By the time the Advent season arrives and we begin to prepare ourselves to celebrate the birth of Our Lord, most of us have already been inundated with the secular world's observances of the “Holiday Season” with all the decorations, advertising, and of course the music. Unfortunately, along with that also comes the triggering and the trauma for those who are desperately trying to forget why this time of the year holds such significance in our culture.
The latest act in this annual drama is one Cleveland radio station's decision to pull Dean Martin's “Baby it's Cold Outside” from its playlist because, not surprisingly, it is seen as offensive by some in the #MeToo era as promoting date rape. Granted the song is not really a Christmas song per se and not, from a Christian point of view, a particularly moral one at that, however the controversy surrounding the song is actually old news. Not only was this same song written about last year, but a year before that an altered version of the song was recorded in 2016 by a singer-song writer couple for a more “woke” audience.
In some respects, the perennial angst over this song seems to be an inevitable outcome when the sentiments of culturally and historically illiterate people are combined with the algorithmic connivances of the social mediaverse to inflate the importance of various non-issues way out of proportion to what they deserve. Nevertheless, this pathological need to project the worst possible take on something as innocuous as a song that is only associated with Christmas is symptomatic of a deeper and more pernicious underlying issue.
The Degeneration of Love and Romance
The current obsession by a particular segment of our society about issues of consent and “rape culture” is the bitter fruit of the Cultural Marxist/Intersectionality tree that is now firmly rooted in our cultural mindset. Gone are the traditional Christian mores which, when it came to relationships between the sexes, prized a progression of love from affection, to friendship, and eventually to romantic love, with caritas (the love of the other for their own sake) undergirding them all.
In its place we are left with a mishmash of attraction, utility, and lust, with a guarded self-interest keeping watch over them all. Instead of a love that is willing to be vulnerable to another because there is faith and hope to fortify the trust between two people, we are left with unbridled passions that are a complete mockery of St. Paul's eloquent words in 1 Corinthians 13. Instead of a love that can find strength in weakness by being of service to the other, our culture is addicted to this bizarre desire to see who can be the most victimized of them all. And instead of love “not seeking its own way,” we get from these self-appointed victims an abdication of all personal agency and a never-ending list of demands that they feel entitled to be met.
This is precisely why those condemning “Baby it's Cold Outside” are so ridiculously wrong on their take on the song. The song is a flirtatious interplay between two people who genuinely desire to be with one another, at a time when unmarried couples spending the night together was frowned upon. Nevertheless, as one writer pointed out, even in their desire to transgress the societal expectations of the day and Christian morality as a whole, the man is trying to give the woman a kind of plausible deniability for staying the night in order to protect her reputation. So even as the two are trying to sin, he is still trying to protect her.
Does that make it moral? No, of course not. But it is a far cry from what we have now, where on one hand you have women who will demand complete sexual freedom and personal autonomy, while still claiming that they are a victim of those from whom they are demanding deference from. And on the other hand, we have young men who are so afraid (and rightfully so) of being accused of rape, that they have taken to recording consent videos from the women they intend to hook up with.
All of This Is a Distraction from the Real Point of Christmas
It is in this light that the “War on Christmas” which we also hear so much about this time of year, is not so much about any specific danger from some external aggressor. Those sorts of attacks having been going on since day one when Herod sought to kill the Christ Child, and if he failed to kill a child, what chance do any of his successors have in destroying someone who is now King of Kings? None.
No, the real danger comes from a culture that has rejected or never learned why a song like “Baby it's Cold Outside,” in all its ribald playfulness, still manages to point to a deeper truth: the truth of how the love between a man and woman is not only a starting point to a stable society, but also is a reflection of a still greater love—a love so deep and abiding that God sent his only son to become one of us, so that he could lay down his life for our sins, a love that came into this world not through the giving of some self-serving consent, but through the grace-filled assent of a young lady to a love that goes beyond transactional or even relational, but that is convenantal.
This is what we are preparing for during Advent, and what we are ultimately celebrating at Christmas.