The institution of marriage is getting a hot 'n' wanton makeover this week.
First there was the worldwide coverage of a 30-day sex challenge by a Tampa, Fla., church asking that married parishioners reignite their holy vows with 30 straight days of sanctified sex. Thursday came the New York Times story about bridal gowns with "temptress styles that may be better suited to a gala or boudoir than to a church or ballroom." Add to that several new books that counsel married folk to get their groove back, and suddenly getting hitched and staying hitched look nothing short of pornographic.
Of course, there's nothing new about an industry dedicated to helping married couples help their love life, but now the sexuality of marriage is getting more explicit in the most pious settings -- it's stitched into bridal gowns and woven into church sermons. And from the looks of the recent and upcoming book lists, traditional Christianity is getting seriously randy: "Holy Sex!: A Catholic Guide to Toe-Curling, Mind-Blowing, Infallible Loving" by Gregory K. Popcak will be published in April; "Getting Wild Sex From Your Conservative Woman" is expected to come out this fall. From their descriptions (Popcak encourages creativity as long as the man comes inside the woman), I doubt Susie Bright will be quoting them anytime soon.
As the New York Times tut-tuts about brides "more vamp than virgin" with "gowns that bare a generous expanse of cleavage, midsection, lower back or thigh," and Fox News quizzes grinning Christians on whether they had sex the previous night, I can't help wondering, is this all the logical spillover from the fact that sex greases the gears of our culture and economy? That in the end even bridal gowns and Christian churches need to jump on the sexy bandwagon or be forever left behind?
Like the wedding dress slit to the crotch and publicly promising to have 30 days of sex with your spouse, it's all a little forced. In a culture where we're supposed to have it all -- tight butt, retirement accounts, oodles of consumer goods and even more freedom -- marriage seems like an increasingly odd social norm. So I can't help thinking that sexing up the nuptials says more about our anxieties than our libidos.