Monday, September 7, 2009

Sex and Intimacy

We just got Fios TV. Not just regular Fios TV, but the EXTREEEEME HD version. I'd been fighting it for years. I'm not a big TV fan generally, choosing instead to squander my free time meandering around the blogosphere. Many moons ago, we did have cable, but when we moved into our current residence, we ditched it.

I didn't miss it. Not having it saved us money, and with two young boys in the house, it meant one less negative input to worry about.

After years of gentle pressure, I finally decided to give fiber optic tee vee to my wife for her birthday. This last week, late in the night after it had been installed, she and I waded into the endless depths of pay tv.

Those depths went down to some rather darker places than I'd anticipated, places that provided some pretty compelling motivation to figure out and engage the parental controls.

The wife and I were particularly struck by what appeared to be an ongoing graphic documentary series on the various manifestations of human sexuality. I will not be providing a link here, much to your undoubted disappointment. What was most interesting was how...well...utterly unarousing the show was. It was engaging on an anthropological level, but it was about as erotic as watching someone gut a flounder.

That wasn't because of the absence of nekkid people. There were plenty of nekkid people, sometimes large piles of nekkid people. There were nekkid people on stage, nekkid people in boxes, nekkid people hanging from the ceiling, all while doing the things one would expect, and occasionally things one would not.

It was because of a total absence of intimacy. Human sexuality is a complex thing, and something deeply hardwired into our nature. It's part of our animal nature, but it's also part of the way that we relate to other beings. Though "having relations" is inherently relational, much of the way our culture approaches sexuality now is utterly depersonalized. Oh, desire is there, in a meat-self sort of way. But the desire is utterly indiscriminate, disconnected from any interest in the person inhabiting the flesh. Folks who engage in this sort of sexual expression will argue that they are liberating sexuality from shame. Do what you want! Whenever you want! We're free!

But while the ethic of shame has no place in a healthy sexuality, our society is well on the way to losing a sense of the importance of intimacy. Though we've found all sorts of ways to "know one another Biblically," we increasingly decouple this intense, passionate, and fundamentally creative experience from healthy emotional and spiritual connections with others. We are not interested in knowing them.

In doing so, we haven't freed sexuality. We've rendered it meaningless. And that's a significant loss.