A Counselor Reflects on Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis
“You can get a large audience together for a strip-tease – that is, to watch a girl undress on the stage. Now suppose you come to a country where you could fill a theatre by simply bringing a covered plate on the stage and then slowly lifting the cover so as to let every one see, just before the lights went out, that is contained a mutton chop or a bit of bacon, would you not think that in that country something had gone wrong with the appetite for food? And would not anyone who had grown up in a different world think there was something equally queer about the state of the sex instinct among us (p. 96)?” Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis
As an avid fan of the Food Network, I am not sure whether I should be convicted by this quote. Yet Lewis is making his point in a very provocative way. We treat the young male and female body in ways that would seem peculiar to an outsider of the human race.
There are plenty of things that are beautiful which we do not mass-obsess over like we mass-obsess over a naked human body: sunsets, the ocean, lightning, a stream in the woods, an eagle soaring in the sky, or the stars at night. We usually enjoy these things, but we don’t sacrifice our budgets, families, and dignity for a glimpse at them.
Those things that we mass-obsess over tend to be either the human body or the creation of human beings: music, sports, fame, food (yes, bacon), cars, or houses. We constantly place ourselves in physical, financial, relational, or moral jeopardy to have these things.
Can there be any doubt that we are a race obsessed with ourselves? We even make movies based upon the premise that other beings are as obsessed with themselves as we are (i.e., Plant of the Apes or countless movies of computers taking over the world).
Maybe instead of trying so hard to see a naked body, we need to wake up and see ourselves. Maybe we need to look in the mirror as intently as we look at a screen, stage, or through a window. Maybe our common experience is not as common sense as we’d like to pretend.
What does this mean? I cannot mean that we become non-sexual beings who forsake passion, attraction, or the recognition of beauty. It does mean that we have to stop making excuses for these features of our humanity to drive our lives.
We have become such willing slaves to self and sin that we have begun to call slavery, freedom. We have begun to call death, life. We have begun to define our life dreams in terms of a nightmare. And in keeping with our folly we seem surprised and offended when our dream comes true.
The solution cannot be elimination of these desires. We would cease to be human. The solution can be a new Master and obsession. Actually, this is the only answer for the human condition. It is the only thing that brings balance, life, hope, love, and health. Living for our Eternal Creator rather than His temporal creation is our hope.
The solution is not to try harder to avoid the bacon strip tease. We must recognize what our bacon-addiction reveals about our personal human condition and cry out to a Savior who is larger than our absurdity. Allow this illustration from C.S. Lewis to alert you to the parts of creation that have begun to make your soul salivate as only God should.