Tag Archives: sigmund Freud

sexual dominoes vs the fruits of the Spirit


(Now that’s a name for a first blog post of the new year, isn’t it?)

I was reading a blog post by Dan Brennan[1] about ‘sexual dominoes’, which got me thinking about how much we actually believe the bible and take it serious as a basis for our lives as evangelical christians, as we’d claim we do when someone would ask us.

So what are ‘sexual dominoes’? The article by Josh Hunt Dan refers to is a good example. It basicly boils down to the good old ‘slippery slope’ argument applied to the fear of having a affair: all affairs start innocently and then instantly progress like the collective pieces in the domino game. Once one tips over one tile, all the rest of the tiles follow suit. Don’t come near to other women as a man, it is dangerous and flirting with infidelity. A quote from the Josh Hunt article will make it more clear how far this kind of thinking goes:

I’d invite you to make it a part of the culture at your church: around here. . .

  • We don’t share a meal with another woman
  • We don’t get in the care with another woman
  • We don’t counsel another woman
  • We don’t talk about anything personal with another woman.
  • We are never alone with another women ever for any reason.

You will be glad you did. So will your kids, your church, your friends and your God.

Impractical as such a thing is in most working contexts, it is probably is possible for a pastor… And it’s nothing new, Billy Graham had policies like this, and Rick Warren still has. The idea is that one can’t be careful enough… So apparently we are not capable of self-control, and just should avoid any situation in which we **could** be able to sin with someone of the other sex. Nevermind that such way of thinking is devaluating the person of the other sex to just a ‘temptation’, supposing the worst of them. Nevermind that our big example Jesus, who was even unmarried, broke all this kind of unwritten laws and taboos (which were really strong in his culture) with the Samaritan woman at the well, and probably with Mary and Martha too… which is an important subversion of all these kinds of thinking, but not what I was planning to write about… Maybe later…

But then I got thinking about self-control. The pop-Freudianism which gave us this framework might not believe in it, but what about us Christians. Shouldn’t the word ‘self-control’ automaticly ring a bell -and especially for me as a charismatic Christian-? Do we or do we not actually believe in the fruits of the Spirit?

Gal 5:22-25 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Now those who belong to Christ45 have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also behave in accordance with the Spirit.

Back to my question: Do we really take the bible seriously as evangelical Christians? Do we actually want the Spirit to transform us according to the fruits of the Spirit? Do we really want to follow Jesus’ example, and the law of love for our fellow human, regardless of their sex? Or do we follow the wisdom of pop-freudianism, which makes us unable to have any unsuspect relationship in the end.

And yes, we should be realistic, and not go there where we know we will be tempted beyond what we can handle. But that does not mean that we as Christians in any way can agree with the worldly way of thought that devaluates humans, created in the image of God, to either dangerous tempting sexy creatures or lust-controlled animals who cannot resist them. This is a very unchristian way of thinking, which goes against all Jesus stood for, against the whole Spirit of the New Testament! (It might be compatible with some muslim thought though) We should love our neigbor as ourselves, regardless of sex, and to really love someone will never go together with sexually abusing them (in real life or in thought). A good cross-gender friendship is a much better way to learn how to cope with the other sex than any kind of segregation tactics can ever be…

When will we really believe in the power of the Spirit, in the seriousness of the first law of love? When will we follow the example of Christ and love our fellow human, regardless of sex, income, social class, color of skin,… De we really believe that in Christ there is no male or female, no jew nor greek?

Or are we more inclined to believe the theories of this world? Pop-psychology, freudian reductionism, etc… If that is the case, we better stop using words like ‘evangelical’ or ‘biblical’. There’s nothing biblical at all about this. It’s just fear, and disbelief in the words of Jesus and Paul, in the Love of Christ in us, and in the Image of God that we all share.

Is it true that perfect love drives out all fear, like the bible says? do we really believe such things?

Let there be more of You, Lord
and less of our silliness,
More Holy Spirit and less ZeitGeist
so that Your Kingdom come
and Your will be done
on earth as it is in heaven

Shalom

Bram

[1] Author of the much-needed book ‘sacred unions, sacred passions‘, about Christians and cross-gender friendships.

Sacred unions, sacred passions II: Freud and the irresistible sex drive


So right now I’m blogging about Dan Brennans book ‘sacred unions, sacred passions‘, subtitled ‘engaging the mystery of friendship between men and women’. I’ve started this series with a musical prelude, and part 1: beyond the the romantic myth but I had already introduced the subject in another post earlier this week.

So Dan writes in his book about cross-gender friendships, a topic that is naturally to me (and him) but still it is very controversial for some christians, and some others in this world. One of the reasons for having problems with the idea of cross-gender friends  is the way we view sexuality as an all-controlling power in our post-Freud age. Freud himself reacted rightly againt the repression of sexuality in his victorian age, but what he gave in return was the other evil side of the pendulum… He sexualised and genitalised every form of human tenderness, and interest between the sexes and even within the same sex(even between mother-son and sister-brother pairs) and this myth has been deeply injected in the fundaments of our modern western way of viewing relationships, even for conservative christians.

If you combine this with an almost medieval worldview on creation order, that is still alive in some more conservative strains of evangelical christianity, you get a very deterministic view on any kind of relationships, which does in fact not differ much from St-Augustines, who was so affraid of women that he didn’t let his widowed stepsister stay in the same house as himself. but those were they days the church was absolutely negative about both sex and women (which is not very biblical, just read the song of Solomon…) and I don’t think anyone wants to go back to that time…

Like Dan points out: For many conservative believers, sexual drive towards the other sex is almost embraced as a nonnegotiable part of the created order. A number of Christians, like my former pastor (who told me I was playing with fire), believe men and women are hardwired for sex, as if that is the sole purpose for female-male relationality in Christ’s Kingdom and the world. It is “natura!” and therefore predictable for men and women who enter into any kind of close relationship with each other to take it to the next and ultimate level—which would mean having sex. Romantic and sexual coupling is in our genes as a man and a woman get close to one another, according to this interpretation.
Nature takes over and overrides the best of intentions between the sexes with irresistible force. Conversation, then, about male-female relations before marriage or in addition to marriage immediately goes toward temptation, lust, avoidance, rules, and boundaries. The discussion quickly degenerates into finding a list of rules to stave off powerful sexual urges. This common approach, however, is in danger of reading into the divine order a narrow, Freudian view of human nature as well as the romantic myth.

And from elsewhere: When Christian communities make Freud’s view of sexuality (even modified) and the romantic myth “compatible” with their biblical principles, the idealization of marriage becomes coherent with the rejection of intimate male-female friendship beyond marriage or outside of marriage: all the gestures, pleasures, emotions, and desires of nonromantic love are genitalized on this side of Freud. (..) As Lisa McMinn comments: “Although Freud has been misunderstood and criticized for saying so, hè saw sexual energy as the life force that motivates all human behavior. When conservative Christians adapt a modified Freudian view of sexuality and conflate the romantic myth with the meaning of one flesh, one wonders how Christian husbands and wives are able to pursue deep intimacy and become companions on the marital journey. Perhaps the greatest enemy of marriage when the notion of one flesh has been made synonymous with the romantic myth is the one flesh vision of marriage itself. When the romantic myth makes sex and romantic passion the end of marriage, it creates impossible standards. As Tallis notes, in romantic idealism “we unwittingly expect love to deliver the kind of happiness that was associated with a direct experience of the numinous. In effect, we look to another human being to give life meaning and purpose.

So what is the problem? First that those 2 cultural myths are adapted and used as foundation of bible-exegesis, on which we build our view of relationships. And worldviews and expectations are really self-fulfilling. If you just believe self-control does not exist, and that it’s only logical to look at women like sex objects, it will be that way. I am reminded here in a scene of the narnia book ‘the magicians nephew’, where the evil uncle Andrew, who does not believe in talking animals, tells to himself they are just making animal noises. And in the end he isn’t able to hear anything but animal noises, even if he would try (and the speaking animals don’t recognise his speech as language either.) I believe it is the same with the way how we look at the role of our sex drive: if we genitalise it all, all will be genitalised. If we start from friendship, mutual respect, and love, we will end with them…

It is not true that when I’m in love with a girl, that I have to start a relationship with her. Au contraire, even if you’re both in love you can decide to not start a relationship if you know it wouldn’t work… Like I did once. Neither is the sexual drive ever irresistible. If you really cannot fight temptation, you have a problem, and might even be a danger to society. There are enough people whose life proves that the irresistible sex drive is just a lie, christians and non-christians alike. And others who’ve made it truth in their own universe…

And especially we as Christians should not fall for such determinism that gives our flesh so much power! Don’t we believe in the fruits of the Spirit, including self-control? Don’t we believe that we are called to love each opther (a command which is never sex-segregated) and that in christ we as brothers and sisters live in a new reality, in which there is neither ‘greek’ or ‘jew’, nor male and female? We may do like the bible as a source for abstract truths, but when will we learn to live inside it’s new reality? Did Jesus die in vain to reconcile us, if all we want to believe is exagerrated psychological and biological determinisms, and the power of our flesh? shouldn’t we be living in the law of love, the resurrection and the new life?

shalom

Bram