Friday, January 13, 2012

Bringing Down the Walls of Jericho*

I keep hearing young Christians say things like “Getting married to have sex is like buying the 747 for the sake of the free peanuts.” Where did this come from? Why is this the conventional wisdom of young Christian nincompoops these days?
I'd like to be really clear about this: sex is a very good reason to get married and the bizarre prudishness of unmarried young people perplexes me. They make this declaration with such smugness, as though they know lots of people whose careers and whose prospects for meaningful service to Jesus were interrupted by ill-considered marriages undertaken for the sake of conjugal enthusiasm. But not them. No, they are so mature, so self-possessed. So . . . so . . . neutered? What gives?
First of all, sex is really fun and pleasurable. We all know that, even those of us who've never experienced it. And it is also a prerequisite for procreation which is also fun and wonderful and also a commandment. So if you want to be fruitful and multiply you've got to have sex. And if you want to do it right you've got to be married to the person you're having sex with.
And marriage has all sorts of other upsides. So if you are young and in good health why wouldn't you want to get married and have sex?
Would these people that inexplicably sneer at this commonsense motivation say of a friend “Oh yeah, Tony went and got a job. Can you believe it? He said he wanted to get a job to contribute something to the world and to help him realize his potential, but I think he did it for the money. I think he really likes to earn money. What a fool! I tried to stop him. I told him that getting a job is a big deal and he could always earn money later in his life, but he wouldn't listen to me.”
Now it would be unwise, I'll grant you, to be swayed by the promise of a big paycheck into taking a bad job, one that would be a source of constant frustration for you. But that would be less unwise than choosing to be impoverished and unemployed.
Bottom line: sex is a good and perfectly sufficient motivation for getting married but a wise person will take things other than sex into consideration when selecting a marriage partner.
One other observation: some young Christians are old-fashioned enough to get married in order to act married (if you know what I mean) and when they are sanctimoniously dismissed by other young Christians something odd is at work. When a young Christian falls in love and eros is kindled and his hormones tell him to have sex and his God tells him to get married and the woman he loves agrees to the plan and he finds himself at that heady intersection of biology and piety where, in the marriage bed, it seems that the whole universe says with one voice “yes,” why do some other young Christians for no apparent reason speak up to raise their prissy objection? Why are they embarrassed by the possibility of peers who are both sexually motivated and relationally forthright? That's a question.
I think that perhaps what we are seeing is the success of the assault on marriage. We have heard it rhetorically asked again and again “What is a family but two people who love each other and are committed to each other?” This is the way in which the evil one has subverted our thinking. He has encouraged us to spiritualize marriage to make it into such a fine and ethereal thing that it seems profane to associate it with anything so crass as sex. And I'm afraid that some of us, even though we still object to gay marriage, have bought unwittingly into that way of thinking. It appeals to us because it feels like the high road. It sounds so lofty.
But marriage is not lofty. It's sweaty and clumsy and delightful with an unexpected intensity. It is often profane, and always specific. It involves one big and hairy person and one smaller and softer person. It involves a womb that might possibly ripen and swell because of something that happened during one particular hour in one particular place.
To say that marriage is a committed relationship between two people who love each other is banal and horribly insufficient, not lofty and idealistic.
The best way for Christians to oppose the world's promiscuity and sexual dysfunction is not with excessive chastity but with fulsomely enjoyed marriage. And I commend the young Christians who get that and, as a result, get it.

*If you'd like to catch the reference in the title watch the delightful black and white film, It Happened One Night.

Joel Tate, Fellowship of the Octagon

4 comments:

BAREFOOT KANGAROO said...

Sweaty and clumsy, eh? Song of Solomon aint got nothing on you!

BAREFOOT KANGAROO said...

That's ratings gold right there. Can I get you anything while I'm up? Maybe some trail mix or a cup of coffee?

The Fredricksons: Brian, Britney, Salty, and Benji said...

Josh, why do you keep trying to cram food down their throats? I think it's safe to say you know them well enough, and they you, that they feel comfortable retrieving their own snacks, when needed. Otherwise, you are going to need to expand the doorways of the Octagon if you keep this up.

Tate Family said...

Recently, when turning a corner (of which there are so many) in the octagon I came across a frigidaire full of well chilled oranginas. Truly, the accomodations are the most well-appointed that a man could hope for.