It is rather easy to acknowledge our social sexuality, our gender as males and females. What is much harder to affirm is that our friends, our neighbors, and our coworkers actually also have genitals and erotic desires. For many, this thought provokes much discomfort.
In many respects, we seem to prefer our acquaintances neutered or desexed. It is as if they don’t exist beneath their clothes. And I get it. It seems right and safe to only recognize the erotic sexuality of our spouse. The thinking is this helps us to avoid sinful lusts and the sexual objectification of others.
However, with the staggering prevalence of sexual perversions, I can’t help but to wonder if there is a better approach.
The answer to sexual distortion is not another distortion.
It is a distortion of God’s design for our sexuality to objectify and lust after each other. And it is also a distortion to deny the fact that we are erotic beings. Both distortions fragment the divine image we are called to bear. In the first, we are reduced to just sexual objects, while in the latter the erotic part of our created being is rejected.
While it seems safe, the answer to the first fragmentation is not the second; it is wholeness. Wholeness recognizes our erotic nature as well as all the other dimensions of our being.
Our eroticism is an essential part of how God has crafted us and we cannot fully appreciate who we are without it. Still, our erotic nature is not the ultimate definition of who we are. We are erotic beings, but not just.
We miss the mark if all we see is our sexuality AND if we deny our sexuality.
Our souls desire wholeness, but it often seems easier to move toward one fragment or the other.
We lust after the images on the screen because they’re not “real people;” they’re just actors for our entertainment. Meanwhile, the very thought that other couples in our small group are also having sex can be quite disturbing.
I wonder if this second fragmentation actually leads to the first. Is pornography, for example, our attempt to remember that we are erotic beings and are not alone in such sensual desires? Having denied any public witness of our eroticism in a holistic fashion, are we left grasping for whatever we can get in illicit forms?
Appreciating each other’s eroticism is not an excuse to sin. And admittedly, it is much easier and “safer” to deny it. To be sure, for many the temptation would be too great and it’s probably best for them to avoid these considerations for now.
At the same time, hopefully a few of us can start to move toward greater wholeness and honor the entirety of our created being, including our erotic self. It is my hope that more and more we all can learn to celebrate the beauty of our embodied eroticism in holiness.