(This is Neil.) This post is too late for Valentine’s Day, but it might be good to occasionally reflect on sex and Christianity – something that, save for a post on the Song of Songs, I haven’t really done. But we are immediately in controversial territory. Where do we begin? Perhaps this short contribution from the Yale theologian Miroslav Volf, which comes from the Newsweek On Faith blog, gives us a starting point. Tell me what you think.
Here, then, is Volf:
When I think of sex and religion, I start with the following observations:
1. Sex is a very potent force in a person’s life and the culture, and it is a force for good as well as for ill.
2. Sexual act easily becomes one of the most selfish, sometimes even violent, acts in a person’s life.
3. In a highly eroticized culture, sex is increasingly divorced not just from love and generosity but from any meaningful form of intimacy; in such cases sex is degraded from a human act to almost a merely animal act.
4. Selfish sex is empty and melancholy sex; to remain a source of pleasure it demands ever increasing and potentially destructive stimulation.
5. We live in what may be caricatured as a “grab-*ss culture,” and are not better for it.
The key question for me is not why some religions think sex is good and others that it is not. The key questions are these: How can faith help us reconnect sex with intimacy and rediscover sex as a fully human act? How can faith nudge us to become true lovers, and thereby find genuine pleasure in sex?
It is not possible to do any of that by simply declaring sex as either good or bad. (It seems uncontestable that some sex is good, exquisitely good, and some sex is bad, terribly bad.)
Which overarching perspective on life, whether religious or not, is genuinely sex-friendly?
It is the one that helps us love the other person as an embodied being in an unselfish and lasting way.