When Alfred Kinsey first published his work in 1948, it was the first time society really began to face its sexual condition. This spark continued into a blaze, spawning what is now often referred to as the “Sexual Revolution” in the 60s. Seriously examining our own sexuality as a society for the first time in human history has understandably created a kind of cultural “whiplash.” Humanity is looking at our need for intimacy more than ever before, and that means big changes are coming. I would like to plead the case that we all need to settle down to give ourselves and, more importantly, others room to breathe.
Wait, you mean you’re miserable too?
Probably the most startling realization we have had from modern sexual discourse is that we are all discontent. From romantic literature, to prince and princess fairytales, to movies and television, we have been living under an illusion that passionate lifelong romance was readily available for everyone else, but for some reason “I” have been missing out. Up till now happy marriage and sexual fulfillment has been a status symbol in our culture. The best examples are of this are the much loved Jane Austen (i.e. Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility) novels from the Victorian era, but we will see it in politicians and public life today.
Pressure for us to feign relational bliss has always been high in society. This has added to the illusion of “everyone but you” we all feel at one point or another. In the 60s society started to wake up and ask, “If we are all miserable, what’s the answer?” The responses to that question have not been all positive, but the question is legitimate nonetheless.
Sex Isn’t Just Sex
One thing a predatory pornographer and an over-zealous moralist preacher will have in common is the tendency to reduce sex to a purely carnal act of pleasure. The mantra by naive abstinence proponents is, “sex is bad, unless you’re married.” As if marriage is to sex what drinking is to turning 21. This not only reduces sex to a carnal act, but marriage to a purely legal act. Because of this, many good hearted young people grow up ashamed and confused about their own sexual desires. “Why would I want something that is bad, unless I am bad?”
Sex represents our physical and spiritual need to be close to someone. No one wants to be alone in this world. I believe that most sexual “mistakes” come more from a desperate desire to not feel alone more than anything else. We all, at one point or another, felt the sinking fear of loneliness as we sink into an empty bed. Sex can make us feel loved, wanted, accepted and needed.
Rising from the Desperate Darkness
Marriage has seldom been a decision about intimacy in the entire history of mankind. For most of our past, marriage has been a matter of survival. Being single as a woman was not an option, and neither has there been much freedom in choice of husband. Marriage was often entered into desperately, and then endured out of desperation. This desperation has led us to cover our indiscretions for sake of our image, or hide abuse out of shame. (http://www.speakoutloud.net/fear-and-shame/shame-experienced-by-abuse-victims)
The crossroads we are at today is that our civilization does not require marriage for survival; we can now marry in pursuit of intimacy. This would be great news, except that we are pretty inexperienced at being intimate. The growing industry of “couple’s therapy, ” the rising diagnoses of personality disorders, and the thousands of books on building relationships show that we may have gotten here, but we have been quite bruised and broken on the way.
Women’s Equality and Gay Rights
Probably the most rejected claim from the Church by the world is, “Hey everyone, listen to us! We got this figured out.” A look at our divorce rate and abuse scandals would claim otherwise. Scriptures give us a good start in learning to put the needs of others before ourselves, but that is not an art we have mastered. Especially behind closed doors, we are about as ignorant as everyone else.
Understanding intimacy is our current battle. We are still learning what it means to be a man or woman in a free world. We still have centuries of bias and bad habits to overcome. Women are still fighting to find an identity outside of past social expectations. Gay and transgender individuals are on the same page as the rest of us trying to balance physiological drives and emotional needs with social pressures. We need open dialogue more than pointing fingers so we can all help each other grow through this discovery of intimacy together.
Where is God in This?
So do we just ignore God’s words to us? If humanity is going through this transition where is God in this? The answer is that God has been pushing society forward the whole time. We have been pushed through slavery, pushed through women’s suffrage, and now we are being pushed through the walls of separation in our own homes and families. The Red Letters of Christ are constantly inspiring a brave few in our society to continue to speak out against prejudice and persecution. They have dragged us here kicking and screaming, and they won’t stop now.
Yaholo Hoyt is a practical mystic, a passionate writer, a paltry poet, and an old-school Jesus freak. You can find him at http://yaholo.net or read his blog at