The Pun Intended in Big Bang Theory

I discovered the sitcom, Big Bang Theory, while I was looking for decent in-flight entertainment to keep my mind off the long-haul flight I was on. After one episode I was hooked. Back home I told my husband about it and we were ecstatic to find it available on our program-limited cable network.

Perhaps one of the reasons why we love laughing to the show so much is that the characters in their geeky/nerdy ways remind me of us – especially when they talk of their love for comic superheroes and their free-flowing references to Star Trek (both husband and I are Trekkies).

However, after watching the cliff-hanging season finale recently, I was a little disenchanted. This pertains specifically to their portrayal of normative human sexuality. Before you assume that I’m referring to the loose sleeping around of the characters, I want to assure you that I’m not so unrealistic as to expect characters of a television show to be chaste.

Instead I’m alluding to how one of the characters, Sheldon, is depicted. Though the character is deemed weird in many ways, his disinterest to fulfill his sexual desires is sketched as especially unnatural and almost inhuman. Inhuman because, the show seems to imply, it is normal that humans have their sexual desires fulfilled in any way available to them. Look at all the other characters – they are all normal i.e. they accept their sexuality, they sleep around (with each other in some instances) with no restraint.

In other words, having a fulfilled sexual life regardless of your marital status is acceptable behavior and testifies to your identity as a normal human being but one who is otherwise is weird and abnormal. This leaves Christians who have chosen to wait to fulfill our sexual desires only within the context of marriage aberrant, peculiar and old-fashioned.

While I am not at all saying that the portrayal of Sheldon represents the Christian view of sexuality (he, too, is an aberration of a different kind!), but within the culture at large, there is a tendency to define our identity in terms of our sexual desires and how sexually desirable we are. (The church is not exempted from this, unfortunately).

Hence, to deny one of sexual desires is to deny oneself of one’s basic identity. But this view contradicts what the bible teaches us about human nature and identity. If fulfilled sexual desires is the essence of who we are, then what about people who are physically challenged and can never have sex? What about those who are called to be single and celibate, like Paul? Are they less sexual than those of us who are married? What about those who are single as they have chosen to do the right thing by waiting for a godly partner? Certainly fulfilled sexual desires are NOT the essence of who we are as our sexuality is defined much more broader than merely genital sexuality.

Genital sexuality is only one part of our sexuality. We are all social sexual beings as well. This part of our sexuality is expressed in our yearning to connect with other people of both genders – friendships, community; a union of persons; as opposed to the union of bodies.

Today, what we hear in the media, advertising and movies is that sex is merely about two people sleeping together; about union of two bodies culminating in a wonderful orgasm! Under this view, we are reducing our sexuality to merely genital sexuality. Sex becomes merely something we do rather than something that we are – which is really a quality of our soul. But our being sexy or sexual has little to do with the way we look or feel about ourselves physically; or whether we are doing it or not.

Philosopher Peter Kreeft quips, “Sex is between the ears before it’s between the legs as we have sexual souls.” God has made us all beautiful and sexual and our sexuality is not defined merely by how one looks. Our sexual identity resides in how we reflect the image of the trinitarian God – man and woman reflect it as individuals and they reflect it as complements to one another. This image of the Trinitarian God that we mirror is one of love, mutual submission, intimacy, cooperation, creativity, beauty and much more.

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~ by iccthomas on July 21, 2011.

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