Category Archives: Purity

Shame, lust, and sex in paradise

Now that I have got your attention let me say right up front, I wouldn’t be writing about these topics if they weren’t the main theme of Book 14 of the City of God. But having committed to blog my way through it, these are the topics Augustine addresses and there are some timely lessons, reminders and corrections that we need to heed. It’s probably good for me to write about things I would ordinarily avoid!

Augustine begins by tracing the origins of our first disobedience and the ethical standards within the two Cities – one that lives by the standard of the flesh, the other that live by the standard of the spirit. These two cities are “different and mutually opposed”. Augustine then investigates how our corruption manifests itself and finds faults of both mind and body (ie flesh). Although he notes that:

Man has undoubtedly the will to be happy, even when he pursues happiness by living in a way which makes it impossible of attainment.

XIV.4

Four “disturbances” or “passions” are identified that drive our emotions: desire, fear, joy & sadness. Augustine rightly sees that these passions are not good or bad in themselves but are dependent on how our wills direct them.

A love which strains after the possession of the loved one is desire; and the love which possess and enjoys that object is joy. The love that shuns what opposes it is fear, while the love that feels that opposition when it happens is grief. Consequently, these feelings are bad, if the love is bad, and good if the love is good.

XIV.7

Switching gears to before we had our fallen and corrupt nature, Augustine takes us back to the Garden of Eden – paradise! He asks what kind of emotions they possessed while they were sinless. He says there was “a serene avoidance of sin” and proposes that offspring could have been granted in this sinless bliss until “the number of predestined saints was made up”.

Unfortunately we never got to see what would have happened if Adam had never sinned. All subsequent offspring were conceived after the Fall. This raises a very specific question in Augustine’s mind – how would procreation have been different in paradise? He sees the evils of sexual lust, the sense of shame it creates and wonders how it could ever have been done purely.

For Augustine it boils down to the inability of our wills to control every part of our bodies. Why did our first parents, as soon as they had sinned, feel shame when the knew they were naked, and sought to cover themselves?

It was after the sin that man’s nature felt, noticed, blushed at, and concealed this lust: for man’s nature retained a sense of decency, although it had lost the authority to which the body had been subordinate in every part.

XIV.21

Augustine imagines a paradise where there was no conflict between lust and will, and the act as of procreation was as natural and pure as any other bodily act.

Reading this book I can understand why Augustine has been perceived as “anti-sex”. He is willing to speculate beyond the bounds of scripture, and his piercing intellect wraps his arguments up in a forceful hypothesis. But in areas in this book he is over-reaching scripture’s solid ground.

Unfortunately in the following centuries the church built upon teachings such as these a disapproving tone regarding sex. We know God loves marriage and designed it as an illustration of his love for his bride, the church. We will never know this side of eternity what marriage was like in Eden.

Moreover, shame of their nakedness was quickly followed by shame and guilt from lying about their deception, and shame of murder by their son. Perhaps a better perspective on this discussion is the concept of modesty rather than shame?

Those within the City of God know every act they do has the faint taint of sin, but yet we seek to use our wills and direct our emotions to serve God and others by acts done in love. We know too well that no act we ever do, or relationship we ever have, will ever be wholly free from sin. Those within the City of Man deny their shame, redirect their wills and rejoice in the fulfilment of their selfish desires – preventing them achieving happiness whilst desperately seeking to attain it.

Memo: Satan’s 10 Year Strategy for Pornography (Dated June 1990)

1st June 1990Graffiti___Evil_Businessman_by_tmfNeurodancer

Dear Employees,

It has come to my attention that there has been a good deal of amusement caused by my latest 10-year strategy for our Pornography Department: “The Final Push for Pornography”. Many of you have found my ambition laughable, as if it is the wild illusions of a deranged mind. Apparently you think I am dreaming with what I am seeking to achieve, that I should be more realistic. Well, I am writing this memo to all of you to explain what the strategy is all about and why it is so important.

First, we must remember where we have come from and the great victories of past generations. We have made significant strides since the days when physical touch actually had to take place for adultery to happen. In those days there just weren’t enough attractive women for what we had in mind, and this restricted our progress. Men were fairly immune from the temptations we so desperately desired to put in front of them. The busyness of work and family life, and the public scandal of divorce kept many of our targets out of reach. However, as these humans became more sophisticated, we were able to turn the 3D temptations into 2D and begin to make cracks in the Enemy’s defence. Yes, those were hard days, with small victories, but we persisted and slowly the printed page became more wide-spread. We managed to remove the need for physical contact and made our first significant advance by taking the battle into the mind rather than the body. We made sex impersonal – the first critical pillar of their defence to be destroyed.

So, for many years this was our weapon of choice and we managed to make it more and more acceptable amongst them. Those were hard days of trench warfare; it was tough work to make these despicable males expend the determination required to seek it out from the darkest corners of society. Little did they realise what was about to come! I still smile when I remember the ripple of excitement that went through the senior team down here when they first invented the Mirage Maker. We immediately saw the potential of having one of these in every home – striking a dagger right in the heart of our victim by placing it in the middle of his home.  I would say it was at that moment that the inspiration for my current strategy was born. I finally understood what they were capable of and where this could go one day.

Thus, it was around this time that we came up with our vision for our success – making pornography immediate, universal and inconsequential. Firstly, we began to dream of a day when it would be immediately on tap, any time of day, any location, with no need to stop and think. You know as well as I do, that we are at our weakest when these humans have time to stop and think about the consequences of their actions. We realised that key to our victory was removing the buffer between thinking about an act (the desire to act) and then the act itself (the opportunity to act). If we could make access immediate, they would be so driven by their basic instincts that all chance of living a Godly life would disappear forever.

Secondly, we realised that somehow, someway we needed to make this instant access universal. While we have no idea how they do it, they seem obsessed with joining the whole world up to a universal drip of entertainment and sport. We knew back then that we could slipstream on their ambition and turn this to our advantage. Finally, we had to find a way of making it appear to have no consequences. So much of our great enemy’s protection of them comes from helping them to think about the consequences to their actions. We know that we are weakest when they are considering about what they will think about this action from the hindsight of eternity. We must find a way of creating the illusion that it is not hurting anybody else, and because of this very fact (!!), it is not hurting them either. These creatures are gullible enough to believe this, if we can make it convincing enough.

So, to my latest 10-year strategy. I believe we stand on the edge of final victory in this key area of our attack. While many of you may pour scorn over my lofty vision, I can see a day coming in the not too distant future when all three of these aims will be achieved. I do not know when, or how it will be done, but all the key ingredients are now in place. There will come a day these three things will converge and then our victory will be guaranteed. Which of them will be able to stand the tsunami of temptation that immediate, universal and consequence-free pornography will bring? It would take someone of the conviction of Job, the purity of Joseph and the moral discipline of Noah to withstand our charge in that day. We will be relentless; we will turn their so-called advances against them. We will ensure that no corner of the world is left untouched. There will be no remedy to our attack. And when we are victorious over the fathers we will infect the children.

As your leader, it is my responsibility to remind you that complacency is our Achilles’ heel. As we were reminded by recent events in Eastern Europe when the European Branch of our Social Deprivation Department took their eye off the ball and half the continent broke free from chains we had worked so long to bind them with, complacency is our biggest weakness. So you will see in the small print of my strategy paper that we must, by all possible means, stop them from remembering that they were perfectly happy (perhaps even more content) before they had all these gizmos. Just make them look back in superiority over all those “more primitive” times and continually remind them of their own sophistication and superiority and the job will be done – none of them will even think that there is any other possible option. They will consider it ludicrous to actually choose to become a technology hermit only for the sake of their purity, if only we follow the strategy to the letter. The real truth is that this is their only hope – to build a wall of protection around them and their families, that creates a zone of purity within their inner lives and those they most cherish. Perhaps one or two may escape this way, but the losses to our effort will be inconsequential.

In conclusion, as we stand together in the middle of 1990, I want you to know that we have made great strides; we have conquered many lives. In my ambition I look forward to a day when this area will no longer even be a battle ground, because of the overwhelming odds they will face, and we can re-allocate surplus resources towards the other Departments, like we have managed to do in the Primordial Propaganda Department.

I look forward to seeing your progress in this vital area.

Your leader,

Satan

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Inspired by CS Lewis’ Screwtape Letters. “…in order that Satan might not outwit us. For we are not unaware of his schemes (2 Corinthians 2.11) …Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour (1 Peter 5.8)”…and “Anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart (Matthew 5.28).”