Sunday, July 17, 2011

God's Design for Marriage Not So Bad After All?

Posted by Christine Pack

In a recent New York Times article, author Erica Jong who famously championed free love and commitmentless sex, has posed the question: "Is Sex Passé?" Erica Jong is known for having fought for decades to help women claim their "right" to casual sex. Now, 40 years later, an entire generation has been brought up in the aftermath of the free love 60's and 70's to become a culture that literally pulsates with sex: sexuality is on display on billboards, on TV shows, in movies, roaring through the internet in every deviant form, in books, even in the hoochie mama clothes sold at Wal-Mart and Target in the girls' section. But now, a reversal seems to be occurring. Writes Jong:
"I was fascinated to see, among younger women, a nostalgia for ’50s-era attitudes toward sexuality. The older writers in my anthology are raunchier than the younger writers. The younger writers are obsessed with motherhood and monogamy."
In Jong's mind, the reason for this backlash is because "daughters always want to be different from their mothers. If their mothers discovered free sex, then they want to rediscover monogamy." Jong seems to to believe that while the sexually repressed women of her generation had to fight for their sexual freedom, the women of this generation who already have this freedom are celebrating this freedom by going back to.....monogamy and children.

To make this story all the more interesting, Erica Jong's own daughter, author Molly Jong-Fast, has written of her upbringing in a heartbreaking way: of having a mother who casually walked around naked, of pornographic pictures of lesbians hanging in her home, of being required by her "very progressive middle school" when she was an eighth grader to go to a local store to purchase condoms, of her harrowing drug addiction.  Having survived this childhood, Jong-Fast came to reject the idea of sexual freedom as a good thing. She has also written of her deep desire to be "normal," and of being a stay-at-home mom who has a "closed marriage" (which, presumably because she was writing for Salon, she had to spell out by helpfully explaining that this is "where you only sleep with the person you are married to").
Some Pharisees came to him to test Jesus. They asked, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any and every reason?” 
“Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’? So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate.” (Matthew 19:3-6)
In reading through Erica Jong's article and then several articles by her daughter Molly Jong-Fast, I came across a photograph of this family dated 1980, when Molly Jong-Fast was two years old, and Erica Jong was married to Molly's father, Jonathan Fast. I looked at the picture of this husband and father, and wondered: What must it have been like to be the man who was married to the woman who worked so hard to help women claim the "right" to not be monogamous? Was this a man who was valued as the leader of his home? Was he respected? I have no way of knowing the inner workings of this marriage, documented by this single black and white photograph. But what I do know is that to go outside the parameters of marriage, as it is ordained by God, is foolish. God's commands for us - all of them - are for our blessing and our benefit. As Christians, we should know that God does not give us commands to limit us, to take away our fun and freedom. But this is so often our thinking - wrong thinking, sin-addled thinking: that God is a big kill-joy, limiting us, not wanting good for us.  Let us let Scripture align our thinking in this area:
Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! (Matthew 7:9-11)
When we understand God rightly, we know that his purposes are always two-fold: (1) to be glorified but also (2) to bless those who belong to him. And thus, our obedience to his command about marriage results not only in God being glorified by the harmonious, loving unions that result - and serve as a testament to the world of God's loving care and provision - but also results in blessing the men, women and children who live in obedience to their Creator. Glory to God for his care and provision - He is deserving of all honor and praise.