We’re looking at nude art. Just a heads up.
I was poking around the internet today. One topic lead to another, so on and so on. Eventually I was led to a painting by Tiziano Vecelli (Titian), titled “Amor Sacro e Amor Profano” (Sacred Love and Profane Love). I’m not going to go into a long post about what it means to me. You can read about it yourself, and draw your own interpretations. What I found myself thinking about was not the artwork itself, but how I saw that it related to the directions many women in the world today find themselves being pulled, specifically those that are of the Christian faith.
The bible urges women to strive for piety, purity, gentleness, meekness, humility, submissiveness, virtue, etc. The world tells women to be liberated, sexual, sensual, provocative, promiscuous, and so on. This is what I saw being reflected in this painting. One woman, with two possible directions.
On one hand you have a woman fully covered in a pale dress, often thought of as being a bride. On the other you have a woman, considered by many to represent Venus (the goddess of love, desire, and sex), covered by nothing other than a conveniently placed piece of fabric.
Sometimes it seems like fighting a losing battle, trying to convince people, both men and women, to live by biblical principles. Even within the church, there are issues. Too many times I’ve seen women have to hold onto the ends of their dresses because they are so short they fly up their legs as they walk to their pews. Or some will wear necklines so low that when they bend over to pick up a hymnal all of the Godly men in the room have to take a moment to admire the ceiling.
Also we have the problem of the men in the room who don’t look away. The one’s who don’t treat all of the women they interact with with the respect they show their wives, if they show them any at all. I’ve heard far too many men, who are professing Christians, make statements about women and their bodies in a manner that isn’t pleasing to the Lord.
This leads into what Sigmund Freud called the “Madonna-Whore complex.” Men suffering from such classify women into two categories. First, the Madonna, an alternate name for Mary the mother of Jesus. These women are seen as sacred, reverent, respectable. Second, the whore. These women are of little value. They are thought of only in what that can offer for sexual gratification. They are an object. They are free to be debased and degraded. Men with the complex have an inability to maintain an ongoing relationship with a woman they see as a Madonna, and desire only a “whore” that they can use. Freud noted that these men love the Madonna, but have no desire for her, sexually. Also, they desire the whore sexually, but can not love her.
I see this also as an issue that many men struggle with. They either pursue worldly women because that feel they aren’t “good enough” for a virtuous one, or because they would rather serve their own fleshly desires instead of living the lives God calls them to. Also, a larger issue with men today (speaking within the church) is the idea that Godly women are to be treated one way, but worldly women another. This is hard for me, both as a Christian and as a man, to reconcile.
I know I have written a lot about modesty, and those posts are usually geared toward women. But, if you think I’m hard on women you have no idea how hard I am on men. I don’t excuse or condone any man’s ill behavior, whether it is directed at a Christian woman or a prostitute. I have attended a wedding where I was able to see two people make vows before God to spend the rest of their lives together, and had to stand next to a
man boy acting wildly inappropriate towards the bride; Things like that make my skin crawl in ways you can’t imagine.
At the end of the day we all have a decision to make. What kind of life do we want to live? Will we live piously? Both in action and speech? We will embrace all of the values we as believers claim to hold so dear? It’s easy to say, but putting your faith into action can be a hard thing to do sometimes. Or, will we live vulgarly? Seeking to please only ourselves, and treating others as nothing more than objects for us to use.
We have to decide if we want to live our lives in a way that is sacred, or in a way that is profane.