Monday, 25 March 2013

If you are not religious, you are a sex-addict

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So far, so uncontroversial.

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But what is a sex-addict?

It is not the narrowly-defined person who is addicted to having sex; but the person who organizes-his-life-around sex - such a person might never have had sex, but sex dominates his life like heroin dominates a junkie.

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But then isn't this just our culture? Isn't the mass media sex-addicted - newspapers, magazines, social media; isn't almost all comedy, art, music? Public discourse generally?

And doesn't sex addiction characterize the micro-level of daily life inside almost all organizations, institutions, schools, groupings...

Of course, all is deniable - but not due to sublimation (the supposed channeling of sexual motivation into other domains), rather to self-deception.

Since the culture of sex addiction is 99.99 percent strategy, a long-termist vague plan/motivation with a small chance of payoff; then the fact that so much is underpinned by a sexual motivation is typically deniable - indeed it may be be non-transparent to the addict, who fails to perceive that their whole intricate world view - their politics, their style, their every choice - is ultimately organized by a sexual calculus.

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How has this arisen and become established as the-water-we-swim-in in modern secular culture?

1. The decline of religion.

2. The denial of the power of sex.

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Yet the culture of sex addiction has not turned out to be like a DH Lawrence novel in which sex has obviously displaced Christianity as a sacred and transformative/ transcendent overwhelming chthonic force...

No, it turns-out to be the opposite - we inhabit a culture which, while dominated by sex, simultaneously denies the power of sex; a culture which regards sex as 'merely' a lifestyle option, recreational, fun, a distraction, positive - a culture in which sexual desire is used to shape the society and at the same time which trivializes sexual desire, laughs at it!

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(Except that to thwart the exercise of this lifestyle option is, in a non-religious society, a sin - a sin against the very core of a person's system of living. The denial of this particular kind of recreation is therefore an existential threat to person-hood. But this seeming contradiction is not a paradox: because unless the power of sex was denied, society could not neglect to take sex seriously, and would therefore structure society to control sex - which social control would constrain the power of sex to dominate society. Thus the society of sexual addiction is predicated upon a denial of the power of sex.)

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The sex addicted culture arose partly by propaganda, was sped-up by propaganda; but sex needs no propaganda - sex is very powerful indeed; so powerful that nothing short of real, old-time religion can begin to tame or control it.

So the best way to create a sex-controlled society, is to deny that sex controls people.

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For example, until the mid twentieth century, men and women were essentially never alone together unless chaperoned e.g. JRR Tolkien was allowed to give individual teaching to girl students, but only in his house with his wife present; not in his office, unchaperoned.

Then very suddenly all this stuff was 'discovered' to be not-a-problem after all, and chaperones were discarded (even in medicine - except specifically for examination of sexual regions), and workforces and educational institutions were integrated, and men and women were treated as identical interchangeable units.

And sexuality was officially not-a-problem - and any problems caused by sex were blamed on the individuals, bad individuals.

(Most obviously blamed on bad men. And of course the new assumptions indeed gave great scope to bad men. But it gives even more scope to bad women; becuase women - as females - have intrinsically greater power in the sexual arena; plus an intrinsic assumption of victimhood and associated sympathy - this being a mainstream doctrine of evolutionary biology. Originally, evolutionary realities had been subordinated to religious imperatives expressed through culture; but absent religion, biology rules culture, untrammeled.)

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Consequently, because the power of sex was denied, and because sex really was a very powerful force, everything and every situation became sexualized - potentially or actually.

Officially and in principle there was not a problem; and at the same time, and again officially, all the above situations became a seething mass of harrassment, discrimination, coercive sexualization, menace, oppression and the rest of it.

So, in principle there was no problem with treating men and women as identical and interchangeable and in control of sex.

Yet in practice, the sexual problems were perceived as vast and almost intractable - requiring ubiquitous micro-supervision and a new, expansile bureaucratic apparatus of institutional and legal protections.

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Furthermore, since the decline of religion stripped life of meaning and purpose and enforced alienation on an epidemic scale; sexuality became the major source of social energy, which micro-motivated social life - sexualization became pervasive.

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Pervasive, yet always deniable. Because sex was (officially) trivial, hence it did not need to be controlled hence it expanded without constraint; and when sex becomes nearly universal, it becomes almost invisible and almost-wholly theoretical - and dissociated from actual physical sex.

Powerful because it is everywhere, potentially; yet weak because it is spread-out everywhere. 

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In such a world of sexually-addicted people driven by sexual energies, yet obvious and indeed blinded-against the fact; the only 'problem' people are those who try to control, limit, restrain, and focus sexuality: i.e. the (few, remaining) religious.

Now, the religious are the only people who explicitly recognize sex for what it is - a vastly powerful force, a potentially overwhelming addiction, the major source of personal energy; thus something that must (if it is not to take-over) be shaped and clarified.

Hence the sex addicted majority regard the sexually-constrained religious minority as being sex-obsessed!

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After all, if you are not religious, then what is there to worry about if sex does take-over everything, and if everybody (of all ages) does live 24/7 in a sexualized environment?

Indeed, the non-religious are grateful for their sex addiction - sex is what gets them up in the morning, dressed, and makes them go to work, and do work, and then leave work to socialize; sex makes them take interesting holidays and talk about them; sex keeps them smart and active and sociable.

If it wasn't for sex, most people would utterly lack effective motivation and would probably do nothing - they would have nothing to live-for...

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Not many people now live outside of this bubble of sex addiction; and the contrast is not between the sexually active and the celibate (most celibates are part of the world organized around sexual motivations); but between the world of sexual addiction and the family.

That is the polarity: sex-addiction versus the family

Thus the family has become the primary religious unit, and the primary anti-radical force.

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The hippies were correct: a life organized around sex is the primary counter-cultural force, the force most profoundly and most powerfully destructive of society.

Hence destruction of the family has become the primary focus of nihilistic secular Leftism - at first covertly, but now explicitly.

And every strong family which to any significant extent 'holds-out' against the dominant radicalism of the sexual revolution, is nowadays necessarily a religious unit - although the religious nature of the forces which hold a family together may well be implicit and self-disguised, may be non-institutional and unarticulated.

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(Note added: Clarification - Religion does not mean Christianity alone, but includes other religions, and includes strong non-institutional individual religiosity that shapes that person's life. All sex addicts are non-religious (even if they self-identify as religious); all non-religious people may be presumed to be sex addicts until-proven-otherwise (that is, until it is clear from their life choices that this is not so) - because it takes a very powerful life goal/ ideology to overcome sex addiction, and aside from religion there aren't many of these. But when a person really has a dominating, underpinning but non-religious and non-sexual life goal/ ideology, then the fact is very obvious indeed. Such people are rare and stand-out sharply from the norm, their behaviour is very different from average.)

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24 comments:

  1. Wow! Your best post yet in my opinion. I think you've genuinely found the underlying explanation for the modern western world. It just seems to fit. How dull that the ultimate answer is something so mundane and, well, typical.

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  2. @AT. Indeed.

    Sex on its own is powerful enough; but sex with the main force of society behind it, and when sex is 'the only game in town' (becuase unconstrained by religion) - well, under such conditions sex becomes a force of titanic power; an energy which consumes individuals as starters, nations as the main course, and whole civilizations for dessert.

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  3. Brilliant, Bruce! I agree with Alex, this post is right at the top of your range. Looking forward to you expounding upon this theme. I recently moved away from the city and into the country. It is a very religious area with a great deal of Amish. It had not occurred to me just how "available" everyone was making themselves (knowingly or not) in the city until I observed social interactions in this new community.

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  4. @Alexi: That sounds very interesting. Would love to hear more about the differences in social interaction. What is the dominant denomination there(other than the Amish)?

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  5. If it wasn't for sex, most people would utterly lack effective motivation and would probably do nothing - they would have nothing to live-for...

    Thus all the unemployed or underemployed boy-men who live in their parents' basements and play video games.

    They are not religious and they're not getting sex - the worst of all worlds!

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  6. @JP - No, they're sex addicts as well.

    'Getting sex' is neither here nor there - as close to irrelevant as maybe.

    And those who are experiencing the greatest variety of physical sex acts are, of course, typically THE most sexually addicted of all.

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  7. Fantastic article.

    My understanding was that this was a side-effect of the general dumbing down and lowest-common-denominator effect of modern society, but not the cause of it, which necessarily reduces us to the most base, animalistic traits while diminishing anything of higher worth.

    To really avoid it though, the constant propaganda, as far as I can tell one would have to disconnect from all mainstream (television, internet, social life) or enforce very strict censorship. It really feels impossible to extract oneself, though understanding as communicated through your post is the most critical step!

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  8. Great observation. Any observation of advertising, sports, popular culture and the like shows that sex is the core and heart of modern culture.

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  9. Sex is important as the sacred union which creates life. Every act of modern society seems hell-bent on undermining this. Free-sex as a means of desacralizing the union. Propaganda which enforces pleasure as the most important purpose, while inverting the most essential act of life-creation! The worship of Homosexuality as equal or superior, an act where life-creation is impossible (accidental or otherwise). And where life is created, the death of the family and replacement by state-instituted bureaucracy and propaganda. It is hideous.

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  10. Bruce, from time to time, you have amazingly insightful posts but this is your best post ever.

    I have known this for years but I had not been able to express it so clearly and logically.

    This Buddhist post can be of your interest, it has similar ideas to your own but applied to romantic love.

    http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/price/bl124.html

    Thank you for sharing this post. I will save it for future reference.

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  11. "To really avoid [the constant propaganda], as far as I can tell one would have to disconnect from all mainstream (television, internet, social life) or enforce very strict censorship. It really feels impossible to extract oneself, though understanding as communicated through your post is the most critical step!"

    It might feel impossible, but it's actually pretty simple.

    1. Television. Write 'free' on piece of paper, tape to television, unplug, carry to curb.

    2. Internet. Subscribe to a handful of high-quality blogs or web-sites, that in turn focus on things that are actually important (as opposed to MSM). Be very selective beyond that (i.e., avoid all MSM sites).

    3. Social life. Associate with like-minded people. Join a church that has like-mined people, or start a group that will attract like-minded people.

    Pretty straightforward, and not impossible, especially to start getting started on.

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  12. Agree with AJB.

    It's pretty straightforward. Don't feed yourself cultural sewage. Do feed yourself high-quality cultural, intellectual and spiritual sustenance. Do find things to do to serve God by serving His purpose.

    If you aren't willing to take these steps, you simply aren't serious about sanctification / theosis.

    It all goes back to Bruce's post about free will. You have X number of days left on this planet. Tomorrow (assuming X > 1) you will have X - 1 days left.

    Are you going to serve God (which requires you to cleanse your mind and heart) or are you going to serve yourself?

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  13. It might feel impossible, but it's actually pretty simple.

    I was about to write almost literally the same sentence.

    Of course it may not be strictly feasible to remove oneself from the 21st century, and so in a certain sense it is literally impossible for us to know just what it would be like to live in a society that breathed Christ instead of sex. (If you actually want to experience Byzantium, you're out of luck, I'm afraid!)

    And yet - by disconnecting oneself from the mainstream in the manner described by others, it's possible to arrive at a point where one is both part of, yet separate from, modernity at the same time. I'm not Amish; I regard myself as part of the 21st century, and yet I've come to view myself as a Christian among a mainstream society that is very, very *pagan* - similar, I would guess, to the way that the early Christians regarded Roman society as "pagan". I don't see anything wrong with this degree of separation, or think we necessarily need to separate ourselves from modernity any more than this.

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  14. Comment from Sylvie D. Rousseau:

    "This article is truly remarkable. I have never seen the fight of the flesh against the spirit described so precisely in so few words. This was always the true Catholic teaching -- Jesus himself was very severe on that score -- but of course, people already sex-addicts are deaf and blind to any warning.

    "I have something to add about the power of sex-addiction: in all times there were, and are, people who hide their indulged concupiscence under a religious appearance. It is now very rare in the West since religion does not insure anymore a well-respected social status, on the contrary. [... suggested example of a major world religion follows.]"

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  15. I resemble that remark!

    A lot of hits right on the bullseye here. "Their whole intricate world view - their politics, their style, their every choice - is ultimately organized by a sexual calculus." "When sex becomes nearly universal, it becomes almost invisible and almost-wholly theoretical." "Sex is what gets them up in the morning, dressed, and makes them go to work, and do work, and then leave work to socialize; sex makes them take interesting holidays and talk about them; sex keeps them smart and active and sociable." "In principle there was no problem with treating men and women as identical and interchangeable and in control of sex. Yet in practice, the sexual problems were perceived as vast and almost intractable - requiring ubiquitous micro-supervision and a new, expansile bureaucratic apparatus of institutional and legal protections."

    So many observations one never hears, but are obviously true.

    However, I wish you'd avoided the "sex addiction" trope. I think it will stop many people from reading what is otherwise an extremely insightful post.

    After reading this, my mind goes to the obvious corollary: what would my mental life look like if it were organized around some other principle? Can I even conceive that?

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  16. @JC "After reading this, my mind goes to the obvious corollary: what would my mental life look like if it were organized around some other principle? Can I even conceive that? "

    Is is the triumph of secular atheism (aka Satan) that this should be the case.

    But you are absolutely correct - to overcome the evils of the secular world we need multiple depictions - detailed, inspiring, positively appealing - of alternatives.

    That was why I linked to the Mormon video

    http://charltonteaching.blogspot.co.uk/2013/03/the-ideal-truth-about-family-life.html

    If you browse the videos, you may agree with me that the LDS church do a superb job of depicting marriage and family life (truthfully, albeit potentially, intermittently) as an unsurpassed (indeed for most people unequalled) source of happiness in this world; and also a religious thing, a 'sacrament', something connected with the heights and depths of human experience of the divine.

    Mainstream culture does not give this, subverts this, mocks and inverts this - hence the culture of sex. Christians *must* (I believe) contrast the culture of sex with the culture of marriage and family.

    Yes, individual salvation is *primary*, but what then? A sacred concept of marriage and family is what then.

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  17. Sorry, had trouble with the previous comment which appeared to post before I finished typing it. Some kind of browser bug, I think.

    This is what I meant to write:

    "Yes, individual salvation is *primary*"

    What about "For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it." ?

    I think Jesus is suggesting that excessive concern with our own selves, instead of with His Kingdom, leads to our foundering on the spiritual rocks.

    Also:

    "Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven."

    Again, I think that excessive self-concern (even concern about the state of our soul) takes our eyes off the goal, which is to serve His Kingdom.

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  18. I agree with several of the other commenters that this is one of your best posts ever.

    Those who have only recently discovered Bruce's blog may also want to read one of his older (2011) posts on a similar theme: Why do Christians pay so much attention to lust?

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  19. @WmJas - It's, of course, nice to be praised for this post - but it is fairly typical of the way this kind of thing works, in that it was a post which I composed extempore and without specific forethought.

    I sat down at about 6 am without an idea in my head intending to put off writing a post until later - then I started writing and the ideas began to gel a bit and then I had to stop and do other things at 7 so I posted it (and then tidied-up some of the typos, gaps and slips later in the morning).

    From my own perspective, this seems no different from other stuff I have done, and indeed simply a different way of expressing ideas I have been putting forward off and on for a while. But I suppose it shows that it is worth doing that - I mean, worth trying-out different ways of saying the same thing, or similar combinations of things.

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  20. Upon a more attentive reading, here are the most striking points I don’t remember having read elsewhere except more or less understated, or drowned in a mass of explanation so as to lose much of their strength:
    1. The term sex-addiction and its definition.
    2. The denial that sex controls people, which is “the best way to create a sex-controlled society” (“Pervasive, yet always deniable. Because sex was (officially) trivial…”).
    3. “The polarity: sex-addiction versus the family” – the family which is a religious unit is the only kind able to resist the present state of affairs.

    I already knew these things – particularly from Humanae Vitae, this little bomb that was unfortunately prevented to bar the flood – but you arranged them in such a way as to make them clearer than ever.

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  21. @SDR - That is a useful condensation - thanks.

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  22. Very thought-provoking, although some aspects of your argument I'm not so sure about yet.

    Your point about how we deny sex's power even while it seems to govern so much of our lives is I think correct. The simple fact that we talk about "sexual needs" indicates how we've completely abandoned the ascetic ideal of monasticism: we now supposedly "need" sex in the way we need food. The monastic ideal represents most fully the older view that sexuality was something in our power to control, and indeed something we SHOULD control, whether in monasticism or in marriage.

    That being said, the extent of "sex addiction" varies, and often I'm not sure how apparent it is at all. Perhaps this is because I spend time among academics, who seem on average to be less centered around sex, maybe since they just have lower sex drives, which probably helps them focus better on research. I actually recall reading on GNXP about a study showing overall lower sex drives among those with higher IQs.

    So your diagnosis of modern society's sex addiction may need some qualification. There are forces besides religion and sex that can give people motivation, e.g. the intellectual curiosity that motivates most academic researchers, whether or not they are religious. I think this itself can be understood as a potential rival to religion, but I wouldn't want to argue that it was merely a cloak for a hidden, sexual motivation (although perhaps you would?).

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  23. I don't think the modern sex-obsession is inevitable but rather only came into the culture through Freud.

    When testing what is inevitable in a non-religious society and what is peculiarly modern, it is best to make comparisons with ancient Greece, which was an essentially non-religious society despite the fact that theistic conceptions made some superficial appearance.

    Ancient Greece was not sex-obsessed, although sex did play a large role - they did not organize their world around sex, although sex was big for them.

    The modern obsession with sex seems to me an aspect of the philosophy of primitivism that every highly civilized society sooner or later develops. In the West, Roussaeu was the major figure to introduce a general primitivism into the culture, and Freud was the person to introduce a specific fetish for sex. Sex is a very basic and primitive instinct, and civilized societies always restrained it and refined it. But today, we fetishize the primitive in its myriad manifestations - witness the popularity of Paleo, for one.

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  24. @John - Freud certainly helped with the sex obsession around mid 20th century, and helped kill Christianity among the elites; but wasn't the main factor - surely that was the expanding media was the facilitator, encouraging, enabling enforcing a lifestyle of sex-in-the-head.

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