Thursday, June 13, 2013

Unpopular Christian virtues

The last time I mentioned sex in a post was when I compared my book, But the Greatest of These is Love, to the best seller, Fifty Shades of Gray. The two books share quite a few similarities, except maybe the "best seller" part . . . and, the sexual content. I've never read Fifty Shades of Gray, so there might be a few other differences. If you missed Fifty Shades of Red, go back and read it.

In the last couple of weeks, I have witnessed dramatic examples illustrating why illicit, forbidden, casual, uncommitted, recreational sex is not a great idea, regardless of what at least one participant was thinking at the time. Rarely does either party say, "this one act could adversely alter the course of my life, it might cause me to go to jail, lose my job, devastate my family, lose the trust of my spouse, BUT, it is going to be SO worth it!" No sex is that good. Some may disagree. 

At the risk of sounding like a prude, I will continue. My 18 year-old-son reminds me daily that we live in the 21st Century and none of this pertains to modern times. But I am curious why the obsessive distraction, often to our ruin, about the mysterious enigma of sex. 

We live in a culture where we are led to believe that sexual freedom is a birthright. Why else would people in authority insist that girls of any age have access to the "morning after" pill without parental consent, when that same child would be denied an aspirin at school without her parent's permission. The age of  consent in the U.S. is 16 in most states. In some countries it is as young as 12. To view "Mature" rated movies, one must be 17.  By that time, the horse is usually out of the barn, so to speak! 

 A hundred years ago, coming out of the long Victorian Era,  Sigmund Freud was concluding and teaching that sexual repression was the major psychological problem of mankind, and the indirect cause of much of Western society's woes, illnesses, and crime. Those Victorians were to blame, for being a prudish and uptight bunch!

The Victorian era, the reign of Queen Victoria (1837-1901), is considered by historians to be a period of peace and prosperity, refined sensibilities, and national confidence in Britain. (I consider it a period of beautiful architecture and furniture, since that is about all that remains from that period!) A recent article suggested that people from the Victorian era, which was marked by "an explosion of innovation and genius," had higher I.Q.s than people today. Interesting. So, are we getting dumber? (one mind-numbing episode of most prime-time TV should provide evidence!)

"Chastity is the most unpopular of the Christian virtues," writes C.S. Lewis in Mere Christianity. Mere Christianity was adapted from a series of radio talks on the BBC during World War II, much like Roosevelt's Fireside Chats in this country, meant to sooth an anxious populace. 

Today, Christians' chastity, or lack of, virtually mirrors that of the world's, even though Christians are called to sexual purity. Even Saint Augustine, fourth century church father confessed that, as a young man, he prayed constantly for chastity, but while his lips were saying "Lord make me chaste," his heart was adding, "but please don't do it just yet."

I am remembering the messes in our families, communities, and government that promiscuity has caused that sexual purity, or self-control, chastity, temperance–words we don't often use anymore–would have prevented. Gone are the days when we hold self control and delayed gratification, or "refinement" of any kind to a high ideal. We have now achieved Freud's goal, complete sexual freedom. We now have cozy terms like "friends with benefits" describing mutually satisfying sexual relationships that don't involve, well, relationship. We seem to be devolving. 

Today we are free of sexual repression, and for that matter most "repression," in any area of life. Has that reversal improved our race? We have one of the highest teen pregnancy rate in the western, industrialized world, pedophilia, abortion as birth control, high divorce rate, children growing up without fathers, orphans, a growing prison population, rampant STDs, high suicide rates, high numbers medicated for depression. We teach the young people in health class to "wait until they are ready for sex." Ask most teens who think they are in love (which is often, with many) if they are ready. They are ready!

C.S Lewis opined, "the sexual appetite, like our other appetites, grows by indulgence . . . Perversions of the food appetite are rare. But perversions of the sex instinct are numerous, hard to cure, and frightful." 

I wonder what Freud would think today if he studied the cause of society's woes, illnesses, and crime. It certainly isn't repressed sexuality!

"Virtue," (another word we rarely use anymore) "–even attempted virtue–brings light; indulgence brings fog."  C.S. Lewis


  1. Thank you for saying this, Debbie. I'm a young woman in her twenties who is choosing purity and courtship (letting my parents and God choose my spouse) rather than what the world says is normal... emotionally and physically devastating causal relationships and broken marriages. The joy of staying pure for the Lord and my husband is so wonderful! The challenge will come when I have children, in an attempt to shield them from all the things you mentioned. It is possible, though.

    1. Dear Anonymous, You will never regret staying sexually pure. I am ashamed of my generation for allowing the world to become a fog for young people—it is a tough arena to navigate. I have hope in my dealings with young people like yourself, that the pendulum has swung so far in one direction that it has to head back into common sense territory. Thanks for commenting! Keep reading. God bless you!

  2. Yes. Interestingly, I just read this article on a similar subject that brought to mind that 18 year old son--

    1. Thanks Kellie for commenting and sharing the very appropriate link. Check out this "Padded: The bras, which come in sizes as small as 28aa, are designed to give the appearance of a developed bust to pre-teen girls." Why? To what end?

  3. Debbie, I loved your article. I agree that our sexual values have have reached an all time low. I don't have cable because I can't image having violence, nudity, and cussing on all day long. We get too acclimated to it and then it seems okay.

    1. I am reminded of Philippians 4:8, "whatever is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about such things." We have continued to lower the bar on all things "excellent" til the bar is indistinguishable.