Saturday, 8 January 2011

Sex on Pandora

The best portrayal of a Biblical perspective on sex and marriage I've seen recently was in the science fiction film, "Avatar":

Pandora is a beautiful planet (actually it's a moon according to Wikipedia, although I missed this when I saw the film) with rich forests, inhabited by - among other creatures - a 10 ft tall race of blue-skinned humanoids known as the "Na'vi".

Jake Sully is a human ex-marine who is sent to Pandora with a mining corporation and given the use of an "Avatar" - basically an artificially grown Na'vi body which he can "inhabit" via telepathic link-up. These have been developed, partly because Pandora's atmosphere is poisonous to humans, and also as an attempt to gain the trust of the Na'vi, so that human scientists can learn more about Pandora and its inhabitants.

Jake's mission is to befriend the local Na'vi tribe and convince them to move elsewhere because the "Home Tree" where they all live, is right on top of a massive deposit of "unobtanium", which is what the mining corporation are there for. Failing this, Jake is to gather as much strategic information as possible so that the Na'vi can be evicted by force if necessary.

However, Jake quickly becomes emotionally involved with the Na'vi, in particular a female, Neytiri, who is assigned by the Na'vi to teach him their way of life. Jake and Neytiri fall in love and eventually have sex. In Na'vi culture though, having sex means you are mated for life! Fortunately, by this point Jake has also fallen in love with Pandora and the Na'vi way of life, and is happy about this as is Neytiri (although it does cause some tension with the rest of the clan and Neytiri later has cause to regret it, at least for a little while). I'm not going to go any further with the rest of the plot as this is the bit I want to talk about. To find out more you'll have to see the film for yourself (if you haven't already) or else read the plot summary on Wikipedia.

To me, this view on sex seems a perfect match with the Biblical ideal. It says in the Bible that a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh. This is what sex is all about. This is why Christians (well, I think most of us anyway) generally don't approve of sex before marriage. It isn't because there's anything bad about sex, or because there's anything especially significant about a legal marriage contract or an official ceremony, but rather because sex and marriage are - or at least should be - inseparable. Sex is the most intimate possible physical expression of love between 2 people and when recognised as such and given the honour it deserves, it forms a powerful bond - a bond that ought to be for life. I think Avatar illustrates this principle beautifully!

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