Thursday, February 5, 2009

Why Does the Christian Anti-Sex Meme Survive?

Of all the tenets of Christianity, the prohibition against their priests having sex is the most perverse and unnatural. Requiring healthy men to ignore nature's strongest instinct is simply a recipe for disaster. Our sexual desires are almost impossible to suppress, and when we try, it's like trying to hold the steam in a boiling pot: Sooner or later it will burst, and do all sorts of damage.

If today's story was just another about a Catholic priest molesting young boys and/or girls, it would barely even be newsworthy – there have been so many. But in this case, one of the most charismatic and influential Catholic leaders in modern times, the founder of the Legionaries of Christ, is not only accused of molesting a number of boys, but he also had a "regular" affair with an adult woman, and fathered a child.

Ironically, it was his child that brought his reputation down, not molesting young boys. Go figure.

Unfortunately for the Legionaries, they are taught to revere the founder, to identify with him spiritually and emotionally, to read all of his works and study his life for guidance. With the revelation that their leader was, in fact, a sexual predator, and had fathered a child, the group has quite a problem on its hands.

While researching for my book, The Religion Virus, I read dozens of books, studied Christianity's history in depth, and I came to understand many things. Using cultural evolutions and a memetic approach, most of the tenets of religion and churches, which superficially are baffling to those not raised in a religious environment, are actually quite predictable. Concepts like heaven and hell, monotheism, an asexual god, and so forth, are all memes (evolving ideas) that are plainly "fit for survival" in the Darwinistic sense.

But I've never been able to understand why Christians vilify sex so much, why that meme survives. Why do they hold abstinence and chastity in such high regard? How are those memes more fit for survival in the dog-eat-dog world of religious-dogma memes?

When Christianity started, it was quite the opposite. The Jews believed that sex, wine, and other pleasures were God's gift to humanity, to be enjoyed &ndash with proper moderation and respect. To deny oneself these pleasures was to reject God's gifts. The Jews even today expect their rabbis to marry and have children, after all, a rabbi is supposed to set a good example for his people.

A great deal of the Christian vilification of sex came from St. Augustine, who wrote extensively on the subject, and really laid the foundation for the modern Christian attitudes for sex. But that doesn't answer the more fundamental question: Why did St. Augustine's anti-woman, anti-sex attitudes become Christian dogma? There were many other writers who advocated a more reasonable and healthy attitude towards sex. Why were they ignored?

I'm still working on this puzzle. But in the mean time, the damage goes on. And on, and on, and on.


  1. I don't know if this accounts for all of it, but one reason is that, because the priests have no offspring, all of their possessions pass on to the church when they die, contributing to the vast wealth of the catholic church.

  2. Ben - Good one! I got a good laugh. And best of all, it's true!

  3. This so made me laugh.

    It should read "weak minded people can't suppress it". Speaking for everyone shows hypocrisy.


    trust me, she had a very good life.
    This isn't about religion, it's about whether you decide to use what you've been given in the next step of evolution to ignore something as pointless and wasteful as sex. Unless you're weak-minded it should be no problem at all.

    "An intellectual is a person who has discovered something more interesting than sex." - Aldous Huxley

  4. The previous link was supposed to be this:

    not sure why it didn't show up on my browser. Anyway google "No Sex is secret to long life" or something like that.

  5. Women have strong sexual desires too,or does any form of Christianity ever recognize this - doubt it.I believe in God but gave up on religion since it doesn't think women are sexual at all.Nor do I believe a woman has to obey a man in marriage.An adult relationship is about both sexes being adults with equal responsibiity.

  6. Ben's comment is about a theme of investigation that I have heard on other social topics (like health - which I won't get into). I think the money angle deserves further attention.

    "When something doesn't make sense. If you follow the money, you will usually find the answer." -Mike Anderson

    I have also noticed that in Christianity the people serve the institution more than the institution serves the people. It is subjective and hard to measure, but I have been personally involved in the religion and it is just my feeling about it.


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