Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Religion and Sexuality

Did you ever notice how most religions are just insane with regard to sex? Take masturbation, a behavior engaged in with some frequency by almost all post-pubescent males and a great number of females. It's enjoyable and hurts nobody. Does religion say, "Hey, God gave you this great toy, have fun?" No. It says, "If you masturbate you're going to Hell." That's right, if you masturbate, God, the all-powerful, all-knowing, all-loving Creator of the Universe, will send you to Hell. Or at the least, be very disappointed in you.

Or the gay thing. Some significant percentage of the population, 2-10% depending who you believe, seem to be attracted chiefly to members of the same sex. Again, most traditional religions teach that acting on those urges is of great offense to the One True God.

What neuroses does religion give our children? We know that closeted gay teens kill themselves much more often than do straight teens, but how can we know the cost of teaching all those kids that masturbation is sinful?

I recently came across this disturbing site which has pages and pages of "confessions" by obviously distressed Christians. Christians made miserable by their "addictions" to pornography or the fact that they sometimes have dirty thoughts about their girlfriends.


Here are some excerpts:

I know this is wrong and I don't know what to do... I love the female body and I am a female.... It started with liking to draw them... Then it led to looking at them in porn... I have not evver liked a girl I know but I do like to look at them...I hate it... I am not GAY... I can't be... I am lost though. I am not gay.. I am married and love my husband... I am attracted to him and when I wasn't with him I was into other guys I was like any other girl (boy crazy)... I just watch all these shows and tv and they seem to make it ok... and its not but I still think about girls in an unpure way.It gets me turned on and I can't stop it... ALL I want is for it to stop...I am sick about this...I HATE THIS...

*

One page turn into a magazine was all it took in middle school for me to become addicted to pornography. Since then I've not been able to stop lusting after these images. Now I'm in graduate school and having the same troubles with internet pornography and masturbation. Some weeks I will be strong and not fall victim to it but then I seem to dive right back into the bad habits. As a Christian, I know through Jesus I can over come any obstacle but this one thing continually keeps me from the fullness of life in Christ. After watching the message series God.Love.Sex I have a renewed drive to stop these horrible addictions...I pray every day for God to give me the strength to deny my fleshly desires.

*

I struggle with pornography and masturbation. I can go a long time without it bothering me, then all of the sudden, it creeps up and takes me out again. It always interrupts my relationship with Jesus, and I feel like He can't forgive me. Or if He forgave the last time, He can't forgive one more time.

*

I have a problem with sexual addictions...fantasies and thoughts. It began when I started to read romance stories and it went from there. I have ended these addictions but still have thoughts about it and it is hard to get rid of them. I never told anyone because I felt like none of my friends were spiritually mature to handle the matter and take it the right way. So this is my step in confusing my problems and asking the members of Christ's church to pray for me and mental healing.

*

I have a hard time not looking at my girlfriend's anatomy. Not that we sleep together or that she intentionally exposes it before me, but I stare and imagine her naked all the time. I want to overcome this before our relationship goes any further.


There are literally hundreds of these "confessions." So much terrible, senseless, unnecessary unhappiness perpetrated by religion and religious teachers.

This kind of religion is a form of child abuse.

61 comments:

Bensilly said...

'guilt'

It`s culture birthed.

Anonymous said...

"Did you ever notice how most religions are just insane with regard to sex?"

Most? Or just some very popular ones that you are most familiar with?

Two more points: 1) Traditionally, Judaism had been pretty liberal about sex (i.e. it wasn't made by Orthodox Jews). And, on that note, 2) The vast majority of affiliated Jews have no issues with gays, masturbation, etc--and that's the affiliated ones, who are themselves the minority. Don't even think about trying to tell me those people aren't really religious. If you mean fundamentalist, say so.

asher said...

And just think about Muslims! Their whole lives, women are treated as second class citizens, made to wear full covering in public and what is the reward of the one who dies in the name of Allah? 72 virgins in 72 different castles !! Now that's worth taking out strangers and yourself, isn't it? Maybe that's why there has never been a christian suicide bomber in all these years.

Catholicism is so estranged from sex, that jesus was born of a virgin mother, she in turn was the product of a non-sexual union (the immaculate conception) the highest form of working for god is refraining from sex altogether, such as monks, priests and nuns, and even thinking about sex is a sin.

Judaism actually has rules about how often a man should have sex with his wife, (depending on his vocation), and has transfomed sex into some mystical union. Hence, it's supposed to be some sort of higher mitzvah to have sex on a Friday night. Shabbos is considered the bride of God.

I could on, but I have to fight traffic.

CyberKitten said...

I never really 'got' this whole religion-sex-guilt thing....

Thankfully I never really had to 'get over it'... but I have seen people torn apart by guilt over a purely natural bodily function. Weird!.

Oh JA... that website is STRANGE.

UberPropagandist said...

"This kind of religion is a form of child abuse."
I'd say all kinds of religion are a form of child abuse. I believe that we have no right to teach our kids right from wrong based on unjustified beliefs. We shouldn't go around setting upm life long guilt complexes in our young based on unjustified, primitive and ancient superstitions.

Laura said...

In general, I find Christian doctrine to be much more oppressive than any other. As Asher points out, many Muslims treat women as second class citizens, however much of that is not Islamic as it is remnants of pre-Islamic tribal customs that never went away and have been exported alont with Islam around the world. The Qu'ran actually awards women with a great many rights denied them by Christian doctrine and Arabian culture (such as the right to inheritence, divorce, and choice in marriage). Also, mistranslation and fundamentalist interpretations have warped many passages pertaining to women. Now, does anyone actually practice true Islam according to the Qu'ran? - very few I think. But the same can be said for Christians. I also think a lot of the Christian doctrine came about from St. Augustine - who had some guilt about his philandering past and blamed it on women being evil seductresses.

In general, sex is always linked to morality - most often for women. Men are usually held to a much lower standard of "chastity." So it's not just religion, it's also patriarchy and sexism that come into play. Usually this shows up around the time that a civilization shifts from nomadic to feudal land-owning. Because in order to pass down inheritence to your children, you have to know that your wife's children are yours. So you have to keep her strictly away from any possible sexual contact with other men - lest there be questions about your lineage and your masculinity (which is wrapped up in your ability to control your women).

Another thought is that the Judeo-Christian creation myths put people up on a pedestal above all other creatures on earth. We're special - and therefore we're not animals. Animals can't control their urges. We need to separate ourselves from them in any way possible so we can try and maintain the illusion that we're so different.

Sorry for the rant.

CyberKitten said...

Laura - Excellent rant [grin].

Jewish Atheist said...

marina grace, having trouble commenting, sent this comment by email:

I've thought about that topic a lot, and I have to say that I've never considered calling it "child abuse," but it certainly makes sense to do so.

One of the commentors (Laura) mentioned that people don't like seeing human beings on the same level as animals (btw, I think that we are animals) because if God is to be worshipped properly (ie if people are to be controlled properly), then they have to be worthy enough to worship (or to control). Raising humans to a "higher" level creates an "us" and a "them". (I don't know if that makes sense entirely.)

The fact that religion establishes some sort of "higher" standards for human behavior creates a lot of misunderstandings. For example, I think it's really dangerous and stupid to separate humans from animals. Dangerous because it takes our natural motivations and actions out of context and gives us a narrow spectrum of what constitutes normal behavior, which creates a lot of misguided souls. It's sutpid because it ignores the enormous body of scientific research that points to the fact that we are very close to bonobos, which are cheeky little monkeys. :) I think if one were to study animals (primates especially) in their natural habitats, it would shed a lot of light on explaining some of our human behaviors. I've personally found a lot of comfort in viewing myself as an animal (perhaps a small rodent at times :), or at the very least, I've come to realize that I'm motivated by the same things that animals are motivated by. Taking human behavior (like masturbation) out of context isolates the behavior and makes it foreign, as opposed to placing it into a large spectrum of normal human behavior.

Jewish Atheist said...

And my response:

I think you're spot on about religion going to great lengths to convince us that we aren't animals. That seems to be one of the main themes of the creation story in Genesis, actually. Man is given dominion over the animals and only he (and she) eat from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil.

I don't think it's even limited to religion, though. I've long thought that most aspects of "manners" which consist of more than simply being polite or respectful stem from this fact. Nowhere is it more obvious than w/r/t table manners. You aren't supposed to eat or drink fast because that would betray that you are hungry or thirsty (animalistic cravings), you can't eat with your hands, slurp, burp, fart (God forbid!), etc. Food (at least in America) is generally disguised so that it's not obvious that you're eating a hunk of cow, fish, or chicken. In Judaism, any blood is removed beforehand. You're supposed to sit completely upright and practically immobile, etc.

Carmen O. said...

If you think the Catholics are bad, check out jewishsexuality.com.

Ben Avuyah said...

Right on...the other thing that has always bothered me about current orthodox views about sexuality is that seem so far afield from actual "torah" sexuality.

Just think of the story of Yehuda and Tamar. There does not seem to be any condemnation about his routine use of a prostitute after a long journey. Or think of the unwed relationship of Boaz and Ruth, or how the meraglim are helped by a prostitute in Nach where they apparently spent the night....all of these stories require large doses of apologetics to get them to fit into the strict sexuality codes that are developed over time.

By the way, if you haven't already you should read this



http://knowledgeproblems.blogspot.com/2006/03/other-white-meat-orthodox-judaism-and.html

Jewish Atheist said...

carmen o:

!!! How disturbing. An excerpt:

In order to grasp the full significance of the laws surrounding Shmirat HaBrit, it is necessary to understand the tragedy of spilling semen in vain, both for an unmarried person, and for a husband and wife.

...

The Hebrew word for semen is zera, which means seed. This seed contains not only the physical and spiritual blueprints of life, but also the life force itself. Each discharge of semen contains hundreds of thousands of souls. Each microscopic drop is more than a potential life. It is already a living soul. For this reason, the sin of spilling semen in vain is considered like the spilling of blood – like taking the life of a person. Not just the life of any person, but the life of the child of the man who commits the sin. (Niddah 13A; Even HaEzer, 23:2)

Kabbalistic sources explain that that wasting of semen gives strength to the forces of impurity and evil in the world. This mystical concept is explained in depth in the book, "Secret of the Brit." Here, we will only mention that the impurity that a person adds to the world through sexual transgression, not only causes many forms of personal suffering, but also creates a barrier between the man and G-d, dulling his spiritual sensitivities, and turning his prayer and Torah learning into heavy, half-hearted endeavors which bring no satisfaction nor joy.


What a bunch of dangerous nonsense.

Jewish Atheist said...

Orthoprax:

Another good point. (Key point of his link: perhaps people stop being Orthodox because of the craziness of the ban on masturbation. Can't say it had much of an effect on me personally, but I can see how it could happen.)

Jewish Atheist said...

Um, obviously that should have been to Ben Avuyah, not Orthoprax! For a minute you sounded just like him, BA. Sorry. :-)

Stacey said...

I am embarrassed that Orthodoxy frowns upon masturbation. As far as I'm concerned, their take on it is inhuman.

I have had conversations with a few bochurim who have confided to me that they are taught that masturbation will give them serious health issues and even insanity. Unbelievable. I expect better from my religion. Fear, fear, fear. It really is disgusting.

Ben Avuyah said...

Hey, I'll take sounding like orthoprax as a compliment :-)

But the reason I included that link was because of the way it reviews the mindset of young men suffering from this guilt. And that when the habit doesn't break the young boys spirit often does.

Very Sad.

Seymour Brownstein said...

Who cares what the Pope or any other religious leader or icon or saint says? If I want to play with me weenie, I will play with my weenie! End of story!

mannyohmy! said...

I don't understand this blatant attack on Judaism and everything that’s holy, I thank God every day for giving me the restrictions in the torah, I cant imagine if I were allowed to indulge in every urge I had I would most probably been dead from a drug overdose or in jail caught stealing valuables to support my daily urge for sex with prostitutes and on and on. For everybody's information I don’t fool myself by thinking If only I could do what I want and I'll be happy, the exact opposite is true when I tame my urges I feel content, relaxed. But when I start following my urges the exact opposite occurs I start feeling empty, disappointed, frustrated, it never seems to get satisfied, always wanting more. The best way I can describe the emotion is feeling like shit. So please stop judging I know from a first hand basis that jews who follow the bible and all its laws are the happiest most content relaxed and satisfied people on earth, Hard to believe but true.

Irviner Chasid said...

>What a bunch of dangerous nonsense.

Yes, how dare people take the concept that a human life is the most important thing in the physcial world to its logical conclusion!!

So insane of them!

Jewish Atheist said...

BA:

And that when the habit doesn't break the young boys spirit often does.

Very sad indeed.

mannyohmy!

If indulging your urges makes you unhappy, isn't that enough reason to restrain yourself? Why do you need God telling you AND those who can control themselves that you can't indulge?

IC:

What does a human life's importance have to do with masturbation and sexuality? I'm not advocating killing for sexual pleasure here.

Irviner Chasid said...

>What does a human life's importance have to do with masturbation and sexuality?

I am sure you know more about the birds and the bees than this.

swurgle said...

Another weird aspect of Fundamentalist Judaism are the practices of taharat hamishpacha. I recently learned all the intricate rules and prohibitions surrounding sexual intercourse, intimacy between men and women and menstruation that Orthodox women are saddled with (among all the other s**t they're saddled with. This includes forced separation for married couples for up to two weeks a month - couples are required to sleep in separate beds, can't kiss or touch in any way and can't even pass food to each other at dinner time. It would appear that these rules are all about maximizing fertility as their forced separation is timed to end at precisely the time of ovulation. In these practices, there's a great deal of obsessing about menstrual blood and women are required to check their vaginal discharges on a daily basis for changes in color and even submit samples of their vaginal discharges for rabinical review. Pretty primitive and weird if you ask me...

Jewish Atheist said...

IC:

I'm still not following. Are you implying that masturbation and homosexuality are forbidden so as to maximize children? Do you think that teenage masturbation has a negative effect on the birthrate?


swurgle:
Another weird aspect of Fundamentalist Judaism are the practices of taharat hamishpacha.

It's definitely bizarre. A woman is "impure" during and after menstruation. Talk about primitive, yes.

But that's an argument you can't win with the Orthodox because they will say that it makes sex more special, and you aren't understanding "impure" correctly, yada yada yada.

LMark said...

Swurgle:
The rules of taharat hamishpacha are basically a "reverse rhythm method." When the husband and wife are finally allowed to have sexual relations again, it is shortly before ovulation. This tells me that, in some ways, Judaism is even more anti-birth control than Catholicism. At least the rhythm method sometimes works. Also, from comparing Catholic and Jewish texts on how to deal with sexual urges, Catholicism at least demonstrates more connection with reality. Pat Buchannan or some other famous catholic school graduate used to say that the teachers told them to deal with urges by playing basketball. Trust me, a physically tiring activity does help to some extent. Overly cerebral Judaism recommends Torah study, which, trust me, does not work AT ALL. Of course, catholicism does teach that urges should be repressed in the first place, and it also teaches that abortion should not even be done to save the life of the mother at an early stage of pregnancy, so I would have to say that both faiths have their issues.

Jewish Atheist-
IIRC, the Hebrew bible says nothing about masturbation, per se. The "every sperm is sacred" tradition in Judaism seems to come (no pun intended) from the story of Onan, which had nothing to do with masturbation, it was a story about coitus interruptus, which may have actually prevented a conception. All religions have a vested interest in increasing the population of the tribe. This is where these traditions arise. You make people feel guilty about jerking off, or using birth control, and voila, they are much more likely to engage in sexual behavior that results in kids.

As far as the story about every sperm having a human soul:
That sounds very much like the theory of the homunculus, which has been thoroughly debunked.
Each ejaculation produces approximately 200 million sperm. Therefore, if masturbation (or birth control) is murder, than having unprotected sex that leads to pregnancy is still the murder of the 199,999,999 sperm (199,999,998 is she conceives twins). Furthermore, does a system in which, best case scenario, results in the death of almost 200 million souls seem like an intelligently designed system? It is more respectful to the Creator, if one exists, to think of sperm as they are, little bits of DNA. A sperm does not have brain, or any other structure that would allow it to maintain conscious awareness.
Finally, if the sperm contributes the soul, I guess the job of the woman is to merely provide 23 chromosomes and an incubator. This idea, that all that is sacred about a person is provided by the father, probably explains the low status of women in orthodox Judaism.

Mannyohmy!- If you are that weak-willed, that without the restrictions in the torah you would be a drug addict, a thief, and a john, well I truly feel sorry for you. I guess there is a place for religion: to protect society from people like you.

Stephen (aka Q) said...

Good post, JA. I am basically in agreement with everything you've said.

I'm rolling my eyes at Laura's comment, to the effect that Christianity has a worse moral impact than all other religions. Nice that she can make excuses for Islam (Muslims don't live up to what the Qur'an actually says) but can't find it in her heart to make the same allowances for Christianity.

However, you have a particularly Talibanish version of Christianity in the USA. So to some extent Laura's thumbs down on Christianity is deserved.

But — honest — the religion isn't so backwards elsewhere in the West.

Jewish Atheist said...

Q: I'm glad you agree. Kind of figured you might. Obviously, Islam is as bad and probably worse, and right-wing Orthodox Judaism is just as bad.

But — honest — the religion isn't so backwards elsewhere in the West.

The U.S. is really funny that way.

Anonymous said...

You are all 100% correct.

That is why since the begining of the "sexual revolution" people have become more commitited to thier relationships and in general, people are on average happier with thier marriages.

Makes perfect sense to me!

Jewish Atheist said...

Anonymous:

I agree that the "sexual revolution" had it's downsides. But are you saying that forbidding masturbation and homosexuality make people more committed and happier? Because I can't see that.

Laura said...

Q said: "Nice that she can make excuses for Islam (Muslims don't live up to what the Qur'an actually says) but can't find it in her heart to make the same allowances for Christianity."

Um... Actually, I did - "Now, does anyone actually practice true Islam according to the Qu'ran? - very few I think. But the same can be said for Christians."

Sure I focus on Christianity - just as others in this post focus on Judaism - because it was the form of religion that I was raised in, and therefore the one that impacted my life (and my government) and the one I'm personally reacting against. I have no need to personally react against Judaism or Islam because neither of those have directly impacted my life or my understanding of myself. I just happen to study Islam in a sociological context.

As for the American Taliban - I totally agree. It's getting out of control here with the bible-thumping.

skcorefil said...

2 reasons why Christians tend to not trust Atheists were just shown here:

1.) They attack Christians as Bible thumping American Taliban for living their faith.

2.) They equate raising children to have self control and discipline instead of behaving like animals as child abuse.

Hmmmmmmmmm not really showing the "you have your beliefs, I'll have mine" spirit that atheists tend to say they live by.

As for that website, it does seem pretty f***ed-up to be sharing your darkest secrets with strangers online, almost like they are proud of them.

Maybe because I come from a backwoods town, but growing up Catholic, I never was taught anything about homosexuality or masturbation other than that not giving into masturbation was good practice for discipline needed for later in life and not to call our classmates gay because then they might believe us and become gay. Sexuality teaching had more to do with how beautiful sex was in marriage.

Those posters at the confessions site sound more like fundamentalists. Which allow contraception. Maybe those feelings of guilt come from learning a doctrine that is halfway and doesn't really make sense. It sounds like they feel like they are doing something wrong by being tempted instead of being happy with someselves for overcoming the natural temptation.

Jewish Atheist said...

skcorefil:

hown here:

1.) They attack Christians as Bible thumping American Taliban for living their faith.


Q is a Christian. Both he and Laura were attacking the "Talibanish" Christians, not all Christians.

2.) They equate raising children to have self control and discipline instead of behaving like animals as child abuse.

There's self-control and there's forbidding masturbation. One of those things is crazy.

Maybe because I come from a backwoods town, but growing up Catholic, I never was taught anything about homosexuality or masturbation other than that not giving into masturbation was good practice for discipline needed for later in life and not to call our classmates gay because then they might believe us and become gay. Sexuality teaching had more to do with how beautiful sex was in marriage.

Need I comment about the catholic priests and their lack of discipline?

Irviner Chasid said...

>Need I comment about the catholic priests and their lack of discipline?

You honestly believe that there are no pedephiles out there who masturbate on a regular basis?

skcorefil said...

JA,

What makes forbidding masturbation crazy? They don't say "you go to Hell if you do this" They say it is good to refrain from. You saying something is crazy doesn't make it so.

You know, the pedophilia stuff really has nothing to do with this conversation. Those priests were messed up and obviously not following the tenets of their religion. I bet the atheists were happy when they found out everything the victims went though so they could use it ad infinitum as a point against religion.

Laura said...

Forbidding masturbation and surrounding it with shame is the problem. Making someone feel like a sinner or a deviant for doing something perfectly natural is wrong, in my opinion. We're not arguing that little Timmy be allowed to whip it out at the dining room table because he's got "the urge." Masturbation actually has proven benefits for women, in that it reduces menstrual cramps and relieves stress. Anything that becomes habitual or compulsive is a problem, masturbation and sex included. But everyone can use a little stress release now and again, and there's nothing wrong with it.

Jewish Atheist said...

They don't say "you go to Hell if you do this" They say it is good to refrain from.

I've heard Catholics saying you go to Hell if you do it. I thought that was the Church's stance on the matter, barring confession, etc.

Those priests were messed up and obviously not following the tenets of their religion.

No true Scotsman. The fact is there are at least as many child molesters in the Catholic priesthood as anywhere else in the world. This implies that whatever the Catholic church teaches, it doesn't do a particularly good job with teaching self-discipline. Understatement of the year.

I bet the atheists were happy when they found out everything the victims went though so they could use it ad infinitum as a point against religion.

That's a disgusting thing to say.

Irviner Chasid said...

>Forbidding masturbation and surrounding it with shame is the problem. Making someone feel like a sinner or a deviant for doing something perfectly natural is wrong, in my opinion.

Its perfectly natural to want to physcially harm someone when they insult you. Infact, its also perfectly natural to even want to kill someone if they have cheated on you.

How terrible of us to make people feel guilty for wanting to do such things, and even worse, for -actually- punishing them if they act out, and not just want to act out.

>No true Scotsman. The fact is there are at least as many child molesters in the Catholic priesthood as anywhere else in the world. This implies that whatever the Catholic church teaches, it doesn't do a particularly good job with teaching self-discipline. Understatement of the year.

Or perhaps, it shows that pedophilia affects a certain percentage of the population, and is perfectly natural and a biological impulse they can't control.

How evil of those religions and societies to try to prevent thier natural urges.

Get where I'm going here?


Sure you will argue tha masturbation is "victimless"... but is it really? Nothing we do is ever "vitcimless" if you trust what those academics say.

Laura said...

So now we're equating sex and masturbation with the desire to willingly take someone's life? Seriously?

How about this:

Believe what you want about sex. Just don't thrust those puritanical beliefs on everyone else. If you want to think you're a better person for denying thyself, fine. But then don't judge others as immoral if they don't do the same. And don't let puritanical views of sex affect public policy like sex education in schools, availability of contraception, and the freedom of two willing adults of either gender to express themselves sexually in their own bedrooms without public reprisal or indignation

Irviner Chasid said...

>So now we're equating sex and masturbation with the desire to willingly take someone's life? Seriously?

Are you really so bad an understanding anologies? Or is this just some trick you like to play and pretend its an argument.


I am equating the idea that "What is natural is right" with the idea of "what is natural is not right"

Your reasoning, of saying "its natural" is therefore not an argument, because many things are "natural" that we make illegal and think is immoral.


My question is this... why does anybody know if other people are mastrubating or not? The fact that we know the answer to this question, is itsself the actual problem. Not even the act of masturbating.

Why should anyone know what two people are doing in thier privacy.. ever?

Billie Jean said...

I think shame is a powerful part of religion, and sexuality is easy target for that.

As IC pointed out, sex is private. Being lectured about it by authority figures is what's unnatural.

Swurgle, while you don't have all the details right about niddah (Jewish "family purity") you're definitely right that it's over the top. And not at all helpful to marriage as they claim.

Having said that, plenty of very orthodox Jews use the rhythm method and other forms of contraception. There's much more room for individual circumstances in Judaism -- at one point in my life my Rabbi suggested that I go back on the Pill (loooong story but he was right). Most rabbis will allow anything as long as you are planning to have a family and not remain childless. (I have issues with "forced" procreation too but it's much better than being told not to have sex at all if you don't want kids.)

Irviner Chasid said...

>And not at all helpful to marriage as they claim.

uhhu..

Do you realize how stupid of a statement that is?

Thats like saying "Vanilla icecream isn't as good as those people who like vanilla icecream claim"

Above Rubies said...

I was once in a place where family purity seemed like the weirdest thing I'd ever heard of. I'm thankful for being able to open my heart and mind (after years of feminist education) to the possibility that it improves marriage.

I could get very deep here-but on a very basic level, married people I know in every religion complain of two things.

1. "I don't get any time to myself (he/she's always wanting me to have sex)

2. I don't feel appreciated.

That about sums up the benefits of family purity. When a wife can't serve her husband dinner, he realizes how lucky he is to have her around, and how nice it is the rest of the month. When one partner has a lower sex drive, that person doesn't have to feel guilt or perfomance anxiety. One can "save it up" for the right time.

Family Purity forces people to work on their emotional relationship and friendship by not just screwing all the time. What a crazy idea! One day, 25 years down the road, we may not want to have sex every night! Who ever thought that becoming close friends could reinforce a marriage? I adore chocolate soufflee and Veuve Clicquot champagne. If I had it night after night, it wouldn't be so special. No use arguing with me on this one! LOL


We all realize that Hebrew does not correctly translate the phrase of purity well into English. I can't convince anyone who doesn't want to listen, but for those unaware of ancient practices, the priests in the temple were also considered impure before entering certain areas of the temple, and had to immerse into mikveh just as women who practice family purity do now. They were not allowed to be in contact with blood or the dead, except for very close relatives.

To an observant Jewish woman, the menstrual blood is a sign of the loss of a possible life. The loss of what could have been a child. It is like a little death. Therefore, one ritually purifies after coming into contact with death.

It is not a bath to physically cleanse oneself. Women spend about an hour soaking first to make sure they are scrupulously clean. Many men, mostly chassidic, also immerse before Shabbat, or certain holidays. It is a bath for spiritual cleansing and rejuvenation. Mikveh is also being used as a physical aid to help women who have been sexually abused/raped or gone through the pain of miscarriage feel some sense of emotional relief.

Who needs all those "primitive and weird" practices? Well, If I were a non-Orthodox Jew, I would be thanking G-d that the Kohanim will know what to do when the third temple is built. I guess Judaism wouldn't have much of a point if it didn't include waiting for Moshiach and the rebuilding of Yerushalayim. Jews everywhere would, well for lack of other words, be up shit's creek without those crazy practices.

The issue with spilling seed is within marriage. I guess it depends on your Rav, but from what I understand, it's ok if one is single. I don't believe there are millions of souls in the semen itself. Semen contains a life force, but even "non-fundamentalist" Judaism has a belief that the soul is placed into the fetus at a certain point-which is why abortion is ok before 40 days, because it is just "water" without the heartbeat.

Abortion is also ok to aid in the life of the mother at any point in the pregnancy, just as birth control is perfectly acceptable if the mother's emotional or physical health would suffer. Not every good Jewish mother can handle 12 kids-it's ok to stop at 2.

It's very easy to label a religous Jew as a fundamentalist. I don't view myself as fundamentalist or Haredi-not even as Yeshivish-I'm MO with an open heart and a love for the mystical. To the Jew, who places family and responsibility above all else, it seems "primitive and weird" to watch secular society go about and do what you deem to be "normal."

Irviner Chossid-Wanna share a scoop of vanilla?

Above Rubies said...

IC-Please accept my appologies for mispelling your name-LOL

Irviner Chasid said...

no problem, I can't spell so I can't complain.

>Many men, mostly chassidic, also immerse before Shabbat, or certain holidays.

Question I have to ask.. when I was in Israel I was able to go to the Mikveh on a daily/weekly basis. I loved it. One thing I couldn't help but think about was the womb. I wonder if women ever get the same images.

Above Rubies said...

I would think so. To be honest, I have not yet experienced it. I just imagine-I've heard it's very spiritual-I kind of think it must feel like after I've made Havdalah and smelled the B'samim box. I know it will be beautiful, so I just project a positive image.

My children and I are converting, so the womb-like experience is one I think of. I will immerse. Then I will bring my children in, help them say their brachot, and immerse them as well. It sends shivers up my spine of how a profound an experience we will share as a family...

Irviner Chasid said...

Hmm, well thats a bit more "infused meaning" than I ment.

What was "womblike" to me, was when I was trying to make sure I wasn't touching anything, and was floating, with my fingers and toes spread out as much as possible. It was when I finally opened up my eyes in the shockingly cold water that I had that feeling.

Above Rubies said...

Was it almost a shock of a rebirth? Do MO men go before Yom Tov's, or is it unusual? Do you like knowing firsthand what women have done for thousands of years?

I've never heard of cold water. Except in talks from Russian Grandmothers. I think Chabad has taken care of that everywhere. It would be pretty cool to do it in a natural sea as well.

I think that it's just impossible for some people to grasp the meaning, the honour of what is being done. This is so at the core of basic Judaism. From what I understand, all of the Jews immersed before receiving the Torah...

Billie Jean said...

>Do you realize how stupid of a statement that is?

Thats like saying "Vanilla icecream isn't as good as those people who like vanilla icecream claim"

I'm sorry, I don't follow your logic. What does this mean?

> When a wife can't serve her husband dinner, he realizes how lucky he is to have her around, and how nice it is the rest of the month.

What century are we in here?

I am speaking as a fully observant Jew here. We keep niddah quite stringently (although the "serving" nonsense hasn't really come into play. We take turns cooking and serve ourselves.)

Niddah has not provided any benefit whatsoever to our marriage. If anything it's given us issues! At the moment it's not a big deal because I have been more or less "pure" for a year, on account of being pregnant and breastfeeding. I don't miss it at all. I have no spiritual feelings about it. The mikveh is just a small swimming pool and the chlorine makes me cough. The only good thing about it is being able to resume a normal relationship.

Most of my friends feel the same. I've heard a rebbetzin saying "thank God I've passed menopause"! At least she was honest. I actually wonder about people that say they like the niddah system.

>Well, If I were a non-Orthodox Jew, I would be thanking G-d that the Kohanim will know what to do when the third temple is built. I guess Judaism wouldn't have much of a point if it didn't include waiting for Moshiach and the rebuilding of Yerushalayim. Jews everywhere would, well for lack of other words, be up shit's creek without those crazy practices.

You do realise that non-Orthodox Jews are mainly non-Orthodox because they don't believe in this stuff?

> The issue with spilling seed is within marriage. I guess it depends on your Rav, but from what I understand, it's ok if one is single.

Never heard this one before.

> Semen contains a life force, but even "non-fundamentalist" Judaism has a belief that the soul is placed into the fetus at a certain point-which is why abortion is ok before 40 days, because it is just "water" without the heartbeat

An embryo's heart begins beating 22 days after conception. But let's not get bogged down with facts.

> This is so at the core of basic Judaism.

Mikveh might be, given that it was needed after basically doing anything in the times when tahara was kept completely. But niddah as we keep it is certainly not. We don't even keep niddah, we keep zavah, which is different, far stricter and rabbinically imposed. There might have been some good reasons for changing the system, but underneath it all I see misogynism and mindless fear of women's bodies and how they work.

There are lots of things I love about Judaism but niddah is definitely not one of them!

Above Rubies said...

I'm sorry that you have had such bad experiences and feel so bitter about such an important part of Judaism. Your resentment is so overpowering I really have nothing else to say-I'm not here to get into arguments.

IC's statement is saying "If people like niddah, what do you care?"

I only went to Smith College and 5 years of all girls boarding school. Not the Jewish kind. I guess I wouldn't know much about what century this is, let alone have received a feminist education.

I've spent a lifetime getting to a place where I can not appologize for my traditional value and desires, and here I am defending myself to another Jew as to why I would wish to put a plate of food on the table for my husband? I enjoy doing the same for my mother and father, and anyone I love.

Irviner Chasid said...

>Was it almost a shock of a rebirth? Do MO men go before Yom Tov's, or is it unusual? Do you like knowing firsthand what women have done for thousands of years?

Basically. It was the shock, and seeing my naked body floating in a hazy water where I couldn't quite make out which way was up.

Its unusual. My community is finally building a mikveh and I asked for men hours, but apparently there would only be 3 people doing that, so its not worth it.

Back in California, I only go in the ocean before Yom Kippur. But when I was in Israel, I was able to go to a natural mikveh on the outskirts of Jeruselem, and the Ari's Mikveh in Tzfat. The heated and clorinaded version was only open on fridays.

As to why I went, thats a bit too personal. But it was a combination of reasons.

Irviner Chasid said...

>but underneath it all I see misogynism and mindless fear of women's bodies and how they work.


That is just baloney. There might be a mindless reverance for a woman's body, and there might be some issue of feminine divinity. Like the concept that you can't see the place where life is made, because its too holy. And there may be issue about treating the human body as being Gd like in its creation of life, and a reverance for the loss of potential of life, and the removing of the banality of human bodily activites...

there is all that, and some can be argued against, but there is no "fear of the female body"

Above Rubies said...

You do realise that non-Orthodox Jews are mainly non-Orthodox because they don't believe in this stuff?


BJ-What exactly is it that they don't believe? In the coming of Moshiach? That the temple will be rebuilt? Or that it doesn't matter if anyone knows how to take care of ritual observances?

I have never felt anything but reverance for being female. I'm not so close minded to not realize that it has a lot to do with one's family, but living as an observant woman has not only made me feel treasured, more importantly it improved my self esteem. Finding modesty and not relying on my feminine form to attract men has made it easy to figure out who has ill intentions, thus making me feel more empowered.

Billie Jean said...

AR: Firstly, I have to apologize for raining on your parade. It's very nice that you're feeling inspired. Good for you.

But you must recognize that not everyone feels the same! When someone gives a nice fuzzy reason for a commandment that has no reason in the Torah, not everyone is going to agree with it.

> IC's statement is saying "If people like niddah, what do you care?

I care because it's an extremely invasive law that makes me miserable, and all I hear from people is that I'm meant to appreciate it! The people who like vanilla ice cream can go ahead and eat it, but if I don't like it, don't try and convince me that I should.

> here I am defending myself to another Jew as to why I would wish to put a plate of food on the table for my husband? I enjoy doing the same for my mother and father, and anyone I love.

This is all very nice, but the original statement you made did not give that impression. It gave the traditional Jewish impression, that women should be in the kitchen and do all the cooking and serving. My point was not that you shouldn't serve your husband, it was that it shouldn't be expected.

>What exactly is it that they don't believe? In the coming of Moshiach? That the temple will be rebuilt? Or that it doesn't matter if anyone knows how to take care of ritual observances?

Well, obviously they don't believe in any of it. If they did they'd be Orthodox. Sure, there's a minority who believe but are too lazy to keep the laws, but most of the ~80%-90% of Jews who aren't practising don't do it because they don't believe. So it doesn't make much sense for them to thank God that other people do. Why would they care either way?

> Finding modesty and not relying on my feminine form to attract men has made it easy to figure out who has ill intentions, thus making me feel more empowered.

Good for you, but niddah doesn't have much to do with modesty. By the way, Muslim women say the same thing about wearing burkas as you do about tzniut.

IC:
> That is just baloney. There might be a mindless reverance for a woman's body, and there might be some issue of feminine divinity. Like the concept that you can't see the place where life is made, because its too holy. And there may be issue about treating the human body as being Gd like in its creation of life, and a reverance for the loss of potential of life, and the removing of the banality of human bodily activites...

That's very nice and fluffy, but these are modern (mainly Chabad) explanations for ancient traditions. That's not how women were viewed in Talmudic/Mishnaic times. There certainly wasn't much reverence for women then.

Irviner Chasid said...

>That's very nice and fluffy, but these are modern (mainly Chabad) explanations for ancient traditions. That's not how women were viewed in Talmudic/Mishnaic times. There certainly wasn't much reverence for women then.

Thats funny, because I don't follow chabad. Infact, chabad almost made me reject judaism completely.

However, I do read a lot of mishna and Gemorah. So wherever I got these ideas from, they were not from Chabad. Although I must admit, some of this stuff I heard only from a website for women and by women about what they are allowed to do, so maybe some of them were chabad people.

However, I do know that the tradition of a seeing women as being holier dates back way before Chabad.

Irviner Chasid said...

I assume you gave up following nidah years ago if its messing up your marrage so much.

Nice Jewish Guy said...

A bit late to the party here, but I want to add my two bits:

Regarding masturbation. As I have mentioned (here?) before, I have had conversations with my (Orthodox) rabbi about this in the past. And this is a rabbi who studied with R. Moshe Feistein ZT"L, and has s'micha from a very well known Yeshiva in Jerusalem, so no lightweight, he.

His opinion was that masturbation is a human need like any other. It has zero, ZERO to do with Er & Onan, who sought to undermine G-d's will and not fulfill yibum (Onan) and mar Tamar's beauty by impregnating her. He said that the taboos surrounding masturbation are largely influenced by medieval Christian doctrine. What he did say was that married men should refrain from it in order to be with their wives for the purpose of pru urvu. He also said that thousands of kids have been "fucked up" (his words) by yeshivas and rabbis telling kids that they are commiting a grave sin by doing something that is as much a natural need as breathing or eating.

This an Orthodox Rabbi who I consider eminently knowledgable on Nach, halacha, and a brilliant Talmudist.

(Of course, those who still want to maintain an anti-masturbation stance will claim that he's a renegade and does not represent mainstream halachic opinion, but what can you do.)

As far as niddah.. I can see the value in a moderate practice of family purity laws. But in ultra-Orthodox circles this is taken to extremes, where wives won't pass husbands the salt or serve them a meal, husbands won't sit on the wife's bed, etc. This is unnecessary BS. Additionally, if I understand correctly, the original (and 'doraisa) 7 days of nidah were expanded by WOMEN-- who took it upon themselves-- to an additional seven days; it's been postulated that this was to give themselves a bigger break from their sexual duties.

Remember that the rabbinically instituted laws of niddah have been around for hundreds of years. For most of that time, there were no TVs, libraries, cell phones, cars, newspapers, computers, internet, running water, indoor plumbing, or electric lights; sex was an important recreational activity after dark. The rabbis felt that layers upon layers of "g'deirim" were necessary. Is this all still necessary today? And furthermore, I think that while most Observant jews avoid sexual contact with each other during the actual menstrual period and maybe the 7 days after, I would bet that most couples pass the salt, sit on each others' seats, and even hug after a rough day. We have no religious bedroom police like some Muslim countries.


And regarding the Kohanim and the third temple- there are opinions that the third, rebuilt temple will be diferent than the first two. There will be no need for animal sacrifices, which were given to the fledgling Israelite nation who had been living in a murderous, idol-worshippng and sacrificing society for years, to chanel those impulses toward G-d. Does anyone really think that in today's modern computerized age, when the beis hamikdosh is rebuilt, that kohanim will be running around in blood-spattered robes, slicing open goats' necks and heaving their carcasses on an altar, while a mile away cars travel back and forth, helicopters fly overhead, information speeds over fiber-optic cable, and doctor's perform heart transplants?

Jewish Atheist said...

It has zero, ZERO to do with Er & Onan, who sought to undermine G-d's will and not fulfill yibum (Onan) and mar Tamar's beauty by impregnating her.

That always seemed like the plain meaning to me, too, but I never heard an Orthodox Rabbi say so. My Rabbis went out of their way to say that it explicitly refered to masturbation.

Irviner Chasid said...

>Does anyone really think that in today's modern computerized age, when the beis hamikdosh is rebuilt, that kohanim will be running around in blood-spattered robes, slicing open goats' necks and heaving their carcasses on an altar,

Actually I do. I imagine the Kosher slaughter of animals for the purpose of food for Kohens and levis will mostly be done in the Temple, and an added level of sanctity will be given by also having those animals serve as sacrifices.

Very few sacrifices require the entire animal to burnt to a level of non eatable.

Billie Jean said...

IC: well, I had a Chabad upbringing and that's what we were always taught. I got better things from MO. Still, they could be more universal ideas, I'm no expert.

As I mentioned earlier, niddah is currently a non-issue since I'm breastfeeding. When it becomes one again, I imagine we will continue with a less extreme version of it. I could live with that, maybe.

Nice Jewish Guy said...

IC,

OK, but not all korbanos are eaten, most notably, the Olah. And not all korbanos are eaten by the Kohanim. If I remember my elementary yeshiva education, the Chatos and Shlomim are eaten by the presenter, and must be consumed within 1-3 days. With that volume of korbanos, there would have to be a massive meat-packing and distribution plant within the beis hamikdosh, conforming to public health precautions. Not every Kohen in existence will be working in the BhM at any given time, and there's no way that they could consume that amount of meat.

Besides, again, the reasons that korbanos were instituted in the first place no longer apply today. The new Israelites were born from a society surrounded and influenced by idolatry, of which animal sacrifice was a large part. There was a tremendous yetzer hora for idolarty then that we don't have and can't comprehend today. The system of korbanos was set up to allow the Israelites to channel those inclinations in a structured way toward the service of G-d. After the churban, the Great Assembly insituted the system of prayer to replace the Temple service. There's no reason to go back to slaughtering animals on a mass scale. I might concede the symbolic occasional shechting of korbanos on a special occasion in a special designated area, but not on the scale that it was during the first two batim.

SearchingForMeaning said...

It's high time we tear section 151 out of the Kitzur Shulchan Aruch and toss it in the trash. It's high time we stop teaching our boys this nonesense about masturbation.

The K.S.A. starts with the usual crap:
*worse than murder
*it's mass murder
*you have blood on your hands (an out-of-context quote from gemarah
*your kids will die young
*your teeth and hair will fall out
*your eyesight will dim
*you will be cut off
etc, you get the idea.

Some further research into various Jewish sources (this was years ago, can' rememeber for the life of me which ones, although the Meam Loez was among them) further added:

*The ten drops of Joseph's semen, when he fantasized about Potiphar, caused the death of the famous ten rabbis (I'm not making this up!)
*The flood was midah kneged midah for the dor hamabul's masturbation, as it says, "ki hishchit kol basar et darco al haaretz"

and more outrageous nonsense of this kind.

I myself am intimately familiar with the issue, having gone through YEARS of misery on account of feeling guilty about this "sin". Everything I read simply reinforced the prior. For a time, it nearly destroyed me. I cannot imagine how many naive bochrim were totally crushed under the weight of their own guilt, and what effect it had on their lives.

It's high time we stop preaching this horsecrap now, nad make a concerted effort to counter this cave-man era prohibition(which, needles to say, Judaism probably just borrowed from the local religion's taboo pool).

SearchingForMeaning said...

that should read "the wife of potifar", not "potifar" :)