Newman’s Nook: The Way We View Sex

WARNING – The topic of this article is sex and pornographic material. It will not be delving into or promoting pornography, but will discuss it on a cursory level as well as sexual content in our culture. I would not recommend looking into the series discussed in this piece and, if done, it is recommended to do so with the safe filters on.

In college I watched the first episode of Lady Blue AKA La Blue Girl. The female protagonist, Miko Mido, is a ninja in training from a clan of ninjas who are trying to maintain control over demons called Shikima. These demons live in a parallel dimension. In order to get there, you must participate in some kind of sexual based ritual. That last sentence pretty much describes the plot – sex. La Blue Girl is what is commonly referred to as hentai. I knew this going into it. I was a young, pervy dude who…hated this episode and chose to watch no more of it.

Hentai is generally a term used to describe erotic anime and manga. La Blue Girl falls into that category where sex is on full display between humans as well as humans and demons. Another common term applied to anime is ecchi, which is generally meant to imply “perverted” material. This means there may be some nudity, partial or full as well as lewd or implied commentary or jokes. Examples are becoming more widespread. Some people refer to this as “fan service” where there are more scantily clad female (or male) characters, partial or fully nude shots, panty shots, etc. The emphasis is on titillation in such series or using titillation as a gag. Culturally these types of things are becoming more and more acceptable all across the globe, in both anime, manga, and even in American television and film. In my opinion, this is a problem.

Now, I can talk all day about modesty and maintaining a level of mystery associated with your own body, or the bodies of fictional characters – but the depiction of sex specifically on screen is what truly becomes the most degrading. Pornography and hentai trivialize sex. It treats sex as merely a thing, a sport, a recreational activity without purpose except for pleasure. It strips us of our humanity and treats us like objects to be ogled. It treats us like pleasure devices instead of as complete human beings in the image of an Almighty God. It provides temporary pleasure without any real, tangible long term benefit. Recently two well written posts at Beneath the Tangles (one by Annalyn, the other by CutsceneAddict) touched on this very topic, about fleeting temporary pleasure. I recommend reading them as we delve further into a similar topic, but from a sexual perspective.

Sexual gratification from hentai or ecchi material only provides a temporary pleasure, nothing long term – no real benefit to the person. Also, by degrading sex and treating it like a meaningless act it helps to promotes the same hook up culture pervasive in the world around us. What does hook up culture provide for the culture around us? Children out of wedlock. Increased spreading of sexually transmitted diseases. All of that is problematic. The first is bringing children into the world without the safety net of a complete family with two parents. There are many wonderful single parents in the world, but doing it alone is a challenge. I’m a parent, but I have a partner in my wife. Doing it alone with four children would be nearly impossible. I cannot even imagine. God designed us to be paired when we have children for that reason. The second is easy to see as a problem – sexually transmitted diseases can lead to sterilization, rashes, and even death. That’s a problem. Spread of disease is obviously a problem.

We’ve touched based on temporary pleasures and how eternal pleasures are better. We cannot put our faith in temporary things, for they will fade away. The Lord does not. But what about the objectification of people – treating them as objects instead of as image bearers of God. For that, I am reminded of the first episode of Super Sonico. That’s all I watched as I could not watch any more of the ecchi infused series series and its objectification of women, particularly the titular character. In the first episode, Sonico is being creeped on by lusty executives who want her to wear skimpier and skimpier clothing in a photo shoot despite her obviously feeling uncomfortable. As with everyone in hentai, pornography, or an ecchi piece of artwork/anime/manga, Sonico is treated as an object by these men. Not as a human being in the image of God. We are to treat all people with respect, as fellow image bearers of God (Genesis 1:27, 1 Timothy 5:1-2). By acting in this manner fashion, taking perverted photographs of a young woman who does not appear to know any better. They are taking advantage of her and violating one of the ten commandments – desiring that which is not your own (Exodus 20:17). Sonico wasn’t their wife, so the desire they were displaying, the hard-headed lust to manipulate her was sinful, wrong, and flat out creepy. As Christ said, their lust is adultery (Matthew 5:28).

Now, I’ve spoken all this time about sexual gratification from a hentai, pornographic mindset. It’s a wrong mindset and I’m firm in that belief. But, does that mean that sex is bad and wrong and awful? Absolutely not. Sex is a beautiful thing designed for marriage (Genesis 2:241 Corinthians 7:8-9). It is a moment where two become one flesh in a physical and spiritual union. God does not want us to be ashamed of sex, but to embrace it in a Biblically ordained manner within the marriage bed (1 Corinthians 7:3-5). Sex outside of marriage is not ordained by God and not endorsed (1 Corinthians 6:18). As Christ says, lust in the heart for a woman is adultery and sinful (Matthew 5:27-28). With lust being sinful, the act of sex outside of marriage is of course sinful as well. For those who know Christ, we are to control our sexual urges and keep them where they are a blessing – inside of marriage (1 Thessalonians 4:3-5, Hebrews 13:4). Don’t believe me that the Bible is pro-sex in marriage? Let’s go to Song of Solomon for more.

W: Oh, that he would kiss me with the kisses of his mouth! For your love is more delightful than wine. The fragrance of your perfume is intoxicating; your name is perfume poured out. No wonder young women adore you. Take me with you—let us hurry. Oh, that the king would bring me to his chambers.
Y: We will rejoice and be glad for you; we will praise your love more than wine.
W: It is only right that they adore you.
Song of Solomon 1:2-4

Oh, my. The W and Y are generally understood to be the woman (wife) and young women in the city where this takes place. The wife is speaking of how much she wants to be kissed, how intoxicating her husband is, how she adores him, how she knows other women want him, and how she wants him to take her to their marriage bed. Why yes, that is in the Bible. Why yes, the Bible does promote a sexual and intimate relationship between husband and wife and has since the beginning (Genesis 1:28Genesis 2:24). In fact, in many ways the initial definition of marriage was in fact defined by sex. We see this image painted most clearly in the story of Isaac and his wife Rebecca, whose marriage is not defined by a huge ceremony, but by the two going into their tent and consummating their union (Genesis 22:64-67).

Imagine if we, as individuals, viewed sex in such a way. If we viewed sex not as merely some other aspect of life like riding a bike or watching TV. What if we treated sex with the respect it deserves, as an act of love created by our almighty God for the propagation and pleasure of His people. And the way this works – is with marriage. Imagine if we treated the mere act of sex as a marriage. Would we take it so lightly? Would we treat others as objects for our pleasure? Or would we treasure the gift from God, our spouses, and the amazing power God built into this very act?

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Cross posted to MDMRN.com.

23 thoughts on “Newman’s Nook: The Way We View Sex

  1. It is funny because my pastor used the exact same passages from the Song of Solomon when talking about sex in a godly way!

    The ecchi culture of anime is so dangerous, especially because it is so pervasive now. Nearly everything popular has ecchi in it, which is a personal issue for me because of my background of pornography addiction (especially hentai). Aside from the series that use ecchi as it’s selling point (Super Sonico, Queen’s Blade, Monster Musume, etc.), a lot of otherwise friendly anime tend to overdo it. Heavy hitters like Naruto, Bleach and One Piece come to mind. It is all the worse, because they are marketed to young boys in their early teens, where hormones are kicking. That’s how I got caught. What was otherwise pretty solid art was messed up by going the ecchi route. I had to cut down on a lot of anime-watching because of it. I appreciate sites like this, since the anime you cover is varied and not focused on that aspect.

    Anyway, I really appreciate the article and your bring this to light.

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    1. It’s funny when the Lord brings up the same passages of scripture in different contexts!

      And thank you for the encouragement. This is a topic I felt compelled to address and I’m glad I did!

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  2. Good article. Before I started to actually read/study the bible didn’t realize that lot of anime portrayed ecchi & other material God doesn’t approve.

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  3. Song of Solomon doesn’t make it clear if the lady in question is a wife or a lover. If it was written by Solomon, it refers to just one of his many wives. I’m just nitpicking though : ). Christianity has a reputation for being anti-sex, even within the bounds of marriage. I know of many churches that have a dim view of it outside of procreation. Enjoying sex within the bonds of marriage is a sin in their doctrine. It’s not biblical, but people have long molded the Bible to serve their ends.

    I briefly sketched how hentai is a continuation of Edo period shunga woodblock prints and traces further back to some of the earliest cave paintings. http://www.japanpowered.com/japan-culture/hentai-what-is-it. The link contains a NSFW woodblock print by Hokusai Katsushika. Hentai also contains a lot of similarities with Baroque art.

    God can also use hentai for his ends. It can act as a call of awareness of how you view the opposite sex, making your aware of a sinful mindset, for example.

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    1. Thanks for the comment, Chris. The history of hentai is one I didn’t know much about. And yea, I know – Solomon had a lot of wives, but SoS does paint a good picture of a Christian marriage. Even if Solomon didn’t abide by it. I feel like Solomon read Deuteronomy 17:17 & just said to himself, “Psh, that don’t apply to me.”

      God can use anything to his own ends, and He does – constantly. I would still guard your heart from things like hentai/pornography as they are by definition existing to promote lust of the flesh of those who are not your spouse which is by definition a sin.

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  4. I wil say about Super Sonico that, at the end of episode 1, her manager steps in to scold the men forcing wrong upon her, so the show itself does not promote this bad behavior towards women. The rest of the serious is actually a lot cleaner surprisingly. In fact, as a woman myself, I found so much confidence in Super Sonico because of the main characters size (not her melons, but her hips, thights, and even tummy). Sonico is a big girl, especially in Japan, and she towers over other characters in height and in weight, but she goes throughout the series with a positive and happy attitude in accomplishing her dreams. I actually do recommend it to women who struggle with body confidence. I guess the point is not to let the first episode define the whole show, cause even I was super surprised that an anime based on a skimpy figurine was cleaner than most ecchi and normal anime I have seen. Granted, there is beach scene and of course a couple other lewd(ish) scenes, but it’s much better than most perverted shows by far.

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    1. Thanks for the followup, Kiira Fox. The first episode was just way too much for me with her being degraded by the men running the photoshoot (see my full thoughts here). While you are right, her manager did stop them in the end – it was already a bit too late for her. What’s interesting is that, like you said, the rest of the episode was relatively tame by comparison. She was a goof who gets up late for school, is doing well in her classes, and spending time with her friends. But the attempts to titillate, for me, were just a huge turn off. Glad to hear the series gets better over time.

      And don’t worry about your grammar. It happens to the best of us…and even people like me who are nowhere near the best 🙂

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  5. Very intelligently and levelly put. This is a topic often discussed by Christians, so it’s nice to see it approached from an otaku’s perspective. Certainly, within anime we are often dealing with fan-service at best and straight-up hentai at worst; even within the realm of fiction, we should be careful about things that encourage lasciviousness. I think what the Bible says about committing adultery with our minds and hearts can easily be applied to anime and what happens when we allow lustful thoughts to cloud us.

    You’ve worded your argument very soundly and I greatly enjoyed reading it. I agree especially with what you said about sex being devalued to just “another part of enjoying life.” Marriage is meant to be a total commitment to another person, and I think in many ways sex in the epitome of that willingness. When sex becomes part of a lifestyle rather than a commitment, it also becomes selfish. It is not about what you can give to another person, but rather what you can get from them, even if it may seem otherwise to the persons involved. Disrespect is characterized by a lack of commitment.

    Thank you also for linking to my article on Platinum End. 🙂

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    1. Thanks for the encouragement and you’re welcome for linking back to you. You had a well written article which made part of my own point for me 🙂

      Sex is a beautiful thing, but it’s design was not for us to be running around doing it whenever, wherever we want. He designed it for a purpose. When we ignore that purpose, there are consequences and the devaluation of self we see in our culture is a large example of that.

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  6. I will probably write my own post related to this eventually, but an unfortunate cause of the increase in sexualization in fiction is because sex sells, but it is particularly bad in Japan. The market of otaku goods has evolved to the point where ecchi is a form of economic competition, and those who don’t indulge in it are pushed out of the market by competitors. As a company, do you stick to your beliefs and try to keep your company afloat or join the crowd in hopes of getting back in business? Granted, I am simplifying the phenomenon a lot, but that’s kind of what’s been happening.

    A recent case involved a VN having less sex than the fans were expecting. It still had porn, but it wasn’t enough for them. The company got a lot of flak for it and fans were very angry. It sounds ridiculous from a Christian perspective, but that’s actually the state of this industry. I know this is getting tangential to your post, but it’s just such a sad loop to see in the industry that won’t get better without some revolutionary change in their culture.

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  7. Wonderful post; thank you for sharing. I think sexuality is a woefully underrated subject both within the church and outside of it, because while the Church has had some extremist prudes –https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Harvey_Kellogg#Views_on_sexuality — as far as I’m concerned, it’s every bit as prudish and dishonest to reduce sex to cheap innuendo or gratification, which is why I attempted to enjoy but have since avoided numerous sitcoms. Open and honest sexual discussion is something I think is greatly lacking from not just one but many aspects of our culture, and I would guess one reason behind this is because the subject matter is so profoundly emotional (I feel the same way when rape is used for cheap shocks in a work of fiction).

    If you’ve ever known someone who only talks about sex in a context that allows them to be emotionally detached from any personal aspect, such as when a politician becomes involved in a scandal, then it’s like sexuality becomes an acceptable topic “then” because of the lack of intimacy? And I realize that makes backward sense and no sense, but that is the honest way I feel. I don’t really care for the arguments I’ve seen so many people get into about what body parts are “acceptable” to show or not, as I feel like these only lead to ridiculousness like a student being sent home for showing her collarbones ( http://www.businessinsider.com/high-school-student-sent-home-for-collarbone-showing-shirt-2015-8 ). Just because people are told to cover up (often, in my experience, girls “for the sake of men”) doesn’t mean that other people are being taught to treat the first group with Godly compassion and dignity no matter what they are wearing or doing. They are still human, and I think that lust to a degree is deeply defeated when we are ~*taught*~ not simply to “avoid looking at this or that” but to consciously value the whole of another person’s well-being, no matter the circumstance. Even a gorgeous nude person deserves to be treated with Godliness. The sad thing is that I’ve seen all too many people even within the church be embarrassed by (why?) or ashamed of (by what standard?) the preciousness of the Song of Solomon, but as with anything else, that is an area where God is Sovereign and His glory deserves to be made known.

    I’m not hugely averse to the depiction of sexuality in and of itself, but I always ask bigger questions: What is the purpose of the scene? Is the scene depicting Godly morality? Marital commitment? Compassion? Concern for others’ well-being, not just physical but also mental, emotional, and spiritual? (This last one was a big one for me, having read all of the Song of Ice and Fire books–where such concern sticks out like a sore thumb because it’s so rare–and harbored notable distaste for some of the changes I saw in what little I’ve seen of the show.) I sometimes see emphasis on “one man, one woman” arrangements, but while I can understand where those originate from, I also feel that even that standard doesn’t automatically make a marriage or sexual relationship righteous if the man and woman aren’t otherwise honoring the Lord. I’m sure all of these themes can be done well with a sufficiently skilled writer who wants to glorify God in the things he or she writes, such as a person who’s struggled with too many abusive relationships viewing sex as an immense expression of trust and of feelings of safety, such that this sort of intimacy carries a specific significance for this person and isn’t just forgettable candy-like gratification for the audience.

    Thank you again for writing this post! I will pray for blessings for you and yours.

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  8. Very interesting post, Mr. Newman! 🙂 It’s…kinda funny. Maybe it’s just because I haven’t got much of a drive or something, but I’ve always been vaguely disgusted with crass, meaningless sex that serves no purpose. Even when pressured into taking some kind of action when I was younger, I still refused intercourse. And as a result despite being of no Judeo-Christian religion, I’m still sort of a virgin. And the main reason for that is because I wanted to have my first time be the kind of sex that they depict in movies. Between two people that genuinely love one another and intend to marry, passionate and full of personal nuance, the two becoming one not just in body but in mind as well. The kind, perhaps, in the Song of Solomon….

    ….or perhaps the physical equivalent of a very strange, intense, powerful mental experience I have had, the like of which nothing I can do alone or to myself or anyone else remotely replicates.

    Although…

    “They are taking advantage of her and violating one of the ten commandments – desiring that which is not your own (Exodus 20:17). Sonico wasn’t their wife, so the desire they were displaying, the hard-headed lust to manipulate her was sinful, wrong, and flat out creepy.”

    “Absolutely not. Sex is a beautiful thing designed for marriage (Genesis 2:24, 1 Corinthians 7:8-9). It is a moment where two become one flesh in a physical and spiritual union.”

    To me, even if Sonico was, in fact, one of their wives the objectification would still be wrong. The two statements contradict each other. Is it somehow morally right to objectify your wife? For a long time people seemed to think so, and often treated their wives as their property to be used. Nor would it be right for a wife to continually objectify her husband as a tool for her use, and some of them do, in a slightly different manner. Just think of what the “fangirling” phenomenon implies (Which I’ve been as guilty of as anyone) at creepier levels.

    If we are to find some kind of standard for this, I personally think that it is…..Right to enjoy the beautiful body or psychologically-based sexually attractive qualities (What women are more likely to actually be attracted to in a man, which seems to confuse men) of your spouse. We’re designed to do that. But to treat your lover like a set of body parts alone or a deep and melodious voice that you get to play with because now you’re married….Is messed up. That kind of logic is exactly why people were frustrated and angry in times past.

    But we do it all the time, forgetting our lovers are themselves people, in the image of God.

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    1. You are right about the objectification of your wife is a wrong thing to do. I meant that sexual desire for your wife is fine, lustful sexual desire for others who are not your wife is sinful. Which was my intended point. If it came across as though it was okay to objectify ones wife, I apologize as it was not my intent. Thanks for the response, though.

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  9. Matthew I am so incredibly glad that you decided to get raw and real with the topic of sex. Not many Christians have the boldness to discuss this subject, and even less have the courage to admit their personal flaws. I know that God will use this to heal many young men that have a tinted view of sex under a Biblical lens, and give awareness to Christians.

    For me personally, I was addicted to both ecchi and hentai in my past, using them as a means of dulling my anxieties that I experienced from my parent’s divorce, moving to Tennessee, and handling school work. I have known first hand the disgusting and morally degrading actions that are performed on these shows, and they almost ruined my life completely. Only by finding Jesus Christ have I been healed by this addiction to pornography, and now I look forward to the day when I can look my future wife in the eyes with selfless love. Honestly, your post has been exactly what I needed, and it has inspired me to write my own post about pornography for my blog. I have already wrote about some of my personal struggles on my testimony, but I feel strongly that sex MUST be addressed.

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  10. Awesome post. 🙂
    Aside from the Biblical stance on it, you touched on a couple points that even an atheistic public would have to agree on (the rise in single parents and STDs).
    In addition to the two you mentioned, you kinda’ brushed on another big aspect of sex: respecting it. Not treating it as carelessly as some mundane typical daily thing. When I studied psychology, it naturally discussed the psychology behind love and sex. Psychology can prove that pre- and extra-marital sex are actually highly damaging to a person. Sometimes this is conscious, sometimes, not as conscious. The brain chemistry behind it is, frankly, amazing, and just proves that it’s not something to treat casually or, pardon the possible pun, like it’s just for fun. Science itself shows it was something intended to be an act of bonding, not a mere means to an end of a temporary pleasure. I think if schools started teaching more of the psychology behind sex instead of just “safe sex” (quotes because really the only safe sex is that done within God’s intended boundaries), a lot more people would think twice. If society would stop using sex to sell and please, and instead treated it more for what it is – something to bond, and something to procreate, frankly – then maybe the world’s idea would be less skewed. Sadly, as humans, we live in the present all too often, and, as far as quick-and-easy ways to please, sex seems to be the top pick. As such, it’s exploited as such.(This is speaking from what I’ve observed from media and heard from others – as someone with no experience on the matter I could be way off, though. XD )
    Really, it’s just kinda’ sad how messed up it’s all gotten. Aside from having sworn to wait to marriage due to my faith, I’ve always maintained that even if I weren’t a Christian, I’d still wait. Simply because when you actually bother to educate yourself about it from a not-pleasure-based standpoint, it’s really hard to just give it away carelessly.
    Anyways, I’ll stop rambling. Again, great post. 🙂

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    1. “Psychology can prove that pre- and extra-marital sex are actually highly damaging to a person. Sometimes this is conscious, sometimes, not as conscious. The brain chemistry behind it is, frankly, amazing, and just proves that it’s not something to treat casually or, pardon the possible pun, like it’s just for fun.”

      Well honestly, in a lot of cases you can actually see implications that something sexual happened between two characters because of the weird mental intimacy between them, even if those two characters are on, say, something written for children. Like you can look and go, “Yep, they totally did it while we weren’t looking.”

      But for something like that to work, everybody adult in the audience has to kind of be on the same page about physical intimacy creating emotional intimacy as well. That’s why the trope works. It’s just that when you create that sense of pair-bondedness with someone you don’t love, it has perverse and far-reaching consequences between you two. Unwanted psychological closeness, attraction, jealousy.

      We don’t even subconsciously treat it as being “Just for fun,” and yet our culture nonetheless encourages us to offer ourselves to people who might not be able to offer it back in the long term.

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  11. Among the very worst aspects of hentai are that it sexualizes suffering, violence, mistreatment of women, rape, even sexual slavery. Much of it depicts not only minors in the form of teens, but children, or, in other words, lolicon. Depicting the most unspeakable acts of evil as entertainment to masturbate to is absolutely unacceptable beyond measure. Sadly, I’ve seen people defend not just pornography in general, but this form of it in particular, because it’s fictional. Christ help us, and Mary pray for us… :-/

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    1. There is kind of a complication to that…and that’s when a person develops in such a way that they find their own dubious consent to be sexually attractive. In a sense, it’s a logical kind of thing to develop in some people, because there are a lot of circumstances in fiction where we imply Something Bad Happened…but the perpetrator is actually unintentionally more attractive to the female audience than the rescuer. Eventually subconscious associations are made, and the rest is history.

      And so they try and simulate and roleplay power imbalance in their closest relationships, without the danger of the real thing. I wouldn’t call that sort of thing evil between husband and wife…so maybe the problem is the hentai/pornography. Coveting something that isn’t yours, committing adultery in one’s mind. I figure mutually pleasurable intimacy between a mated pair is good, whatever the sort.

      That said, the stuff with children? AWFUL. >(

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