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Monday, July 20, 2009

Yet another proof that sex does not equal love

I'm old enough to remember some of the stir created by Masters and Johnson, who boldly went where very few had gone before, namely into research on human sexual intercourse. They published four books, beginning with Human Sexual Response, first published in 1966.

The New York Times has published a book review of a study of their lives, named
Masters of Sex: The Life and Times of William Masters and Virginia Johnson, the Couple Who Taught America How to Love, by Thomas Maier (Basic Books: 2009). I have no plans to read the book. Based on the review, it would be too depressing to do so. Christina Nehring, the author of the review, places this sentence early in the review: Can the life of a man who spent most of the waking hours of his adult life either having sex, watching sex or talking sex be sad? The answer, says Nehring, is "YES."

As C. S. Lewis said, at some length, in his The Four Loves, Greek has four words for love. Agape love, as described in 1 Corinthians 13, is the highest form, according to the Bible. English has only one, which has the burden, then, of use to describe affection for a pet, or a child, liking certain foods, lifelong happy matrimony, one-night stands, and all sorts of other things. That's too much work for the word. Apparently Masters and Johnson understood this, but some of their readers didn't, becoming too interested in "love" as merging biological plumbing, and way too uninterested in developing a Christ-honoring relationship with a member of the opposite sex.

According to the reviewer, Masters and Johnson, who may have engaged in intercourse with each other as often as 10,000 times, both before they were married, and during their marriage, never loved each other. Masters eventually left Johnson, and married a high school sweetheart, and found a form of love, perhaps even agape love, beyond mere sex. Virginia Johnson still hasn't.

Christians have often been reluctant to discuss sexual matters openly. There are reasons for such reluctance, but there are also reasons, in appropriate forums and settings, to discuss such matters. Masters and Johnson put us on track to discuss such things too much, in all sorts of settings, many of them inappropriate. Too bad.

Thanks for reading.


ThomasMaierBooks@GMAIL.COM said...

Dear Mr. LaBar, The NY Times published TWO reviews of my book. In the Sunday review, Ms. Nehring called "Masters of Sex" both "eye-opening" and a "bombshell" but sort of misread a few things. (For instance, she said I went "lightly" on the evidence of fabrication involving M&J's "gay conversion" case studies, when in fact, I was the one who broke this investigative finding which was picked up by the Times science writer, John Tierney, after Scientific American wrote about it well before Nehring's review appeared). However, the daily review by the Times reviewer Dwight Garner was more mature and reflective and actually said the book was written with good humor. Yes, that's right --a few amusing comments, all in good taste, to leaven this discussion of sex. In fact, my book has both comedy and tragedy, as they used to say in freshman high school composition class. But unless you read the book, alas, Mr. LaBar, you'll never know for sure, will you?
Also, please don't hide behind your interpretation of Christ's teachings to remain ignorant about the contents of my book. In my church, marriage is a sacrament, and the admirable attempt by Masters and Johnson to help couples having profound difficulties in the physical expression of their love was welcomed by many Christians, including the then-bishop of St. St. Louis.
Yours in reading,
Thomas Maier
Here's Mr. Garner's review

Martin LaBar said...

Thanks, Mr. Maier.

Amazing what search engines will find, isn't it?