From the editor: November 21, 2014
Portrait of an Artist as a Sexual Atheist
What in the world is going on with sex? Now that gay marriage rolls over the land, pedophilia gains more in respectability, sex trafficking rises, and books like Fifty Shades of Grey on sexual bondage are adored, any anthropologist or sociologist worth his diploma would have to ask if there is something deeper going on.
Let me suggest that what Jacques Barzun wrote in From Dawn to Decadence about art at the turn of the last century mirrors today's notions about sex:
This [surrealist] attitude suggests another turn in the theme of individualism. Each artist cultivates his own garden, psychically speaking, and the reader or beholder uses his own fund of psychic images to interpret what is before him. The critical theory of the 1890s that each work of art is "an autonomous world" validates the practice. From another point of view, such works are also "pure art," because, coming out of the unconscious, they ignore all the meanings of world. In the domain of spirit and psyche, communication is at a low, its value negligible; it depends after all on conventions, and these are outworn. Non-sense rules the world.
The key here is that art is an autonomous world, and elsewhere Barzun describes its redefinition as fundamentally an act of self-expression on the part of the artist. It may be without form, breaking all the rules, and unintelligible to others, but it's true art. And individualistic.
This is the idea behind modernized sex as well: each person (aided by devices, pills, or not) finds his own way to express himself sexually, and they are all equally valid. Sex is all about you and what you want. And like the artist, whatever wells up from within, perhaps from our "unconscious," is fine. It's not fashionable to criticize a sexual fetish or an artist like Roman Polanski who raped a 13-year-old girl many years ago.
"Do your own thing," and "Whatever turns you on" arises from one way of seeing the world. A long time ago, artists saw the world in such a way that it made sense to build a cathedral and paint pictures from the Bible on its walls. What is it that Christians believe about the body? "The body is not for immorality, but for the Lord." (1 Corinthians 6:13)
But this belief and practice no longer rules the household of God. In what is called in this Charisma article "sexual atheism," Christians bracket out their sexual lives and follow modern practices of cohabitation and non-marital sex without consequences. To repress the inner self, the inner sexual artist, will damage the person.
Our society is enthralled to the religion of sex, according to which you cannot be fully human without sexual intercourse. This overturns 2,000 years of the witness of godly monks and nuns, not to mention the example of the Leading Man depicted in those cathedrals by the artists: Christ the Savior.
What is the body for? If anyone knows, he surely does. We hear it every Sunday. "This is my body."
How to be a man? The "icon" of a Man has already been portrayed—the same, yesterday, today, and forever. Express Christ in and through your life, and be holy, for he is holy.
Yours for Christ, Creed & Culture,
—James M. Kushiner
Executive Director, The Fellowship of St. James