Billboard blight

Longer Lasting Sex?”; “Want Longer Lasting… Censored”; “Bonk
Longer”. Like the plagues that were cast upon the Egyptians, the
Medical Institute (AMI)
with its “Nasal Delivery Technology” has descended upon
billboards, newspapers, TV and radio,
peddling an
alleged cure
for impotence. Founded in Australia 16 years ago by Ukrainian-born
Jack Vaisman, AMI has recently expanded its operations into New
Zealand, Japan, the UK and now the USA.

AMI campaign, however, is
not a medical campaign. Rather it is an attempt to reshape our
understanding of the human person and the sexual act and to make a
great deal of money in the process. From a commercial point of view
it has been a phenomenal success.

sells everything from cars to toothpaste. What is happening with
companies such as AMI, however, is much more duplicitous. The reason
that most of its radio ads and billboards pass through the
Standards Bureau is
because they do not use explicit sex or nudity to sell a product.
Rather, they are selling a new vision of sex under the guise of
medical treatment. AMI cleverly works at a philosophical level and,
unfortunately, the code of ethics does not. Increasingly, we live
within a legal and political system operating at a rule-based level
which is devoid of an ethical framework. But without ethics based on
core principles, rules mean very little.

If AMI were
selling ways for couples to love
each other better, that would be great. But of course it can not.
This campaign does however tell us something about ourselves that
sometimes we forget. Every
single one of us, male and female, young and old, Christian, Muslim
or atheist, is searching for connection and love.
Deep within every heart lies a spark that pushes the human person to
pursue what is true, good and beautiful, even if they are totally
wrong on where to find it. Even though the modern world has declared
sex to be no more than a recreational activity, it does not really
ring true to our experience. Our maleness, our femaleness, and our
sexuality have a meaning we cannot ignore.

biggest problem with these ads is not their crudeness; it is their
utilitarian view of the human person and human sexuality. When we
live with a utilitarian mindset, the human person becomes another
object for our use or abuse. We see the classical examples of this
throughout history in slavery, Nazism and abortion, but each one of
us must be on constant alert for it in our own lives, especially in
regards to sexuality. Karol Wojtyła noted in his book Love
and Responsibility
there are more opportunities within the sexual relationship than in
most other situations of treating a person as an object of use 
- sometimes without even realising it.

and sex in our culture are often reduced to no more than lust; in
fact a slogan
like “lust longer” would more
accurately express AMI's goal. But love is a virtue; it is more than
an emotion and very much more than an excitement of the senses. Love
can only be what it is meant to be when it is directed to another
person in their entirety. Love cannot be called love when it directs
itself merely to a body.

book of Genesis recalls how Adam and Eve
realised that they were naked and covered themselves after the fall.
There is a deep significance in this. With sin came a tendency to see
the body before seeing the person. The man and woman covered
themselves to protect their bodies from being used in a
manner that
was not respectful to them as human persons. This experience of the
man and woman is at the basis of the Christian understanding of
sexuality, morality and social justice. It is a holistic
understanding that sees the beauty and value of the entire person and
is not limited by any particular strength or defect of their body.
When this is understood Christianity is seen as not a killjoy
philosophy but as a pointer towards genuine joy. It is a joy that
will not be found in drugs that promote longer lasting sex, but in a
genuine commitment to selfless love.

Bernard Toutounji is the
Education Officer of the Life, Marriage and Family Centre in the
Catholic Archdiocese of Sydney.


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