Cage the Elephant’s frontman, Matt Shultz has said that when he lacks inspiration he runs outside, shoves his face into the soil, and breaths deep. Not because he has a dirt fetish, but because he’s desperate to break the monotony of normality—to discover what’s been in front of him all along by forcing himself into a different and uncomfortable mindset. Allow this column to give you the good ol’ garden face-wash, with six fresh freaky philosophies. Join me this semester, in soiling yourself. What if two men or two women recognized the beauty of their friendship—the potential for intimacy—and decided to spend the rest of their lives together even though they aren’t attracted to each other? Not homosexual monogamy, but “homocelibacy”. The Bible only hints at this being a viable relationship alternative, with the characters of David and Jonathan, and Ruth and Naomi. The Bible’s account of both these relationships ending hints at the tragic yet inevitable tendency for humans to mistakenly identify themselves as creatures exclusively suited for a sexual partnership.
In the early 400’s BC, Plato used the term “eros” as the defining aspect of our identity, but it wasn’t sexual. He described it as “different from a purely sexual love, in being the love that tends towards the sublime.” Eros, and thus our identity, was about our pursuit of the divine.
In the late 1600’s, however, John Locke pointed out that humans aren’t interested in pursuing God; we’re interested in pursuing our own comfortable self-preservation, often at the expense of others. Locke stated that the only way we could successfully live as a free and equal society was if we agreed to a universal set of rules: a contract of rights.
But one century later, Rousseau argued that the concept of love doesn’t fit under a mere contractual agreement—it’s something more; it’s a covenant. Yet again, our focus shifted from loving ourselves to now loving each other. But in defending the altruism of love between humans, Rousseau redefined “eros” as the love of humans, not God. Since sex is the most intimate expression of love between two humans, the purest form of “eros” became sexual. And just like that, 2000 years later, our pursuit of pleasure—not the divine—defined our existence.
This transformation was compounded by the events of the 20th century. In the early 1900’s homosexuality evolved from a mere activity to an identity. Additionally, the sexual revolution of the 1960’s stripped whatever sacred values lingered around those identities, labelling sex as purely biological.
Here society sits with the following logic—the purpose of life defines my being; love is the purpose of life; sex is the most intimate expression of love; sex is my purpose in life.
Western culture is becoming so sex-saturated externally that it is now bleeding into our internals. Even when it’s not plastered on a billboard, we struggle to see the nakedness as anything other than potentially arousing. Heterosexual boys in locker-rooms have become ashamed to glance at each other for fear of attributing their hyper-sexualized feelings to the male nude form.
As Christians, we know that this is incorrect; our life’s purpose is the pursuit of God. But our philosophy on sexuality has not changed to match this understanding. We still use “eros” in a sexual context; we still define ourselves by who we sleep with, making statements like, “I’m a sexual being,” in affirmation of our God-given libido. Let’s take it back to its original definition; the platonic form of “eros” asserts that the greatest form of emotional intimacy is experienced spiritually, without sex. We’re not sexual beings, but sensual beings, with sex composing a minor portion of that realm.
If intimacy transcends the act of sex, then why haven’t we? The only time we pledge unlimited eternal emotional intimacy to each other is in the context of a sexual relationship—marriage.
Still, have you ever met your “platonic soul-mate”—someone who’s soul you’re attracted to, their presence is so enrapturing, but you’re simply not attracted to their body? If we truly “love the sublime,” why do we still expect sexual gratification to coincide with it?