There’s a new reality TV dating show. Naked Attraction apparently – I haven’t watched it, and nor will I – gets contestants to choose who they want to go on a date with based simply on their appearance, from the neck down, with no clothes on.
This show sums up a secular view of ‘love’ perfectly. If we want to see what relationships have come to mean in a society which has abandoned the worship of the Christian God in favour of a worship of the self, we need look no further.
A romantic relationship is boiled down to a single factor: does this person meet my requirements for giving me sexual pleasure? Love has become as purely about self as that.
CS Lewis wrote in ‘The Four Loves’ of the error of saying a lustful man ‘wants a woman’. ‘Strictly speaking, a woman is just what he does not want. He wants a pleasure for which a woman happens to be the necessary piece of apparatus.’ In this TV show the wisdom of Lewis’ words is perfectly demonstrated: is this person’s body the necessary piece of apparatus for the experience I am looking for?
The mainstream press had plenty of comment on the crass tastelessness of the show, but has been unable, it seemed, to find anything morally objectionable about it. That is telling. For this show simply strips down to the core what the secular view of love, which now prevails over British society, is. It is about finding someone who is the necessary piece of apparatus for my needs, physical and emotional. That is why in a secular world we no longer have spouses, we have ‘partners’, associates whom we remain with as long as it suits us and no longer; that is why everyone must be free to seek whatever sexual experience they happen to desire; that is why it is inconceivable to the secular mind that anyone should stay with a ‘partner’ who is no longer fulfilling his or her needs.
And so ‘love’ has become reduced to a form of two-way prostitution. I want a certain sexual-emotional experience; and I am prepared to pay for it with the currency of the sexual and emotional favours I can provide. And conversely, I will prostitute my body to another provided he or she pays me with an adequate physical and emotional satisfaction in return. And if at any point the price is no longer right, I will withdraw my own wares from the market.
This is where post-Christian secular society has ended up. Free and equal love is not love at all. ‘Naked Attraction’ strips it down to its logical end-point, its essence in perhaps its purest form. If you have, if you are, the apparatus I want, and if the apparatus of my body is a fee you are prepared to accept, we have a deal.
There is an alternative to this miserable circus of self-gratification. It is love – Christian love. Which could not be more opposite. A love which is founded in another man who was stripped naked – in his execution. Jesus, by his death, defined true love as being a sworn promise of total self-sacrifice for another with no condition whatsoever attached. Real love is unconditional surrender of self.
Which is why, in the sexual realm, true love means marriage. Marriage is modelled on Jesus’ relationship with his church: his bride for whom he laid down his life, for whom he endured all the torments of hell, in order to rescue, restore, treasure and beautify her. So marriage means making vows, vows of absolute self-sacrifice, of total self-denial for the good of the other, with no conditions attached. Vows which are made before any favours have been received and which are unconditional on any favours being received.
The hideous ugliness of atheism’s attempts at love is, it seems, daily more clearly on display. Our pornographic culture has stripped it bare for us and exposed it for what it is. In Jesus Christ and his Church the exquisite beauty of real love is displayed and found. Christians have never had a better opportunity to proclaim the good news of God’s love in Christ; non-Christians have never had a better incentive to come and find it.