Tim Muldoon winds up his five-part series on the “McDonaldsization of Sex” with some splendid theology:
Here’s God’s proposal: “if you choose to enter into a lifelong relationship with a person of the opposite sex, and choose to love that person in every moment of every day for the rest of your life, you’ll come to know who I am and how I love the people I’ve created. It will demand all of you; it will demand sacrifice and conversion and transformation. It will demand forfeiting all your selfish desires but discovering beautiful shared desires. It will be a vocational call, summoning from you the difficult process of discerning when and how you will invite children into your world, care for aging parents, contribute to a community, reach out to others in need, build a future. Through it all, I will be with you to guide you, and you will find joy.”
I find the image in the second story of creation in Genesis (2:4b-25) to be striking: Adam and Eve standing before each other, naked and without shame: no corporate products required for a relationship; no ad campaigns ramping up their libidos so they’ll purchase things; no social messages about the inferiority of their bodies; no twisted expectations about what constitutes their success in life. They stand naked, man and woman, and perceive each other as equals, partners for each other through life, and they are completely at ease.
The story describes how sin enters the picture as the result of twisted desires. Adam and Eve fall prey to the serpent’s suggestions about what they really want (the serpent is the mythological ancestor of advertisers), and their desires turn from each other to a false abstraction: being “like gods” (3:5). The perversion of desire is the paradigm for McDonaldized sex: one no longer desires a person and all the goods that accompany what it means to be a fully enfleshed human being—what the Psalmist describes as “little less than a god” (8:6)—and begins desiring some abstraction, like social capital or a sense of power. One is willing to substitute a small good (bodily pleasure) for an eternal good: the unfolding of divine love through the mediation of one’s whole self in relationship to the other.
The McDonaldization of sex—the flattening of expectations in a sexual relationship—is not about desiring too much; it is about desiring too little.
Read it all; have the courage to pass this challenging piece around. In truth, it shouldn’t be a challenging piece; it shouldn’t even be a surprising piece, but we have moved so far way from fundamental understandings of our selves, our sexuality, our purposes and God’s purpose in our lives (hint: self-immolating love comes into the picture).
We rob ourselves when we hold ourselves cheap because we prefer what is easy. And we rob God, too.
Not a right, but an Office