HAMPSTEAD: SEX AND RELIGION
May 28, 2015 at 4:41 am I will endeavour to answer your question as best I can.
As an introduction, I have just read a report in the Times by David Sanderson of a talk by Diamaid MacCulloch (who I take to be a Scot who has come south!!!), 'an Oxford Professor and TV presenter' and Deacon in the Church of England (His profile can be found here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diarmaid_MacCulloch)
regarding the western obsession with sex and the effect this may have on the view taken of us by other religions and cultures around the world. His specialism is the history of the church, though he has declined ordination because he disagreed with the CoE's position on gay marriage, influenced no doubt by his personal leanings on the matter. Whether we agree with 'gay marriage' and think it 'biblical' or not, I doubt anyone could challenge his main assertion at Hay, that Western culture is dominated by sex in all its aspects, and that this is one of the biggest issues fuelling antipathy and even violence between religions of the world. Whereas the west, increasingly from Freud onwards, has seen sexual honesty as a beneficial aspect of individual 'freedom', others have seen it as an indicator of moral turpitude and cultural decline.
Where we stand on this spectrum is greatly influenced by our personal belief system, that draws from two thousands of years of human thinking dominated by acceptance of a supernatural being to which has been ascribed different names through time. This is now challenged by many, particularly in Europe. Whether believing in a universe of incorporeal spirits, or convinced that it works to scientific laws without the need for them, most humans ascribe to some sort of moral behaviour, which in its simplest form, comes down to 'doing unto others as you would be done by'. Human actions both east and west fall short of this standard. How are we to decide overall which is better or worse?
Sex is an activity and proclivity that is 'hard-wired' not only into humans but the whole of organic life on earth. In other words it is a natural and irresistible force that is not going away. Perhaps uniquely, humans have developed intricate and complicated social rules governing how it can be exercised and controlled using custom and ritual to confirm and standardise - and woe betide those that break the rules. The shibboleths and taboos are curiously both consistent and various, reflecting the shared acceptance of the power of the sexual urge and its potential to inflict both personal and societal damage.
This affects such things as relationships before and after 'marriage'; the acceptable age at which sexual relations might begin; the acceptance of age difference in relationship; the attitude to physical mutilation, pregnancy, child-birth and abortion; and same-sex relationship, to mention just a few.
As MacCulloch points out, the sea change in western attitudes can be traced to the 18th C. 'Enlightenment', accelerating perhaps in the last half century. It may be characterised as 'traditional' versus 'modern' views of human behaviour and the corresponding weight given to personal freedom as against imposed societal rules? In any event, the clash can have far reaching and disastrous consequences for individuals - being shunned, excluded or even injured or killed.
We are familiar with so called 'honour killings', of male and female genital mutilation, of child marriages and under-aged births, of the mistreatment of women and homosexuals in predominantly other cultures that the West vociferously decries; whilst conveniently and hypocritically passing over the issue of aborted foetuses, rampant venereal disease, the huge market for porn and child abuse, family breakdown, an epidemic of low self-esteem and self-destructive behaviours, and the general issue of the treatment of children, of which Hampstead is the latest and perhaps most flagrant, example. It is not long since it was standard policy to forcibly remove babies from unmarried women to either be placed for adoption, or transportation or be allowed to die in Catholic so-called nursing homes. The horrors continue today with human trafficking and the abuse of children, on perhaps wider scale than ever before.
Both east and west we take an ambivalent, even contradictory, approach to sexual activity, on the one hand expecting full disclosure by our public figures, whilst expecting the opposite for ourselves; of enjoying and supporting 'gay' entertainment figures, yet being shocked when we learn of their actual behaviour; holding to religious beliefs whilst turning a blind eye to abuse by its leaders and institutions; secretly being as interested in prurience whilst claiming to condemn it; maintaining an inconsistent public persona to actual or fantasy life in private. Sadly, outward religious observance is no guarantee of inward sanctity. An approach to personal sexual proclivities that best left them undisturbed and uninquired into, may have contributed to the reluctance to publicise activities by public figures that crossed the boundaries of what anyone could regard as acceptible.
Christianity is of course only one of at least five major religions and many other 'smaller' ones, but it has had a huge and ascendant impact on European culture and its off-shoots around the world by virtue of empire - Roman, Holy Roman, Spanish, Portuguese, Dutch, British, American and others. When we refer to 'Christian' we mean initially 'Roman Catholic' for about the first fifteen hundred years, until politics, science and theology forged a great divide. What started as a theological rebellion with Luther was reinforced by the scientific and political one with Galileo, Descartes, Newton, Locke and others. We have never been the same since. Better or worse, you decide.
Galileo first undermined the Church's view on the centrality of the earth in the cosmic scheme of things, and by extension, man in God's plan; Descartes questioned the existence of the soul and everything revealed free of reason; Newton provided an explanation of the cosmos that relied on mathematics rather than divine intervention; Locke provided a rationale for representative government and the primacy of analytical empiricism wherever it might lead. Meanwhile advances in anatomy and physiology began to remove mysticism from medicine.
Then the biblical view of creation was fundamentally challenged by people like Lyle and Darwin by suggesting that the universe was much older than the Old Testament version of creation and the human race was not only closely linked to the animal kingdom but might actually have evolved from it! So the great divide between science and religion opened up and has not been convincingly bridged since. However it was not really until the arrival of Freud and his psycho-analytical friends, that the individual human being's view of himself was fully challenged, in his suggestion that man, rather than being the epitome of logic and reason, was in fact controlled by 'sub-conscious' processes and instincts, of which he had little cognisance.
These, and other views by Jung and others on the 'collective unconscious' and the mystical, had a profound effect on thinking and energised the new subjects of psychology and psychiatry and the army of its students, researchers and proponents. Pavlov and Skinner were able to prove that humans were, like dogs, pigeons and rodents, subject to fundamental rules of conditioning that led to discredited theories of eugenics and mind control such as 'MKUltra' much discussed in connection with the abuse of adults and children to create something akin to the well-known 'Jason Bourne' character.
One of the things that most shocked the public in this new Freudian universe was the predominant role of sex in motivation, pleasure and behaviour and particularly in that of the child. Although in Victorian Britain child prostitution was widespread and commonplace, it was also unacknowledged and shameful in polite society. Freud challenged the notion of the innocence of the child and suggested that sexual urges and attraction started much earlier. Others, such as Jean Piaget in France, used his own children to document phases of development in children, including their sexual development.
I am not sure we have yet come to terms with what is known about sexual activity in humans, either pre or post puberty. There is still a reluctance to admit the facts or implications, perhaps best illustrated by the attitude of Margaret Thatcher in the 1980's, who prim and proper about the subject, refused to approve a proper scientific survey of attitudes and behaviour, yet was happy to countenance leading members of her personal staff, ministers and intelligence service, not to mention her predecessor, were deeply involved in child abuse and cover-up. This is the hypocrisy that still has the potential to rock the very foundations of the political system.
It provides part of the reason why the the police, and especially Special Branch, acted to close down anything that got close to revealing the truth, whilst doing nothing to stop what was going on. It has been alleged that Prime Ministers much closer to us in time were similarly protected from potentially damaging revelations and that many MP's were secretly kept in line by Whips, who were party to the indiscretions. So gradually as the full extent of the perversion and corruption leaks out, possibly with the assistance of foreign governments anxious to benefit, so our respect for our politicians and institutions continues to decline, from which no one is exempt.
However we must be careful we don't find ourselves in some sort of hypocritical bind here. Often those that have been in the forefront of protests, have themselves been guilty of indiscreet or questionable personal behaviour. 'Those in greenhouses' and all that jazz! What I think we must aim for, is an honest acceptance and understanding of human sexuality, without all the imposed religiously inspired hang-ups and impositions. Ignorance and secrecy only encourages abuse. This is not to say that education in this area should be value or constraint free. I am of the opinion that to teach the physiology of reproduction, without the ethical and social imperatives and consequences, borders on the the negligent. Previous generations got by without it and somehow discovered what they needed to know, but we must also acknowledge this this was at the largely unquantified cost in foetuses and children abandoned, young people abused against their will, and the mountain of psychological pain and injury that has ensued.
We still haven't got the balance right and Hampstead is eloquent proof of it. Even where convincingly revealed, our enforcing and judicial systems fail abysmally, even it might be argued, criminally. We need to be persistent and unflinching when investigating and understanding how such a situation, with the backing of a wholly discredited BBC in particular, can still be happening?
The alleged events at Hampstead are profoundly disturbing because of the nature and extent of the abuse to young children, children that had no choice but to comply, and when finally revealing have been treated so shabbily.
So to return to your original question 'truth1now', my position is with Queen Elizabeth I, to refrain to look into men's souls. A freedom to believe sincerely what one wishes and to express the same without fear of recrimination by government, is fundamental to the modern democratic state. Sadly it appears this government, to its shame, is intent on attacking the principle and limiting the freedom, whilst increasing its own powers of surveillance.
Nevertheless I believe that if and when these beliefs stray over into irrational and damaging behaviours, particularly if they threaten the life or well-bing of vulnerable children, we have a duty to challenge it and prevent it. Belief in God is a personal matter. In the words of Jesus, it is to be judged first and foremost by its 'fruits' or outcomes. It can, as we have seen particularly with the Catholic Church – though not exclusively – be a cover for serious abuse but it has also resulted in much humanising good. In contrast I believe 'Satanism' and its collaterals as defined, are intrinsically dangerous, extolling as they do a warped and irrational view of the world and the exploitation of its adherents, permitting and even encouraging sexual activity disconnected from a natural empathy or over-riding ethical position. If ever there was a belief system contrary to every progress humans have made over the last five hundred years, this is it.
Sexuality when properly understood, can only operate acceptably within a framework of informed consent and consideration for the partner, clearly absent in the circumstances described believably by the Hampstead children and thereby to be censured and deplored.
I am not sure I have answered your question truth1now now but I’ve certainly wandered round it! Apologies everyone.END.