‘Sex’ in the Name of God?
Perhaps not, but what about procreation?
Pastor John Hagee’s preaching is often thought-provoking and instructive.
Though we are both Catholics, my wife and I used to enjoy listening to his sermons, broadcast from Cornerstone Baptist Church. I was disappointed, though, when Pastor Hagee went ahead and endorsed Mitt Romney for President in the General Election in 2012. In light of Mitt Romney’s role in forcing same-sex marriage on the people of Massachusetts (among other things), it just didn’t seem the Christian thing to do.
Tragically, Pastor Hagee bought into the ‘lesser of evils’ mantra that has greatly facilitated the political subjugation of Christian conscience since at least the election of 2008. That was when so many self-professed Christian Republicans went ahead and supported John McCain, despite his denigration of vital issues of God-endowed right like the defense of nascent human life, and respect for the God-endowed natural family.
Despite being disappointed with his past political judgment, however, I still expect Pastor Hagee to be among those who will resist rather than submit to such basic denials of God-endowed right; especially when they ratify, in the most fundamental way, the separation of God from our country. For both the defense of our nascent offspring and the defense of God’s provision for marriage are all about the crucial, life-giving relationship between God and our humanity.
Marriage is the institution wherein the personal union of man and woman, formed by the distinctively informative contributions of both, provides for the formation of another person, who thereby represents the will of God both for the form (image) and activity (likeness) of individual human beings, and for the perpetuation of humanity as a whole.
From the Christian perspective, the will of God was made clear, in this respect, from the moment He said “Let us make man….” The shared responsibility for procreation was made clear when human being (i.e., the human way of being) was fully formed as male and female, and God commanded them to “be fruitful and multiply”. Thus God informed their will for procreation, investing their union with one another with an aspect of the power that seems to us a culmination of all powers, the power of creation.
Though in this aspect made for man, the power of creation does not cease to be God’s power (contrary to the profane understanding of human sexuality that prevails at the moment in the depraved intentions of America’s elitist faction powers-that-be.) If, forgetting God, we consciously redefine and abuse the power of procreation, in some impersonal way (i.e., some way that does not remember God), the conception of humanity that results also will be impersonal. It will not fully reflect God’s image and likeness (persona), as He intended.
But this intention is what distinguishes humanity, as such, from other things, things in which human understanding does not recognize humanity as such. Forget God and/or the intention of self-reflection in terms of which He defines human being, and we forget the meaning of humanity, the self-significant other that a human is supposed to be. The results should not be hard for us to bring to mind, for in this first century of the new millennium we still live in the shadow of the final century of the last one.
The last century frequently epitomized the gruesome inhumanity individual human beings are capable of, which new technology has only rendered more threatening to humanity as a whole. More such inhumanity is what we must expect if the influence of Christianity is forcibly thrust into oblivion, along with the sense that each and every human being has the potential, for good or ill, to represent the creative power of God by conscientiously contributing to the perpetuation of humanity, or else consciously inviting its extinction.
Forgetting the special relationship between human being and God’s being, tends to negate our ability to perceive the moral difference between killing a million people and crushing a million stones or coffee beans, or ants. For we only truly appreciate that difference if and when we remember what it is that makes crushing even one human being different from crushing a million stones or coffee beans; what gives it in fact an infinitely different significance, and not just from the vantage point of the one whose life is being extinguished.
For like two mirrors standing face to face, the self-reflection of man projects the significance of one into an infinite series, running through time and space from the past into the future. It is as if each human life echoes the lives that have come before, and sets up an echo reaching into the lives that should come after, so that conscientious self-consciousness is burdened with every extinction of every life thus represented for our consideration.
In this respect self-consciousness calls to mind the transcending infinity of God, whose being in itself as such is present at every moment in the activity of every being in creation, without which that being cannot be in any way perceived or even thought of. I would think this presence of God in every moment would be especially obvious when it comes to the activity in the course of which human beings take part in expressing God’s power of creation.
So I was taken aback recently when I read a report that claimed that Pastor Hagee had said in a sermon that “there is no greater sin in terms of wrongly using God’s name [taking it in vain] than women who use it during sex.” As it turns out, my sense that something was amiss was accurate. The story turned out to be a hoax, intended as a humorous caricature of the supposedly censorious Christian view of sex. Like most humor, it plays on a seriously distorted view of the Christian understanding that’s worth discussing. Let’s think it through.
What good reason would there be to identify the act of procreation (and especially the ecstatic moments when the outcry in question is most likely to occur) as moments when it is vain to invoke the presence of God by name. In fact, to do so seems almost an imperative of nature. Shakespeare somewhere likens such moments to dying, which seems not amiss when we consider that ecstasy implies a kind of self-release so total that for a moment it extinguishes self-consciousness.
This utter surrender of oneself to union with another is not superfluous in the context of procreation. Rather it represents the nature of the act, wherein the information essential to human being on both sides of the union it involves is given up in order to compose another, separate instance of humanity. In that instance the two become uniquely one. In order to fulfill the will of God, they wholesomely recapitulate the self-reflecting unity of His creation.
So the caricature is wrong.
The Christian understanding doesn’t imply that remembering God, in fact and by name, as one surrenders to His will for the renewal of human life, is taking His name in vain. Indeed, it seems the most appropriate name to call upon in the moment when one commits to do what cannot be done except by the power of His word. But tragically, all too often these days what people refer today as “sex” doesn’t involve this commitment to God’s will. Many people now undertake, by means of contraception or homosexuality, consciously to reject or seek to thwart God’s goodwill.
In that case, they had better forget calling out the name of God. Remembering His will for procreation will only burden their pursuit of pleasure by calling to mind the responsibility they either disclaim or seek to escape. In particular for women it may remind them of the emptiness their activity is meant to fill, but only if and when the union they form leads to a life shared in much more than the bodily sense. Burdened by unmet longing, guilt and shame, their ecstatic outcry might end up being choked up by remorse, and transformed into flowing tears of grieving for what ought to have been.
I would have to agree that for people engaged in such “sex” as this, it may be more appropriate to call out some obscenity, some word better left offstage. For they are forgetting both God and the true meaning of the bond of their humanity, leaving out the humane purpose of the act in which they engage. Their heedless ambition for selfish pleasure turns the outcry from an ecstatic prayer for the renewal of life into a vain mockery of God’s intention.
In which case, if Pastor Hagee or any other Christian believer advises against it, their warning may be an act of mercy. It could help people to avoid the immediate execution of the judgment God might bring along with Him if He chose to answer the call. That postponement might save some folks, if the time it buys them is used for repentance.
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