I’ve been thinking a lot over the last few weeks about “The Big Picture.” For years now, I’ve been on a personal crusade against poor thinking, focusing on two major subjects — religion and sexuality. It recently occurred to me that I’ve never tried to put into words exactly why I constantly come back to these two subjects, and why, out of all the ills in the world, I feel so compelled to combat these two in particular. Today’s post will be a first attempt at answering the big question: Why do I do this?
To begin with, as a recovering Southern Baptist, I have first-hand experience on both sides of the fence. I’ve been a Born Again, On Fire for Jesus, Washed in the Blood, Filled with the Holy Spirit, Evangelical Christian. With hindsight, I can look at my own life, and remember my own thought processes, emotions, and motivations, and say several things about Christianity with certainty. It is brainwashing. It severely hinders a person’s ability to accurately think about reality. It screws up a person’s feelings and beliefs about sexuality. It causes unjustified guilt. It encourages divisive attitudes.
For these reasons alone, I have always believed (since my deconversion) that religion should be actively discouraged. Until I began my autodidactic journey into the human animal, I could see clearly that religion in and of itself is a bad thing. Since immersing myself in the field of human evolution and human nature, I’ve been gradually forming a broad picture of just how bizarre and “unnatural” the combination of ignorance and superstition can be. At the risk of being overly dramatic, I believe this picture is the most depressing thing I’ve ever seen.
Particularly in Western culture, the major religions teach us a model of human sexuality that is not just wrong. It’s very wrong. Wrong on almost every claim that it makes. It could hardly be more wrong. It would be difficult to sit down and try to invent a doctrine that was more wrong. This is especially disturbing since Western religion is also obsessed with human sexuality, and most churches place sexual morality near the top of their list of Do’s and Dont’s. As I’ve said before, human nature is human sexuality. Everything that we are as humans is a direct result of natural selection, which is inextricably linked to sexual preferences, activities, and beliefs.
To use a ballpark figure, seventy-five percent of Westerners are religious. The remaining twenty-five percent are still immersed in a culture that has been primarily influenced by Christianity for most of two thousand years. It is very difficult, if not impossible, for most non-believers to separate themselves from Christian Culture enough to even objectively evaluate their own core beliefs about human sexuality. Put another way, Christian Culture is so dominant that it becomes near impossible to even ask the question: What does it mean to be human? That, as I see it, is one of the biggest problems humans could have — a whole hemisphere full of people who have little or no chance of ever seeing their own existence for what it really is.
There are many who believe that such widespread ignorance is ok. Some even believe that it’s better than knowledge. There is a widespread cultural consensus that religion, regardless of its truth value, is good because it tempers and subjugates the darker parts of humanity, and keeps us from doing horrible things to each other, or driving ourselves to anarchy. Similarly, many people believe, even having admitted that humans aren’t “designed” for lifelong monogamy with a single partner, that it’s better for humans to strive towards that goal. It seems that most Americans believe that human sexuality is a bad thing to be overcome and subjugated. They believe that only by covering over, hiding, and suppressing our “natural sexual urges” can we hope to avoid some kind of horrible peril.
After having developed a well-informed perspective on human sexuality, I can say with strong conviction that this is dead wrong. To put it bluntly, I believe that the truly grim picture of human existence is the one we live in now. More than any other animal, humans have an enormous array of options for mating, and are far more adaptable than any other animal. With the addition of modern technology, we live in a time when the negative aspects of human sexuality could be all but eliminated. Yet, because of the horribly incorrect teachings of Western Religion, we are now trying harder than ever to squeeze the enormity of human sexual diversity into a hopelessly rigid model. People suffer needlessly from disease. Children are born to people who cannot be good parents. Gays pretend to be straight. Teenagers cry when they lose their virginity. Children feel guilty for masturbating. Women feel degraded for being sexy. We write angry letters when we see nipples.
I do not believe in utopia. Regardless of our beliefs, atrocity will happen. Women will be raped. Children will be abused. Men will go to war. What I do believe in is the power of reality. Unlike many who have been culturally indoctrinated into the religious myths about human nature, I believe that teaching everyone the unadulterated, uncensored truth about human nature is the best way to minimize human suffering in the world. I have experienced first-hand the transition from superstition to reality, and I can attest to the fact that not only is reality not scary, it’s a clear path to happiness, liberation, and self-actualization.
Here’s the crux of the matter for me. I grew up believing that there were dark, sinister parts of humanity that must be subjugated. I believed there were horrible consequences for looking too deeply into the human psyche. After all, humans were the reason for the existence of evil on earth. The diversity of human sexuality, in particular, was a dark and foreboding place. If one were to dwell too long on things like fetishes, fantasies, polygamy, pornography, sex toys, and pretty much anything besides committed monogamous sex with a spouse, one would be trapped in a downward spiral of depravity.
Now, from the other side of the fence, I realize that such things, in and of themselves, are only bad when viewed from within the religious paradigm. In short, religion has created a problem and then claimed to solve it, when there was never a problem to begin with. The breadth and width of human sexuality is all part of our nature, and when we take the sin colored glasses from our eyes, we realize that not only can human society “survive” human sexual diversity, it would be better served by understanding it as completely as possible.
I am often accused of “selling” alternative sexuality. Because I speak of non-monogamy, bisexuality, casual sex, and sexual fetishes without “Do Not Try This At Home” warnings, many people feel like I’m telling them that they ought to go out and start screwing anything and everything that turns them on. This attitude, I believe, is directly linked to the false paradigm I’m talking about. Only if we believe that such things are inherently less desirable than straight committed monogamy would we think of frankly discussing alternatives as subliminal endorsement.
I do not believe in a 1960-esque Free Love World where nobody commits to anybody else, or where “alternative” lifestyles are the norm. Again, this is the conclusion reached by the religious. They believe that allowing any deviation from the norm will result in everybody jumping ship. The reality is much different. There are norms of human behavior, and most people will tend to gravitate towards them. Ironically, I don’t believe a world with widespread accurate understanding of human nature would look shockingly different to an outsider. The difference would be mostly internal, in that more people would understand their options before making decisions that would affect them for the rest of their lives. Oh, and women wouldn’t get stoned to death for being raped. There is that…
I’d like to conclude with some truths about human nature, and instead of making my own predictions, I’ll leave it to the reader to imagine a world in which these truths were understood, accepted, and embraced. I know that when I think about such a place, it makes me want to try that much harder to create it.
- Humans are not monogamous. Most of us will have several sexual partners during our life. Some will be short term, some long term, and most likely, a few will be very short. Most of us will prefer to have only one long term partner at a time, but a few of us will enjoy a polygamous lifestyle, whether we have more than one long term partner at a time, or engage in casual relationships while also in a long term serious relationship.
- Humans are not “meant to be” straight. Most of us are at least somewhat attracted to both sexes, and a few of us overwhelmingly prefer our own sex. This is no different from most animals. There’s nothing “abnormal” about any of these sexual preferences. ”Gay” and “Straight” don’t really exist.
- Sex and love are not the same thing, and it often happens that we have one without the other. There’s nothing wrong with sex for sex’s sake, nor is there anything wrong with love for love’s sake. Both sex and love are beneficial, and make us happier, either separately or in combination.
- There’s nothing valuable about innocence or virginity.
- If we get pregnant and don’t want to be a parent, there’s nothing wrong with ending the pregnancy.
- It’s not cruel to end a pregnancy when we know the fetus is abnormal. It’s a lie that every fetus would be better off being born than aborted. Natural selection is blind, and often creates humans who will live very miserable, unhappy lives.
- It is not the “purpose” of humans to reproduce. We create our own purpose in life, and we are not doing a disservice to nature if we decide not to reproduce. Nature doesn’t care.
- Everybody masturbates. For women, frequent masturbation is the best way to have a happy sex life.
- Sex is competition.
- Sex is trade. There is no such thing as “freely giving” sex. All sex, everywhere, is trading something for something.
- Looks matter.
- Our “number” doesn’t matter.
- Degradation is personal. If we don’t feel degraded, what we’re doing isn’t degrading. We don’t get to decide what makes another person feel degraded.
- If we commit to someone in our twenties or thirties, the odds are we will fall out of love with each other before we die. It’s ok to leave and find someone else. It’s the way we’re built.
- There’s nothing wrong with nudity.
- Children aren’t scarred if they see nudity or sex.
- Some people like pain. It’s ok. Pain and sex can go together and still be fun.
- People like to watch other people have sex. It’s ok to watch or be watched.
- It’s in our nature to cheat sometimes. Women most often cheat by “trading up.” Men cheat because they crave diversity. Cheating doesn’t always mean the relationship is doomed, or even that there’s something badly wrong. Sometimes, people just get caught up in the moment, or just get bored. If you look at a hundred happy long term couples, you’re probably looking at about 30 cheaters.
- Sex is social as well as reproductive. There are many levels of bonding from sex, and one does not necessarily lead to another. Sometimes, people just want to get laid, and it’s ok if they do.
- Using sex to sell something is ok.
- Selling sex is ok.
- No matter how much one person loves another, they will never stop recognizing beauty, lusting after it, and fantasizing.
- Humans are amazingly adaptable. We may have many different kinds of relationships in our lives, with men, women, or both. We may spend years monogamously and then find ourselves in an orgy. We may find one person who makes us happy. We may not. At any given point in our life, there is no such thing as what we “ought to be doing.” There is only where we are, what we want, and how it affects those around us. It’s ok to be happy now in whatever sexual arrangement makes the most sense.