I’m not living my best life today. In the first place, it is snowing, which is too bad. In the second place, I am steeling myself to spend my evening in a long meeting which is, of course, excessively worthy and virtuous but does mean leaving my fireside and venturing into the snow. In the third place, I’m supposed to be finishing up my long article on the content of Sheila Wray Gregoire which, truth be told, I have had plenty of time for, but have nevertheless found lots of other more interesting tasks to do, like scrubbing my kitchen floor. It doesn’t help that Gregoire has not appreciated my sharp critiques of her work and has therefore blocked me on the app formerly known as Twitter. While she has been trying to help Evangelical and Exvangelical women have better sex and figure out how things are unfair in their marriages, I’m huddled over here contemplating the looming dark ages, the dystopian future where meaning and culture crowd into the gutter and knowledge is lost in a cacophony of advice and punditry.
Overlaid against my general ennui about writing an article on a subject I don’t relish, I keep running up against Gregoire’s refrain, that she produces “evidence-based” data. To quote her website:
Sheila Wray Gregoire hosts the Bare Marriage podcast, where we strip away all the pat answers and the Christian-ese and get back to healthy, biblical, evidence-based advice for your marriage and your sex life.
Emphasis, for her, on the “evidence-based” which is comprised of surveys and other kinds of statistical data mining. It was with grim irony that I listened to a podcast last week–when I should have been writing this article–about how so many people are giving up on “science.” In the aftermath of covid, when all the world discovered that scientists could be bought, could be coerced, were willing to trade their intellectual integrity for a mess of potage cooked and dished by Anthony Fauci. “Science” after a generation of exhortation about the crucial task of developing a hypothesis, doing the work, and then being willing to be proven wrong, has devolved into something to be believed, a sort of religious doctrine, or a tribe to join. How funny that Gregoire is sawing on about “evidence” when so many disaffected people are limping, crawling their way to find something metaphysical, some spiritual solace. How is it that my audible app has Gabrielle Bernstein and Sheila Gregoire back to back? One is on the cutting edge of the cultural malaise, and the other one is stuck in the 1990s–you guess.
Absent in all of Gregoire’s content is any discussion of God– as if he existed and had anything definitive to say about the way ordinary people lived their lives. The problem is that, according to Scripture, sex is not a marker of human flourishing. It is almost a marker of human demise, a way to determine where, and to what degree, a person has divorced herself from God.
It doesn’t help that I finally made it out of Job and Genesis and into Exodus where, right after Moses is given the strange and appalling gift of the Law, he trundles down the mountain to discover that the people have made a calf of gold, exchanging, as it were, the truth of God for a lie. The text says that they “rose up to play” which doesn’t mean bingo, or chess, or Dungeons and Dragons, but some sort of licit activity that should have been reserved for those covenanted in life-long heterosexual marriage. After the people are judged–many through death–Moses resumes the task of communicating the Law to the people. A few chapters later, the Tabernacle is built, and all the articles necessary for purification, sanctification, and coming into a proper relationship with God, others, and even oneself are drawn out of the fire.
It’s not in fashion, and probably won’t ever be, to observe that sex is a matter of worship. God ordains certain kinds of sexual activity in certain relationships because, having himself created it, he knows its power and its meaning. It being “good” in terms of its enjoyment, while uppermost for people in the West whose identities are shaped by their sexual inclinations, is not what God means by “good.”