Monday, 10 October 2011
Christianity tells us to commit to "either marriage or absolute abstinence" says Lewis. That instruction strikes us as going totally against our instincts. So either Christianity is wrong or our instincts are wrong.
Lewis argues that it's our instincts need change.
"Now suppose you came to a country where you could fill a theater by simply bringing a covered plate on to the stage and then slowly lifting the cover so as to let every one see, just before the lights went out, that it contained a mutton chop or a bit of bacon, would you not think that in that country something had gone wrong with the appetite for food? And would not anyone who had grown up in a different world think there was something equally queer about the state of the sex instinct among us?"
Well, someone might reply, a country where people gathered together to watch food slowly being revealed on a platter is a country that's suffering from a famine.
I'm not sure that Lewis' generalization is right. My restrictive childhood was part of why sexual temptation was my weak-spot; without exposure, I hadn't developed much sense of what's wrong or right about my sexual urges.
But there's something to be said for Lewis' point: Our sexual instincts have been messed with.
"There is nothing to be ashamed of in enjoying your food: there would be everything to be ashamed of if half the world made food the main interest of their lives and spent their time looking at pictures of food and dribbling and smacking their lips."
Just like our appetite for food tends to go beyond ensuring the natural function of survival, our sexual appetite tends to go beyond our natural functions of creating intimacy with our mates and having children. What strikes me as odd, then, is that we're all for dieting, but we reject chastity (literally a sexual diet) as backwards or outmoded. Scripture encourages us to run the opposite way. "Do not conform to the pattern of the world but be transformed by the renewing of your minds. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is - his good, pleasing, perfect will."
What do you think of Lewis's words on sexuality? Have our sexual instincts been messed with? How do we manage to stay pure despite our sexual instincts?