Sex and the City I Live In
by Dr. Joseph D. Hollowell, 12 mos ago
Recently I stopped for lunch at a local family restaurant that not only served a good meal but also had four televisions, each tuned to a different station, presumably for the viewing pleasure of paying customers. As I was leaving and stood to put on my coat, my eyes were drawn to one screen in particular in which a man and woman were obviously in the beginning stages of very passionate kissing. Moments later the two of them were in bed and before I could place a tip on the table they had entered into what one of my college professors politely referred to as “the supreme caress"! I don’t know what show it was but I am told that this is standard fare in most of today’s soap operas. As the patrons continued to enjoy their soup and salad, I was struck by the way this sacredly ordained act of total self-giving was being played out right there next to the stock quotes, the sports highlights, and the poker tournament reruns.
I feel certain that most of you who read this column have experienced the same sort of unwanted intrusion into your day to day living. Driving down the road we are exposed to billboard advertising that is hypersexualized and full of provocative imagery. You can’t read the sports pages without exposing yourself to pictures of scantily clothed models advertising for “gentlemen’s clubs". I’m not sure when the first homosexual kiss was portrayed on television but now one need not look too hard during any given night of primetime viewing to find this scene re-enacted. And I’m not even inclined to begin to describe the enticements that await us on the internet. Wasn’t there once a time when we could sell hamburgers or soft drinks without conjuring up erotic images that are the bulk of the sales pitch? One wonders how we ever did it.
My wife and I still have young children. I am reluctant to take them to the grocery store for fear that we won’t get past the magazine rack at the checkout counter fast enough. I’ve never purchased the “bedside astrologer” edition of any magazine. And while I must admit that I get a little curious when the cover tells me to “Try This Tonight", I am overwhelmed with sadness when I consider what this curiosity might lead to in the life of any unmarried person - especially teenagers - trying to lead a chaste life in the face of these many temptations to abuse the great gift of human sexuality that our loving God has given us. For those teenagers not trying to lead a chaste life, today’s culture merely confirms that their decision to become sexually active before marriage is one that is perfectly natural and accepted by society. Most dangerous of all is that the environment seems to tell our youth that these decisions have no negative consequences.
I know that most of us would agree that it is the responsibility of the adults in a family to provide for adequate clothing, clean shelter, and nourishing food for the children of the household. Do we not have an equally important responsibility to provide our sons and daughters with an adequate, clean, and nourishing environment for their moral and spiritual development? As a parent I am finding it much easier to meet the physical needs of my children than it is to meet my responsibility to provide an environment that leads to their healthy moral development. And frankly, I don’t feel like I’m getting a lot of help from my community at large.
As a Catholic school I know we have a role to play in trying to counter the pervasive sexualization of our society. I have no high-minded ideas about changing the whole world on this particular issue. I will be very satisfied if we can influence our students to be consciously aware of the misleading imagery of popular culture. Hopefully, this awareness will give them the wisdom and courage to overcome the world's many temptations to misuse their own sexuality.
After my lunch, as I returned to school later that day it was a few minutes past three. Many of our students were still in the parking lot following dismissal. All of a sudden I came across the sight of two of our students, a boy and a girl, standing between the cars who seemed to be sharing a prolonged and very impassioned embrace and kiss in the full view of everyone. It was totally inappropriate. As I gazed at the sight in front of me and realizing the need to take action, I was brought back to the words of the poet Robert Frost, “The woods are lovely, dark, and deep. But I have promises to keep. And miles to go before I sleep. And miles to go before I sleep.” And then I said my favorite prayer, "Lord help us."