Monday, 31 August 2015

Aphrodite vs. Jesus

"By almost any standards, apart from the macabre and gloomy ones of Puritan sensibility, an Aphrodite emerging from the Paphian foam is infinitely more life-enhancing an emblem than a gloomy Deposition from the Cross."
~ A.C.Grayling


  1. Aphrodite, we just wish she existed.

  2. The return of Aphrodite (perhaps I first heard the phrase from Laurence Durrell) is a major social theme in the 21st Century. Guillaume's touching comment, above, 'we just wish she existed', can be answered. She does. Or at least she animates the lives of many young people in Western societies.
    The point Grayling makes is a good one. Yet it must be said that the Puritan preachers such as Richard Baxter and John Flavel did marry. And John Milton is no stranger to erotic love, or Aphrodite by another name.

    Still, the common charge is that Christianity poisoned the wells of Eros. Augustine certainly played his hand in all that, though Jesus seemed to suggest that the marital bond was an erotic one, 'they shall be of one flesh'.
    But since the mid-20th Century the erotic imagination has developed outwith Christianity, at least in Western countries. The contraceptive pill only made things easier, as did the emergence of men and women living together without being married. Remember when Pope John Paul inveighed against contraceptives and free love? Who was listening? Pope Francis has taken the easier road in his 'Who am I to judge?'approach.
    Same sex relationships have soared in our new century. Who could have imagined that so many young women would be in same sex relationships? There is a website called Girls Out West on which young women happily download their sex videos. Shame about the body is a thing of the past.
    So is it really a choice between Aphrodite and Jesus?
    Christianity's genius has been in its capacity to adapt to change.
    Christians may well adapt to the freer sexual lifestyles without losing touch with the sacred notion of the body. The body as the temple of the Holy Spirit.
    We need a better theology of sexuality. It will surely emerge from the writings of feminist theologians. It is emerging as I speak.
    Grayling doesn't like the cross of Jesus, but it is a way of making sense of suffering, of living through tragedy and not giving in to despair.
    I won't be looking at Aphrodite as I am dying. I will be turning to the Puritans, to John and Charles Wesley.
    To the cross of Christ.