines are still rolling. As the article linked states, Pastor Mark Tidd changed his views on homosexuality after counseling a couple whose daughter began identifying as a boy. Tidd couldn’t apply the “plain meaning” of Scripture to this case (which implies that the girl is confused, not God), and so concluded that “It’s not a sin to be gay or act in accordance with your nature.”
The temptation is to think that churches embracing postmodern sexuality are making drastic changes when they do so. They might have made drastic changes, but these almost certainly came long before embracing homosexuality. The fundamental break is the view of the Bible which says it’s absolutely a sin to act in accordance with your nature. Paul says we were all “sons of disobedience–among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind” (Eph. 2:2-4).
Every pastor who walks around with his eyes open would answer the question “What is more common in your congregation, heterosexual or homosexual sin?” with a resounding “hetero.” I believe it’s possible for the answer to be homo, but we are not there yet. So is it alright to tell men that they must be radically committed to their wives, that Solomon is right when tells his son to be “enraptured with her [his wife's] breasts always”? Or is that just the ancient “plain meaning” of Scripture no longer applicable?
Should men be required to repent of their insane desire for pornography, or is it alright to reply with pastor Tidd, “I just didn’t feel God would tell a person to deny a big part of who they are and to keep it a secret”?
Of course post-evangelicals like Tidd would never (read “this year”) say embracing homosexuality is a license for adultery or even fornication necessarily, but this is because people who’ve left the foundation of the Bible are blinded to the consequences of their ideas and actions.
Why is this the case? Is it because of the onslaught of homosexuality? Rarely if ever. These pastors have been lazy and cowardly in addressing the predominant hetero sexual sin their congregations for years, and when the culture begins visibly discipling their church, what is there to stand on? If you haven’t stood against the constant mangling of human beings in heterosexual relationships–lovingly listening, praying, counseling, rebuking, and teaching again for the umpteenth time, what are the chances that you’ll have any integrity left when homosexuality makes its case?
There is an attempt by those who compromise this way to scramble for the high ground, posing as those who listen and embrace when what they are really doing is abandoning those who need loving and firm help finding their true identity in Christ. Paul tells the Corinthians that many of used to be, among other things, homosexuals, and some of them likely religiously devoted to it in paganism. So the Christian church must never be “closed” or unkind to gays, just like it shouldn’t shun those who struggle with any other sin. But in order to deal with this issue that will confront every church that is openly evangelical and engaging the world, the elders must proactively address all sexual sin. As soon as this is neglected, the church has turned into a traditional values club which has no basis other than personal preference for opposing anything coming at it. Oddly, this puts these churches in the same boat with those accepting homosexuality. Strange bedfellows, indeed.
Peter Jones’ book The God of Sex is a must read for those who would understand the close relationship between religion and sexuality, and the necessary connection between non-Christian thought and what Paul calls porneia–homosexuality, pedophilia, fornication, adultery, bestiality, polyamory, polygamy and the end of male/female distinctions. Sexual destruction (“liberation”) is at the top of Obama’s agenda for American society, the new civil rights as they’re known. Rhetoric is everything in these debates with anyone outside the pan-sexual fan club being grouped together with Nazis and fascists–homophobes, you know. It is therefore doubly important to see the agenda for what it is.
Sociologist Anne Hendershott writes about the politics of deviancy and shows how deviancy is no justified. She mentions an example in Conyers, Georgia, where a large number of very young teenagers were engaging in promiscuous sexual behaviors–some with more than one hundred partners, a behavior that led to a syphilis epidemic in the upscale suburb. The response from some women’s groups and sociologists was, to say the least, shocking. Deborah Toman, a research scientist and director of the Adolescent Sexuality Project at Wellesley College, suggested that “girls are entitled to their own sexual desire or sexual pleasure and that ‘good’ girls or ‘nice’ girls are depriving themselves of a full life.” This “full life,” which includes syphilis, is also a new, liberating day of pornography–with equally disastrous results.
This example is one among thousands that could be cited for the mayhem that is ensuing from the sexual revelution of the 1960s. In one sense we can be thankful that the tree has budded and brought forth rotten fruit. Now it is arguing for the right to chop off limbs at will and to teach other people’s children to do the same.
The context in which The Song of Songs comes to us is also the context for its interpretation, and that context is the story of covenant, the relationship between lover and beloved, in which the lover is God and beloved is man, “male and female.” the erotic content must be read in the theological context. The ancients did not read the Song devotionally because they were embarrassed by its sexuality, but because they understood sexuality in sacramental ways. Human love took its color from divine love. Reductive secular exegesis of the the Song is an admission that our understanding of human love is unrelated to all that we have learned about God’s love. If we read the sexual language of the Song in terms different from the divorce court, the popular play, and the glossy magazine, that may not be evidence that we are afraid of sex, but that we are bold with God. –from Five Smooth Stones
Surely this is recapturing ground. Men cannot find fulfillment and fidelity in their sexuality outside of its divine design, and pretending it has no design, no clear connection to the calling of the creature to image the creator, leaves them aimless or trapped in the dead-end of immorality.