Saturday, January 02, 2021

Human sexuality - gift of God which, used otherwise skews our vision, but used in accord with His plan, calibrates our vision to blessedness

My purpose in these posts is to bring a variety of Christian and other writers in a desire to share significant writings that in my estimation contribute to the common good and directly or indirectly give glory to God and extend the Lord's work of salvation to all of humanity. G.S.

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 The most casual observer notes that our human sexuality is at the center of life or even dominates our existence on this Earth of Men and Women. In the very midst of this worldwide Covid-19 Pandemic in transition from 2020 to 2021, we can also note developing around us a multiplicity of views, attitudes, "styles", policies, and even definitions of human sexuality.

Facing this veritable chaos, a question demands to be answered by this generation as it has always done to human beings in the past: "Is there or is there not a Creator God?" immediately followed by the further question: "Subsequently, if a Creator God exists; then what about us in regards to Him?"

NO, THERE IS NEITHER GOD NOR CREATOR

To start off, let's explore what in our day has perhaps become or is becoming the dominant opinion around the world. No, God doesn't exist and there is no Creator. OR There may be a god but he is insignificant. In this category of human perspective, we are all of us - we the human beings living on planet Earth in the Sol star system - alone in life. There is no God, nor any Creator; therefore there is no plan or "design" for our being or for our life.

All opinions are of equal value and we must at all costs not impose anything on anybody. This position seems inspired by a "utopian" perspective by which one perceives or at least hopes to head towards a society, a world, a humanity in which there would be mutual and universal respect for one another. It is the beautiful dream of a perfect world. 

Hold on a minute! Let's wake up from this beautiful dream long enough to observe the reality around us but also the reality animating us within. Unless one is in total denial, one must admit that we are very far from this beautiful utopian dream for humanity and human life. What do we make of human dramas marked by suffering? How do we understand the crimes or faults, the departures from the objectives of this utopian destiny? What do we do with the delinquents who, disturbed, disturb others?

There is no avoiding the evidence that in a world without God, without a Creator, there remains only brute force that tries to manage to impose a certain order on this chaos. If the working definition of a god is "an all powerful being"; then in a world without god, the one in charge is the person who manages to impose on others one way or another by imposing on everyone: either by the power of ideas or by power itself. This situation condemns us to live in a whirlwind of opinions, each opinion as valid as any other; but this whirlwind is terrifying and devastating precisely because it is without universal principles, without laws of nature, without fundamental or absolute truths.

If a single person can't be "right"; then no one can be "right". If there is no truth existing outside of us; then all "truths" can claim to be equally valid, and no single truth can impose itself by its own light. A perspective, a world, a society, a humanity, a universe without god or creator is doomed to perpetual chaos and limitless wars - whether at the level of ideas or that of action.

YES, GOD EXISTS AND HE IS OUR CREATOR

A little depressing this perspective without god, isn't it? It's all the more serious if this is really and without any recourse our only true reality. However, to be fair, let's explore for a moment another perspective - notably the one that affirms that there is God, only one true God, and that He is our one and only Creator.

By definition, if a god existes, it must be all powerful; therefore it must be the one and only God. Going forward logically, God must necessarily be our Creator and the Creator of the Universe as we know it. Further, it would be illogical to postulate regarding God that He might be "less" than we are ourselves, we human beings with all of our faults.

For example, God could not possibly be a worse parent than us, than the best parent among us. As a "parent", God must necessarily be more just, more understanding, more patient, more loving, more expert for our formation, and more respectful of our freedom than the best parents are towards their own children.

Another example: God could not be a worse architect than us, than the best architects of all human history. We admire the best, the most beautiful, the most durable structures ever built in human history such as the pyramids, the Pantheon, the Parthenon, and so on.

In our day, even agnostic and atheist scientists find themselves admitting to the evidence - as they push beyond the limits of human knowledge in the domains of astronomy, astrophysics, biology, and other domains as well - that there is everywhere in the universe such a logic, such structures, such beauty, such complexity, and such a quantity of digital information embedded in the very nature of everything; that the being at the origin of all that exists must necessarily manifest unlimited intelligence, goodness, and extravagant generosity....


GOD OUR CREATOR HAS INSCRIBED HIS DESIGN IN OUR NATURE

According to the best that psychology and biology and other related anthropological sciences have to offer; human beings are not "fully equipped" for life until early adulthood, which does vary from one culture to another. All cultures agree though that human beings before puberty are still children, and the changes initiated in them by the process of puberty are the necessary developments that enable children to transition into adults; which of course would be in accord with their culture and society. 

DEVELOPMENT OF THE BODY IDENTITY

During pregnancy, the new human being grows and develops through stages at an exponential rate until all the necessary elements and organs are sufficiently developed for independent biological existence. After birth, during the initial year of life, the baby is all about its skin all over its body and its mouth. Everything goes into the mouth and it just loves being in the water. During this first stage of human growth and development in the world, each person spontaneously acquires and manifests one of two preferred ways of being in the world: passive / receptive OR active / captative. The first waits and expects to receive; while the latter "goes and gets" what it needs and wants. The preference remains with us for life and is by far "easier" for us; while the other "mode" requires effort every time. 

DEVELOPMENT OF THE DOER IDENTITY

Transitioning into the next phase - roughly between 12 and 30 months - the infant becomes a toddler propelling itself along the floor and through spaces with increasing speed and delight. Simultaneously, the toddler "handles" things, beginning to learn to "do things". The toddler begins to speak with more effectiveness and satisfaction and learns to make use of the toilet and even to leave diapers behind. The toddler begins to learn about rules and ways of being and doing "in this family" and "in this house". 

During this second stage of human growth and development in the world, each person spontaneously acquires and manifests on a different level one of two preferred modes of living itself: retentive OR eliminative. Initially, this preference arises during the toilet training stage, but it is a mode of living which generalizes itself to most if not all aspects of living: with cleanliness, but also with money, with other material objects, with doors and windows, with speech, and so on. As in the previous stage of development, the preferred "mode" remains with us for life and is by far "easier" for us; while the other "mode" requires effort every time. 

DEVELOPMENT OF THE INDIVIDUAL IDENTITY

Then, almost as if by magic, somewhere around 30 months - two and a half years of age - the toddler suddenly become an individual: "Me do it." "I can do it." "Let me." Initially, this declaration is more bravado that fact; since the child is merely beginning to learn to do a plethora of actions and tasks. The key here is in the emerging sense of individuality, of personhood, of human identity. This key change is to be heartily welcomed and encouraged. Another extremely important and life-changing development at this stage of life is the child's emerging ability to understand other dimensions of time, namely, the past and the future. Until now, when the parent was not visible or audible, it seemed as though that parent no longer existed. Now the child begins to understand that the parent can be in another room or even out of the house but still exist. The child also begins to understand the delay until tomorrow. The child's life becomes far more complex and of course richer. 

DEVELOPMENT OF THE PSYCHOSEXUAL IDENTITY

Now that the child has become an individual boy or individual girl, they look upon their parents with new eyes. The boy recognizes that he is like his father but unlike his mother, and he spontaneously wants to "shine" in her eyes. The girl recognizes that she is like her mother but unlike her father, and she spontaneously wants to "shine" in his eyes. Each child senses the same gender parent as "in the way" of their desire as a kind of competitor for the opposite gender parent's affections; which is generally believed to be the irritant at the source of the nightmares that crop up between the ages of 3 and 6. It is believed important for the same gender parent to console the nightmaring child and bring it back to its own bed; in this way developing more intimacy with the same gender parent and dispelling that parent's "threatening" quality. 

It is important for the child's further development to have a clear sense of being "like" one parent and "unlike" the other parent in terms of human sexuality. There is a myriad of variation in the qualities and characteristics pertaining to either gender, and many of these qualities and characteristics can belong to both; being as they are primarily human as opposed to masculine or feminine. 

As it happened during the first and second stages of human growth and development, each person is equipped by virtue of their gender to acquire and manifest now at this stage on a third level one of two preferred modes of being in relation to others: masculine / intrusive OR feminine / inclusive. In principle, this preference emerges gradually from the moment of conception, but it is a mode of living in the dimension of relating to others; which necessarily is affected by myriad other factors, not least of which is the family of origin and its relational and emotional environment. 

As in the first and second stages of human development, the "inherent or preferred mode" remains with us for life and is by far "easier" for us; while the other "mode" requires effort every time. However, if the boy's father is not kind or loving or admirable in any way, he may turn towards his mother and begin to "prefer" her feminine or inclusive mode of relating. Conversely with the girl who may turn towards her father and begin to "prefer" his masculine or intrusive mode of relating. 

The possibilities are almost endless, but one thing seems certain: the most effortless path is that of the child who makes itself at home in its biological gender and embraces it as the preferred way of being and relating to others. Having a solid sense of identify based in its own natural reality brings a sense of peace and greater ease in relating to others and to the world. One can then choose the other mode as and when it is necessary or useful; without losing or clouding one's own sense of sexual identity. Men tend to be more spontaneously intrusive and require effort to be more inclusive; vice versa, women tend to be more spontaneously inclusive and require effort to be more intrusive.  

DEVELOPMENT OF THE PSYCHOSOCIAL IDENTITY

As we can see, with the passage of time, the human person develops and emerges from within the original "sprout" which was the newborn infant; at each stage becoming more and more complex and developing more and more characteristics, abilities, skills, dimensions of temperament, colors of personality, preferences, and ways of being in the world and relating to others. By the age of six or so, the child is ready to "launch out into the world" and society. In most societies it is the age to start going to school and often to also begin learning a variety of skills relating to survival, trades, and hobbies. 

It is also the age for participating more actively and energetically in society. Initially, boys tend to gravitate to other boys, and girls to other girls. There is almost always some mixing and matching, but primarily, the boys need one another in order to further develop who they are as boys, just as the girls need one another in order to further develop who they are as girls. 

In their intrusive mode, boys often find fun in "poking" at the girls, teasing them, and generally "getting a rise out of them". Conversely, in their inclusive mode, girls often will "strutt their stuff" in the presence of boys, also teasing them, and generally testing their ability to "attact the boys' attention".  


THE REVOLUTION OF PUBERTY

Not too many would disagree with the observation that puberty effects a veritable revolution in the previously gentle and gradual development of the human being until the age of twelve or thirteen. The age varies in accord with any number of biological and socio-demographic variables, but generally speaking, most boys and girls begin to experience their body producing hormones disrupting their life and further developing physical attributes that until then remained receded or undeveloped. 

Boys experience new fascination with girls, experience rushes of masculine hormones in the company of girls, and initially don't know what to make of their newly erecting male member. In the absence of good formation and male mentoring, boys generally have recourse to their peers and to shady sources of information, and in our day - which is not only sad but tragic - to pornography. 

It makes perfect sense in the "grand design" of our human development that puberty and the revolution it stirs up should not happen until now, precisely at that moment when the boy child and girl child are at the apex of their human development and human skills pre-puberty. They are ready for the challenge of this new stage in their development, which becomes clearer when we consider the underlying purpose embedded in these changes.

THE COMPLEMENTARY CHALLENGES OF MANHOOD AND WOMANHOOD

FOR THE BOY / MAN

For the boy becoming a man, he won't actually be a man yet for at least a few more years. As this time goes by, the greater challenges of life that yet await him will require him to become capable of mastery over his own life. He will need to be able and willing to control his own impulses; lest he become a criminal, an alcoholic, a libertine, or any other perversion of a male human being obsessed only with his own self and cavalier about everyone else. Such a perverted male human being is a drain on society at best and a dangerous threat at worst. 

Many of the current ills of society derive precisely from men who lacked the essential male mentoring that would have put them on the path to further maturation as men and as fathers. In the absence of such male mentoring; they become phantoms of men and a danger to any who approach them. Failing to give the male support needed by their women companions, the children they engender grow up without a proper father and are at risk to become the next wave of irresponsible men and insecure women. 

It's not hard to understand how the period between puberty and adulthood for the young man allows for the passage of sufficient time in order to become "master of his own house", that is, to not only master his own human impulses, but further to develop his ability and willingness to be a good companion and support for the women friendships he develops. All this is in view of eventually finding the right partner for marriage and parenting for family life. 

FOR THE GIRL / WOMAN

For the girl becoming a woman, she won't actually be a woman yet for at least a few more years as well. As this time goes by, the greater challenges of life that yet await her will require her to develop her innate capacity to give and to nurture life, which is the peculiar "genius of woman". It is easier for girls in large families to "test their abilities" by helping to nurture and take care of younger siblings. Some girls practice their skills by babysitting their neighbors' children or younger cousins. Unless girls have proper female mentors; they are at risk to enter into a kind of "perpetual adolescence" in which they become obsessed with their own appearance, the satisfaction of their own desires, and get caught up in never-ending competitiveness with their peers. 

A different dynamic which can be equally destructive is that by which woman let themselves be drawn into competitiveness with men on the merry-go-round of careerism in business and public service. As they are forced to enter into male dominated tracks, they can lose sight of their own nature and calling as women; which can be very disorienting and personally destructive. 


THE MALE / FEMALE COMPLEMENTARITY DESIGNED BY GOD

It is no coincidence that in its western origins marriage has been called "matrimony", which translates literally as "the burden of the mother". It is also why the woman is called the bride and the man is called the bridegroom. The Creator clearly put the focus on the woman who has within her an innate capacity to receive life, to cultivate life, to bring forth life, and to nurture that life to independence. It is a wonderful, beautiful, and extremely fulfilling task, but the Creator designed her to carry out her call and mission in the company of and with the support of her chosen man, her husband, and the father of their children. He is called bridegroom because his calling initially and for the long term is to "groom" or care for his wife, the mother of their children. 

Parenting deepens a man's sense of fatherhood by constantly pushing him beyond his limits today to discover wider expanses and depths of meaning and character within himself; that he is then called to manifest in the world in support of his wife and the mother of their children and also to assist her in raising their children and in working with her to mentor them. By supporting his wife, cherishing her and loving her, he demonstrates to all their children what it means to be a man and the inestimable value that the woman their mother has. 

Parenting deepens a woman's sense of motherhood by constantly pushing her beyond her limits today to discover wider expanses and depths of meaning and character within herself; which she is called to manifest in the world as she nurtures their children, works with her husband to mentor them, and supports her husband and the father of their children. By supporting her husband, respecting him and loving him as she nurtures and raises them; she demonstrates to all their children what it means to be a woman and the inestimable value that the man their father has. 

The more we study the nature and possibilities of womanhood and manhood, and of motherhood and fatherhood; the more clearly there emerges a distinctive design of complementarity between women and men. While single parent women or men actually do accomplish wonders in single-handedly raising children; nevertheless, even these rely on and benefit from the support and assistance of parents and extended family and even friends and neighbors. If it is true that it takes a village to raise a child; then the presence and active participation of a mother and a father are all the more indicated. In fact, until recently tons of studies had been done on the role of the mother; it is only in the past few decades that increasingly more studies have been done on the role and contribution of the father. The previous conviction that the father's presence and role were superfluous is increasingly being disproven. 

WHAT ABOUT CASUAL OR "RECREATIONAL" SEX?

The least that can be said about human sexuality is that it is a power. Like any power, it can be used in accord with its inherent nature and purpose or it can be used in uncharacteristic or unusual ways. Men and women can play at "seducing" others for the perverse pleasure of "conquest" and the associated "pleasure of the hunt". Others may simply opt to indulge in sexual activity for the inherent pleasure of arousal and the related "climax". However, it is not difficult to find consensus on the fact that trivial sex supplies no lasting satisfaction. More significantly, casual sex works against the natural process of human development and maturation; in effect imprisoning the casual sexual activitst in a perpetual state of adolescence, with its incapacity to find or give meaning to life, or to engage in deep relationships. 

Life for people on this path is a battlefield littered with casualties and corpses of the vanquished. There are no lasting or deep friendships here, but only the sad companionships of those who share the battle. How do people end up as casualties on such battlefields? It seems to generally begin with the absence of proper mentors and the initially innocent curiosity which, without mentoring, becomes fascination and then obsession. Engaging in sexual exploration "in the shadows" is fraught with danger, all the more so because our human sexuality is a genuine "power" which is by its very nature oriented to the good of giving life. In the original design by the Creator of the marriage between one woman and one man, this power is a mutual giving of life through love, which then extends the life-giving power to all those generated by their union and loving friendship.   

WHAT ABOUT PORNOGRAPHY AND SEXUAL ADDICITONS?

In the Creator's original design of human beings in a complementary "dual nature" as woman and men, what emerges as of foremost importance is their mutual ability to "see one another" as persons. This was eloquently and beautifully, artistically expressed by Director James Cameron in his blockbuster movie "Avatar" when he has the Navi people greet one another with the expression "I see you!" as they mutually gaze deeply into one another's eyes. See here for a reflection on the process of eroticization.

The trouble with casual sex, sexual play, pornography, and sexual addictions - in fact with any and all uses of our human power of sexuality outside of the loving relationship of husband and wife - is that we risk allowing our eyes and our spirits to wander away from contemplating in love one another's unique personhood and dignity; in order to divert our attention to one another's body parts for the "thrill" that the sight of them can generate within us. By then, the other is already no longer a person with all their dignity, but merely reduced to an object of my desire for my own pleasure. You no longer exist for your own sake or with your own value and dignity, but you are reduced to an object. Herein lies the tragedy.

As in any addiction, it is very difficult if not impossible for a person to get off that merry-go-round by oneself alone. As pornography has exponentially developed and "infected" tens and hundreds of thousands of people; simultaneously, God has raised up public service minded people to develop and offer help for all those who wish to be free of addiction and be restored to the original design and purpose of their human sexuality in the context of a well-balanced sense of identity and dignity. 

WHAT ABOUT GENDER DYSPHORIA OR À LA CARTE GENDER IDENTITY?

If you pay attention to the tons of ink that has been spilled and of saliva that has been expended in the defense of "different or alternative" views of human sexuality that would "discover" or "create" or "set free" or "design" any number of alternative "genders"; what these pretty much all have in common is that they are all "about ME". Throughout human history, the highest human ideals have almost always been about selflessness. The heroes have been those who put themselves at the service of others or of the common good, and who even risk or lay down their lives for others. By contrast, the "lobbies" that champion alternative sex or genders are lobbying governments to lay down laws to coerce the rest of society to conform to their "specific interests" and go so far as to forbid anyone with gender dysphoria from obtaining the benign therapy they need and seek in order to find interior peace and harmony.

The writing is on the wall and is clearly discernible for anyone with eyes to see and ears to hear; as Jesus is quoted as having said some two millennia ago. 

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My purpose in these posts is to help spread the contributions of a variety of Christian and other writers in a desire to share significant writings that in my estimation contribute to the common good and directly or indirectly give glory to God and extend the Lord's work of salvation to all of humanity. G.S.

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© 2004-2021 All rights reserved Fr. Gilles Surprenant, Associate Priest of Madonna House Apostolate & Poustinik, Montreal  QC
© 2004-2021 Tous droits réservés Abbé Gilles Surprenant, Prêtre Associé de Madonna House Apostolate & Poustinik, Montréal QC
 

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