Wednesday, 10 July 2013


FOR £5   -  (£600 IN TODAY'S MONEY).
Following on from readers' interest in sex and Women Bishops, I was about to write another flippant article on the insurmountable difficulties that all teachers, authorities, modern religions and most individuals have in communicating their understanding, practices, protocols and taboos on sex in general and on sexual women in particular, when I decided to research the history. Ten hours research persuades me that it is such a serious and fundamental topic, with immense consequences for all humankind that my own embarrassment and juvenile jokey evasion ought not to be allowed to further blur this most obscured subject; which few of us are able to discuss sanely and sensibly - with our partners, families, children or friends. Sex is taboo.

Western laws and Judeo-Christian practices date from 3,600 years ago in The Old Testament, modified by The New Testament and the emergence of Christianity (0-33 AD) and Muhammadanism (570-632 AD). This Bible website provides an excellent overview:-

Leviticus (written by Moses in 1512 BC in the 2nd year wandering in the wilderness) 18:6-29 : has a very simple structure and message. Its intent is to define the boundaries of godly human sexual relationships. There are three of them, which I call the inner, middle, and outer boundaries of godly sexuality. Verses 6 through 18 define the “inner boundary,” prohibiting sexual relationships with close relatives. Verses 19 and 20 define the “middle boundary,” which limits sexual relations within marriage and prohibits them outside marriage. Verses 21 through 23 define the “outer boundary” of unnatural sexual relations. Verses 24 through 29 tell us about God’s judgment upon a nation that crosses these boundaries. They clearly tell us that God’s judgment for sexual sin applies to all nations, not just the covenant nation of Israel. (Don Curtis - Cobb Vineyard Christian Fellowship in Kennesaw, GA.)


A 1975 Experiential Family Group was my first time of sitting in a silent circle with total strangers, all except me from the counselling professions. They were at ease discussing sexual matters such as Incest that I, as a good repressed Catholic, had never even considered. I was excrutiatingly embarrassed. But, after some weeks I raised the subject of Income ...and the tables were turned. None in the Group but me, an accountant, could bear to discuss money, income, capital and wealth. "Income" was without doubt a much deeper, locked down taboo than  "Incest". I think it remains so today. Sex, Money and Power are three closely linked, personal subjects that are never openly discussed. Try them at your next dinner party.

My last two days research have reminded me that our sense of sexual shame and sin and laws come from our old religions which in turn were based on necessary and sensible social controls. Unbridled, uncontrolled, licentious sex breaks up families, tribes and nations - and spreads sexually transmitted diseases. No ancient or modern community could survive without rules about our sex lives.

However - Different nations and different social classes, at different times had different rules that worked well. Ancient Greeks approved love between mature men and young boys, within strict age groups, after which they married women. Ancient Israelis accepted multiple wives, concubines and slave-girls but abhorred homosexuality - it was Jesus who introduced one-wife-for-life and early Christians who advocated clerical celibacy. Muslims had multiple wives, who were locked away like herd animals, and they aimed to fill the world with Muslim babies. All societies had and have brothels and male and female prostitutes. All religions ban incest - but not entirely. Royal marriages were and are often within the family. Upright and uptight Victorians applauded puritan values while supporting  every sort of male and female prostitution, in 1861 employing 8,600 prostitutes in London, with child prostitutes sold to "Gentlemen" for about £600 in today's money.  The Age of Consent was 12, then 13, then 16 by 1864. Sodom  and Gomorrah famously allowed all possible couplings and perversions.

God, or the Israelites, destroyed sinful Sodom. William Acton and the Contagious Diseases Acts 1864 tidied up Britain's bad habits and made homosexuality imprisonable for the first time, killing the geniuses Oscar Wilde and Alan Turing. Israelites stoned "adulterous" women and men to death, a savage punishment still meted out by Muslims in many countries (How to stone someone to death - Iranian Penal Code).  In such primitive countries, Muslim women today are controlled by crudely cutting off their clitoris, to kill their sexual desire, confining them to home, refusing them education, subjecting them to instant divorce and enforcing head to toe garb, the Hijab. In the USA and Britain wives and daughters could legally be beaten with a stick, were possessions of men, confined to home and legally penniless - until  The Married Woman's Property Act 1870 

In largely lawless times and places, confining women was considered necessary for their protection - in civilized societies they are free to travel alone and do as they choose. In Iceland and northern Europe women have long had equal status to men, but in most societies children, particularly daughters were owned by their father, who was compensated (dowry) for his economic loss, their slave labor, when they married. Controlling other's sexuality was and is purely pragmatic, economic, or simply brutal, lustful, selfish bullying. As most women are smaller than most men - males bully and oppress females. Socially and sexually, we are little evolved from our near cousins, the large apes. And our rules are very similar to theirs - except apes don't stone adulterers to death.

All today's imposed sexual morality and laws descend from primitive taboos which were mostly based on raw survival and necessity. Some were sensible, many were and are insane. God did not make or impose the rules and He, She or It is not watching you, me or them to catch us out doing naughty things with or to our sensitive private parts. Just as we do not care how animals or shellfish conduct their sex lives, God does not care what billions of humans do with their "precious bodily fluids". The responsibility is all ours. If we indulge in unintelligent, risky or inappropriate behavior, we must take the consequences. As the human race evolves contraception, medicine and technology, and e-pornography and latter day brothels, so our sex-lives and social rules evolve to fit the new society.

The rules will keep changing and keep shocking the Hell-Fire preaching, outmoded, religious men-with-beards and women-with-wrinkles, as long as humankind keeps edging towards sanity. 

No comments:

Post a Comment