Why Religious People Are Ashamed of Porn

One of the more exciting statistics used to denigrate religion is the fact that its followers seem to experience higher levels of guilt and shame regarding their sexual actions. Consider a headline from 2011, fairly bursting with its own conclusions: “Atheists have ‘better sex lives than followers of religion who are plagued with guilt.’” This is brilliant stuff, destined for gleeful, bi-annual repetitions by the press, for there are few things more marvelous than sexuality, and few things that so effectively trumpet the cosmic idiocy of religion than a scientific “proof” that a belief in God and his precepts screws up this selfsame marvelousness. Hence:

As a religious person quite happily “plagued with guilt,” I would like to point out a crucial misunderstanding these otherwise resplendent articles suffer from, using a recent article as my guide: “Religious People More Likely To Feel They’re Addicted To Porn, New Study Shows.” The article is being displayed by The Huffington Post, a website for children whose headlines put both the “yell” and the “low” in “yellow journalism.” The study it cites is quite correct. Religious people do tend to agree with the statements “I believe I am addicted to Internet pornography” and “I feel ashamed after viewing pornography online” at a higher rate than their godless, baby-eating peers. The interpretation of this study is where things get wibbly-wobbly. For the interpretation and, indeed, the gleeful aesthetic of this and all such publications spins itself so: Religious impulse and its doctrines manufacture shame where it doesn’t belong. Pornography is a morally neutral phenomenon — even a positive, healthy, and natural good – and it is only some trumped-up notion of sexual impurity that has us feeling awful about televised humping.  This interpretation permeates the comboxes dutifully dripping from the rear-ends of all such articles. Have a summary from a Huffington Post “Super User,” a title awarded — from what I can gather — for the continuous ability to distill the vague, insinuating douchiness of particular articles into withering points:

“Watching porn is ONLY a problem if you feel obsessive guilt when watching it. If you have no problem with watching porn, then there is no problem. And what causes people to have obsessive guilt over watching porn? Religion.”

Headshot. But allow me to throw a pet monkey in the works.

Coupled with the fact that religion is apparently ruining everyone’s otherwise awesome porno experience is the fact that religion seems to be bolstering people’s committed sexual lives. From the study “The Benefit of Marriage and Religion in the United States: A Comparative Analysis,” we find that:

 Cross-tabulations by religious denomination show that those with no affiliation (i.e., no involvement in religious activities) are least likely to report being extremely satisfied with sex either physically or emotionally (Laumann et al. 1994). Waite and Joyner (2001) find that emotional satisfaction and physical pleasure related to sex are higher for frequent attenders of religious services, holding other characteristics of the individual constant. Along similar lines, Greeley (1991) reports that couples who pray together say they have more “ecstasy” in their sex lives; he also finds that religious imagery and devotion is positively associated with sexual satisfaction.

Granted, this is uncertain, ideological stuff, just like the previously-mentioned, pro-atheist studies. Catholics are equally likely to delight in silly headlines — “Devout Catholics Have Better Sex, Study Says” – and frankly, I am in despair over finding an empirical answer to the question of who is having better sex. (Are we really competing? And does the winner get ice-cream?) This being said, if we are to take the available empirical data at its word, then there is a trend amongst the religious that needs explaining. Why are the same people whimpering in sexual shame over the use of pornography having great married sex?

The simple answer is that pornography is forbidden while married sex is not, so religious people feel shame about the former and joy about the latter. But this cannot explain why the religious report better married sex than their non-religious counterparts — who assumedly feel shame about neither. Nor does it make sense by our current understanding of sexuality, which doesn’t exactly render someone depressed and fearful after watching pornography into a sexual dynamo with his wife. If what our Super-Duper User said is true, and religion causes obsessive guilt over the normal, healthy sexual experience of pornography, then why would religion suddenly render him passionate over another normal, healthy experience — the experience of sex? And is this not the joke, that religious sex is either repression grotesquely unleashed…

…or a reoccurrence of the same guilt and fear that surrounds pornography and masturbation? A deeper explanation is needed to account for the apparently awesome sex lives of the religious.

Here’s one: It is for the same reason the religious feel shame over things like pornography that they are more likely to end up having wonderful sex lives. Shame enables great sex, and our inability to grasp this fact is because we have equivocated the word “shame” with “a negative, guilty feeling attached to doing some perceived evil,” when shame is actually a fascinating, positive power of the human person.

Do not allow me to idealize myself and my fellow religious. A retrospective feeling of guilt after watching pornography may be nothing more than a wallowing in a feeling of failure. If this is the case, religion operates negatively, only ever whispering “thou shalt not” into the human heart — and here we feel guilt in the same mode by which we feel awful after displeasing a parent or breaking a law. This feeling is not the same as the feeling of shame, and it certainly cannot account for the impertinent joy of the committed sexual lives of religious people. Fear engenders no joy, and great sex hardly springs from the successful side-stepping of what ought not be done. But we are deluding ourselves if we think this is a foundational experience of religion. Cringing fear and a guilt over disappointing a lawmaker is a mimicry of shame, an experience suffered when the religious degrade and reduce their own religion into a primitive ethical checklist — an experience I believe is artificially swollen in quality and quantity by the opponents of religion for easy points against a dark, guilt-laden specter.

If we nevermind the bollocks, it appears that shame is a natural, positive good which — in the sexual sphere – directs the human person towards a maximum of sexual experience — towards a total experience. To understand this we must turn to the phenomenology of Max Scheler, who points out that…

“…in all shame there is an act of “turning to ourselves.” This is especially clear when shame sets in all of the sudden after an intensive interest of ours in external affairs prevented our being conscious and having a feeling of our own self. A mother running to the rescue of her child who is burning in a fire does not first put on a robe. She will run…in the nude. But as soon as she has rescued her child this turn to herself, along with shame, will set in.

A very bashful woman can feel…little shame when being a model for a painter, being a patient of a physician, or when bathing in the presence of a servant…If she experiences herself in front of the painter as “given” for her aesthetic quality and as a valuable visual thing for the arts, the turn-experience will not occur. The same is the case when she is only a “case” for the physician, or the “lady” for her servant. The reasons here are the same. She does not experience herself as “individual.” [But] let us have the painter, physician or servant be for a moment distracted from their original intentions so that the woman begins to feel this happening, and the “painting,” “case,” and “lady” disappear. The woman will then strongly react with shame while “turning” to herself.

Shame directs our consciousness to ourselves, making us aware that we are what is at issue, not some image of ourselves, some limited or lesser version. This is why shame is so often misappropriated as a bad thing — the reminder of our own unique person can be uncomfortable, as when we make a mistake during a public address and turn inwards in shame, full of the painful awareness that we are not a “public speaker,” but ourselves — screw-ups, all. Scheler sums up shame as “a protective feeling of the individual and his or her value against the whole sphere of what is public and general.” In this view shame is a positive good, and the “bad feelings” associated with it are really the feelings evoked by those conditions which necessitate our blushing rush to protect our individuality — the objectifying gaze, the dirty insinuation, or the public insult.

Shame returns us to a whole view of ourselves, and this is most felt when we are wrenched from a limited view of ourselves. Shame is “a counter-reaction grown into a feeling; it is the “anxiety” of the individual over falling prey to general notoriety, and over the individual’s higher value being pulled down by lower values.” This, I would argue, is the basis for an original, natural feeling of shame in regards to pornography and masturbation, a shame shared by atheist and Christian alike.

Through pornography we are happily lost in a limited part of ourselves, in a reduction of our person to an organism pleasurably aroused by visual stimuli. There is something tragic about the pornography addict, and it is not that pornography is so awfully bad, but that real, embodied sexual love — even a technically sinful sexual love — is something so much better, something immensely more gratifying and life-affirming than masturbation to a screen. Shame is that turning inwards, away from the limited part and towards the whole of our person, in the view of which it becomes clear that we desire more than the physical gratification of a libidinous urge, and far more than the local stimulation of sexual organs. It is the sudden and often painful lurch towards a fuller life, which, in the sexual sphere, includes a desire for actual people, and beyond simply desiring another person, a desire to love and be loved by another person, to “give that person, possibly in one and the same act, the same happiness as one experiences in oneself,” and to have this bodily happiness beyond the locality of our sexual organs, beyond a detached, observed genital-feeling and towards an ecstasy of the entire body.

Shame is a vitally important power, for the indulgence of the lower tends to undo our ability to enjoy the higher. Addiction to Internet pornography makes sexual love with a real woman difficult. The prostitute, who must indulge limited relationships of utility against the urging of her shame, is not marked by a rich, deeply pleasurable erotic life, but by a growing boredom and even a disgust over sex and its contents. Shame, by urging us away from loveless acts, saves us from being “stuck” in the lower — which tends away from the near-mystical possibilities of sexual love and feeling.

But let’s stop flirting with Scheler and get to the necessary work of bisecting the adorable puppy of current sexual ethics with a meat-cleaver. Religion is not the cause of the feeling of shame over the use of pornography. One need only reflect on the first, childish experience of pornography or masturbation to see the rather obvious fact that shame exists prior to education, prior to an articulation of a particular religious doctrine concerning pornography or masturbation, prior even, to any understanding of sex — we were naturally ashamed “quite independent of an experienced reproach” in regard to libidinous indulgences. No, religion does not cause shame. It provides a framework for its growth. Our current culture, on the other hand, is about the business of repressing shame. The ideologues of modern sexuality work hard to rid us of our silly shame, thereby working against our natural drive towards the higher and the better. Religion provides a haven from modern ideology, allowing shame to be realized as a positive power within the human person.

It might seem odd that the Catholics who report being ashamed of watching pornography are the same Catholics who report “ecstasies” within married, sexual love, but this is only the case if we assume that there is no hierarchy of sexual experience. If all genital pleasures are equal, then any shame over a particular genital pleasure is a designation of an unhealthy sexuality, and all such headlines rejoicing over the fact are justified in their rejoicing. If it is the case, however, that an act of intercourse within the assurance of love, involving our emotional, spiritual and physical being, is something higher than, say, masturbation, then shame over the latter may just as well indicate the flourishing of a sexual person towards the highest possible good, the highest possible enjoyment of their sexual nature, working past the immature and incomplete indulgence of minor-league pleasure by way of a “turning inwards” that recognizes our propensity for vastly more. As Scheler puts it: “Shame is, as it were, a chrysalis; sexual love grows within it until it breaks through.”

This is the fundamental problem with headlines that proclaim atheists have better sex lives than the religious, studies that use the incident of shame following a sexual act as an objective marker for whether one’s sex life is bad. The article “Atheists have ‘better sex lives than followers of religion who are plagued with guilt,’” for instance, included masturbation, pursuing an affair, oral sex, and watching pornography as objective markers of a sex life, and used increased religious “regret” over these actions to show that an atheistic sex life, free from shame, is better. But who would really argue that a life of mediocre masturbation, shameless though it may be, offers itself as an equal to a life of passionate sex with a spouse, even if the latter may include a feeling of shame regarding, say, having an affair or watching pornography? Amidst this, one begins to sense tinges of resentment — of desperation, even — in the highly-publicized attempts to believe that a sexual life free from shame is both hotter and heavier than the sexual lives of the religious, who cultivate this concept in their mythos, their law, their liturgy and their theology.

No, shame is a wonderful power of the person, and true religion, in preserving shame, makes it possible for us to attain a total enjoyment of sexual life, even in a world waylaid by the easy, the instant, and ultimately dissatisfying. It does this by turning us inwards to regard the whole of our person, quite apart from the reductions by which we so easily view as ourselves as a sexual organ to be gratified. Shame waits for the better, and I kind of like the fact.

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  • http://deshackra.com/ shackra sislock

    wonderful piece, makes me feel the necessity of studying more this subject of shame!

    • Pofarmer

      Shame, and guilt. Can’t have too much of either.

  • SpaceGhoti

    So if I read this correctly, religious people are more pious and faithful leading to more satisfying sex lives even though repeated studies demonstrate the opposite? Perhaps this is meant to claim that religious devotion leads to more sexual fidelity and less divorce, even though the latest studies show no such correlation?

    https://www.barna.org/barna-update/article/15-familykids/42-new-marriage-and-divorce-statistics-released

    Perhaps the author is simply engaging in the “No True Scotsman” strawman by claiming those studies are skewed because it includes all religious belief and not “true” religion?

    “No, shame is a wonderful power of the person, and true religion, in
    preserving shame, makes it possible for us to attain a total enjoyment
    of sexual life…”

    No True Scotsman it is.

    • Leszek Jaszczak

      I don’t really see a logical fallacy in the article myself. The author claims that the current studies claiming that religious people have less satisfying sex lives may be biased in the definition of what makes up a “satisfying sex life”. So far, I agree with him in that conclusion. I suppose I would need to look at the study design to decide how much credence to put into the conclusions or even how to interpret them. So Mormons rate themselves as most guilty about sex, atheists the least. I don’t know what to do with that. It would be nice to have more of a breakdown about what the data represents. For example, if religious people feel more guilt about adultery or rape than atheists, that is to me a good thing for the religious people.
      As far as divorce goes, there actually is a correlation, for Catholics at least (28% vs 33% for average). The Roman church has strongly discouraged divorce and it shows. Protestants as a group are average. Not much to say there, somewhat different theology, different teaching, different results. Anyhow, I don’t think this is an example of “no true Scotsman”, But it depends on how you read the data. If you look at “Christians” as a group, then no, there is no difference. If you look at Catholics, there is a difference from the general population. I would not argue that Catholics are true Christians, as per the fallacy, but you have to admit that the Catholic branch of Christianity offers different statistics.

      • Pofarmer

        Is the 28 to 33% statistically significant?

    • Stephanie

      Not all religious devotion has the same divorce rate as non-religious. Catholic couples who follow the church teachings and only use NFP (as opposed to artificial contraception) have a divorce rate of <2%. Please keep in mind that most people who claim to be "Christian" or "Catholic" rarely if ever go to church. And out of those that do, there are many churches/parishes that preach against traditional Christian moral teaching. This makes it extremely difficult to get accurate statistics because most self-identified "Christians" are secular people who claim a belief on God. They think, "Jesus was pretty cool, I think I'll mark 'Christian' on this survey." Everyone is lumped in together regardless of whether or not they actually practice their faith. The surveys are too basic and do not ask probing questions to determine whether or not someone is practicing their faith.

      Adultery and divorce are against the Bible so those people who say they are Christian and report those behaviors are non-practicing Christians at best. Adultery is never allowed, divorce is only allowed in extreme cases to protect the other spouse and the kids (violence, STDs from adultery, and financial protection if one spouse charges up credit cards or is addicted to drugs or gambling), and remarriage after divorce is never allowed. (That is why the Catholic Church has an annulment process to determine whether or not a marriage was actually valid: if it was valid, they cannot remarry until their spouse dies. If it was not valid, they can remarry. Maybe something was lacking at the time of the vows, they didn't intend to be together permanently, not open to life, intended to cheat, etc.)

      Let's be honest: anyone who claims that pornography is good is either lying or trying to sell something. Perhaps they are directly involved in the porn industry, or are a regular porn viewer who is trying to convince themselves that they aren't really doing anything wrong. Pornography is addictive and can lead to people looking at porn instead of pursuing real relationships and growing as a person. It creates unrealistic expectations of what their spouse should be like in bed. It makes people more accepting of all sexual sins because the story-lines in porn encourage them: fornication, adultery, gay/lesbian behavior, etc. It creates a cycle where it takes increasingly hardcore pornography just to get aroused. Studies show that porn viewing actually alters the frontal lobe of the brain! We also know from people who used to watch porn but quit that after a few months they are more attracted to their spouse and are more easily aroused: they don't rely on porn anymore. This usually takes about 18 months to completely recover. So which looks like a healthy relationship: one that uses porn or one that does not?

      • Pofarmer

        You do realize that you just wrote a whole post of No true Scotsman?

        • Ben

          “No true Scotsman” is only a fallacy when orthopraxis isn’t a necessary precondition. While behavior isn’t a necessary factor for determining nationality, belief and practice are most certainly a large part of religious identity.

          • http://kingscriercommissions.blogspot.com/ thekingscrier

            If you’re argument boils down to we follow the dictates of the “true” version of anything, it’s No True Scotsman.

          • Matt V

            Not true. If the characteristic at hand is recognized as a “necessary precondition” as Ben said, then it isn’t No True Scotsman – for example: “No truly honest man would lie like that.” It’s part of the definition. You truly AREN’T an “honest man” if you “lie like that”. Same with Catholicism. “A true Catholic follows the dictates of the Catholic church.” – part of the definition of Catholic – if you don’t “follow the dictates of the Catholic church”, you can call yourself Catholic all you want, but it (by definition) isn’t true. There’s no “No True Scotsman” here.

    • Pofarmer

      It’s really just dressed up idiocy.

  • http://platytera.blogspot.com Christian LeBlanc

    Some sinners have the decency to be ashamed of their sins. Other sinners lack the decency to be hypocrites.

  • Hershey Scholar

    Dear Marc,

    My name is Grace, and I host a radio show at Mount St. Mary’s University in Emmitsburg, Maryland. Would you be willing to give an interview for my show? You can let me know at gewagler@email.msmary.edu. Thanks.

  • Robert

    Great piece, but… This phrase could only approach being true if pornography were made with automatons: “…and it is not that pornography is so awfully bad”. What do you need to do to someone for them to be willing to perform sex acts in public, or to urinate in front of crowds at train stations, in a dirt poor former-Eastern Block country? This ought to be forefront in our minds – that sin redounds to our sisters and brothers – in our treatment of shame, too. But again, I agreed with everything else. Many thanks for writing it.

  • Paul

    But American Christian culture is deeply pornographic, and full of double-minded essentially puritanical sex-negative ambiguity about bodily existence, sexuality and the mere fact of genitals, and even whether bodily pleasure is appropriate or not.
    Once upon a time sexuality and “sin” were essentially the same thing. Such is of course still the case.
    Was not (and is not) the principal and overwhelming topic brought up in the Catholic confession box/process some hang up or guilt about sexuality?
    Forgive me Father because I have had lustful thoughts!
    This double-minded ambiguity was why the film introduced here was so popular in the USA. A film in which the “hero” representing every single living-breathing-feeling human being was systematically beaten to death.
    http://spiritlessons.com/passionofchristpictures.htm
    And this was/is promoted as “good news”!

    Only men and women full of intrinsic uncaused pleasure are capable of knowing and thus living the Truth in all relations and under all circumstances.

  • Joseph Jablonski

    Wondering if we could exchange the word “shame” for “guilt” and “guilt” for “shame” here? I’ve seen shame as a word used only with what you described as that limiting, unhealthy shame – law-breaking self-depreciation – and guilt described as the positive impetuous of change.

    • Tim Glemkowski

      Think you’re right Joseph. I like how Brene Brown distinguishes them too. I thought that as I was reading the article. Important to be precise with terms.

      Really nice job though Marc. Hope you’re enjoying Austria!

  • michicatholic

    Only among Catholics could this matter be opaque enough to require that amount of verbiage.

  • Eric

    Marc,
    This is my first time commenting in earnest on your site. Normally I read your blog posts and I completely agree with every point, and only wish that I had the same eloquence and discipline to write as you do. This article caught my eye on my facebook feed and it being on a topic I’m fervently (obsessively) interested in and wanted to read your views on, I couldn’t pass it up. So I clicked on the link and started to read. It started out good, the “11th commandment” meme made me laugh. But I kept on reading and it became very disturbing as I read on in disbelief. I’ve thought a lot about this subject, and prayed, and I have to say I can’t bring myself to even see your thought process in coming to this conclusion. I’ve always looked at shame, or extreme guilt, as something wrong. As a sort of disordered way of feeling the true guilt that comes from knowing you are a child of God but still subject to sin. Our identity as children of God is not a burden like sin. God looks with mercy on his children, and my sinfulness doesn’t change that. Knowing that gives me a peace, but it always makes me want to live up to my title. Shame is defeat to sin, it’s true roots are in the pleasures of narcissism. It does the soul no good to wallow in sin and feel sorry for yourselves when you can always turn back.
    I would attribute the better sex Catholics have to the physiological effects of abstinence. One is more receptive to stimulation when they aren’t feeling it all the time. Abstinence when abstinence is correct also makes one a better kisser I’ve found.

    • Jay Rod

      There is a lot of confusion about the words “shame” and “guilt,” and I think it might have been a good idea to do a little bit of defining of terms in order to get to the heart of this discussion without confusing too many people along the way. I submit that I, of course, may also be misunderstanding all of his points, but I offer an analogy that supports the way I interpret what he is saying.

      I would say that shame is a spiritual and emotional feeling, while guilt is actually an objective state, sort of a legal term. I think a lot of the confusion is that (so far as I can tell. I’m an American, too, if that matters) it is more common to use the word “guilty” to describe the feeling we have when we have done something wrong. It might be more accurate to use “ashamed” rather than “guilty” because guilty is what you are if you have sinned, no matter what you feel about it.

      In this way, then, one can feel ashamed about having sinned, and that is “good” or “positive” because it functions the same way as the “Check Engine” light on your car. It’s not good that it’s gone off, because that means you need to take your car in to the shop, but you can see that it IS good that you have that light, and that it is functioning, because it lets you know there is a problem. I would say that feeling ashamed is closely related to being “accused by conscience,” in that this feeling if your “check engine light” to remind you to get yourself to confession. It can be deactivated by ignoring it until you don’t notice it (desensitizing yourself to your sense of shame, keeping yourself distracted from it (people put electrical tape on their console so they can’t see it), but sometimes it malfunctions and goes off even when it shouldn’t (scrupulosity).

      So, is shame “bad?” Well, it is bad that you have to experience it, because it means (when it is working correctly) that your conscience is afflicting you. But it’s “good” that we have that built-in check engine light, because it can keep us from getting in quite so bad a state as we might have if we didn’t have that warning at all.

  • Santiago

    Let’s take the porn away because it’s a morally corrupt industry, and without a doubt it damages individuals, couples and society.
    That aside. So a Catholic spinster or bachelor, ever hopeful of finding the ideal spouse, (but as we know – many never do) must endure this shame and guilt through her or his 20s and 30s, for the natural human condition. Or a divorcee at 23, converts to Catholism, and in doing so, signs up to a long life of shame, for the natural human condition. Sounds like a pretty tough club.
    Please elaborate on this. I feel that the older Church (generally speaking) has somewhat avoided this icky issue and consequently, many faithful have felt shunned by its’ dogma. I congratulate Marc for boldly addressing such ‘unspoken’ issues in an age where people ask their god Google for the answers.

  • oregon nurse

    Do you want to know what makes sex really good? Infrequency. It’s just basic psychology that the more often you have something the less special it is and the less it tends to excite or satisfy. Couples with really good sex lives know this and they frequently mix in sexual play and cuddling that stops before orgasm and intercourse. This kind of self-denial and build up of anticipation while still maintaining intimacy makes the intercourse/orgasm far more exciting than knowing how every intimate encounter is going to end up. In fact, this is often the reason for lack of physical affection in relationships because people learn that if they don’t want intercourse, they don’t get affectionate with their partner since they have no other scripts for handling it. And a man who suffers from premature ejaculation (a common complaint from women) will benefit greatly from going to the edge of orgasm and stopping repeatedly. Both partners will benefit from that.

    • Agni Ashwin

      Sounds like “karezza”.

      • oregon nurse

        Had to look that up. Not quite the same philosophy of what takes place but similar in it’s wisdom.

    • YesDavisIsMyFirstName

      I would tend to minimally disagree with you and say that infrequency CAN make sex good but not necessarily. In my own life I don’t find that to be true for instance. The more frequent the sex between myself and my wife, the better it has tended to be. There is no cut and dry winner take all solution to good sex. At 7 billion people and hundreds of cultures, we surely have some diverse sexual preferences and experiences.

    • Pofarmer

      Just a question, define, “Infrequently.”

      • oregon nurse

        It’s self-defined or rather couple-defined. And it’s important that it’s not sex starvation. Sexual intimacy is maintained, actually it’s heightened, but the goals change.

  • Tom

    Pope Francis said something like this today. It seems his mind-meld has shifted to you.

  • Y. A. Warren

    Hogwash. Shame is not natural. Babies are not born ashamed of themselves; this feeling is passed on to them from others, and is always destructive in forming a positive image of oneself and others. Religions promote shame in order to empower themselves as the healers of the suffering souls that they have abused. A great deal of mental illness is actually attempts to deal with shame.

    Pornography is simply sad, in my opinion. I would not want my children numbing their own sexuality by becoming porn players. I also wouldn’t want my spouse to turn to masturbation in preference to enjoying sex together. This being said, the RCC has forced the idea that sexual feeling is “God’s” way of choosing one’s life mate, at the same time as they promote sex as only sacred when promoting procreation. Many marriages suffer from lack of sexual ecstasy, as the RCC is very clear that sex, even between married people, is never to feel sacramental.

    • Mike

      Y.A.: I am responding only because you asked for one.

      What you have written misses the mark in a lot of ways. And I say this, not to be antagonistic, but to clarify. First, shame is a universal human experience. It is a natural part of who we are. The fact that a baby does not feel shame only highlights that a baby is not capable of thinking at a higher level.

      Second, I agree with you pornography is sad and counterproductive. But I do not agree that the RCC “has forced the idea that sexual feeling is ‘God’s’ way of choosing one’s live mate.” The RCC would strongly caution against using “sexual feeling” as a way to choose one’s mate. That’s what will get a marriage into trouble. Choosing a marriage partner should result from a combination of physical and sexual attraction friendship, and intellectual consideration.

      It’s also a misunderstanding believe “the RCC is very clear that sex, even between married people, is never to feel sacramental.” The truth is precisely the opposite. Marriage is a sacrament and the RCC views sex as the sign of the sacramental covenant. It is a great good. Moreover, married sex actually images the greatest of sacraments, the Eucharist. Theologically-speaking, I think it’s fair to say that both involve the physical union of persons in a life-giving embrace.

      • Y. A. Warren

        Mike: “…shame is a universal human experience.” Where is this written, and by what non-religious authority?

        This is true, but not what the RCC has traditionally taught: “Choosing a marriage partner should result from a combination of physical and sexual attraction friendship, and intellectual consideration.” In fact, the RCC has traditionally taught that men and women could not actually be intellectual equals: “The husband is the chief of the family and the head of the wife. The woman, because she is flesh of his flesh, and bone of his bone, must be subject to her husband and obey him; not, indeed, as a servant, but as a companion, so that her obedience shall be wanting in neither honor nor dignity. Since the husband represents Christ, and since the wife represents the Church, let there always be, both in him who commands and in her who obeys, a heaven-born love guiding both in their respective duties.” [Pope Leo XIII, Encyclical on Christian Marriage, Arcanum Divinae, n. 11]

        The RCC seems to favor Paul on the subject of sex (and many other issues). “Better to marry than to burn,” and “Better to be like me (celibate).”

        In searching for my reference to the assertion that the RCC does not want sex to be sacramental http://www.orthodoxytoday.org/articles/AnscombeChastity.php#
        I came across the RCC catechism, which seems to support even homosexual bonding:
        I. “MALE AND FEMALE HE CREATED THEM . . .”

        2331 “God is love and in himself he lives a mystery of personal loving communion. Creating the human race in his own image . . .. God inscribed in the humanity of man and woman the vocation, and thus the capacity and responsibility, of love and communion.”115

        “God created man in his own image . . . male and female he created them”;116 He blessed them and said, “Be fruitful and multiply”;117 “When God created man, he made him in the likeness of God. Male and female he created them, and he blessed them and named them Man when they were created.”118

        2332 Sexuality affects all aspects of the human person in the unity of his body and soul. It especially concerns affectivity, the capacity to love and to procreate, and in a more general way the aptitude for forming bonds of communion with others.

        2333 Everyone, man and woman, should acknowledge and accept his sexual identity. Physical, moral, and spiritual difference and complementarity are oriented toward the goods of marriage and the flourishing of family life. The harmony of the couple and of society depends in part on the way in which the complementarity, needs, and mutual support between the sexes are lived out.

        2334 “In creating men ‘male and female,’ God gives man and woman an equal personal dignity.”119 “Man is a person, man and woman equally so, since both were created in the image and likeness of the personal God.”120

        2335 Each of the two sexes is an image of the power and tenderness of God, with equal dignity though in a different way. The union of man and woman in marriage is a way of imitating in the flesh the Creator’s generosity and fecundity: “Therefore a man leaves his father and his mother and cleaves to his wife, and they become one flesh.”121 All human generations proceed from this union.122

        2336 Jesus came to restore creation to the purity of its origins. In the Sermon on the Mount, he interprets God’s plan strictly: “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that every one who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”123 What God has joined together, let not man put asunder.124

        The tradition of the Church has understood the sixth commandment as encompassing the whole of human sexuality.

        • Mike

          Y.A.: Thank you for responding.

          “Mike: “…shame is a universal human experience.” Where is this written, and by what non-religious authority?”

          Response: It is a universal human experience. Why does it need to be “written” to be true? I have friends from China who have never had any religion who have all experienced shame. I know because they’ve described the experience. You know what shame is because you have experienced it. Whatever children you have will also experience it. And it’s something we all should, rightly, experience because it is a defense against being treated as an object.

          I confess I do not understand how either the article from the woman published in 1972, who as far as I know has no canonical status, or the Catechism quotes you cite support your position. The Catechism appears to support my position: re-read especially 2332. Marriage is a sacrament and sex is a sign of the sacrament. If you want an even clearer understanding, the Bible (which is older than the Catechism) calls the Church the bride of Christ. In other words, marriage images heaven and sex images marriage. It doesn’t get any more sacramental than that.

          • Y. A. Warren

            Babies learn shame from those around them. Different cultures teach shame about different actions. Babies with parents that aren’t afraid or shameful can grow up with discipline without shame.

            There is a world of difference between the discipline born of strong bonds to a parent/leader who exemplifies what he or she expects from one’s children/disciples and attitudes and actions imposed by fear and shame.

            I believe that a sense of guilt over actions which harm our communities is different than shame. Guilt is the voice that tells you that you are risking a disconnect with your community, prompting restitution of right relationship.

            Shame born of fear of punishment or exposure to one’s enemies causes denial of the wrongdoing and sneaky continuation of the actions that cause the harm. This creates greater and more permanent distance within community.

            What “canonical status” do you require in your spiritual journey? Do you limit yourself only to what renowned theologians and philosophers have to say? Renowned by whom?

            Did you read the article by Professor Anscombe? The copyright by Orthodoxy Today is 2001-2013. I came upon it because a link was posted by a devout Roman Catholic baby machine who is from parents of the same position on contraception.

            http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/anscombe/

            http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/obituaries/1313382/Professor-G-E-M-Anscombe.html

            It is consistent with the RC beliefs that we passed on from my 12 years of RC education and the sixteen years of RC education of my spouse.

            I am of the school of management where the buck stops at the top of the chain of hierarchy. If the educators and priests were misrepresenting the Catechism, they should have been stopped and corrected before being allowed to continue in their heresies.

            The church is a jealous and vengeful “God”). It is my belief that sacramental sex was seen as a pagan practice in which sex was being worshiped and was interfering with bonding to the church (presenting itself as Jesus on earth) as the main source of human ecstasy.

            I agree that the Catechism seems to support your position. I attempt to be fair when arguing points, as I am looking for mutual enlightenment, not to win arguments. The Catechism was enlightening to me, especially in what it did not say regarding sex between people of the same gender. I intend to study it more closely.

          • Mike

            Y.A. Thank you, again for your thoughtful response. I too am here to learn. We can’t learn unles we know the truth about something, including the truth of what the Catholic Church teaches if it’s relevant.
            1. You separate guilt from shame. No argument from me on that. It’s true. That’s why I see nothing wrong with shame. Guilt is a little more problematic. With regard to shame, please name a culture that has dispensed with shame. Shame is a natural reaction to objectification. Much of guilt, however, is learned and not good.
            2. When I referred to the author’s “canonical status”, I was responding to your allegation that the Catholic Church does not see sex as something sacramental. I thought (and still assume) that you were citing to her article to demonstrate that the Church does not see sex within marriage as sacramental. In your most recent post, you discuss your teachers from Catholic school. I don’t know the level of knowledge your teachers have, but if I want to understand Catholic teaching, I go to the sources themselves; the best modern one is the Catechism. I go to people for help interpreting the Catechism. But if someone interprets the Catechism in a way that’s clearly not consistent with the document, they lose credibility.

          • Y. A. Warren

            *The Difference Between Guilt and Shame*
            One involves feelings about oneself, the other depends upon empathy for others.

            Published on May 30, 2013 by Joseph Burgo, Ph.D. in Shame

            “According to Dictionary.com, then, guilt involves the awareness of having done something wrong; it arises from our actions (even if it might be one that occurs in fantasy). Shame may result from the awareness of guilt but apparently is not the same thing as guilt. It’s a painful feeling about how we appear to others (and to ourselves) and doesn’t necessarily depend on our having done anything.”

            http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/shame/201305/the-difference-between-guilt-and-shame

            These are the definitions with which I am most familiar, coming from mental health professionals. This is the most important issue in sham, especially when one is brainwashed since before birth to believe that one must make amends for all that is displeasing to one’s parents, community, church and their “God”: “Shame may result from the awareness of guilt but apparently is not the same thing as guilt. It’s a painful feeling about how we appear to others (and to ourselves) and doesn’t necessarily depend on our having done anything.” How does one go about making amends for what one IS?

            “Give me a child until he is seven and I will show you the man,” was supposedly said by the founder of the Jesuits, St Ignatius Loyola. The Roman Catholic Church and Hitler both lived by this belief, and it works.

            “…if someone interprets the Catechism in a way that’s clearly not consistent with the document, they lose credibility.” The Catechism was not written by Jesus, and the Roman Catholic Church, long ago, sacrificed their credibility as a religion following Jesus as their christ. They have never understood sex and family life because they have based their hierarchy on Paul and the Roman monarchies, not on the life example of joyfully Jewish Jesus.

            I study comparative religions for a reason: I am still attempting to get the RCC brainwashing out of my head.

          • Mike

            YA: The Dictionary.com definition you site is broad enough to include “guilt”, which you apparently think is legitimate. Moreover, it differs substantially from the definition of “shame” that Marc Barnes had in mind when he wrote his article. If you had read his article carefully, you might have realized this, and also concluded that you had no real disagreement with his article if you are defining the word the same way as he is.

            I have absolutely no idea what document your quote from Ignatius comes from or what it means outside of its context, or how that has anything to do with Hitler. We can all connect somebody to Hitler if we look hard enough, I suppose.

            There is no way to respond to your conclusory statement that the RCC lost credibility long ago by following JC as their Christ, nor to your equally conclusory statement that they based their hierarchy on “Paul and the Roman monarchies” rather than “the life example of the joyfully Jewish Jesus”, someone you just just said discredits the RCC. OK, if you think so.

            I’m glad you study comparative religions and that you state the RCC “brainwashed” you, but I haven’t a clue how any of that is relevant to what we’ve been discussing. I guess this was my bad for starting a conversation with someone whose original post started with this statement: “Religions promote shame in order to empower themselves as the healers of the suffering souls that they have abused.” Do you have any nonconclusory evidence that shame did not or would not exist outside of religion? The entire concept is absurd.

            I wish you the very best and will add you to my prayers. God loves you. But as far as I am concerned, this conversation is over. In the future, please, don’t ask for a response to a question when already have all the answers.

          • Mike

            There’s so much conclusory argument in what you write and so much irrelevance that an effective response is essentially not possible.

            1) You don’t appear to notice that you define “shame” differently from Mr. Barnes, and so you might agree with his position if you understood his definition.

            2) There is no way to respond to your comparison between St. Ignatius and Hitler.

            3) You make the incoherent argument that the RCC has never understood sex and family life because they based their hierarchy on Paul rather than on “the joyfully Jewish Jesus” right after you faulted the RCC for loss of credibility for following Jesus as the Christ.

            4) I have no idea what relevance your study of comparative religions has to do with the conversation.

            I wish you the best and will keep you in my prayers but I cannot afford to spend any more time in this conversation. God loves you. Please know that.

        • Imperious Dakar

          Thank you.
          As you point out, traditionally the Catholic Church has viewed men as better than women, and married sex as a necessary evil (and unmarried sex as simply evil).

          • Y. A. Warren

            Don’t forget that the children, even if conceived through the “sacrament’ of marriage, are also born evil, and the RCC has the only magic that will wash off the evil of sex and sin. Tell me again why Jesus had to be put to death. Wasn’t that to make up for “original sin?” Seems like double (or eternal) jeopardy, to me. Jesus was Jewish, and I don’t think this would seem fair in their laws.

          • Mike

            YA, when you refer to children being born evil, I think you’re referring to Calvinism, where, if I’m not mistaken, human beings are all evil and saved only because God chose them to be saved.

          • Hegesippus

            Further misinterpretation of Church teaching, this time clearly and deliberately so. Not only is this not Church teaching (original sin and evil are very different things) but the use of the word ‘magic’ suggests that badly needed and open-minded research would be beneficial. If you prefer “winning” arguments over truth, then accusing Catholics of ‘magic’ is not the most effective tactic.

          • Mike

            You need to provide some support from authentic Catholic documents for these conclusory statements. Given that the Catechism is the most current and comprehensive exposition of authentic Catholic teaching today, I would appreciate your showing me the sections that say men are better than women and married sex is a necessary evil. Thank you.

        • Hegesippus

          So intelligence is the deciding factor in one’s role in the family or other group?

          Each of your arguments against the Church are based upon a misunderstanding of either the content or the context. Even claiming that homosexual bonding is supported. To even point this out without any supporting explanation, completely against the obvious context of the text and the spirit in which it was written suggests that you are too willing to impose what you prefer to interpret over the actual content.

          What is more important in life? To be accurate or to be right?

          • Y. A. Warren

            Intelligence is one of the important factors in leadership ability.

            I quoted directly from the RCC Catechism, as you have requested. How much more “accurate,” in the eyes of the RCC, can I get?

            Unlike the RCC, I don’t ever declare myself capable of infallibility, no matter how threatened I may find my authority.

          • Hegesippus

            I’ll reiterate in case you missed it: ‘Each of your arguments against the Church are based upon a misunderstanding of either the content or the context.’

            The Catholic Church does not claim infallibility in using quotations correctly, but only in very specific circumstances, regarding very specific areas using very specific words. Trying to inflate this towards absurdity is inaccurate. Read Vatican I’s text to discover the real ‘infallibility’.

          • Y. A. Warren

            I have read the infallibility verbiage. I am more than a little tired of the circular arguments of the RCC and their apologists. The Vatican, pope, and magisterium have set themselves up as a “kingdom on earth.”

            They have protected themselves with creating a nation state and making of the RCC a religious and political monarchy. They enjoy the ability to hide behind both their religious and legal status simultaneously and separately, as it suits their purposes.

            Their desire to shore up this power is what led to any claim of papal infallibility. They can now admit to and pay for all of their arrogance.

            The magisterium writes and speaks in legalese and over-inflated philosophical language that is unintelligible to the masses. The ROMAN Catholic Church allows and encourages the lowly faithful to believe that the magisterium and priests have more power than they do.

            The Vatican is a political, legal entity, not the humble followers of Jesus who are the branches of the vine fed by root of The Sacred Spirit. I believe it is time that the lowly faithful take the true church of the humble Jesus back from the intellectually arrogant magisterium of the Vatican. Only then will there be a truly catholic church.

          • Hegesippus

            You support your position with emotive language and personal opinion. That you have to try to insult the Catholic Church by using a reformation-based jingoistic term says it all.

            If you want to offer a rational and clear proof that your opinions are supportable, feel free.

            And I would start with refuting Jesus’ words in the Primacy of Peter. Then explain how He was so mistaken in His understanding of how the Church would develop. Then how the teaching of the Church could be fallible even with the promised assistance of the Paraclete. After that you would still have a fair distance to travel… God bless.

          • Y. A. Warren

            What reformation-based jingoistic term?

            Jesus spoke against monarchy as a mode of leading people. The RCC sold the “Christian” church to Constantine in the fifth century. It has been married to politics and acted as a monarchy ever since.

          • Hegesippus

            ‘Roman Catholic Church’ was invented by Anglicans attempting to highlight the “foreign” aspect of the Catholic Church in relation to the “Church of England”. It was used as a means of demeaning the Catholic Church during and long after the reformation.

            ‘Jesus spoke against monarchy as a mode of leading people.’ Where? God was not keen on monarchy instead of judges but demanded the Isreaelites revere their king once in place. Jesus did not comment on this area.

            As for the unhistorical tale of Constantine having vast powers of influence, creativity and ability, it is a poor and unsupportable theory used by the Church’s enemies to demean it. Read the Ante-Nicene Fathers as a remedy! And it seems that you have added patriachal-like longevity to Constantine’s legend: he was fighting battles in the early fourth century, so to be around in the fifth is most impressive!

          • Y. A. Warren

            “The use of the adjective “Roman” to describe the Church as governed especially by the Bishop of Rome (the Pope) became more widespread after the fall of the western Roman Empire and into the early Middle Ages. For example, the mid-eighth-century document known as the “Donation of Constantine” repeatedly declares that its grant of imperial prerogatives and patriarchal primacy is made to “the most holy Roman Church”. This document became a crucial theoretical statement in the Middle Ages “to defend the universality and supremacy of Roman jurisdiction over lay rulers and their subjects in Western Christendom.”

            “The Donation of Constantine,” in From Irenaeus to Grotius: A Sourcebook in Christian Political Thought, ed. Oliver O’Donovan and Joan Lockwood O’Donovan (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1999), pp. 228-230.

          • Hegesippus

            The fact that the author of the text you quote is an Anglican might say something about partiality. They can be susceptible to historically unsound positions! Just ask an Anglican which was the first authorised English language Bible to exist :-)

            So I’ll offer a Catholic source to counter yours: ‘It is not possible to give an exact year when the Catholic Church began to be called the “Roman Catholic Church,” but it is possible to approximate it. The term originates as an insult created by Anglicans who wished to refer to themselves as Catholic. They thus coined the term “Roman Catholic” to distinguish those in union with Rome from themselves and to create a sense in which they could refer to themselves as Catholics (by attempting to deprive actual Catholics to the right to the term)… (Much more detail and content continues.)

            http://www.catholic.com/quickquestions/when-did-the-term-roman-catholic-church-first-come-into-being

            However, the article uses Websters as a source so perhaps it’s not so biased. And using a search engine offers the possibility of many more sources supporting my claim.

            So you and I are both dependent upon sources that we cannot verify but support different historical points.

            Thus we look at the modern use, which certainly varies, but as this Catholic dislikes it (as do many others!) and with the modern fashion of tolerant language and all that, perhaps you will refrain from the term, in the spirit of the modern way of thinking.

            Personally, insult me if you like but, as always, the use of ad hominem and insult will say more about you than about me.

          • Y. A. Warren

            I mean no insult.

            I use the phrase Roman Catholic to distinguish the political earthly monarchy of the Vatican and its magisterium from the many wonderful people following as closely as they can in the humble, joyful steps of the example of Jesus.

          • Hegesippus

            How does this example of Jesus, which is very narrowly defined, find reconcilitation with the Primacy of Peter, the overturning of the Temple tables, Jesus’ blunt truths regarding the Pharisees, the harsh words He used when Peter offered him another way, the promise of persecution, the coming destruction of Jerusalem, etc., etc.?

            It is very clear that, throughout history, some have used the authority and “power” of the Church as a vehicle for their own ends. no one ever said that Christians would not sin. Perhaps even some “Christians” have been machiavellian in their approach to what Jesus founded on Peter, the Rock.

            However, to use these sad facts as proof that Jesus did not mean all of the goods, teachings, charity, ecclesial movements, stability and structure that the Church offers to this world is to entirely miss the point of what Jesus founded.

            An accurate and fair accounting of the role of the Church in the Christian era finds it to be by far the greatest blessing to the world. That it is also the mystical Body of Christ and also the Bride that awaits the Bridegroom begs a question of your claim: how do you reconcile Jesus’ words with your narrow use of ‘humble, joyful steps of the example of Jesus’?

          • Y. A. Warren

            The Roman Catholic Church puts much emphasis on the last three days of the life of Jesus, narrowly defining Jesus as the blood sacrifice to appease an angry god.

            What about the many centuries of Jews preparing their blood line to bring the boy up in the way he should go? What about the many people at Pentecost who were admonished to go out and teach what they know?

            To act as if Jesus gave the only set of keys to heaven to Peter is a falsehood that is not consistent with what happened at Pentecost.

            “An accurate and fair accounting of the role of the Church in the Christian era finds it to be by far the greatest blessing to the world.”
            This is open to debate and continues to fuel too many wars.

            The Sacred (Holy) Spirit is evident in humanity that is open to receiving The Sacred Spirit. Not all access to the mystical presence of The Sacred Spirit, as embodied in humanity (especially in Jesus) is controlled by the Roman Catholic Church magisterium and priesthood.

          • Hegesippus

            Sorry, the Catholic Church that you misname does not match the straw man that you claim.

            Your version of Church teachings of ‘an angry God’, that Pentescost was a free-for-all (who stood up and spoke?) and your limited awareness of the good that the Church does makes me wonder if you are Christian or Gnostic.

            However, the final paragraph answers this somewhat: your cherry-picking of Scripture and ideas point towards a protestant straw man image of Catholicism. Please learn what the Church actually teaches in the Catechism of the (not Roman) Catholic Church.

            BTW, as Catholic means “universal”, the “Roman Universal Church” does not make sense.

          • Y. A. Warren

            On what do you base your superior “knowledge” of Catholicism, Roman and otherwise?

            I base mine on twelve years of daily study of the Roman catholic catechism and Roman Catholic version of the Bible.

            It makes no sense for the Roman hierarchy (The pope is the bishop of Rome) and/or the Vatican to continue to be seen as the seat of Catholicism, when, in fact the Vatican and all its hierarchy are powerful politicians in the political institution of nation state hiding behind religion.

          • Hegesippus

            Why do you persist in calling the Catholic Church the contradictory name of ‘Roman Catholic’?

            Why do you make a point of stating ‘Roman Catholic version of the Bible’ when the Bible originates form the Catholic Church?

            Why do you claim to have studied the Catechism for twelve years yet fail to notice the theological riches in the text written by the same ‘hierarchy’ that you condemn?

            Why do you persist in complaining about said ‘hierarchy’ without giving a single reason or explanation?

            Why is said ‘hierarchy’, explained in Scripture, Catechism, Fathers and throughout the history of Christianity, such an issue for you?

            Is your position a priori anti-Catholic?

            Did you really read the Catechism and Bible with an open mind?

          • Y. A. Warren

            Are you familiar with those who followed Jesus before and after the gospels were written? Are you familiar with the “Christian” church before and after Constantine?

            The term Roman Catholic appeared in the English language at the beginning of the 17th century, to differentiate specific groups of Christians in communion with the Popefrom others; comparable terms in other languages already existed. It has continued to be widely used in the English language ever since, although its usage has changed over the centuries.[1]

            “Everyone claimed to be ‘catholic’ and ‘evangelical’ and (eventually) ‘reformed’, but now each of these became a denominational label. The name ‘Roman Catholic’ conjoined the universality of the church ‘over the entire world’ with the specificity of ‘only one single see’” ([1]) Jaroslav Pelikan, 1985, The Christian Tradition: Volume 4, Reformation of Church and Dogma (1300-1700) (Section on The Roman Catholic Particularity). University of Chicago Press ISBN 0-226-65377-3 pages 245–246

            To answer your question, I am not a priori anti-Catholic. I am, however, a priori anti-cleric.

            I read all writings of those who seek the sacred with an open mind, in direct disobedience to the pre-Vatican II teachings of the religion of my mother and father and many generations of Roman Catholic mothers and fathers generations before their births.

          • Hegesippus

            I suggest a reading of the Apostolic Fathers to assist with the historical reality of the Church hierarchy. I recommend Quasten or Jurgens for recent compendia of the teachings of the Fathers as a whole. Amongst original collections, Eusebius is also useful in this field, not to mention the complete texts of Irenaeus, Tertullian et al. if you have the time.

            You will find a wonderful consistency in ante- and post-Nicene Christian teachings as they develop as would be expected. The claims of Constantinian authority over the Church are the clear anti-Catholic accusations of the Gnostics whose narrative was infamously divorced from the truth and always adhered to their personal interests. God bless you in your reading.

            As for your Pelikan quote, what exactly does it say? Please read it again.

            And your view of your predecessor’s limited reading capability – not entirely accurate, actually – simply indicates the wisdom of limiting the texts read by those unprepared for them. I cite (and connect) your ‘I read all writings of those who seek the sacred with an open mind [but] I am, however, a priori anti-cleric.’

          • Y. A. Warren

            We have gone far afield of the topic of pornography.

            I have read some of the writings of the church “fathers.” I also spend time exploring spiritual writings that have not been put through the vetting process of the “holy” see.

            You are clearly a dedicated Roman Catholic Church apologist. I respect that path, while believing that it is not the only path with truth.

    • Hezekiah Garrett

      Hahaha! That must be why the last pope said, in his first encyclical, that the marital embrace properly executed is and ideal method for achieving beatitude. Strip away the theological jargon and, in plain English, he is saying “do it right and you will see God Himself. Do it right and you’ll be in the actual presence of the divine.”

      Just goes to show the distance between “the church teaches…” And “some internet hack claims the church teaches…”

      • Y. A. Warren

        Too bad so many “celibates” find “god” in the sexual embrace of small children and other vulnerable “sheep.”

        • Hegesippus

          Yet far fewer proportionately than in the whole of society. And such ‘”celibates”‘ are acting in direct contradiction to Christianity on many, many levels.

          • Y. A. Warren

            So much of what is called “Christianity” is in direct contradiction to what Jesus lived and taught that I wonder who the followers of the religion are following. It doesn’t seem that Jesus is actually their christ.

          • Hegesippus

            I will presume that you are moving from the specific to the general here.

            As no Christian can claim to be without sin (excluding, of course, the Theotokos), it is obvious that no person can follow Jesus perfectly.

            It is our journey of trying, failing and trying again that is the Christian journey. Do you have a different understanding of this?

    • Hegesippus

      “[Language] is not natural. Babies are not born [speaking]”

      No, that does not follow either…

  • YesDavisIsMyFirstName

    I tend to think that the bulk harm of pornography comes via the unrealistic depictions and expectations that can come from watching it. I think it is a misnomer to state that pornography is a depiction of sex when it is very much NOT sex. Its definitely sexual and definitely visually stimulating. But its like comparing Ice cream to a 7 course dinner. Sure it stimulates ones sense of sweetness and isn’t harmful (when taken in moderation) but it doesn’t satisfy like a 7 course meal would. What I tend to disagree with is that shame enables good sex. We know what results in good sex, trust, communication, synchronized expectations, mutual attraction, etc.

  • David

    Great article!

  • Christopher

    Mr. Barnes: shame is an inward result of an outward failure, but it is not to be a motivation for improvement. Here is my rebuttal, if it is of interest to you: http://bit.ly/1k0SJJ2

  • Tlynn

    Really? Baby-eating peers? I stopped reading this after that comment.

    • Hegesippus

      Problem with irony?

  • Dagnabbit_42

    No, the winner does not get ice cream.

    The winner gets tremendous mind-blowing orgasms.

    During, y’know, days, 7-8 and (roughly) 18-32 of the cycle, that is.

    Oh, and a lot of Roman Hands and wistful restraint on days 9-17.

  • Billy Bagbom

    Marc: Can you make your material available in an easily accessible printable form? A lot of what you have to say is extremely true and wonderfully useful But for those of us who hail from previous generations, it would be great to be able to access hard copy. This is, no doubt, a symptom of our materialism.


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