A Word on Sex

This article was inspired by the fairly recent news story that the US Vice President’s own wife taught at a school that had an anti-LGTBQ policy.  Naturally, this is because it is a Christian school.  Having gone through an evolution of thought on this subject as I lost my faith, I though it was time for a discussion.

Impetus

Let me go back over 25 years.  I was in discussion with a parole officer, who said something about a particular group of people that she dealt with in her profession.  She said they struggled with their very identity and their self, knowing what they were doing was wrong, but also feeling compelled at the same time.  She was talking about pedophiles.

Now, please don’t turn away and yell at me because I said the word “pedophile.”  I am in no mind to give a damn about their feelings when it comes to horribly scarring children, and give them no cover for their crimes.  If they hurt innocent children, they deserve the punishment that comes to them.

However, what I grew to realize is that human sexuality is not simple. It is not black and white.  And it is, other than eating, probably one of our most compelling instincts.  Many pedophiles know all too well the harm they can cause, and thus are torn apart by the starkly competing forces of their desire and their humanity.

Now, it doesn’t take long, in the age of the internet, to realize that there are a pretty wide variety of things that turn people on.  There is almost nothing that doesn’t appeal to someone’s interest, kink, desire, love, or fetish.  And if we listen to the Christian point of view, it’s because people just want to sin.  Basically, they are saying that if you wish to be good, you won’t have these desires.  Those that do are allowing themselves to stray.

But let’s flip the script for a moment.  There are a whole host of things (again, easily found on the internet) that don’t turn me on even for a second.  Full disclosure, I do not feel any particular restraint on exploring my sexuality.  But there are things that I still do not find, in any way, attractive.  There are some things that I wouldn’t do short of threat to my life, and there are others I would not do even then.  This is a pretty compelling counter to their claim.  I am willing to commit the ultimate sin of renouncing god.  Hell, I think I do that on this blog nearly every article.  I’ll do it again.  Fuck God of the Bible, and fuck his impotent, worthless son!  But yet, good luck getting me to try a sexual act I find repulsive.

This thought experiment can be done with any Christian, or anyone else for that matter.  For example, in the world of BDSM, a submissive (one that is willing to be used for sexual pleasure) will draw up a list of okay acts, not-okay-for-now acts, and hard-not-okay acts.  The dominant (the one that controls the action) is expected to rigidly adhere to this list.

Now, this is not a community that judges others on their sexual desires.  This is not a community that would bat an eye if someone wanted to engage in acts involving any particular combination of people, toys, fantasy, control, pain, or fluids.  Yet even they recognize that each individual has certain things they do not enjoy, or even find repugnant.  Even they realize that every person has their own sexual blueprint.  So no, people are not gay because they want to sin.  They are gay because that is how they feel.  It’s what excites them.  It’s what turns them on.

But it isn’t “Natural”!

I heard this argument hundreds of times.  Of course, it only makes sense in a distorted evolutionary framework, but that doesn’t stop creationists from using it.  Then again, creationists don’t spend a lot of time engaged in critical thinking, so who cares.  But many Christians accept evolution, and an evolutionary mechanism would seem to suggest that being gay would be a self-correcting trait.

But like we must do with any problem, we must widen our scope a bit lest we make hasty judgments.  We must look at the whole picture.  First, it is always important to remember that variety is what drives evolution in the first place, and there is no intent.  There simply is variety, and that variety can help, hinder, or not affect a population’s ability to survive.  Secondly, this assumes that human sexuality is purely genetic.  I am not a scientist, and certainly not in the area of human sexuality.  But my limited understanding is that early uterine development plays a significant part in the development of sexual orientation.  And if it isn’t genetic, then evolution doesn’t matter.

And lastly, since the comparison is against nature, why don’t we look at nature?  Every species of animal known has homosexual and hermaphroditic members.  So yeah, it happens naturally.  Further, homosexuality was considered a normal thing in many cultures throughout history, including the Greek, Romans, Chinese, and the Native Americans.  Now, the highly modified and politicized version of history would let you believe that sexual freedom was the downfall of the Roman empire.  Naturally, this is just dumb, and void of any honest evaluation of the reality of the rise and fall of nations.  No, sexual freedom didn’t do in Rome in any more than it contributed to the continued success even today of the Chinese.  It’s just a tall tale that plays well in churches.

Screwing like animals

One last discussion on human sexuality needs to be had before we wrap this up, and that is the idea of humans acting like animals when they have social sex.  And of course, this is again a ridiculous oversimplification.

First of all, sex for pleasure is fairly unusual in the animal kingdom.  Now, I’m not going to say a pig doesn’t enjoy the sex, but the only time a boar is going to get it on is when the sow is ovulating.  To be sure, we have learned of various animals that have sex with more or less pleasure, or more or less during ovulation.  But on the whole there’s a pretty limited number of species that engage in sex other than for procreation.  Further, because of our evolved brain, humans are only one of a couple of species that have sex with any social connotation.  This can be no better demonstrated than in our physical structure.  Only humans have a penis with the distinctive “mushroom” shape, and it turns out it evolved that way because it is excellent at pumping semen out of the vagina from previous males.  In essence, the winner of the evolutionary race wasn’t the male that manages to find a mate, it was the male that managed to be the most recent or most popular mate.

Yes, if we wish to discuss the “natural” element of human sexuality, it would seem that plenty of screwing with various mates is par for the course.  Our bodies are literally built for it.  Sex for procreation “only” is a trait of the “animals”, and only an organization dedicated to lying to you would tell you that offspring is the only purpose for sex.

The entire argument of “one male and one female” marriage is based on this idea that it leads to procreation.  But if that were true, then marriage should only be for a “fertile male and fertile female”, otherwise the entire exercise is pointless.  Women past menopause, sterile males, women that had hysterectomies, people with various injuries, and many others would all be on the chopping block for marriage if procreation is the point.  But we don’t have arranged marriages anymore because we all recognize that marriage is about love, not about sex or making babies.  Even if the man is shooting blanks, two people can love each other.  And even if it’s two men, they can still love each other.

Oh, and don’t bring up biblical marriage if you think it says “one man and one woman”, because not only is that bullshit, I also just don’t give a damn what the bible says.  It says slavery is okay, so I’m not interested in using it for my moral compass.

As I mentioned in the beginning of this article, to harm another human is to earn the disrespect of me, of our communities, our laws, our culture, our values, and our morality.  This applies to a sexually desired person, friend, neighbor, employee, and pretty much anyone at all.  But that doesn’t mean sex is bad, no more than friends are bad or neighbors are bad.  It is human social interaction.

Sex is not a mystery, nor is it a magical act.  It is about fun.  It is about love.  It’s about being an adult.  Maybe the churches should grow up.

The Spartan Atheist

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24 thoughts on “A Word on Sex

  1. I agree totally.
    (Very well put, btw.)

    Liked by 1 person

  2. It really is about control, isn’t it. You tell someone that ‘this’ is forbidden according to some cockamamie religious law, and pretty soon “this’ becomes a sin. Even though it isn’t. Sex, dietary laws (the Catholics were big on that), behaviors (no dancing, no music on Sundays, no drinking, etc ) and little by little you jail a person’s mind as effectively as if they were in a prison.
    Catholic priests used to call it “working for your religion” during lent, or other holy days, where you gave up something to gain God’s approval or extra Heaven Points in some way.

    Denying the most basic human needs/urges–food, comfort, sex–really does a number on someone’s autonomy, as thoroughly as any hostage situation. I hadn’t thought of it quite that way before, thank you for helping me see that.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. You’re welcome, and thank you for expounding on that point!

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  3. Nice post. As Judy mentioned it’s all about control, especially when it comes to sex, whether the Christian realises it or not. The longer I’ve been outside religion, the more I come to realise this (well most religions anyway). The churches should grow up, yes, but maybe things would be much better if there were no churches at all lol. Even the more liberal minded churches aren’t that great either, just a more diluted version of religion.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Yeah, if they all disappeared it wouldn’t hurt my feelings either.

      Liked by 2 people

  4. The church is obsessed with “sin”, for all the reasons referred to above. But a society that has “grown-up” knows that “consent” is a more pertinent–and sometimes slippery– term, but one that should more properly regulate human sexual interaction.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Exactly. In real morality, if there is no victim, there is no crime. Consent is a much simpler and clearer standard than religion’s labyrinth of arbitrary taboos. But once we all recognize that there’s nothing wrong with homosexuality or non-marital sex between consenting partners, society is free to turn the spotlight around and shine it back on Father Moe and Father Lester instead. The Church can’t be expected to like that.

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      1. This is why the very concept of “sin” is such a pernicious blight on any thinking society. The Churches and their apologists probably regarded systemic child sexual abuse as some sort of “sin”– as “satanic” temptation, and Thor knows what else — that could be forgiven away, through penance and contrition; rather than seen more properly for what it is: as crimes against humanity.

        “Sin” is no longer a meaningful or useful term, and ought to be junked. I don’t accept the terms that theists try to set when they lecture us on how we’re all supposedly “sinners.” Flaws, misdemeanors, failings, crimes even: yes.

        Sin: no.

        Liked by 3 people

  5. This is a great piece of writing; many people are just so ignorant about natural humanity and discount our far from perfect evolutionary traits.

    With all the paedophile priest controversies wouldn’t you think that the majority of what you wrote would have sunk into the churches and their hierarchal heads by now?

    Sexuality as you have said is far from black or white and I believe many people if not all of us have had desires and fantasies that we will never experience or seek to be involved in because we are fortunate to have control of ourselves and we can consider the risks and the shame that comes with such things etc.

    Man has evolved as the protector and the sexually dominant individual and that trait is still evident today in its rawest forms even though other aspects such as genetics and upbringing may play significant parts, but it is why men dominate in rape and sexual misappropriation.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. For nearly 2000 years people have been under Christianity’s thumb, from Kings to peasants. Wars have been fought because of the differences between catholics and protestants. A Queen was beheaded by another Queen because of it. An entire country was colonized, one town at a time, because of religious beliefs.

    I think finally people are beginning to think for themselves, and back away from religion, slowly, reluctantly. Sometimes it’s hard to let go of the familiar, no matter how much it hurts to stay.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Good post. Sexuality is one of the most complex things about human beings, and religion’s efforts to reduce it to a set of simple rules are among its more absurd endeavors.

    What causes homosexuality is a fascinating question. In some ways it behaves like a genetic trait (there’s a stronger-than-random correlation in the sexual orientation of identical twins, for example). Since most genes influence more than one trait, homosexuality could be a side effect of a gene that also does something else which is reproductively advantageous. On the other hand, in Classical Greco-Roman-Persian societies, bisexuality in men was almost culturally normative to a degree that suggests it must have been much more common than in our societies today. A purely genetic trait wouldn’t vary so much in frequency over a relatively small number of generations.

    As for the Roman Empire, it thrived with homosexuality and all kinds of “perversions” being accepted for half a millennium. After it adopted Christianity, it collapsed within a few decades.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Excellent post. What is also ignored but acknowledged at the same time, the huge number of homosexuals of every persuasion and from every century who are artists, actors, writers, poets, performers. One door, it seems, opens another.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Yes, that’s something I’ve thought a lot about. I can’t prove it, but there does seem to be some correlation between homosexuality and artistic or literary talent, across many cultures. What that means, I hardly dare guess.

        Liked by 2 people

    2. Yet another example of a modified historical narrative told to, and believed by, the faithful. How or who someone screws has nothing to do with the effectiveness of government. Yet this logical leap is considered good history in the church.

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      1. How or who someone screws has nothing to do with the effectiveness of government.

        It is remarkable how much wiser the pre-Christian version of our civilization was about this than many of us today are. In Julius Caesar’s time people joked that he was “every woman’s man and every man’s woman”, but no one seemed to think his sexual reputation detracted from his qualities as a leader. Many Greeks considered Alexander the Great an exemplar of the “manly” virtues of courage, toughness, and military prowess. No one thought that his well-known homosexuality somehow was in conflict with that. Today — well, even now, in the 21st century, just imagine the huge shitstorm that would be triggered by any serious possibility of an openly-gay President.

        Things can change, though. A generation ago Ireland was totally in thrall to the Catholic Church, and today they have an openly-gay Prime Minister and have even voted to legalize abortion.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. @ChrisS: ““Sin” is no longer a meaningful or useful term,” but the idea of control, mind control, thought control, ownership of the flock, requires language intended to scare people into behaving the way you want them to. And once you do that, you got your church, up and running. Controlling their pleasures (no dancing, no singing no humming on Wednesdays) and their rights to each other (if it’s not intended for baby making, it’s wanton, and a sin), their diets, even the clothes they wore, binds them to the church and the community in a kind of “we’re all in this together” attitude.

        But these days there’s too much going on outside the church walls, and most ministers know that. Sin is an empty word, and few people respect it any longer.

        Liked by 1 person

  8. I suspect there were (and probably still are) many creative people who, because of the stigma of homosexuality, married, even had children, to hide the fact from society. And in Victorian times especially the stigma of being single (raised eyebrows here) forced many men and women into convenient marriages, which allowed them to pursue their careers more freely and without censure.

    I know several families who have had two or three children, all of whom were/are gay. Gays in and of themselves are a kind of dead end, at least in the male line, since they rarely reproduce. It would be a fascinating subject for a geneticist to pursue, especially these days, when people are far more open about their preferences.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Long ago I knew a man who was in that position. His whole publicly-visible life was a lie. It’s not fair to the wife in such situations either — probably always knowing there’s something wrong with the marriage but not able to figure out quite what it is. At least now that most gay people are free to live openly, such sad cases will hopefully become far fewer.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. And sometimes those marriages of convenience allowed each partner a far greater freedom from the demands marriage normally places on a couple. From the beginning, up to and beyond Victorian times pregnancy was always a crap shoot, from conception to birth, and many women died horribly because of it. Being married to a secretly gay man meant she had the status of a married woman, without the fear and danger of pregnancy.

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      2. Unless she was using that freedom to play…

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  9. Victorian women were extremely repressed, sexually. There was little physical freedom for a married woman, and the rules were pretty stringent. There was no birth control. Any man who broke off with his fiancee pretty much destroyed her reputation; Young women were not allowed to work, to earn money, to travel alone. Men had the power, and the physical freedom. He could have a mistress.. She could have babies. When you think about it, marrying a gay man might often have been a relief, since she had a companion but not the danger of children.

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