Manhood, Womanhood and Therapeutic Morality -- By: Daniel R. Heimbach

Journal: Journal for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood
Volume: JBMW 09:2 (Fall 2004)
Article: Manhood, Womanhood and Therapeutic Morality
Author: Daniel R. Heimbach

Manhood, Womanhood and Therapeutic Morality1

Daniel R. Heimbach

Professor of Christian Ethics, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary Wake Forest, North Carolina

In recent decades, a new message has arisen in popular music that justifies sex as therapy. In “Natural Woman,” Carole King explained her “soul was in the lost-and-found” and she did not know “what was wrong with me.” But then she is revitalized through sex. From feeling totally worthless with no self-esteem, she experiences sex so fulfilling it restores her sense of self-worth and leaves her crooning about feeling “like a natural woman.”

More recent songs—such as “Whole Again” (Atomic Kitten), “I Gotta Be” (Jagged Edge) and “Make Me Whole” (Amel Larrieux)—have focused on the same theme. But so far the most blatant is “Sexual Healing” by Marvin Gaye who says, “sexual healing is something good for me” because when “emotional stability is leaving ... I can get on the telephone and call you up .... And, honey, I know you’ll be there to relieve me.”

Turning to movies, New Line Cinema released Pleasantville in 1998, and the entire message of this block-buster production was that all good comes from and depends upon fulfilling sexual experiences. Two teens from the late nineties are pulled into an old black-and-white television program, much like Leave It To Beaver or Father Knows Best, that idealizes small town life in the fifties. The teens are at first overwhelmed by the “pleasantness” of traditional moral values as compared to all the confusion and rebellion that characterizes the contemporary life. But, rather than respect these values, the teens lead a rebellion that changes the television world from black-and-white to color as characters discover personal fulfillment through sex outside traditional moral boundaries.

The movie openly attacks biblical standards that sustain traditional views about manhood and womanhood and how these genders are meant to relate. But shocking as this should be, application of the message is not nearly as worthy of examination as the cause which drives it. A growing number of attacks in the entertainment media targeting biblical standards having to do with sexual morality and gender roles is being justified by what might be called “therapeutic” sexual morality. And because this new view is spreading rapidly and gaining ever more influence in our culture, Christians must understand and learn to refute this challenge.

Description of Therapeutic Sexual Morality

Therapeutic sexual morality justifies sex based on ideas about human psychology. Sex is regarded as moral or immora...

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