Friday, December 10, 2021

"My Letter to Augustine: You Need a Therapist!" by Mary Aktay 

A message of counsel from a Feminist Theological Perspective…

Let’s get one thing clear, shall we? Sex is not a sin. OK? Got that? Sex was never a sin. Not in the Garden of Eden, not now, not ever. It is the reason we are all here. It is a biological necessity like food and water and the elimination of waste products. It is part of the human condition like sleeping. It is not a sin.

Sex is not even original to the human species. All organisms, from the lowest bacterium on upwards on your favorite Scala Natura must procreate for their species, if not their individual, survival.

Nor is sin transmitted through sex. Sex is not the vehicle through which sin comes into this world. We do not inherit sin from our parents like our eye color or body type. It is not attached to a gene or chromosome.

We are all conceived and born immaculate, without stain of sin on our souls. We chose to commit sin ourselves for whatever selfish reason or rationalization but it is our choice. It was not imposed upon us.

Therein lies [pun intended] your Atonement Theology. Jesus is our Savior and “Re-deemer” (as in re-deeming us as good after we were “deemed” good by our Creator in Genesis) by the example of his life, not because he had to be sacrificed to undo a genetic flaw in the human species.

Augustine, you got it wrong. It did not take God becoming human for God to restore humanity. It took a human realizing the divinity within for a human to save humanity. To show that a life, indeed any life, even one filled with oppression and suffering including torture and death on a cross, could be lived with integrity, compassion and love.

What is a sin is oppression, exploitation, manipulation, degradation, humiliation—all the “isms,” “ssions” and “ations” we human beings contrive to get our own way at some other human being’s expense. In other words, sex between two consenting adults is not a sin unless it brings about hurt to another non-consenting person. Sex becomes sinful when it is forced or imposed on anyone of any age who does not want it. It is a sin when it is welded as a tool of power to gain feelings of superiority by inflicting pain and suffering.

It really bothers me that because of you the 6th Commandment takes precedence over all others. Who cares if a president orders missiles to strike or bombs to drop, killing thousands of people?  But let him have an extra-marital affair and lie about it, and it’s cause for impeachment.

I really don’t care who gets what kind of sexual service when or where. I do care who gets killed when and where. Because you had to justify abandoning your common law wife and child with some cockamamie excuse that Adam and Eve made you do it (well actually only Eve ‘cause after all, she was the one who made Adam ‘do it’)—and besides you didn’t have to be responsible for anything before your “conversion” anyway—sex is literally seen as the “mother of all sins.” Sorry, Augustine but you are a sick man in desperate need of therapy. (Maybe it was your domineering mother always nagging you to convert.)

Sure, lust is one of the seven deadly, but then so is gluttony, and you don’t go around calling fat people sinners ‘cause they overindulge’ in sweets. You recognize it as an emotional, psychological or hormonal problem and seek the appropriate solution.

The point is not to point a finger with a holier than thou attitude because you don’t and others do.

It wouldn’t matter to me one iota if Mary were or were not a virgin or if Jesus himself, did or did not engage in sexual activity. What matters is his life, his words, his example!

I would be very happy if Jesus had brothers and sisters and/or a spouse and children. Do you really think his divinity is dependent upon his sexuality or the lack thereof? Again, see a therapist, pleeeeze!

While we’re on the subject of things deadly; what about pride? Now there’s one that you yourself have had a lot of trouble with, not to mention most of the bishops I know. I don’t hear any talk of burning in hell for that one.

And didn’t Paul condemn not lust but greed (all right the pursuit of money which really is the same thing) as the “root of all evil”?  Still no outcries of sin here when less than 1% of the world’s population owns over 50% of the world’s wealth and economically enslaves and politically oppresses the rest of us.

As I recall, Jesus overturned the tables of the money-gougers.  Prostitutes he partied with. OK, he partied with tax collectors as well but I think he knew they were just pawns of the state even if they did skim off the top for themselves.

He told the woman caught in adultery to “sin no more” but he did not stone nor condemn her. How many people throughout the centuries have been stoned and condemned because of your teachings?

What does matter to me is that killings and massacres of our brothers and sisters and the destruction of our precious home continue to be justified and even glorified on a global scale while an individual act of love is seen as wrong. Doesn’t make any sense at all: unless, that is, if it’s a matter of control. If you control the most intimate part of peoples’ lives then I guess you can control them completely.

But Jesus isn’t about control. He is about love and compassion. Two virtues, dear Augustine, you might want to become more acquainted with. Another would be taking responsibility for your own actions and NOT blaming our first parents.

You justify war and call sex obscene when truly it is the opposite. And don’t tell me times have changed since you were around. Battles were just as bloody then and just as destructive relatively speaking only on a smaller scale. Collateral damage was relatively just as great only then it was called “spoils” entitling rape, pillage and slavery. Well, I call you bloody bonkers! Or maybe you were on state’s payroll to sanctify its carnage. In which case, I would have another name for you.

So let’s stop equating sex with evil and start recognizing it for what it is, a simple need. And like any need—food, drink, sleep—it can be abused, over indulged; or diverted or postponed. But it cannot be ignored. It has to be accepted, even embraced as part of the human condition, and not used to divide those who don’t from those who do, nor elevate one over the other.

You did get one major thing right, though, dear Augustine. And that was when you told us that we are the “Body of Christ” and by our Baptism and Confirmation we are anointed, “alteri Christi,” other Christs. This profound insight should make us realize our potential for goodness, love and service, not the sin and degradation you fear so much.See, Augustine, I think we will be judged on how many times we have shown compassion and love in our lives, not how many times we have had sex. Following the Sermon on the Mount and the Beatitudes will, in my humble opinion, keep us a lot closer to Jesus than staying out of bedrooms. Maybe it’s different strokes for different folks, but I still think you need serious therapy.

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