Fundamentalist Christians offer us a frequent display of their hypocrisy regarding sexuality. Now to be fair, this “hypocrisy” on this matter is not exclusive to this group as all of us have sexual whims and fancies which we don’t want to have exposed to public scrutiny. But the issue for these fundamentalist Christians is that they have this need to hold forth regarding their purity and nobility only to have their dishonesty exposed too frequently often by leadership and its elite.
I grew up in that culture and remember the repressive atmosphere about sexuality and recall so well how dishonest it was. I now realize that the root issue is the fear of the body and its impulses most of this fear being focused on the greatest temptation—SEX!!! But this disavowal of the body overlooks a central teaching of the Christian tradition, the Incarnation, which was the idea of “the Word” being made flesh. Yes, lip service is given to this teaching but there is not recognition of the layers of meaning in the teaching that would have us apply the teaching to the warp-and-woof of our life as we understand and experience the teachings of Jesus as not merely doctrine…cognitive precepts that we have accepted…but “cognitive precepts” that have become meaningful down in the guts of our life, in that “foul rag-and-bone shop of our heart.”
But deigning to see “layers of meaning” in spiritual teachings is a scary enterprise. For, it will entail a simultaneous acknowledgement of experience of the “layers of meaning” in one’s own life and heart. This brings into question the very nature of reality and the fear of coming ungrounded. This brings one to realize that he is more than who he “thinks” he is, that he is not something he can cognitively grasp, but he is a mystery very much like the mystery that God is. This brings one to the adventure of faith and when this adventure even tempts us it is so easy to immediately turn back to what has given us comfort to this point, cling to it more desperately, and even shout it out more loudly. As W. H. Auden noted, “And Truth met him, and held out her hand. But he clung in panic to his tall belief and shrank away like an ill-treated child.”