Make War, Not Love: Violence, Sexuality, and Christianity.

"Could you read the back of this box and tell me if there's any sexual content in this movie?"

The woman across the counter from me holds out the DVD expectantly, and I take it. It's Saw II, part of the now 5-movie franchise which makes a point of being unnecessarily gory. I locate the rating so lovingly bestowed upon the film by the MPAA.

"It's rated R, for gore, violence, and language mostly."

"But no sex, right?"

"It says nothing here about that, no."

The woman looks suddenly relieved. After plastering a smile on her face, she holds out her hand to take the DVD back and proclaims, "Fantastic! I'll tell my daughter we can rent it then. We just love violent slasher movies, but I can't have anything with sex in it; we're Christian, you see."

Herein lies my problem. After working in a video store for nearly two years, there is one thing I've noticed about renting habits that holds true more than anything else, and I think the influence of Christianity has a lot to do with it. Mothers and fathers are afraid to let their children experience any kind of sexual content in a film, but are willing to turn a blind eye when it comes to violence. I'm not advocating letting 9-year-olds rent porn, by any stretch of the imagination. I believe there is a certain age that a person must hit before they can understand and feel comfortable watching sex scenes in movies. But why are we as a society so willing to censor sex over violence, when sex is a natural part - if not the sole purpose - of our existence?

We spend billions of dollars and countless hours watching people get tortured, mutilated, and blown up in our films and on our TV shows. No doubt the more outrageous a movie is with it's violence, the more hype and predictably more money it will receive. Perhaps this is because we find it unlikely that ourselves or our family and friends would ever be in a situation where we would end up in locked room fixed to a death device with a clown on a television asking us if we'd like to play a game. This apathy toward violence, however, has made us all desensitized to it. Hence, the Saw movies keep being made because they have to top the previous release, to see if they can keep shocking people. We keep going over the top with every new film that comes out, but most people see these movies as not having gone far enough. How much blood shed is too much? How much violence can occur in our films and video games before we say enough?

I see Christianity factoring to this gore-glorifying culture in two ways: through the violent nature of the Bible itself, and Christianity's shaming of human sexuality. On Violence, the Bible offers us the following quotes:

Take all the heads of the people and hang them up before the Lord against the sun.”
-- Numbers 25:4

“The Lord is a man of War!”
--Exodus 15:3

"...They shall fall by the sword: their infants shall be dashed in pieces, and their women with child (pregnant) shall be ripped up!"
-- Hosea 13:16

"Their children shall be dashedto pieces before their eyes! There houses spoiled, and their wives raped...Dash the young men
to pieces...have no pity on the fruit of the womb, the children shall not be spared"
-- Isa 13:16-18

These are, by no means, the only examples of violence in the Bible. There are also instances of God being described as (and even describing himself as) being angry, wrathful, jealous, and capable of "creating evil" (Psalms 78:49, Deut 5:9, Isaiah 45:7). If the god of so many people has such little problem with admitting his own violent tendencies, then his followers clearly see no problem in indulging their own. Where is the god of love, redemption, and forgiveness in all of this, however?

Love is a tricky word here though. Certainly, there is more than one kind of love, yes, but when we're referring to "making love", let's see what the Bible has to say then:

"Be fruitful and increase in number and fill the earth."
-Gen. 9:1

"... each man should have his own wife, and each woman her own husband. 3 The husband should fulfill his marital duty to his wife, and likewise the wife to her husband. 4 The wife's body does not belong to her alone but also to her husband. In the same way, the husband's body does not belong to him alone but also to his wife. 5 Do not deprive each other except by mutual consent and for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer. Then come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control. 9 But if they cannot control themselves, they should marry, for it is better to marry than to burn with passion."
-1 Cor 7:2

"Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure ... "
-Heb 13:4

Ok, so what we see at first is that sex, when encountered within the confines of a heterosexual marriage bed, is not only allowable by god, but encouraged. When we get away from not even the heterosexuality issues, however, but even just being unwed, the Bible turns the tables on sex completely:

"You are to abstain from ... sexual immorality."
-Acts 15:29

"Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a man commits are outside his body, but he who sins sexually sins against his own body."
-1 Cor. 6:18.

"Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires ..."
-Col. 3:5.

These three passages alone raise a few interesting and necessary questions. What, exactly, constitutes sexual immorality? If two people (or more, depending on a person's situation), are consensually engaging in sexual intercourse, knowing full well what they are doing and why they are doing it, I hardly see this as being "immoral" behavior. The next passage, about all other sins being "outside" a man's body, and therefore not as terrible as sexual deviancy, make it seem as though sex is Public Enemy Number One on the list of Things You Really Shouldn't Do, above even murder or suicide (the latter of which, I definitely consider to be within one's own body). Lastly, putting to death something which is our "earthly nature"...wouldn't that imply something which is natural, and therefore intended by god? Why stifle that which we are inclined by our bodies and minds to do?

Clearly, the Bible and god frown much more upon sex than upon violence, god even seeming to be rather a fan of the latter. I know that points could be raised such as the commandment "Thou shall not kill", and the teachings of Jesus Christ to place love above all else, but these points often seem to be left by the wayside by Christians, so I too am leaving them be. The fact of the matter is, these verses have impacted the minds of Christians, and subversively the thinking of society at large, into believing that sexuality is immoral and impure in all forms of media and in all forms personally outside of straight marriage, but that violence - as long as a person is not committing it themselves - is alright to watch and be actively engaged in (meaning, ok to get excited about and to be exposed to).

Humans have not evolved beyond sex yet; we have, however, evolved beyond the need to be violent. Yet society and uppity mothers would have us believe otherwise. Yes, the media is oversaturated with sexual imagery, I will make no attempt to deny this fact. But when it comes to what we're more comfortable exposing our children to, violence wins out almost every time. On average, I get about 10 mothers a week who allow their kids to rent R-rated movies and M-rated games for graphic violent behavior, but even a PG-13 rating for sexual content will end up back on the shelf. And, like the customer who's story I retold at the beginning of this post, they all seem so proud in their Christian belief that sex is a no-no, but violence is a-okay.

Views: 95

Comment by MightyMateo on March 2, 2009 at 2:33am
I couldnt agree more. I found it rather disturbing, when I was still involved with the church, at how they preach this horrible violent garbage to children. Its a form of control, they try to get the children early on and they start with the old testament and once they are thoroughly terrified they start adding more and more outrageous claims and stories, now that you are too terrified to question it. Violence is a huge theme in almost any religious community and it is disturbing and the suppression of sexual desires and the building of sexual tensions only adds to the problem. We all know how young men get when they have a case of what we call blue balls right? Its a volatile situation that these religions use to help push their agenda through violence or intolerance.
Comment by Laura on March 2, 2009 at 2:40am
It's a fear mechanism, and it completely goes against human nature. We shouldn't want to be killing other people, we should want to be promoting peace and love (just like Jesus said, right? =\). This notion of glorified violence also extends to this idea of religious superiority, and that violence against people of other religious groups is excepted, and possibly even acceptable. It's just sickening all around.
Comment by MightyMateo on March 2, 2009 at 2:52am
Yeah, violence is simply a corporate mechanism to ensure the survival of religion in general. If Coca Cola went out and shot everyone who drank pepsi they would pretty much have the market cornered, same deal here. Its counter intuitive, like you said. Every organism on the planet has one thing at the top of its agenda, Survival of their species, thats where our "godless morality" comes from, it is as basic as needs go. Religion is one of the only things that goes against this most basic of needs.
Comment by Audio on March 2, 2009 at 3:22am
i mean you can go back to the crusades, the dark ages, etc and see how christians definitely have used literal violence in the past to perpetuate their belief system by force. maybe this does not go on as radically today (in the christian religion at least), but this fear-based system is clearly evident in just the sheer fact that one of the main reasons christians I've talked to are so set in their the fact that they FEAR eternal damnation. it really is quite fucked up how people can't see this, but the best remedy for this is education. If you could just explain to a mother like this how renting such a violent movie only helps keep the mindset that "violence is alright" alive in modern culture, things would slowly change...but this is not the case. We live in a culture where killing is ok if it has a seemingly founded reason for it, and sex is BAD. i say fuck that... violence should not be at all necessary to accomplish any goal, and sex should not be restricted only for those who are married. these people think they're keeping their children safe (somehow) by keeping them away from sex... but when you really think about it...which causes the most problems? responsible teen sex or the subconscious approval of violence? i'll let you decide about that one...but i think the answer is quite obvious.
Comment by Rev. Tom Hicks, D.D. on March 2, 2009 at 9:48am
I have some stuff dealin' with oral sex in my blog. It's not necessarily 'bout oral sex but the author of the article was pretty hellbent on receivin' some in a holy way. It's all in how you translate it.
Comment by Frank on March 2, 2009 at 10:01am
I was waiting in line at the movies yesterday and there was a family ahead of me with young children. The youngest kept saying how he wanted to see "Coraline" (Rated PG) and his mom looks at him and goes, "We are going to see this movie, it has lots of people shooting at each other." The movie they went to see was "Push" (Rated PG-13). While I too was seeing the same film and there wasn't much in the way of graphic violence or any real sexuality (though Dakota Fanning was dressed as a street walker the entire film) there were two instances where telepathic characters used the their powers to convince other characters to turn their guns on themselves, put it in their mouth and kill themselves.
Comment by Chris Britton on March 2, 2009 at 10:10am
Good post. I always like increasing my knowledge on touchy subjects with the christian community lol.
Comment by Dan Snell on March 2, 2009 at 1:07pm
I think back to the horror movies that were popular when I was a teen. Movies like "Friday the 13th" had one very clear message: If you have sex, get stoned, or drink alcohol, you'll die a brutal death at the hands of Jason. It seemed that depictions of sex in this context were somewhat acceptable to the religious Indiana folks. Looking back, the film (and those like it) seemed to support the weak "just say no" philosophy that was being promoted at the time.

Regardless, it is sad that they'd rather see a woman hacked up to death, instead of seeing her share a special moment of love. It speaks volumes about the mindset of these individuals.
Comment by Laura on March 2, 2009 at 2:38pm
I like that point, Dan, that sexual interest or activity would result in death. What better way to scare teenagers from staying out of each others' pants? People see nothing wrong with this for the most part, because sex is deemed to be so immoral; I guess I just don't see what's so unimmoral about murder.
Comment by evoLverR on March 2, 2009 at 2:56pm
I am a grown up and I immensely dislike seeing other people get tortured and / or killed.

I guess some people just don't have any empathy, but still need to conform and belong - thus they join religions / cults.

Which is quite bizarre - most religions claim to be the bringers of peace, but end up having sociopaths for members / leaders.


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