The real danger seems to me not that the lovers will idolize each other but that they will idolize Eros [sexual love] himself.” (C.S. Lewis in The Four Loves)
C.S. Lewis is a master of the human heart. He understands very clearly the dangers that come, not only with hurt, but with pleasure and joy. We assume that it is the wicked, evil things that destroy us. But all too often it is the good thing, that which is beautiful and enjoyable becomes a bloodthirsty demon. Why? We replace the Creator with the creature. The creature, the thing, the experience, becomes our god. We long for it without God, instead of under God. The moment we do that we have brought home a dragon that will eventually eat us.
All areas of human experience are prone to this idolization. But there is no area so easily worshiped today as sex. Our culture is sexualized beyond anything seen before. Even past sexual cultures, such as Rome, were not as sexual as ours. Our commercials are filled with sexual innuendo or scantily clad women. Our teenage daughters wear more to bed than they do on the street. Television shows and movies are filled with sexual imagery. Songs are filled with sexual lyrics. Magazines have articles on how to have a better sex life. Christians write books on how to have a better sex life. Pastors preach sermons on how to have a better sex life. Apparently, a better sex life is the way to happiness.
But it is important to understand that what people want is not a particular man or a particular woman to have sex with. They want a particular experience. A man watching pornography does not want the porn star. He wants what the porn star can supposedly give; a sexual high. A woman who sleeps with men at the drop of hat or dresses with most of her body showing is not looking to please a particular man. She is trying to get a particular experience. Often, even the Christian, because he or she has been catechized by our culture, is looking for a particular sexual experience. In other words, we bow down and worship sex. It is our god, our great savior. It is the transcendental experience that will get us closer to God.
Here is an example from my own experience. I knew a couple who thought that until they had an orgasm at the same time during sex that they were missing out. Why did they think this? They had seen television shows where this was the pinnacle of the sexual experience. But of course, once they did have this experience it was disappointing. They would have been happier if they had just enjoyed one another and not looked for a certain experience.
What are some of the effects of this idolization of the sexual experience?
1. Women are degraded. Because women are the weaker vessel they become objects. Like a vending machine they are there to provide a certain product. But instead of soda they give sex. This viewpoint does not stop when men get married. Many men still view their wives this way after the vows are said. She is there, not be loved, but to be used.
2. Children are sexualized. They can provide a new and better experience. Pedophilia is a natural extension of the idolization of sex. A woman cannot provide a certain experience maybe a child can.
3. All sorts of gross and perverted acts become part of the normal human sexual experience. Handcuffs, dressing up as the opposite sex, having numerous partners, watching pornography together, etc. etc. When sex is an idol she is supposed to provide a certain experience. However, she always comes up short. So we try more and more things. I remember an interview with mass murderer Ted Bundy. He talked about how he started out watching pornography. Then he went to strip clubs. Then he slept with prostitutes. Then he began taking cheap feels on women in crowded places. Finally, he began to kidnap, rape, and kill women. Of course, very few men go that far. But in our hearts, many of us walk that path of wanting more and more. The man who leaves his wife for a younger, more attractive woman has the exact same motivation as Ted Bundy.
4. We are never satisfied. Idols always take. They never give. So it is when sex becomes an idol. Idols promise, but in the end they never deliver. They say, “You too can have amazing sex and be fulfilled.” But in the end the sex leaves you empty and dead. Oh, there may be a temporary pleasure. I am sure the fruit tasted good to Adam and Eve. But that pleasure quickly fades and we are left wanting more. As Adam drove that spade into the rock hard ground under the hot sun outside the Garden, I doubt he thought that fruit was worth it. Idols give salt water to the thirsty man.
5. This might seem odd. But one effect of idolizing sex is that sex itself is degraded. It becomes a means to an end. The end is an experience. The end is not sex. The end is certainly not the person one is with. Thus sex becomes like a hammer. It is a tool to provide a certain service. Here again is C.S. Lewis: “Put first things first and we get second things thrown in: put second things first and we lose both first and second things. We never get, say, even the sensual pleasure of food at its best when we are being greedy.” When the sexual experience becomes the first thing we lose the pleasure of sex.