Friday, July 4, 2014

Christianity and Asexual Objectification

Dennis McCallum defines objectification as "the religious tendency to reduce abstract principles to tangible, visceral objects and rituals", and lists two examples from Christianity as being the water baptism and the Lord's Supper.

Another aspect of Christianity which seems rather puzzling is the objectification of sexlessness.  The "Original Sin" of Adam and Eve was inherited by all mankind through the process of sexual reproduction.  Jesus got around this, presumably, by having a mom who was a virgin.  Matthew 1:
This was how the birth of Jesus Christ took place. His mother Mary was engaged to Joseph, but before they were married, she found out that she was going to have a baby by the Holy Spirit.  Joseph was a man who always did what was right, but he did not want to disgrace Mary publicly; so he made plans to break the engagement privately.  While he was thinking about this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph, descendant of David, do not be afraid to take Mary to be your wife. For it is by the Holy Spirit that she has conceived.  She will have a son, and you will name him Jesus—because he will save his people from their sins.”
Now all this happened in order to make come true what the Lord had said through the prophet, “A virgin will become pregnant and have a son, and he will be called Immanuel” (which means, “God is with us”).
So when Joseph woke up, he married Mary, as the angel of the Lord had told him to.  But he had no sexual relations with her before she gave birth to her son. And Joseph named him Jesus.
And, of course, the motif of the virgin birth is attributed to a line in Isaiah 7:
...The Lord sent another message to Ahaz: “Ask the Lord your God to give you a sign. It can be from deep in the world of the dead or from high up in heaven.”

Ahaz answered, “I will not ask for a sign. I refuse to put the Lord to the test.”

To that Isaiah replied, “Listen, now, descendants of King David. It's bad enough for you to wear out the patience of people—do you have to wear out God's patience too?  Well then, the Lord himself will give you a sign: a young woman who is pregnant will have a son and will name him ‘Immanuel.’ By the time he is old enough to make his own decisions, people will be drinking milk and eating honey. Even before that time comes, the lands of those two kings who terrify you will be deserted..."  
Bible footnotes explain that the author of the Gospel of Matthew used the Septuagint Greek translation of the Hebrew word almah (in Isaiah 7) to the Greek parthenos (a word that usually implies virginity) in support of his concept of the virgin birth of Jesus.  Almah is a Hebrew word meaning a young woman of childbearing age who has not yet had a child, and has nothing to do with virginity per se. But somehow, in Christianity, it became important and significant for the mother of Jesus to have been a virgin. Obviously, Isaiah's prophecy was not referring to Jesus.  For one thing, Mary named her son Jesus, and not Immanuel.  For another, the prophecy primarily concerned the timing of the kingdoms of Israel and Syria becoming deserted--before Immanuel was fully adult. Of course, Mary wasn't the first mortal woman ever to have been impregnated by an immortal.  Genesis 6 points out that the sons of God were by no means averse to getting some mortal pussy:
...And it came to pass, when men began to multiply on the face of the earth, and daughters were born unto them, that the sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair; and they took them wives of all which they chose....There were giants in the earth in those days; and also after that, when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bare children to them, the same became mighty men which were of old, men of renown...
The Bible doesn't state that the daughters of men retained their virginity after the sons of God came in unto them.  But, the Catholics take this silliness considerably further, and profess to believe in "Mary's real and perpetual virginity even in the act of giving birth to the Son of God made man."  The Bible contains considerable contradictory evidence. For example, Matthew 13: "Isn't he the carpenter's son? Isn't Mary his mother, and aren't James, Joseph, Simon, and Judas his brothers? Aren't all his sisters living here?"  And, Galatians 1:  "It was three years later that I went to Jerusalem to obtain information from Peter, and I stayed with him for two weeks.  I did not see any other apostle except James, the Lord's brother."  The Catholic defense is that these are "brothers" in the sense of "brothers from another mother"; i.e., cousins, half-brothers (from a prior marriage of Joseph), or "brothers" in the religious sense.  If any of the New Testament authors thought that Mary was a perpetual virgin, or that believing this nonsense had any importance, then at least one of them would have mentioned it.  And, Matthew and Paul would have seen the potential confusion in naming Jesus' brothers, and clarified their texts.  But, they didn't.  The Catholics are woefully wrong on this one.

On top of that, the Catholics have pretty much venerated Mary to a cult-hero status nearly equivalent to that of Jesus: including her own "immaculate conception", and her "assumption" into Heaven, where she serves humanity as a mediatrix to God.

And, on top of that, the Catholic Church pretends to insist that priests and nuns must remain virgins, or at least sexually continent.  In their opinion, even contraception and masturbation are sins.  Possibly because they thought that Jesus, Mary and Joseph never masturbated or engaged in any coitus.  Possibly because in 1 Corinthians 7, Paul wrote
...A man does well not to marry. But because there is so much immorality, every man should have his own wife, and every woman should have her own husband.  A man should fulfill his duty as a husband, and a woman should fulfill her duty as a wife, and each should satisfy the other's needs. A wife is not the master of her own body, but her husband is; in the same way a husband is not the master of his own body, but his wife is. Do not deny yourselves to each other, unless you first agree to do so for a while in order to spend your time in prayer; but then resume normal marital relations. In this way you will be kept from giving in to Satan's temptation because of your lack of self-control.

I tell you this not as an order, but simply as a permission. Actually I would prefer that all of you were as I am; but each one has a special gift from God, one person this gift, another one that gift.

Now, to the unmarried and to the widows I say that it would be better for you to continue to live alone as I do. But if you cannot restrain your desires, go ahead and marry—it is better to marry than to burn with passion....
The Catholics read only the bolded part, and skip over the rest.  Note: Paul considered his asexuality to be a "special gift from God", and not something that anyone else was particularly obliged to follow.  Burning with passion is not preferable to marrying.  In fact, in 1 Timothy 3, Paul states
If a man is eager to be a church leader, he desires an excellent work.  A church leader must be without fault; he must have only one wife, be sober, self-controlled, and orderly; he must welcome strangers in his home; he must be able to teach;  he must not be a drunkard or a violent man, but gentle and peaceful; he must not love money;  he must be able to manage his own family well and make his children obey him with all respect.  For if a man does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of the church of God?  He must be mature in the faith, so that he will not swell up with pride and be condemned, as the Devil was. He should be a man who is respected by the people outside the church, so that he will not be disgraced and fall into the Devil's trap.
Most likely, the tradition of nuns remaining virgins derived from the chastity vows of the Vestal Virgins in the ancient Roman state religion:  there is certainly no equivalent in Judaism.  When Christianity became Rome's official religion, this convention was retained.  According to the Catholic Catechism:
923. Virgins who, committed to the holy plan of following Christ more closely, are consecrated to God by the diocesan bishop according to the approved liturgical rite, are betrothed mystically to Christ, the Son of God, and are dedicated to the service of the Church.”  By this solemn rite (Consecratio Virginum), the virgin is “constituted... a sacred person, a transcendent sign of the Church’s love for Christ, and an eschatological image of this heavenly Bride of Christ and of the life to come.
As for men remaining continent: the concept seems absurd.  Perhaps they are motivated by what Jesus reportedly said in Matthew 19:
 "And I say unto you, Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery."
His disciples say unto him, "If the case of the man be so with his wife, it is not good to marry."
But he said unto them, "All men cannot receive this saying, save they to whom it is given.  For there are some eunuchs, which were so born from their mother's womb: and there are some eunuchs, which were made eunuchs of men: and there be eunuchs, which have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven's sake. He that is able to receive it, let him receive it."
Origen, a third-century Christian theologian, is said to have castrated himself, in accordance with these words. Although castration was never a feature of the Jewish religion (Deuteronomy 23: "He that is wounded in the stones, or hath his privy member cut off, shall not enter into the congregation of the Lord"), eunuchs were common in some of the region's other cultures, including Egypt, Babylonia, the Persian Empire and ancient Rome.  Perhaps Jesus was referring to the Galli, who were eunuch priests of the Phrygian goddess Cybele and her consort Attis, whose worship was incorporated into the state religious practices of ancient Rome.  From the Wikipedia:
The Galli castrated themselves during an ecstatic celebration called the Dies sanguinis, or "Day of Blood", which took place on March 24. At the same time they put on women's costume, mostly yellow in colour, and a sort of turban, together with pendants and ear-rings. They also wore their hair long, and bleached, and wore heavy make-up. They wandered around with followers, begging for charity, in return for which they were prepared to tell fortunes. On the day of mourning for Attis they ran around wildly and dishevelled. They performed dances to the music of pipes and tambourines, and, in an ecstasy, flogged themselves until they bled.
Who can possibly forget Martial's famous epigram?:
Cur tantum eunuchos habeat tua Caelia, quaeris,
Pannyche? Volt futui Caelia nec parere. /
You ask why your Caelia only has eunuchs,
Pannychus? Caelia wishes to be fucked but not to give birth.
(often more delicately translated: "Do you ask, Panychus, why your Caelia only consorts with eunuchs? Caelia wants the flowers of marriage – not the fruits.")

The Gallic custom of self-flagellation lives on in the Good Friday celebrations of Filipino Catholics.

At least they aren't castrating themselves.

People who get involved in religion are still mere flesh-and-blood mortals, of whom the majority possess sexual desires of one sort or another.  Unfortunately, far too many people who enter Catholic church life have turned out to be pedophiles.  In fact, I was quite shocked to have read, in the Northern Express, about some quite nasty activities taking place at the Holy Childhood Catholic Church, close to my home in Harbor Springs, Michigan:
...“Jerry” sat in his ex-wife’s cramped duplex and recalled his school years at Holy Childhood School in the 1960s. Like many Native American children in Northern Michigan, Jerry (not his real name) was sent away from his home in Peshawbestown to Holy Childhood at the age of six. His mother was mentally unstable and hospitalized. His father, a religious man, believed his four kids were better off at the Catholic school.
 The school had dormitories for the children. Jerry slept in a large room along with 60 other young boys slept in the young boy’s dormitory. Sister Fran (not her real name) was their housemother, a plain and rather plump nun in her 20s. Each night, she’d kiss each boy on the forehead, but she’d kiss her favorite boys on the lips and tickle them. A couple of years ticked by and Jerry said her kisses grew longer as she “taught” him how to give her hickies all over her body...
...Jerry, 55, was one of nine former Holy Childhood students who described their sexual abuse at the hands of two nuns to the Grand Rapids Press. Like Jerry, most of them were Indian altar boys....
..The story of the abused men are similar and involve housemothers who cared for the boys .when they were not in class. Paul Raphael was two grades behind Jerry and confirmed that he saw Jerry kissing the nun on a couch when they were watching television. He said she also kissed other boys, including a third grader.
Raphael said the nun began her seduction by kissing the boys goodnight. As the boys became older, the two nuns would sneak the boys into their bedrooms — which were right off the large dormitory rooms — at night, and the boys would leave early in the morning.  The boys said they resisted at first, but the nuns showered them with proclamations of love and special privileges, such as buying candy at the Feathers Variety Store in downtown Harbor Springs or letting them watch movies at the Lyric Theatre. Russell Menefee, now 59, told the Grand Rapids Press that one of the nuns would walk into the dormitory after everyone had been tucked in. She stopped at his bed and fondled him at least a dozen times.
One student from this era told Veronica Pasfield he lost his virginity to the nun at the age of 15...Unlike the other boys, Jerry said he talked openly about his relationship with the nun.  “I told everybody about it. All my young friends. They all knew. I told my parents, but nobody seemed to think much about it. My male friends, they’d say, ‘Oh that’s cool.’”
He even told an Emmet County deputy when he ran away with a school friend....“We hid out along a beach until it got dark. The cops picked us up. Danny said, 'tell them, tell them!' So, I did. They told us to shut up. They said, ‘They’re trying to do what’s best for you kids. We’re going to take you back. Don’t talk that crazy talk any more.’ We got back. They beat us, they beat us real bad. They beat you so bad, you’d zone out and go somewhere else. One time I was beat so bad, I thought I’d fall on the floor from a heart attack. It was so bad, so long. I didn’t cry. I just looked at them,” he said.
Jerry said that at the same time he was being molested, another schoolmate was having sex with Sister Beth. “They’d have day rooms, TV and games, and one big couch. Just he and me and the two sisters would sit on the couch, blankets on top of us. The other kids would sit in front of us four. They’d have nothing on under their robes and they’d say, ‘Turn around and watch TV.’”
Brian Anthony told the Grand Rapids Press that he also huddled with one of the two nuns under a blanket in the day room, while the other kids sat in front of them watching television. At the age of 12, he had sex “damn near every night,” in the housemother’s bedroom on the third floor...
I don't know why Catholics imagine that people who profess to abstain from sexual relations are so special.  It is much better to marry than to burn.  And, it is clearly better to seek consensual coitus with adults, rather than to coerce children.  I was aware that Catholics had a reputation for being mean and beating children, but this pedophilia business is crazy.  One might be better off entrusting one's children to other adults who were married, and who had children of their own.

Which isn't to say that our Protestant brethren never place their peckers where they ostensibly don't belong.

I was a bit surprised that, in his own defense, Brother Jimmy never mentioned Judah and his daughter-in-law Tamar.  Genesis 38:
...And he turned unto her by the way, and said, "Go to, I pray thee, let me come in unto thee"; (for he knew not that she was his daughter in law.)
And she said, "What wilt thou give me, that thou mayest come in unto me?"
And he said, "I will send thee a kid from the flock."
And she said, "Wilt thou give me a pledge, till thou send it?"
And he said, "What pledge shall I give thee?"
And she said, "Thy signet, and thy bracelets, and thy staff that is in thine hand."  And he gave it her, and came in unto her, and she conceived by him...
If Judah can do it, then why not Brother Jimmy?

At the Kamakhya Temple in Assam, the objectification of the female reproductive organ takes on a form that is all together different from that accorded to the hymen of Jesus' mother Mary.
 ...During Ambubachi, for three days Mother Earth Herself menstruates, and all the temples in the region are closed to devotees.  Inside the Kamakhya Temple, MAA is bathed and dressed daily, and given a red silk cloth in consideration of Her menstrual flow, and also given fruit and light worship...On the fourth day, the temple doors are opened, and devotees wait for hours to receive Her special darshan.  Devotees plead to receive a small piece of rakta bastra, the red silk "blood cloth" upon which Devi sits during Her menses (also called anga bastra).  As a talisman or amulet, this piece of cloth is said to be very auspicious and powerfully beneficial if tied onto the body, typically around the arm or wrist.  

Kamakhya, or Kameshvari as She is commonly known, is the Reknowned Goddess of Desire whose shrine is situated in a cave in the heart of the Nilachal Hills in Guwahati, Assam.  As the yoni (which means source, vulva and womb) of Madadevi, She is recognized as not on the form of desire (Kamarupa, Kamarupini), but She is the very source of our desires, and also the One who grants our desires.  She is desire itself, as well as its fullfillment.
The Sanskrit term ambuvaci...literally means "the issuring forth of water", referring to the swelling of the Earth's waters from the onset of monsoon.  Outsiders often mistakenly think that this festival is a celebration of Kamakhya's menstruation, but in fact it is the menstruation of the entire Mother Earth, and as Kamakhya is the seat of Her yoni, it becomes the focal point for related festivities....
The Kaaba, which contains the Black Stone of Mecca, towards which Muslims direct their prayers, is similarly said to represent a yoni.

Apparently, the new Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant has plans to destroy the Kaaba.

With regard to menstruation, Judaism, and probably also Christianity, have a perspective that is quite dissimilar to that of the Assamese.  Leviticus 15:
...When a woman has her monthly period, she remains unclean for seven days. Anyone who touches her is unclean until evening. Anything on which she sits or lies during her monthly period is unclean. Any who touch her bed or anything on which she has sat must wash their clothes and take a bath, and they remain unclean until evening.  If a man has sexual intercourse with her during her period, he is contaminated by her impurity and remains unclean for seven days, and any bed on which he lies is unclean...
The emphasis, here, is on the uncleanliness of a woman's function--as opposed to a huge, Indian-style celebration, where a bit of cloth upon which a menstruating goddess has sat is considered to bring good fortune.  Whether Mary ever underwent menses, and whether she discharged any fluids through her vagina when giving birth to Jesus (or at any other time in her life), remains a topic of heated debate among Catholics, who want their principal virgin to be as pure as pure can be.

Not all religions and cultures have regarded sexuality as something evil or wrong.  In the Epic of Gilgamesh, the temple-harlot Shamhat is credited with using her feminine charms to seduce, tame and civilize the wild Enkidu: 
...The trapper addressed his father saying:
"Father, a certain fellow has come from the mountains.
He is the mightiest in the land,
his strength is as mighty as the meteorite of Anu!
He continually goes over the mountains,
he continually jostles at the watering place with the animals,
he continually plants his feet opposite the watering place.
I was afraid, so I did not go up to him.
He filled in the pits that I had dug,
wrenched out my traps that I had spread,
released from my grasp the wild animals.
He does not let me make my rounds in the wilderness!"
The trapper's father spoke to him saying:
"My son, there lives in Uruk a certain Gilgamesh.
There is no one stronger than he,
he is as strong as the meteorite of Anu.
Go, set off to Uruk,
tell Gilgamesh of this Man of Might.
He will give you the harlot Shamhat, take her with you.
The woman will overcome the fellow as if she were strong.
When the animals are drinking at the watering place
have her take off her robe and expose her sex.
When he sees her he will draw near to her,

and his animals, who grew up in his wilderness, will be alien to him."
He heeded his father's advice.
The trapper went off to Uruk,
he made the journey, stood inside of Uruk,
and declared to ... Gilgamesh:
"There is a certain fellow who has come from the mountains--etc., etc."
Gilgamesh said to the trapper:
"Go, trapper, bring the harlot, Shamhat, with you.
When the animals are drinking at the watering place
have her take off her robe and expose her sex.
When he sees her he will draw near to her,
and his animals, who grew up in his wilderness, will be alien to him
The trapper went, bringing the harlot, Shamhat, with him.
They set off on the journey, making direct way.
On the third day they arrived at the appointed place,
and the trapper and the harlot sat down at their posts.
A first day and a second they sat opposite the watering hole.
The animals arrived and drank at the watering hole,
the wild beasts arrived and slaked their thirst with water.
Then he, Enkidu, offspring of the mountains,
who eats grasses with the gazelles,
came to drink at the watering hole with the animals,
with the wild beasts he slaked his thirst with water.
Then Shamhat saw him--a primitive,
a savage fellow from the depths of the wilderness!
"That is he, Shamhat! Release your clenched arms,
expose your sex so he can take in your voluptuousness.
Do not be restrained--take his energy!
When he sees you he will draw near to you.
Spread out your robe so he can lie upon you,
and perform for this primitive the task of womankind
His animals, who grew up in his wilderness, will become alien to him,
and his lust will groan over you."

Shamhat unclutched her bosom, exposed her sex, and he took in her voluptuousness.
She was not restrained, but took his energy.
She spread out her robe and he lay upon her,
she performed for the primitive the task of womankind.
His lust groaned over her;
for six days and seven nights Enkidu stayed aroused,
and had intercourse with the harlot
until he was sated with her charm
But when he turned his attention to his animals,
the gazelles saw Enkidu and darted off,
the wild animals distanced themselves from his body.
Enkidu ... his utterly depleted body,
his knees that wanted to go off with his animals went rigid;
Enkidu was diminished, his running was not as before.
But then he drew himself up, for his understanding had broadened.
Turning around, he sat down at the harlot's feet,
gazing into her face, his ears attentive as the harlot spoke.
The harlot said to Enkidu:
"You are beautiful, Enkidu, you are become like a god.
Why do you gallop around the wilderness with the wild beasts?
Come, let me bring you into Uruk-Haven,
to the Holy Temple, the residence of Anu and Ishtar
the place of Gilgamesh, who is wise to perfection,
but who struts his power over the people like a wild bull."
What she kept saying found favor with him.
Becoming aware of himself, he sought a friend.
Enkidu spoke to the harlot:
"Come, Shamhat, take me away with you
to the sacred Holy Temple, the residence of Anu and Ishtar,
the place of Gilgamesh, who is wise to perfection,
but who struts his power over the people like a wild bull.
I will challenge him ...
Let me shout out in Uruk: I am the mighty one!'
Lead me in and I will change the order of things;
he whose strength is mightiest is the one born in the wilderness!"
[Shamhat to Enkidu:]
"Come, let us go, so he may see your face.
I will lead you to Gilgamesh--I know where he will be.
Look about, Enkidu, inside Uruk-Haven,
where the people show off in skirted finery,
where every day is a day for some festival,
where the lyre and drum play continually,
where harlots stand about prettily,
exuding voluptuousness, full of laughter
and on the couch of night the sheets are spread
Enkidu, you who do not know, how to live,
I will show you Gilgamesh, a man of extreme feelings!
Look at him, gaze at his face--
he is a handsome youth, with freshness!,
his entire body exudes voluptuousness
He has mightier strength than you,
without sleeping day or night!
Enkidu, it is your wrong thoughts you must change!
It is Gilgamesh whom Shamhat loves,
and Anu, Enlil, and La have enlarged his mind."...
...Shamhat pulled off her clothing,
and clothed him with one piece
while she clothed herself with a second.
She took hold of him as the gods do
and brought him to the hut of the shepherds...
...They placed food in front of him,
they placed beer in front of him;
Enkidu knew nothing about eating bread for food,
and of drinking beer he had not been taught.
The harlot spoke to Enkidu, saying:
"Eat the food, Enkidu, it is the way one lives.
Drink the beer, as is the custom of the land."
Enkidu ate the food until he was sated,
he drank the beer-seven jugs!-- and became expansive and sang with joy!
He was elated and his face glowed.
He splashed his shaggy body with water,
and rubbed himself with oil, and turned into a human....
Ah, the primitive task of womankind!  Although Gilgamesh wasn't a very nice guy, Uruk does seem to have been quite a pleasant place: perhaps similar in many ways to modern Pattaya:

The harlot Shamhat had quite a civilizing effect upon Enkidu.  After his encounter with the charming and talented Shamhat, Enkidu would never be the same again.  And, this is far from the only reference to ancient harlotry.  When Joshua sent two spies into Jericho, they went and spent the night at (where else?) the home of a harlot named Rahab, whom Matthew reckons to have been an ancestor of Jesus, along with Tamar, mentioned above.  If any one of Jesus' ancestors had failed in his or her duty to procreate at just the right moment, then Jesus never would have been born.  The same applies to you.  As Nikos Kazantzakis points out in The Last Temptation of Christ:
That is why scriptures call him the Son of Man! Why do you think thousands of Israel's men and women have coupled, generation after generation? To rub their backsides and titillate their groins? No. All those thousands and thousands of kisses were needed to produce the Messiah.
Elsewhere in the New Testament, Rahab is exalted as an example of a person of faith (Hebrews 11:31) and of good works (James 2:25).

The Greek historian Herodotus, however, maintained a somewhat less positive view of ancient religious harlotry:
The foulest Babylonian custom is that which compels every woman of the land to sit in the temple of Aphrodite and have intercourse with some stranger once in her life. Many women who are rich and proud and disdain to mingle with the rest, drive to the temple in covered carriages drawn by teams, and stand there with a great retinue of attendants. But most sit down in the sacred plot of Aphrodite, with crowns of cord on their heads; there is a great multitude of women coming and going; passages marked by line run every way through the crowd, by which the men pass and make their choice. Once a woman has taken her place there, she does not go away to her home before some stranger has cast money into her lap, and had intercourse with her outside the temple; but while he casts the money, he must say, “I invite you in the name of Mylitta” (that is the Assyrian name for Aphrodite). It does not matter what sum the money is; the woman will never refuse, for that would be a sin, the money being by this act made sacred. So she follows the first man who casts it and rejects no one. After their intercourse, having discharged her sacred duty to the goddess, she goes away to her home; and thereafter there is no bribe however great that will get her. So then the women that are fair and tall are soon free to depart, but the uncomely have long to wait because they cannot fulfill the law; for some of them remain for three years, or four. There is a custom like this in some parts of Cyprus.

Herodotus seems to have been something of a killjoy, much like Paul.  On the plus side, the women performed a central role in Babylonian religion, quite unlike Judaism and Christianity, where the women are pretty much enjoined to remain in silence and under obedience.  Paul states in 1 Corinthians 14:
Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience, as also saith the law.  And if they will learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for women to speak in the church.
 and reiterates in 1 Timothy 2:
Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection.  But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence.  For Adam was first formed, then Eve.  And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression. Notwithstanding she shall be saved in childbearing, if they continue in faith and charity and holiness with sobriety.
Not much of a sacred role for Jewish and Christian women at all.  Unlike ancient Babylon, where all of the women had a substantial function in the spiritual and religious life of the nation.  And, they weren't compelled to remain virgins.  The Babylonian women were free of that particularly onerous form of objectification.

When it comes to Christian prayer, we're pretty much supposed to limit ourselves to the scope and purview of the Lord's Prayer:
Our Father, who art in heaven,
hallowed be they name.
Thy kingdom come,
thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory,
forever. Amen.
No wishing for extravagant riches, nor to win the lottery.  No praying for your favorite sports team to be triumphant.  No praying for victory in war, nor conquest in love.  Basically just acknowledging God's will, asking for a bit to eat, for forgiveness, to be kept away from temptation and evil, and vowing to forgive others who might have wronged us.  Something of a humble, minimalist lifestyle is to be preferred.  On the other hand, where worship involving Aphrodite is concerned, one has a much less restricted spectrum of options when it comes to beseeching favors, as illustrated in Sappho's Hymn to Aphrodite:

Iridescent-throned Aphrodite, deathless
Child of Zeus, wile-weaver, I now implore you,
Don't--I beg you, Lady--with pains and torments
Crush down my spirit,
But before if ever you've heard my pleadings
Then return, as once when you left your father's
Golden house; you yoked to your shining car your
Wing-whirring sparrows;
Skimming down the paths of the sky's bright ether
On they brought you over the earth's black bosom,
Swiftly--then you stood with a sudden brilliance,
Goddess, before me;
Deathless face alight with your smile, you asked me
What I suffered, who was my cause of anguish,
What would ease the pain of my frantic mind, and
Why had I called you
To my side: "And whom should Persuasion summon
Here, to soothe the sting of your passion this time?
Who is now abusing you, Sappho? Who is
Treating you cruelly?
Now she runs away, but she'll soon pursue you;
Gifts she now rejects--soon enough she'll give them;
Now she doesn't love you, but soon her heart will
Burn, though unwilling."
Come to me once more, and abate my torment;
Take the bitter care from my mind, and give me
All I long for; Lady, in all my battles
Fight as my comrade.
With Aphrodite, one could ask for help in alluring a Lesbian lover.  Asking for Jesus or Yahweh to assist you in procuring or seducing a homosexual partner would be out of the question.  Moreover, in Sappho's poem Blame Aphrodite
It's no use Mother dear, I
can't finish my weaving.
You may blame Aphrodite.

Soft as she is,
she has almost
killed me with
love for that boy.
we see that it was possible to inculpate Aphrodite for one's limerent condition.  When it comes to Judaism and Christianity, one is largely prohibited from blaming Yahweh, Jesus, or the Holy Spirit for anything.  Not even the Great Flood.  Recall how Job reacted after learning that he had lost all of his wealth and that his children had been killed:
Job got up and tore his clothes in grief. He shaved his head and threw himself face downward on the ground. He said, “I was born with nothing, and I will die with nothing. The Lord gave, and now he has taken away. May his name be praised!”  In spite of everything that had happened, Job did not sin by blaming God.
Although officially outlawed, temple prostitution continues to exist in India.

At least compared to Catholics, the worshippers of the Hindu Goddess Yellamma are honest about their intentions with your children.  In fairness, it should be noted that temple prostitution in India originated perhaps thousands of years ago. In pre-colonial India, the Devadasis (temple women) frequently came from upper-class families, and often were talented poets, dancers and artists who enjoyed a somewhat elevated status.  Pre-colonial Indians seem to have taken unembarrassed joy in sexuality, and to have relished a cultural tradition where the sacred and the sexual were not regarded as being opposed, but rather closely linked. Indian temple art often featured voluptuous women and sexual themes:

The Kama Sutra, written by Vatsayana during the second century, includes practical, frank, and explicit instructions related to sexual intercourse.

Here is When God is a Customer, which dates from the fifteenth or sixteenth century, and which had been kept locked in the temple of Tirupati, and which was only recently translated into English:
I’m not like the others.
You may enter my house,
but only if you have the money.

If you don’t have as much as I ask,
a little less would do.
But I’ll not accept very little,
Lord Kǒǹkaneśvara.

To step across the threshold
of my main door,
it’ll cost you a hundred in gold.
For two hundred you can see my bedroom,
my bed of silk,
and climb into it.

Only if you have the money.

To sit by my side
and to put your hand
boldly into my sari:
that will cost ten thousand.

And seventy thousand
will get you a touch
of my full round breasts.

Only if you have the money.

Three crores to bring
your mouth close to mine,
touch my lips and kiss.
To hug me tight,
to touch my place of love,
and get to total union,
listen well,
you must bathe me
in a shower of gold.

But only if you have the money.
During British rule in India, Devadasis started to lose their traditional means of patronage and support, and reformers worked towards ending the Devadasi tradition, on the grounds that it supported prostitution. The British had a profound impact on the concept of sexual morality in India, and, even today, in spite of centuries of sensuality that preceded the advent of British ruler, Bollywood actors cannot even kiss in a film.  The Devadasi system was outlawed in all of India in 1988, but continues to be practiced illegally.  Modern Devadasis now derive almost exclusively from India's lowest caste.  Many of the girls who become Devadasis are illiterate, and don't see a better way of supporting themselves and their families.  Rather than women of refinement and culture, today's Devadasis are little more than fodder for dour Western Feminist film-makers.

Sic transit gloria mundi.

The number of Catholic virgins choosing to become nuns, betrothed mystically to Jesus, their hymens forever objectified, has been falling markedly.  The decline in the number of nuns isn't attributable to legal forces, but rather to cultural shifts and reduced interest.  Young Indian girls continue to become Devadasis, married to a God or Goddess, the religious objectification of their reproductive organs being rather different from that of the Catholic virgins.  As with the Catholic virgins, their role in Indian society continues to decline, due to a variety of social pressures.

Meanwhile, the Phoenix Goddess Temple, which offered sexual services in the context of a metaphysical and spiritual experience, has been on trial for years, under charges of prostitution.  With Mystic Mother Tracie Elise serving as her own defense attorney, I'm not especially optimistic about the outcome.  But, with the Supreme Court having recently legalized sodomy throughout the nation, and with a federal judge having weakened Utah's anti-polygamy law, who knows what might happen here, at least if the Phoenix Goddess Temple's case is appealed?  The Arizona prostitution laws are quite sloppily written to begin with.

Here are some of Arizona's relevant legal definitions:
"Prostitution" means engaging in or agreeing or offering to engage in sexual conduct with another person under a fee arrangement with that person or any other person.

"Sexual conduct" means sexual contact, sexual intercourse, oral sexual contact or sadomasochistic abuse.

"Sexual contact" means any direct or indirect fondling or manipulating of any part of the genitals, anus or female breast.

"Sexual intercourse" means penetration into the penis, vulva or anus by any part of the body or by any object.

"Sadomasochistic abuse" means flagellation or torture by or upon a person who is nude or clad in undergarments or in revealing or bizarre costume or the condition of being fettered, bound or otherwise physically restrained on the part of one so clothed.

"House of prostitution" means any building, structure or place used for the purpose of prostitution or lewdness or where acts of prostitution occur.
And, some of the expressly prohibited activities:
13-3204: Receiving earnings of prostitute; classification
A person who knowingly receives money or other valuable thing from the earnings of a person engaged in prostitution, is guilty of a class 5 felony.

13-3208: Keeping or residing in house of prostitution; employment in prostitution; classification
A. A person who knowingly is an employee at a house of prostitution or prostitution enterprise is guilty of a class 1 misdemeanor.
B. A person who knowingly operates or maintains a house of prostitution or prostitution enterprise is guilty of a class 5 felony.

It is unlawful for a person to knowingly engage in prostitution....A person who violates this section is guilty of a class 1 misdemeanor.....
When you go to a doctor, for a vaginal exam, a colonoscopy, a testicular checkup, or a mammogram, you are receiving what Arizona law defines as "sexual contact", which is "any direct or indirect fondling or manipulating of any part of the genitals, anus or female breast."   "Sexual contact" falls within Arizona's definition of "sexual conduct."  Given that this "sexual conduct" is offered in exchange for a fee, Arizona doctors are engaging in prostitution, and clinics are "houses of prostitution", according to a rigid interpretation of Arizona law. Strictly speaking, Arizona should be arresting doctors, too. Moreover, Arizona law prohibits fondling of female, but not male, breasts, which would seem to violate the 14th amendment.  If it is legal to fondle man-boobs, then it should also be legal to fondle lady-boobs.  As Arizona law defines "sexual intercourse" as "penetration into the penis, vulva or anus by any part of the body by any object", the insertion of a catheter would constitute "sexual intercourse."

The law does not admit an exemption for married couples.  Traditionally, the arrangement was for the wife to provide the husband with sexual favors in exchange for food and support.  Now, it is more common for the wife to use coitus as positive reinforcement while training her husband. For example, the husband is rewarded with sex if he tidies up the living room.  Arizona law would seem to preclude such arrangements.

On top of that, if a prostitute comes into my store to buy something with her earnings, then I've committed a "class 5 felony."  It doesn't even say that her earnings had to have come from prostitution.  She might have earned some money from babysitting.  She can't even spend that money in my store, because she is a person engaged in prostitution.

Anyone who wishes to make himself a eunuch for the Kingdom of Heaven's sake, or who wishes to betroth herself mystically to Christ as an eschatological image, may do so.  Have at it.  Our culture's dominant religion says that these are great things to do. But, our country ought to be open to permitting other kinds of religious expressions and experiences, including sacred harlotry.


No comments:

Post a Comment