Lesson 65- Gay Theologians and Sadomasochism
Before extending my theme in todays talk, I would like to digress a little to comment on something that I just saw on the Internet on Spiritdaily. Com. It really isnt too much of a digression since it relates to concepts that I have been using and I want to make sure that none of my listeners confuses the way that I am using these terms and the way they are being used by others.
I have spent a number of programs using the terms sadism and masochism as they relate to Eric Fromms theory on human development. These terms have a normal application and they also have a pathological application. In other words, they can be applied to normal behavior and also to behavior that border on mental illness. Let me explain.
I once had a psychology professor who said that there is nothing that mentally ill people do that normal people dont also do. The only difference is that the mentally ill people take a normal mechanism and distort it or take it to an extreme. For example, we all daydreams and have fantasies and we often use them to escape from unpleasant situations. However, we know that they are dreams and fantasies and we return to reality. The mentally ill person loses the ability to differentiate between the real and unreal and eventually the daydream or fantasy becomes his reality.
The word sadism is derived from the name of Marquee de Sade, a French nobleman who lived during the French Revolution of 1789. He was part of the group that was trying to overthrow Christianity and return to the good old days of ancient Greece and Rome where people were not under the constraints of Christian morality. This is understandable when one reads his diary and other writings that describe how he used his wealth and influence to bribe or force the children of the poor to act out and fulfill his sexual fantasies that often involved torture and domination.
Thus, the word sadism often refers to the practice of getting sexual pleasure from torturing and dominating another person. Masochism, in its pathological sense, refers to someone who gets sexual pleasure from being tortured and dominated. Thus, the sadist and the masochist are two sides of the same coin since both of them derive sexual pleasure from the activities of the other. This is often referred to as bondage sex because the sadist wants to place people in bondage and the masochist wants to be in bondage.
However, according to Eric Fromm, this is a natural mechanism taken to its pathological extreme. What is really behind it is not so much sex as it is security. The human mind is an order-seeking organ that needs to bring the chaotic conditions of life under control in order to feel secure. That is why mental illness is often referred to a mental disorder. We cant live in chaos and that is why we are constantly trying to maintain our mental equilibrium by incorporating new experiences into our order system. It is also why we become very upset when those order system are attacked because, if they crumble, so does our theory of the world and all the security that it provides. Thus life is a constant process of integrating the new with the old so that our understanding of the world grows progressively and organically. The closer our understanding is to reality or truth, the easier it becomes to integrate new material. The further our understanding is to reality or truth, the more we have to distort reality to make it fit and the less effective we become in handling it. When our ability to bring reality under control is limited, as it is with children, or breaks down, as happens with some adults, we all resort to what Eric Fromm describes as a destructive relationship. We either try to bring reality under control by dominating others, which is sadism, or by letting them dominate us, which is masochism. Its a quick fix which works in the short term but it becomes pathological if it continues in the long term. It should, says Eric Fromm, eventually develop into a productive relationship in which the person increases his ability to deal with reality through increased understanding, which is called freedom to, and no longer needs to dominate others or be dominated by them in order to feel secure. In religious terms, it means moving from law, in which we obey out of fear to spirit in which we obey out of understanding and love. The first is a form of bondage or slavery and the second is freedom.
I know that I have explained this in other programs and I apologize for covering the same ground but I have to be sure that my listeners understand how I have been using sadism and masochism so that it is not confused with how some people are now using it in a religious context.
There are within the homosexual community groups that are involved in Sado/Masochistic Sex that is referred to as S&M. They often congregate at bars known as leather bar where black leather jackets, wrist and neck spikes, handcuffs, chain, whips, and tattoos etc are worn or displayed to indicate their fascination with power and bondage. Obviously, these displays are coming from the non-verbal, animalistic right brain that lives in a world where might makes right and the dominant person at the top of the triangle controls those below him. The same theme is present in a lot of heavy mental rock bands where the performers wear similar symbols and use their music, lyrics, postures and instruments to dominate and degrade others. It is also found in the World Wrestling Federation where powerfully built men prance, threaten, maul, and manhandle each other to a cheering crowd.
Parents, are you listening? It isnt just entertainment? Music and other types of entertainment are the most powerful conveyer and shaper of attitudes and values and your put your children at risk when you allow them to be exposed to the wrong kind delivering the wrong message. The word amusement means without thought but it doesnt mean without effect. As a culture our children and we are being led down paths that any prudent person would think about before they followed.
When well-meaning people allow themselves to be drawn into a super-tolerant position based on the premise of different strokes for different folks! or Whos to say?, they have no idea what kind of strokes the human mind is capable of inventing. About a year ago there was a body of a center-age man found in a lot behind a building. He had been handcuffed and beaten to death. The police were shocked and confused when they learned that the handcuffs belonged to the victim. Then they learned that he was a homosexual who was involved in S&M. He was a casualty of sado/masochistic sex that had gone too far. As a masochist he had invited someone to bring him under control by handcuffing and dominating him and obviously he picked the wrong person.
In recent times, liberal churches and scholars have rushed to show their tolerance for the gay community. Instead of calling for charitable treatment of gay people, as the Catholic Church had done, they went over-board and began calling for the normalization of homosexual sex. Now they are caught in a web of their own making because, having opened the door of tolerance for one type of deviant sexuality, they cant close it on other forms.
Listen to what the Internet article that I referred to has to say about the annual meeting of the American Academy of Religions which was attended by theology professors from all of the major universities. The author writes:
I guess it shouldn't surprise me. I guess I should have seen this coming. Still, what I am about to tell you illustrates remarkably well just how low our culture has plummeted, just how completely our institutions have been subverted, just how evil men's hearts are and just how blind we as a society have become to the depravity that surrounds us.
Next month, the American Academy of Religion will hold its annual meeting in San Antonio, Texas. At this meeting of the national umbrella organization for professors of religion, church historians, theologians, ethicists and so-called scholars in world religions, sadomasochism, transvestism (which involves dressing and acting like the opposite sex) and polyamory (having sex with more than one person at a time) will be promoted as a way to better communicate with God.
The author continues: I was alerted to this outrage by a courageous whistleblower who travels in such circles Robert Gagnon, Ph.D. and associate professor of New Testament at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary.
As he put it: "Here the slippery slope is greased by the very persons (the homosexual community) who previously denied even the existence of such a slope."
The Gay Men's Issues in Religion Group within the AAR has set for its theme for the program: "Power and Submission, Pain and Pleasure: The Religious Dynamics of Sadomasochism." It also has another session on the program, half of which is devoted to transgenderism.
Last year, Gagnon says, the group featured a session on the topic: "Love Is a Many Splendored Thing: Varied Views on Polyamory." (which means having sexual relations with more than one partner at a time.)
About the "Power and Submission" topic, the program explains:
Sadomasochistic or bondage/dominance practice (sometimes also referred to as "leather sexuality") ... offers a particularly potent location for reflecting on gay men's issues in religion.
The author continues: One of the papers presented by Justin Tanis of the Metropolitan Community Church, a homosexual "denomination," , is titled "Ecstatic Communion: The Spiritual Dimensions of Leathersexuality."
"This paper will ... look briefly at the ways in which leather is a foundation for personal and spiritual identity formation, creating a lens through which the rest of life is viewed," explains Tanis. "All of this based within the framework of a belief in the rights of individuals to erotic self-determination with other consenting adults,
It gets worse and more bizarre.
Another paper, focuses on "S/M Rituals in Gay Men's Leather Communities: Initiation, Power Exchange and Subversion."
"This paper uses S/M rituals within the gay men's leather community to explore how ritual may subvert cultural icons of violence by eroticizing power," the scholar explains. "Those who exercise power and acquiesce to it in leather rituals meet as respected equals and negotiate the limitations of power according to mutual desires."
Translation: Violence is OK when it is eroticized in a relationship of "respected equals" in which each partner can take turns victimizing the other in ritual harm.
In another article on the same topic, another author writes that last year the gay members made a presentation concerning gay marriage,involving many partners, as a new model for Christian marriage. The presenter said,
"Lesbian-gay-bisexual-transgender (LGBT) political advocates ... have reflected the unexamined assumption that monogamy is the sole and ideal pattern for Christian sexual relationships. This paper (challenges) that assumption. ... I conclude by proposing polyfidelity as a queer Christian sexual (model) of marriage."
In other words gay marriage, which will involve many partners will challenge the assumption that the only model for Christian marriage is one partner.. It even was suggested that the Trinity was a reflection of a polyfidelity relationship involving more than one person.
Finally, Professor Gagnon, an attendee and critic of these position said,
these sessions present no understanding "of the notion of structural prerequisites to sexual relationships. Eroticism and sexual intercourse is nothing more (to these presenters) than greater intimacy. The conclusion following from the premise is inevitable: Then intimacy with one's parents and children should be ever open to the 'logical' progression of sexual intimacy. For sexual intimacy is for the presenters merely more love. Spread it around."
In case you werent able to decipher his professorial language, he was saying that, if, as the gay presenters were suggesting, sexual intercourse is merely a way that we humans use to create greater intimacy and love with another person, then, it follows that incest between parents and child is a logical progression in the future.
I hope that all those broad-minded, super-tolerant, liberal minded people are paying attention to where their tolerance is leading. As the saying goes, You aint seen nothing yet! They opened a door and now anything and everything is going to walk through it. The new model of recreational sex will support sexual practices limited only by the imagination of those involved.
Anyway, the major point that I wanted to make about these articles is that I have been using sado/masochism in the way that Eric Fromm used it to mean a destructive relationship through which one person gets his security by controlling others and the other person gets it by being controlled. It is a normal relationship between a parent and child or whenever we are in a new situation where our lack of knowledge and familiarity makes us insecure. In no way do I intend for this to be taken in its abnormal and pathological form that involve the use of domination and submission in sexual relationships. As I said, mental illness often involves taking a normal mechanism and distorting it or taking it to an extreme. Nor do I mean the same thing that these writers mean when I talk about having a sado/masochistic relationship with God. Where they interpret it in sexual terms, I interpret in relational terms in which the relationship between parent and child moves from a destructive relationship based on law and compulsion to a productive one based on love and freedom. In fact, the Old and New Testaments are an example of this natural and necessary evolution.
Our destructive relationship with God in the Old Testament was based on law in which obedience, under threat of punishment, was the emphasis. God controlled us through laws and we needed to be controlled. It worked in the short term to bring us under control, but it was inadequate in the long term because even God complains in the Old Testament that the Hebrews were like hirelings who would obey His commandments only if He promised to pay or reward them; or like slaves who obeyed only if He threatened to whip or punish them. Thus, if he put them out into His fields or vineyards to work, as soon as the promise of reward or the threat of punishment were removed, they would sit down under a shady tree and fall asleep. He yearned for sons who would freely show an interest in the family business out of love and commitment. In other words, He yearned for a New Testament based on spirit rather than law, or, in Eric Fromms words, He yearned for the human race to reach a level of maturity where His destructive relationship with them, based on domination and submission, would be replaced by a productive one, based on freedom and love.
This, of course, is what all parents should want from their children but unfortunately many parent/child relationships result either in the parent refusing to give up their controlling power over the child long after they have reached maturity or the child, resenting this control, breaking off the relationship or minimizing it to those obligatory visits at Thanksgiving and Christmas. It is the lucky family where the obligatory destructive relationship between the parents and children ends and is replaced by a productive relationship based on love and free choice. When this happens, the parents, realizing that they have brought their children to maturity by gradually teaching them the skills needed to take control of their own lives, sets them free and the children, realizing and appreciating the wonderful qualities of the parents, freely return to them to form a productive relationship based on mutual love and respect. If you love something, set it free. If it doesnt return, it never was a loving relationship.
A productive relationship is a relationship based on true friendship and mutual respect. In other words, it is a personal relationship rather than an obligatory one and it is the only relationship that will stand the test of time. Might I suggest that the reason so many of our young Catholic, after they reach maturity, stop going to Mass is because their only relationship with God and the Church was based on compulsion and once it was removed, the relationship ended. Compulsion and obligation is not enough.
I know because I speak from personal experience because my relationship with my mother never got beyond the destructive level. No matter how old I got I could never have a mature conversation with her because, if we disagreed, she would try to pull rank on me by saying, Im your mother and after all Ive done for you, you should show me some respect. Just because you went to college doesnt mean you know everything! Correct! But, it also doesnt mean that I dont have valid opinions. Consequently, since I knew that no matter what the topic I always had to agree with her, I limited my conversation to meaningless, non-controversial topics because I knew that we couldnt have the equal exchange of ideas that are suppose to take place between adults. Thus we talked about the kids, the weather, our house, and bingo , which were safe topic, but avoided any topic that might be controversial. I was always the child and she was always the parent and we never reached the stage of just being persons. On the other hand, I have seen just the opposite happen with my own children. Both my wife and I respect their right to be free and independent and to choose a path different from our own. If we disagree with them, and sometimes we do, it is always a disagreement between free and equal persons in which we demand that they respect our integrity as separate persons as we respect theirs. Thus, we will never cooperate or agree with them in anything that violates who we are and, at the same time, we accept their right to make choice with which we disagree.
If they were gay, which they were not, we would accept them as persons and welcome them into our home just as we would welcome gay friends so long as it didnt compromise our own values by showing outward approval of something with which we disagreed. If they insisted on bringing us into their lifestyle by outwardly showing approval and acceptance of their relationship, then that would be violating our right to be who we were. The same would be true, if one of them had decided to live together before marriage. In fact, it was true with one of them and we made it clear that what happened out of our sight was their business but what happened within our sight and within our house was our business. In other words, we refused to become enablers. We never, through some false sense of love, compromised our values or who we were by showing approval for the arrangement and insisted that we would continue our opposition until it was rectified, which it was.
Our relationship with our grown children is a truthful one because we dont support or excuse them when we think they are wrong just because they are our children. We realize that we cant force them to do what they are unwilling to do. They are now persons and must be held accountable for what they do like every other person. They also must accept the consequences of their choices just as we do. The result is that they respect us as people and for who we are, not because they are obligated because we are their parents, and we respect them.
When they were young and in need of our control, we had to be parents instead of friends because that is what they needed then. Now that they are grown, we have moved on and have offered them friendship. That is the way it is suppose to happen.
And that is the type of relationship that God wants with us. In the scriptures, Jesus says to His Apostle after His Resurrection, I no longer call you servants or slaves but friends In other words, the Old Testament, based on laws that involved promises of reward or threat of punishment, is being replaced by the New Testament based on the spirit of love and free choice. However, He reminds us that the laws have not changed. In fact, He says that the New Testament has not come to cancel the law but, rather, to fulfill it. What has and must change is our attitude towards the law. We must give up the attitude of spiritual childhood in which it was looked at with fear and resentment because, although the law may have changed our behavior, it never changed our attitudes. Thus, there was no significant attitudinal difference between the man who committed adultery and the man who only looked at women with lust in his heart. What we needed was a new heart that, based on love and understanding, saw the Wisdom of the law and freely chose to follow it.
In other words, we must be born again from the natural to the supernatural level where we are no longer connected with God in a destructive relationship based on law but by a productive relationship based on spirit. He wants us to grow up and to be free to choose. And He will respect our choices, even if they lead to hell.
St. Thomas Aquinas puts it this way: In the living of life, every human heart must face the day to day decisions, or rather moment to moment choices of heaven or hell. Before every human heart that has ever beat out its life, the dare of goals as high as God Himself was tossed down to be accepted or to be fled from in terror.
God has said so little (through Scripture and Revelation) and yet what He has said has so much meaning for our living. To have said more would mean less of reverence by God for the splendor of His image in us. Our knowing and loving, He insists, must be our own: the Truth ours because we have accepted it; the love ours because we have given it. We are made in His image. Our Maker will be the last to smudge that image the name of security, or by way of easing the hazards (or dangers) of the nobility of Man.
Like my wife and I, God will not compromise His own laws to win our acceptance because it is only by following His path of Wisdom that anyone can get to heaven. Thus, those who find comfort in the belief that His unconditional love means that they can keep on sinning without fearing any negative consequence, fail to understand that all choices bring consequences and the price for being free is the necessity of accepting the consequences that flow from our decisions. It is not His vengeance that sends us to hell; it is His justice that simply requires that we reap what we have sown. His mercy, on the other hand, is always available to who are seeking to overcome their limitations. So long as we are willing to give up our prideful defense of our sinful behavior, He is willing to work with us, no matter how long. And, we might conclude, that whatever part of the transformation is unfinished or incomplete here, His mercy will allow us to finish it in Purgatory. Hes got eternity to finish the job so time doesnt matter, attitude is what counts.
If we take the attitude that there is nothing sinful about our behavior and therefore see no reason to repent and reform, then He cant help us because to force His will upon us would be a violation of our right for free choice. However, we will have to accept the consequences of having rejected the way of Wisdom to follow our own sinful ways.
Unlike Protestant theology, which says that one cant lose his salvation because God will wipe away the consequences of ones sins, Catholic theology says, as the scripture do, that some sins are mortal, and the Sin Against the Holy Spirit is unforgivable because it violates the Spirit of Truth by claiming that the abnormal is normal and therefore can never reach the prerequisites for forgiveness which is repentance and reform. The block is on our side, not Gods. Because, Catholic theology is so rooted in the consequences of sin, its attitude leans more towards being saved from the doing of our sins rather than the punishment for them. The punishment is in the consequences and if we dont eliminate the behavior, we cant eliminate the consequences, and if we dont eliminate the consequences, we cant eliminate the punishment.
Until we give up the reward and punishment model that we learned as children that was based on law and a destructive relationship, we will never see that it was always about consequences. And once we understand that stupid behavior that misses the target or mark will, in the long-term and on the general level, always result in chaos and negative consequences, then we will start to understand that God was Always a Loving Father instead of a Vengeful Judge. He opposes sin because sin harms the human race and, in its final analysis, is anti-life and anti-us.
For example, what the gay theologian dont understand about Gods love is that their sexual preference logically leads to a world in which life fails to reproduce itself. It is a childless world. Also, their sado/masochistic use of sex involving domination and submission is akin to the animal world where the strong dominate the weak. It is a step backwards towards our animal roots and the Kingdom of Darkness or Gehenna. So is their demand for polyfidelity where multiple partners use each other for their own gratification and there is rarely monogamous exclusivity. We might say, in the words of Tina Turners song, Whats love got to do with it? The underlying premise of their position is Whatever gives me pleasure is good and whatever gives me pain is bad which, as I noted in a previous program is the philosophy of Hedonism that is based on animal logic. Its a premise that is self-centered and is constantly flitting from one thing to another according to the gratification, or lack of it, that it brings the person. Self-denial is not a big part of this view.
Therefore, it is in the context of personal development and growth that I have used the terms sado/masochistic and not in the practices of sado/masochistic sex which, although it is rooted in the same dynamics, is a distortion and perversion of our need to gain security by either controlling others or by being controlled. In its healthy form, a sado/masochistic relationship is merely a temporary stepping-stone to a productive relationship, not a lifestyle that one wants to justify and explain.
In previous program, I have used these concepts to analyze the nature of the coming New World Order by comparing the destructive relationship to an upright triangle and the productive relationships to an inverted one. If my statement about God wanting to replace the destructive relationship found in the Old Testament with a productive one found in the New Testament is correct, then any New World Order must be evaluated from the point of view of whether it is leading us towards freedom and maturity or back to slavery and immaturity.
In my next program, I will explore this issue more deeply.
Well, I see that my time is up. Heres Dom.