In his book Society and Sanity, Catholic theologian Frank Sheed makes a bold claim: “The typical modern man practically never thinks about sex.”
I know what you’re thinking: “How can you say modern man doesn’t think about sex? Just watch the commercials—from shampoo to yogurt to cleaning supplies, everything is sexualized. Haven’t you heard of Fifty Shades of Grey?”
I haven’t read the book or seen the movie, and, yes, everything in our culture is hyper-sexualized. But this is not thinking about sex. As Sheed explains:
[Man] dreams of it . . . he craves for it; he pictures it, is stimulated or depressed by it, drools over it. . . . [But] this drooling is not thinking, picturing is not thinking, craving is not thinking, dreaming is not thinking. Thinking means bringing the power of the mind to bear: thinking about sex means striving to see sex in its innermost reality and in the function it is meant to serve (Society and Sanity, 107).
What Sheed is getting at is this: to think about sex is to ask, “What is it for? What are the intrinsic purposes of our sexual powers? Is there a natural design to sex that we ought to reverence?”
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