November 19, 2010

The New Naughty TSA

Lucky for me, I don't have any air travel plans in the foreseeable future. But many do and their is a lot of uproar over the TSA's new security procedures. Understandably, when a stranger is handling certain parts of your body or looking at nude images of you there's reason for concern. But there is some misdirection in the outcry in my opinion. But let me make clear that I am not saying that we shouldn't be concerned for safety and such things. I just think there are a few things we should consider before we launch into tirades. 

First, listen to those talking about this issue from the pundits to the pulpits. The way security and safety is talked about, it is a god. Compared to the era my grandparents grew up in, I live in an incredibly safe and secure time. We have grown incredibly adverse to pain and discomfort due to the level of safety and security most of us experience in the West. Again, this is not to say that security should not be a concern. But it should not be a god.

Privacy is handled in much the same way. The ability of the individual to control their own information is idolized. Some talk makes it sound as if anything is worth sacrificing for personal privacy. I don't envy those in government offices that truly attempt to balance concerns of personal privacy and public good. But before we start screaming, have we really thought through such a balance? Additionally, sites such as Facebook wouldn't exist if we were that concerned about personal privacy. A voyeristic culture is alive and well in the West. Privacy isn't the real concern. Personal control is.

Especially in the West, we are saturated with sensual images and experiences but lack authentically intimate experiences. We crave and abhor sensuality all at once. While we are comfortable with mostly naked billboards, when we see words like "groping" and "naked pictures" related to the airport there is wide public outcry. This is a culture of peeping toms. We do not want to be exposed but are fine with the pop star being exposed. Nudity and non-intimate touch-no matter where on my body-have little to do with what the media would relate it to. I'm not saying that I am totally comfortable with the idea of my wife or children undergoing such treatment. I am, myself, quite a modest-easily embarrassed person as it relates to my body. But I am saying that the rhetoric around this outcry seem to expose some of our misunderstanding of healthy sensuality.

For Christians, there is an alternative perspective on these issues. Our theology informs us that all protection and provision comes through God. Primarily, we do not put our trust in ourselves, the state or market to do these things. We also believe we are created by and visible before God, just as we are. There is no shame to be associated with the human body. Our biblical narrative shows us that shame is in brokenness of devotion, not our nakedness before God. We are to care for our bodies and respect them as a gift, not a commodity and not something that is our own. We also believe that devotion and covenant lead us to intimacy. Not the reverse.
I hope that these things inform how followers of Jesus approach such issues.

... Plus, who can afford to buy a plane ticket and not use it?!

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