Culture And Sex

Hugh Hefner, the creator of Playboy magazine, died last week. One article I read about his influence said that when the first issue of Playboy was published (in Dec 1953) most American men had never seen a picture of a nude woman.

My how things have changed in 64 years.

Culture And Sex

By the way, calling the first centrefold (Marilyn Monroe) nude is a bit of a stretch. The shower scene in Sixteen Candles (a 1984 PG rated movie) showed more. But the picture did show one breast clearly, which was more than most men of that time had ever seen in a picture.

When men of my father’s generation got married, odds are had only seen a breast if they managed to get a girl to let them in the backseat of a car. Most had never seen a vulva, and this was even true for some who’d had contact with one. When I got married I had seen thousands of women’s breast, and at least several hundred vulvas. Today many 16-year-old boys have passed those numbers.

It’s rather shocking how fast this has changed, and it makes me wonder how much I have been affected by the culture in which I swim. I work fairly hard to avoid seeing anyone other than my wife naked, but I wouldn’t avoid a movie just because it had a bit of nudity; I see not looking as good enough. Have I accepted too much? Have I fallen for the idea that being better than the world is good enough? Have I accepted things I shouldn’t without even being aware of it?

I don’t know the answers to those, but I plan to think and pray on it. 

What about you?


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13 Comments on “Culture And Sex

  1. My husband has seen a lot of women naked in print, video, and real life. It does make me feel like my nudity is less special because of it.

    Even though he knows how I hate that he watches movies with sex and nudity, he continues to do so. He says he isn’t going to miss out on a great movie just because it has a token sex scene in it. All I can do is trust that he looks away. Even so, I hate that the temptation to watch is there, that a seed could be planted, that he may have seen even just a glimpse before looking away, and that every time he watches such things he is giving Hollywood the money and the support to continue putting it out there and pushing the envelope.

    But, there is nothing I can do so I suffer in silence. I feel like I should just not care, but in not caring it feels like a sin, like I am giving it an ok.

    • I’d be wondering what the token sex scenes do to/for him but he probably wouldn’t say. Mine wouldn’t. I’d really appreciate just some honesty on that one. My husband doesn’t like it but I flat out told him those scenes won’t be watched on our tv and that if he wants to see a naked woman he can look at me. He thinks I’m being ridiculous but I won’t be party to that. He’s been reluctantly agreeable.

    • @Libl – If you have expressed your feelings I’d say you’re not giving it an okay. He’s an adult who must make his own choices – acting like his mother would not help either of you.

      BTW, I like what you said about your nudity being less special. I agree it has the effect. How can it not?

      • I no longer say anything to him. But, it kills me every time. I just don’t know what to do to ease my own pain. He isn’t going to stop and thinks I am being utterly ridiculous. It was suggested that I refuse sex within a time frame of him watching such a show. It wouldn’t be a lucrative boundary or consequence. He would just say ok, masturbate, and get on with his life.

        My focus is no longer on getting him to stop, but in easing my own hurt and lack in this. It is very unnerving hearing another woman have an orgasm in our bedroom, even if she is just faking it on screen in a rated r movie or TV show.

  2. My eyes are for my wife and my wife only! I draw the line on movies that have nudity in them. Even if it’s just a short seen there’s still a chance that there’s a woman that looks better than your wife ( but it’s not their real body) and opens the door to thinking “I wish my wife looked like that or I wish my wife would do that.”

  3. One, society has existed for a lot longer than between now and the romanticized version of the 1950s that Christians like to pretend was our moral eden. Sex existed before then too. The Greeks and Romans had lascivious sex lives, Popes had concubines, prostitution was common in the US during several parts of our history. Prostitution was common for soldiers in WWII. The difference now is that we can no longer turn our head and pretend it doesn’t exist.

    With that said, I completely agree with the notion that the ease of access to porn has changed our society probably for my lifetime. You dealt with this subject far better than “Love, Honor, and Vacuum” I stopped following her after her article on Hefner. We make way too big of a deal about nudity, go to the beach with Germans and you’ll see a distinctly different perspective on it. It’s a big deal because we make a big deal about it. The 60s were the natural reaction to the repressive nature of the 50s.

    American culture is no more or less counter to Christian values than Rome was 2k years ago, American Christians just don’t have the crutch of cultural Christianity to support them anymore.

    • It isn’t about culture. It is about what God intends. When I read the Bible, outside of marriage/Eden, nudity is always presented in a negative light. Christ Himself was made bare on the cross. (I do not believe they kept a loin cloth on him.) When Noah was drunk, his sons who turned their backs and covered him were praised. Those who mocked him were punished. When David saw Bathsheba nude, really bad things happened. So many passages talk in metaphors or allegories about nakedness being shamefully exposed, like harlots.

    • @Andrew – There have certainly been cultures which were even worse about sex than ours. But never before could a man secretly sin with so many women in the privacy of his home.
      But I agree with Libl below that nudity is a big deal to God, and when we start to ignore that it leads to other problems. Maybe it’s not the cause as much as the canary in the mine shaft.

  4. I’m rather saddened by the changes in social attitudes towards sexuality. Much of the allure, beauty, and mystery of female sexuality has disappeared. There’s not much left to the imagination anymore.
    Pornography is just one symptom of our new sexual revolution. We are only just beginning to see the effects its having on sexual attitudes. Some feel it’s healthy. I feel it’s a cancer slowly growing.
    Elizabeth Smart who was kidnapped and raped for several years mentioned that her captor watched porn repeatedly and when he did, his treatment of her worsened.
    Does being constantly bombarded with sexual images make arousal and sexual frustration worse?
    Does it heighten the animalistic side of sex while devaluing the emotional and spiritual aspects?
    The more we are exposed to something, the more desensitized we become to it. The more you see it, the less you appreciate it. Yes libl, it makes our bodies a little less special.
    Shouldn’t we be striving to keep the female body a thing of mystery and a precious gift to look forward to appreciating during special moments in our lives?
    Are we becoming numb to that which should be considered a thing of beauty?
    In my opinion, Hugh Hefner did nothing to dignify female sexuality.

  5. My husband once explained that a steamy scene in a movie makes him want to experience that passion with me. He doesn’t want the woman in the movie. He loves me. I’m his wife. He wants me.

    Porn is different. It’s about using, objectifying and degrading women. It’s a symptom of patriarchy and sexism. It’s about abusing power, as David did with Bathsheba.

    In the Genesis narrative, the earth creatures lived in partnership and were not troubled by their nakedness. Then they ate the apple. As Libl articulates, ever after nakedness was a big deal.

    • @StandingTall – I think it’s more about the man’s heart than anything else. Lori is the only woman I want, and anything that makes me think of sex points me to her for that reason.
      That said, porn does hit a man differently, so I can see why some would have the dichotomy you suggest.

  6. I think it’s about understanding marriage, and therefore sexuality, the way God intended it before the Fall. The best marriages now still only dimly echo the relationship designed by our Creator.

    Pornography ruins men, too. I was exposed to porn when I was five, then experienced sexual abuse several times from seven to my teens. I was also hooked on porn. It wasn’t until almost 36 years of marriage that I understood finally the relational nature of sex. I rejoiced in my restored marriage, but I grieve over the years I lost, and even more, didn’t properly treat my bride.

    No culture, modern America or Ancient Rome or any other, has ever upheld God’s ideal in marriage. Sure, some were better at hiding the contamination, but all tolerated or promoted sexual sin. We would be wise to heed the command of Scripture to avoid even the appearance of evil, to shun it and instead fill our minds with the things of God.

    Yes, we will be swimming upstream against our culture, and every culture. But culture is running against the great tide of God’s sovereign will. I want to be on His side. We know the end of the story. God wins.

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