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Promoting Intimacy and Other-Centered Sexuality
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History Of Sexuality In Cultures
10,000 to 3,000BC
A family was viewed as belonging to the male as his property. A female in a family
had to be monogamous but a male could mate with unattached females..and he sure
did! The world's population exploded to over one hundred million by 3,000BC. Women
were totally subservient to men - possessions to be used as men wished, in these
early civilizations. Some of history's earliest writings contain references to laws
against a women having more than one husband.
One of the most sacred positions for a single women was as a temple prostitute.
"Every women..must once come in her life go and sit in the temple and there
give herself to a strange man....She is not allowed to go home until a man has thrown
a silver coin into her lap and takes her outside to lie with him....The women has
no privilege of choice - she must go with the first man who throws her the money.
When she has lain with him, her duty to the goddess is discharged and she may go
home...Tall handsome women soon manage to get home again, but the ugly ones stay
a long time before they can fulfill the conditions which the law demands - some
of them, indeed as much as three or four years." (Herodotus, a Greek historian
who lived from 484 to 425 B.C.)
If a Babylonian wife committed adultery, it was the husband's choice whether she
lived or died. Likewise if she spent too much money, the husband could divorce her
or make her a slave. If the wife could not bear children, she was required by law
to find her husband a surrogate!
In Egypt a man had one main wife, but as many secondary wives and mistresses as
he could afford. With such readily available sexual partners, the Egyptian male
found no need for a prostitute. The rich had access to slaves and traveling groups
of dancers and musicians - always a good source of sexual favors. The poor lived
in communes and shunned the idea of marriage altogether.
The Hebrews in Biblical days also allowed the man as many wives as he could support.
King Solomon supposedly had over seven hundred wives. Then the Hebrews started worshiping
one God as opposed to many. They discovered they were the "chosen" people
to bring this new message to the world, and to prove it they instituted a number
of sexual practices and prohibitions, starting with circumcision to show Gods preference
for their race. Likewise the Jews began to impose monogamous standards in part as
a way to ensure the purity of the race and the multiplication of the "chosen
The First 1000 years A.D.
The Emperor Constantine in about 300 A.D. was perhaps the world's most important
convert to the new religion of Christianity. It was perhaps the only thing left
to try and hold the Roman Empire together. While the political empire fell in the
next century, the Church stepped in as the new central authority. Threats of burning
in hell were even more effective than the army for controlling large and diverse
Augustine (354-430A.D.) was a primary theological shaper of thought and went so far as to argue
that sex was sinful even within wedlock unless the specific purpose is always conception!
This reflects the need at the time for many more children. Infant mortality was
very high, the economic and political structures were based on families. Likewise
clerical celibacy was in part shaped by fear that offspring would fight over Church
Thanks to widespread illiteracy - or apathy, whatever the Church said was now law.
Intercourse was no longer natural and good, sex was dirty and only for procreation.
Celibacy was the new standard for the clergy. And it was a great money maker! If
you sinned by enjoying sex, you must come to the Church for repentance which required
a donation to demonstrate your faith. What a perfect way for the Church to raise
capital. Make everyone a sinner because of their innate sexual desires, and then
offer to absolve them for a sizable donation.
The sexual morality of Christianity did not come from Jesus. It instead came from
his followers whose main interest was the control of the masses. They had good cause
for their actions at that time in man's evolution. But it is important to recognize
the source of religious dogma about sex - when and where it came from -and put it
in perspective in present time and circumstances.
Sex was understood to be natural and a duty to be done as often as possible if one
wanted spiritual harmony with the Tao (The Way).
The emphasis was on love and spiritual union by Tantra which could not be produced
through sex with one's own spouse. Therefore, there was much wife-swapping and lots
of work for the sacred prostitutes.
The New World
As the exploration of the New World began, "civilized man" was introduced
to bizarre sexual customs, such as those of the Incas and Mayans, who preferred
homosexuality for adults. The Incas also attempted to preserve the purity of their
race through incest; the Aztecs practiced polygamy; and the Mexicans perfected the
art of prostitution.
The Hawaiians engaged in indiscriminate sex for decades. Everyone loved and accepted
everyone else. There was no disease or dissension of jealousy. It was only after
Capt. Cook brought the European CHRISTIAN influence into their society, forcing
women to cover their breasts and allowing their good "Christian" men to
rape and abuse the natives that their society began to experience jealousy and hatred.
Coming to America
As Europeans game to America, they brought strict puritan views of sex. By the 1800s
the woman was more than content to be the weak, vulnerable creature, needing protection
by a man. American Doctor Alice Stockholm (a woman) wrote in 1894 that any husband
who required marital intercourse except for conceiving children was making his wife
into a private prostitute. Sex with a "real" prostitute, however, was
fine as long as there was no love or passion involved. Unofficial estimates claim
there were over 100,000 prostitutes in Paris by 1900. Philadelphia had about one
prostitute for every 60 people.
With an increase in prostitution came an increase in sexually transmitted diseases,
giving impetus to Puritan desires to make it illegal. The rise of syphilis and gonorrhea
also created a demand for virgins who were assumed to be "clean". In the
early 1900s the increasing importance of supposed virgins, led younger and younger
girls into prostitution. In Britain nearly 5% of the prostitutes were under age
The anti-pleasure climate of the Victorian sexuality in part was shaped by the need
of the Industrial Revolution for a public morality of hard work, dedication and
delayed gratification. The sexual revolution then came to America, not about sex,
but about women's rights to have career opportunities and be independent of men.
Should we bring back traditional Biblical family
Concubinage, polygyny, (men multiple wives) capturing women in battle and forcing
them to be wives, levirate marriages, fathers forcing their daughters to marry a
man that pays the father the marriage price, regardless of girls wishes, and women
as property of husbands, may not be a good thing, but they sure are Biblical!
Ex 22:16 says "When a man seduces a virgin who is not yet betrothed, he shall
pay the bride-price for her to be his wife. If her father refuses to give her to
him, the seducer shall pay in silver a sum equal to the bride-price for virgins."
Deut 22 tells about a husband's property rights in his wife. If a bride was not
a virgin at marriage, she was regarded as "damaged merchandise." While
a girl should be a virgin, nothing in scripture suggests a man has to be a virgin.
It was terrible for a girl since it lowered her value to her father since her bridal
price would be lower.
One of the ironic things about the downfall of Jimmy Swaggart is that his sin was
actually perfectly Biblical. It was not wrong for a man to consort with prostitutes
(even if he was married). Temple prostitutes was a different matter.
Today women's fathers don't tell the women whether to marry of not for a price.
Women are empowered to enjoy sexuality for themselves, not as property. The marriage
at the option of the father in Biblical times was recognizing that women were property
and also recognizing that children would result - very different today.
In today's culture we have more need for delayed marriage and education. In Biblical
times the girl was married at 13 and served the function of breeder and companion.
Today marriage is long delayed due to a changed society and marriage is no longer
necessary to pass on the family name or to have children within, since we no longer
does sex equate with having to have children. In Biblical days, they needed more
people (especially sons) to toil the fields and pass on the family name. Today
we have an overcrowded world and need fewer children.
Moses in regards to the acts of Peor, against the Lord, directed "Kill every
male among the little ones, and kill every women that laid with men...but all the
women children, that have not known a man by lying with him, keep alive for YOURSELVES".
In other words - keep all the virgins for yourself.
When Lot offered his two virgin daughters to the men of Sodom, this was proper in
accordance with the rules of sexual hospitality. A father could use his daughters
sexuality as he choose. God seemed to bless Lot for offering his daughters to be
gang-raped since the angels rescued them before the city was destroyed.
Christian Sexual Bloodletting
The medical nightmares of bleeding began in the early Middle Ages, initiated not
by doctors but by Christian monks who viewed the procedure not as a curative (like
Greek and Roman physicians) but as a preventative against sexual arousal.
Cloistered in monasteries that dotted the dreary landscape of the Dark Ages, monks
were the only members of the Western community who could read and write. They
alone interpreted Latin medical texts. Sworn to celibacy, they continually had to
suppress natural sexual urges, and ancient Roman physicians taught that withholding
the semen led to the poisoning of a man's blood. Hence a truly chaste community
of men should be one riddled with disease. Unless, that is, men vented the toxic
imbalances by bleeding each other.
The practice was done monthly. Senior monks bled junior ones, and the runoff juices
were examined for the decayed matter that should be present if a man weren't illicitly
copulating or masturbating. A monk who confessed to great temptations of the flesh
was forced to shed volumes of blood until his desires abated. Such profuse bleeding
surely must have taken the mind off sex, for a while at least.
Monks spread their medical theory among the laity. Since premarital sex was among
the most grievous of sins a man could commit, unmarried men were bled to cleanse
them of "evil juices" that caused disease. It was thought that menstruation
in women was natures own way to detoxify her body. But a postmenopausal women was
supposed to undergo periodic bleedings.
In this manner, bloodletting moved from a onetime medical cure-all to a prophylactic
and then to an abuse of bodies of both the healthy and the sick. for the physician
of the Middle Ages, bleeding became his "take two aspirin and call me in the
morning." Bleeding hemorrhoids even became an ailment to be desired.
Heyday of Abuse
There was money to be made in bloodletting, and barber-surgeon guilds sprung up
throughout Europe, advertising with their red-and-white barber poles as the symbol
of a bloodied, bandaged arm that had been well vented.
Bloodletting banishes melancholy and passion," began a ballad of the day. "It
quenches the fires in the blood of the lovesick." From the sixth to the sixteenth
century, there was such a medical abuse that it was killing tens of thousands of
patients annually, including many of Europe's leading monarchs.
The medical rule of thumb was: For any malady, regardless of the patient's degree
of ill health, bleed him or her a minimum of three to five times, taking about two
pints of blood each time. That's a near lethal amount of bloodletting. Consequently
when the ghost-white patient passed away, the physician blamed not the letting of
blood, but lamented only that the procedure had not been begun earlier in the course
of the disease and been done more aggressively. By this logic, bloodletting itself
never killed, it only came too late.
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