John Livingston

Context and Perspective

Quantum physics and thermodynamics, organic chemistry, and human sexuality, are all topics that are reviewed in The Wall Street Journal’s REVIEW section this weekend. My understanding today of all three topics at the ripe young age of 72 is not much better than it was when I started college (organic chemistry was my major). The day my father dropped me off for summer football practices my freshman year, he advised me to “not let college get in the way of your education”. The first two disciplines mentioned above were certainly best presented with a “formal curriculum and pedagogy”. In “philosophy of sex “classes as the educators tried to quantify the “that and it” (body and spirit) of all things related to sex, they have taken away all the mystery and spirituality—and might I add FUN out of the topic. The educators and experts are just as ignorant regarding the subject as me and everybody else. Five short articles written by academics and journalists under the main title HAVE WE RUINED SEX tries to answer the question.

The image of the young feminist co-ed trying to “reeducate” her date after a cup of Mad Dog 20/20 or smoking a joint is not only as the author of the first article points out, ” a parody but it is also a fantasy”. Many a young man has feigned subjugation and temporarily acquiesced to such a proposition with the same idea and ulterior motive in his heart that his forefathers dating back 15,000 years have had. DNA, testosterone, and estrogen are hard to compete against academically and in the real world.

The best article was written by a gay man who points out how we sterilize and decontaminate sex. There is nothing left that is mysterious and might I add “sacred, covenantal or sacramental” Young children can watch pornographic sex on their I-phones and computer screens for hours on end. It must become boring and routine. Part of the thrill of stashing old Playboys under our beds was the knowledge that our parents might find them which added to the “mystery”. No picture or video can replace the excitement and fear that coming to grips with real world loves and passions can make when appropriately experienced.

It is not at all surprising that in none of the five articles is the subject of love and sex—both subjects by themselves that are complex, ever together explored. The supposed predicate that all five articles claimed to try to address, was completely missed. One cannot talk about such a complex issue without first providing the proper context for what follows.

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In Genesis 2:18 we begin to see the proper context for sex and love. C. S. Lewis points out that from the very beginning, all the relationships and loves described by the ancient philosophers and Biblical prophets, only man and woman standing and facing each other as equals completes the needs of “gift love and need love” at the same time. The knowledge and desires for love and connection are written into the hearts of all men and women. “Eros” is only the beginning and not the end of that search. If the goal and gratification of the sexual act comes from the act itself and is not focused on the person we are experiencing the act with, then one may leave the scene “satisfied”, but empty and not joyful. By focusing on the act, I believe many in the “hook-up culture” have become bored altogether with sex. Gratuitous sex can certainly be fun, but it is never “mysterious” —an end unto itself and not a means to an end.

When we disconnect the material from the spiritual like we do in so many other places in society—think about arguments that in ages past centered around abolition and slavery, eugenics and the mentally ill, abortion and the spiritual nature of life inside a mother’s womb, we deny the reality that mankind has both a material and spiritual nature that exist within and not beside each other. Despite 2000 years of Gnosticism and Humanistic claims to the contrary, “As it was in the beginning….”

Human nature and human arrogance don’t change much. We may think we are smarter than our parents and those that came before us—but we only think that we are. We are certainly more arrogant and less humble.

As the great Olympic wrestling coach Hugo Olipolic once opined—”You can’t learn how to wrestle until you wrestle”. The back seat of a car or a haystack may have just as much importance and relevance as a “Philosophy of Sex” class has at Mary Washington, Radcliff, Bryn Mawr or Boise State— if all participants are willing and able, and in love. I am not encouraging “field trips” in such classes. Many times, before something is experienced it must be placed in its’ proper context. This is precisely what Christian teachings provide. I seriously question how many of our experts teaching this subject have the proper Christian perspective. Once the context is provided, explained and understood—then go on the “field trip”.

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