(Warning! Explicit images in this post)
(And it has nothing to do with music, it’s really about…)
Bloggers will probably accuse me of picking this topic for the sole purpose of increasing traffic to my site, so let me assure all of my readers – both of you – that I have no such intent.
I’ve picked this subject because I am a warm-blooded, adult male with a normal interest in sèx. There are some who might disagree (quiet, honey), but it’s true. I am also an atheist who, during his short life on this planet, and especially since he reached puberty, found himself perplexed, – no, make that flabbergasted – by the intense focus that religion, a spiritual discipline by any definition, places on the human crotch. I am also very confused about the relative lack of Christian empathy towards human suffering. A comparative discussion of the Christian response to both subjects has been done before, but allow me to add my 2 cents.
It’s probably not fair to say that all Christians are unduly pre-occupied with sèx (and here I must limit myself to Christianity, since I know very little about the interactions of other religions with sèx, other than a moderately prurient interest in The Kámá Sutrá). There are probably many Christians who are not, or who at least agree with me that sèx is simply a personal matter between consenting humans, and that it’s none of their business who does what with who. But it seems that our society is preoccupied with the topic, and whenever devout Christians talk about morality it usually boils down to a discussion of some practice or activity involving penises and/or vaginas. I don’t need to point out that the great issues of the modern day seem to always include abortion (which of course wouldn’t be an issue without sèx), gay marriage and homosexuality (which is objectionable not because of the same gender of the people involved, but because of what they do in their beds), and pedophilia in the church (where one religion in particular has a history of turning a blind eye to the sèxual nature of their priests), and it’s no coincidence that church leaders are involved in those discussions. Recent public discussion of contraception, AIDS, vaccination of teen girls, the House of Representative page scandals, Monica Lewinsky, and sèx education all have been couched in religious terms at one point of another. So why is religion obsessed with sèx?
From what I know of the Bible (which frankly, despite a long Catholic education, is surprisingly little), Jesus never really discussed the subject much, other than obliquely, and not very often. Paul, on the other hand, seems to have had a few things to say about the topic. For instance:
1 Corinthians 6:9 (King James Version)
9 Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind… etc.
For those of you, like me, who need an interpretation, exactly what is Paul talking about here? Let’s try a modern translation.
1 Corinthians 6:9 (New International Version)
9 Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sèxually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders…etc.
OK, that’s a little clearer, but not much.
I think what Paul’s getting at is that God is very concerned with “proper” sèxual activity. All of those subsets of the wicked involve deviations from “normal” sèxual practices. If the man is not married, and facing his wife when he’s having sèx with her, then by exclusion, anything else involving the external reproductive organs is “immoral”. Try anything other than acceptable sèx, and you won’t go to heaven, and since that’s the only reason to believe in god in the first place, you’re up Shit’s Creek if you do it wrong.
All this despite the fact that it is claimed to be the same God who created sèxual union in the first place, as a necessary means of perpetuation of the species, and despite the fact that he could have used another means to do so, such as rib cloning. Apparently, God felt that it was necessary, and important, that sèx be both fun and sinful. And he wonders why we are so confused?
Juxtaposed against this is the issue of violence. Again, God seems to have no problem killing, maiming, raping, torturing and otherwise inflicting horrible pain and suffering on his best and brightest creation – man. The Bible is filled with stories of literally hundreds of thousands of people, innocent men, women and children, being slaughtered on God’s whim, because he’s displeased. Much of the death and suffering is inflicted in a manner way out of proportion to the slight or insult incurred by God. Women are saved for rape, innocent people are offered for buggery, and God? – well the Bible doesn’t really give you any indication of God’s emotions concerning this, other than his approval. (It allows the imagination to envision God, Spock-like, raising an eyebrow and proclaiming”It’s perfectly logical, Jim.”)
Flash forward to the present day. Most devout (read: fundamentalist, literalist, God fearing, bible thumping) Christians will cry the loudest when a movie, play or book becomes just a tad too sèxually explicit (read: realistic) but will flock in droves to see the latest cinematic exercise in blood and guts. Torture and mutilate a man in glorious technicolor, to the point that the veiwer can almost taste the blood? Not a peep. Simulate oral sèx? Organize a boycott. And apparently contemporary Christian fiction seems to be following suit.
Where’s the morality? For that matter, what kind of morality is being espoused by a religion that places more value on the celibacy of humans, than on their suffering. Is pain and suffering not important to God? Is the way we use our reproductive organs more important than whether we are alive? Is this
You know where this came from
immoral and obscene, while this
Mutilated victim of Kosovo War
To read the Bible, and to listen to Christians, one gets the distinct impression that the former is sinful, but the latter is a mere fact of life. Sure, Christians pay lip service to the opposite, but actions speak louder than words. There probably are many Christians who agree with me, but if they are honest, they would also have to agree that what I contend is pervasive among the most vocal Christians, and that they are not a small minority. They would also have to agree that this unbalanced sense of morality is taught in the churches of most fundamental Christians, because it is claimed that it is what the Bible teaches. How often has the likes of Pat Robertson or Jerry Falwell blamed a natural disaster like the Indonesian Tsunami, or Hurricane Katrina, on the War in Iraq?
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that war is wrong, (although it can be) or that it’s not sometimes necessary. And I’m not saying that human sèxuality does not come with problems. The point I’m trying to make is that religion, and specifically the Christian religion I was raised in, seems to place far more value on that which has as its primary purpose the increase of human suffering and the termination of life, than on that which celebrates the creation of human life. This same religion appears to glorify violence and decry sèx of almost any kind. Even when it talks about sèx for procreational purposes, between man and woman, husband and wife, it does so in very hushed tones, as if it’s not something that should even be discussed, lest it poison the minds of the faithful. Sèx is as natural, and as normal, and as vital to human life, as breathing, yet somehow this religion has deemed all aspects of it as sin, save one. At the same time, war, death, and human suffering is elevated to a sacrament.
I know that this is just a long-winded way of saying “sèx, good; violence, bad”, but I’m curious as to why I have to remark on it in the first place. It is so obviously self-evident, yet it seems that much of the world is blind to how obvious it is.
I have no answer to this conundrum. But I suspect that if the world was less religious, and more humanistic, if human life was valued for what it is today, not for what it will be after it ceases to exist, this would be a better world.