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 2:24, 1 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 1:28, Genesis 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?
Cross posted to Beneath the Tangles.