The Porn Again Christian

Human sexuality is a vital thing in the Christian tradition. Set in a sacramental register, human sexuality becomes more than genital activity. As the writings of St. John Paul II remind us, the experience of human sexuality and, extending from that, marriage, can become a microcosm of the covenantal bond between God and His creation, and the redemption by God of His creation. Christians thus are right in their concern over civic actions that impact upon this sacramental understanding.
The only problem, however, is that somewhere in the course of resisting any undermining of this sacramental understanding of human sexuality, the “sacramental” disappeared in favour of a lop-sided focus on “sexuality”. With this disappearance of the sacramental, the covenantal dimension similarly disappeared with it. Shorn of the covenantal outlook, public pronouncements of human sexuality by Christians has now become a self-contained discourse, with little reference to anchor any talk about the biological activity and its natural flow-on effects. Thus, sex has become confined to the physical.
What is worse, however, is that shorn of the sacramental and the covenantal ecology to house the discourse on sexuality, Christians seem to have entertained the notion generated by media entrepreneurs that the only thing that they can uniquely contribute to the public discourse is an already impoverished discourse of human sexuality. Beyond the groin, it is presumed that non-Christian concepts, institutions and practises and the cultural and financial elites that deploy them can safely have the monopoly on ecology, economics, war, peace, art, education, culture, food, city life, urban life and conceptions of what the good life is.
This supposed division of labour is not benign, but is a form of commodification by what St. Paul calls the “powers and principalities of this world”, creating that bourgeois Christianity so loved by political pundits and marketeers. Being so commodified, the Church has  now become little more than a zone where people get told about how to sleep with each other. In so doing, the Church has become distorted from this wide-spanning reality (which is what a sacramental ecology calls for), into a virtual world where sexual practice, and only sexual practice, is the central public concern. Commodified in this fashion by the powers and principalities of this world, the Church has become the strange inversion of the pornified culture it is trying to resist.
The key here is not in the rejection of resisting a pornified culture, but in realising that the Church’s resistence to that culture is founded on an infinitely richer understanding of what the world – and within that, human sexuality – is. This understanding must be coupled with the resisting of pressures to bring to public discourse and practice, even in translated form, of its sacramental and covenantal heritage.
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