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The Imaginary and the Real

A number of years ago the media got really hyped up with the promotion of the new ‘Sex in the City’ film in the USA. For $24,000 people could have the experience of plastic surgery, being dressed by the same costume designers, etc. The reporter concluded his report with the unintended prophetic words “high fashion comes at a price”!

I’ve not watched these sorts of TV shows nor do I ever intend to do so and I would recommend that you never expose yourself to this sort of trash, but I do stand back and marvel at the confusion Western culture has in regard to sex. There is no doubt that sex is a powerful draw card.

If we return to our reporter’s “high fashion comes at a price” comment. The fashionable thing about ‘Sex in the City”, judging from the preview, is that innuendo, infidelity and insecurity are portrayed as being exciting and worth pursuing. But sadly only last week one of the lead actors of a similar TV show spoke openly about how his private life is now destroyed because he tried to live the life style these shows portrayed. Even sadder still he is not the first to experience this personal destruction in his private life when he tried to make the imaginary show work in the reality of his life.

What might look exciting in fiction is in reality drab, debasing and dehumanising. Film and TV trade in our imagination. Simone Weil wisely observed that “imaginary evil is romantic and varied; real evil is gloomy, monotonous, barren, boring. Imaginary good is boring; real good is always new, marvellous, intoxicating.”

The tragedy of these sorts of movies and TV shows is that it also exacts a high price from those who watch them. The high price of discontent with a faithful and loving spouse. The bondage to lust and unreal romanticism that replaces joyful service and warm hearted companionship which are the real tried and tested building blocks of good and fulfilled sex.

The price of cheapened titillation divorced from the cherished commitment of “for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health…forsaking all others ‘til death we shall part” are broken hearts for individuals and bankruptcy of spirit for our community. It is the young people of our community who pay the biggest price.

The good news is that there is a better way; God’s way. Sex, according to God’s plan, is secondary to intimacy built upon the ingredients of commitment, service, friendship and thoughtfulness. Paradoxically under this model there is no price to pay only dividends to be reaped. And this is exactly what we would expect from a gracious and generous God who asks us to build our lives on His reliable Word rather than our impressionable but unreliable imaginations.