By Dr. Juli Slattery
Several months ago, I got really sick. I was in bed for days with a high fever and chills, a deep cough, and no appetite. I gave the illness several days to run its course, treating my symptoms with Tylenol and cough medicine. When I didn’t get better, my husband took me to the doctor. I had pneumonia. Within 24 hours of taking the right antibiotic, I was on the long road to recovery.
Symptoms tell us that something’s wrong. By using over-the-counter medication to manage symptoms, sometimes we ignore a serious threat. When symptoms are persistent, we are forced to get help and ask, “What’s wrong?”
Every few days, we wake up to a new “symptom” in our news or social media feed. This week’s symptom is the conversation around comedian Aziz Ansari’s alleged sexual impropriety during a hookup. Was it sexual abuse or consensual sex with miscommunication? Blogs and news stories can debate this endlessly, but I think it’s time we stop dissecting the symptoms and admit that we are truly sick.
#Metoo is simply the latest indicator of a roaring tsunami. The symptoms are telling us that we are creating our own destruction. The true problem isn’t whether or not Aziz crossed a boundary but the fact that our culture sees nothing wrong with two people getting naked on (or even before) a first date. We have universities that lament about sexual assault but encourage sexual experimentation and co-ed dorms. What do they think will happen when you encourage twenty-year-olds to express whatever they feel?
Add to these symptoms the horrors of sex trafficking, ten-year-olds addicted to porn, young newly weds needing Viagra to enjoy sex, and growing confusion around what it means to be male and female. How much more pain must be piled at our doorstep before we admit that what we thought would bring us freedom has actually led to bondage?
As Christians, we must be mindful that the symptoms are serious, but they point to a greater cancer. God created sex for a purpose. He designed sexual desire to draw us into the covenant relationship of marriage and for sexual intimacy to be the expression of that covenant. Sexuality is not ultimately a vehicle for identity and self-expression. It is a central aspect of reflecting the image of God, pursuing true intimacy, and acknowledging the wisdom of our Creator’s design.
While we may have opinions about sexual harassments, pornography, and what “consent” means, let’s remember that these are not the greatest problems in our world or within our own personal lives. The root of all of these symptoms is that we’ve completely separated our understanding of sex from its original design and purpose. We can’t reinvent sexuality to be what we want it to represent.
God is not only the Creator of our sexuality, He also offers to bring healing to us as individuals and to our country. But not until we understand that we are truly sick and in need of a Great Physician.