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Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Making vice a "virtue" and the myth of Christian prudery

Came across an interesting piece by Wheaton College professor W. Jay Wood entitled "The 'Virtue' of Lust?". It is a review of philosopher Simon Blackburn's new book Lust. I haven't read the book myself, but think that some of the points raised by the reviewer ring so true--especially the ones concerning the fairly common misconceptions that Christians are prudes that squirm at the mention of sex and that the Bible is some kind of bowdlerized text. Rather, the Bible teaches that God created us male and female, and designed for us to enjoy sexual intimacy within the bounds of marriage of one man and one woman, for the purposes of experiencing a special and beautiful union and for procreation. One does not have to look far in the Bible to reach Genesis 2:24-25 which reads: "For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh. And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed." There are also scores of narratives in the Old Testament that document the sexual encounters and misadventures of the patriarchs and even King David himself. The New Testament contains many verses that deal quite openly with sexual matters, among them those that teach of the special relationship between a man and his wife, how a marriage bed should be honoured, and how--as even the Wife of Bath knew--there are spousal 'duties' that ought to be honoured for the good of the marriage and ultimately, for the glory of God.

I'm also reminded of a book I bought at the UCBerkeley bookstore for less than $2 many months ago--Primers for Prudery: Sexual Advice to Victorian America. If memory serves (the book not being with me at present), it argues that the preponderance of material relating to restrictions placed on sexual matters in Victorian times suggest, if anything, a society which was certainly not all that straitlaced, and one needing such advice which was not wanting in supply!


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