Taking the SEX out of Sex-mas!

Then one foggy Sex-mas Eve, Victoria came to say: Consumer with your eyes so wide, buy this bra and panties tonight.

Twenty-year-old young women wearing unmentionables stare into the camera saying: “Tell me you love me.  Tell me you want me.  Excite me.”  Getting your yuletide jollies yet?

Let’s be honest: the girls in the Victoria Secret commercial sound fake.  Their attempts at sexy come across as cheesy.  And if the nearly bare bosoms of consumerism haven’t bombarded you yet this Sex-mas season, consider yourself blessed.

Blessed.  There’s a person who believed herself to be blessed. Her story continues to be told each year.  It’s a story of hope, love, joy, and peace. And the mystery of it all: no sex.

Unfortunately, sex sells.  Sex appeals because it awakens the deepest consumer impulse of our being.  When sex fails as an expression of self-giving love, it triggers a self-interest driven desire to have.  In this way, sex and consumerism find a dynamic partnership. Perhaps this is why sex indeed does sell.  Consumerism is the power of “Sex-mas.”

The meaning of Christmas continues to be co-opted in various other ways in popular culture.  Honestly, much of this doesn’t bother me.  What non-Christ-followers say Christmas does or doesn’t mean to them is not my concern.  What frustrates me is when I see Christians complaining about how “secular culture” reduces Christmas to one of many “holidays,” and yet they continue to spend more money on Christmas décor than on the concerns of the poor. The meaning of Christmas for many evangelicals is rooted in defending a belief about an event, rather than the application of that event in our daily lives.

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We Christians have fallen into the trap of Sex-mas. No, we may not believe that Victoria Secret or any other company that uses sex to sell should be supported by our credit cards, but we consume as though driven by libido.

The story of a young Virgin giving birth to a humble King reminds us of the wonder of the first Christmas.  Before Sex-mas took over the church’s imagination, the presence of Christ in the world (the Christ of the Mass) compelled us to give in the way he gave. Christ gave himself to the world.  He was born, battered, and abused by the very world he came to rescue.  Our invitation is to model this sort of self-giving love to our friends, family, and world.

We don’t need to force the rest of our culture to “put the Christ back into Christ-mas” or to say “merry Christmas” instead of “happy holidays.”  This country isn’t a Christian nation and so we must learn how to live at peace with those who may not yet follow Jesus.  Beyond this, however, the people of God might do well to recognize those moments during Advent when we fail to incarnate Christ in the world because we give into the lure of Sex-mas.  We may not like the ads, but we sure like the stuff they make us crave.

The only way to take the Sex out of Sex-mas is to deny our consumption impulse and to show the world around us the incarnated Christ. Then and only then will we have won the battle for Christmas.  Not by defeating secular culture, but by confronting our own Sex-mas drive.

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Kurt Willems is an Anabaptist writer and pastor who is preparing for church planting next year by finishing work towards a Master of Divinity degree at Fresno Pacific Biblical Seminary.  He writes at: the Pangea Blog and is also on Twitter and Facebook.

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About the Author

Kurt Willems

Kurt WillemsKurt Willems (M.Div., Fresno Pacific) is the founding pastor of Pangea Communities - a movement of peace, justice, & hope. The church plant, in partnership with the Brethren in Christ and Urban Expression, is based in Seattle, Wa. Kurt writes at The Pangea Blog and is also on TwitterFacebook, and Google+.View all posts by Kurt Willems →

  • Doug

    Good message Kurt.

  • simplyChristian

    You write:
    “What frustrates me is when I see Christians complaining about how “secular culture” reduces Christmas to one of many “holidays,” and yet they continue to spend more money on Christmas décor than on the concerns of the poor.”On what basis exactly are you making those judgements? Unless you have special access to their checkbooks or the inner workings of their hearts and lives you have a very superficial basis upon which to judge. It seems to me that Jesus warned of judging from external appearances. Many of the blogs on this site tend to do just that coming across self-righteous at best.We must all be careful, like the Pharisees of Jesus’ day, not to fall into a “better than thou” mentality towards other believers. The Holy Spirit does a particularly good job of judging the hearts of men.

    • Anonymous

      Oh please, all you need to do is watch the news.  

      Do you see more “stories” on the best decorated houses or that organizations building fresh water wells in Africa just got a year’s worth of donations the weekend after Thanksgiving?  

      Do you see news reports of shoppers attacking each other over limited supply of electronics or about a local church building a much needed homeless shelter with a planned educational program?

      It’s one thing to be cautioning of how these deep and difficult concerns are discussed.  It’s a whole other thing to blindly dismiss this conversation in the context of privatizing faith.  To be frank, you made the author’s point quite well.

      • simplyChristian

        I’m sorry, but the condemnation in your article was not aimed at those who we see on news reports. It was aimed at Christians who do those things.  Your stated frustration was with Christians who complain about the secularization of Christmas while spending more on decorations than on the poor. That was the aim of your criticism. It is easy to throw out generalizations, heck the Pharisees were pros: “I thank thee Lord, that I am not like those other poor sinners.”  At worst, you have fallen into the same trap. At best it is just sloppy writing.  

        There are many, many believers who support ministries to the poor with every resource that God has given them. We do not do it to find favor from man, or for news coverage or to be written about in a blog. We do it as the Lord taught to bring honor and glory to his name while laying up our own treasures where moths do not corrupt. Each individual is called to give account for his or her own actions and how they spent their resources. It is not your job to make that judgement based on external appearances

        Otherwise, I agree with many points in your article.

        • Anonymous

          Are you replying to me or the author?  I didn’t write the article, so I’m confused.

          I didn’t point to the news as a motivation of people at Christmas.  You implied the author was making basely judgments of people’s actions, and the news is generally showing people’s actions around Christmas – consumerism, consumerism, consumerism.  

          But if American Christians spent dollar for dollar on serving the poor as we do on Christmas presents, word would get around, not because they are seeking praise, but because – finally – Christians are truly living out the message we claim we have.I’m a chief sinner through this holiday.  I spent more money on my immediate family than I gave to those who really need it.  I’m convicted by this article, no jury needed.  But please don’t insult those who are impacted by this by suggesting they belong in the same group as the Pharisees.

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