Virtual Voices

Pole-dancers for Jesus

Religion

This is the kind of story you have to double-check to be sure it isn't parody: pole-dancers for Jesus. The owner of a dance studio outside Houston has started classes for women based on increasingly popular pole-dancing classes, only these classes use modern Christian music, and incorporate presumably less provocative moves.

The logic, as I understand it, runs like this: The body is a temple, you're supposed to keep your temple in shape, poles are good for keeping said temples in tippy-top fitness, it's not sin if you add some Christian music and don't look too strippery, and anyone who wants to judge isn't being very Christian about the whole thing.

I must warn you that a pun is coming. Feel free to skip this short paragraph if you can't bear it. The thing is, I feel like I am perpetually between two poles, when it comes to how many of my fellow Christians perceive the flesh.

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On the one hand are my friends who have slipped into (or, in many cases, were reared in) a subtle form of Gnosticism, which says that all things of the flesh are suspect, that indeed this very world is shot through with corruption, and that the sooner we are rid of it all, and dwelling in an ethereal spiritual plane of perpetual worship, the better.

On the other hand are Christian hedonists who seem to believe that since God made it all, it's all good, and anything you want to do with it is pretty good, too.

There has to be better ground than this. There has to be room for us to enjoy creation-including these bodies crafted in the image and likeness of God-without wallowing in it at the behest of our baser desires. It's not the flesh that is sinful, of course, but the corruption of it. It is not man's desires that are inherently wicked-this is what many in the Church believe, at least-but the perversion of these desires that is his undoing. Love becomes unbridled lust, desire to craft beauty becomes worship of created things, passion to labor well becomes greed for money.

In other words, we have to embrace what is good-which means not just endless prayer time, but engaging this present, physical world-while continually battling the enemy's efforts to pervert our efforts, our wants.

And perhaps that's a good rule for all of us to follow, to cultivate the habit of asking what is motivating our desire to do this, that, or the other. When it comes to pole-dancing, it seems the whole thing is motivated more by a desire to emulate a particularly unsavory part of popular culture than the desire to stay fit. Which is all well and good, this being a free society and all. But how about we not call it "Pole Fitness for Jesus"? Because it's not really for Jesus, I don't think.

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