The U2 song Desire was the only U2 song my old Christian boyfriend did not like. He was such a weirdo (I loved him, deeply) that he’d do things like immediately turn off songs about things like Desire, because Sexual Desire was one of those deadly sins that would damn him yet.
Or maybe just the fact that Bono had Desire bothered him, because he liked to look at Bono and say “there’s a good Christian rockstar”. He taught his kids to like him, too. Bono was not a weakling with Desire like him, he who’d have to go home and repent like hell and be really glad Christ had died on the cross for his sins, he’d have to be extra devout on Sunday, he never missed one, having quite recently spent his Desire a bit recklessly.
Running With The Devil had saved his soul, old David Lee Roth spoke to him in his youth, as he'd almost strayed from the path of God during those early college years. He wouldn’t listen to that one, at all, and he was really in to Van Halen.
The non denominational but basically protestant evangelical fundamentalist brand of Christianity that ruled the life of the home did not speak of desire. It was a sin, that was enough, all they needed to know. So was pride, a sin. That the number one son was number one at the geography bee, number one in the country, was not to be proud of, it was a gift from God to be thankful for, no matter how hard the poor, most certainly not a bastard, worked for it.
But this is about desire.
The fundamentalist Christian guy is not a great example to use, not in a discussion about men and desire, but really, he’s about as good as any, when it comes down to it.
I think of another man friend who confided in me that his sex drive was so powerful that it depressed him, gave him incredible self loathing. He told me he knew a guy who’d killed himself over such feelings, they’d been friends in their youth. My friend doesn’t have religious hang ups, at all, he’s an atheist.
It makes me wonder about the epigenetic effects of a few thousand years of religious sexual repression on our culture.
Desire is normal. For men, and for women, too, but more so for men. Biologically, women are very limited in how many offspring they can produce, and men are not. We tend to be far less interested, especially when we’ve got small kids, men more interested in sex most of the time. Men need a place, women need a reason.
Men are often kind of obsessed by it, or it at least crosses their minds a lot more. There’s nothing wrong with that. In a non-sexually repressed culture, and ours is such a sexually repressed culture it’s ridiculous, it’s not that big a deal. Monogamy is not that big a deal. Masturbation is not a big deal. Homosexuality is not a big deal. Men don’t hate themselves.
Desire is not a big deal, not until it becomes something sinful, or dirty, or unnatural. It’s not.
It’s one of those things women figure out if they go through menopause naturally, those androgens shift more toward the masculine end of the gender axis, we get horny as hell, and kind of bitchy.
Fragile even. Imagine that.
The shame is, our sexually repressed culture does all kinds of damage to fragile folks, damning their desire, making it something nasty or evil. We’re all fragile. Some of us are allowed to show it, others, not so much.
Don’t show your desire, and by all means, don’t show your fragility.
One wouldn't be godly, the other, not manly.