Tuesday, December 19, 2017
When sex became about power. . .
Heff is dead. And with him the sparkle on the Playboy logo. We have come to find out that the worst we could imagine was the truth. Hugh Heffner, the boy from Iowa, walked around in silk pajamas and a robe waiting for women to fall before him. They did for a time. Even the wrinkled up old man he had become. Because sex is power and if you want power (or money), sex is a small price to pay and many are willing to do so. The great empire that Heffner created is a shell of its once former self. The future has unfolded to make Playboy look almost puritan in its somewhat tame nudity (at least in comparison to the shock of internet porn).
Who is left to defend the likes of Roman Polanski or Harvey Weinstein or Bill Clinton or anyone of the others who bought into the idea of free sex (that really was not free but a high cost of access to power). So Meryl Streep is shocked? Really? Now she has found moral outrage? For years this is the way it was. Not only in Hollywood but in Washington, DC. The same sex police who are enforcing gender equality are now turning their attention to the aging power brokers of the media world and lawyers can hardly conceal their glee at the $$$$ they see hidden in the mess.
Those who trumpet the free sexual culture without values will surely remind us all that “This is not about sex but about power.” And they are correct to a point. A host of men used and still use their power over women to get what they want but since the Fall, sex has always been intertwined with power. Adam and Eve saw they were naked and were immediately ashamed. It was not because of the bodies they wore or the bodies they saw that they were moved to shame but because they knew there was something wrong with how they were looking at nakedness. They tried covering it up and running away and still it did not go away.
Love has been stained with the taint of power and this has shown itself in matters of sex since Eden. Every pastor must deal with marital breakdown, with cohabitation, with the conflict of desire and God's creative will and it is not strictly a male problem. Women quickly learned how to be just as manipulative, scheming, nasty, and competitive as men in the game of sex and the use of its power. The game of life and marriage and family was tainted by power, competition, and domination. Historically men had the upper hand but the playing field is rather equal today. We are equal opportunity offenders.
Puritans, it is said, were against sex because it was dirty, bad, and sin was passed through it. Their ultimate conclusion is the Shaker ideal in which the best sex is no sex. Perhaps it is understandable since the pendulum always swings too far each way. St. Paul admitted that marriage is, in part, an out for those who cannot deny desire without burning up with it. But it does not end there. St. Paul also insists that there is much more to this than reining in passion. It is about a new definition for love and sex which is not about will and power but sacrifice and service. Where can you see this? Well, St. Paul insists, look to Christ and His bride the Church. Therein lies the ideal which is both model and source for the marriages between man and woman and the shape of family on earth.
It is not about the power to get what they want but the power to empty themselves and give to the other. It is about dying so the other might live and living to die over and over again. We cannot learn this from desire but we see it unmistakably in Christ. Consent is not what makes it right but love and this love empties self for the sake of the other. So what is the answer? How about grow up? Don't act like little boys who have just realized they have a sexual organ. Grow up. Men may be seeking sex when they marry a woman but in doing so they learn how to become men and find out it is not simply about sex or getting what they want or even about power over another. Women may be seeking love when they play at sex but they find out they get children who teach them that love is not sentimental thing anymore. Grow up. Act like who you are. Look to the cross to find out what that is.
Heffner never got it but a playboy is just a boy. Not a man. And until we learn this, we will not stop hearing about men and women who use sex as a weapon to exert power over another to get what they want. It started in Eden with the Fall and it stops only in Christ where forgiveness unleashes us from the past that would define us and where the Spirit leads us beyond ourselves as Christ has first loved us.