Is there any religion in the whole wide world that DOES NOT get it’s panties in a wad over sex? I’ve never run into one yet. EVERY religion I know of either demonizes or diefies sex. It’s either sin or salvation, not just sex.
So, I’m in a rant today about Religion and Sex. I’m not sure what started it. Actually it was probably the bruhaha going on over at hardcorezen.blogspot.com or the gudoblog-e.blogspot.com about Brad, some picture he posted of a girl in a bathing suit and his suggestion people subscribe to SG to support the people who support him (in very small part) by publishing and actually paying him to write his great articles.
If you haven’t read any of them you should. They are at http://www.suicidegirls.com/. However, beware, there are PICTURES OF NAKED WOMEN on that site. So, if that gets your brain, or nether region so heated up you can’t sit zazen then you should probably just stay away. This brings up the whole issue of PORNOGRAPHY and, sex and religion.
Pornography cames from two Greek words, porneia and graphe. The first word means basically any kind of “illicit sex” (of course what is or is not illicit is relative to the religion or culture) and the second means “writing”. Of course in the age of multimedia this expands to all sorts of methods of presentation. The key here is that this word is used in the Greek Old Testament and the New Testament and so derives it’s meaning and connotation from Judeo-Christian concepts. By the way, in case you haven’t guessed already the meaning and connotation are negative, baby.
The interesting thing about the “teapot tempest” going on over at HCZ and DSB is that some of the Zen guys can’t seem to step outside of the cultural/religious box of Christianity to ask, just what is pornography anyway. Are pictures of naked, tattooed, pieced adult women in very mildly sexually nuanced poses, which they volutarily consent to being published, take some of them themselves I expect, and probably, for which they are most likely paid, really pornography? Some people cry a resounding YES!! TATTOO AN “A” TO THEIR CHESTS! It seems many of the zafus are still in the Christian/Western cultural box.
Sex is powerful. It is a powerful act but it is just sex. Yeah there are issues of intimacy, vulnerability, taking care of yourself and not getting taken for a ride, STDs, pregnancy and all that sort of stuff, but it’s still just sex. However, Religions seem to either want you to stay away from it or participate in it in a very narrowly prescribed way because they are afraid of what such a powerful experience might do. It might just make you question whether what they want you to believe and do is really what YOU want to think and do instead of what THEY want you to believe and do (notice the very subtle change of working, clever isn’t it?). On the other hand some religions make sex part of their religion to diefy it. Actually I rather like this approach better than the demonizing of sex but it’s still, in the end, just as bad.
When you diefy sex you try to change it into a spiritual experience which takes it out of the realm of reality and into the realm of religious mysticism and belief. Yes, it is powerful, it is a very “heady” experience, but it is still just sex, a physical, in the body experience. This diefication approach tries to separate sex from the body and make it a non-corporeal, spiritual or enlightenment act. This veiw arises from a Platonic view of the physical and the body in particular which is just as negative as the denigration of the body as we know it in Christianity.
Neither approach is comfortable with sex without trying to make it something it isn’t for good or ill. Both approaches try to wrap it in other things, reinterpret it and transform it into something they can handle and control. After all, it’s all about control. Both approaches deny the fundamental need for personal accountability and responsibility by trying to tell you what sex is, how you should have or not have sex and what you should experience instead of just leaving it to you. Both approaches are not comfortable with the body. Both approaches in one way or another denegrate the body and the desires which arise out of it either as sinful or as not entirely spiritual.
Perhaps I’m taking it out of context. I’m not a Socialist or a Marxist but the statement “Religion is the opiate of the people” seems oddly applicable. If the state controls religion and religion controls you, well, you can see where that is headed.
Elaine Pagels has a great book entitled “Adam, Eve, and the Serpent” in which she examines the view of the early church toward sex. It confirmed what I had always thought, what was never really said, but was believed within the church about sex. Say what you will, say what they will in the “official” literature, Elaine Pagels has the skinny on the view of the Christian church on sex. It pretty much mirrors what most religions have to say as well in one form or another. Basically they are agin’ it even within the confines they themselves set out as acceptable. Sex is still not really okay even in marriage, well it is, but well, kinda, but not really, but we don’t want to say that.
I don’t want to start hanging plagues on the wall or shingles over the door but I’m not just talking out of my hat. Of course no matter what I say I know or how I came to know it, it’s up to you to decide what you want to think. I would be the last one to try to “evengelize” you. However, my view of the Church is not just about a few Sundays in Sunday School or a repressive domineering mother or father squarely in the fold or about some abusive experience or even about being raised in a conservative fundamentalist church for the formative years of life. I have or did have some official credentials for many years and a boatload of personal experience using them with education to back them up for what that’s worth which, in the end, is not much.
It’s not just the Church either. Partly as the result of the Church’s and Christianities influence in general, our society as a result has got to be one of the most confused convoluted and crazy-making places to live when trying to work out how you relate to this very fundamental desire. Is it any wonder so many people are so screwed up about themselves and sex?
At the end of the day, sex is just sex, no more, no less. Actually it’s just sex at the beginning of the day to if you can get it then.