The Gnostic Challenge

Those who condemn religious people for their distrust of sexuality are making the unexamined assumption that there is nothing really to distrust. Confident that the reservations entertained by the major religions and philosophies are solely because they consider sex ‘dirty’, such critics then seek earnestly to explain that no, sex is not dirty but good and beautiful and natural and great fun.

This line of argument is naïve, for four reasons. First, the adjective “good” begs all the questions: good for what and for whom? Second, sex is only “beautiful” when it1s you that1s having it, and not, for example, your wife with someone else, though then it will no doubt be “beautiful” to her. Third, those who commend sex to us as “natural” never seem to reflect that it might be possible to know perfectly well that something is “natural” and still to have reservations about it. Fourth, those who seek to restrict sex are not doing so because they mysteriously fail to realise what great fun it is. It is precisely because sex is such great fun that they think it has a shadowside; for no one makes such a fuss over tedious pursuits.

When, on the other hand, the religious appear to be distrusting sexuality because of a fear of social disorder, the champions of sex sometimes feel obliged to market the ridiculous notion that making love in the street will bring down the government, stop war, feed the hungry and save the whales.

In all this we have quite lost sight of the fact that it is possible to arraign sexuality on quite different charges. Arguments from the stability of the family, the stability of society, the interests of the children, the prevention of disease and so forth all seem rather superficial when set beside Borges’ heresiarch who anathematised mirrors and copulation “because they increase the number of men”.

In passing we may note that the Catholic concept of a religious duty to populate Heaven probably began as a polemical counter to the Gnostic idea that it was a sin to imprison fresh souls in the misery of the material world. We should then note that it is an undoubted fact that reproduction does indeed cause new individuals to occupy the material world, but whether Heaven exists in order to be populated is considerably less certain.

In one sense it is perfectly true that sex is responsible for all human evil and suffering. For if no one had sex, then there would be no humans to be evil and no humans to suffer. Sex is a necessary though not sufficient condition of universal misery. Those who do not accept the answer should at least do us the courtesy of understanding the question.

Posted on October 1, 2009 at 11:33 by Hugo Grinebiter · Permalink
In: AGAINST NATURE, Distrust Of Sex -- The Better Reasons

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