Monday, May 15, 2006

A Few Words from TO OWN A DRAGON

The following passages are from Donald Miller's new book To Own a Dragon. (p. 139-145 ). I'm not saying that I agree with it all (and I'm not saying I don't), but it's really interesting to read and think about.
"What happens when sex is cheapened?" somebody asked.

"A lot happens. The main thing is there is no sacred physical territory associated with commitment. There can still be emotional territory, but there isn't anything physical, experiential, that a man and a woman have only with each other. Sleeping around does something to the heart, to the mind. It leaves less commodity to spend on a sacred mate. But all of that sounds pretty fluffy. Let me break it down into practical stuff. Women saying no to men, not letting men have sex with them, causes men to step up. If, in order to have sex with them, women demanded you got a job and shaved every day and didn't dress like a dork or sit around playing video games, then all of us would do just that. We all want to have sex, right?'

"Amen," one of the guys said, which drew some laughter.

"So if a woman demanded that you acted like a gentleman," I continued, "that you were able to commit and focus, then everybody in this room would do that, if for no other reason than we want to have sex. And this in turn would be good for families, would be good for communitites. Let's face it, we're guys, and too often we are going to take the path of least resistance. Many of us are the way we are because women are attracted to a certain kind of man. We may not have realized this dynamic was shaping us, but it has been. Nobody is exempt. So, when sex gets cheapened, we are getting what we want without having to pay for it. That's not good for anybody, not in the long run anyway. It's a great system, you know."

"But women don't withhold sex. It doesn't work that way any more," a guy from the back of the room stated.

"That true," I said. "Women are imitating men, I think. The presupposition is that men are right, and in order for a woman to be successful, she should act not like a woman but like a man. Thanks for the compliment, but I disagree. I think men need women to be women, and we need to be made to jump through some hoops. If a woman withholds sex until she gets what she wants, we are all better for it."

"You know," I started in, softly, "I hate this as much as you guys do. You try to take away people's sex, try to make people feel guilty or something, and everybody hates you for it. I mean you're a geek, right? And I don't want to be that guy. I really don't. It's just that my dad left my mom when I was a kid, and I remember visiting him and he always had some girl living with him, or was sleeping around with a girl half his age, and that affected me. I think my dad just thought it didn't matter, that he should be able to sleep with whomever he wanted. But what I needed him to do was stay with my mom, love my mother, and be my father. I think we can think nobody is affected by our actions, by our habits, but they are. We aren't independent creatures, you know. We are all connected. And in a family, in marriage, it's important that sex be something special, and as men, it's important we take the initiative in protecting it. Those habits start now. Greg Spencer, a professor friend of mine, would say sex is the most psychologically involving of the physical acts. Men fantasize that sex is mere biology. Yet nothing seems to affect us quite as deeply as sex when it is abused. I hope you don't fault me for saying all of this."

The great argument, then, is not whether sex is good or bad outside a relational commitment, but whether sex is for anything other than the release of pleasure. There is no scientific evidence to suggest sex is for bonding. Common sense tells us sex bonds people, but science can't go into the poetic. The tendency, when pleasure drives logic, is to reduce sex to a dry Darwinian definition, ignoring the poetry of our bodies. And this doesn't sound like much of a crime, until we remember the argument about the value of the dollar. Poetics, then, matter. What we feel about something, what we agree about for the sake of health and progress becomes critical. I think of sex this way, not only because this is the way God thinks about sex, but because logically, even apart from some sort of Christian morality, the poetic interpretation has to be upheld. --Donald Miller

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