Thursday, July 14, 2005

the new face of chastity and much else

Here is a very interesting article in Rolling Stone. Its flawed, but treats its subject matter with seemingly authentic liberality and struggles tremendously to be fair. Well worth the read. Read the whole thing here. The article is about those pictured.



"Abstinence," says Dunbar, "is countercultural," a kind of rebellion, he says, against materialism, consumerism and "the idea that anything can be bought and sold." It is a spiritual war against the world, against "sensuality," according to one virginity manual popular with men like Dunbar. This elevation of virginity -- especially for men -- as a way of understanding yourself and your place in the world is new. It's also very old. First-century Christians took the idea so seriously that many left their wives for "house monasteries," threatening the very structure of the family. The early church responded by institutionalizing virginity through a priestly caste set apart from the world, a condition that continues to this day within Roman Catholicism. Now, though, the Protestants of the Christian right are reclaiming that two-tiered system, only they're projecting it onto individual lives, making every young man and woman part of an elite virgin corps.....

Back in high school, Rushford dated guys who called themselves Christians who constantly pressed her for more. She kept her virginity, but only just, and when she left for college, she vowed to never let herself get used again. For her, virginity is the one truth about herself that no man can touch. But then, that's long been the case for Christian women. Riley regards his chastity, lost and regained, as just as precious. His feelings about it are, by traditional standards, almost feminine. That's what celibacy offers Christian men: the vulnerability of being a woman.....

....The world, she says, is pulsing with sex. Some of it ugly; some of it, like the Song of Solomon, very beautiful; and most of it stupid and sad. Most people, she says, can't help but look at the world through what she calls the "flesh-colored lens." But Christians, she says, see a different reality. Like The Matrix, she claims. The Wachowski brothers' trilogy of women in black latex and men with big guns have become cult films to Christian conservatives, drawn by the Christ story at the movies' core, the search for "the One" - i.e., the Messiah. The fact that the series portrays the everyday world as not only in a state of decay but ruled by evil forces makes for an easy parallel to the theology of Christendom.

3 comments:

Father Nelson said...

This is the problem with much of Fundamentalism's response to unchastity - it is highlighted by gnostic undertones, which strikes most people as escapism. Which is exactly what the unchaste use sex for - escapism.

Isn't the better way to highlight the importance of the body ala JP II and it's pending redemption?

father wb said...

Right. The problem with Protestantism in general (including most of ECUSA) is Gnosticism. Still, its encouraging to see these kids approaching a correct understanding of chastity. Correct compared with much of the rest of our generation, as painfully evidenced twenty-four hours a day on MTV. What's even more encouraging is to see a periodical like Rolling Stone taking them seriously.

As to the Theology of the Body vs. the Chastity Warrior paradigm (or whatever it is), I think they are sort of two sides of the same coin: we are in the world (embodied; incarnated), but not of it (we are incarnated souls... and we are at war with the Spirit of this Age).

These kids certainly don't view the body as bad. They're very keen on sex... but married sex.

J-Tron said...

....The world, she says, is pulsing with sex. Some of it ugly; some of it, like the Song of Solomon, very beautiful; and most of it stupid and sad.

I had to smile at that. It made me think of this bit of conversation in Kevin Smith's movie "Dogma":

Bethany: What's [God] like?

Metatron: A bit of a loner. Funny. He's got a great sense of humor. Take sex for instance. The faces you people make mid-coitous are ridiculous.

Bethany: So sex is a joke in heaven?

Metatron: The way I understand it, it's mostly a joke down here as well.