In our media culture, sex is portrayed as explosive, all-consuming, and irresistible.
Sex is everywhere. Or at least a caricature of it is.
Dancing now consists of real physical contact with only minimal clothing to separate partners. Young couples post “exercise” videos in which they mimic sexual positions with, again, only a layer of clothing to keep it unconsummated. I’ve seen beautiful young couples lying in a park on top of one another in skimpy bathing suits.
And then they laugh, get up, and walk away.
I am aghast. Not at their boldness, but at their impotence.
Because contact such as this is supposed to result in a particular response, and it doesn’t. They are doing things which ought to rev them up, but it does not seem to. The most powerful impulse known to mankind has lost its power over them.
As a culture, we have managed to desensitize ourselves to sex.
Do you remember gloves? It used to be that proper attire for a lady included gloves. Not winter gloves for warmth, but thin little white gloves with your daytime dress, thin long black gloves to the upper arm with your evening gown, gloves to wear to a prom or a dance.
A generation earlier, and women wore gloves and hats with their dresses anywhere but at home.
Why gloves? Because everyone understood that even the touch of hands could be potent.
In a potentially romantic setting such as a dance or a ball, romance was the object. But outright sexual provocation was not. Sex was understood as having a proper context; an ideal place, time and circumstance was expected to be achieved for intimacy to happen.
Brides often wear gloves still. And veils. What could that mean?
When I see someone who is dressed modestly on purpose, I see someone who might understand how powerful sex is. This is a person who respects sex enough to give it its own place. This is a person who has the potential to experience sexual intimacy full-strength later in life.
And I fear that the person with no modesty is a person who has little understanding of his or her own power, and who might pass over an ocean looking for a series of little glasses of water.
When sexually explicit messages and images are calling for your attention everywhere, what is being reflected is not sexual satisfaction but sexual emptiness. If you’re accustomed to eating satisfying home-cooked meals, do you constantly cruise the fast-food joints? If your bank account is in the millions, do you go on a search for pennies on the ground?
If you can count on a satisfying sexual experience of your own within a faithful and emotionally supportive relationship, you will not be interested in thinly veiled soft porn, no matter how relentlessly it is offered.
And since sex fills not only physical desires, other kinds of hunger are unfulfilled as well. People in our culture are thirsting greatly for emotional connection, true fidelity, and a unique oneness with one person. These things are not found in the crass caricature of sex that we see in our world.
People hunger for something sublime and special. And we teach everyone everywhere, even children, to seek the distorted echo of something real. There are hints of this in chick flicks, Disney romances and popular vampire lore. But the fulfillment offered is less than satisfying: impotent and gender-vague at its best and soft porn at its worst. What is sad is that this popular version of sex cannot deliver what it promises. Computer altered media stars and airbrushed almost naked ads cannot satisfy.
I think those modest people are on to something.