Monday, January 23, 2023

Words as Sticks and Stones

One of the most obvious aspects of modern public life is the central role that sex plays within it.

Strange New World: How Thinkers and Activists Redefined Identity and Sparked the Sexual Revolution, by Carl R. Trueman

The most private and intimate act has become the defining characteristic and primary category of our identity.  There was a time when sex was regarded as something human beings did; now it is to be understood as who human beings are.

Trueman traces this path from Marx to Nietzsche and Wilde.  A brief comment on these is necessary.  For Nietzsche, modern morality turned appropriate morality on its head.  What is appropriate morality?  Strength is good; weakness is bad.  Just the opposite of the Christian message, no doubt – a message designed such that the weak can demonize and manipulate the strong, according to Nietzsche.

Dwell on that for a moment.  In the bastardized form that many Christians practice today, we see that Nietzsche was right in a sense – the weak (more accurately, those on the fringes of society) use Christian morals to demonize those who hold to Christian morals, and many Christians have allowed themselves to be so demonized.  But, of course, the Christian message doesn’t end there (and for this, an understanding of natural law ethics is necessary).

Returning to Nietzsche, the moral codes that hinder strong individuals must be shattered.  But he did not pursue this via a return to natural law or to seeing God at the top of the hierarchy; instead, he gave us the superman: “a free spirit who transcended the spirit of his own age.”

Which brings Trueman to Oscar Wilde.  Wilde is described as the quintessential figure of modernity because the self-expressive individual that Nietzsche envisaged finds it most obvious manifestation in the shattering of traditional sexual moral codes.

Jacques Barzun addressed Wilde’s influence in his book From Dawn to Decadence.  He comments on Wilde’s Importance of Being Earnest.  This is not because Earnest has the moral qualities praised by the Victorians, but because a young woman he loves fancies the name. 

“I live constantly in fear of not being misunderstood,” says Wilde, meaning: the public should be baffled by new art, not reduce it to something it already understands.

In other words, not earnest, as in a character trait, but Earnest as the formal form of Ernie.  Barzun concludes that the sexual revolution took place, not in the 1960s, but in the 1890s – during Wilde’s time.  Returning to Trueman, and his comments on Wilde: ethics is just a matter of taste.  Citing Wilde: “All imitation in morals and life is wrong.”

…actions cease to have intrinsic moral value; what makes them “moral” rather is the freedom with which they are performed.

In this one can see the libertine libertarians: having the freedom to perform any act as long as the non-aggression principle is respected.  That’s fine for figuring out criminal trespasses.  As we have come to see the fruits of the success of those like Marx, Nietzsche and Wilde, it isn’t fine if one wishes to live in a free society.

This has come down in our time to the central public role that sex plays in self-identity.  As imitation in morals is wrong, the alphabet soup of identity markers is a sign of “right.”  No one should imitate anyone else, so everyone is entitled to (in fact, almost required to take) a new marker. 

Happiness is no longer understood as beatitudo, or fulfilment through other-regarding action.  At best, one is left to define happiness as avoiding pain and experiencing pleasure.  Well…what is the strongest feeling of pleasure?  Freud answers the question (but I bet you know the answer already): sex. “…[man] should make genital eroticism the central point in his life.”

Virginity, chastity, modesty, and even monogamy – all out the window.  Human flourishing is almost synonymous with sexual fulfillment.  “Primitive man was better off in knowing no restrictions of instinct,” Freud would write.  Such as these, apparently, are to be considered the most virtuous among us. 

Relying on instinct, of course, is to devolve man to the level of the basest and least-developed of animals.  Frankly, it is even degrading to animals.

All of this has led to sex becoming political.  How could it not?  If we are at root defined by our sexual desires, then rules governing sexual behavior are rules that determine what is or isn’t our proper identity.

This brings Trueman to an individual new to me: William Reich, introduced as the person in whom Marx meets Freud.  Reich writes:

The free society will provide ample room and security for the gratification of natural needs. …any adult who hinders the development of a child’s sexuality should be severely dealt with.

In other words, only affirming counseling is allowed; so-called (and poorly labeled) “conversion” therapy is disallowed and even illegal.  Further, neither the family or the Church can be trusted in such matters.  Therefore, it is society (the political) that must take the lead role – and this starts in elementary school and even before.

Reich wrote in the 1930s.  Augusto Del Noce would write in the 1970s:

It is clear that what is called the left today fights less and less in terms of class warfare, and more and more in terms of “warfare against repression,” claiming that the struggle for economic progress of the disadvantages is included in this more general struggle, as if the two were inseparable.

This turn isn’t new.  Many view it as having its roots in the 1960s, with Barzun offering that it occurred even seventy years before this.  Del Noce certainly saw the focus of the left changing fifty years ago.

Mere tolerance is no longer acceptable.  Recognition, affirmation, support, and even encouragement.  This is the current standard.  Anything less is psychological oppression. 

Conclusion

I leave the conclusion to Trueman:

We can now see that once identity is psychologized, anything that is seen to have a negative impact upon someone’s psychological identity can potentially come to be seen as harmful, even as a weapon, that does serious damage.  This includes those words and ideas that stand over against those identities that society chooses to sanction.  This has clear implications for traditional freedoms: religion and speech.

15 comments:

  1. Chesterton said sex was, "the mysticism of materialism." These ideas have slithered into the churches by now; I guess they forgot that God identifies as an alpha male.

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  2. America’s Democratic Socialist State: “If Uncle Sam protects any socially-secured patriot at all, He does so only as a Shepherd protects His proletariat flock. Not because He recognizes and respects the natural rights of the digitally-marked chattel / sheep, but only to keep them unmolested in His sole possession and control, until He finds it expedient to sheer or slaughter them.”

    America’s proud flag-waving patriots are unique because they have a republic, not a democracy. They are exceptional because, in this Orwellian “Digital Age”, they are the freest Socialistically secured country on earth. Uncle Sam’s Masonic god is patriotically on their delusional, brain-washed side. Such pathetic gullibility, insane nationalism, and ignorance deserves no respect whatsoever, but it does require that the proletariat majority be made up of captured, enslaved, digitally-marked (SS#) sheep. This fully indoctrinated population (Socially-Secured chattel) has been consumed by dependence on the Beast’s Marxist state, and due to that idolatrous dependence, irresponsibility, and self-pity, the resulting character of this antichrist society is one of violence, immorality, and indifference.

    Robert Higgs (2007) FFF Conference

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  3. Always good things to be found here, Thanks for what you do.

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  4. Bionic, the sexual revolution did in fact occur in the 1890s... In Europe. However, it didn't come into American and flourish until the 1960s with the rise of the New Left and the Hippoe movement. The use of those two dates reflect those realities.

    That alos coincides with De Noce's comments in the 1970s. The 1970s were when the New Left movement ultimately failed but the focus was on perceived marginalized groups: blacks, Hispanics, women, LGBT, etc. All of this happened because the Weimar Communists and others in Marxism 1.0 moved to the US in the 20s and 30s and began to teach in universities.

    Note that these repressions the Leftists fought were attempts to hold sin and degeneracy at bay. I am not saying blacks are sinful as a category but the usurpation of the Republic on their account was. Women aren't sinful as a category but feminism absolutely is an attack on natural law and therefore sinful. The rest is obvious.

    Also, primitive man did not live in a state of sexual indulgence. This is why Genesis is so important to understand natural law and history. Mankind started in a state of man/woman lifelong marriage and nuclear family child rearing. Sex outside of marriage didn't even occur chapters into the story.

    Self Defense: The Ethics Of Liberty - https://thecrosssectionrmb.blogspot.com/2023/01/the-ethics-of-liberty-self-defense.html

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  5. Man WAS made in the image of God, but lost that image when he sinned against God. Man by procreation is created in the image of man (Genesis 5:5) for now all men die. God did not create Adam in the image of death, but that he can live forever.

    You can get that image back when you repent of your sins and trust the Lord Jesus Christ to save you from them and by faith in HIm be given eternal life.

    Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this?
    (John 11:25-26)

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    1. I do not agree with this. Man was, and still is, made in the Image of God. That image, though tarnished and corrupted by the effects of sin, is still there and will always be evident to anyone who wants to see it.
      Just as a broken clock is right twice a day, so a cracked mirror will still reflect an image, though imperfectly.

      You might say that man's character and soul has been twisted and distorted by his sinful nature, but Jesus straightens and smooths out those defects, definitively at first, progressively over the course of his lifetime, and finally at his ascension to the Pearly Gates. It should never be assumed, however, that the Image of God was ever removed from man only to be restored in a moment of "repentance". If God's Image was lost to man, then where does good come from in man's character?

      Man, by procreation, is fulfilling the command of God, Who gave the order to "be fruitful and multiply". It was always the intention that man should produce children who followed in the likeness of their ancestors, their image, so to speak. Adam's son, Seth, was born a human being, and, as such, took on the character and attributes of all that it means to be human, including the sin nature bequeathed to him. This verse (Genesis 5:3, BTW, not 5:5) is the historical record of the continuation of human reproduction, given to Adam & Eve at the beginning.

      I read this simply. Adam had a son who looked and acted like him, as sons forever have always reflected their fathers. It does not mean that Adam's "image" had replaced God's nor that Seth was devoid and independent of God's own Image.



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    2. Man was made in the image of God and this remains true for all men and all women today. God breathed into man and gave him a soul - something not done for any other creature. This is the image, and every man and woman today has a soul.

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    3. Roger- You are missing the context and results of the sin of man found in Genesis 3, but is based on the following verse:
      Genesis 2:17  But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.

      Do you believe man would have lived forever if he had not first sinned? Since man disobeyed God, did he not die (Genesis 2:17)? Do you believe that the image of man is body, soul and spirit which is also the image of God- Father, Son and Holy Ghost?  for it says, "Let us (plural form of God) make in our image, after our likeness (Gods image- Genesis 1:26-27)?

      Every mans body is unique, just as his soul, but what died was Gods Spirit within his spirit that connected him to God. When it died, eternal life vanished, therefore man died when God left him. He also caused the physical death of every human after that, because they are now made only in the image of fallen man.

      This is why Adam hid when God showed up in the garden (Genesis 3:9-11), for he disobeyed God and his fellowship was lost with Him. Now mankind is on his own (tree of knowledge of good and evil) and most run to religion to justify themselves through "good works" (Cain) rather than repenting of their sin and trusting God (Abel) by faith in Jesus Christ to save him from his sins and fill him with His Spirit (born-again) so that now he has the power to live a holy and godly life being made free from that sin that so easily beset him.

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    4. I am really hesitant to engage with someone who calls himself (herself?) The Preacher, as if that is a label of unique position which is not available to others of lower stature. Nevertheless, since we are here, I think it is important that we get our definitions straight, so I will only ask you one question. Answer that and we can move on.

      What does it mean to be made in God's Image?

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    5. I am a Christian man and preacher of the word of God. Biblical woman do not preach or teach men. That is another subject, so I will not digress.

      As a Christian, I look down at no man , but will correct one who calls himself a Christian (one that is supposed to be a biblical disciple of Christ- Acts 11:26, 26:28) with scriptural truth if he teaches biblical false doctrine. .
      The bible is very clear on what God's image is. If it is God's image, then it is perfect, without sin. I thought I was clear in my biblical overview above, but will try again.

      God's image based on Genesis 1:26-27 in using the plural form "us" is tri-part. Just as God, man has three parts of one whole. Man (mankind) consists of body (flesh- connection to the physical world), soul (personality, self- Who you are) and spirit (conscience, heart- What drives who you are). Those three parts makes you "a man" and it can only take on the "original image" as shown below:

      God the Father- Soul of God- the one who man asks and speaks to because he has access through his Son, Jesus Christ.
      God the Son- Flesh of God as a man- incarnation
      God the Spirit- Spirit of God which is the Holy Ghost and lives within man (when he is born-again), therefore imparting to him the eternal life of Jesus Christ.

      After the fall of man (read Genesis 3), he cannot have access to the Father, his flesh will die, because the Spirit of God left him and now his soul, body and spirit are "on their own"- Ye shall be as gods (Genesis 3:5)

      This subject is much deeper if you study the bible as we are commanded to do as Christians (2 Timothy 2:15), but I believe it is a good starting point.


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    6. Your assertion is completely new to me. I have never seen nor heard anything like it before and am going to have to study it for a time before going any further. Something in it just doesn't sound right and I want to know what it is.

      BTW, you should take your own counsel. Be careful that you do not teach false doctrine. You might be wrong and, as a self-confessed preacher of the Gospel, the greater responsibility is yours.

      En garde!

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    7. Your are correct, Roger. God will hold me responsible if I teach false doctrine. I take what I teach very seriously. I have spent 41 years as a born again Christian, loving Jesus Christ and reading the bible over 100 times from Genesis to Revelation. That does not include studying, preaching and teaching the bible. About a year and a half ago, I did finish my Masters in Biblical Theology from a Baptist school (BCA).

      As background, I am now retired, but worked as a Research Engineer for 35 years at Ford Motor Co, in the design of HW and SW systems relating to many aspects of vehicle electronic systems. My last project was a HIL specialist designing full test simulation and emulation facilities to enable Automated Vehicle Testing.

      I will be leaving in the next couple of days to minister in the Philippines with my wife.

      I hope that you, as did the Bereans "search the scriptures" to see if what I wrote is taught in the scriptures, for they did not just believe the Apostle Paul, but in Act 17:11  "These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so."

      Peace in Jesus Christ

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