A Sexplanation is an 81-minute, 2021 documentary that recommends rejection of a perceived, specifically American and Judeo-Christian mishandling of sex. The documentary recommends a shame-free and judgment-free approach to sex for American schoolchildren. The documentary stars 36-year-old Alex Liu, a gay Chinese-American. Liu co-wrote the script, and co-produced the film.
Liu’s biography states that his work “explores taboo topics like sex and drugs in order to broaden our understanding of science, morality, and how to negotiate a meaningful life. He’s developed two YouTube channels focused on sex and drug education, totaling over five million views.” Liu’s work has appeared on NOVA scienceNOW, CNN Health, and NPR.
A Sexplanation enjoys a 100% professional critics’ score at RottenTomatoes. The L.A. Times called the film “admirable” and “entertaining.” Other reviews are equally laudatory: “illuminating and funny”; “educates while entertaining”; “full of wisdom”; “timely and hilarious; a big brain event”; “a sex-positive breath of fresh air and an encouragement that we can break the cycles of shame … and finally move enthusiastically toward the enjoyment of pleasure, intimacy, and a healthier sexuality.” “This is a film that the whole family can watch … to get over the shame of who we are … Alex Liu can save us all!”
The New York Times selected A Sexplanation as a “Critics’ pick” and called the film “insightful.” A Sexplanation is “suitable to be shown in a classroom.”
A Sexplanation immediately begins with its America-bashing premise. “Sex. In America, an obsession. In other parts of the world, a fact,” reads a text on the screen. The quote is attributed to Marlene Dietrich.
America is “a country raised to fear sex,” Liu intones. Because of America, Liu has been so terrified that he considered taking his own life. “I love dick. The way they look, the way they feel, the way they taste,” he says, holding up what appears to be a chocolate-covered ice cream treat in the size and shape of a penis and testicles. He takes a bite, and then says he wants to “blame my mommy and my daddy” for his psychological problems.
Liu’s parents and grandmother are seated on a couch. The film is only up to the seven-minute mark when Liu moves from blaming America, and his parents, for his sexual problems. He moves on to blaming the Catholic Church. Why? His mother said that as a “Catholic, Asian girl” she was expected to be “modest.”
America and Catholicism cause Americans to feel “shame.” Shame must be eliminated. Then Liu and his comrades can erase the evil past and erect a “sexual nirvana.” This Utopia will be similar to San Francisco. A Sexplanation‘s San Francisco is scenic, sunny, and full of happy, smiling people. It is Liu’s “safe space.”
At an outdoor café, Liu interviews Stanford psychologist Lisa Medoff. Liu breaks off their sex discussion when a server approaches. Liu comments on his own hesitation to discuss sex in front of a server.
“The culture has taught you” to be nervous about talking about sex with your parents or in front of strangers, Medoff explains. “We are a society that is very, very repressed.” Shame is bad, Medoff implies, because “those feelings end up coming out and hurting somebody.”
“What advice do you have?” Liu asks.
“What makes you happy?” Medoff replies. “The more models you have for that, the easier it is for you to be okay with your own path.” Seek different perspectives, she advises.
Ironically, in “seeking different perspectives,” Liu decides to speak to his close friends, who are, like him, young, healthy, and gay people living in San Francisco. Liu arrives at a lovely, sunny, and steep San Francisco street. Colorfully painted homes hug the slope.
The centerpieces at Liu’s friends’ table are foods in the shape of a penis and testicles and another in the shape of a vagina; placemats are decorated with painted vaginas. One man describes what a woman would say during sexual intercourse. She was not his lover; he and his smirking friends listened through her door. Others at the table laugh at this woman’s sex talk, learned through eavesdropping. The man then says that “American culture” taught him that sex is shameful. Apparently American culture didn’t teach him that violating a woman’s privacy and then mocking her at a public, filmed event is a questionable behavior.
A woman with heavily tattooed arms, wearing a macrame necklace, describes masturbating to HBO. Another woman with what appears to be pierced cleavage says, “All of my friends know how I masturbate, and the positions I masturbate in.” She feels compelled to announce this information. “I have to do this because men talk about masturbating and I need to let everyone know that women are sexual beings, too, and, hey, make room for this.”
The sexual objectification of women overwhelms me. That this woman feels she must inform people that “women are sexual beings” astounds me.
A man says that he is learning the difference between sex with someone you love versus sex with someone you just met. Sadly, he feels it necessary to apologize for this statement, the most profound statement anyone makes in this clip. “Not to be cheesy about it,” he says, “but maybe we should be teaching compassion and empathy. I was never even told what you could get out of sex other than an orgasm.” It is unfortunate that this man fears that talk of “compassion” in sex would be assessed as “cheesy.”
“These are some of my smartest friends,” Liu announces. The viewer ponders this statement.
Liu visits the San Francisco sex information hotline. There he discusses anal elasticity. A hotline educator informs Liu that “The rectum is surrounded by muscles and can get toned with use. Anal muscles are not like underwear elastic. They don’t wear out. It’s like yoga. The more you stretch, the more flexible you become.”
Another operator warns Liu that when seeking information about sex, one must be aware of the source of the information and the provider’s hidden motives. The speaker might have an agenda, and “you want to think about what that agenda is.”
Another educator says, “Well-meaning people may leave out pieces of information to steer you to what they think is the most ethical answer. There are not many places where you can go and get information about sex that is filtered for accuracy and not filtered for ‘I would like to lead you to a conclusion.'”
Liu returns to Medoff. “If your immediate reaction to how somebody looks or to somebody else’s relationships or behaviors is, ‘Ew,’ or ‘That’s not okay,’ just always take a beat and say, ‘Where does that come from? Family? Religion? Media? Things I learned in school? Medical? Psychology? Do I want to continue? Does that still work for me?'” In other words, pause before you judge anyone. Liu clearly does not apply this approach to Catholics, Jews, political conservatives, or Americans.
“When it comes to sex, there are two competing agendas that play tug of war in my brain. Those of American conservatives and liberals,” Liu says. Liu visits the San Francisco women’s march. A woman holds a sign saying, “Keep your rosaries off my ovaries.” Other women wear knitted pink hats, a.k.a. “pussy hats.”
Liu also visits a rally with pro-life conservatives. “They’d prefer that I die a virgin,” Liu says of these conservatives. “Abstinence was never for me,” Liu says to a woman. She asks him, “Do you have no self-control? Would you just run into traffic?” Liu does not answer.
Another woman states a widely observed truth: pursuit of sexual pleasure only for pleasure’s sake often results in feelings of emptiness. “We have a spiritual side, right?” she asks Liu. “That is the more important side. That is what separates us from the animals.”
The conservative, pro-life marchers treat Liu with respect, and confront him with profound questions, questions he does not answer. He retreats to the women’s march, where a group of women wearing pussy hats laugh uproariously at Liu’s report of what he heard at the pro-life march. “We’re basically animals,” a pussy-hat-wearing woman insists.
“I’m a man who has enjoyed sex with multiple men. You can imagine my reaction to what the right-to-lifers had to say,” Liu says. This comment is followed by film of a Siamese cat retching up a furball.
“I want to be in touch with my sexuality, free from politics and religion. I want to strip away generations of inherited shame. I want to expose myself to new ways of thinking even if they contradict my long held beliefs.” Liu says. “I’m on my way to a place with hard data, facts, and forward-thinking sex research. Mike Pence’s home state. Indiana.” Liu is clearly mocking Indiana because it is a conservative state that tends to vote Republican.
Liu travels to Indiana University’s Kinsey Institute. Kinsey, Liu says, proved that “homosexuality is normal.”
A quick screen clip shows ruggedly handsome Liam Neeson, portraying Kinsey in a 2004 biopic, calmly asking a woman what sexual positions she uses. The frowning, unattractive woman is dressed in conservative, fifties garb, and miming a face meant to imply cow-like ignorance. “There’s more than one sexual position?” she asks, mouth agape. The very brief clip contrasts Liu’s enemies – ignorant American Christians – with his proposed hero, Kinsey and his allegedly agenda-free, scientific facts.
Kinsey scientist William Yarber tells Liu, “In our culture, the Judeo-Christian ethic is so dominant” that shame and ignorance are widespread and “we fear pleasure.” Yarber says that we should feel free to talk about masturbating in casual conversation but “in our culture” such talk “still has a certain amount of stigma.”
Liu reports that as a youth, he masturbated compulsively to internet porn. His porn searches include “stepdad f—s stepson” and “teacher f—s student.” “It’s still embarrassing to admit that I masturbate.”
Liu next visits Barry Komisaruk and Nan Wise, Professors of psychology at New Jersey’s Rutgers University. Liu dons a hideous mask that clings to his face, some kind of crown over his head, and a brace on his neck. Thus equipped, he then masturbates inside the claustrophobic confines of an MRI tube, while researchers look on, their chins in their hands. “Great. Good subject,” they assess. That Liu can reach orgasm inside an MRI machine while scholars and a film crew look on, causes the viewer to doubt his assertion that America and Catholicism have irreversibly paralyzed him around his own sexuality.
Komisaruk says, “An orgasm a day might keep the doctor away. It’s great for people. Feeling good is good for ya.” Komisaruk insists that MRI orgasms, as opposed to, as he himself mentions, cancer research, are important because “human sexuality” is “so little understood.”
As Liu leaves, Komisaruk makes a pun. “Please come again,” he says.
The viewer, a New Jersey resident, wonders if Komisaruk and Wise’s research is taxpayer funded.
Liu then visits “Mike,” a Pornhub data scientist. Mike declines to give his real name or to have his face shown on camera. Has Catholicism shamed Mike into invisibility? No, it was Pornhub that decided to disguise Mike’s identity. Mike’s coffee cup features the slogan, “Pornhub I’m hard at work.” The “great insight” of Pornhub’s data is that many people watch porn. Wow.
Liu expresses anger that some people mention the reality of porn addiction. Liu chats with Utah State Senator Todd Weiler, one of many voices speaking out about the impact of porn on children. Liu begins his talk with Weiler by saying, “I have never voted for a Republican.” Weiler acknowledges that he has voted for a Democrat.
Weiler makes a strong case. “Eleven-year-old kids are learning about sex by watching three men rape a woman. These devices are vending machines for porn … If a child turns 18 and wants to look at porn all day, that’s their prerogative. One of the proper roles of government is to protect children from harmful substances … I think pornography undermines relationships. I think it makes both men and women feel like they don’t measure up.”
Liu is unimpressed. Perhaps to Liu, Weiler’s words are just more irrational, American, Judeo-Christian shaming of pleasure.
Liu visits Kristen Gilbert – not the serial killer of the same name, also a nurse, but rather Kristen Gilbert, sex educator. Gilbert says, “If it were true that porn is a harmful substance, then we would be a mess.” Liu has been informing the viewer that he is, in fact, a mess, and he is not alone. Young Americans report record rates of obesity, addiction, depression, school failure, and suicidal ideation. These facts are not pursued. People should “feel good about pleasure. There’s nothing wrong with feeling good about pleasure. If you need permission to feel good about pleasure, I give you permission.” An authority figure announcing what is good and granting followers permission on what to feel is a religious gesture. Again, this is not pursued.
“Should I be ashamed?” Liu asks Dr. Laurie Betito, a sex therapist and radio host in Montreal. Again, this is a religious question.
Your sex fantasies of violent rape are “just thoughts … there’s nothing wrong with these thoughts,” Betito tells Liu. Betito says it is wrong to judge people because of their sexual preferences. Again, these “authorities” pronouncing on what is good and what is bad is an assumption of religious power.
Liu is on the steps of what appears to be a Catholic church. Bells ring and there is the sound of Gregorian chant. Liu says, “Why did I torture myself over these impulses? The Catholic Church. I should give them the chance to defend two millennia of sexual persecution. Does three minutes sound fair?” Liu’s eagerness to defame an entire religion without citing any facts belies his announced adherence to a non-judgmental stance.
Father Donal Godfrey is on the staff of the University of San Francisco. He is smiling and he goes out of his way to address Liu by his first name in a friendly, respectful way.
Liu says that “How Americans, or Westerners, think about sex is filtered through old Judeo Christian values and morality … I’m into being whipped or butt plugs or anal sex.” What would be the church’s position on these behaviors?
Father Godfrey responds that, as a priest, if someone came to him to talk about such behaviors, he would strive to listen non-judgmentally. He would strive to be like Jesus, who was gentle and compassionate. He would remember that sex is intrinsic to the human person. It is the spark that drives us out toward other people. Sex should not scare us. We should work to understand sex. Sex can be playful.
On the other hand, the priest says, “People can be deeply hurt and wounded around sex and sexuality. We need to be moral and mature. If you become an authentic person then your sex life is going to be better. That’s what the spiritual path is about whether it’s Catholic or Hindu or Buddhist. That’s my understanding of the church’s message. It is to make us more human and more fully alive.”
Liu is shown strolling, still in conversation, with Father Godfrey. “Well, goddamn,” Liu says in voiceover. “I did not expect a Catholic priest to blow up my definition of sex … that it is something worth celebrating … I kind of feel more connected to my humanity and accepting of my authentic self. Is this why people go to church?”
Liu returns to conversation with Gilbert. Gilbert divorces sex from reproduction “‘Sex is the way we make babies.’ That’s a complete lie. That’s not what sex is at all. Sex is not about reproduction.”
“America raised me to be uncomfortable in my own skin,” Liu says, over a montage of various nude men and women.
Liu again visits with his parents. He attempts to talk to them frankly about sex. He asks them, for example, if they knew he masturbated as a teen, and if they ever found evidence of his masturbation around the house. He blushes.
His parents report that they were virgins when they married, and that marital sex is important to them, because it reinforces their relationship.
Liu closes in saying, “My simple goal was to dismantle generations of inherited shame so I could achieve sexual nirvana. We could create a different world. I invite you to come with me. I have a dream. A wet dream.”
A Sexplanation begins with a quote attributed to Marlene Dietrich, a movie sex symbol from the early twentieth century. Dietrich’s screen image was glamorous in the extreme. Glamor will not serve any serious discussion of what approach to sex best benefits the seeker. First, the idea that sex is somehow an “obsession” in America and a “fact” in other countries is absurd, and holding up Dietrich as a wise elder would be comparable to selecting Kim Kardashian in the same exalted role.
Dietrich encouraged her daughter’s nanny to rape her daughter, the daughter reported, and Dietrich was “so monstrously selfish that she wanted her daughter to become a lesbian so she would never have children of her own, never desert her poor mother.” Dietrich, overwhelmed by the inevitable loss of her physical attractiveness, ended her life addicted to pills and alcohol, unwilling to get out of bed, nursing broken hearts over younger men, like Yul Brynner, who didn’t want her. She lied about having a sister in a concentration camp. In fact, her sister was a Nazi. Dietrich was “always amazed, when seeing normal people in crowded places, such as airports or hotel lobbies, at just how ugly they were.” Dietrich was glamorous and sexy, but she was no deep thinker and not a worthy saint for anyone’s new sexual religion.
Rachel Maddow is gay, and she attends Catholic church regularly. Prominent, recent gay Catholics include Andrew Sullivan, Andy Warhol, Daniel Kawczynski, and Father Mychal Judge. To say this is not to deny that the official position of the Catholic Church is that homosexuality is a disorder, or that LGBT people have been bullied and hurt by Christians in Christian settings. But clearly many gay people have chosen to live their lives as practicing Catholics, or as devout members of other Christian denominations. Further, Catholics are more likely than the general population to support same-sex marriage.
Some dismiss Catholics’ support for gay rights as “cafeteria Catholicism.” It’s not. I became active in gay rights when I was a graduate student at Indiana University, Bloomington. The local paper featured letters arguing for the death penalty for gay people. It was my Christian faith, specifically as exemplified in the Good Samaritan story, that prompted me to engage. I published articles and broadcast material, see here. I was hardly alone in marshalling Biblical arguments for acceptance of gay people; note the work of Bruce Bawer, Virginia Ramey Mollenkot, Mel White, and many others. In Indiana, a state Liu mocks for its conservatism, many meetings of PFLAG, or Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays, were held in Christian churches. One of our leaders, Doug Bauder, was a Christian minister.
I’m glad Liu met with a priest, with whom he had a clearly inspirational conversation. Liu could also have met with Father James Martin, a prominent Jesuit, and Sister Jeannine Gramick. Both minister to LGBTQ Catholics. Liu could have also simply asked LGBTQ Catholics and Christians why they retain their faith. But doing any of these things would have punctured Liu’s fiction that his sexual problems are caused by America and Christianity.
Human rights organizations report that the identity group most persecuted in the world today is Christians. My Catholic faith has been cited when I have been turned down for academic jobs, and my students report being bullied by their professors if they acknowledge Christian faith. But that’s minor compared to what takes place elsewhere. “360 million Christians last year lived in countries where persecution was ‘significant.’ Roughly 5,600 Christians were murdered, more than 6,000 were detained or imprisoned, and another 4,000-plus were kidnapped. In addition, more than 5,000 churches and other religious facilities were destroyed.”
Liu accuses Catholicism of “two millennia of sexual persecution.” Here are some facts. Christians were a persecuted, powerless minority for their first three centuries. Pagans tortured Christians to death in public, including by crucifying them. Pagans regarded this as entertainment. It took centuries for Christianity to become dominant in northern Europe; after the rise of Islam, Christians have been a persecuted minority in the Muslim world ever since. Christophobic Utopians like Liu mass murdered Christians and other people of faith in the French Revolution, and under Hitler, Stalin, Mao, and Pol Pot. As a Polish-American I think of Maximilian Kolbe, Jerzy Popiełuszko, Jerzy Jurkiewicz, Antoni Zawistowski, and too many others. Liu is a Chinese-American; he might want to educate himself about how Catholics have been treated in communist China.
There is debate about how much “sexual persecution” Catholicism, at its height of power, directed toward gay people; please see Yale scholar John Boswell’s work, including his 1980 University of Chicago Press, National-Book-Award-winning, Christianity, Social Tolerance, and Homosexuality: Gay People in Western Europe from the Beginning of the Christian Era to the Fourteenth Century.
Yes, Christians have made mistakes. But to smear Catholicism with the factually false charge of “two millennia of sexual persecution” in an “educational” film meant to be used in classrooms is bigoted hate-mongering and that needs to be called out, as does the bloody Christophobic Utopianism inspired by such propaganda.
The film’s argument that America and the Judeo-Christian tradition invented shame is intellectually void. “The ‘Shame’ Concept Goes Back to Confucius,” wrote China expert Gordon G. Chang in the New York Times in 2010. Chang quotes Confucius. “Lead them through moral force and keep order among them through rites, and they will have a sense of shame and will also correct themselves.” In Confucianism, “an individual without a sense of shame was no longer human. Confucians, therefore, thought that wrongdoers should be educated … Those educated would eventually sense shame, and those with shame would then live upright lives … There are more than 100 terms in the Chinese language for the concept of shame.”
Hri, translated as shame or remorse, is a key concept in Hinduism and Buddhism. Hri helps the Hindu or Buddhist to avoid wrongful action, to feel remorse for wrongful action, and to make amends for wrongful action. Hri helps the Buddhist to “shy away from blame, like a fine horse from the whip.” Hri prompts the yogi “to make amends, resolve problems and move forward on a spiritual path.” Confucianism was correct. Those without shame are not fully human. Modern psychology would label humans without shame as psychopaths.
Surely the most unfortunate applications of shame in a religious setting include the Japanese tradition of seppuku or hara-kiri. Japanese culture has almost required suicide of those who fail. In the past, failed samurai killed themselves. Today, too many failed students take their own lives. Japanese society’s emphasis on personal value as dependent on how one is perceived by society contributes to suicide. In Islam, of course, a belief in irreparably damaged male honor fuels the shame-based honor killing of thousands of women and girls annually.
In short, A Sexplanation’s insistence that shame is an American thing or a Judeo-Christian thing is ridiculous. The documentary’s implication that shame has no beneficial application is simply false.
In contrast to Liu’s proposed villain, Judeo-Christian America, Liu places San Francisco, his Utopian “safe space.” When I lived in the Bay Area, as a UC Berkeley graduate student, I used to step over a large blood stain on the sidewalk. It was left by my gay fellow graduate student and friend. He had been mugged at gunpoint. He resisted.
In San Francisco, pharmacies are now closing because of high crime. Car owners risk frequent smash-and-grab robberies. San Francisco is so dysfunctional that even those merely attempting to photograph the area’s scenic attractions work in fear. San Francisco’s streets are littered with filthy homeless encampments.
Liu’s insistence on a rejection of America and the Judeo-Christian tradition, and a rejection of judgement and shame, is not unconnected to the mess that the Bay Area has become. A shame-free, judgement-free, pleasure-obsessed, anti-family, anti-civilizational stance condones and creates anarchy.
Liu insists that he is such a sexual mess that he contemplated suicide. He tells us that he has spent countless hours, beginning in his adolescence, masturbating to online porn depictions of incestuous rape. He then tells us that America and the Judeo-Christian tradition are responsible for his discomfort. He never even questions whether or not his porn addiction has caused him any discomfort.
One of Liu’s talking heads insists that violent sex fantasies are “just thoughts.” And yet the same Bay Area left that says that sex fantasies are “just thoughts” and above judgment produced a spirituality encapsulated in the phrase, “You create your own reality.” Thoughts “manifest” real things, according to California publisher Hay House. The same Bay Area left is also ready to punish people for thoughts it deems unacceptable. “I think that same-sex marriage is wrong and I don’t want to design web pages for same-sex weddings,” says Lorie Smith. Her case is now before the Supreme Court. She is pilloried by leftists for her thoughts. Other taboo thoughts: there are only two sexes. A man cannot become a woman. People have received death threats for expressing these thoughts. Maybe cultivating thoughts of violent rape also carries a penalty, a penalty in the kind of personal discomfort that Liu describes suffering. He never even introduces that possibility.
The “sexual nirvana” Liu seeks, and hopes to find by jettisoning American culture and the Judeo-Christian tradition, doesn’t just carry penalties in terms of thoughts. Promiscuity spreads disease. There are syphilis, gonorrhea, cervical cancer, AIDS, and monkey pox. The “no judgment” stance contributed to the spread of the latter two. Sure, the anus can expand. But anal sex remains risky. See here and here. It’s ironic that talking heads in A Sexplanation warned about information sources censoring information they’d prefer not to share. A Sexplanation criticizes any sex education classes that inform young people about the physical and psychological risks of promiscuity.
Liu declines to engage with the pro-life woman who, radiating respect but also concern, warns him that elevating “happiness” and “pleasure” to the highest virtues can leave people feeling empty. Rather, he contemptuously splices in a clip of a vomiting cat. In fact happiness and pleasure are both fleeting. Sexual desire is the most seductive hypnotist and snake oil salesman in human history. Ask any adult over age 40. Go back over the people who drove you mad with desire when you were younger, even the people you loved or slept with or contemplated suicide over. Now, with the passage of time, how do you view them?
As lust cools and maturity advances, suddenly we realize that we have been mere playthings in the hands of Darwinian forces. Beer goggles fall, and we come to realize, as we age, that that person we were convinced we loved and had to have to be happy could never, in fact, have made us happy. As Marcel Proust wrote, “To think that I have wasted years of my life, that I have longed for death, that the greatest love that I have ever known has been for a woman who did not please me, who was not in my style!”
Liu’s documentary never treads anywhere near facts that might make him, or his audience, think twice, or three times, and then just abandon Liu’s entire Utopian project. For example, married Catholics report satisfying sex lives. “Devout, married Catholics have the best sex of any demographic group” according to “a collection of studies from the last several decades.” “Data analysis showed that there is a significant and positive relationship between religious orientation and sexual satisfaction and marital satisfaction. Religious commitment has a predictive role in promoting sexual satisfaction and marital satisfaction, with increasing religious commitment, increasing sexual satisfaction, and marital satisfaction,” according to one 2020 study.
This sexual satisfaction is generated by deep truths. Truly religious couples are committed to each other’s welfare, and to monogamy, which generates feelings of safety, intimacy, and personal importance. When things are not “happy” or “pleasurable” committed couples have to work things out, rather than abandon their partner.
Liu’s party with his “smart” friends reminded me of many gatherings I attended when I lived in the Bay Area. Those gatherings were very fun and stimulating. After the party was over, we all went our separate ways. Another fact that might disrupt Liu’s narrative. Promiscuous sex doesn’t build long-term commitments. Everyone at Liu’s party was young, healthy, and attractive. Eventually, all of us will lose those qualities. We will become sick. We will falter. We will grow old and less attractive. Religious couples are required by their faiths to look past superficial appearances, and to find satisfaction in a deeper connection to their spouse and their family. There is no such requirement for young orgy attendees, for all those men whose “dicks” Liu serviced, or anyone in a culture that demonizes shame and commitment. For them, abandoning the other is easy.
Gay male culture can be brutally superficial. Gay men regularly assess other humans as worthy based on physical appearance and youth. Liu keeps insisting that America and the Catholic Church are responsible for his discomfort. Talk to any gay man who is a tad overweight, short, red-haired, or over thirty. You will hear withering accounts of the non-personing that gay men can subject each other to. You will also hear accounts of how gay men assess themselves as unworthy because they do not believe themselves to live up to impossible standards; see here.
What might help Liu? How about a worldview that insists that he has value, no matter how he looks, no matter his age, no matter whether or not he has six-pack abs? I find that worldview in my Christian faith.
“Sex educator” Gilbert claims that a child might say that “‘Sex is the way we make babies,'” but, Gilbert says, “That’s a complete lie. That’s not what sex is at all. Sex is not about reproduction.”
Face palm. Talk about distorting facts to suit an agenda.
As a person of faith, I recognize that I am an animal as well as a spiritual being. Eating feels good because my body needs nutrition. Evolution has programmed me and all other food-dependent creatures to enjoy food. The same goes for sex. Evolution has programmed our bodies to undergo a slew of changes with sexual intercourse. Those changes include feelings of boundary-less-ness, intimacy, comfort, and pleasure. Those feelings bond us to our partner. Why? Because two parents are better for the raising of the next generation than one parent. Also, that bond, if it lasts, helps the bonded pair to survive. Modern sex educator Gilbert misses a point noticed by the ancient author of the Biblical book of Ecclesiastes.
“Two are better than one,
because they have a good return for their labor:
If either of them falls down,
one can help the other up.
But pity anyone who falls
and has no one to help them up.
Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm.
But how can one keep warm alone?
Though one may be overpowered,
two can defend themselves.”
Liu mentions the many “dicks” he has serviced. Sex with a series of new partners may meet his needs for his highest goods, “happiness,” and “pleasure.” Sex with the same old, same old partner is rarely going to prove as thrilling as sex with a fresh display of six-pack abs. But hopping from partner to partner, and not doing the work of commitment to one person, will never provide Liu with the gift described above in the Bible.
Loneliness is a serious problem for older LGBTQ people, especially men; see here. The brutal evolutionary fact is that, for evolutionary reasons, people are closer to their immediate families than to those not in their immediate families, and those without immediate families, including heterosexual spinsters like me, are simply more lonely.
Liu’s “smart” friends may not go the distance with him the way that a spouse and biological children, especially in a devout family, might. If Liu surrounds himself with others committed to “happiness” and “pleasure,” those so committed are not going to stick by him through lean times and his own inevitable physical decay. Decay is not conducive to “pleasure.” To fend off loneliness, we need commitment to a value higher than pleasure. And there is nothing “cheesy” about that.
There’s so much more that could be said about this documentary. Kinsey was no Neeson-worthy hero; there have been serious and disturbing criticisms of Kinsey’s work. The focus on pleasure and removal of judgment and shame, typical of the sexual revolution, has badly hurt women and girls, as I can attest as a teacher of young women; for evidence read some of these articles.
Men have been hurt, too. Men used to become men at least partly to earn a woman’s committed love. Fathers report to me that that obstacle course has been removed; their sons can now freely use girls as “trampolines” without offering anything in exchange. Boys don’t have to become men to acquire what they most desire. More and more boys are remaining boys and suffering from “failure to launch” syndrome. The thirty-year-old who spends his days playing video games in his parents’ basement is a tragic casualty of the sexual revolution.
Finally, if we do bury the Judeo-Christian ethic Liu slanders, we might return to the attitudes of the Ancient Pagan world, and that would be a disaster for women and other vulnerable groups. Liu would need to read Rodney Stark to get up to speed on Christianity’s benefits to women, for example his “Reconstructing the Rise of Christianity: The Role of Women.” Stark wrote, “Modern and ancient historians agree that women were especially responsive to the early Christian movement. It also is agreed that women were accorded considerably higher status within Christian circles than in the surrounding pagan societies.” There’s a reason that Pagan critic Celsus identified Christianity as a religion of women, children, and slaves. Those are exactly the vulnerable groups underserved by Paganism and elevated by Christianity.
I received an email inviting me to view A Sexplanation in order to consider using it in classes. If I were to do so, believe me, I would ask my students plenty of tough questions afterward.
Danusha Goska is the author of God through Binoculars: A Hitchhiker at a Monastery.