You’ve probably heard someone say that our culture is “over-sexed”, but truthfully, the word “sex” has become so overused that it has itself become a euphemism. In fact, I believe modern American culture has become under-sexed, though I am selecting a particular sub definition of that word. The other sub definition you would understand to be “erotic”, or the bow-chicka-wow-wow kind of erotic pleasure. That, on the other hand, has infiltrated into aspects of our society it was never intended. Erotic imagery is included in standard entertainment, and erotic attractions are used as “attention grabbers” in advertisements for other products. So, what most people mean when they say “over-sexed”, I call “over-eroticized”.
So why select that definition of sex to separate out? Because the word sex has a definition the others don’t: “of or respecting the differences between the two sexes” … realizing there are more differences between the sexes than just our genitals. God created an entire fabric of gifts to bestow upon the sexes, differently. Not as though one sex is better than the other, no, but that we’re complementary to each other.
My definition of sexual includes the psychological make up as well. In that regard, our modern American culture is under-sexed. I think in part because a movement began in the mid-1900’s as a result of Darwinian philosophy. Specifically, the movement began to devalue femininity, under the guise of enhancing femininity. Darwinian philosophy taught that the “fittest” or “strongest” survive, and apart from a Biblically-guided man to cherish his mate like Christ loves the Church, men began acting like male animals, and treated women as if they were nothing but animals. As Gloria Steinem finally said “we are becoming the men we wanted to marry”. I believe it’s unfortunate that these women were unable to find the value of their God-given femininity, and instead eschewed the blessings God had prepared for them, as though they themselves believed femininity itself was not valued.
Either way, our modern American culture devalues the unique gifts each sex has to offer, I.e. sexuality itself is repressed. Activists decry the differences in pay between men & women, neglecting to provide a valid theological or mathematical formula for why it would be good for all women on average to work as hard or as long as men. I might as well draw a line over freckle density and make a fuss about inequality with any arbitrary formula and selected precision as if it were immorality itself. As femininity now attempts to reassert itself in a shadow form, masculinity is becoming devalued, or worse, demonized.
This situation creates a perfect storm of sorts for increasing eroticization of same-sex attractions. Lacking healthy same-sex models for our children, they persist in a sort of androgynous stage for too long, they fail to see differences between the sexes as valuable, and don’t “get” what it really means to be a sexual being, before the erotic drive kicks in. And since our culture is over eroticized, it kicks in early. Erotic expectations and innuendo run roughshod over healthy expressions of physical affection.
Have you ever heard a sermon like this? “I know Paul says we should great each other with a holy kiss, but that was part of their culture and it’s not part of ours, so the appropriate command here is great each other with a holy handshake.” I gotta tell you, that’s a simple theological fallacy, and the counter example is easy. In our culture, erotic intercourse is expected early and without a lifetime commitment. Surely that hasn’t become ‘ok’? Let me dig a little deeper. God created the sexes, and he also created the erotic. He created them for a purpose and defines rules about how to use them. He also created non-erotic affection, as demonstrated in scripture many times over. Now, if God gets to make he rules about what is and isn’t allowed for erotic activities, doesn’t it make sense that He gets to define which activities are erotic and which ones are not? Or do we get to change His rules by moving the line with our “culture”? I think in that context, the true answer is clear. Culture may be important for understanding the meaning of scripture, but it doesn’t get to alter God’s law about morality.
In other words, I’m saying culture has corrupted the Church, and we need to return to Biblical standards for our affectionate behavior. Granted, Christian men do tend to be more physically affectionate than their secular counterparts, BUT both generally have an extreme dearth of natural, healthy physical same-sex affection. By taking the lessons from our culture, men have been taught that a desire to kiss or snuggle with a friend is a “gay feeling”, instead of a desire to express healthy male affection. According to Christian marriage counselor Dr. Gary Chapman, “physical touch” is one of our 5 love languages. Instead of focussing on healthy ways to do heathy touch, he spends most of the chapter on this love language explains that it’s not the same thing as sexual intercourse. And according to his research, about 20% of men have physical touch as a primary love language, but it is being starved in our culture, and in particular – in our churches. Yet, men still long for physical contact, they seem to only be able to justify it in percussive motions, like tackle football, or a slap on the butt.
My heart sinks when I hear Christian leaders relegating those who crave love expressed through physical affection to wonder down to their local gay bar in search for the perfect boyfriend who will only want to cuddle. The healing process from homosexuality actually speaks directly to this hidden dichotomy: that there is no such thing as a “gay feeling”; we have two God given desires: same-sex attraction, and erotic attraction, and the lines between them have been blurred. How do we draw the line between them? Perhaps stop pretending that pop culture gets to determine what’s moral or not.
Christ prayed that we would be known for our love for each other. I think it’s proof we’ve failed when two men with their arms around each other’s shoulders in public are immediately suspected of being a gay couple, instead of immediately suspected of being Christians.