Pedra, Papel e Tesoura

14 de outubro de 2020

Some advice from Augustine, part 5.

Filed under: Livros, Saúde e bem-estar — Tags:, , — Yure @ 12:22

This time, I decided to read The Consecrated Virginity . I remember that once, when I said I was a “virgin”, my oldest friend said that it is not good for the man to use that term to describe himself, because originally “virgin” was an exclusively feminine term. And, in fact, reading this book, I see that it is focused on women. The term used to describe chaste men is “celibate”, but today this term has an absolutely religious connotation. Unless you are in the manosphere, then you come across terms, such as incel (involuntary celibate). But I digress…

Although it is a book on a topic more dear to religion, it has some secular advice as well. As I am neither Catholic (I think) nor Protestant, I fear that some of my interpretations of what Augustine wrote are not very orthodox …

Unless you are religious, virginity is worthless. With the decline of religion, so declines the value of virginity.

One might say: if you have sex, you are exposed to the risk of sexually transmitted diseases. But today, we can treat most STDs and even cure many. In addition, means of preventing these diseases exist and are very accessible. One could say: but sex is addictive! Something can only be considered addiction if it damages your life to some degree. “Addiction” is a bad habit. Sex is good, unlike smoking or alcoholism. If you are sexually active, but do not suffer as a result, you cannot be considered an “addict”. Someone could say: what about the children or the child support? Both scenarios can be avoided with the use of condoms or the pill. It follows that sex is harmless in our times. If you fear legal problems, get a lawyer before having sex. So, why stay a virgin? There is only one reason: if you are religious and want to consecrate your virginity to God. Any reason other than that is questionable. Because of this, the value of virginity decreases the less religious one is a given nation.

Although the virgin should not feel superior to the married woman, one must accept that the natural family has little importance in Christianity. Unless you are a Christian and feel uncomfortable with your sexual desire, marrying is not worth it (as a Christian can only have sex with his spouse). Excessive abstinence can get you sick.

It is very strange that there are so many Christians who see a fundamental value in the family. True, the Holy Bible says that we should honor our father and mother (Exodus 20:12), a precept maintained in the New Testament (Ephesians 6: 2). But it ends there. Jesus categorically said that he came to bring, not peace, but the sword, as families would be torn apart because of his name (Matthew 10: 34-36). And he also says: whoever loves his father or mother more than he is not worthy of him (Matthew 10:37). Jesus also confesses that, depending on the person, it is better not to even get married (Matthew 19: 10-12), advice reiterated by Paul (1 Corinthians 7: 8). In addition, ideas such as “we are all brothers” better describe the communal raising model than to the importance of the nuclear family. And it is because the nuclear family has little biblical importance that marriage is not that important. From a strictly scriptural point of view, a person should only get married if he is not able to withstand his lust, since sex must be placed within the confines of marriage (1 Corinthians 7: 9). In fact, for some people, lack of sex can cause serious behavioral deviations … In that case, it might not be worth avoiding sex or marriage (if the person is of the opinion that you should only have sex after you are married). The person who sees no problem with dying a virgin does not need to get married or build a family. Especially because, if we owe credit to the Revelation of St. John, the virgin’s reward is greater (Revelation 14: 4).

In Christianity, virginity is recommended, but not necessary.

Why, obviously. A religion that had complete sexual abstention as dogma would not be live very long, neither ideologically nor pragmatically. First, the believer would ask himself “if I gotta abstain, why did God give me sexual desire?” and, second, very few people would be willing to put up with a sexless life.

Even if all the righteous are resurrected, some will be resurrected to a better condition than others.

When asked what to do to inherit eternal life, Jesus responded with the decalogue (Mark 10: 17-19). But then he says that if you, in addition, sell your possessions and give the money to the poor you will have a treasure in heaven (Mark 10:21). This suggests that even when we are there, in the future life, the condition of some will be better than that of others, depending on how much you sacrificed yourself for others in this life. Thus, the observance of the commandments cited by Jesus is only the entry ticket . What happens after the door depends on other actions, particularly what gave those who needed your wealth more than you did. This calls into question any teaching of any church that encourages the accumulation of wealth.

God looks at everything you do right, not only at your failures, since nobody is perfect. If no one is perfect, as there is no man who does not sin, it follows that everyone should be humble, instead thinking they are better than others. Love enables the forgiveness of sins. Even if you were able to be a saint, you shouldn’t be proud of that, because lack of humility is a sin. It is not possible to reconcile holiness and pride.

If God only looked at our failures, no one would be saved. Furthermore, doing so would be unfair. You should be as good as possible, asking for forgiveness for your failures, but you will never be perfect. And, depending on your good deeds, imperfection may not even be a problem. If no one is perfect and we are all sinners, it follows that no one has the right to feel “higher” than others. In doing so, a lack of humility is added to all your sins. Even if you were a saint, such a mistake would already be a contamination. Therefore, it is not possible to be “holy” and proud. Furthermore, pride invites contempt, which is an obstacle to the exercise of love. Some points in the four gospels seem to condition the forgiveness of sins to the ability to love (Matthew 6:15, Luke 7:47, among others). If there are faults that you cannot correct, at least exercise love, so that you can be forgiven for such faults.

There are several secular reasons for not getting married. Getting married divides a man’s heart.

There is no need to get married today, unless you are religious. So much so that I am in favor of abolishing civil marriage. Anyone who is divorced knows how marriage can screw you up. Especially if you’re a man. There are fights, dissatisfaction, quarrels, jealousy, then divorce, loss of custody of children and then you are stuck with child support. Better to avoid that embarrassment. Furthermore, when the subject is religious, he must admit that marriage distracts him from the search for God. Paul also speaks of this: the married man is divided between God and his wife, while the single person only has to worry about God (1 Corinthians 7:32-33). This is one of the reasons behind the priests’ chastity vow. And that leads me to suspect churches that admit anyone as a pastor, as long as the guy is married… In a secular sense, getting married is also a distraction from intellectual pursuits. A friend of mine told me that a certain philosopher of recent history was a… uh… well… Let’s just say he was fine with being cheated on (I bet he wasn’t the only one either): interested in his research on philosophy, particularly logic, he didn’t have time to spend with his wife. So he accepted that she would cheat on him (if you can call that “cheating”, since he was totally fine with that). Wouldn’t it be better if he didn’t get married in the first place, if he didn’t have time for a wife?

When the impossible is ordered, go as far as you can.

This advice reminds me of a discussion about the possibility of peace. According to Kant, it does not matter whether peace is possible or not: one must believe that it is. Even though peace is an ideal that cannot be achieved, it is certain that our life improves the closer we get to that ideal. So, if something is good, but impossible, we must still try to approach it as an ideal. After all, even if we don’t reach perfection, we will still feel our condition improve the closer we get to it.

Continence is peace and struggle. It is only possible to moderate and manage emotions and feelings, but not to excise them entirely. The sexual instinct is neither the most important nor the most profound human tendency, as the instinct for self-preservation comes first. Better to escape from temptation than to face it.

This is one of the things that make Christianity kind of scary for me. Phrases constructed in this way, “continence is peace and struggle”, make it seem that the main point of Christianity is suffering. It hurts me a little to think about how many suffered in the search for the ideal of continence. But then I remember that they do it because they think it’s worth it. So, who am I to judge, right? So continence is peace because it allows you to reject temptation, but it is still struggle, because you fight temptation when it comes. Continence should not be confused with temperance, because temperance is not wanting what is wrong, while continence is resisting to a wrong desire once it is established. Continence is more easily maintained by avoiding sources of temptation, however. Willpower is a limited resource. If you expose yourself to temptation all the time, you will eventually give in. So you should be exposed to it as little as possible.

I wrote a little on this blog about the attraction to minors and I think this expression, taken in a secular sense, describes well the struggle of those who have sexual desires to do illegal things. Peace, for having avoided breaking the laws; struggle, to resist breaking the laws. Isn’t this guy worthy of sympathy? When you feel horny for something, nothing will change that. The pedophile’s fate is not to do something that violates the laws, even if his desire for children will never disappear. And in this he realizes that self-preservation takes precedence over sexual satisfaction, a truth that many ignore or forget, so glorified has sex become. The pedophile might make use of replacements to the real deal, in order to make it easier. It’s like quenching your thirst with water, which makes it easier to refuse juice.

When deciding to abstain from sex, the child may not want to notify this decision to parents, for fear of disappointing them.

Look, I’m twenty-eight years old and I’ve never had sex in my life, because I always have my face in the books, be it philosophy or RPG books. I have no desire to have sex with anyone … Unfortunately, when I told my father that, he was very disappointed in me. He said he had plans, that he wanted to talk to my wife and play with my children (of course). And … I don’t want any of that. A … wife? Why? Did I do something wrong? Why he wishes me a wedding, something that didn’t even work with him? In fact, I have never seen a happy marriage in my life.

This is true not only for children who wish to remain virgins, but for any alternative sexual decision. The gay son, for example, may hide this from his parents so as not to scare or disappoint them. It is the case of a friend of mine: being the middle child of an offspring of three, he did not want to notify his bisexuality to his parents, who very much wanted grandchildren. The reason? None of the three children is heterosexual! He was the parents’ “last hope” to see their genes spread. A pity that the previous generation put so many hopes on their children’s sexuality … Besides, the boy is bi. Who knows? Even so, the feeling that his parents have is that the boy is really gay and just said he is bi so that they wouldn’t be too disappointed … I ended up having to comfort him that day.

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