abstinence and why it's shit, Atheism, Benedict Cumberbatch, biological arguments, C.S. Lewis, Christian Rhetoric, Keira Knightly, letter, Mere Christianity, sexual Education, Sexual politics, Sexual Rhetoric, Sexuality
No Mr. Cumberbatch is not returning my phone calls, in fact the man has actually threatened to sue me if I continue our correspondence. Despite what you said in your last letter I do NOT have an unhealthy obsession with the man, because I find Keira Knightly just as…just as…
What was I saying? I can’t remember now.
I got your letter and I am sorry that your brother was offended by my remarks about religion, but I won’t apologize for what I said. I know it’s easy to write and publish words on the internet and not have the fortitude to back them up with real honest conviction, but I stand by what I wrote. While I saw firsthand in my life the benefits that religion can bring to people, it was too often outweighed by feigned interest of malevolent intent to sell me on it. I think what it did was school prayer. Now I went to a private school ( like I’ve mentioned, like, omg, a billion-billion times already, nobody cares) where it was legal to not only pray in the classroom but also to hold a weekly chapel service where we wore chapel dress, said the Apostles Creed, the Lord’s prayer, sang gospel songs, and listened to Sermons. This activity disturbed me at the time, because I honestly cared, a little, about the practice of worship, but to my surprise nobody else did. Girls were supposed to wear dresses or tasteful skirts, but instead they wore porn star skirts with leggings, as if that helped, while the boys forgot ties, or didn’t wear ties, and would be slapped with a detentions. It wasn’t just the dress-code though B——, in the middle of worship I would look at my fellow students and they were all so apathetic, they couldn’t give three shits why they were there. And after all that, when we would return to the classroom, they would discuss getting drunk and gossiping about who was sleeping with who. It was the most pathetic display I’ve yet to actually witness, and quickly learned me up good to the fact that many Christians liked to wear their Christianity on their sleeves.
Which brings me to C.S. Lewis and Sex.
I really tried B——–. Lord help me I tried to appreciate Lewis a second time around, but no matter how hard I fought, no matter how diligent I remained in swimming through Lewis’s never ending sea of metaphors and colorful war-analogies, I just couldn’t find much redeemable or worthwhile passages. But even that didn’t bother me so much as two fundamental flaws with Lewis’s work. First off, the man could have at least thrown out a joke every now and then to keep things light. I’m not talking about dirty limericks or “yo mamas” but at least one fucking knock knock joke so I could tell the man was human, or at least NOT so English.
The second troubling part for me was a chapter in the third part entitled Sexual Morality, and you probably can guess where this is going. That’s why, before I continue, here’s a photo of myself wearing a joke glasses and a mustache. Don’t I look ridiculous?
…well I tried.
Lewis’s argument is pretty much what you would expect, though I note in fairness the man is not condemning sex like many contemporary Christian voices seem to be, but I’ll get to that in a minute. Lewis did impress me for a moment of pragmatic awareness when he said:
Chastity is the most unpopular of the Christian virtues.
If he had stopped there, I might have been able to allow the man some breathing room. But alas he didn’t and carried on with:
There is no getting aware from it; the Christian rule is, ‘Either marriage, with complete faithfulness to your partner, or else total abstinence.’ Now this is so difficult and so contrary to our instincts, that obviously either Christianity is wrong or our sexual instinct, as it now is, has gone wrong. One or the other. Of course, being a Christian, I think it is the instinct which has gone wrong.
But I have other reasons for thinking so. The biological purpose of sex is children, just as the biological purpose of eating is to repair the body. […] But if a healthy young man indulged his sexual appetite whenever he felt inclined, and if each act produced a baby, then in ten years he might easily populate a small village. The appetite is in ludicrous and preposterous excess of its function. (95-6).
Damn, forgot myself again.
I know this argument has been made time and time and time again, but it’s an important one dammit, and we need to talk about it. Contemporary Christianity is afraid of ducking. Fucking. Shit. Let me try that again. Contemporary Christianity is afraid of Bonegs. Boners. SHIT! Okay, one last time. Contemporary Penis-.
You know what, I’m just gonna move on.
Now it would be a mistake to attack Lewis for this opinion given his time period, and I’m only going to attack him for his method of argument. He cites “the biological argument” a strategy commonly used by both Christians and atheists to defend their particular point of view. I note that both parties use this argument, though I will note I’ve seen atheists carry it off better than Christians. Now when he cites the horny young boy constantly following his biological urges he suggests that “the appetite is ludicrous” in its “excess” but is it really? Any real study of biology demonstrates that this urge is actually pretty leveled out by the actual chance to mate. A young boy may want to procreate with every woman in sight, but that doesn’t mean he’s going to. Ask any man(except Lemmy Killmister or Gene Simmons, or any Rock Star for that matter) and they’ll tell you their record is nowhere near that much. Okay, he’s gonna fluff it up a bit, but a single man is expected to have around 11 sexual partners in a given year, that is hardly a small village. That drive exists in proportion to the actual expectancy to have sex.
Let’s take it a step further and talk about bugs. I know B—-, I know. Just listen. My dad was an exterminator so I learned a lot about insects and arachnoids, and when it comes to mating strategies there’s usually a pretty consistent fate for the males. They respond to pheromones, mate with the female, and either die naturally or else are devoured by the females. The male’s job is simply to fuck, and then die.
But perhaps a conscientious Christian reader will object to my suggestion using insects for evidence, but I’m following a biological argument. Time and time and time again Christians will attempt to employ biology, all the while denouncing evolution as garbage, (Biology as a science is dependent on evolution by the way) and every time they miss the implication of following such an argument it just makes them look intellectually weak.
They’re willing to accept one aspect of a biological principle without accepting other established facts or concerns.
But it’s not just that Lewis is at fault here, it’s the fact that Lewis’s work is praised by many contemporary Christians as an important Christian apologist. Lewis is the theologian, if you can really call him that, I won’t, but some might, that has his words plastered on cheap mass produced goods sold at Hobby Lobby and awful memes your grandmother shares every time President Obama is on the news, that gives many Christians validation of their opinions concerning sexuality. Which of course leads into characters like Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson who open their mouths and say crap like earthquakes and tornados are god’s curse for being lax on homosexuality.
Poster after poster, novel after novel, associate the idea o sexual indulgence with the ideas of health, normality, youth, frankness, and good humor. Now this association is a lie. (100).
Lewis was a product of his time, and so this attitude towards sex is understandable, but those of us living in a different time are living by different standards, different paradigms. Lewis moves from this point to argue that following every and all passions should not be indulged, and while I agree with that sentiment, the rhetoric being crafted is too close minded for those of us living in today’s society because there’s too much evidence against Lewis.
Regular masturbation isn’t just fun, it’s healthy. Studies have shown that men who masturbate or have sex on a regular basis lower the chance of forming prostate cancer. Orgasms have been shown to actually help people suffering from illness, because blood shifts to the genitals it has a chance to move back through the heart oxygenating it more effectively. Couples indulging in sex regularly deepen their intimacy and strengthen their psychological bonds which are crucial for the creation of a healthy atmosphere for raising children. Obviously it’s ridiculous to make our lives a non-stop fuck-fest, but no sane person is asking for that.
I hope I’m not making you uncomfortable B—–, I’m just addressing Lewis’s points, and the consequence many have taken by trying to live this way of life. The only reason I’ve attained any confidence in my sexuality is by studying it, by reading books about sex, by listening to testimony from sexual educators, by asking my parents about sex, by buying several books dedicated to sex jokes, by actually having sex (that one was kind of important), and getting over the fact that desire is something dangerous because that is bullshit. The only real danger comes when desire is stymied creating unnatural behavior, and here’s where, I’m gonna have to stop holding back.
Maybe before we continue we could see Benedict Cumberbatch radiant blue eyes as he lounges on a chair, the first few buttons of his shirt open…oh my…
What? Oh right. Now Keira Knightly…she…she…
Okay for real now.
The most recent Christian sexual scandal (they have their own category and that says everything right there) was the Duggar Family incident and their son Josh. Why are Fart-faced-Dick-bags always named Josh. Seriously! It’s like every douchebag in the 90s was named Josh. Go back and check. You just checked right, you see what I mean?
I’ll be honest I didn’t follow the Duggar family scandal very closely because it was old news. A Christian fundamentalist family that operates like a cult has a sex scandal. The only part of it that surprised me was that it wasn’t the father secretly having sex with a male prostitute. Josh Duggar molested his sisters and I took note during the FOX interview with Megan something-or-other, that when the father described the attacks he made especial note of the language, “He touched them over the bra. You know, it wasn’t rape.”
Let me clear this up.
If there is no consent, IT’S RAPE.
Do you know how I know that? Because I’m educated about sex.
The tragedy is many people in this country are not due to religious upbringing which encourages not just chastity but abstinence, a method of birth control that has been proven time and time and time again to fail miserably. It’s not just this attitude however which is the problem, it’s the inability, in fact it’s the adamant desire to remain ignorant about sexual health and education that is not rooted in Christianity that is bothersome, and not for the reason you think B—–. Even Lewis himself notes Chastity is not a deal breaker:
Finally, though I have had to speak at some length about sex, I want to make it clear as I possibly can that the center of Christian morality is not here. If anyone thinks that Christians regard unchastity as the supreme vice, he is quite wrong. The sins of the flesh are bad, but they are the least bad of all sins. All the worst pleasures are purely spiritual: the pleasure of putting other people in the wrong, of bossing and patronizing and spoiling sport, and back biting, the pleasures of power, of hatred. (102-3).
Now I could list all the instances of Christians failing miserably in chastity and the corruption that has been wracked upon civilization for it. But I won’t. Instead I’ll tell two small stories.
In my school there was no sex-ed although there was a puberty day. The boys and girls were divided and we were given a book about our bodies. This created some conflict later as boys and girls would swap books to leer at the pictures. It was a fun day from what I remember of it. There was pizza and most of the people who talked to us were male teachers. The best memory I have is of Coach Francis coming in to talk to us about erections and he made us play a game where we could come up with all the fun names for them. Boner. Woody. Hard-on. One Eyed Monster. But the second memory I recall is of the school priest coming in to give us the abstinence talk. Father Tom was a nice man from what I remember of him, most of the priests were (they were Episcopal so I guess that helped). Father Tom was going to get married in about three weeks and so his lecture to us was about the expectation of sex. He told us how he was happy that he was waiting and that how that waiting would only make the union between him and his then-fiance more meaningful. Now while this was a beautiful sentiment I only remember the embarrassment and pity I felt for the man. All I could think was, why are you talking like you’re about to have surgery to remove something?
The second story took place a few years later. I told you before B—-that chapel was mandatory at my high school. Well one week our high school principle/Football Coach (it’s East Texas after all) came in and decided he was going to give the sermon for the week. And of course what better place to talk about sex than chapel? I don’t remember much except the embarrassment and pity again, for the man confessed to us that he had had pre-marital sex. This confession was followed by tears and light crying. Now to high school boy who thinks about boobs every three seconds, this story and reaction was asinine and has only become more so after years or reflection.
It doesn’t matter three fucks who your partner fucked before they met you. The only thing that matters, that should matter, is that you are honest about what you want, who you are, and that you maintain a mutual honor system. That does NOT mean exclusive rights necessarily. There are many couples that practice poly-amory, where you may date/seduce/sleep with people while still maintaining a central relationship. Some couples have open marriages where they bring other people into the bedroom or else don’t mind it when their spouse sleeps with somebody else. And then there are some couples are exclusively monogamous, and let me be clear, THAT’S PERFECTLY FINE.
This has been a long letter B——, and I apologize for making it so, but my intellectual reaction to Lewis was frustration and annoyance rather than introspection. Lewis makes plenty of little points that are relevant to a Christian soul, but he all he offers is little points.
And as for sex, I wish someone besides my parents, had taken the time to teach me that human sexuality is not a vice that is a corruption of Christian oligarchy. I don’t know if your experience has been different from mine, it probably has, but let me at least caution you to this and share a sexual lesson my father taught me:
As long as your fantasies aren’t about hurting other people, and as long as you wrap that rascal, you’re fine.
I do not and can not understand why so many Christian voices and minds are terrified by this small lesson.
Anyway, always lovely hearing from you B——. Please write back when you return from your mission trip, and kiss that guy for crying out loud. Seriously a third of your last letter was just you debating about whether to do it. That sweet story about him drawing a butterfly for you. I wept. You think if Benedict Cumberbatch and Kierra Knightly would…would…
Sincerely, yours in the best of confidence and support,
Joshua “Jammer” Smith
P.S. You’ll note B——, I included plenty of pictures of two people in this letter, that’s only because I’m not sexy. If you’re going to talk about sex, it’s best to have sexy people around. Like Benedict Cumber….Damn it!