Things We Used to Know About Life, Love, & Sex
I listen to the radio while I work in my shop. Actually, it’s a radio station on my Alexa. In any case, it’s a classic rock station. This is stuff I listened to in my twenties.
It’s good exercise to go back and listen with the ears of a 60-year-old to songs you heard when you were twenty. At twenty, you may just have heard the chorus, and you may not have understood even that.
Not long ago, I listened to Stevie Wonder singing “Isn’t She Lovely?” and I realized it’s a completely different song from what I thought I’d been listening to for the last forty years.
The difference hinges on the “she.” If you only listen to the hook in the chorus, you can be forgiven for thinking that “she” is the singer’s romantic interest.
No. Far from it.
“She” is his newly born daughter.
Joy is rushing through his heart because of the birth of a daughter. I’ve experienced this three times in my life, so I can connect. Doubtless, this song would have been part of my personal soundtrack at the birth of each of my daughters, but back then I didn’t understand it.
This song is—shall we just use the word?—religious, and it takes a theological stance:
We have been Heaven-blessed.
I can’t believe what God has done.
Through us; He’s given life to one.
But isn’t she lovely? Made from love.
Partnering with God
The singer here recognizes that couples partner with God in the creation of human life. He firms it up by pointing out that in a loving family, a child is created in an act of love. That child is a walking symbol of that act of love.
The part about being a partner with God in the creation of life was uttered first by Eve when she said, “I have gotten a man from the Lord” (Gen. 4:1). It was reinforced in biblical passages where women petitioned God to give them a child: “And God remembered Rachel, and God hearkened to her and opened her womb. And she conceived and bore a son . . . ” (Gen. 30:22–23). And it was specially reinforced when Mary gave birth to Jesus, whom Christians hold to be the Son of God.
Whether you are religious or not, this represents the human understanding of the connection of sex with procreation and the continuation of the species. God is Being itself, and we continue the being of the human race by having children. This point of view is deeply embedded in our culture. It has to be, or we wouldn’t still be around.
Those of us who grew up in an agrarian tradition learned that a bull was a “daddy” bovine and a cow was the “mommy.” A rooster was a “daddy” chicken and a hen was the “mommy.” These are terms taken from a typical traditional family that a child can understand.
Bringing God into procreation included recognizing that a child is not conceived every time a couple comes together. But the creation of a child was viewed as God’s blessing of the conjugal act.
Since people in modern society have come to view children as an inconvenient byproduct of sex, they might be confused as to why children were so sought after by the ancients. Well, children were considered valuable in those days. They could help tend the sheep and the crops, and they could take care of you when you were old.
The Call of the Deep
Beyond that, however, I do believe there is something primitive, deep within us, that yearns. We have this collection of ancient voices within ourselves that speak below the threshold of hearing and attempt to direct us. These voices are sometimes silenced by the culture; sometimes they are redirected. But they are always there.
Religion gives us language and a context for this. It provides meaning where we might otherwise think of reality as “just one damned thing after another.”
I didn’t get “Isn’t She Lovely?” forty years ago. I do now, and it is indeed lovely. A man, a woman, and, if God wills, a new life.Bobby Neal Winters
is a native of Harden City, Oklahoma and blogs at redneckmath.blogspot.com and okieinexile.blogspot.com. He invites you to "like" the National Association of Lawn Mowers on Facebook.Get Salvo in your inbox! This article originally appeared in Salvo, Issue #65, Summer 2023 Copyright © 2023 Salvo | www.salvomag.com https://salvomag.com/article/salvo65/isnt-she-lovely