Love & the Digital Age

1 02 2012

“When I talk about the hurt and the hypocrisy in some of our values—our sexual values—it comes from the fact that I didn’t get hugged a lot as a kid, and I understand that.” – Hugh Hefner

I realize that many people will think me crazy for saying this, but I feel truly sorry for the old goat. He was repressed, to be sure – Puratinism is incredibly repressive. Any time a child grows up without affection, an immense deficit will result. Repression of healthy affection is not just unhealthy – it’s an offense against the human person.

Heff’s solution, however, was to trade repression for indulgence. Sexuality does not exhibit binary characteristics of only repression or only indulgence. It is something uniquely human. We recognize our status as different from all other creatures on the Earth. More than mere pleasure, mating, or even a combination of those things, a sexual relationship has a different quality that is more than the sum total of its benefits.

“You and I baby ain’t nothin’ but mammals, so let’s do it like they do on the Discovery Channel” was the chorus line from the Bloodhound gang’s only hit.  This has been gospel truth since the start of the Sexual Revolution.  The only problem with that statement is that it is untrue.  We are much more than “pants-wearing monkeys”, and most of our laws have reflected that fact.  There is, for example, no such thing as rape in the rest of the animal kingdom, but it remains one of the few acts regarded universally unacceptable.

Even consensual sex has legally allowable limits: blood relation, age of involved parties, to name a few.  More limits used to exist because the thought was that following the natural order was generally beneficial to society.  That worldview has been changing to one of sex as recreation, but that doesn’t describe it, either.

So then, if sex isn’t a purely animal, purely recreational activity — what is it?

A friend once said, “Pornos are just love stories with the words removed.”, but I would counter that they’re “Sex stories with the love removed.” We know instinctively that sex and love are related, which is why forcible sex, or rape, is recognized as a heinous crime. There is no love involved in rape. Power, perhaps, but certainly not love. Love does not force itself upon another. There is at least consent involved in casual sex, though the only love there is an inward-focused, self-pleasing, self-gratifying love. If this is the only type of love a person has ever experienced, it may actually seem fulfilling…for a while. Until we recognize our humanity, that is – our spirituality – that we indeed have souls are we even capable of self-donative, self-giving, self-sacrificing love.

I read the above SomaReview.com article and thought of all of the friends that have suffered because of Mr. Hefner’s overcompensation for lack of physical affection. I think of the men I know who are enslaved to his vision. Quite literally visually enslaved, in fact.  There have been several studies expounding on the neurological effects of pornography. I think of the women I know who can’t measure up to the airbrushed beauties and take second place to their live-in boyfriends attention. He can never commit because he’s always holding out for that Playmate, never able to give love, only pleasure. The relationship suffers and ultimately falls apart; because who would feel loved under the pressure of constant comparison? Who feels loved in the mere trading of momentary pleasures?

The movement that Hef started has been sold as “liberation” and it really looked that way for decades. “Sex isn’t bad!” was the essential proclamation. “The body isn’t dirty – enjoy it!” was the mantra. Repressed people all over America – even the world – began to shed their Puritanism and begin to really enjoy sex. Wow!

Why does it look so much like slavery now?

Because no matter how much “power” it may grant, women lose infinitely more freedom by becoming an object and no matter how “satisfying”, using persons as objects for pleasure degrades and enslaves men.

This is not just a “heathen” problem:

“7 of 10 lay leaders in the church admitted to visiting adult Web sites at least once a week and 4 out of 10 pastors said they did the same.”

No wonder the opposition is so timid!

“In February 2010, about 28 percent of people who used a work computer to access the Internet visited an adult site, according to The Nielsen Company. The average visit from a work computer was about 13 minutes and the average work visitor spent one hour and 38 minutes on adult sites during the entire month of February, the research firm told ABCNews.com.”

It is now everywhere! Sex is used to sell you soap, cigarettes, beer, cars, jeans, music – you name it (any half-naked examples of commercials unwillingly pop into your mind there?). Woman makes a fine implement to beat Man into submission with when she’s okay being an implement and he’s okay being a slave. I will admit that it took years for me to move from seeing women as objects with people-like qualities, to people with object-like qualities, to individual, unique, and beautiful persons. The process was long, as are most paradigm-shifts. The process was arduous, as are any changes that run completely counter to the surrounding culture. It started when I began to reflect and survey the damage Hef’s vision has done in my life – and it is still going on today.

In flagrant opposition to most of my peers, I am not thankful for Hugh Hefner‘s legacy. It was his life’s work that I was introduced to at the ripe old age of eight that has taken me years to straighten out. Now that I am, I’m at least slightly less ashamed to talk about it, and incredibly puzzled that we scratch our heads at the increasing rates of fatherlessness, divorce, teenage pregnancy, STIs, and abortion, and wonder why all the money we pump into sex education and social programs over the last 40 years hasn’t “fixed” it yet.

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