Click here for Part 1 of my list-letter to Lisa responding to her great memoir of her journey searching for relationships with both men and God.
11. Internet Porn Idolatry… and its coming Spawn of Virtual Reality Sex Addiction: Men who expect real-life women to behave as their porn star goddesses do, that is, if they’re still interested in flesh and blood women at all.… As noted in Kathy Shaidle’s must-read e-book culture critique Confessions of a Failed Slut, a compelling exploration of the last four decades’ sexual confusions:
That porn could warp young men’s sexual expectations was a commonplace talking point during the feminist ‘porn wars’ of the Eighties. The notion was roundly dismissed, but now it looks like the ‘anti-s’ were onto something.
In the previous part I already highlighted how some New Testament-centric theologies provided rather inadequate answers to questions of love, marriage, and sex. In the Evangelical Christian youth culture of my teen years it was abstinence until marriage and each lustful thought was morally equivalent to actually cheating on your future spouse. Jesus supposedly knew every bad thought that popped into our heads and each one was responsible for pounding those nails into his innocent flesh.
Just as I showed in point 3 how some Christians snip out a verse from Paul like some kind of biblical bandage to justify their demands for a wifely hooker performing on demand, the end of the sex discussion for those not yet married was Matthew 5:27-30:
27 You have heard that it was said, “You shall not commit adultery.”[a] 28 But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. 29 If your right eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. 30 And if your right hand causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell.
Is it any wonder that sex and violence seem so joined at the hip when it’s ingrained in so many Christians that lustful thoughts should be banished with thoughts of self-mutilation?
None of the commenters responding to my posts even bothered to acknowledge the alternative solution to the Pauline Christian approach to sex that I’d put up in the beginning:
Just as Christians and secularists would feel better physically by adopting a food diet closer to Kosher, so too the ideals and approach toward a Kosher sexuality in marriage is also the attitude to pursue.
And part of that comes in recognizing what junk food and porn sex have in common: they’re both the products of an emotional, feelings-based pagan culture that we indulge in because of our inability to develop self-control through finding a higher pleasure than the escape of orgasm and the endorphin rush of the tasty food.
This great video of John Piper that Walter Hudson shared in his article “10 Barriers to Healthy Relationships Explored in Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s Don Jon” is worth considering again:
12. Christian Protestant Pagan Sadomasochism: The recurring phenomenon of wildly charismatic, emotional preachers who proclaim the need for public purity but who in private pursue their primitive urges with abandon.
It’s not just some Catholics who take their obsession with Christ’s suffering into strange places as we explored with Joe the Catholic in point 4. As captured on page 159 of Finding Mr. Righteous, the ongoing “relationship” with “Ryan the Preacher” who pursued a media career and had a habit of seeking out women for phone sex. “I also want to give you some orders,” he said…
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One of the more eye-popping passages from Lisa De Pasquale's memoir #FindingMrRighteous. A Christian preacher who publicly praises modesty in women in private seeks dominating phone sex fantasies with vulnerable women who look up to him as a moral leader. Page 159. Controversial stuff coming…
Lisa, what you’ve captured in your book is important. Compare and contrast Ryan the Preacher and Chris the Atheist and the same disturbing pattern of sex and dominance reasserts itself. Why is that? The answer is what few want to consider: absent a moral value system pushing males to strive toward a higher level, THAT’S JUST THE WAY WE ARE. Teenage boys who learn to think of sex primarily as a recreational activity and stress reliever will stay that way. There isn’t some biological impulse in men toward monogamy.
13. Worshipping Our Own Ugliness: Why a man would rather pursue women for phone sex instead of make one of them his beloved wife.
As captured on David P. “Spengler” Goldman, page 123 of It’s Not the End of the World, It’s Just the End of You:
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"But we willfully choose what is ugly over what is beautiful because we are ugly, and we prefer to worship our own ugliness rather than the beauty created by an inspired few. That is not merely execrable bad taste. Ultimately it is a form of #idolatry." – David P. "Spengler" Goldman, page 123 of It's Not the End of the World, It's Just the End of You. #art #culture #music #God #religion #Christianity #secular #atheist
But we willfully choose what is ugly over what is beautiful because we are ugly, and we prefer to worship our own ugliness rather than the beauty created by an inspired few. That is not merely execrable bad taste. Ultimately it is a form of idolatry.
“Apollonianism is objectification…” – Camille Paglia, page 513 of Sexual Personae, revealing the dark truth about Oscar Wilde and the West’s hiding-in-plain-site neopagan popular culture…
14. Apollonian Radical Pagan Materialism: “The novel’s major premise is Dorian’s repudiation of the Christian inner world for the pagan outer world.”
When I read these descriptions of the way Oscar Wilde’s plays and novels’ late decadence was a form of amoral, literary neopaganism, for some reason it reminds me of Barack Obama and his fictional foil Frank Underwood.
Lisa, I’m afraid that in a literary sense I’ve grown somewhat radical in a way also. I’ve come to really resent the amoral critical valueless art value system in which I learned to critique books and literature. I was taught — and most critics believe and are supposed to practice — that aesthetics is what really matters. We shouldn’t let our own personal biases or judgments affect our emotional appreciation of cinematic or literary beauty.
This is dangerous BS, poisoning our culture. I no longer believe a work’s moral content can be separate from its aesthetics. We need to promote art and culture that lifts us up and inspires us to try to be better instead of wallowing in depressing, dark fictions.
15. Buying Love Through Excessive Gift Giving: Going way overboard with trying to buy the love of someone who isn’t in as good of a financial situation as you… often culminating in Trophy Wife status…
As described on page 140 of Finding Mr. Righteous, one of the major problems with Preston the Quaker:
The glee that came from Preston’s flowers and gifts was short-lived. Not because of guilt, but because it didn’t represent anything real.
Lisa, with Preston the Quaker we see another example of how philosophies in the personal and political realms can mirror. The same root attitudes that underlie the man who tries to buy a woman’s affections with gifts mirror the political demagogues who rile up the emotions of their constituents with fearmongering about the need for new healthcare legislation and other big-government goodies to be passed immediately.
16. The Jesus Wannabes: Believing that it’s your responsibility to try to save individuals and cultures who are trying to destroy themselves. This applies both to the macro world of nation states and our own personal lives.
Page 249 of How Civilizations Die (And Why Islam is Dying Too), Goldman’s follow-up:
Spengler’s Universal Law #23: The Best thing you can do for zombie cultures is, don’t be one of them.
Two of the great things about Spengler’s approach to foreign policy — what he calls Augustinian Realism and that I’ve described here — is that it transcends both left and right and also applies to one’s personal life dealings in relationships of all sorts. A hard lesson that it looks like we’ve both learned: we aren’t capable of saving other people when they’re intent on destroying themselves. Rational arguments bounce off minds that have grown addicted to following the twists of their emotions.
17. Atheist Anarcho-Capitalist “Libertarianism” Intellectualized Through the Personality Cults of Ayn Rand and/or Murray Rothbard
From an exchange on Deeply Religious Marriages Are Better Than Secularist Civil Unions and a follow-up with the same commenter on the later post “‘Man Is More Inclined to Do Evil Than to Do Good’ – Machiavelli”:
(Click the image of the comment above or here to see my post about my futurist-inspired “realizations” on turning 30.)
Later our differences were made more clear in his response to my follow-up ‘Man Is More Inclined to Do Evil Than to Do Good’ – Machiavelli:
I’m not opposed to all varieties of Objectivism, just as I’m not opposed to all Protestantisms and Catholicisms. There are many Objectivists with strong Zionist and hawkish influences that offset the naiveté of their movement’s “sheeple,” to borrow one of their terms. It is possible to combine Objectivism with Biblically-based philosophies. The next on the list is an example of a talented thinker (and slick prose stylist) but one with whom I maintain respectful differences.
18. Catholic Christian Objectivism That Misunderstands Machiavelli (and thus Moses) and Therefore Assumes a Too Sunny View of Human Nature: “It would surprise me to learn that Judaism teaches that Man is inherently evil or predisposed to evil. That would render Judaism inherently incompatible with Christianity.”
Fran Porretto and I dialogued on our differences. I responded to his post “Some Thoughts on Sex and the Bonded Couple” with “‘Man Is More Inclined to Do Evil Than to Do Good’ – Machiavelli” where this exchange occurred, another example of how Christianities centered around the New Testament can conflict with those based in the Old:
I’m planning to start digging into Machiavelli more soon…
19. Arminian Christian Paganism that also assumes a sunnier view of human nature and dismisses the most evil as “reprobate,” aberrations from the norm: “Hedonism is not the natural state of man… it is not a desire for regular pleasure, but a warped moral state… Every man is inclined to evil, all are born sinners and unworthy of salvation. but that does not mean each man is oriented to evil the same degree. Some are indeed ‘reprobate’ or turned over to the full measure of their wickedness such that they are absolute sales to it. It doesn’t follow that this is the normal state of fallen man.”
As captured in this fascinating comment exchange from ‘Man Is More Inclined to Do Evil Than to Do Good’ – Machiavelli:
I do think that sometimes it can be very important to keep nudging and pushing in these theological debates until you get to some kind of concrete disagreement that illuminates where the value disagreement lies. Sometimes if you dig deep enough and keep asking questions and responding then there are some interesting things to learn.
20. The Idol of Self-Reinvention: “A man has only one escape from his old self: to see a different self in the mirror of some woman’s eyes.” – from Clare Boothe Luce’s The Women, as quoted on page 185 of Finding Mr. Righteous in reflections on what motivated Adam the Jew to cheat:
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"A man has only one escape from his old self: to see a different self in the mirror of some woman's eyes." – from Clare Boothe Luce's The Women, as quoted on page 185 of Lisa De Pasquale's Finding Mr. Righteous. There is another choice too: rejecting the idol of self-worship. A #man should be more concerned with DOING something great rather than trying to be someone "great." Identity = #idolatry
On point 10 in part 1 I highlighted how Elizabeth Scalia emphasized in Strange Gods the way that all too often idols are shiny and reflective, all the better to bounce the images of ourselves back to us that make us feel good.
And in this point we see a parallel with #18 when Fran Porretto defined love in this fashion and I dissented:
You assert that “To love is to transcend the self.” In one sense, that is true, for love requires the elevation of the beloved, her well-being, and her happiness to a plane equal to one’s own, that the two may create something greater than either self. But in another sense it’s misleading, for the self does not vanish, nor does it become irrelevant. You might say it’s there when it’s needed, and yields to the couple when the couple should take precedence.
What does it mean to love someone? How do we learn to do it?
I feel like such a geek and a loser continually having to just go back to Bible-thumpery. I tried really hard to avoid it for so long. It’s just the alternative is so much worse.
Updated: Part III now up.
See also by Hannah Sternberg on Thursday: