Do cultural norms overpower sexual attraction?

Sexual attraction is surely one of the strongest forces intrinsic to humans, but is it possible that the external force of cultural trends can suppress, or even eliminate it?

This is one of the tangents my year 12 class and I found ourselves on today during a discussion about themes of identity and family in a play we have recently seen.

We noted that, with the exception of a minority that feeds the pages of New Idea magazine, sexual attraction between consenting, adult family members, in Australia, is rare. We could be led to believe that this is because it is fundamentally immoral, but historically and cross-culturally this is not seen to be the case.

Marriage of first cousins is, in fact (and unbeknownst to me until today) legal in Australia, the UK and 19 states of America. It is however, highly stigmatized. My class and I noted that this cultural stigma is so powerful that if we were to meet and be attracted to someone, and later find out that they were actually our cousin, the attraction would immediately subside.

I found it interesting to read that the “practice of marrying your siblings is now archaic (not to mention extremely icky)” and I wondered where this ‘ickiness’ comes from.

Of course genetic concerns regarding procreation play a role in the social stigma, but I found it interesting to consider the idea that a person’s sexual attractions can be curbed or influenced by the trends of their culture.

 

Advertisements

What kind of man are you attracted to?

Challies_May1-7-04_0

As I was scrolling through Facebook the other day, I came across this picture. It says “The Gospel calls us to ‘man down,’ more so than to ‘man up.’ There is no masculinity without a core of humility.”

I’m not a man, so technically it doesn’t apply to me, but something about this hit me hard. Is that kind of man acceptable to Christian women?

Over the last year I’ve had the privilege of speaking to women on several issues of sexuality. One thing that has often grieved me is the way in which women are afraid that if they don’t dress in a certain way or act in a certain way they won’t be attractive, even to Christian men. Too many men, even in the church, have very secular standards for the type of woman that they want.

This quote, however, made me question things from the other side. As Christian women, what are we attracted to?

Sometimes, when I think about the qualities that make a Christ-like man, I have to ask myself ‘would I have even liked Jesus?’

So many Christian women, myself included, have adopted the world’s standards of what makes a man attractive. Instead of being attracted to humility, we are dazzled by arrogant confidence; instead of respecting dignity, we are obsessed with charisma; instead of godly, we want cool.

How important is it that we do not ask men choose between attracting women and following Christ?

It’s not the worship songs that are the problem…

599799_56053393‘Yuck, she’s singing to God as though He’s her boyfriend!’

Have you ever felt this way, or had anyone else say this? I remember some years back going through a stage where my friends were heavily critical of any song sung to God, that could just as easily had the singer’s boyfriend or girlfriend’s name inserted into it.

As I’ve been doing some research lately though, on the messages our world sends to single people through music, I’ve begun to realize that maybe it’s not the worship songs that are the problem.

Here are some lyrics from popular love songs:

Ellie Goulding sings “I need your love. When everything’s wrong, you make it right.”

Alicia Keys croons “nothing in this whole wide world don’t mean a thing
If I ain’t got you with me baby”

And Whitney Houston says: “I have nothing… if I don’t have you.”

The great tragedy that all of these songs have in common, is that they’re putting a human relationship in a position of pre-eminence. They’re worshiping the created rather than the creator. They’re expressing that they have no greater need than the man in their life.

The problem is not that we insert God into this frame. The problem is that He was ever taken out in the first place.

I luv ya, but I don’t love you.

Valentine-Bokeh-Heart-Shaped-Light-Background_thumbThe English language has one word for love. And let’s face it, it’s a bit of a problem.

How do you express that deep feeling of loyalty and affection towards someone who you do not feel romantic love for?

Why is it that you can laugh and say ‘I love you’ to a casual friend, but you have to wait for weeks, or even months to say it to someone who you truly do love?

Us Aussies have come up with a solution. It’s a poor one at best, but it get’s the job done. We preserve the beauty of the phrase ‘I love you’ for more special occasions or instances in which it won’t be misinterpreted. I love you is for family or lovers or close friends. For everyone else, the you tends to slide into a ‘ya.’

‘Ya’ has a powerful impact on the phrase. It makes it acceptable. It expresses appreciation and affection, with out the weight of confession. To add the abbreviated word ‘luv’ allows us to shelter behind the missing letter. Love? Now that’s a strong word, but luv? Yeah, I can do that.

So to everyone out there: I luv ya… but let’s just leave it at that.

Life Begins at … Singleness

1079363_26838634Cinderella, Snow White, Rapunzel, Sleeping Beauty: Life is pretty tough until you grow up and meet your prince charming and live happily ever after.

With a steady diet of classic fantasies, is it any wonder that countless girls grow up believing that life begins with the meeting of that perfect man?

While the Disney princesses may not have been forefront in my mind, it’s certainly the attitude I tended to have during my teen years. Romance, love and marriage were going to be a given for me. If I’d known I was going to be 28 and still single, I’d have died (in a teenage drama type way.)

I lead a fabulously rich single life, and I wouldn’t take any of it back, but isn’t it a shame that it took me until my mid 20s to decide (and yes, it largely had to be a decision) that life didn’t start at marriage?

Before that, my mind was far too consumed with how and where and when I was going to meet that perfect person. I felt like I couldn’t possibly know where my life was headed until I met them. I felt a bit like I was in a holding pattern.

Eventually I woke up to the reality that life begins at singleness. I wasn’t supposed to be hanging around waiting; God had a plan for me.

His plan means my life is going somewhere whether there’s a man involved or not. And it’s a great life.