Gwnewch y pethau bychain

QOTD

“Human beings took our animal need for palatable food … and turned it into chocolate souffles with salted caramel cream. We took our ability to co-operate as a social species … and turned it into craft circles and bowling leagues and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. We took our capacity to make and use tools … and turned it into the Apollo moon landing. We took our uniquely precise ability to communicate through language … and turned it into King Lear.

None of these things are necessary for survival and reproduction. That is exactly what makes them so splendid. When we take our basic evolutionary wiring and transform it into something far beyond any prosaic matters of survival and reproduction … that’s when humanity is at its best. That’s when we show ourselves to be capable of creating meaning and joy, for ourselves and for one another. That’s when we’re most uniquely human.

And the same is true for sex. Human beings have a deep, hard-wired urge to replicate our DNA, instilled in us by millions of years of evolution. And we’ve turned it into an intense and delightful form of communication, intimacy, creativity, community, personal expression, transcendence, joy, pleasure, and love. Regardless of whether any DNA gets replicated in the process.

Why should we see this as sinful? What makes this any different from chocolate souffles and King Lear?”
–Greta Christina

(via Sex Is Not The Enemy)

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18 Comments

  1. That’s beautiful. And very well put.

    But there’s one thing I do have to point out here, and that’s that I come from a religion that has very, very strict boundaries around what we can do with our animal need for palatable food, our ability to cooperate as a social species, our capacity to make and use tools, and our ability to communicate through language.

    And, needless to say, the same is true for sex.

    Which means the argument doesn’t quite have the force it’s meant to, as the speaker seems to assume no one could ever see anything sinful — not sinful — about a chocolate souffle.

    [Sorry; is a roleplaying LJ of mine. Oops. *sheepish* Deleted the original comment.]

    • Forgive me if this doesn’t come out well. I’ve been trying to formulate this reply in such a way that I hope is properly respectful.

      I’m obviously not the author, but I’m not sure she’s assuming that at all. You might find completely different examples that illustrate the same basic point she’s making within the boundaries of your faith. And that’s certainly not to say that, if we accept her thesis, “anything goes” and nothing is bad.

      And the same is true for sex. I certainly hope that, within the confines of your own marriage and the boundaries set for you by your faith, sex is still capable of being “an intense and delightful form of communication, intimacy, creativity, community, personal expression, transcendence, joy, pleasure, and love. Regardless of whether any DNA gets replicated in the process.”

      • No worries. 🙂

        I wouldn’t go so far as to say that the author’s thesis is that anything goes and nothing is bad, but it does sound to me an awful lot like “an it harm none, do what thou wilt”. Which is an approach to life that I have a good deal of respect for, come to that.

        • I only respect this if it comes with the caveat “and blame no one else if it don’t work out.” Or, as Bujold so neatly put it: “You chose an action, you chose the consequences of that action.”

    • Had much the same reaction

      Indeed. I was thinking about the same thing. A bit of musing.

      Jews need to remember that Christians think of sex as inherently sinful. In fact, it is the original sin. That is rather different from Judaism, which regards sex as being in the same category as other forms of human activity — to be enjoyed, but expressly bound and directed.

      The author of the expressed thought appears to be reacting to the idea that sex is inherently sinful. I might argue that just as we need more in our diet than chocolate souffles, and indulging too often in chocolate souffles causes some significant medical problems, the same is true for sex. There are lots of times and places where it is — if not sinful — damaging and harmful. Rape being the obvious example, but there are other less severe examples of where sex is as potentially dangerous as a chocolate souffles to a diabetic or as inappropriate as a chocolate souffle for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

      • Re: Had much the same reaction

        I had been trying to come up with something similar.

        As I see it (and various better writers have aid it as well), humans are capable of taking anything ‘necessary’ and turning it into both great good and great evil (often taking the good to excess, the difference between the gourmet and the gourmand is one of degree). We can use our social skills to achieve projects, or to raise a lynch mob. We can send men to the moon, or missiles to blow others to bits. We can use sex for joy, or as a weapon (not just rape, I’m thinking of the “keep them barefoot and pregnant” enslaving of women). We are capable of being both “better than the angels” and “worse than the demons” (and as one of the Pratchett/Gaiman supernatural characters points out in “Good Omens”, often at the same time).

        The difference, in the predominant Christian interpretation, seems to be that there sex is regarded as purely evil (at best a “necessary evil”). In many denominations it is still preached as something to be endured (as a duty to propagate) rather than enjoyed (and anyone who does enjoy it and says so openly is regarded as a slut). So yes, I think that the quotation which started this is a reaction to a peculiarly Christian attitude.

        • Re: Had much the same reaction

          In my experience “sex is to be endured, not enjoyed, and if you admit to enjoying it you are a slut” is a message enforced far more on women than on men.

          Not that I disagree with you on the rest of it, or even on that--I just wanted to point out the double standard is alive and well.

          • Re: Had much the same reaction

            I agree that the term ‘slut’ is applied generally to women (indeed, I just went looking for a male equivalent and couldn’t find one, although I do know several people who apply it regardless of gender), and I apologise. I also agree that there is a double-standard, but IME it’s not quite in the same place as you say.

            IME, the “anyone who (openly) enjoys sex is considered promiscuous” (and therefore bad) idea applies equally to men and women. However, for men being seen as ‘bad’ is often (perhaps generally) regarded as a positive thing (by other men), and this I think is the double-standard. By the lights of the churches which disapprove of sex the men are also being ‘wicked’, but women are punished harder for unacceptable behaviour (probably because their priests are also male).

        • Re: Had much the same reaction

          i’ve seen the catholic view summed up as “sex is dirty! sex is evil!! save it for someone you love!!!”

      • Re: Had much the same reaction

        “Christians think of sex as inherently sinful. In fact, it is the original sin.”

        I’m surprised no one else has picked up on this, so maybe I have it wrong. It has been some decades since I lapsed from Catholicism, but my remembrance is that the original sin was *disobedience*, of God’s command not to taste the fruit of what I think was called the Tree of Knowledge.

        I’m open to correction.
        Ann O.

        • Re: Had much the same reaction

          Depends which version of Christianity. Any statement such as “X think…” is almost certainly false for some value of X (and I know some Christians who certainly don’t think that sex per se is a sin, only that it is a sin outside marriage).

          But I have certainly met quite a few who seem to ignore the earlier disobedience, or even who conflate the two and think that the “Tree of Knowledge” was in fact the knowledge of sex specifically.

  2. Keeps me thinking. . . Happy Valentine’s Day. I would have sent a card, but I didn’t want to sign up for their service, but still thinking of you and hoping you and Larissa had a lovely day.

  3. Maybe it isn’t all about survival and sex. Or maybe it is.

    You ever hear of what happens to a parrot if you lock it in a cage with insufficient stimulus? It goes neurotic, then crazy, then it may well die. Stimulus isn’t just pleasant, the animal is designed to live in a high-stimulus world, and without it, the animal breaks down, and doesn’t survive.

    So, I’m not so sure that the non-necessity for bowling leagues, sewing circles, and all, is actually as clear cut as she suggests.

    And, as for sex -- dude, bonding with the mate is downright needful for a critter that takes a decade and more to mature. You bet your bippy there’s a selective reproductive advantage for keeping your mate around with pleasure!

  4. Hear hear and well put!

  5. Absolutely true. This is why gourmands and theater-goers are also going to hell.

  6. This is brilliant! sokay if I repost?

    • I have no objection! (The original blog article this was excerpted from appears to have gone away, which is why I credit the tumblr page I found it on.)

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