This is an excellent article—short and to the point—and an interesting contrast to this one, which is really the embodiment, I think, of modern-think. The two together rather perfectly express the deep cultural cataclysm of this moment. The first is David French talking about what kind of masculinity we should honor, Trump’s or HW Bush’s. The second is a man insisting that Tumblr banning all pornographic content further marginalizes already marginal communities. It ends with this line, “That change means marginalised people, those who are all-too-used to being ostracised in their offline lives, now face it in their online space too. Some of the internet’s most-needed communities are now homeless.”
It’s too easy for me, a Christian, to read the second article and wag my head. After a decade of being constantly shocked by the sexual proclivities of all my fellow people, of chuckling to myself over the idea that a whole book of naked selfies would sell as if it were a real, important, and courageous work, of articulating a “traditional sexual ethic” over and over and over, it isn’t a laughing matter any more. No matter what I say, or what generations of people have said, or what God says, the winning doctrine is that if you do not express yourself sexually, your essential humanity will be so circumscribed as to be intolerable. You won’t even be human.
If you don’t find the people with whom you can express yourself as you really are, you have only to go into the dark night alone, marginalized, abandoned, hopeless. You will be, in the words of the BBC opinion writer, “homeless.” Because you can’t post certain kinds of pictures and look at the pictures of other people.
This is as bleak a reality as the one I posted yesterday in my links—that young people are having less and less sex, illicit or other wise, primarily because porn has ruined real sex for a generation. Actual sex between actual people, because of porn, is increasingly impossible. Ordinary people do not look like the people on the screen. Ordinary people do not, it turns out, enjoy violent, rough sexual acts. Ordinary people are insecure and unsure of themselves. That’s why marriage was such a great deal, when it worked properly. You got a promise, a commitment from the other person before you took off all your clothes, not the endless swiping finger looking for someone hotter than hot.
I feel for the person who turns to less mainstream kinds of images and sex acts, trying to find a way to be human that isn’t so surgically altered and airbrushed. Otherly shaped people get to be counted as “kinky” and that makes it ok. This is probably what Bolz-Weber would call “ethically sourced.” And now it’s homeless.
I’m happy to leave aside my chuckling and my wagging head but I’m not going to abandon the call and plea for a “traditional sexual ethic,” though not traditional, because human tradition has always been broken. Try Christian. As in formed and shaped after the person, identity, and work of Christ as revealed in the Scriptures.
If you want an identity that can’t be made homeless by the internet, that can’t be wrested away from you by some other person staring at a screen in a bar, that doesn’t depend on how you feel moment to moment, try looking at the face of Jesus. He will give you himself. That gift is worth catching hold of because he was the best kind of human. He didn’t engage in all those kinds of devouring relationships that we so depend on. He didn’t get married. He didn’t fulfill himself in any modern sense of the word. But he enjoyed perfect communion with God the Father. He was never spiritually isolated and alone. Not, that is, until the moment when he wanted to incorporate you into that same deep, eternal, perfect relationship. He suffered your isolation so that you wouldn’t have to endure it any more.
Sex isn’t want makes you human. Indulging yourself in various identities won’t connect you to the source of your very life. The internet is not interesting enough to be your true home. You need Jesus who is all those things, who is enough, who never abandons you at the critical moment. Don’t mourn tumblr. Richer, truer, and more satisfying is a turn or two through the gospels to discover the only one who can restore you to who you really are.