by Joseph M. Bowers
Christian scholars and Popes have tended toward a narrow and negative view of sex. Augustine believed it the method by which original sin is passed on from one generation to another. Jesus has been thought of as asexual. Catholic priests have been expected to be celibate. Many of us were raised to be ashamed and leery of our sexual desires. Even as with the concept of original sin, there has been a lot of misogynism and double standards involved. Fathers proud of sons sowing wild oats while thinking of sexually active daughters as sluts.
A son recently observed that most of his male friends were getting a lot more sex with their wives when they were dating than after getting married. A female counselor, attempting to tell if a girl I was attracted to was attracted to me, asked if she had made any sexual advances. Women have and do tend to use their sexuality to attract someone they see as a potential mate. Traditionally most have sought a strong, aggressive, even sometimes violent person. Men have competed to establish themselves as alpha males.
Our most popular male movie stars have been people like Clint Eastwood, John Wayne and others who portray aggressive heroes often violently vanquishing evil doers. Gangster portrayals like “The Godfather” and “The Sopranos” are extremely popular. Our most violent sport is by far our most popular. In the country music song “The Coward of the County,” the protagonist is thought of as a coward until he abandons his principals and kicks the shit out of someone. My daughter recently admitted to her dismay that to see a man cry was a huge turn off for her. I could write a book full of examples.
All this is because of the traditional survival and mating advantages of aggression and dominance.
For most or our existence as a species, women have had to depend on a man to provide for and protect her and any children she might have in a dangerous world . Aggressive, even violent men have been more successful at mating and procreating. The ideal woman has been thought of as nurturing and submissive. As women become less dependent on men, I think, that is changing.
I agree with the Gloria Steinem statement that women’s liberation is men’s liberation. As our society becomes less misogynistic and more civilized, assertive women will become more welcome and accepted in the workplace. More and more women are taking leadership roles. More men are becoming comfortable displaying vulnerability and emotion other than anger. This and being nurturing are becoming less of a mating disadvantage for men.
Contrary to canonical and Christian tradition, Gnostic gospel depicts Jesus as kissing Miriam of Magdala on the lips and loving her more than the other disciples. He is depicted as being fully Devine and fully human-one with normal sexuality and desires. These gospels rejected by the early church but rediscovered in 1947 do not support the views on sexuality and healthy humans alluded to above. They suggest that far from being undesirable, sex acts can be the physical embodyment of holy union.
I have a friend who believes that intent is irrelevant. If something good comes of one’s action, his motivation doesn’t matter. I understand his line of reasoning but disagree. Intent is everything.
Men and women often engage in sex acts for profane reasons. When two people connect physically, spiritually and emotionally out of love for who and what the other is rather than what they can do for oneself in sexual union, it is in my opinion the most spiritual and holy act a human can engage in. As close to being Gods and Goddesses as we can get in this life. Truly connected to other than self. If God is love what could be more Godly?