Sunday, July 31, 2016

Assorted Thoughts on Sex, Sexuality, Masculinity & Evangelicals

I posted these over at WenatcheeTheHatchet's blog, but I thought I'd put them down here as well:

-One interesting thing about the industrialized Western world is the complete vanishing of any sort of rites of passage from boyhood to manhood. While girls to womanhood is itself a reality, it is much less drastic and invasive. I think Leon Podles makes a good case about this, even if his hunch drives the argument more than any comprehensive data and conclusive evidence. These sorts of things are drying up everywhere in the wake of a globalist plastic culture. Now money becomes the real marker of adulthood, which means the only the wealthy and successful ever really mature, at least, according to the general cultural thrust. Thus, no wonder the military, militarized police forces, and gangs are swelling. Its an alternative for every other guy who doesn't want to be perpetually emasculated because he can't find a well paying job. I think this might go a ways to understand and explore the rise of male resentment in the West, particularly, but elsewhere also. Unfortunately, while people like Driscoll understood this, at some level, they embraced a similar approach to ISIS, embracing parodies and caricatures as models. Alastair has a good piece on "Lad culture" that I found helpful. I'm not sure what Christians can do, realistically. Perhaps there is hope in a revived sense of Confirmation that is imbued with a sense of "vocational" discernment (taking, perhaps, the best of the Jesuits). But this is only possible within a strong church tradition, and Evangelicalism has no backbone in this regard.

-Evangelicals rarely discuss sex maturely or deeply, at least that I've seen. You don't have to buy into Freud or Lacan to appreciate the additional layers of psychological depth that goes into sex, for both men and women. C.S. Lewis made a brief observation that if men lined up for a theater where they watched a piece of chicken rotate on stage, and drooled and paid hundreds of dollars for the chance, we wouldn't conclude that such is natural, but that there is something terribly wrong. So it is for sex, and we hardly consider the role of desire. Sex is never about sex, there are fantasies and wants in play. If we can't understand this, in order to properly understand ourselves, we will never be able to talk about sex rightly, and joy in celibacy becomes a contradiction. Of course, none of this thinking ever helps in the moment, but it seems that Evangelical sexuality is really confused and just revolving around the same constellation as everyone else post-Sexual Revolution. And Fouccault is right about the Sexual Revolution: it's not liberative, but trapped in the same paradigm as its Puritan forebearers. The Puritans were not anti-sex, per the propaganda, but just as hyper-sexed, more like today's evangelicals. We have not been liberated towards rightly ordered appetites, but merely different kinds of slaves on the plantation of Desire's Madness.

-Sadly, as per your other post on Evangelical appropriations of music, we are just behind the times, always lurching forward. At least the Mainline are, more or less, caught up with things as per their complete submersion within the Zeitgeist. If the Mainline acts mainly as a bizarre chaplaincy as for the current state of things, Evangelicals can behave more like a cult, with a persecution complex and all. I saw the documentary "Give me sex Jesus", which was disturbing as it was sobering. The liberative feeling that millenial Evangelicals have in finally sort of accepting the culture make them twice as blind, as even "secular" people realize all the contradictions, insanities, and disorders of the present sexual mores ethos. Why there's good work done in some of the high corners of some tradition (John Paul II's theology of the body and sexuality seems promising), it has trouble reaching people in a more concrete, teachable, form. I have hope for people like Jamie Smith to influence Evangelicals, but as it stands now, such influence is extremely limited. I don't expect a cultural revolution, but Christians have an obligation to help themselves and others to creatively interact with the times in a way that brings the gospel to bear on realities, and not idealities. Particularly, wedding culture, the meaning of sex and sexuality, and a proper theology of the body. But this sort of failure is not necessarily new, but novel in its 21st century instantiation.

2 comments:

  1. A thing I saw recently from one of the authors at MyChains. Just as another contact point for this general discussion http://www.artway.eu/content.php?action=show&id=1418&lang=en

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's definitely worthwhile to ponder. Of course, seeing beauty in the Human form also requires being acquainted with what the Human form actually is. The author's time as a nurse, forced to both reckon the Human body on a mundane level, while simultaneously recognizing its dignity, is an exercise that would help foster such an attitude. But without that kind of jarring experience, breaking the hyper-eroticization, it's a hard place for many people to be.

      I'm not sure whether or not his advice will work as generally applied, though the theological reasoning behind it is sound. I have hope though!

      Delete