America is a nation obsessed with sex. Everyone agrees. What we don’t agree about is what the problem is. We tend to see it from two very different prospectives. Europe and most of the rest of the world has long taken note of our obsession. They scratch their heads and wonder why we are ALWAYS talking about it, legislating about it, decrying it, or promoting it. Most everyone else takes it for granted pretty much. We don’t and it causes us more trouble than can be imagined. Well, it got me to thinking.
You see, we, are both intent on defining most of sex as a bad thing, and conversely, spending our time promoting it. We are in a word schizophrenic. And that causes us horrific problems in the end.
How did this start? Arguably it began with the beginning of our country. Especially with that weird breed called Puritans. Now we are told of course that the Puritans came to this land for “religious freedom.” Well, not really. The fact is, their repressive take on religion and God was not much liked in most of Europe. It was divisive and problematical for countries attempting to keep the peace among diverse peoples. Puritans were rigid, and like early Christians in Rome, really didn’t fit in well. So they moved to this new land with every intent on forming a religious state of their liking, one in which everyone was expected to toe the line so to speak religiously and that definitely meant sexually as well.
Indeed they did, and much of New England became the land of rigid puritanism, which we can synonymously equate with prudish beliefs regarding sex and the body itself. This was mirrored for a time in Catholicism and many of the early saints record efforts to beat the body into submission by starvation, actual physical torture self-inflicted, and denials af adequate sleep and so on. Anything that was pleasurable was to be denied as temptation from the devil.
Of course, when you demand that kind of adherence to such abnormal rules, people tend to act out in rather spectacular ways. They don’t just sin, they sin hugely. Yet apparently we don’t learn the lessons we should from this, instead we make excuses. Fundamentalists by and large are not driven to question the doctrines taught by preachers who find themselves caught in flagrant acts of “immorality.” Instead they blindly tell themselves that satan attacks just those people making the greatest inroads on sin, so such falling from grace is to be expected, and in reality is nothing but confirmation that the doctrine is sound. Nice huh?
So we run to confession each week and confess our masturbatory actions, and race from Church to get back to internet porn. I suppose it wouldn’t be so bad if all we did was this to ourselves. The sane world could look upon us as sad, but no more. Alas, we don’t leave it at our own doorstep. We export it.
Because we are so repressed in our own minds, we try to repress and oppress everyone we meet. Everybody has to agree that this stuff is all bad. We obsess about what you are doing in your bedroom, we wag our fingers and cite self-interpreted pieces of scripture to back it up.
Take a trip to a religious forum. Any one more or less will do. They are chock filled with the ultra ultra orthodox, those more Catholic than the Pope as we would say in my Church. There you will find a variety of themes that will truly boggle the mind. Some might even argue that the intent is to release all that pent up sexual frustration by talking the subject to death. In fact, here and there, a thread is abruptly closed, I suspect because it’s gotten just a tad too racy and specific in exploring “what sex toys does God allow my wife and I to use?” (I kid you not)
A list of topics should explain my point.
- Can HIV/AIDS husband and wife use condoms so they can continue having sex? (NO)
- Can I attend the wedding of a gay couple, one of whom has been my lifelong friend? (NO)
- Is masturbation okay as long as I’m using it for a medical reason?
- Is it okay to sleep in the same bed with someone of the opposite sex without sex?
- Can I fantasize while having sex with my spouse about someone else, even imaginary? (NO)
- Do I need document every sexual thought for confession? Will I be in confession for hours?
- Is Contraception selfish in that one is not open to God in the act? (YES)
- Can I attend my fathers second marriage even though he is not Catholic and neither is his new fiance? (NO)
I’ve answered with the majority opinion those threads I actually read. The rest, I can assume, but can’t answer directly. You see what I mean? Go to any Christian forum and a full 50% of the discussions are about sex. Most all of it revolves around the sinfulness of some sexual behavior, whether it be pre-marital, divorce and remarriages that aren’t legal, homosexuality, contraception, and a host of other such things.
Now I admit, that these ultra orthodox obsessions are not by and large shared by most Americans. But they do represent the thinking of a growing cadre of fundamentalist opinion that sex is naughty. Yet, as we mentioned, it is they more often than not that get caught in the sex scandals we have come to love in both Washington and within the environs of the Religious Right.
The rest of us scratch our heads in disbelief. Europe seems to get this so much better and we wonder how did this puritan thing get so far out of hand. Why are we titillated daily with sex? It’s normal. It’s how we each came to be. There is nothing especial about it. Nor is there anything especial about our bodies. Nobody wears closes in the animal kingdom except humans. Clearly we didn’t start wearing skins and hides because of modesty. We did it for warmth and because we could attach convenient loops and pockets to hold things.
I don’t give a tinker’s damn what you do in your bedroom, and it’s none of your business what I do in mine. The only caveat is that no one gets physically or emotionally harmed. Nobody is forced to do that which they don’t wish to do. Studies actually show that those who voluntarily engage in what might be termed “alternative” sex roles (masochistic, slave-master, open marriage) are not to any greater degree unhappy or otherwise emotionally harmed. That is not some endorsement by me, but merely to point out that the “evils” these actions are claimed to cause are not born out by the studies.
I have said again and again, that I don’t see how gay marriage affects me at all. There are no valid studies as far as I know that say that children raised in homosexual unions or single parent homes, or any other grouping one might concoct are by nature harmful. It’s all about love and time and support it seems. Kids from gay parents aren’t more likely to be gay, sexually promiscuous or anything else. If it pleases you to believe that God creates gay folks and then expects them to be celibate for life, then what happened to free will huh?
I had an argument with NFP people. Natural Family Planning is basically a jazzed up rhythm method of contraception. They claim its okay for Catholics to use this because it allows God to cause its failure and pregnancy to occur. Somehow in their minds, God cannot penetrate condoms. Somehow that means you’ve shut God out. Some actually claim that sex is not for ANY other purpose than procreation, although the Church clearly doesn’t agree. Yet in the end, both are designed (rhythm and condoms) to avoid pregnancy.
God is great, He is. I believe He’s a good deal greater than these reactionary orthodox even guess. But he does have a whole universe to manage. And perhaps many such universes for all I know. Do you think he draws some distinction between the condom and the “I’m not fertile today by the calendar dear, we can do it tonight” dichotomy? Do you think he is tricked into thinking that one couple is sinful and the other not? Give me a break!
Worrying about what sex is okay and what is not is a good diversion however. You can avoid working out your responsibility for wars and poverty and how you are not really acting like your brother’s keeper much. You can lie to yourself and say you are doing God’s work by “admonishing the sinner” every chance you get, instead of marching against genocide in Darfur or raising hell that members of the Congress support regimes that engaged in the sex slavery of children in Indonesia.
Most laughable of all you can (and I swear I can prove it to you) advise poor black people that Planned Parenthood is some evil genocidal organization and they should stop using birth control. Blacks are notoriously unable to think for themselves you know. You can become enraged should anyone question your motives of course, while at the same time, you can claim that the Church still allows one to favor the death penalty (which of course falls most heavily on African Americans too). You can do that and not bat an eye at the hypocrisy of such dual positions.
A Catholic theologian some years ago, said that the worst thing that had befallen the Church in his opinion was its delving into sex. It has gotten itself caught in a logical and theological quagmire and seems unable to gracefully escape. It ends up demanding behavior that is arguably immoral from a health standpoint, and is incapable of being fulfilled by most of its members. Worse, it gives the small minority who psychologically need and desire such rigidity, the puffed up self-importance of the “true believer” over and against the world. So it’s so ultimately divisive as to be counterproductive.
So, when folks start in on the idea that we are a morally degenerate society, swirling faster and faster into the deep well of sexual perversion, causing the Impeding destruction of civilization, I just say, hey, look to religion if you want to know why. And I’d not be looking to religion to solve it. Religion serves a great purpose in so many ways, but it has ill served us in sexual matters.
Somehow, I think God thinks of all this with passing amusement, when not outright angry at the pain we cause each other over it. After all, he had no need to grant us ensouled creatures with pleasure in the act did he? I can see why he needed to use that as a ploy to entice the “lower” animals. But us? Not necessary, unless of course he meant for us to enjoy it.
Obsess about it? I don’t think so. It’s time we take away the titillating exercise of “moral majority” admonitions. Time to tell them to stick it in their ear, and get a life. The entire subject is just boring. I’m not gonna be your porn fix for the day by indulging in your need to talk about sex. Have some with your partner and shaddup. It’s just what I got to thinking about today.