Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Hot Lips

As I was returning from taking my youngest child to school this morning, I noticed a splash of color in my front yard that I hadn't seen before. I parked the car in the driveway and trudged over to the middle of the yard to check out my flowerbeds. Yep, just what I had suspected. My "hot lips" plant was blooming. Kind of a crazy name, hot lips. But the shape of the bloom has a sort of "pout" to it, like puckered lips. And the color is a vibrant fuchsia.

Hot lips.

I watched M.A.S.H. a lot in college. In fact, one of my roommates at the time. Mr. Kenwood, was an absolute M.A.S.H. addict. You may remember the female character in this series was head nurse Margaret Houlihan, aka Hot Lips. Hot Lips Houlihan. The moniker was given to her by the two chief rascal doctors of the unit, Trapper and Pierce. You have to have seen the original movie to get the full story. Basically, Nurse Houlihan is having an affair with one of the doctors (a married man, Dr. Frank Burns, who likes to position himself as high and mighty). Trapper and Pierce suspect the affair and stake out Houlihan's tent to catch the two in the act. They also put a microphone from the PA system in the tent so they can broadcast the encounter to the entire M.A.S.H. unit. Just as they suspect, Nurse Houlihan and Dr. Burns are deep into the throes of passion when she loses contral and calls out, "My lips, Frank, kiss my hot lips!" Thus, Hot Lips Houlihan is born.

Two completely different references to hot lips. I wrote them today to serve as a backdrop for a topic I am trying oh so gently to back into. I should get on with it, but I'll pose this question first ... when you saw the post title, "Hot Lips," which of the two stories were more in line with what your mind began anticipating?

Uh huh, are you sure you're being honest?

Titillation. It's everywhere in TV, movies, music, advertising, magazine articles, clothing, perfume, even shoes, for heaven's sake (If you are scratching your head, you obviously have never gone in search of a "sexy, strappy sandal.")

I've been keeping up with Perry Noble's blog ( He's been preaching a sermon series on sex. I haven't tuned in to any of the sermons, but his posts have been interesting. Today's post was entitled "Apparently I Pulled My Pants Down (Read more)." Clearly, he was being playful in the title and added "read more" so as not to be accused of gratuitous titillation. At any rate, I haven't seen him address titillation directly. I wonder if he will?

How would I define titillation? Here's how defines it:
1. a tingling feeling of excitement (as from teasing or tickling). 2. an agreeable arousal. 3.
the act of tickling.

I love the third definition -- the act of tickling -- and found it particularly interesting yet appropo to what I'm getting at. Think about tickling. It basically involves someone causing you to have a physical reaction that you don't want. "Stop, stop, stop!" I am very ticklish and hate being tickled. In fact, I can get violent when tickled (LOL).

So in the sexual context, is that what we're talking about? Bringing about an involuntary, undesirable physical reaction? Clearly, we can be caught off guard and experience titillation in this manner. It's the reaction after the involuntary reaction that I'm more interested in. I'm going to lump this reaction into 3 categories:

How did that happen! When we are caught off guard by titillation and feel mortified by it, clearly we are expressing the sentiment that it is not our intention to pursue titillation. "I didn't mean to go there, I swear," we tell ourselves. And we are probably being truthful, yet at the same time, it should serve as an early warning device.

Whatever, I'm human! This practical reaction is more of a laughing at ourselves; laughing at our own human frailty but not obsessing over it to the point of believing we are a sexual deviant. We probably end the experience with nonchalent thoughts of, "Note to self, don't go there." Yet perhaps we shouldn't be so casual...

That was interesting... This is the most dangerous of the three reactions. That little electrical impulse that shoots through you -- the "tingling feeling of excitement" -- can awaken you to unhealthy thoughts. "What's the harm of a little tingle now and again?" If you never "act" any further on the tingle, yet subconsciously begin to "pursue" the tingle -- the cheap thrill, the little excitement, the "innocent" chemical reaction -- you're probably chartering unsafe waters. Stop it!

If someone puts a mirror up to your mouth and is unable to detect breathing, then you are probably now officially safe from experiencing titillation. Congratulations (you're dead). Otherwise, I believe it is something to be on guard against, especially given our culture. In fact, if we were to create a continuum from acceptable behavior to adultery or fornication, I think titallation would at least be in the middle if not near the top. Titillation not only cheapens another human being, it cheapens God's gift of sex; the parameters he created for sex (i.e., between two adults in a committed relationship, which I interpret as marriage). And keep in mind that the other human being can be the cover girl of the Sport Illustrated swimsuit issue. It's not any more acceptable if the human being you are cheapening is a complete and total stranger, even one who is "asking for it" with the way in which they present themselves.

I've quoted this scripture an awful lot, but it really applies for sure here: "All things are permissable to me, but not all things are beneficial. All things are permissable, but I shall not be mastered by anything." (1 Corinthians 6:12).

Check out Perry Noble's blog in your spare time. Let's both watch and see whether he will broach the subject of titillation. Clearly, it is a topic for God's people.

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