Of all the strange and terrible powers among which we move unknowingly, sex is the most potent. Conceived in the orgasm of birth, we burst forth in agony and ecstasy from the Center of Creation. Time and again we return to that fountain, lose ourselves in the fires of being, unite for a moment with the eternal force and return renewed and refreshed as from a miraculous sacrament. Then, at the last, our life closes in the orgasm of death.
Sex, typified as love, is at the heart of every mystery, at the center of every secret. It is this splendid and subtle serpent that wines about the cross and coils in the bloom of the mystic rose.
The sexual perversion of Christianity becomes obvious when it is realized that “The Holy Ghost” (The Sophia) is feminine. The very Tetragrammaton, Yod He Vau He, means: Father-Mother-Son- Daughter and asserts the splendor of the biological order. How could life proceed from a strictly masculine creation? What miracle could possibly be superior to the miracle of copulation, conception and gestation? In the corrupt and demonic Jehovah, the priesthood blasphemed nature in order to perpetuate a tyrannical and superstitious patriarchy. Woman was insulted and affronted with the calumny of immaculate conception — then, by this mystery mongering, a premium was placed on moral and spiritual sterility. This sublimation of the sex-urge has been the basis of the power of the church and is the source of much of the psychosis rampant in the modern world.
It has been asserted that the church has been a champion of progress and freedom; nothing could be more fallacious. Organized Christianity has been inevitably allied with tyranny, reaction and persecution. No organized dogma can contribute to progress except by occasional accident. The church’s main contribution has been to unintentionally foment revolt against its bigotry. It could hardly be otherwise with an organization founded on a double fallacy: the sin of sex and the infallibility of man. No religion can hope to benefit humanity while it preaches love and reviles the root of love. Anyone hoping to understand and cope with human relations must understand both the importance and over-emphasis of sex in society.
Sexual concepts and symbolism underlie all the world’s religions. As I mentioned above, sublimated sex has been the source of power for the Christian church. Sex and sex neurosis are fundamental factors in the attitude of modern men. These three facts give sex a place of prime importance in our liberal examination of society.
Our sex attitudes are largely characterized by pretense. The majority of people under fifty today have, at one time or another, engaged in what is termed illicit intercourse — and yet we pretend, publicly, that we have not done so. Some of us go so far as to state that we don’t do it, never would do it and disapprove of the criminal types who do.
Policemen arrest and judges convict persons discovered in a pursuit which they themselves indulge in. The enjoyment of a natural urge is defined as a crime. Young persons thus enjoying the urge in the wonder of the beginning are burdened with a sense of guilt and shame. They are classed with common criminals — why?
The shameful answer is that back in the Middle Ages, under conditions of squalor, ignorance, superstition and oppression, the sex taboo became a prime instrument of power in the arsenal of a band of brigands known as the Christian church. This is the reason that young people in love are classified as criminals. Venereal disease thrives and abortionists prosper as an inevitable result. The superstition which fostered this shameful condition is no longer absolutely dominant but the institution that promoted the belief that the human body was obscene, that love was indecent and that woman was forever made foul by original sin remains to mold our thoughts and shape our laws. It is most significant that the spiritual and physical inheritors of that church, both catholic and protestant, vigorously and effectively oppose birth control, venereal disease education, divorce law reform; i.e., anything which would limit the power of their weapon.
If the Christians enforced these taboos only among their believers they would be within their rights. Man has the right to any personal stupidity however monstrous it may seem but this is not their principal concern. They seek to impose this nonsense on everybody, by every method of legislative, moral and economic intimidation at their command. The success of their efforts can be judged by the reflection of such attitudes in the press, the radio, the motion picture industry and our legal statutes. True to fascist form, the censor utilizes his moral victory to impose political and social censorship in all fields. Bigots and demagogues invoke the divine right of religion and of morality in order to gain extraordinary power. Freedom of religion and of the press should not afford a justification for giant propaganda campaigns to suppress freedom! We must not only have freedom of religion, we must have freedom from religion.
The concept that sex in art, literature and life is subject to criminal law is based entirely on this superstitious sexual taboo. The censorial power of the church, the state and established press is founded solely on this one assumption: that the taboo of a particular religion should have universal legal sanction. This sanction, once established, is then subtly extended to imply that all the other dogmas of that religion are now the “unwritten law” of the land. Such a religion, always respectable and conservative, forms alliances with fascist and capitalist cliques, thus gaining a privileged position from which to persecute liberalism in all its forms. Superstition, taboo, reaction and fascism augment one another most effectively. The fact that one type of totalitarianism persecutes another– or appears to do so — is hardly a palliative.
Modern man must recognize the source and nature of his sexual taboos and discredit them in the light of truth. Only thus can he achieve sanity in sex and a healthy outlook on life in general.
In our society early marriages are often prevented by economic considerations, therefore pre-marital sexual relations are natural and often desirable. Contraceptive techniques, available to any intelligent young person from a druggist or doctor, can minimize the problem of venereal disease and unwanted pregnancies. The development of sexual technique, the determination of the qualifications of one’s partner and the gratification of the youthful urge to experiment all assure a far more lasting and stable marriage than one begun in ignorance and prudery. In marriage itself the social contract is biding.
Property acquired by the joint efforts of husband and wife belong to both jointly. Where any two persons have pledged their love together, no outsider has the right to interfere. Either party is justified in resisting such interference by force if necessary. But neither party, whether the relation be in or out of wedlock, has any right or jurisdiction over the love, affection or the sexual favors of another for longer than that person desires.
Where children are concerned a separation presents a serious problem. Broken homes are hard on children but a loveless and bitter home is worse. No state can assure a child the affection of his parents but it can guarantee his physical welfare and security, thus insuring him against many of the frustrations of childhood and adolescence which develop into unstable and maladjusted adult behavior. The laws against mutually agreeable sex expression must be repealed, together with the laws prohibiting nudism, birth control and censorship. We must emphatically deny that love is criminal and that the body is indecent. We must affirm the beauty, the dignity, and joyousness and even the humor of sex.
Indeed there are obscene things in the light and in the darkness; things that deserve destruction: — The exploitation of women for poor wages, the shameful degradation of minorities by the little lice who call themselves members of a ‘superior race’ and the deliberate machinations towards war. Nowhere among these genuine obscenities is there a place for the love shared by men and women. There are sins but love is not one of them and yet, of all the things that have been called sins, love has been the most punished and the most persecuted. Of all the beauties we know, the springtime of love is closest to paradise. And as all things pass, so love passes — too soon. This most exquisite and tender of human emotions, this little moment of eternity, should be free and unrestrained. It should not be bought and sold, chained and restricted until lovers, caught in the maelstrom of economics and laws, are hounded like criminals. What end is served and who profits by such cruelty? Only priests and lawyers. Let us adhere to a strict morality where the rights and happiness of our fellow man is concerned. Let us call our true sins by their right names and expiate them accordingly — but let our lovers go free.
If we are to achieve civilization and sanity, we must institute an educational program in love-making, birth control and disease prevention. Above all we must root out the barbaric and vicious concepts of shamefulness and indecency in sex, exposing the motives and methods of their proponents.
Happy are the parents who, as a result of sexual experimenting, are well mated, taking joy in each other’s passion, seeing beauty in their nakedness and not fearing to expose their bodies or the bodies of their children. They would never shame their children for their natural sexual curiosity.
Jesus told the “fallen woman”, “Go and sin no more” but I, who am a man, say to you who have given your body for the need of man’s body, who have given your love freely for his spirit’s sake; “Be blessed in the name of man. And if any god deny you for this, I will deny that god.”
The ancients, being simple and without original sin, saw God in the act of love and therein they saw a great mystery, a sacrament revealing the bounty and the beauty of the force that made men and the stars. Thus they worshipped. Poor ignorant old Pagans! How we have progressed. What was most sacred to them, we see as a dirty joke. From this sordid joke we have played on ourselves only Woman Herself can redeem us. She has been the ignominious butt of the joke, the target of malice and arrogance and the scapegoat for masculine inferiority and guilt. She alone can redeem us from our crucifixion and castration. Only woman, of and by herself, can strike through the foolish frustration of the advertisers’ ideal. She must elevate her strong, free and splendid image to take her place in the sun as an individual, a companion and mate fit for, and demanding no less than, true men.
Let there be an end to inhibition and an end to pretense. Let us discover what we are and be what we are, honestly and unashamedly. The rabbit has speed to recompense his fear, the panther strength to assuage his hunger. There is room for both even though the rabbit would probably prefer a world of rabbits (dull and overpopulated). All traits are useful wrath, fear, lust and even laziness — if they are balanced by strength and intelligence. If we lie about things we call our weaknesses and sins, if we say that his is “evil” and that is “wrong”, denying that such faults could be part of us, they will grow crooked in the dark. But when we have them out in the open; admitting them, facing them and accepting them, then we will be ashamed to leave any vestige of them secret to turn crippled and twisted. Fear can sharpen our wits against adversity. Anger and strength can be welded into a sword against tyrants both within and without. Lust can be trained to be the strong and subtle servant of love and art.
It is not necessary to deny anything. It is only necessary to know ourselves. Then we will naturally seek that which is needful to our being. Our significance does not lie in the extent to which we resemble others or in the extent to which we differ from them. It lies within our ability to be ourselves. This may well be the entire object of life; to discover ourselves, our meaning. This does not come in a sudden burst of illumination; it is a constant process which continues so long as we are truly alive. The process cannot continue unobstructed unless we are free to undergo all experience and willing to participate in all existence. Then the significant questions are not “is it right” or “is it good” but rather “how does it feel” and “what does it mean”. Ultimately these are the only questions that can approach truth but they cannot be asked in the absence of freedom.
There was a time when these questions were whispered in the shadow of the stake. That Christian instrument of conversion is not sanctioned at present but the will and the malice remain and will continue until the power of the superstition-mongering tyrants is finally broken. Meanwhile religious dogmatism continues to support the sexual jealousies of neurotic parents for their children and neurotic marriage partners for their mates. It is not because of economic desperation and greed that crime and war wash over the world in ever-mounting waves. It is only necessary to look back on the Middle Ages when St. Vitus’ Dance, epidemic flagellation and the Witchcraft Persecutions, all spawned out of Christian guilt and shame, swept the Western World. It was the tone set by these fearful events, reinforcing the divine right of reactionary monarchs, that produced the liberal revolutions of the 18th century. But the root, the sexual taboo, was unfortunately not destroyed. It remained to revitalize the power of religion over the new bourgeoisie.
The frenetic hatred of Jews and Negroes (symbols of illicit sexual freedom) and the lust toward the blood-and-fire baths of warfare are the very aberrations of sexual frustration. They are the nightmares of souls in a hell of guilty desire, laboring like madmen over their instruments of destruction in order to destroy the world which has denied them satisfaction. It is only in the unobstructed exercise of sexual function, by a generation trained from youth in contraception and the technique of love, that it will be possible to achieve mature social relations.
In this childish folly of sexual possession each man and each woman hates and fears every other man and woman as the potential despoiler or some joke by the ever-present specters of jealousy and suspicion. It is possible that the application of two old axioms; “that you love one another” and “that you do unto others as you would have others do unto you” might go a long way in helping us solve our sexual problems. The application of these maxims in sexual relations is easy and pleasant. If firmly established the principles might spread to other areas of human intercourse.
The sexual revolution will not produce any instantaneous paradise nor will it be accomplished without tears. The way to racial maturity is long and painful but it is at least possible to attain the maturity and richness that comes with full and satisfactory sexual expression in private life. It may be that other considerations become more important in one’s later years but I would hesitate to say at what age to set the mark. It does not seem possible to grow old gracefully unless one has known something of a graceful youth.