The two most read posts on my blog have had the word “sex” in the title. Coincidence? I don’t think so.
In fact, the word seems to have so much power that I am going to use it more frequently – check out the title to this article. A while back I wrote a book of memoirs that didn’t sell real well so I’m thinking about reissuing the book with a new title. I think I’ll call it, “Remembering Sex.” The title has nothing to do with the content of the book but who cares; at least it will probably sell a lot of copies. Who says we don’t judge a book by its cover?
The evolution of sex during my lifetime has been interesting and quite significant. Perhaps the most glaring example is television. We have gone from Ricky and Lucy, married but sleeping in separate beds fully clothed, to virtually anything goes dressed or undressed, married or not, same or different sex, it’s all there, especially if you have cable. I remember when it was almost scandalous if a woman on the Ed Sullivan Show revealed a little cleavage. Now, how many people would still watch Dancing with the Stars if the dancers actually wore clothes?
Recently we were at the dinner table and my grandson Noah, who is eleven, mentioned he is going to church camp this summer. Playing the part of the old man I jokingly asked if they had “mixed bathing.” Obviously he had no idea what that was about.
In High School I remember school officials keeping a close eye on the length of girl’s skirts, making sure they were not too short. It was hard enough to keep a teenage boy focused on books back then. I can’t imagine how hard it must be for boys today to keep their eyes from wandering.
One afternoon when I was a kid I asked my mother what the Song of Solomon in the Bible was all about. She never answered and I’ve been waiting for fifty years. If the word “sex” would have ever been uttered at church there would have been people running out the exits. And it wasn’t much different outside the church. We did not talk about it at home, school, or playgrounds. Accessibility to provocative material was only available to the most daring and adventurous.
There is no need to detail how the world has changed or even how the church has changed its approach. As I indicated at the outset, my blog, which is read primarily by professing Christians (at least according to the responses I receive), is more appealing when I simply mention the word “sex.” If there ever was a battle to keep our eyes and ears and minds free from the influence of sex that war is over.
Hiroo Onoda was a Japanese army intelligence officer who fought in World War II, the “Big War.” However, he did not surrender in 1945 when the war was over. Onoda continued his campaign in the Philippines, living in the mountains with three fellow soldiers. Throughout this whole time Onoda and his companions carried out guerrilla activities, killed about thirty Filipino inhabitants of the island, and engaged in several shootouts with the police. Towards the end of 1945 leaflets were dropped by air with a surrender order. It was the only indication they had that the war was over. Onoda and his friends studied the leaflet and decided it was not legitimate. On February 20, 1974, Onoda met a Japanese traveler who was on an adventure looking for Lieutenant Onoda, a panda, and the Abominable Snowman. He discovered Onoda after four days of searching. Later that year his former commander traveled from Japan to personally issue orders relieving him from duty. Onoda had spent almost thirty years holding out in the Philippines, still fighting a war that had been lost long ago.
The cultural war of sex is over, it has been lost. If you still wonder, just look around. Like Lt. Onoda who did not see any other Japanese soldiers for thirty years, he should have figured it out.
However, before you get too upset, I’m not sure it is such a bad thing to admit the cultural war is over. I’m not sure we should have been in a cultural war to begin with. Perhaps we have been spending a great deal of time and effort fighting a war that we were never called to engage. Jesus did not send us to save the culture. The effectiveness and legitimacy of the Christian faith is not dependent upon a particular culture. History has often shown that Christianity is at its best in environments that are hostile to our beliefs.
For example, we would not send a missionary to China with the mission of overthrowing the culture and establishing a more democratic, capitalistic society. The task would be to preach the Gospel and lead others to faith in Christ.
Be careful here, I do not mean that since we have lost (or are quickly losing) the cultural war, that Christians should just give up and participate in all the sexual escapades that have captured our world. Our call is not to preserve the culture but we have been called to live holy lives. Simply because we have been unsuccessful in stopping the demise of our culture does not mean we have no responsibility to keep ourselves pure. It just means it will be more difficult.
Many, like Lt. Onoda, are not going down without a fight. They are still of the opinion that in order for Christianity to survive we must stem the tide of secularism and reclaim our culture for Christ. They come out from behind cover periodically and create a few causalities, taking potshots at those who are caught up in the worst our world has to offer. Recognizing this problem, Andrew Sullivan who writes for Newsweek wrote these words. “I have no concrete idea how Christianity will wrestle free of its current crisis, of its distractions and temptations, and above all its enmeshment with the things of this world. But I do know it won’t happen by even more furious denunciations of others, by focusing on politics rather than prayer, by concerning ourselves with the sex lives and heretical thoughts of others rather than with the constant struggle to liberate ourselves from what keeps us from God.”
I think our role as followers of Christ would be better filled if we acted more like hospital attendants than soldiers. There are a lot of people who have been wounded and crippled by the culture that glorifies sex, tolerates violence, encourages greed, and lusts after power. Rather than creating more casualties by firing back, perhaps we could help bandage the wounds of those who have already been injured. The one thing we have that the world desperately needs is the key to forgiveness and healing.
For those of you who read this far hoping to get to the sexy stuff, I’m sorry, that’s the best I’ve got!