On our anniversary, my husband and I decided to go to the movies to watch the new Meryl Streep movie, "Hope Springs". We think Meryl Streep is a great actress, and thought this would be a good choice for entertainment. But, instead of entertainment, I found myself wondering what meaning I could find in the movie.
The movie is about a couple who had "lost touch" with each other, as they had been married for 31 years. Their basic problem, it seemed, was their lack of communication or intimacy. Intimacy was much more than the physical act of sex, or the legal aspect of marriage. Intimacy was the communication style of the couple, which had broken down.
They sought a marriage counselor only after much "dispute" and it seemed that the marriage counselor's advice brought up many 'conflicts' within the relationship, which needed to be resolved before the marriage could "go on".
The counselor sought to bring to the forefront the question about their basic attraction to one another, what their fantasies were and encouraging the couple to compromise and cooperate with each other in meeting those desires.
All of the counselors advice made me think of "sex" within the broader context of our society, in general. America has had her conflict over what will define marriage, but is marriage a traditional/religious value, or a social construct that benefits the parties involved?
How can human relationships and natural human desires exist within a healthy context that maintains "order", while not denying the natural needs and desires of the humans involved? Does shame enter into the questions that this movie brought to the forefront? Marital difficulties, separation and divorce, masturbation, oral sex, human desire and natural needs in the context of religious framing when social structures and society itself has changed in light of "scripture and tradition"?
Humans get married at later ages than in "biblical times", leaving the question of natural human desires on the physical and emotional/social planes. Students need to finish college or find what they want to do with their lives before taking on responsiblities of a spouse and family... Are natural human desires to be accomadated by marrying earlier, self determination (however conscience allows), and is it a "shame" to allow for same sex unions? What is the best for society and human flourishing? Does tradition enlighten, or inhibit? When is inhibition and enlightenment considered a good thing? Does society exists for the individual or does the individual exists for society? That question has been a quandary....
"Hope Springs" made me think of our society and what makes for a good marriage, and and a good society. It cannot be less than mutually satisfying relationship, if marriage is to have a real meaning and impact. And both the husband and wife in "Hope Springs" illustrated what that meant for them individually. The wife had come to the "end of the highway", because she found herself more lonely married than she would be unmarried. The husband had abandoned his wife many years prior, yet would not admit it to himself for his own reasons. Marriage is about companionship, as much as sex, or a legal contract. And it makes for "stranger bedfellows" if marriage is about anything less.....
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