God, Loneliness, and the End of Love

Sept. 5 2018

Last year, Britain sent a man to jail for importing a sex doll designed to resemble a child; whether such objects ought to be contraband will no doubt be debated in the U.S. soon enough. Kevin Williamson, seeing in this question a symptom of the West’s moral crisis, wonders how civilization got to this point, and looks to religion for answers:

There is a long Jewish tradition (and an ancient, yet considerably less ancient, Christian tradition) of using what may look on the surface like a love song as the basis of a hymn. In the Islamic world, qawwli music works much the same way. . . . Romantic love and the longing for God are closely intertwined in our music and literature, in our theology, and, beneath all that, in our souls. Whatever the real cause of the Trojan War was, the legend that it was the king’s love for his wife, Helen—“Was this the face that launch’d a thousand ships / And burnt the topless towers of Ilium?” as Christopher Marlowe famously put it—is the story we know, because it is a story we knew before we knew it. Religious differences have launched a few ships, too.

In the Catholic tradition, the identification of the marital relationship with the divine is deeply imprinted on the rhetoric and literature, but also on the ethics and morality they support. If the relationship between God and Church is the model of the relationship between husband and wife—if each is in some way a version of the other—then that changes things fundamentally. “Irreconcilable differences” might then very well describe the states of the condition of the souls of the lost, if you believe in that sort of thing. . . .

[There also] is a depth of aloneness (which is not quite the same thing as loneliness) that might, in an earlier time, have driven a man to church, or at least to Scripture: “On my bed by night / I sought him whom my soul loves; / I sought him, but found him not,” [as the Song of Songs puts it]. . . .

Toronto soon will be home to North America’s first (known) sex-doll brothel, offering “sexual services with the world’s most beautiful silicone ladies.” . . . The sterility of the act in question is not merely biological. [It] indicates a profound alienation not only from ordinary healthy sexual expression but from humanity. And from something more than that. If you want an image of a man alone in the universe, bereft, then there it is.

The Marquis de Sade thought that the old order might be overthrown by a great orgy of dissolution and blasphemy, an organized assault on every accepted value until the achievement of a state of absolute freedom. [But] Sade dreamed up theatrical acts of depravity, while we have only dreamed up new ways to be alone. From the psalmist who discerned in the love of husbands and wives an indication of God’s design to the question of which kind of silicone sex dolls might be unallowable in the marketplace—that is the arc of our history, and of our sorrow.

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