Sunday, 10 March 2013

Lauren Winner on Sex and Marriage

Lauren Winner is awesome, and has some great things about marriage. However throughout my reading of her 2005 novel “Real Sex”I am not convinced she fully gets what she is saying.

I love how "real sex" addresses ridiculous stereotypes like woman having little to no libido, premarital sex being unfulfilling, and the gnostic heresy that bodies are gross. Yet Lauren Winner is a thoroughly modern thinker, who recognizes the fallacies of modernity, yet fatalistically seems to be unable to avoid the modern paradigm.

She has a wealth of knowledge and she seems to revel in her independent and critical persona. Yet her rational thought processes are acting independently of what she really wants. By page 25 of "Real Sex" she declares that she had just recently gotten married with "Griff." Yet he seems to be only mentioned in relation to their sexual urges and viewing of each other on an individualized sexual level. Their limited relationship to community seems to be all about how publicly viewing their relationship can help them to abstain sexually (106). Is this really what marriage in the context of community is about? On an intellectual level Winner and I seem to agree about what Marriage should really be for. "Marriages, in other words, are not meant to be simply pairs of people in love; they are institutions out of which cultures and societies are formed (57).” Sure, and how does this apply to your current context of marriage? It seems what you are most concerned about is how to not have sex before marriage. But that should not be the foundation for a marriage. Community for the sake of sexual control is a pretty superficial level of community. Community in and of itself is not the answer; it is the type of community which forms you that matters. Why did you choose your partner? This is not a critique of Lauren Winner’s struggle with lust; I have dated plenty of girls for their "model" quality (10). It is making the control of this lust the primary concern which bugs me. I think Priscilla and Aquila understood what it meant to reflect the body of Christ in marriage. It is about being a unit looking outside yourselves for the benefit of your particular community which matters (Acts 18 Romans 16). In contrast, I am not sure how seriously we should take Paul’s if your horny get married formula (1 Corinthians 7:9).

Before reading this book, I had never heard of Lauren Winner before, but as I continued to read the book I became concerned that she is intellectually stating things she does not really believe. Did you and Griff plan to build something together? Or was he simply a "good" guy? I realize these questions are rather judgmental and intrusive, but Winner herself says that she wants to see marriage as more of a "public" institution and less of something that should not be judged because it is "private" so I feel inclined to take her up on her philosophy.

It is 2013 and I suppose it is easy and rather asshole like to say I saw her divorce coming. Ironically she says she got divorced because she was wildly unhappy. For someone so mature in their theology, how is this a legitimate reason to get divorced? Now don’t get me wrong, grace is always abounding and we are all huge failures. I particularly feel like I am a great sinner and failure. But it is this reality of my own depravity that causes me to know I will never actively choose divorce. How dare I? God has chosen me in the midst of my own depraved being, what gives me the right to decide I don’t want to be married to someone anymore? We are lucky (or perhaps cursed) that we get to choose our partners in the first place, what gives us the gall to think we also have the right to choose divorce with that person? Perhaps in scenarios of extreme abuse this is warranted, and I apologize if this is the case, but the whole point of being a Christian is because we are radically incapable outside of Christ, what gives us the right to think we are utterly capable in our own relationships? Are we not called to rely on God, and his sovereign mercy? The false paradigm of our own autonomy is what I think really causes our wild unhappiness in the current cultural context. And I think Lauren Winner knows this better than anyone.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for this Jesse. Like so many, our thinking exceeds our living. We develop great theologies and philosophies and yet live so badly. Which tells me we need wisdom rather than knowledge. So what's good marriage wisdom? And we've raised "happiness" as the ultimate measure of marriage, which is folly. Certainly its important but so fickle and fleeting (and so culturally conditioned - a medieval couple would never have wondered about their marital happiness).