I’m reading Singled Out: Why Celibacy Must Be Reinvented in Today’s Church by Christine Colon and Bonnie Field. So far they’ve been talking a lot about sex. And not just about having sex or not having sex; the discussion is more profound than that and it’s been pleasantly challenging for me.
For example, I’m reading about how there’s an undercurrent in our society that says sex is the goal. Abstinence efforts even add to this since the message is still innately linked to sex. “Don’t have sex yet.” “Save yourself for marriage.” But it all still comes back to the inevitability of sex. The popular understanding is that we can’t help but have sex; it’s a biological urge. It’s even inhumane to encourage people to resist the impulse.
I get that. I understand that this sentiment is out there, and it’s even how I think a good portion of the time. While I don’t know I could have formulated these thoughts into words, in my mind, there seemed to be two kinds of people in the world, those who’ve had sex and those who haven’t had sex yet. In reading this book, I’m getting a sense of how backwards my mental framework has been and for that alone, it’s been a good read.
But there’s more. The book points out that our consumer economy is driven by anti-celibate ideology. Here’s what they mean: Most of our purchasing decisions are driven by fear. Who wants to be that guy with stinky breath, dandruff or b.o.? Sure, Europeans can get away with showering on a weekly basis, but here in America, if I don’t shower daily, no one will love me, and thus nobody will have sex with me.
Advertizing and marketing get their power from this notion of the inevitability of sex. Advertising doesn’t care if you’re having sex or not, just that you’re afraid you won’t have sex unless you buy the right shaving cream, or own the right car.
Furthermore, it’s not enough to get us to buy because it’ll increase our chances of getting laid. In order to make our consumer economy run, the fear of not having sex needs to be supplemented with the supreme desirability of having sex. It’s not that sex sells, so much that sex has been made to sell so that we can be made to buy.
I enjoy sex, but it’s not the be all and end all of existence and it was never intended to be. The be all and end all of existence needs to be something more like my relationship with God. And this is where I’m having the difficulty these days. I know about him and I can experience his actions and hear his words through scripture and through others who speak prophetically to me. But I don’t think I’m experiencing the fullness of relationship with God. To me, a lot of the time God seems distant. Perhaps my problem is connected to my settling for a framework where the pinnacle of experience is great sex.