Thursday, 10 June 2010

Evangelical Christians and the Joy of Sex

When I got married in 1975, Dr Alex Comfort's The Joy of Sex was a bestseller.  It was marketed as the gourmet guide to sexual intercourse.  The black and white line drawings of a young energetic, trendy looking couple left little to the imagination. I was intrigued to read within its pages that Dr Comfort advised his readers, when seeking advice on sexual matters from their doctors, to avoid evangelicals. At that time Forum was a popular magazine and sold well at most newsagents.  Some young schoolgirls working at Saturday jobs, at the local shop which sold newspapers and magazine, found its content somewhat embarassing and too sexually explicit for adolescents.  Mrs Mary Whitehouse, the campaigner for Christian morality in the media, would not have approved!  Billy Connolly once remarked, that after reading Forum, "my sex life must be incredibily dull."  I think he was referring to the section in Forum which shared letters from readers, who described in vivid details their sexual antics.  Mrs Whitehouse would definitely not have been amused.

Evangelical Christians had been active in supporting the Nationwide Festival of Light in the early 1970s.  Mrs Mary Whitehouse and Malcolm Muggeridge were the leading speakers for this movement, which on one  occasion packed  London's Trafalgar Square.It was a sincere attempt to influence the media and to prevent the spread of "bad" films, books and ideas, which were thought to be corrupting the moral fibre of society.

Whether you agree with the stand that Mrs Whitehouse took or not, I think it is right to say that evangelical Christians and perhaps many in Anglo Saxon society were, and still arguably are, very uptight with regard to discussing openly sexual matters and the joy of sex. We still have a very conservative approach to the human sexuality and the body. It's a generalization but one worth discussing.  And the problem is not confined to Anglo Saxon society at all.

The following true accounts illustrate what I'm trying to say.  A group of British young ladies went for a winter sports holiday in Northern Europe.  At the end of the day after an exhausting time on skis, the group retired to the women's ski lodge. After taking showers the British group dressed very quickly and kept together, enjoying the warm log fire.  They were extremely shocked by the naked and scantily clad young Nordic women who were drying their hair, frolicking around the ski lodge and chatting merrily without a care in the world.  These women had no desire or thought to cover up.  Such behaviour was considered most unladylike by the British group.

As many of my readers will know, I have been to Sweden and particularly Finland on many occasions.  I have even worked in a kitchen during a Swedish speaking Lutheran conference and been involved in a confirmation camp, even though I'm a Baptist!  On one Sunday I was with a Pastor (Kirkoherde) of a large church (fo"rsamling) in Western Finland.  I preached, wearing my Sunday best, at the morning service and my friend, dressed in Lutheran ecclesiatical finery, translated.  The service went well and we really felt the presence and enabling of God's Spirit, especially in the translation process.

After lunch at the vicarage (pra"stgarden), the clergyman friend wanted me to enjoy a typically Finnish Sunday afternoon in high summer. Now I was not sure at the time if that meant attending some sort of fellowship picnic or outdoor Christian meeting.  So we drove to his parents' flat and collected a large container from the garage; this container was then attached to a trailer behind the VW camping bus.  The four of us drove many kilometres into the Finnish countryside and eventually arrived at a summer cottage by the shore of beautiful lake.  There the container was used to heat the sauna and before long we three men were naked enjoying a swim and a sauna.  I wondered at the time, what would the congregation think of us now?

1 comment:

Johli Baptist said...

In the female saunas in Lapland, I'm reliably informed, women must remove their swimming costumes before entering. A shower and a sauna completely naked is usual, and Nordic women move around the changing area without any clothes and any inhibitions.


River Stour