On spiritual and bodily functions, sex, poetry, and fried chicken
This piece is a bit longer than my normal TFR posts, but I trust you’ll have a greater chance because of it to find some small nugget to adorn your faith.
• My debut article on Weylan’s Biblical Notes mag: “Man’s Noblest Function,” takes issue with this quote by an American author and journalist, “Man has no nobler function than to defend the truth.” You’ll get no spoiler here on the title, but suffice it to say we seek not to do anything against the truth. Somebody else said it first, “For we cannot do anything against the truth, but only for the sake of the truth” (2 Cor 13:8). And a truth we want others to apprehend.
• Taking a cue from the poetry and hymns of Scripture, I see my poetry, in part, as an evangelistic effort. Entering the midst of worldly people, even in order to bless, one hears and sees what one would rather not. I imagine our Lord Jesus had to tolerate some unpleasantness from the publicans and prostitutes he worked with. Not to mention from the religionists and his own disciples. So I’ve joined a social-networking poetry site with some unsavory pieces there and, for example, a segment on erotica.
• Here’s where I’d appreciate your feedback. I thought about writing a piece of poetry, a la Song of Solomon, for that last-mentioned segment. Would it be banalized in that setting? Or might it point to sex as the Creator made it?
• That brings up the question of direct proclamation and subtler seed-sowing. I tend much toward the former. But no doubt there’s a place for the latter as well, where the power of influence, of clean life and healthy words and the sunny disposition of faith in God offer a powerful contrast to the darkness of godlessness and the gutter of perversity. It seems most Christians hope against hope that the latter is sufficient, which it is not, since somewhere along the way the Word has to be spoken in its glorious detail. In some places, though, it may be the best way to start.
• The subject also brings up the question of sex. I tend to avoid the subject in order not to offend some sensibilities among squeamish brethren. A few of you, TFR Fellows, have written on it now and again in good taste, as expected, and to good effect. It’s an area where we need more writing, but not of the kind that points out the sin of illicit sexual relations, rather, its celebration as God’s gift to man.
• Widening up that thought a bit, it’s an amazing thing to note that, when the physical organism is functioning properly, the human body’s basic functions create a sense of pleasure. The obvious example is eating, to provide the body energy. We well know how pleasurable mama’s fried chicken is, right, John? Another small example is the function of homeostatis, maintaining the internal conditions necessary for survival. During exercise, the body sweats. Don’t we talk about working up a good sweat? We know the good feeling that comes from having the body in motion.
• All that to say, God in his wisdom makes such functions pleasurable, physically, as a part of helping us survive and thrive. One wonders at times if our faith hasn’t been tainted by ascetic tendencies from Greek philosophy via false Christian manifestations that preach the mortification of the body, rather than the buffeting of the flesh, as per Paul in 2 Cor 9:27.
• Speaking of whom, Paul rejects the prohibition of meat, which is to be received with thanksgiving, for every creature is good (he must be thinking of the Jewish equivalent of his momma’s fried chicken), and we may rejoice in the pleasure of eating when “sanctified through the word of God and prayer” (1 Tim 4:3-5). Later on in that same letter is Paul’s amazing statement, considering the context of his commandments to the rich, that God “richly provides us with all things for our enjoyment” (1 Tim 6:17).
• Indeed he does. And may we enjoy all those things he richly provides us, as part of the blessings of the Kingdom, knowing that they have an even higher purpose, to glorify God (this is where we came in today) and prepare us for that highest enjoyment of all, his eternal presence.