Monday, May 15, 2006
Remember back when I was complaining that "cultural conservatives" have a pathological model of sexuality? Well, a friend of mind pointed me to a blog, which according to my friend is written by an Evangelical Christian Fundamentalist: slacktivist. And in his (I think it's a he) blog he asks, why do Christians hate sex? And in his next post, he gives an interesting account of why this might have come about. It involves early Christianity's appropriation of certain neo-platonic ideas that denigrated the physical in favor of the ideal.
I am very happy to see this analysis coming from within the Evangelical Christian movement. Like a therapist, I believe improvements always have more staying power when they come from within, rather than imposed from without. (Witness the American South and the lingering resentments about the Civil War and forced de-segregation.) I think much of the puritanical hysteria we have been seeing recently (OH MY GOD!! IT'S JANET JACKSON'S NIPPLE!!! THE WORLD IS COMING TO AN END!!!!) is happening because puritans feel the "loose morals" of the rest of us ARE being imposed on them: Condoms in schools! Porn on the net! Gay people being unashamed! Blowjobs in the Oval Office! Rampant Divorce! legal Abortion!
It's much harder to be a puritan without the forces of law and custom backing you up. Now that those props are falling away, of course they're freaking out. They want their crutches back. And they want the rest of us to walk with those crutches. Because every person who walks without them is a living reminder that it is possible to do so. Libertarians, hedonists, and liberals always wonder why puritans are trying to impose their morals on everyone else. It's no mystery: every healthy, well-adjusted, sex-positive person is a walking, breathing refutation of their worldview. And nobody likes cognitive dissonance. So the puritan must either change the behavoir of the sex positive person, or make them feel bad about being a sex-positive person, or depict the sex-positive person as being some combination of sick and evil.
At any rate, after reading slacktivist's posts, I will always be very careful in the future to differentiate "puritans" (the folk who embark on the futile quest to slay our sexual nature) from Evangelicals and Fundamentalists (who hold certain beliefs about Christianity and how it should be spread). Indeed, there are many ways to arrive at "the puritanical solution", many of which do not involve the big three monotheistic religions. I have heard that China, for example, has a very puritanical strain in its culture. And I doubt it came from Plato or Christianity. Maybe the thing that can unite atheists and fundamentalists is sex! After all, it is how most of us got here.