Let's talk about sex, says Caroline J. Simon, professor of philosophy (and interim dean for social sciences) at Hope College in Holland, Michigan. Her new book, Bringing Sex into Focus: The Quest for Sexual Integrity (IVP Academic), explores human sexuality through six "lenses" (covenantal, procreative, romantic, plain sex, expressive, and power), while reflecting upon married life, single life, flirtation, homosexuality, casual sex, and the commodified sexuality of pornography and prostitution. Marlena Graves, a contributor to CT's Her.meneutics blog, spoke with Simon about how discipleship, character development, and virtue connect with sexual integrity.
Can you flesh out the "lens" concept you use to frame your book?
A lens is a metaphor for a broad conception of how people view sexuality, quite often without even knowing that they're picking up a perspective. Part of what the lens metaphor is supposed to convey is the sense that when you're looking through it, the lens is a bit invisible to you. Quite unknowingly, people often view sexuality from more than one perspective—through a combination of lenses.
For example, when I ask students their view of sexuality, they'll often say, "Well, I am a Christian, and I take a covenantal point of view on sexuality." But their actual stance on whether it's permissible to divorce and remarry when you've fallen out of love with your spouse is, "Staying in a marriage where you no longer love your spouse romantically is inappropriate." Although they think they're seeing sex through a covenantal point of view, their center of gravity is really a romantic lens.
There may be more than six lenses, but these are the six I see being deployed most often in our culture. Becoming aware of ...