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SEX, SIN, AND SANITY
(How Christianity Causes Crime)
by
Dr. Lee Carter
(C) 1985
PREFACE
This report was originally presented as a series of lectures in Houston, Texas in
1967. Obviously, many laws have been changed in (as of 2006) 39 years – over the
vociferous objections of Christian pressure groups. And the highest priorities of the
"Radical Christian Right" are to rescind these laws and go back to the situations that
existed in the 1950s. In spite of some legal relaxations, the old social attitudes, and
the neuroses thereby engendered by them, will linger for many more decades.

Many important studies of sexology that are mentioned in this monograph were
published in the 1960s.  The introduction of these books and the public’s reaction to
them are part of the story line in
Regarding an Angel’s Flight.
* * * * * * * * * *
Christianity is the direct cause of much, if not most, of our phenomenal
rate of mental illness, divorce and crime.

Why? There are many reasons, but one of the most important is because
Christianity is anti-sexual. These anti-sexual attitudes have permeated all of
Western culture (or what used to be called "Christendom") and no one, not even
atheists, can escape their influence entirely. Finally, these pervasive anti-sexual
cultural attitudes cause neurosis, broken marriages and crime.

To many readers these may sound like platitudes, but before you yawn, "So what
else is new," let us hasten to add that in your
head you may be a freethinker, but in
your
guts you too may be a Christian without even realizing it. Many intellectuals
can be just as prudish and puritanical as any redneck farmer, but often they attempt
to rationalize their feelings with ingenious sophistries.

Now each of these statements is rather broad, so I will attempt to support each in
order. First, I said that "Christianity" is anti-sexual. Of course any discussion of
what "Christianity" "really is" will run into difficulties because every one of the
several hundred different denominations all claim to be "THE one TRUE version of
CHRISTIANITY"; and even each member of each denomination claims that many
of the members of his own sect have erroneous opinions which, in effect, means
that he subconsciously assumes that he alone is the world's only "TRUE
CHRISTIAN." But even so, among  those who like to call themselves "Christians,"
almost all claim the Bible as the basic cornerstone of their doctrines. So let's see
what the Bible has to say about sex. First, let's start with the Judaic tradition. "Then
the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they
sewed fig leaves together and made themselves aprons." (Gen. 3:7) Voila! The first
bikini! L.M. Epstein says, in
Sex Laws and Customs in Judaism,
The strictly Orthodox Jewish Code is extreme in condemning all
nudity, and in forbidding the exposure of nude bodies either in public
or in the privacy of one's home – even during the coital relationships
of married spouses, or in the solitude of changing one's clothing, or
in bathing. It consequently follows that physical contacts between
nude bodies or parts of bodies, except for the limited genital
contacts which are necessary for procreation, are forbidden. (1948)
According to the same source, coitus must be in the dark or semi-dark, and the
nude female, or female genitalia may not be observed, "even though it be the wife."
The Sanhedrin says, "A woman cannot stand nude before a man even to save his
life." (45a:295)

And not only were the ancient Jews opposed to nudity, but to all other forms of
sexuality. The penalty for loss of the hymen before marriage: death! (Deut. 22:20)  
The penalty for adultery: death! (Lev. 20:10)  And not only that but,
They shall cut off your nose and your ears, and your survivors shall fall
by the sword. They shall seize your sons and your daughters, and your
survivors shall be devoured by fire.  Thus I will put an end to your
lewdness and your harlotry.... (Ezek. 23:25)
And, says Epstein (p. 146), the penalty for masturbation is the most severe of all!?!
In Jer. 13:26, God himself calls the genitals "shameful." Here we see the first
explicit statement of sexual physiology as "dirty."
And if a man has an emission of semen, he shall bathe his whole body
in water, and be unclean until the evening. (Lev. 15:16) When a woman
has a discharge of blood which is her regular discharge from her body,
she shall be in her impurity for seven days, and whoever touches her
shall be unclean until the evening. And whoever touches her bed shall
wash his clothes, and bathe himself in water, and be unclean until the
evening. And if any man lies with her ... he shall be unclean seven
days; and every bed on which he lies shall be unclean. (ibid. 15:19)
You may say, well, but that's the Old Testament; Christians don't believe in all
that. But they do! And we can see how these attitudes are embodied in the
New
Testament
. Salvation is for those "who have not defiled themselves with women."
(Rev. 14:4) "You have heard that it was said, 'You shall not commit adultery,' but
I say to you that every one who looks at a woman lustfully has committed
adultery with her in his heart." (Mat. 5:27) So Christ himself is saying that anyone
who even
thinks about sex will go to Hell. Paul says,
It is well for a man not to touch a woman. But because of the
temptation to immorality, each man should have his own wife and
each woman her own husband ... I say this by way of concession not
of command. I wish that all were as I myself am. To the unmarried
and the widows I say that it is well for them to remain single as I do.
But if they cannot exercise self-control, then they should marry. For it
is better  marry than to burn. (I Corinth. 7:1)
However, he changes his mind in 7:25 and says,
Now concerning the unmarried, I think ... it is well for a person to
remain as he is ... Are you bound to a wife? Do not seek to be free.
Are you free from a wife? Do not seek marriage ... [and] from now on
let those who have wives live as though they had none [in chastity]. It
is no sin to marry, so he who marries does well, but he who refrains
from marriage will do better.
Catholics took this passage very much to heart. So the most holy: priests,
friars, and nuns, do as Paul wishes: they take a vow of lifelong chastity, and
"de-sex" themselves by putting skirts on the priests, and completely covering
the nuns with shapeless, colorless robes. And according to Catholic doctrine,
that most holy of women, Mary, remained a virgin all her life, even though
married. (“What is a Catholic,” by John Cogley, Editor of
Commonweal,
Houston Post, July 12, 1964)

Not only the specific act of reproduction, but the whole
concept of birth and
life are regarded with contempt by the early Christian writers. St. Augustine
summarized the feeling succinctly by saying, "Between defecation and
urination comes birth." And this hatred of life itself permeates the entire
New
Testament
. The body is totally sinful. Only by dying can we escape sin. (Rom.
6:6) We must mortify the flesh, for only the spirit is good. (Rom. 7:14-25, 13:
14) The flesh and the spirit are totally opposed. (Gal. 5:16) One must sacrifice
this life for the next. (Mat. 16:24, 18:7, Mk. 9:43, 10:23) Any suffering is to
be endured in this life for the greater glory of the next. (Rom. 8:18) He who
loves this life will die, he who hates it will live eternally ... (Jn. 12:25) One
should live in constant guilt and fear of Hell. (Mat. 5:27) Christians should not
laugh or be gay. (Eph. 5:4) Be wretched, cringe, weep, do not be happy and
you will be saved. (Jas. 4:9) Paul even says he
whips himself (Cor. 9:27), and
(Cor. 11:1) we must all imitate him!

Of course, we can find an equal number of passages which "prove" the
opposite, but these negative passages seem to have had a much more
profound influence on the history of the Church. St. Augustine was one of
those who established the official doctrines of Christianity, and he had this to
say, about four hundred years later:
What friend of wisdom and holy joys ... would not prefer, if this
were possible, to beget children without [the necessity of] lust
..." (
City of God, Bk. XIV, Chap. 16) Justly is shame very
specially connected with this lust; justly too ... these members
themselves ... are called 'shameful.' Lust requires for its
consummation darkness and secrecy; and this not only when
unlawful intercourse is desired, but even such fornication as
the earthly city has legalized. (Chap. 17)
This can only be explained, he says, by the inherent sinfulness of the act. In
Paradise, he says, (Chap. 26), one is spared the ignominy of sexual desire.
And in Chapter 18 of "On Christian Doctrine,"
I look with greater approval on the man who uses the
fruitfulness of many wives for the sake of an ulterior object
[begetting children], than on the man who enjoys the body of
one wife for its own sake. (Bk. III)
Of Course these official Christian doctrines were written long ago and
attitudes have changed over the years. Or have they? G. Rattray Taylor says,
in
Sex in History, that the anti-sexual attitudes of the Church increased until
they reached a climax in the late Middle Ages, causing Europe to become
"one vest insane asylum." (p. 49) And certainly no student of witchcraft or
the inquisitions can fail to be impressed by the Church Tribunals' obsessive
preoccupation with sexual matters.
The Seventh Seal, a motion picture by
Ingmar Bergman, depicts one of the hundreds of bands of flagellants which
roamed about Europe at that time, dragging crosses and whipping themselves
to death. In
The Devils of Loudon, Aldous Huxley graphically describes a
typical case of the hysterical "demonic possession" which swept through the
sexually repressed nunneries and monasteries like epidemics.

In Europe there was a liberalizing trend during the Renaissance and Age of
Reason; but with the Victorian era, the pendulum swung back toward
repression again, and women were thought to be so "pure" that they had no
sexual desire whatever.  Isn't that exactly what Augustine described as a
Christian Paradise? In fact, things reached such a point that skirts were even
put on
piano legs, lest they arouse "sinful" thoughts! And the Victorian era
only ended with World War I, so most of the parents of today's adults
developed their sexual attitudes during that period. The results are still with us.
That many religious groups still find an immorality [even] in
marital coitus is evidenced by the continued insistence that all
persons are 'conceived in wickedness and sin' and by the
restrictions which are placed on conjugal relationships. At
various times in European and American history, for instance,
coitus has been forbidden during Lent or the forty days
preceding Easter, the forty days preceding Christmas, three
days before taking communion, on Sunday, on the two fast
days of the week (Wed. and Fri.) ... during menstruation, the
week before and the week after menstruation, during certain
phases of the moon, sometimes at seed planting and
harvesting times, and from the time of the discovery of a
pregnancy until forty days after parturition. In some codes,
coitus is not acceptable for more than one week in each lunar
month. (Kinsey, et. al.,
Sexual Behavior in the Human Female,
1953, p. 367)
Coital positions are even regulated by some religions. Early Catholic codes
considered the use of any except the prone position with the male superior as a
matter for confession; and in the days when the Church had even more control
over civil law than it does today, as a matter for whipping in the public square.

But what are the official Catholic doctrines today? Paul H. Hallet writes, in a book
titled,
What is a Catholic,
The principle governing sexual relations in the Catholic
conception ... can be stated in one sentence. Man may not use
the generative faculty beyond its spiritual content. (viz.) The
sexual function and the enjoyment thereof are intended by
nature's God for the propagation of the race in stable wedlock.
Accordingly, any use of such function outside this condition –
even any thought or desire leading to it – is mortally sinful.
(Macmillan Co., 1955, under imprimatur of Urban J. Vehr,
Archbishop of Denver, p. 117)
In a newspaper article by the same title, another author, John Cogley, says that
birth control is sinful because,
The proper end of the sex act is procreation. The pleasure
connected with sex, like the satisfaction that goes with eating, is
good, too, as long as it is taken for what it is – a means to an
end. ("What is a Catholic,"
Houston Post, July 19, 1964)
According to this reasoning, Catholics should also consider it a sin to use
artificial sweeteners, or low calorie, dietetic foods, since their purpose is to give
pleasure without nutrition. But we notice they don't extend this argument
beyond the sexual realm.

A Church pamphlet titled
What is Catholic Birth Control reiterates the point.
"The primary purpose of marriage, after all, is having children. Marriage
without this reason would be a sin against the very meaning of conjugal life."
(Paulist Press, 1959, under imprimatur of Frances Cardinal Spellman)

It  therefore follows that any other sexual activity is forbidden.
Since pollution [note the 'dirty' word for orgasm] directly voluntary
is a grave sin, it is not permitted even for the purpose of
recovering health or for relieving pain, or for calming or destroying
the temptations of the flesh ... nor is it permitted to give consent to
it even though the ejaculation has arisen naturally. Nor is it
permitted to release it, already begun, by completing any positive
act. Respectable dancing, reasonable sport, moderate eating and
drinking, [etc., is permitted] even though involuntary pollution may
follow, but it must not be considered as pleasing and welcome ...
(H. Davis,
Moral and Pastoral Theology, 1946, p. 243)
Both male and female masturbation is regarded as a grave sin! (A.M. Aregui,
Summarium Theologiae Moralis, 1927, p. 151)
The Catholic viewpoint on nocturnal dreams to orgasm is this:
Such dreams are without fault or sin provided (1) they are not
deliberately induced by thought or deed; (2) they are not
consciously welcomed and enjoyed. To promote the dreams by
touch, movement, etc. is grave ... not positively to hinder it is no
sin provided the danger of consent be lacking. (ibid., p. 6)

Catholic codes on petting may be summarized as follows: Chaste
touches are permitted to engaged couples but not for venereal
pleasure. Petting in marriage likewise may not be for pleasure,
but only as leading to coitus or as a sign of mutual [spiritual] love.
Kisses, embraces, looks, touches, and similar things outside of
marriage are venial or mortal sins. On petting in marriage as a
preliminary to coitus: if for purposes of showing mutual [spiritual]
love, it is legitimate, if for purposes of increasing pleasure in
coitus, then a venial sin; but if for genital pleasure, it is a mortal
sin. (Kinsey, op. cit., 1953, p. 260)
Pope Pius XI issued the following statement about sex education:
In this extremely delicate matter if, all things considered, some
private instruction is found necessary and opportune, it is of the
highest importance that a good father, while discussing with his
son a matter so delicate, should be well on his guard and not
descend to details ... otherwise it may happen that instead of
extinguishing this fire, he unwittingly stirs or kindles it in the simple
and tender heart of the child. (
Divini Illius," Dec. 31, 1929, cited
in Hallet, op. cit., p. 119)
Thus, in Catholic theology, any sexual pleasure for its own sake is a sin. And the
only justification for any sex education is to eradicate all sexual feelings.

We have concentrated on Catholic doctrines because, even though the United
States is not a Catholic nation, the tenets we have outlined nevertheless form the
official, moral, and legal code of our country. After all, the entire Western World
was Catholic for many centuries, so it isn't surprising that these concepts became
deeply embedded in the "collective subconscious" of our culture.

It is impossible to say anything
definitive about the nature of "protestantism,"
since there is no central authority; but surely Billy Graham is about the closest
thing we have to a protestant pope. At any rate, he is certainly one of the most –
shall we say – “conspicuous" – protestants! So what does the oracle from
Tennessee think about sex?

In his book,
World Aflame, he says,
The immediate cause of man's rebellion against God, and the
fall of Man, was 'the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and
the pride of life." (p.  58)
Now what else could that mean except that man's "Lust for Life," his joy in being
a living creature of flesh and blood and gender was the Original Sin! This just
re-echoes St. Augustine's assertion that life itself is contemptible.
Our Western society has become so obsessed with sex that it
seeps from all the pores of our national life. Formerly novelists
wove the subject subtly into their stories as a part of life. But
today from the pens of D.H. Lawrence, Norman Mailer, Henry
Miller, and others pours a stream of perverse, vulgar, and
obscene writings like the drippings from a broken sewer. The
Bible defines pornography as anything that depicts lewdness in
such a way as to create impure thoughts and lusts. However, the
sewers continue to flow, destroying the moral fabric of our
society ....

The motion picture industry adds up to filth, rottenness, dirt, and
animated pornography that is feeding our youth with poison.
(ibid., p. 17)
Well anyway, he's a Bible-believing Christian all right!  He sounds just like the
Apostle Paul, which I'm sure he would be pleased to hear.

In his daily newspaper column he recently had the following things to say:

Someone asked if necking were wrong. Graham answers,
Indiscriminate [meaning: any-at-all] passionate love making
can be dangerous, psychologically and physically. The Bible
without doubt refers to this practice when it says, 'Flee youthful
lusts."' (Mar. 1, 1967) Through this admonition the Lord is
trying to ... guard against [love] becoming a thing on the mere
animal plane, and wise and happy are the young people who
heed it. Many marriages are ruined before the ceremony is
performed because the restraint which is a part of true love is
not exercised. (Mar. 6, 1967)
But as we shall see shortly, many more marriages are ruined by doing what
Graham urges.

Someone else asks, "Is it a sin to read 'shady' books?" His Holiness answers,
No one can eat garbage without having indigestion, and no
person can take poison food into his stomach without suffering
the consequences. One should be even more careful of what
he feeds his mind and soul. When there is so much good
literature, why would one want to contaminate his mind with
'shady' books, as you call them? Each of us is warned by God
to guard against allowing filth to enter our minds and hearts.
Now what could he mean by "filth?" Why, obviously any book which dares to
say that the life force needs no apology, and is wholesome and good in itself,
or
belles lettres which sing praises to the overt expression of love – such as the
ones he mentioned. And what could he mean by "good" literature? I presume
he would approve the Bible; there are lots of fascinating stories in it – like the
story of Jezabel for instance. God has her thrown off a rooftop, and she
splatters into pieces, which the dogs eat. (2 Kings 9:30) Or the story of
Jephthah: God makes him burn his only daughter in return for a favor. (Judg.
11:29) Or, in Judg. 3:15 and 4:17 there are a couple of very juicy murders
which all good Christians should enjoy: God makes a woman pretend to give a
man shelter, and while he sleeps, God has her drive a tent-peg through his
head. Or there is Judg. 14:19, in which God helps Sampson kill thirty men to
pay off a minor debt. Or Num. 31:10, where Moses orders all women and
children prisoners to be murdered. Or 2 Chron. 25:12, God helps Amazi'ah
capture 10,000 prisoners and then murder them in cold blood. Or 1 Sam. 15:2,
in which God orders all women and children, camels and asses to be
slaughtered. Or Josh. 11:6, all enemy horses are to be hamstrung and left to
die. Or Hos. 13:16, in which God orders that a certain tribe "shall fall by the
sword, their little ones shall be dashed to pieces and their pregnant women
ripped open." Or 2 Kings 6:24, in which God sends a famine which forces His
Chosen People to eat their own children.

Now that's
good literature! Then there is the – “colorful" – history of
Christianity, from Pope Borgia, to Henry the VIII, to Ivan the Terrible, to
Hitler's grandiose plan for re-establishing the Holy Roman Empire. And the
lives of the Saints should be an inspiration, too. There was the Alacoque, who
was such a devoted nurse that she insisted on cleaning up the vomit of sick
patients with her tongue. And St. John of the Cross, who derived pleasure
from licking out the sores of lepers. And St. Rose, who liked to drink the blood
of diseased patients. (Taylor, op. cit., p. 49) Good
wholesome literature, like
that!
His Eminence answers,
It is very fortunate that you have guilt feelings about this matter.
Most young people seem to breeze through a lustful experience
without any pangs of conscience, and they drift down the
painless road to all kinds of trouble ....
An 18-year-old girl writes,
At times, I have almost uncontrollable sex desires. However, I want to
be true to my Lord. And I know that sex before marriage is wrong.  
Graham says that,
One must 'curb' the natural passions through 'sublimation.' We
must say to the Lord: Take these strong drives thou has given
me and transform them into creative use, purged and cleansed
by thee.
Note his assumption that the sex drive is un-"creative," un-"clean," and in need
of "purging."

The Christian attitudes toward sex, as expressed by its most famous spokesmen,
should be clear by now. And as G. Rattray Taylor says,
It is unhappily the case that a good many outstanding figures in
the history of the church showed signs of what today would be
regarded as psychological disturbances. And it is often
precisely these persons who have influenced the church's
policy on sexual matters. (op. cit., p. 14)

Unfortunately, the minds of many professing Christians, both
past and present, often seem to be obsessed with sexual
activity to the point of neuroticism. Sex and sin are frequently
used as synonyms. The abhorrence of sexual activities ... is a
curious cultural phenomenon ... (Dr. John Barron May, Dept. Of
Soc., U. of Liverpool,
Crime and the Social Structure, p. 181)
Professor J.C. Winn, Dean of Studies at Colgate Rochester (NY) Divinity
School, announced to the Annual Christian Education meeting of the National
Council of Churches,
There is no area today where our ethical stance is tested
quite so severely as in our sexual behavior. We must not
leave to scientists alone the task of researching the
significant questions of sexual adjustment and behavior.
The time has come when [even] Christians will have to
acknowledge the undeniable existence of sex. Then perhaps
we can build on our feeble beginnings of educating our church
members for this important area of living.  Christians must
clarify [meaning: revise] their own theology about doctrines of
sin and forgiveness. (
New York Times, Mar 7, 1967, p. 20c,
UPI, Dallas, Tex.)
* * * * * * * * * *
CONTINUED
While listening to your Hour of Decision I became convinced of
my sin. I am 16 years old and in high school. I have been dating
a young man ... And I fear that through too much familiarity, I
have failed to set a Christian example.  I am troubled; what shall
I do?