The Nature of Sin and the Obsession with Sex

22 09 2009

When I first came out, many many years ago, I was bombarded with people telling me that it was “unnatural” and “an abomination to God”.  This started me thinking, “what in the world makes this unnatural?  And, why is it more unnatural, say, than riding in an airplane, or talking to someone 100 miles away on the telephone?”  It seems to me that if God exists and is largely as described, it’s pretty clear what “natural” and “unnatural” are.  Natural are things that occur in Nature, and that are possible to do with your body as designed.  Unnatural are things which do not occur in Nature and that are not possible to do with your body as designed.

But I thought, you know, God, as described, is not really into subtlety.  When you jump up in the air, you don’t have to pray to come down again.  There is no judgement as to whether you are a good person and worthy of coming down or a bad person who will be punished by continuing to go further and further up into the air until you suffocate in the stratosphere.  That which is unnatural is not possible.  It’s not possible to grow another arm out of the middle of your chest, and, I suspect that if God were inclined to think things abominations, an arm growing out of the middle of your chest might qualify.

On the other hand, if we are all created in God’s image, Man and Woman, He created them all, then, it seems to me that the greatest celebration of God that is possible for humans to partake in is pure sexual bliss.  And, again, if we are all created in God’s image, then that celebration of God in the form of sexual pleasure wouldn’t depend on the gender of the participants.

As I got older, I came to realize that there were people who identified as Religious who were obsessed with sin, and that this sin almost always came in the guise of sex.  There are 637 Commandments in Leviticus, and, oddly, the only ones people seem to care much about nowadays have to do with sex.  Even other pleasures of the flesh, like eating yummy yummy cheeseburgers or wearing satin shirts, got a pass; but sex, bad bad bad.  Why was that?

I came up with a couple of answers to this.  The first is that the Judeo-Christian culture was not one which celebrated life.  That fateful afternoon, there were three creatures in the Garden: a Man, a Woman and a Snake, and two of them were bad guys… the Woman and the Snake.  Well, snakes, the creatures which shed their skin and comes forth anew, and women, from whom life emerge, have this in common: they represent Life.  So, maybe sex was bad solely because life itself was bad, and that we should chastise the flesh, and be as miserable as possible on the earthly plane to attain the rewards of heaven.  Indeed, I have heard that from many religious people.  This is why, for example, nuns and monks deprive themselves of almost all physical pleasures: to be found worthy of entering the Kingdom of Heaven.

But perhaps the many prohibitions on sex were a simply way to control people.  After all, having people by the short hairs was a common enough expression.  And there are plenty of other places where Society, wishing to assert Absolute Control over people (e.g., serfs, prisoners, soldiers, and slaves), were also obsessed with controlling sexual contact.  But, what does that gain anyone? 

It gains power.  Sheer unadulterated power.  Over the masses.

If sex was limited to marriage, and marriage was defined, controlled and restricted, then so too were legal sexual experiences.  In fact, in many religions, even masturbation is prohibited. 

When sexual frustration, particularly among men, could be maximized, it could also be harnessed and turned into anger and aggression, which was, of course, very useful on a battlefield, but equally useful when mobs of people with torches and pitchforks became desirable to scare other people into doing what the Powerful wanted.

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2 responses

22 09 2009
Tari

Re: “natural” vs. “unnatural” – I’ve honestly always been confused by this debate. If God (and I assume we’re talking mainstream Christian/Muslim/Jewish God here) is omniscient, omnipotent, and omnipresent….how is it that anything anywhere ever could possibly be unnatural? Isn’t everything, literally, God, and thus what can ever be unnatural at all?

I like a lot of your analysis above….I do think that the obsession with sin/sex is rooted in power and control, but I also think that those roots are deeply misogynist. Women, in particular, are sinful (Hi, Eve!) – women’s sexual gratification is particularly loathsome and dirty (which I think is why lesbians get alternately vilified and fetishized so consistently).

I absolutely agree that Powerful People in need of angry mobs to fight wars or engage in other mob-based shenanigans definitely benefit from having those mobs filled with frustrated people who have been denied not only sex (and whatever other desires they might have), but the very idea that those desires are okay and normal and deserve to be satisfied. Which is totally messed up.

One thing I would disagree with a bit:

Even other pleasures of the flesh, like eating yummy yummy cheeseburgers or wearing satin shirts, got a pass; but sex, bad bad bad.

Are we talking historically here? Because I would say that right now, culturally speaking, eating yummy cheeseburgers is very much BAD BAD BAD (cheeseburgers make you FAT EW GROSS), and there have definitely been points when Western culture had various moral stances as regards satin shirts (or the time-period equivalent thereof). Food and clothing have most definitely been used in the context of sinful behavior, used as vehicles for control and power. And, of course, hit women harder than men.

(Of course, I have a whole theory how religion and marketing are the same thing these days, so my connections may be through that vehicle.)

22 09 2009
Mette Damgaard

Sex is not only to make the family further. it is reserved for a man and a woman to do that, sperm and egg. Sex is emotion, and thus something quite different. All animals can feel tenderness for each other, regardless of sex, we call it love. If there are too horny feelings, we call it sexy. Heifers on the ground have sex desires to each other (lesbians). And bull calves are jumping around on some or anything. The priests and those who wrote the “rules” for human beings, have very poorly on his conscience. It was never the meaningful only be reserved for someone. All have emotions. the fairest rule would be that one person may not force another to sex against his will. But if otherwise a pair or more (regardless of sex) can find out the emotional together, it must surely be the most natural among humans.Charity!
Modern humans by hygiegne is important. Therefor allso take care of one yourself and yours partner, then that it is love. Nice thou!

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