It’s discouraging to wake up late and find, after the desperate troll for news, that the only items on the shelf include the face of Mr. Trump jumbled together with a glittering assortment of #metoo options and other bundled word counts marked Sexual Misconduct, Harvey Weinstein, Feminism, and Aziz Ansari. If you keep scrolling long enough you’ll find an article called, “Why Are Christians So Sex Obsessed?” The rejoinder to which would be, look at yourself in the mirror, bucko. And, are you kidding?
So I did read the long Vanity Fair piece about Weinstein’s last days, and I read something from the New Republic about why Conservatives are fine with porn now, and then I read something about how evangelicals love Trump because they have such terrible theology, and all the time I kept thinking, ‘I miss the bad old days of blogging about having to go down into my basement (that’s Sheol) to do laundry.’ But I have no more angst about the laundry because of the beautiful vista out of my laundry room window, and the prevailing assumptions about sexual ethics, politics, and the entangled relationship between Christianity and Mr. Trump make it feel like the world is on fire. I may not want to think about it, but that’s all there is.
It’s a curious narrowing of reality. A debilitating one. But I suppose it makes sense. In a truly Christian sense, when two people get married to each other–and I suppose I should specify that they are indeed a man and a woman, and not pluralities within themselves, but one singular man and one singular woman–and neither of them have such terrible theology that they have to climb over the usual mountain of shame, bad ideas, and porn addictions that most people bring with them into the marriage estate, the sex part of the marriage falls unobtrusively into place. They don’t need to think about it and talk about it all the time.Rather it keeps its ordered and proper place, along with the laundry and the dishes and the anxieties of life. It ties the two more and more together through all the difficulties that make up modernity, but if you asked each how they were in their marriage, they wouldn’t remember it as the Chief Element of their common life. Indeed, and here’s the kicker, they might rather both start talking about the other person. ‘Oh, he’s so stressed right now, and has a bad cold, that I’m hoping he can get some proper rest over the weekend.’ Or, ‘Oh, she’s anxious about her sister and I’ve really got to get the tires on her car sorted out.’ If you keep asking questions it would be a long time before you even got to the place of sex in their relationship. Probably because they are well bred and don’t just bring it up. But also because it’s not the first thing on their minds. Each is rather thinking of the other in a wholistic personal way.
But then turn to the world outside of the kindly boundaries of a well ordered marriage (I know, just use your imagination if you can’t actually think of any) and the picture is not the same at all. Sex Obsessed are indeed the words that spring to mind. Is there any article for me to I read that doesn’t make me wonder if I’ll be appalled and shocked? Is there any political campaign where it won’t eventually come up? Is there any movie I can see where it won’t be either on the screen, or so broadly hinted at that all the reviews and articles will make a meal of it after? In short, is there any other kind of idol for this age? Because it seems to me that it is the tall, and I trust I don’t have to be explicit here, golden image living rent free in the minds of every single person on the internet.
And lots of other places as well, because the Internet, which seems so alluringly real, shapes and shifts the reality of one’s ordinary, mundane concerns. The images and assumptions online shove the mind, which shoves the body, into all kinds of strange and ridiculous assumptions and behaviors. You’re not any longer looking other people straight in the eye. Every gaze is mediated by a thousand clicks and scrolls.
On that note, I shall put this aside and go put laundry away. Neither idolatry, nor Sheol shall be my lot today. I shall instead direct my mind and limbs towards God, who dwells in Light inaccessible, but who blesses the ordering of all the elements and concerns of this very day.