For most of the week just past I’ve been blessed to spend it with a bunch of Christians from my uni addressing topics such as sex, marriage, dating, pornography and homosexuality. So much was said and so much discussed, all of which is more than relevant in our sex-saturated iWorld culture of individual choice, freedom and fulfilment. Justine Toh, whose work can be access here, came and spoke about her research in this area. Before I begin, please excuse the ramble that will probably result due to the huge amount of things I would like to say. Onwards…
The iWorld is basically what we live in now. It’s an understanding of the self as autonomous and self crafted. So when that comes to relationships and love, it becomes liquid in the sense that it’s not grounded. People desire relationship but fear it becoming a burden on their own self-creation. Relationship, desire and love are ambivalent, essentially mixed blessings.
What are the implications of such a culture?
Firstly, Sex is seen as key to meaning and fulfilment, and relationships as a form of self-realisation. Love and relationships are commoditized, we sell ourselves to each other so as to meet our own needs.
Secondly, bodily attraction becomes central to identity. Sexualisation has become a symbol of maturation. Women have power on the condition that they objectify themselves, they volunteer as sexual objects.
Why? Because they are surrounded by a sexualised culture within which pornography is normal. Pornography re-wires your brain (actually, for real) causing men to see women as sexualised and developing expectations that reduce their response to a real woman. Not only that but these porn stars are enslaved by the desires of porn users (just check out research on the porn industry).
This redefining of sex and relationship has sifted into our expectations of our experiences in the world. Just as an example, porn stars got brazilian waxes because it made them look younger, this is now a normal element of feminine beauty.
So how do I respond to such a movement?
As a Christian I am free. But when you choose freedom from something, you also choose freedom for something. In the iWorld these people choose freedom from others and for themselves. But does it satisfy? They long for unconditional love and don’t even give it themselves. They long for freedom for self-creation but does that satisfy?
“But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves to righteousness.”
In Christ, I am so blessed to know I am freed from sin. You were made with a purpose and that is to live and glorify the Maker and Creator. Life works best the way it was made to work.
“Now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life.”
The self within the iWorld is a horizontal self which ebbs and flows around peers and culture. The Christian has a vertical self, wherein our identity is in Christ who remains and always is faithful. Our horizontal self then just falls into place. The Christian community is like a body, moving and working together in unity, each member with a unique purpose within it. When we’ve accepted the grace offered us in Christ, we are called to love and serve others.
So what does this have to say about sex then?
The iWorld preaches self creation and portrays people as objects of that process. So in terms of relationship, sex is just a contract that can easily be broken when it no longer serves it’s purpose.
For the Christian, sex is within the context of a covenant, not a contract. It’s an expression of unity and promise. So much so that “the two shall become one flesh”(Genesis 2:24). It isn’t an opportunity to get something for yourself but rather to redirect your self-interest to the other. “In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself.” (Ephesians 5:28). Love is an act of sacrificial service, it is not an emotion that comes and goes.