Schizophrenic Sex: Power and Promise
Sex is everywhere we turn — openly, brazenly commodified: magazines, television, billboards . . . Self-consciously attempting to craft New Rules, and proudly post-modern, our public efforts at creating a 21st century, non-judgmental morality have become somewhat schizophrenic.
Do we need Viagra or are we plagued by Violence Against Women? Cosmopolitan sells magazines promising to dish on “Six sex slipups that keep you from reaching peak potential,” while college orientation focuses on Date Rape.
Same market space; same audience. Timeless tales; epic themes. Actually, is this century all that much different than the first one?
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We watched HBO’s new series Rome on Sunday night and two scenes are etched on my memory.
Lucius and Titus
The first is a scene between two of Caeser’s soldiers, Centurion Lucius Vorenus and his subordinate, Legionnaire Titus Pullo. Preparing to sleep out on the cold ground one night, their conversation turns to women. Titus discovers that Lucius has not slept with a woman other than his wife during the seven years that they have been away from Rome, and mocks his virility. . .asking the Centurion why he doesn’t just take and “enjoy” the women of the regions they’ve conquered, like the other men.
Lucius responds: “When was the last time you had a woman who wasn’t crying?” And he turns his back on Titus.
The next scene centers on the political manipulations of Atia, Caeser’s niece. Caeser has given her the task of finding a wife for the widowed Pompey. Atia, seeing an opportunity for political gain, forces her daughter Octavia to divorce the husband she loves to marry Pompey.
Atia waits in a litter while Octavia embraces her husband and says goodbye. Clearly devastated, Octavia tears herself away and joins her mother.
Atia brusquely says: “Why I think I saw tears in his eyes, Octavia! Such a fuss.”
Octavia replies: “He loves me.”
The scene that soon follows, where the servants remove Octavia’s clothes to present her to Pompey is almost too painful to watch.
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In my mind I juxtapose two powerful images of tears:
“Why I do believe those were tears in his eyes!”
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In our culture of commodified sex, it is good to remember this history of sex as power and promise. It’s a force of Nature unequaled in its power for both good and evil.
Sex without boundaries causes real loss.
A history of using women as sexual playthings or political pawns is partly what has given us the anger behind feminism.
Even so, it’s equally important to remember that throughout history, keeping themselves “only unto each other” has been an imperative of “one-ness” . . .in the giving and receiving of sexually exclusive love, men and women have discovered joy.
In God’s design, sex provides a powerful pair-bond. It is meant to cleave two into one in a profound mystery beyond our understanding.
“What God hath joined together, let no man tear asunder.”
Without that boundary, we’re left with tears.
Thanks to Mudville Gazette, Open Post.