You Won’t Find It

WARNING: BRUTAL FRANKNESS AHEAD.

The worst, most heartbreaking thing to come out of the emerging scandal surrounding state senator Paul Stanley, is the revelation that many if not most male legislators act like the session is one big frat party with the female interns.  From an intern’s email to Post Politics:

What I can also tell you is that almost every man up there feels entitled to look, touch, and flirt with any female in that place, regardless of whether she is an intern, lobbyist, guest, etc.

I was shocked when I heard about this, but not really. The ego that exists in most men up there is enough to make me sick. There are people that you respect and admire who wouldn’t think twice about giving you a good up and down look in the elevator.

I had been given looks, creepy smiles, and strong drinks made by those very legislators who are probably laughing right now at all of this, those hypocrites. most of them married, too.

I’d like to talk to the men of of the state’s Capitol Hill, especially the ones who hang their hats as social conservatives. 

This is wrong.  It has to stop, now.

No, I’m not going to wag my finger at you about sin, the commitment of marriage, and prayer.   I could, and probably should, but I’ll leave that to others.  You are political animals, though, so let’s talk about your behavior politically, shall we?

Certainly you know that with every revelation of bad behavior, small minded people with an agenda proclaim very loudly that our worldview is invalid, or at the very least that we do not have any right to pursue any legislation that advances that worldview (not recognizing that they do the very same thing themselves with different values).  Since nobody likes a lech,  and the world does not share our view of human frailty and forgiveness, you lose any high ground you might have had.

But, let’s go a little deeper, OK?

If you are a predatory person, if you glare and grope and improperly propose and otherwise act like a jackass toward women in your office, just stop reading now.  I have nothing to say to you, and I hope you are exposed and lose your position as soon as possible.

But, for the rest of you, whole truly struggle with temptation and unfortunately sometimes give in to it, I’d like to talk about that temptation.

First off, know that simply having the temptation is not a sin.  It isn’t a personal failing.  Christ was tempted, after all.  Too many Christian men think that, because we are Christians, when a temptation comes along we should be able to extend our hands Gandalf-like, say some incantation like “the power of Christ compels you!”, and the temptation will go away.  When it doesn’t, they view it as a personal failure, and give in.

In my experience, this is not how things work.  I can only tell you my experience.  I have been married for 22 years, and I have managed to not only stay faithful to my lovely wife, am blessed to have a thriving, soul-sustaining marriage.

Yet, I am no eunuch.  I understand temptation.  I understand the psychological confusion a man feels when a beautiful young woman is friendly with him.  And I understand the darker temptation, where thoughts unbidden come, where availabilities are considered, where the thoughts almost consume you.

But God did not give me a magic wand to wave while chanting “Away, evil temptress!” (which isn’t really fair anyway to someone who’s just being friendly, anyway).  No, I was given a more powerful gift: the ability to see things as they are.

First, this kind of temptation is never really about sex, it’s about ego.  It is so incredibly gratifying, especially as a man gets older, to think “this beautiful young woman is interested in ME!  She finds ME attractive!”  Trust me, this allure is almost impossible to resist for a man.  Our main need, no matter what anyone else says, is to be considered Good Enough.  Worthy.

When this happens to you, do me a favor.  Go home, strip down naked, and look in the mirror.  What, are you in your late 30’s?  Your forties?  Fifties or even later?  Look at yourself, then do it again.  It should become clear, even if a young, beautiful woman really is flirting with you, that it’s not YOU she’s attracted to.

Oh, she might be attracted to your power.  Or maybe your charisma, or your money, or what she thinks you can do for her. 

But, there is no way, outside your current position, this young girl could be chomping at the bit to have YOU. 

Just look at yourself.

Do you think she stays up at night, fantasizing about your bald spot?  Although she’s surrounded by hard-bodied young men at school, do you really think ear hair is what turns her on?  That she can really, really relate to your stories of the Frampton concert in 1977?  That she prefers a flabby belly and disappearing butt?  Do you really believe that she thinks it’s cute the way your breath whistles when you take out your partials?  Really?

No, if a young woman is flirting with you, or just being very friendly, you can be rest assured that it isn’t because she’s just got to have YOU.

You ain’t all that.  Maybe at one time you were, but that ship sailed long ago.  And that’s the way it’s supposed to be.

If you give in to a sexual temptation, you will not find the validation you are looking for.  It’s hard to admit, but it’s all an illusion.  You may be a great guy, but you won’t find what you are looking for, deep down, by pursuing a woman young enough to be your daughter.

Your emptiness will only grow more profound, and that’s after you’ve destroyed everything you hold dear.

You will not find the validation you are looking for.  If you can strip things down to the harsh realities, you can overcome temptations that are sure to come along, some real, some just a psychological misunderstanding.

And the amazing thing?  God has given you an incredible gift.  Your wife, unlike some 20-something who doesn’t really know you, actually does want YOU.  She has been given eyes to see you as you are and still want you, even love you.  It is there you will find some of the validation you are looking for.  And only God can give you the rest.

So, if you have been participating in this circus, and you aren’t evil and lecherous (just tempted), I’m begging you, stop this, now.  The young women in your midst are not there to hook up with you.  NOR DO THEY WANT TO.

See things as they truly are.  Be a real man.

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Feel Good Friday: Hey, Lolly, Lolly!

Here’s a good start to your Friday, a classic in silliness:

I wouldn’t be much of an old person if I didn’t comment on how much better our juvenile sexual innuendo songs were than the ones being released today.  (C’mon!  “If You Seek Amy”?  Is this the best you can do, Millennials?)

Young folks: it’s OK to approach sex playfully.  

I’m not saying to be casual about sex, I’m saying, lighten up!  God didn’t intend it to be the contentious, complicated mess it has become.

Happy Friday!

Sex And Disney World

Has there ever been a group of people more misunderstood than those who have a sense of modesty about sex?  Hollywood created a stereotype decades ago, and it has stuck.  The world sees us as Bree (Van De Kamp) Hodge, the uptight character from Desperate Housewives.  As described in Wikipedia:

Bree is known for her cooking, cleaning, ironing, gardening, doing her lawn, and reupholstering her own furniture, on the level of Martha Stewart. Besides being a dedicated homemaker, she also is well-versed in regards to firearm training: she owns four guns and is a card-carrying member of the Nation Rifle Association. She is a staunch conservative, owning and displaying a framed photograph of noted Republican President Ronald Reagan in her home. She is also a conservative Christian and homophobic, though as of the third season Bree has slowly renounced her disdain for homosexuals with the revelation that her son Andrew was gay, and also his revealing that her homophobic response towards him when he came out of the closet was the driving force towards the pain he inflicted upon Bree during season two.

We, and I say “we” because I count myself in this group, have not helped matters by making so much noise when others who do not share our view are more open and vulgar about sex.  It’s a natural impulse, I guess (I’ll get to that later), but it only feeds the stereotype that we think sex is dirty, that we very infrequently have sex, and even then, only the missionary position.

We are very easily mocked.  Television especially does this, but also politicians, the non-religious, liberal Christians, novelists, and bloggers to name a few.  Here’s a good example.  B’s original post was poignant and funny, but some of the comments were terribly, awfully bigoted. (Me?  I would have added one more question to B’s list: “I just had sex with a straw man.  How do I get rid of all this itching and chafing?”)

Well, I’ve always thought this outside criticism amounted to punching a man who was tied to a chair: since “we” don’t openly talk very much about sex, it’s kind of hard to refute the mocking.  I’m going to step out of my silence for a bit to speak for others who will not speak for themselves.

Now, in order to do this, I’ll have to make a few assumptions, so you don’t bombard me with exceptions.  Just for discussion’s sake, let’s use some media stereotypes.  For the “uptight” side, we’ll use Bree Hodge from Desperate Housewives.  For the open, more libertine side, we’ll use Samantha Jones from Sex and the City, described in Wikipedia thusly:

…an independent publicist and a seductress who avoids emotional involvement at all costs, while satisfying every possible carnal desire imaginable. She believes that she has had “hundreds” of soulmates and insists that her sexual partners leave “an hour after I climax.” In season 3, she moves from her full-service Upper East Side apartment to an expensive loft in the then-burgeoning Meatpacking District. Over the course of the show, she does have a handful of real relationships, but they are more unconventional than those of her friends, including a lesbian relationship with Brazilian painter played by Sonia Braga.

Now, I would opine that in real life, statistically speaking, nether woman exists.  But, for purposes of example, one extreme stereotype deserves another.

I’ll give you a shocker: in the real world, Bree has more sex than Samantha.  Here’s a scholarly study to back it up (warning: pdf).  And, it’s only common sense. Literally sleeping with the same person every night raises the availability factor exponentially.  Also, common sense would say that Bree has better sex than Samantha.  There are stages of sex between two specific people: that first, fumbling time, the getting more familiar stage, the comfortable stage, and then finally the stage that Jeff Foxworthy describes like this:

“I love married sex. After all these years together, I know I’m going to enjoy it, and so does she. I know the combination to that safe – 3 to the left, 2 to the right, 6 to the left and then Wheeeeeeee……and you are welcome baby.”

Samantha certainly rarely even gets to stage 2; stages 3 and 4 take many, many years with one person to achieve.

So, let’s see.  Bree has more sex than Samantha, and it’s better sex at that.  But, since Bree doesn’t talk about sex in public, certainly she doesn’t talk about it at all, right?  For the answer, let’s peruse the Sex and Pregnancy section at the quite conservative Christian Booksellers, shall we?  134 results?  Titles like Sex God:  Exploring the Endless Connections Between Sexuality and Spirituality, The Gift of Sex: A Guide To Sexual Fulfillment, and so on.  Man, for people who don’t talk about sex, those uptight Christians sure talk about sex a lot.

Part of the problem is our own.  We not only like to keep our sexual conversations behind closed doors, but we have a very bad habit of insisting that others do the same.  Part of the reason, I think, is because, if we wish to remain true to ourselves, we have to drop out of the conversation altogether, to become societal wallflowers.  And nobody wants to be left out.  So we try to ban the conversation altogether.  Me? I like being overtly different from my more “open” friends, and I like the fact that people notice that I’m somehow different, that I speak with allegories and euphemisms, without my having to shout it from the rooftops.

So let’s keep score:  we have more sex, better sex, and we talk about it a lot (behind closed doors).  Yet the stereotype of the undersexed, hypocritical, conservative Christian persists.  I think there’s only one explanation for this: there is a fundamental misunderstanding of why we are the way we are.  I’d like to set the record straight.

We love and revere the mystery of sex.  We want it to be more than the matter-of-fact “this part goes into this part, and it feels good”.  By not relegating sexuality to the ordinary,something we discuss over dinner with strangers as we would the latest Stallone film, we make it more special.  Well, actually, we don’t make it more special, we properly recognise it’s special-ness.

Let me change gears. I have a love that borders on mania for Walt Disney World.  Many share this particular feeling with me.  I have been there three times, and I’m going again next year.  I can tell you the best shortcut from Dumbo to Space Mountain.  I can tell you the best days of the week to visit the Magic Kingdom, the best route to take through Animal Kingdom, the best restaurants at EPCOT.  To many, Disney World is just another theme park; a crowded, overpriced one at that.  And, if I were ever totally objective about it, I’d admit they were right.

However, I remember so well my sense of awe and wonder upon first visiting the Magic Kingdom in 1976.  I will not let that wonder go.  I hold onto it, I cherish it, I guard it jealously as a lover, keeping that wonder hidden in a safe place inside myself.  When, as an adult, I take that familiar monorail from the TTC to the gates of the Magic Kingdom, I am 12 years old again, basking in the awe of this perfectly magical place that sprung from the imagination of Walt Disney, just for me.  I reconnect with my family in a way that is hard to describe.   I surrender myself to it – here I am a 43 year old man giggling under my breath like a child – knowing full well that I am blowing $5K in a place that at its heart is designed specifically for that purpose, to separate me from my $5K.  Yet, I surrender to the magic, and allow myself to be reborn, if only for a little while.

It’s like that with sex.  It’s more than a biological act that sometimes results in reproduction.  It’s a Magic Kingdom, sprung from the imagination of God, just for me and my wife.  I get to reconnect with my wife in a way that is hard to describe.  I don’t want to lose that sense of awe and wonder.  I want to surrender to the magic, to drink deep from the well of the love my wife and I have for one another.  The only way to do that is to hold on to that wonder, cherish it, guard it jealously like a lover, to hide it away in a safe place.

And that’s why you won’t find me having casual, public, graphic conversations about sex.