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No. 1: Tradition, Sex, and the Epic of Life

May 2, 2010

 I just want to take a woman’s heart, hold it in my hands, and give it back to her, because it’s been taken away.                                                 -Dr. Laura Schlessinger

Beyond Tradition

As an aspiring self-described “traditional woman”, I will concede that just because something has always been, does not make it right. Afterall, the history of civilization reveals a rich tradition of the exploitation of the “weaker sex”: by whom, for whom, and to what degree. There is obviously nothing good, or new, about the subjugation of women and its endless manifestations.

“Family values” and “traditional gender roles” are only as useful as the traditions and families they hail back to. Even in the best context, these handy phrases are all too often erroneously limited to images of pearl and pump-clad wives greeting their husbands at the door with meatloaf and Netflix (thought I’d update the cliché). 

But if my entire purpose for writing could be boiled down to reintroducing women to Betty Crocker casserole recipes, then I would lack the passion to finish even this sentence. I propose rephrasing the debate then, arguing not only for traditional gender roles (in the best sense of the word), but more fundamentally, for wholeness, integration and truth.

The Epic Struggle

My “conversion”, so to speak, to Integrational Feminine-ism (yes, I made up that label–don’t try to wiki it) happened over time, reaching a particular point of acceleration at a pro-life gathering last October. The guest speaker, Monsignor Philip J. Reilly stood at the front of the chapel, delivering his speech titled, “In the Epic Struggle for Life, There is Reason for Hope”.

I sat quietly puzzled–a Protestant in the midst of oak pews and devout Catholics–as the gentle priest from New York discussed ancient Greek mythology, The Iliad and The Odyssey, and the value of epic literature. Distracted and impatient, I wondered what all this had to do with abortion.

I didn’t see it coming.

In a stroke of genius, Msgr. Reilly tied the pieces together, and my wandering mind collided with his message like a brick wall: 

Life is an epic, he proclaimed. The pieces of our lives gain meaning from the whole, woven together, contextualized, integrated. We are made for the epic, but our world has traded the beauty of the eternal storyline for the disconnected vignettes of  the 30-minute sitcom. The scales fell off, and I could see with devastating clarity the totality of our shattered culture. Our dysfunction is not the result of a loss of tradition, but a loss of connection, with each other, with the natural order, and with God.

The Separation

Life has been separated to death and the victims are many and varied. Particular havoc has been wreaked on the story of womanhood and femininity. It is no longer the brutish-male who assaults the dignity of woman. No, the boogeyman of today is far more nuanced and culturally sophisticated than villains of the past.  The Sexual Revolution of the 1960’s, and its step-sister, Women’s Liberation, unleashed the newly mutated virus of sexual separation into the bloodstream of gender relations. 

We observe sex today, separated from meaning, responsibility, love, and pro-creation. We see women separated from their hearts, their bodies, and their calling. Men, equally dis-integrated, languish with the broken fragments of the epic they long to be the heros of. At the base of every confusion, dysfunction, and dissatisfaction we see today, lies the scattered pages of a once masterfully crafted tale.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Joe Hargrave permalink
    May 3, 2010 6:50 am

    This is very good, and the fallout of the sexual revolution is a problem I also write about.

    One thing I find encouraging is that many of the “intellectuals”, if I may use the term, of our generation understand that the sexual revolution was a bankrupt enterprise that is corroding the foundations of society. Unfortunately many of our peers who are simply out and about living their lives take the legacy of the revolution for granted. Abortion, birth control, divorce, single parenthood – these are now “normal” features of life with little or no stigma attached.

    If you like, check out what I’ve written about the destruction of what I call the organic social bonds (which is very similar to what you talk about here):

    http://joeahargrave.wordpress.com/2010/04/03/a-secular-case-for-life/

  2. May 3, 2010 2:16 pm

    Absolutely spot on. How tragic that so many Christians have bought into the lies about sex, marriage, womanhood and the epic story of our lives. Oh, how many people would find true joy if they stepped back and saw the bigger picture.

    As always, thank you for writing. And, I can’t wait to meet you someday!

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