When it comes to attitudes about sex in America, I often find myself somewhere between cynical and hopeless. I read statistics about 95 percent of adults losing their virginity before marriage. I look at the magazine rack in the grocery store and the headlines that encourage promiscuity and multiple sexual partners. And I tend to conclude that Christians who believe God intended sex to be a joyful, mutually edifying expression of commitment and love, a mirror of God's love for his church, a gift that binds a wife to her husband and a husband to his wife—I tend to conclude that such Christians (myself included) have lost not only the battle but also the war. As cynical or hopeless as I might become, two recent articles have inspired me to try to articulate a view of sex that counters the mainstream assumptions and calls individuals to a different way.
Both articles appeared in The Atlantic, a publication that routinely engages topics such as marriage, divorce, sex, and pornography in a thoughtful and even-handed way. For instance, there was the essay in which Ross Douthat argued that viewing pornography could be considered adultery, and the blogpost about Hephzibah Anderson, who decided to abstain from sex for a year. So when the January/February issue arrived, with two articles about sex and porn in the United States, I was looking forward to reading them.
The first, "The Hazards of Duke," by Caitlin Flanagan, analyzes a PowerPoint presentation created by Karen Owen, a recent Duke graduate. This slide show details Owen's sexual escapades with 13 campus athletes. Flanagan concludes that despite Owen's bravado, crudity, and "desire to recount her sexual experiences in a hyper-masculine way," she is really just a girl wanting ...1
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