Tuesday, July 19, 2011

The Tragic Nature of Duty, Honor, Country, and God

Duty, honor, country, God...aren’t these sacred nouns of what dreamed ideals are made?
What every good human seeks or should quest after?
How could such great exemplars possibly be the source of tragic, unmitigated evil?

In my childhood and youth, duty, honor, country, and God meant nearly everything to me. I still remember standing tall to receive my God and Country Award in Boy Scouts--months after many hours of preparation and achievement to earn the medal--then wearing it, proudly, on the green khaki of my Boy Scout uniform on important days.

The award hung there next to my merit badge sash emphasizing exactly those virtues of duty, honor, country and God. And hard work, reverence, etc., all those ethical characteristics of the Boy Scout Oath and Law: “On my honor, I will do my best to do my duty to God and my country and to obey the Scout Law; To help other people at all times; To keep myself physically strong, mentally awake and morally straight.”

But then all hell broke loose…

But before I explain what happened, wind back to one section of the past in U.S. history to get a more generic overview of these vaunted words—duty, honor, country, and God.

Consider the complicated, convoluted, tragic American Civil War in which two dutiful heroes stand out--Robert E. Lee and Ulysses S. Grant.

Take the latter first. Grant joined the war effort to keep Southerners from leaving the Union. Unlike Thomas Jefferson, Grant didn’t think Americans have a right to leave a government they oppose. Strangely though, he had previously violently supported Americans taking land from another country, Mexico, helping kill many for that right!

Oddly, also, Grant's family owned slaves and he worked them. From 1854 to 1858, Grant used the slaves of his wife’s father on the family farm. And Grant bought a slave in 1858, only three years before the Civil War but sold her in 1859.

His view of slavery may have been changing. However, his family didn’t free their slaves until after the Civil War ended and Missouri abolished slavery. So ironic that Grant was killing many Southerners when his own family back in Missouri still owned slaves!

While Grant gave partial support slavery, he seems to have been committed to an almost mystical vision of country, the United States. Like Lincoln, he didn’t think states had a right to democratically leave. “There are but two parties now, Traitors & Patriots and I want hereafter to be ranked with the latter…”

So, like Lincoln, he was willing to abandon slavery if it would stop states from seceding. Grant said, “If it is necessary that slavery should fall that the Republic may continue its existence, let slavery go.”

Previously, Grant had served in the U.S. Army invasion of Mexico. New American immigrants to the area had wanted to bring slavery into its portion of Mexico, but slavery was outlawed in Mexico. Isn’t that the beginning of irony—that this Union which Grant so valued, was actually born of land theft, and that the U.S. had supported the importation of slavery into Mexico by Americans who had recently immigrated into Mexico!

Already, 15 years before Secession, duty is again shown to be morally twisted.

Isn’t it strange that Grant warred to support rebels who supported slavery against the Mexican Government, but opposed democratically elected states, who supported slavery from leaving the United States? What a moral tongue twister!

And Grant, himself, later recognized the wrong nature of the Mexican War. He called the latter war “unholy.” And said, the “Southern rebellion was largely the outgrowth of the Mexican War. Nations, like individuals are punished for their transgressions. We got our punishment..”

But as always with so many well-meaning humans, duty calls: According to Grant, “Experience proves that the man who obstructs a war in which his nation is engaged, no matter whether right or wrong, occupies no enviable place in life and history.”

I suppose some people will say, ‘At least in the Mexican War, U.S. soldiers fought dutifully against people in another country, who believed differently, and even looked different. But when duty called in 1861, it called for brother to take up arms against brother. Like the story in the Jewish and Christian Bible-- the senseless murder of Abel by his brother!

But, in the case of the Civil War, both sides were Cain, though, as the defender against invasion, the Confederacy less so, since they only wanted to go their own way, not invade the North. In fact, technically, the Civil War wasn’t a war about who controlled the nation, but about the North refusing to let Southern states leave after they had voted to do so.

Striking ironies. The Confederate general protecting Vicksburg from the invasion and assault by Grant’s troops from the North, General John Pemberton, was himself actually a Northerner. Two of his brothers, in contrast, joined the Union army, supporting the Northern invasion of the South! How tragic!

The rector at Vicksburg’s Christ Episcopal Church, the Reverend W.W. Lord, had also moved from New York 10 years before. He and his wife, also, supported the Confederacy!

So, hopefully, it is clear, that while a small group of Southerners, the ruling class of plantation planters, owned slaves, most didn't. Furthermore, most Southerners fought against the Union, not mainly because of slavery but because the Yankee army had invaded their homeland, their country.

This was exactly the case of Robert E. Lee. Known as the soldier’s soldier, Lee was admired even by his enemies. As a Christian and a Southern he followed duty and honor and country and God, enlisting in the Confederate Army even though he himself opposed Secession.

During his time at West Point, he got NOT one demerit, a very unusual achievement. For him, duty, honor, God and country were most important.

Lee had, at first, been offered command of the Union forces set to invade the South, but he said he wouldn’t attack his own state of Virginia. No, he would instead go back to defend his home.

Like Grant, Lee and his family owned and used slaves. Like his opponent Abraham Lincoln, Lee supported the freeing of slaves and having them emigrate to Africa. He did recognize slavery as a social evil that, hopefully, would eventually be ended.

Lee wrote to his wife in 1856, “In this enlightened age, there are few I believe but what will acknowledge, that slavery as an institution is a moral and political evil in any Country.”

Lee chose to obey the state government of Virginia (and other Southern states, rather than the northern states who had a monopoly in the U.S. government) He stated, “Obedience to lawful authority is the foundation of manly character." But weren’t he and his state rebelling against lawful authority?

Wasn’t Lee one of the “traitors” that Grant railed against? Not according to Lee and millions of other Southerners. They weren’t rebelling but withdrawing from a democratic voluntary association, just as Thomas Jefferson, also a Southerner, had said everyone has a human right to do.

Unlike many a human when violently attacked, Robert E. Lee didn’t hold to revenge. He even emphasized forgiveness. “We must forgive our enemies. I can truly say that not a day has passed since the war began that I have not prayed for them.” Not the usual image of the battle-hardened soldier in either historical tomes or popular media is his famous statement?

Yet here is the tragedy, the moral evil: Lee ordered hundreds of thousands of Americans into battle to kill other Americans, Christians to kill other Christians.

By following duty, honor, country, and God, Lee was directly responsible for multi-thousands of deaths. Of what use is it to pray for your enemies, and to forgive them, if you order them killed?

Keep in mind that some of his opponents in the Union Army were also Christians who believed in prayer, forgiveness, duty, honor, country, and God! Yet they invaded and killed countless numbers of Southerners, stole their produce and animals, confiscated and burned their homes and factories, causing untold suffering and anguish that lasted for many years!

Furthermore, many Northerners were racists, even in the Union army, and opposed Black equality. After the Civil War, racist Black Codes came into being in the South.

But racist codes were also evident in places in the North. And there were"Sundown towns" such as Hawthorne, California which had a sign outside its city limits in the 1930's which read, "Nigger, Don't Let The Sun Set On YOU In Hawthorne."

So much for honor and that God loves everyone, "red and yellow black and white..."

What came of all this high-sounding moral code of duty, honor, country and God? Over 800,000 needless deaths, millions of wounded, the ravaging of half of America, untold suffering to civilians, unjust and immoral laws for over 100 years against Negroes, and die-hard racism.

One major secular philosopher, Immanuel Kant, emphasizes how duty shines above all, how duty is the highest call of humankind—the one true ethical act.

But not in the case of the very unCivil War.

The one good side effect of the war was the emancipation of the slaves, though when Lincoln emancipated slaves, he did so only for states in the Confederacy. Most historians say that Lincoln did this primarily as a war measure.

Slaves in the North continued to be enslaved until the end of the war! Lincoln's Emancipation didn't apply to them. So strangely, Lincoln freed slaves where he didn't rule, but enslaved Negroes where he did rule!

Then Lincoln also advocated that freed slaves should leave the United States. In March 1861, Lincoln said, “I have no purpose, directly or indirectly, to interfere with the institution of slavery in the States where it exists. I have no lawful right to do so, and I have no inclination to do so."

He further stated, “If I could save the Union without freeing any slaves I would do it…”

“I as much as any other man am in favor of having the superior position assigned to the white race.” Etc.

Of what strange things are duty made, and the slaughter of others, and the hypocrisy of religion.

To be continued…

In the Light,

Daniel Wilcox

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

The Sacred Act of Pole-Vaulting and Other Conceits

The Sacred Act of Pole-Vaulting and Other Leaping Conceits
‘Donne” While Surveying and Surviving the Tragic and Absurd Conundrum Called History and the Human Condition

When a young teen in P.E. one year, I jumped the pole vault a few times. The anticipation for and mild fear of the run and leap, tensed us up. The vault didn’t rank with the sheer frighted fearfulness of the high dive in swimming, but it sure beat the dickens out of pushups. As difficult as it was to run and leap up balancing on the wobbly rise of the limber pole, in its back arch and then its swinging forward, up, and over the cross bar, I did manage to clear the bar at low levels.

The eventual goal aimed toward was to set the cross bar higher and higher and yet still achieve the swinging leap up and over. But the higher the bar the more difficult the leap with the rise of the pole and the more dangerous the fall, even if one succeeded in clearing the cross.

Fortunately, pole vaulting lasted only a week or two for us P.E. students, was not required on a regular basis like for the athletic superstars of track and field. Still, isn’t this all intriguing that after many years of hectic adult life with career and family-raising, a few minutes of pole-vaulting still comes back to me so vividly?

Rather conceited wasn’t that opening paragraph? Not proud like a rooster, not like a guy who acts brazenly self-centered, always leaping into the center of any discussion. No, in this short article, we are talking about the extended over-reach of a long-winded, leaping metaphor, in the manner of the metaphysical poet John Donne (you know the 17th century English writer who spent a whole poem comparing his love for his wife to a geometric compass!).

Anyway, such a conceit, an extended metaphor of track and field makes a powerful analogy for the spiritual ‘pole-vaulting’ of faith in the sacred. Consider Christian history.

The bar of belief and action was set very low when Jesus first called his disciples. But then he spoke more and more in metaphoric theological conundrums and esoteric parables such as when he compared Christian faith to a vulture gathering over a dead body

Obviously the bar was being raised higher and higher--incredibly high, and the disciples balked, scratched. Scratching in pole-vaulting means one steps over the line or somehow misunderstands or violates the rules. And many disciples and other humans scratch at life down to this day. Metaphor.

One of the most difficult high raisings of the bar came when Jesus didn’t return in the ‘soon’ time of Paul and John (I Thessalonians and Revelation), but somehow Christians adjusted the bar down and up at the same time! Some biblical theologians reinterpreted the word ‘soon’ to mean ‘rapidly’ rather than in the common sense definition of ‘in the near future.’

They said the return of Christ could happen thousands of years in the future, but when it did it come, it would be ‘rapid’. This seems a very dishonest scratching of language. It is more than an accidental rule violation, but a situation of sure chicanery--straining the gnat and swallowing the camel.

Such fixing of the pole vault should be disallowed. Other Christians have said that ‘soon’ is different for God compared to us, (again a suspect vault, sounds like a scratch).

‘Liberal’ Christians admit Jesus and the NT authors were mistaken, but in so doing they are trying to pole vault up a steep incline while sliding down the slippery slope of increasing doubt and skepticism. If the NT isn’t historically accurate about such a key doctrine as the return of Christ, many ask, how could one rely on Scripture being accurate about anything else? After all, the bar of requirements for historical writing has been set very high in the modern age.

All things, people think, need to be factually accurate, inerrant to be of value. Religion, the spiritual, and the transcendent all need to be judged with the measuring tools of science.

A compass of accuracy needs to discern the geometric lines of theology and faith, to eliminate and banish any heresy that deviates from the true.

The nature of truth is a difficult subject bar none (to throw in a pun and lighten this heavy post;-) The difficulty of faith versus delusion (false faith) and reason versus despair (false reason) is a very high bar indeed--one which guides and misguides. Let us pray moment by moment and think moment by moment so as to rise upward into the transcendent, knowing within that we are loved by God as Jesus said.

Another difficult raising of the cross bar of Christian faith came 1,500 years after Jesus, in the time of Galileo and Copernicus. The Church claimed supreme understanding and control in all matters.

Yet a minority of scientists contradicted the teachings of the Church and, allegedly, the Bible. They claimed to have proved that the sun doesn’t round the earth each day; indeed, the earth is not the center, not the focal point of all creation as Genesis claims.

Soon science increased its claims--our sun is only a very minor star. Contrary to the Scriptures’ statement, “God made the stars also,” in actuality, those stars are much more vast than our puny solar system.

We are on an edge of a galaxy, which is one of millions of other galaxies! So much for the literal understanding of the Bible and common sense! Scratch!

Of course, many choose to twist the plain text in the Bible, cheating again in the sacred game of pole vaulting. They argue Genesis describes the creation of the sun on the fourth day from the perspective of God’s Spirit at the level of the surface of the planet looking up, so it does look like the sun comes after the earth rather than before. What has happened?

A dense, heavy cloud of vapor has hidden the sun during the first three days. The sun finally appears above the earth on the fourth day. But the verse in Genesis doesn’t speak about the sun appearing from behind fog on the fourth day, it says:
“And God said, 'Let there be light in the vault of the heavens to light up the earth.' And so it was. And God made the two great lights…” (Genesis 1:14-16)

Yipes, what convoluted rhetoric! Another scratch. Disqualified.

Other faithful humans leaped, instead, out of fundamentalism, and so out the metaphysical window plummeted the 3-storied universe. These Christians leaped over the new cross bar level to a spiritual universe where Heaven still exists with its pristine streets of gold ‘up there’ and Hell abysses ‘down below’ though this spiritual reality has nothing to do with the observable world measured and manipulated by science and technology.

So we got a dualistic existence, where science concerns itself with the observable, and religion concerns itself with the spiritual and moral. Many Christians of the present time manage to make this philosophical leap.

I made the leap as a young adult.

However, I feel uncertain, in brutal honesty, whether I only scratched.

But the bar for Christian faith when faced with the conclusions of science kept ascending. Much more difficult to leap over—maybe impossibly so—was the discovery by Darwin in the 1800’s that life proceeds not by a sudden miraculous creation 6,000 years ago, but by a combination of cosmic luck and survival of the fittest over millions and millions of years.

Later in succeeding years, other scientists tabulated their technical findings and showed the earth came about 4 billion years ago, not 6, 000, and the universe has existed at least 16 billion years!

This setting of the sacred bar careens outrageously high so that only the most blind, or most compartmentalized, or the most ultimately determined can leap the bottomless chasm up and over the cosmically high crossbar of faith.

For where is God if all comes about by accidental meandering and by dog-eat-dog, possibly dog-lick-dog evolution?

Is not God reversed in a kind of spiritual dyslexia, into doG?!

Evangelical Christians simply reset the bar slightly lower, explaining God started Life, so there!

Intelligent Design! We get the God-of-the-Gaps, a creator who hides in the shadow areas of existence where scientists haven’t yet figured out methods of inquiry and extensive evidence. So this compromise hardly solves the problem.

And don’t forget the dogged Fundamentalists and Calvinists. They, despite over whelming evidence, continue to claim scientists are just closet atheists, or brazen ones like Richard Dawkins, who are only rebelling against God by coming up with preposterous geological and biological lies.

But none of this is very encouraging for the honest and the circumspect individual. Why would the Creator start a creative process but then not guide it if God is all Loving, all Kind, all Good, all True?

Why would God major in pain, allowing or predetermining for billions of animals to suffer for countless eons and then go extinct, and for millions of humans to agonize, living excruciatingly painful lives down through a chaotic and vicious history? Why one endless moral/ethical scream?

And what happens to the bar (not speaking of the legal court or the local drinking den;-) if, as many scientists claim, eventually science will be able to explain from a natural point of view even abiogenesis, how first life started?

Then won’t God, the Creator, be simply a superfluous empty word, unneeded (as many scientists claim is already the case) and unwanted?

Then religion will be reduced to the garbage bin like other popular superstitions—astrology, phrenology, humoralism, etc. Astrology led eventually to astronomy, but once scientists understood the mechanism of the scientific method, astrology became so much delusionary baggage to be jettisoned.

The same goes for religion, so they say; once religion gave meaning to humankind, but now science gives meaning to our lives. The account in Genesis has been shown to be fallacious.

Of what use are fanciful myths like the Garden of Eden or 6 days of creation?

They smugly point out that Christians and other religious people have been crying “God,” like the boy of long ago who cried wolf, for so long without any evidence.

Now the evidence for evolution is overwhelming. Why should anyone listen to our theological yelling?

A few humans take one last incredible leap. They point out that while the natural observable world is as Darwinians say—a naturally meandering survival game—such a scientific scenario doesn’t prove a Creator doesn’t exist, for the true God is hidden, is a philosophical reality “outside” of the province of the scientific method.

While this is perfectly arguable—this author is embarrassed to admit, in the past, he himself sometimes used the method--this philosophical God is, obviously, not the Creator in Genesis, not the God of Scripture (the Hebrew Bible and the Christian Scriptures) who micromanages every moment from eternity.

Thus, this last incredible leap is the most impossible of possibilities (to paraphrase a statement by the American theologian Reinhold Niebuhr).

This last impossible leap of spiritual pole vaulting jumps so incredibly high ones seems only able to do it by the sheer choosing—an existential leap, philosophical choice, in the manner of Kierkegaard, where one doesn’t weigh the possibility, or the rational doubts, but leaps, because not to leap is to despair.

Martin Gardner, the famous skeptic in his powerful philosophical book, The Whys of a Philosophical Scrivener, says he made this spiritual leap, and continues to trust in God because, the leap of Fideism, is worthy, and provides hope.

I am skeptical of fundamentalism, materialism, and fideism.

They all seem to scratch.

Oddly, unlike Gardner, my faith in God isn’t mainly emotional, but intellectual. But like him and other thinkers I admire, I know my days are numbered now that I have passed the halfway bar in my brief life, compared to incomprehensible cosmic deep time.

To half quote the famous metaphysical poet of extended conceits, John Donne: “When one has ‘donne’ his best, one is not done but have more” (from his poem “A Hymn to God the Father”).

There are still more difficulties, higher bars to jump over. Try leaping over not only the moon, but the universe!

The best answer would seem to be Hegelian—that a synthesis is better than either the former thesis (Christian orthodoxy) or antithesis (the Enlightenment).

We humans both yearn and learn.

Francis Collins, a Christian and a scientist, the leader of the Human Genome Project has created one such synthesis and created the BioLogos Foundation: Science and Faith in Dialogue.

We spend whole life-times seeking, and yet still have difficult questions.

Be honest, avoid scratching.

Leap with faith and reason.

Keep them in creative tension.

And cross the bar of existence with zest,
not only with confusion and “my God, why” despair
but, finally, in purposeful “it is finished” hope.

In the Light,

Daniel Wilcox

Monday, July 4, 2011

Part 2: Sexuality

Since the word “sex” only has three letters, how did it become a four-letter word (the “plow” word and the “love” word)?

How does an instinctive procreative act characteristic of all humans (and most forms of life down to fish and below) come to mean everything from the degrading and sadistically obscene to the uplifting and creatively divine?

From the violently aggressive to the joyfully receptive?

From one-sided self-centeredness to intimate communion of two lives?

Regardless of one’s worldview, most humans* think humankind has reached a state in evolution
wherein individuals of our species can creatively use human innate characteristics,
adapting them for many different purposes and in very different ways.

This “plasticity” of human abilities enable billions of individuals to use their physical and brain skills, not only for time-immemorial practical acts such as plowing a field or constructing a building,
for transcendent goals.

Humans can use their brain consciousness and muscles to do acts that have no practicality at all such as play suspenseful sports in the Olympics or dance in complex moves across theater stages or construct beautiful poetic songs.

This “plasticity”—for good or ill--is, especially, true for human sexuality as shown by the wide variety of statements about sex by famous individuals in the first installment of this series.

Here is another striking example:
Alan Watts, a former Episcopal minister, became a prolific writer and famous transmitter of Buddhism to the American cultural scene. (When I was a teenager, and still a Baptist, I watched his show every day on PBS at 6 pm, marveling at his spiritual points and esoteric philosophical explanations.)

So far, so good, it seemed.

But then I read his shocking, repulsive autobiography, In My Own Way.

Alongside such spiritual gems as “The cross is at the heart of the universe,” which Watts quotes from a mystic,
he then describes his view of human being and sexuality.
“…Deep down inside, almost everyone has a vague sense of eternity. Few dare admit this because it would amount to believing that you are God..."

"My own sexual mores...I do not believe that I should be passionately in love with my partner...and still less, married."

"For there is a special and humanizing delight in erotic friendships with no strings attached..."

"My life would be much, much poorer were it not for certain
particular women with whom I have most happily and congenially committed adultery...”
Alan Watts


Most of us aren’t too surprised by the sludge coming out in the media or by so-called red-necked vulgarity.

The guttural view of sex has probably been around since cavemen first spoke;-), but when a highly educated, philosophical, spiritually oriented individual such as Alan Watts glorifies promiscuous sex,
we surely know that human sexuality
is, indeed, very ambiguous with many strange variations,
and many of them destructive,
and so contrary to the Truth, the Good, and the Beautiful.

When he writes, "I most happily and congenially committed adultery...," it is clear that somewhere he took a disastrous ethical detour.

We’re all sexual, and in different ways, but, hopefully, we don't major in being unfaithful, disloyal, and promiscuous and, even worse, declare our harmful dysfunctional behavior with pride to the world.

Speaking of Buddhism, actually the latter, contrary to Watt's view, for most of its history had a very different view of sexuality.

The Vietnamese Buddhist nominee for the Nobel Peace Prize, Thich Nhat Hanh, emphasized that humans seeking to become enlightened live their sexuality in enhancing ethical ways.

Other forms of Buddhism go to the opposite extreme from Watts' adultery and promiscuity. These Buddhist leaders
have a very negative view of all human sexuality and even state that women must become men before they can be enlightened!

“...a large part of Theravada texts is devoted to the depiction of women as disgusting creatures too repulsive to touch.”
--Rev. Patti Nakai

Touching--now that reminds me of my own spiritual tradition, the part I hated as a fundamentalist teenager, words from good ol' Paul:
“Now concerning the things about which you wrote, it is good for a man not to touch a woman.”
I Corinthians 7:1, New Testament

Maybe that would have been good advice for Hugh Hefner and most of the secular individuals I knew at university who argued for 'free sex.'

But Paul's extremely negative remarks were difficult for me, especially when first going out on dates with friendly Nebraska country girls:-)
Remember the famous Beach Boys song from that era, "California Girls"?

Paul's advice was exasperating.

Don’t get me wrong. I am talking about hand-holding and kissing,
traditional “necking,”
not anything below the neck.

But get it, my even having to explain our particular religion’s very conservative sexual understanding shows how wide human sexual understanding and behavior is.

Why, hey;-), when I was very naive in junior high, our Christian books so warned against kissing
that I really thought girls got pregnant from smooching!!

Shows I lived in a small village and attended a very strict Baptist denomination where movies, dancing, rock music were banned,
that I didn't grow up on my grandfather’s farm where many animals did 'it' all the time.

Contrast this religiously-sheltered ignorant upbringing with the ninth grader I encountered when I moved Lincoln,
the capital city of Nebraska.

The knowing teen smirked and demanded to know if I knew all about “69.”

I knew it was 1962, and did know the “6” and the “9” weren't referring to years, but to something sexual and forbidden.

Just what I didn’t know, and tried to not think about. But sure did:-)

Enough on autobiographies from Watts to Wilcox...

From New Age Buddhism to fundamental Baptist Christianity...

Then there's orthodox Judaism with its Jewish men's prayer thanking God for not making them a woman or a slave:-(.

I’m sure you get the general point, without my bringing in many details from Secularism, Hinduism, Islam and Paganism.

Yes, sexuality is a very powerful force/drive within humanity which has been shaped like soft plastic into countlessly different configurations by humans and their worldviews.

The earlier modern quote about the basketball player and his wife catches the true spirit of human sexuality, as God intends sexuality to be—a joyous monogamous daily choice by two equals.

Sexuality is a whole life response by a couple committed to a life-long relationship, neither temporary glandular instinct nor a restricted negative necessity.

Here’s another fine explanation: “...Your understanding of love will change as you get older...I remember my second date...I totally lost my cool and told her I loved her. On our SECOND date!!"

"You know what? I recently told that very same girl how much I love her, and how glad I am that I married her...But what I meant when I really meant it 23 years ago is a lot different from what I mean when I really mean it today!"

"In 23 years, I’ve learned to put aside my selfishness more often, and I’ve learned more ways to love and cherish her...the heart of genuine love [in human sexuality] is an immovable decision to put your lover’s joy and welfare ahead of your own."

"Usually, you don’t fall into that kind of love; you climb into it. It’s not just something you feel [nor an instinctive urge]. It’s a decision you make.”
Duffy in Breakaway

Sexual love is a monogamous life-long commitment, a unique “ultimate” relationship—where two individuals give themselves to each other emotionally, mentally, and physically.

That’s true love.

True love (in the marriage sense) is unlike any other human relationship, except in sacred writing where God is often spoken of as each individual human’s lover.

Indeed, romantic sexual imagery is often used in literature to describe the ecstasy of “knowing” God intimately. Makes sense doesn’t it?

After all, the Creator came up with the ideal and the actual actions of human sexuality.

In the Light,

Daniel Wilcox

*Except, of course, for the theologically and materialistically fatalistic

Friday, July 1, 2011

The Meaning of Human Sexuality

Surely, I must be joking? Thinking I can take on the herculean (adam-evesques) task of explaining the meaning of human sexuality? That would be like climbing Niagara Falls or trying to explain the theological significance of Viagra;-).

The meaning of human sexuality is so deep and so transcendent and so complicated and so controversial, it would first be better to tangle with the behemoth or leviathan mentioned in the Book of Job. But since none of us can get away from the topic (and I seldom have ever wanted to except when revoltingly sick).

Here goes—

A little introductory humor:
How can you tell if a man is thinking about sexuality? Is he breathing? LOL

A few quotes to set the tone before the texted tome, and to show the inexplicable contrariness and contradictory outlook of various human beings toward this incessantly fascinating topic:

And God created the human in his image,
in the image of God…male and female…
And God blessed them, and God said to them,
Be fruitful and multiply
…and, look, it was very good.
Genesis 1:27-31

"The [marriage] vows should be written like a dog's license that has to be renewed every year…I think vows should be changed because they've been in existence for 600 years when people used to live until they were only 35. So they only had to be with each other for 12 years, then they would die anyway. But now it's a big commitment because you're going to be with someone for 50 years. It's impossible…It's such a rarity for people to stay together that 68% of marriages fail. I don't want to urinate on the party, but one must consider that before getting married.
Rock Musician Rod Stewart

“Sex is like pissing. People take it much too seriously.
Painter Diego Rivera

“If I ever loved a woman, the more I loved her, the more I wanted to hurt her. Frida was only the most obvious victim of this disgusting trait.”
Painter Diego Rivera

“Haven’t you read that at the beginning the Creator made them male and female and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’?”
Yeshua, the Messiah (Anointed One)

“Chastity: The most unnatural of the sexual perversions."
Aldous Huxley

"I think I could fall madly in bed with you."

“Vanity, revenge, loneliness, boredom, all apply: lust is one of the least of the reasons for promiscuity."
Mignon McLaughlin

“To me heaven would be…two lovely houses in the town; one where I would have my wife and children and be monogamous and love them truly and well and the other where I would have my nine beautiful mistresses on nine different floors.”
Ernest Hemingway

“The sweetest joy, the wildest woe is love.”
Philip James Bailey

"Love is the word used to label the sexual excitement of the young, the habituation of the middle-aged, and the mutual dependence of the old.
John Ciardi

"I never knew how to worship until I knew how to love."
Henry Ward Beecher

Roman and Grace are a married Spokane Indian couple. He is standing close to her with his basketball between them, as if the ball represents the expectant infant they will soon create…
“Michael Jordan is coming back again,” he said.
“You can’t fool me,” said Grace. “I heard it. That was just a replay.”
“Yeah, but I wish he was coming back again. He should always come back.”
“Don’t let it give you any crazy ideas.”
Roman pulled the basketball away and leaned even closer to Grace. He loved her, of course, but better than that, he chose her, day after day. Choice: that was the thing. Other people claimed that you can't choose who you love—it just happens!—but Grace and Roman knew that was a bunch of happy horseshit. Of course you chose who you loved. If you didn't choose, you ended up with what was left—the drunks and abusers, the debtors and vacuums, the ones who ate their food too fast or had never read a novel. Damn, marriage was hard work, was manual labor, and unpaid manual labor at that. Yet, year after year, Grace and Roman had pressed their shoulders against the stone and rolled it up the hill together.

In their marriage bed, Roman chose Grace once more and brushed his lips against her ear.

From “Saint Junior” by Sherman Alexie

To be continued in Part 2: Since sex only has three letters, how did it become a four-letter word (the "plow" word and the "love" word)?

In the Light,
Daniel Wilcox