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What it is called when a mother has sexual desires towards her son?

What it is called when a mother has sexual desires towards her son?



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I know about Oedipus complex.

  • What is it called when a mother has sexual desires towards her son?
  • Is the term reserved for single mothers or does it include married mothers?

Jocasta complex syndrome is what you are referring to.

In psychoanalytic analysis, the Jocasta complex is the incestuous sexual desire of a mother towards her son. SOURCE


Sex Education: An Islamic Perspective

If you tell kids about sex, they'll do it. If you tell them about VD, they'll go out and get it. Incredible as may seem, most oppositions to sex education in this country are based on the assumption that knowledge is harmful. But research in this area reveals that ignorance and unresolved curiosity, not knowledge, are harmful. Our failure to tell children what they want and need to know is one reason we have the highest rates of out-of-wedlock teens pregnancy and abortion of any highly developed country in the world."

"What Kids Need to Know," Psychology Today, October 1986. Dr. Sol Gordon,
Professor Emeritus, Syracuse University, and an expert on sex education.

"Say: Are they equal those who know, and those who do not know?" (Quran 39:9).

"Blessed are the women of the Helpers. Their modesty did not stand in the way of their seeking knowledge about their religion" (Saying of the Prophet - Bukhari and Muslim).

Introduction

Although the Quran has placed so much emphasis on acquiring knowledge, and in the days of Prophet Muhammad Muslim men and women were never too shy to ask him questions including those related to private affairs such as sexual life, for Muslim parents of today, sex is a dirty word. They feel uncomfortable in discussing sex education with their children, but do not mind the same being taught at their children's school by secular or non-Muslim teachers (of even the opposite sex), by their peers of either sex, and by the media and television. An average child is exposed to 9000 sexual scenes per year.

These parents should know that sex is not always a dirty word. It is an important aspect of our life. God Who cares for all the aspects of our life, and not just the way of worshiping Him, discusses reproduction, creation, family life, menstruation and even ejaculation in the Quran. Prophet Muhammad , who was sent to us as an example, discussed many aspects of sexual life including sexual positions with his Companions.

The main reason Muslim parents do not or cannot discuss sex education with their children is because of the their cultural upbringing, not their religious training. They are often brought up in a state of ignorance in regard to sex issues. As a result, they may not be comfortable with their own sexuality or its expression. They leave Islamic education to Islamic Sunday schools and sex education to American public schools and the media.

What is sex education and who should give it?

Is sex education about knowing the anatomy and physiology of the human body or about the act of sex or about reproduction and family life or about prevention of sexually transmitted diseases and unwanted pregnancy? Is giving sex ed equivalent to permission in engaging in sex? One sex educator at my son's school told the parents, "I am not planning to tell your children whether or not they should engage in sex or how to do it but in case they decide to do it, they should know how to prevent sexually transmitted diseases (STD), venereal diseases (VD), acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) and pregnancy."

The problem with this is that at the present time sex ed as taught in the public schools is incomplete. It does not cover morality associated with sex, sexual dysfunctions and deviations and the institution of marriage.

One of the basic questions is, "Do children need sex education?" Do you teach a baby duck how to swim or just put it in the water and let it swim? After all, for thousands of years men and women have been having sex without any formal education. In many traditional civilizations, sex education starts after marriage and with trial and error. Some couples learn it faster than others and do it better than others due to difference in sexual perception and expression of one partner. In my opinion having a dozen children is not necessarily proof of their love. An appropriate and healthy sex education is crucial to the fulfillment of a happy marriage.

With regard to the question who should teach sex education, I believe everyone has to play his or her role. Parents have to assume a more responsible role. A father has a duty to be able to answer his son's questions and a mother has the same duty to her daughter. We can hardly influence the sex ed taught in public schools or by the media, but we can supplement that with an ethical and moral dimension adding family love and responsibility. Apart from these players, some role can be played by Sunday school teachers, the family physician, the pediatrician and the clergy. Within a family, the older sister has a duty towards the younger one and the elder brother has a duty towards younger ones.

Sex Education in American Schools

Sex education is given in every American school, public or private, from grades 2 to 12. The projected 1990 cost to the nation was $2 billion per year. Teachers are told to give technical aspects of sex ed without telling the students about moral values or how to make the right decisions. After describing the male and female anatomy and reproduction, the main emphasis is on the prevention of venereal diseases and teenage pregnancy. With the rise of AIDS, the focus is on 'Safe Sex' which means having condoms available each time you decide to have sex with someone you don't know. With the help of our tax dollars, about 76 schools in the country have started dispensing free condoms and contraceptives to those who go to school health clinics. Very soon there will be vending machines in school hallways where 'children' can get a condom each time they feel like having sex.

The role of parents is minimized by American sex educators and sometimes ridiculed. In one of the sex ed movies I was made to watch a film called, "Am I Normal?" as a parent at my son's school. Whenever the young boy asks his father a question about sex, the father, shown as a bum and a slob, shuns him and changes the topic. Finally the boy learns it from a stranger and then is shown going into a movie theater with his girlfriend.

Sex education as promoted by some Western educators is devoid of morality is in many ways unacceptable to our value system. The examples of the teachings of one such educator are:

A. Nudity in homes (in shower or bedroom) is a good and healthy way to introduce sexuality to smaller (under 5) children, giving them an opportunity to ask questions. At the same time, in the same book, he also states that 75% of all child molestation and incest (500,000 per year) occur by a close relative (parent, step-parent or another family member).

B. A child's playing with genitals of another child is a permissible 'naive exploration' and not a reason for scolding or punishment. He is also aware that boys as young as 12 have raped girls as young as 8. We don't know when this 'naive exploration' becomes a sex act.

C. Children caught reading dirty magazines should not be made to feel guilty, but parents should use it as a chance to get some useful points across to him or her about sexual attitudes, values and sex exploitation, Like charity, pornography should start at home!

D. If your daughter or son is already sexually active, instead of telling them to stop, the parent's moral duty is to protect their health and career by providing them information and means for contraception and avoiding VD. Maybe this its true for rebellious teens and their submissive parents!

Educators like the one referred to above do not believe that giving sexual information means giving the OK for sex. I just wonder as to why some folks after being told the shape, color, smell and taste of a new fruit, and pleasures derived from eating it, would not like to try it? These educators say that even if your child does not ask any questions about sex, parents should initiate the discussion using i.e. a neighbors pregnancy, a pet's behavior, advertisement, popular music or a TV show. I wonder why these educators are obsessed with loading children with sexual information whether they want it or not.

The more they know it - The more they do it

Sex education in American schools has not helped decrease the teenager incidence of VD or teenage pregnancy. This is because it has not changed their sex habits. According to Marion Wright Elderman, President of the Children' Defense Fund, in a recent report, out of every twenty teens, ten are sexually active but only four use conceptions, two get pregnant and one gives birth. In 1982, a John Hopkins study found one out of every five 15 year old, and one in three 16 year old are sexually active. The incidence increased to 43% in 17 year old. The Louis Harris poll in 1986 found that 57% of the nations 17 year old, 46% of 16 year old, 29% 15 year old were sexually active. Now it is estimated that about 80% of girls entering college had sexual intercourse at least once. Going to church does not help either. 1438 teenagers, mostly white, attending conservative evangelical church were sent questions about their sex life. 26% of 16 year old, 35% of 17 year old, and 43% of 18 year old said they had sexual intercourse at least once. 33% that responded also said sex outside of marriage was morally acceptable.

Hazards of early sex

The health hazards of early sex includes sexual trauma, increase in incidence of cervical cancer, sexually transmitted disease and teenage pregnancy. We will take up each individually. A variety of injuries are possible and do happen when sex organs are not ready for sex in terms of full maturation. Some of these injuries have a long lasting effect. Cervical cancer has been thought to be related to sex at an early age and with multiple partners. Dr. Nelson and his associates in their article on epidemiology of cervical cancer call it a sexually transmitted disease.

Teenage Pregnancy

About one million or more teenage girls become pregnant every year, at a rate of 3000 per day, 80% of whom are unmarried. Out of this I million, about 500,000, decide to keep their baby, and 450,000 are aborted (or ? murdered). 100,000 decide to deliver and give the baby up for adoption. In 1950 the incidence of birth from unmarried teenagers was only 13.9%, but in 1985 it increased to 59%. It is a myth that teenage pregnancy is a problem of the black and poor. To the contrary 2/3 teens getting pregnant now are white, suburban and above the poverty income level. The pregnancy rate (without marriage) in 54,000 enlisted Navy women is 40% as compared to 17% in the general population.

What is the life of those who have teenage pregnancy? Only 50% complete high school and more than 50% of them are on welfare. They themselves become child abusers and their children, when grown up, have 82% incidence of teenage pregnancy. 8.6 billion dollars are spent every year for the financial and health care support of teenage mothers., The sexual revolution of the 60's has affected another dimension of health care. In 1985 alone, 10 million cases of chlamydia, 2 million cases of gonorrhea, I million venereal warts, 0.5 million genital herpes and 90,000 syphilis were diagnosed. The plague of AIDS is adding a new twist to our fears. 200,000 cases have been diagnosed in the US alone, out of which 50% have already died. The disease is growing at a rate of one case every 14 minutes and so far there is no effective treatment. Father Bruce Ritter in New York, who operates shelters for runaway children, says the biggest threat to the nation's 1 million runaways is the threat of AIDS now.

Why do children get involved in sex?

There are many reasons why children get involved in sex. The most common is peer pressure. Their common response is "since everybody is doing it." One of the reasons is their desire for sexual competence with adults and a way to get ahead. Another common reason is their lack of self-esteem which they want to improve by becoming a father or mother. Sometimes it is due to a lack of other alternatives to divert their sexual energies. It could also be due to a lack of love and appreciation at home. Detachment from home can lead to attachment elsewhere. Sexual pressure on them is everywhere, at school from their peers, from the TV where about 20,000 sexual scenes are broadcasted in advertisement, soap operas, prime time shows and MTV. The hard core rock music nowadays fans the flames of sexual desires. Most parents do not know what kind of music their children are hearing. If they care and listen to rock songs like Eat Me Alive (Judas Priest), Purple Rain (Prince), Losing It (Madonna), The Last American Virgin, Papa Don't Preach, Private Dancer (Tina Turner), Material Girl (Madonna) and Cyndi Lauper's songs, they will know what they are talking about. The songs have pornographic words and sentences which made Kandy Stroud, a former rock fan, begged parents to stop their children from listening to what she calls 'Pornographic Rock'. This shows music does affect our sexual mood. It does so by activating melatonin, the hormone from the pineal gland in the brain which is turned on by darkness and turned off by flashing lights. It is the same gland which has been thought to trigger puberty and affects the reproductive cycle and sex mood.

What is the role of parents?

American educators are putting the blame for their failures (i.e. teenage pregnancy) on the parents. In fact in Wisconsin and many other states the grandparents of a baby born to a teenager are responsible for the financial support of the child. Remember parents are not needed if their teenage daughter needs contraceptives or abortion. Faced with such hypocrisy, the parents job is to instill in their teenagers mind what is not taught in sex ed classes, i.e. reason not to engage in sex, reason not to get pregnant, etc. At the same time, they should divert their energies to some productive activities like community work, sports, character growth, or Sunday schools. Another role of parents is to help their children make the right decisions.

In Islam anything which leads to wrong is also considered wrong. Therefore parents should control the music children are listening to or the TV program they are watching, the magazines they are reading, and the clothes (which may provoke desire in the opposite sex) they are wearing. While group social activity should be permitted with supervision, dating should not be allowed. When American teenagers start dating, sex is on their mind.

In fact during a recent survey, 25% of college freshman boys responded by saying that if they have paid for the food and the girl does not go all the way, they have a right to force her to have sex. Many of the rapes occur at the end of the date and are not reported. Anything which breaks down sexual inhibition and loss of self-control i.e. alcohol, drugs, parking, petting or just being together for two members of the opposite sex in a secluded place should not be allowed for Muslim teenagers. Kissing and petting is preparing the body for sex. The body can be brought to a point of no return.

In summary Muslim parents should teach their children that they are different from non-Muslims in their value system and way of life. Having a feeling and love in your heart for someone of the opposite sex is different and beyond control, while expression of the same through sex is entirely different and should be under control. Muslim children should be told that they don't drink alcohol, eat pork, take drugs, and they don't have to engage in pre-marital sex either.

Islamic concept of sexuality

Islam recognizes the power of sexual need, but the subject is discussed in the Quran and the saying of Prophet Muhammad in a serious manner, in regard to marital and family life. Parents should familiarize themselves with this body of knowledge.

Saying of Prophet Muhammad

* "When one of you have sex with your wife, it is a rewarded act of charity." The Companions were surprised and said, "But we do it purely out of our desire. How can it be counted as charity?" The Prophet replied, "If you had done it with a forbidden woman, it would have been counted as a sin, but if you do it in legitimacy, it is counted as charity."

* "Let not one of you fall upon his wife like a beast falls. It is more appropriate to send a message before the act."

* "Do not divulge the secrets of your sex life with your wife to another person nor describe her physical feature to anyone."

Concept of adultery in Islam

God says in the Quran, "Do not go near to adultery. Surely it is a shameful deed and evil, opening roads (to other evils)" (Quran 17:32). "Say, 'Verily, my Lord has prohibited the shameful deeds, be it open or secret, sins and trespasses against the truth and reason"' (Quran 7:33). "Women impure are for men impure, and men impure are for women impure and women of purity are for men of purity, and men of purity are for women of purity" (Quran 24:26). Prophet Muhammad, has said in many place that adultery is one of the three major sins. However the most interesting story is that of a young man who went to the Prophet and asked for permission to fornicate because he could not control himself. The Prophet dealt with him with reasoning and asked him if he would approve of someone else having illegal sex with his mother, sister, daughter or wife. Each time the man said 'no'. Then the Prophet replied that the woman with whom you plan to have sex is also somebody's mother, sister, daughter or wife. The man understood and repented. The Prophet prayed for his forgiveness.

Adultery is a crime not against one person but against the whole of society. It is a violation of marital contract. 50% of all first time marriages in this country result in divorce in two years and the main reason for divorce is the adultery of one of the partners. Adultery, which includes both pre-marital and extra marital sex, is an epidemic in this society. Nobody seems to listen to the Bible which says frequently, "Thou shall not commit adultery." The Quranic approach is, "Do not approach adultery."

What does it mean that not only is illegal sex prohibited, but anything which leads to illegal sex is also illegal? These things include dating, free mixing of the sexes, provocative dress, nudity, obscenity and pornography. The dress code both for men and women is to protect them from temptation and desires by on lookers who may lose self-control and fall into sin. "Say to the believing men that they should lower their gaze and guard their modesty that will make for greater purity, and God is well acquainted with all they do. And say to the believing woman that they should lower their gaze, and guard their modesty" (Quran 24:30-31).

Concept of marriage in Islam

Islam recognizes the strong sexual urge and desire for reproduction. Thus Islam encourages marriage as a legal sexual means and as a shield from immorality (sex without commitment). In Islam the marriage of a man and woman is not just a financial and legal living arrangement, not even just for reproduction, but providing a total commitment to each other, a contract witnessed by God. Love and joy of companionship is a part of the commitment. A married couple assumes a new social status and responsibility for himself, his wife and his children and for the community. The Quran says, "Among His signs is that He created consorts for you from among yourself, so that you may find tranquility with them, and (He) set love and compassion between you. Verily in this are signs for people who reflect" (Quran 30:21).

Saying of Prophet Muhammad

"Marriage is my tradition. He who rejects my tradition is not of me" (Bukhari, Muslim).

"Marriage is half of religion. The other half is being Godfearing" (Tabarani, Hakim).

In Islam there is no fixed rule as to the age of marriage. It is becoming fashionable for young Muslim men not to marry until they have completed their education, have a job, or reached age 26-30 or more. Similarly young Muslim girls say they want to marry after age 24. Why? When asked, they say, "I am not ready for it." Not ready for what? Don't they have normal sexual desire? If the answer is yes, then they have only one of the two choices a) marry or b) postpone sex (abstinence until they marry). The Quran says, "Let those who find not the where withal for marriage, to keep them selves chaste till God find them the means from His Grace" (Quran 24:33).

The Prophet said, "Those of you who own the means should marry, otherwise should keep fasting for it curbs desires" (Ibn Massoud). The Western reason for delaying marriage is different than ours. When I suggested this to one of my sexually active young female patients, she bluntly said, "I don't want to sleep with the same guy every night."

Role of Muslim parents and Muslim organizations

I am not proposing that all Muslim youth be married at age 16. But I must say that youth should accept the biological instinct and make decisions which will help to develop a more satisfied life devoted to having a career rather than spending time in chasing (or dreaming about) the opposite sex. Parents should help their sons and daughters in selection of their mate using Islamic practice as a criteria and not race, color or wealth. They should encourage them to know each other in a supervised setting. The community organization has several roles to play.

To provide a platform for boys and girls to see and know each other without any intimacy.

Offer premarital educational courses to boys and girls over 18 separately to prepare them for the role of father and husband and of mother and wife. The father has a special role, mentioned by Prophet Muhammad , "One who is given by God, a child, he should give it a beautiful name, should give him or her education, and training and when he or she attains puberty, he should see to it that he or she is married. If the father does not arrange their marriage after puberty, and the boy or girl is involved in sin, the responsibility of that sin will lie with the father"

Marriage of Muslim girls in the USA

Marriage of Muslim girls in this country is becoming a problem. I was not surprised to read the letter of a Muslim father in a national magazine. He complained that in spite of his doing his best in teaching Islam to his children, his college-going daughter announced that she is going to marry a non-Muslim boy whom she met in college.

As a social scientist I am more interested in the analysis of the events. To be more specific, why would a Muslim girl prefer a non-Muslim boy over a Muslim? The following reasons come to mind:

She is opposed to and scared of arranged marriages. She should be told that not all arranged marriages are bad ones and that 50% of all love marriages end up in a divorce in this country. Arranged marriages can be successful if approved by both the boy and girl. That is, they need to be a party to the arrangement. I am myself opposed to the blind arranged marriage.

Muslim boys are not available to her to make a choice. While parents have no objection or cannot do anything about non-Muslim boys with whom she talks or socializes at school or college for forty hours a week, she is not allowed to talk to a Muslim boy in the mosque or in a social gathering. If she does, they frown at her or even accuse her of having a loss character. As a Muslim boy put it, "If I grow up knowing only non-Muslim girls, why do my parents expect me to marry a Muslim one?"

Some Muslim boys do not care for Muslim girls. On the pretext of missionary work after marriage, they get involved with non-Muslim girls because of their easy availability. Muslim parents who also live with an inferiority complex do not mind their son marrying an American girl of European background but they would object if he marries a Muslim girl of a different school of Islamic thought (Shiah/Sunni) or different tribe like Punjabi, Sunni, Pathan, Arab vs. non-Arab, Afro-American vs. immigrant, or different class, Syed vs. non-Syed. Both the parents and the body should be reminded that the criteria for choosing a spouse that was given by the Prophet Muhammad was not wealth nor color but Islamic piety.

She may have been told that early marriage, that is, age 18 or less, is taboo and that she should wait until the age of 23 or 25. According to statistics, 80% of American girls, while waiting to get settled in life and married, engage freely in sex with multiple boyfriends. However, this option is not available to Muslim girls. Every year nearly one million teenage girls in this country who think that they are not ready for marriage, get pregnant. By the age of 24 when a Muslim girl decides that she is ready for marriage, it may be too large for her. If she reviews the matrimonial ad section in Islamic magazines, she will quickly notice that the boys of the age group of 25 to 30 are looking for girls from 18 to 20 year age group. They may wrongfully assume that an older girl may not be a virgin.

She may also carry a wrong notion not proven scientifically that marrying healthy cousins may cause congenital deformities in her offspring.

Thus, unless these issues are addressed, many Muslim girls in the US may end up marrying a non-Muslim or remain unmarried.

Curriculum for Islamic Sex Education

Islamic sex education should be taught at home starting at an early age. Before giving education about anatomy and physiology, the belief in the Creator should be well established. As Dostoevsky put it, "Without God, everything is possible," meaning that the lack of belief or awareness of God gives an OK for wrongdoing.

A father should teach his son and a mother should teach her daughter. In the absence of a willing parent, the next best choice should be a Muslim male teacher (preferably a physician) for boys and a Muslim female teacher (preferably a physician) for a girl at the Islamic Sunday school.

The curriculum should be tailored according to age of the child and classes be held separately. Only pertinent answers to a question should be given. By this I mean that if a five year old asks how he or she got into mommie's stomach, there is no need to describe the whole act of intercourse. Similarly it is not necessary to tell a fourteen year old how to put on condoms. This might be taught in premarital class just before his or her marriage. A curriculum for sex ed should Include:

a. Sexual growth and development
* Time table for puberty
* Physical changes during puberty
* Need for family life

b. Physiology of reproductive system
* For girls- the organ, menstruation, premenstrual syndrome
* For boys- the organ, the sex drive

c. Conception, development of fetus and birth

d. Sexually transmitted disease (VD/AIDS) (emphasize the Islamic aspect)

e. Mental, emotional and social aspects of puberty

f. Social, moral and religious ethics

g. How to avoid peer pressure

Sex education after marriage

This essay is not intended to be a sex manual for married couples, although I may write such someday. I just wanted to remind the reader of a short verse in the Quran and then elaborate. The verse is, "They are your garments, and you are their garments" (Quran 2:187).

Husbands and wives are described as garments for each other. A garment is very close to our body, so they should be close to each other. A garment protects and shields our modesty, so they should do the same to each other. Garments are put on anytime we like, so should they be available to each other anytime. A garment adds to our beauty, so they should praise and beautify each other.

For husbands I should say that sex is an expression of love and one without the other is incomplete. One of your jobs is to educate your wife in matters of sex especially in your likes and dislikes and do not compare her to other women.

For wives I want to say that a man's sexual needs are different than a women's. Instead of being a passive recipient of sex, try to be an active partner. He is exposed to many temptations outside the home. Be available to please him and do not give him a reason to make a choice between you and hellfire.


6 Things You Can Learn From How A Man Treats His Mother

It doesn't matter whether he loves men or women — a man's relationship with his mother will create serious lines and crevices into his personality.

It's the first person he had a close and connected relationship with (in most cases) and is, in many circumstances, the person who shaped his values and outlook on the world.

When you meet a man, take heed of what sort of relationship he has with his mom. It's going to reveal quite a bit about who he is as a person or, at the very least, how he relates to his romantic partners.


13. The Boundaries of Godly Sexuality (Leviticus 18:6-29)

Leviticus 18:6-29 has a very simple structure and message. Its intent is to define the boundaries of godly human sexual relationships. There are three of them, which I call the inner, middle, and outer boundaries of godly sexuality. Verses 6 through 18 define the “inner boundary,” prohibiting sexual relationships with close relatives. Verses 19 and 20 define the “middle boundary,” which limits sexual relations within marriage and prohibits them outside marriage. Verses 21 through 23 define the “outer boundary” of unnatural sexual relations. Verses 24 through 29 tell us about God’s judgment upon a nation that crosses these boundaries. They clearly tell us that God’s judgment for sexual sin applies to all nations, not just the covenant nation of Israel.

Cultural Background

When I started my study of this chapter, I read it not as an ancient Israelite, but as a man whose sight is distorted by the sexual revolution. Our nation, and perhaps the world, implicitly separates sexual intercourse from marriage. Diverse cultural voices tell us that sex is a drive similar to hunger and that it is almost impossible to control. The cultural message penetrates our lives in subtle ways and affects our view of life and the Scriptures. Take the movie, “Spies Like Us,” for example. At the end of the movie, the two heroes, two attractive Russian women, an older Russian man and woman, and two other Russian men have inadvertently launched a missile that will start World War III and end the world. Knowing their imminent doom, each hero enters a tent with one of the two attractive women, the older man and woman go to another tent, and the two men go to a third. This scene asserts an answer to the question, “What is the most important thing you can do when the world is about to end?”

We can better understand Leviticus 18 by understanding what the ancient Israelite view of sexual intercourse was under Torah.

First , in ancient Israel, sexual intercourse was marriage . Exodus 22:16, 17 reads: “If a man seduces a virgin who is not pledged to be married and sleeps with her, he must pay the bride-price, and she shall be his wife. If her father absolutely refuses to give her to him, he must still pay the bride-price for virgins.”

This verse implicitly tells us that ancient Israel had no concept of pre-marital sex. Having sexual intercourse with a virgin was an act of marriage, unless her father intervened. In other words, sexual intercourse was marriage . Another example is Genesis 24, which tells about the day Isaac’s bride, Rebekah, came to him. Genesis 24:67 reads: “Isaac brought her into the tent of his mother Sarah, and he married Rebekah. So she became his wife, and he loved her and Isaac was comforted after his mother’s death.”

In an uncomplicated way, Isaac married Rebekah by publicly entering a tent to have intercourse with her. This points out once more that in ancient Israel sexual intercourse was marriage. Furthermore, notice that Isaac had no knowledge of what Rebekah looked like or what kind of person she was prior to this event. Obviously, ancient Israel had no concept of making sure that two people were compatible. Rather, they understood that compatibility was something two people made for themselves.

Second , men in Israel practiced, and the Torah regulated, polygamy and concubinage (female slaves with whom the master will have sexual intercourse). This meant that family make-up could be very complex. Leviticus 18 contains the laws that define the most liberal position society may maintain regarding sexuality and remain an intact society.

From the beginning, sexual intercourse meant becoming “one flesh.” “One flesh” is not an emotional attachment between a man and woman. It is an unavoidable consequence of a man and woman joining physically. The Law and the New Testament affirm this. That “one flesh” has no special eternal significance is clear from the answer that Jesus gave to a question posed by the Sadducees about seven brothers who eventually shared the same wife. In heaven, there is no marriage or sex. 101

So, if “one flesh” is not an emotional bonding and has no significance to our life in heaven, what does it mean in this life right now? The answer is simple. The Lord makes no distinction between sexual intercourse and a relationship for life. Look at three key texts concerning this.

“Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife and the two will become one flesh’? So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate” (Matthew 19:4-6).

Do you not know that he who unites himself with a prostitute is one with her in body? For it is said, “The two will become one flesh” (1 Corinthians 6:16).

Another thing you do: You flood the Lord’s altar with tears. You weep and wail because he no longer pays attention to your offerings or accepts them with pleasure from your hands. You ask, “Why?” It is because the Lord is acting as a witness between you and the wife of your youth, because you have broken faith with her, though she is your partner, the wife of your marriage covenant. Has not the Lord made them one? In flesh and spirit they are his. And why one? Because he was seeking godly offspring. So guard yourself in your spirit, and do not break faith with the wife of your youth. “I hate divorce,” says the Lord God of Israel, “and I hate a man’s covering himself with violence as well as with his garment,” says the Lord Almighty. So guard yourself in your spirit, and do not break faith (Malachi 2:13-16).

The first passage is a prohibition of divorce based on the “one flesh” principle.

The second passage affirms that the sexual union produces “one flesh” no matter who or why. If you think “one flesh” only happens at the consummation of a marriage, this passage shows that the act of a man and woman joining physically causes the Lord to recognize that union as “one flesh.” “One flesh” is an obligation before God to be joined for life, commencing with sexual intercourse. The obligation is there whether we fulfill it or not, whether we are able to fulfill it or not, whether we are fulfilled by it or not.

The third passage tells us that God made a man and a woman “one flesh” because he “was seeking godly offspring.” As I shall show, when society denies the principle of “one flesh,” children are no longer safe.

The Inner Boundary of Godly Sexuality

By understanding the close association between sexual intercourse and marriage, the diverse and complex family make-ups, and the principle of “one flesh,” we can better understand Leviticus 18. The first section prohibits sexual intercourse with “close relatives.” The modern word for this is incest. The second section warns the Israelites of the consequences of disobeying these prohibitions.

A question that one might ask is whether the first section discusses incest in the modern secretive oppressive sense, or does it tell an Israelite who they cannot marry? I believe the answer is both. I am going to defer discussing abusive forms of incest until later and discuss the question of marriage. Given the liberal marriage relationships in ancient Israel, if your father dies or divorces your mother and she is alone, can you, her son, marry her? If you have received her into your home for support and protection, are sexual relations with her appropriate as with your wives and concubines? Given the broad scope of sexual relationships within the family in Israel, this is not an unnatural question for an Israelite to ask. In fact, different ancient cultures gave different answers to questions like these. The Persians, for example, encouraged unions with mothers, daughters, and sisters as having special merit in the eyes of the gods. 102 The answer for Israel, however, was “No!”

What follows is a table that I created to help you understand the relationships the Lord makes off limits to family members. It includes the verse, a modern wording for the relationship described in Leviticus, and the penalty for violating the command, as found later in Leviticus 20.

Brother and sister
Brother and maternal half-sister

Brother and paternal half-sister

Nephew and aunt (father’s sister)

Nephew and aunt (mother’s sister)

Nephew and aunt (wife of father’s brother)

Father and step-daughter
Father and step-granddaughter
Husband and mother-in-law

Compare the first prohibition, verse 7 (mother and son), with the last prohibition, verse 18 (husband and sister-in-law). A mother and son relationship is much closer emotionally and physically than a husband and sister-in-law. There was no closer verifiable blood relationship in the ancient world than a mother and the children she bore. In the context of “close relative,” mother and son have the closest possible relationship a husband and his wife’s sister have the least. Notice, then, that as you go down the list, the relationships become less and less close.

Why is this list different from similar lists in other ancient cultures? I submit to you that this list of prohibitions is a logical extension of becoming “one flesh” through sexual intercourse. For example, verse 18 prohibits a man from marrying his sister-in-law. There is no genetic reason for this (I am assuming a culture permitting multiple wives). But if Fred is “one flesh” with Amy, Ava is as good as a blood sister. Here then is how the “one flesh” principle applies through the list of prohibitions:

(1) Verse 7 says you cannot marry your own mother. This restriction continues to be obvious even in our own day.

(2) Verse 8 says you cannot marry your father’s wife. For this verse to say anything different than verse 7, it must mean a wife other than your mother. It is worth asking, “Since, there is no genetic closeness between a stepmother and stepson, why is this relationship second only to a natural mother and her son?” It is because your father is one flesh with your mother and his other wives, and you are to honor him by honoring them.

(3) Verse 9 says you cannot marry your own sister or half-sister born to your mother. To discriminate between verse 9, “father’s daughter or mother’s daughter,” and verse 11, “daughter of your father’s wife, born to your father,” means verse 9 applies to sisters related to you through your mother, and verse 11 applies to sisters related to you only through your father. I would suggest that this is so because of the certainty of blood relatedness through the mother. With the father, this is not always the case.

(4) Verse 10 says you cannot marry your granddaughter. This question could legitimately arise if your son and his wife were killed and you began caring for their children.

(5) Verses 12 through 14 deal with the three ways a woman can be your aunt. The principle of “one flesh” applies to verse 14, which refers to an aunt who becomes “one flesh” with your father’s brother.

(6) Verse 15 deals with a father and daughter-in-law. This is the inverse of verse 8 which prohibits the son from marrying his stepmother. It is not as serious in terms of “close relative” because the commandment to honor your father and mother does not apply, but clearly the notion of “one flesh” applies. Until the son marries a girl, it would be possible for the father to marry her. Once the son has married her, the two are one flesh.

(7) Verse 16 also stems from the principle of one flesh—you cannot marry your brother’s wife. There is an important exception to this stated in Deuteronomy 25:5, 6: “If brothers are living together and one of them dies without a son, his widow must not marry outside the family. Her husband’s brother shall take her and marry her and fulfill the duty of a brother-in-law to her. The first son she bears shall carry the name of the dead brother so that his name shall not be blotted out from Israel.” This is called Levirate marriage and was an important institution.

(8) Verse 17 says you cannot marry a girl and her mother. If you marry a woman who has children by a previous marriage, you may not marry her daughter or her granddaughter. By becoming “one flesh” with your wife her children and children’s children become your own.

(9) Verse 18 says you cannot marry your wife’s sister while your wife is still alive. This “close relative” relationship is at the fringe of the inner boundary and has more to do with the feelings of the two sisters who must compete for the attention of the same husband. The kind of distress that can occur is illustrated by the competition between Leah and Rachel, who were sisters married to the patriarch Jacob.

I want to pause here before continuing on, in order to present some other observations and some reflections. First , the “close relative” laws here are the most detailed and severely punished of all similar laws in ancient times. This is significant because, a nation’s laws will protect what its people consider important . The law of the Lord tells us, by its exactness and severity, what He considers most important, and from this section we must conclude that the Lord values the family and the “one flesh” principle very highly.

Second , nowhere in the Bible is compatibility ever a criterion for a relationship. This is somewhat off the main subject of the text, but it is illustrated by the fact, mentioned earlier, that Israel had no such thing as premarital sex. Once you had sexual relations with someone, he or she became your spouse. In the illustration of Isaac and Rebekah, Abraham sent his servant off to find a wife for Isaac. Isaac had no choice in the matter. He was expected to marry Rebekah and live with her and love her. The brother who must marry his dead brother’s wife and the wife who must marry her dead husband’s brother also illustrate it. This was an obligation that they were to fulfill whether they liked each other or not. The Lord expects us to get along with each other, and to compensate in love for differences and conflicts.

Third , I have emphasized how these laws relate to the question, “Who can I marry?” in order to show how the “one flesh” principle applies. I have already mentioned that these laws also pertain to more secretive violations, but I will defer this once more until later.

The Middle Boundary of Godly Sexuality

Verses 19 and 20 limit when you may have sexual intercourse with your wife, and they also prohibit adultery. I refer to these laws as the “Middle Boundary of Godly Sexuality.”

Verse 19 prohibits having intercourse with your wife during the uncleanness of her monthly period. All discharges from the body are considered ceremonially unclean, and the woman’s monthly flow is no exception. Obedience to this law relates specifically to holy living within the Mosaic covenant. There are two ways a man can violate this: one is accidentally in which case he is unclean for seven days as is the woman, and the other is the deliberate act of sexual intercourse during her period, and this is to be punished by death. The issue here is fundamentally one of holiness. The Lord has said the woman is ceremonially unclean and to purposely come in contact with an unclean woman was to violate the holiness of God. Therefore, it was strictly forbidden.

Verse 20 prohibits having intercourse with your neighbor’s wife and is an important transitional verse, because a change in a person’s concept of sexuality must occur before he can imagine and commit adultery . The change is this: adultery denies the concept of “one flesh.” It is failing to recognize that the person you are committing adultery with is “one flesh” with another person. Adultery divorces sexual intercourse from marriage and elevates it to an independent status. It focuses on sexual fulfillment as a goal rather than a byproduct of a relationship. It is important to also note that children, produced by an adulterous union, are quite frankly a grievous nuisance.

Verse 20 is transitional. If a society has established the inner, middle, and outer boundaries of godly sexuality, it is this portion of the middle boundary that collapses first in society. Once the middle boundary has collapsed, the outer and inner boundaries collapse soon afterward. I bring this up now before I discuss the outer boundary, because the outer boundary is best understood from the viewpoint of the collapse of the middle boundary and its effect on society and the land.

The Outer Boundary of Godly Sexuality

At one point in our nation’s history the three boundaries of godly sexuality were firmly established from a cultural viewpoint. I understand, of course, that individuals within that culture may have disregarded them, but both our laws and popular consensus supported them. This included a family based on the Judeo/Christian affirmation of one husband, one wife. This was even higher than the Jewish marriage because it included one wife. The ancient practice of polygamy was abandoned through the teaching of Jesus and the effective ministry of the Holy Spirit in the lives of men.

Towards the beginning of the century our nation, following the lead of Europe, adopted the doctrines of higher criticism that began to tear away at the Bible. Science embraced the theory of evolution and turned away from God. The church, caught by surprise, retreated and disconnected itself from our culture. It was no longer an active force. People were set free from God, and shortly thereafter, sexual intercourse was set free from marriage. Sex became autonomous and recreational. Somewhere, someone got the idea that romantic attraction was the proper foundation for a lasting relationship and sold it to us. The movie entertainers and artists, the purveyors of this message, were the first to suffer a string of divorces and remarriages, but we ignored the evidence, and we accepted the lie. The middle boundary began to collapse.

The sexual revolution of the 1960s marked the near total destruction of the middle boundary of godly sexuality. Sex became completely autonomous. People began to live together without long-term commitment. Masters and Johnson studied human sexual response using the real thing as well as some artificial machines to let them observe what otherwise could not be observed. Marriages began to fail by the score. Unwed teenagers became pregnant. Children became a nuisance. Then The Joy of Sex appeared in the bookstores. Sex became so explicit, so open, such a good seller of merchandise, that society maintained a constant low-level state of sexual arousal. The outer and inner boundaries began to fall.

As the middle boundary crumbled, grandfathers, fathers, uncles, and brothers sexually molested family members. I do not know a single person who is not personally aware of an incident. Putting a stop to this, however, is very difficult. Once sex is set autonomous, the wheels begin to move and it’s hard to stop the wheel.

Outer Boundary Stage 1—The killing of unwanted children

“Do not give any of your children to be sacrificed to Molech, for you must not profane the name of your God. I am the Lord” (Leviticus 18:21).

In the middle of Leviticus 18 is a verse that is seemingly out of place. What could this possibly have to do in the context of unlawful sexual unions? I think this is the first phase of the destruction of the outer boundary of godly sexuality. It means that children are no longer safe when the middle boundary falls.

In 1973, the Supreme Court handed down its Roe v. Wade decision. It is the modern equivalent of ancient child sacrifice, but don’t take my word for it. Hear it, instead, from someone who views it from a pro-abortion position. The following is a quote from a 1984 science magazine article entitled, “Infanticide” by Barbara Burke,

Among some animals, then, infant killing appears to be a natural practice. Could it be natural for humans, too—a trait inherited from our primate ancestors? When we hear that some mother has killed her own baby, we are horrified and assume she must be deranged. Some killers, of course, are sick. … But human infanticide is too widespread historically and geographically to be explained away just as a pathology or the peculiarity of some aberrant culture. Charles Darwin noted in The Descent of Man that infanticide has been “probably the most important of all” checks on population growth throughout most of human history.

… This may seem a cruel and inefficient method of family planning, but in cultures without effective contraceptives, where childbirth is safer than primitive abortions, it may appear to parents to be the only way to keep family size in line with family resources. 103

I do not believe there is much difference between offering children to Molech and offering them up to abortion. For different reasons and different conclusions, Barbara Burke does not believe there is much difference either.

Outer Boundary Stage 2—Homosexuality

“Do not lie with a man as one lies with a woman that is detestable” (Leviticus 18:22).

Following the book The Joy of Sex came The Joy of Gay Sex and The Joy of Lesbian Sex . As the outer boundary began to crumble with the destruction of children, as sex became autonomous, sexual experience between members of the same sex was an unavoidable next step. Here is why: if your sexual goal is pleasure independent of marriage, and your sexual freedom comes from denying its wrongness, there is no foundation left to judge an alternate practice. Consequently, many homosexuals are begging for us to be compassionate and accepting. What follows is an extended quote from Dr. Edward W. Bauman, a prominent Methodist television minister,

I was prepared for trouble, but the intensity of the storm took me completely by surprise. The whole thing started when I presented a television program and preached a sermon on “The Gay Life” as part of a series on Love and Marriage. I must confess to some negative feelings about homosexuality and it wasn’t difficult to find excuses for turning my attention to other things. As the time for the TV taping approached, however, I began to prepare, working hard to make up for lost time. The preparation included covering the books on a long reading list and talking with numerous individuals—straights and gays, medical doctors and psychiatrists, ministers and members of their congregation, men and women, young and old, Christians and Jews. A lot of time was spent getting “into” the Biblical passages on this subject. I prayed and meditated, and began to share some of my ideas with other members of the Christian community. Then I presented the TV program and preached the sermon, suggesting among other things that we need to express compassion and acceptance toward the homosexuals among us.

The intensity of the anger I encountered almost swept me off my feet! The deep primal feelings many of us have on the subject have been so repressed that when we are confronted with them, they break out like a pent up storm. 104

The “deep primal feelings” Dr. Bauman is talking about is part of the outer boundary. We must remember that once upon a time our culture had deep primal feelings concerning adultery, premarital sex, divorce, and abortion too. One by one we have gotten rid of them, but I believe it’s time to get our “deep primal feelings” back. 105

Outer Boundary Stage 3—Bestiality

“Do not have sexual relations with an animal and defile yourself with it. A woman must not present herself to an animal to have sexual relations with it that is a perversion” (Leviticus 18:23).

This verse marks the current line in our culture today. We are not there yet in a widespread way, although bestiality occurs frequently in pornographic books. If our nation accepts homosexuality as it has accepted adultery and abortion, bestiality will be next. Perhaps it will have mythic overtones, such as Zeus in the form of a bull.

God’s Coming Judgment

“Do not defile yourselves in any of these ways, because this is how the nations that I am going to drive out before you became defiled. Even the land was defiled 106 so I punished it for its sin, and the land vomited out its inhabitants” (Leviticus 18:24-29).

This should be sobering to a lust-filled society. This is not Israel violating its covenant with God. This is God looking at Gentile Canaan, seeing how it has defiled the land and is casting Gentile Canaan out. This is a universal principle, not a covenant principle. God judges all nations alike.

Acts 15:23-29 contains the text of the letter from the Church in Jerusalem to the Gentile believers accepting them into the church without binding them to Jewish Law. Verse 29 reads: “You are to abstain from food sacrificed to idols, from the meat of strangled animals and from sexual immorality. You will do well to avoid these things.” God is against sexual immorality, and His condemnation is universal.

As we read Romans 1:18f. think of the progression we have seen in Leviticus 18 from the crumbling of the middle boundary of godly sexuality, through the crumbling of the inner and outer walls.

18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, 19 because that which is known about God is evident within them for God made it evident to them. 20 For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. 21 For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God, or give thanks but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. 22 Professing to be wise, they became fools, 23 and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures.

24 Therefore God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, that their bodies might be dishonored among them. 25 For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen. 107

26 For this reason God gave them over to degrading passions for their women exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural, 27 and in the same way also the men abandoned the natural function of the woman and burned in their desire toward one another, men with men committing indecent acts and receiving in their own persons the due penalty of their error. 108

28 And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper, 29 being filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, evil full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice they are gossips, 30 slanderers, haters of God, insolent, arrogant, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, 31 without understanding, untrustworthy, unloving, unmerciful 32 and, although they know the ordinance of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of death, they not only do the same, but also give hearty approval to those who practice them.

May God have mercy on us. This passage in Romans follows the same course as the passage in Leviticus does—line by line practically. Once homosexuality is accepted, it seems all kinds of wickedness can be expected to break out. Quite frankly, I believe the Lord has given us as a nation over to our sinful desires.

The Christian and the Church’s Response

The spread of adultery, pre-marital and casual sex, abortion and homosexuality is the result of our nation turning from the Lord. He has given us as a nation over to the sinful desires of our hearts. It is very hard for us as individuals and as a church to remain pure in such a society, as the problems in the Corinthian church demonstrate. It is hard, but not impossible. I do not know if we can turn our country around or not. I know many who are working on many fronts to do just that, and we are beginning to see some battles won in the areas of pornography and parent’s rights.

We must examine our own attitudes toward sexuality. How closely do we associate sexual union with becoming “one flesh?” Is it to the degree that we have seen in Israel? If not, can we change?

We are confronted by spiritual warfare on three fronts in the area of sexuality. First, there is our flesh, which is all too willing to have autonomous sex that is released from association with marriage. When a hedonistic philosophy comes around our flesh begins to leap up and say, “go for it!” Second, there is Satan, who through humanism and other philosophies promotes an intellectual system antagonistic to God’s righteousness. Humanism tells us that autonomous sex is okay. It tells us that homosexual sex is okay. It tells us that killing our children is okay. This is the work of Satan through humanist leaders in our country. Third, there is the world, which is the alliance of Satan and corporate flesh which either ignores or directly confronts the church to maintain societies’ perversions.

If you are losing the battle with your flesh, whether it craves heterosexual or homosexual experiences outside the three boundaries of godly sexuality, you can overcome through living by the Spirit (Galatians 5:16). This section of Galatians contains much more for you to meditate upon and ponder. You are not promised liberation from the flesh’s desire, but you are promised that the Spirit will provide you with self-control. Another key aspect of living by the Spirit is love for the brethren, the kind of love that considers all others more important than one’s self.

Against Satan, we have the truth of the Scriptures and the gospel. If we are faithful and true to our message, we will be heard. The message must be presented in all forms: books, music, painting, dance, and the performing arts. Let us instill godliness in our children and encourage their interests in journalism, politics, the arts, and science. By participating in the full spectrum of culture, we can push back the hold humanism has on it.

Against the world, we need a pure and obedient church. We must build strong families based on the principle of “one flesh.” We must learn to have strong marriages regardless of who the partners are, or who they have become over the years. People may be compatible when they first marry, but over the years, they change. Our need to obey the Lord does not change. Our requirement to learn to be compatible with anybody doesn’t change because this is what it fundamentally gets down to. We can learn to be compatible with a person.

I hear about the peer pressure our children are under. Is it wise for us to put our children in circumstances where we ourselves could not stand? We will neither purify ourselves, or the church, or the nation without cost. It will cost us time, money, inconvenience, effort, pain, or worse, but a pure church will stand up before a perverted world. I guarantee it.

Given the fact that the boundaries have crumbled in our culture, it is likely that this message has deeply disturbed some of you. Many of you have past experiences. To you I say this: Look at the love with which Jesus favored the Samaritan woman at the well (John 4). Look at how He dealt with the woman caught in adultery (John 8). Remember how He turned His back to the dinner host and his guests to affirm a prostitute who honored Him by anointing His feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair (Luke 7). Let your past be past. Receive His love and His words, “Go and sin no more.” But also, through Him and His grace and love, let your sense of shame fall away. You are clean and pure, because He has cleansed you.

100 This message was preached by Don Curtis, an excellent student of the Scriptures, teacher, and good friend. Don graduated from Pennsylvania State University in 1974 with a degree in Philosophy. He has since become a Senior Computer Programmer with the IBM Corporation. For a number of years, Don and his family attended Community Bible Chapel in Richardson, Texas, until his job took him to Atlanta, Georgia. Partly from Bob Deffinbaugh’s influence, biblical studies and teaching have become a passion in his Christian life. Don is currently an elder and teacher at Cobb Vineyard Christian Fellowship in Kennesaw, GA.

101 I discussed this issue with a person who valued sexual encounters so highly that (s)he found it inconceivable to imagine heaven without sex, especially if we are clothed in a resurrection “body.”

102 R. K. Harrison, Tyndale Commentary: Leviticus , 1980 Intervarsity Press, p. 194.

103 Barbara Burke, “Infanticide,” Science 84, May 1984, pp. 29, 30.

104 Dr. Edward W. Bauman, Reflections on the Gay Life , 1977, 1979 United Methodist Board of Global Ministries.

105 It is interesting to see how Barbara Burke, on the one hand, uses evolution to excuse parent’s violent behavior against their children. Dr. Bauman, on the other hand, sees “deep primal feelings” as something we must obviously overcome. It seems to me that “deep primal feelings” would also be an evolutionary left over. Such dichotomies are typical of humanistic thinking in “evolutionary” terms evolution is always adapted to justify a preconceived moral position.

106 As I typed this I remembered the blood of Abel crying from the ground. Is our country defiled from the millions of aborted babies?


1. Your conversations feel a little awkward.

Sexual tension is all about, well, tension. and tension can be awkward. While you may want to passionately go at it in one of the handicap stalls, you&rsquore instead standing by the water cooler asking when they plan to finish their TPS reports.

Those reports, clearly, are not what&rsquos really on your mind. It&rsquos undeniably awkward speaking about something banal when your mind is off imagining what the two of you could be doing together. Since it&rsquos distracting, you might not be focusing on whatever they&rsquore actually saying, which can cause you to miss a beat in the conversation or ask them to repeat themselves. That leads to a hell of an awkward conversation.

Still, you need to make sure that they, too, are acting awkwardly because they feel the sexual tension&mdashnot because they're uncomfortable.

"In the midst of what you think is sexual tension, be sure not to get blinded by your own excitement," Procida says. "When there's an awkward pause in the conversation, does she smile while nervously looking away, giggling as she fidgets with her hair? Do his cheeks get red? Or are her eyes trying to locate her phone so she can make a quick escape?"

"You need to ask yourself," Procida makes clear, "are you reading sexual tension in her body language, or are you seeing what your desires want you to see?"


Is this a normal mother-son relationship?

I am 38 years old, and my husband is 46. We have two sons, aged 10 and 14. My older son is a swimmer and golfer, younger plays soccer and learns karate. Neither have eating disorders, mental health issues or chronic health issues. I am a more forceful person than my husband, who is calmer, more patient, and more tolerant than I am. I am also more gregarious and spontaneous than he is, and more comfortable displaying physical affection.

My husband has been a participative father, and has always done more than his fair share of pitching in with caring for for them, ever since they were infants I have been the primary source of "authority" in their lives, and in charge of the academic and social areas of their growth. This was a mutual choice.

It seems to have resulted in the boys being closer to me than they are to him. Now that my older son is 14, this seems to be a cause for concern (for him) and a source of friction (for us).

My husband's take: at the age of 14, it is inappropriate for me to be hugging my son so often as it may lead to involuntary sexual arousal. It is unusual for me to know exactly what my son is thinking and how he will react to most situations as he should by now have a private life of his own (I will concede that there are things he doesn't tell me, but I'll also say that I know when he is hiding things). He should be starting to push boundaries and test limits, and indulge in risky behavior and he isn't doing that. this is abnormal, and perhaps due in part to my excessive level of involvement in his life. Overall, there is need for caution in this area.

My take: We have a friendly, respectful and healthy relationship. He has grown into a responsible and capable young man and I enjoy talking with him, whether that involves us both flopping in bed, slouching on a couch, or sitting at the dinner table. I believe there's no such thing as too much hugging or physical display of affection (he doesn't let me hug him as much as I used to anyway). I hug BOTH boys, and am constantly grabbing the younger one for a cuddle. And as for sexual arousal - I'm his MOM. Yes, it is natural, perhaps for a boy of this age to have a crush on his mom. The key word is natural.

We have always been open with they boys about their bodies, how babies are conceived and born, biological functions, etc. My older son does not sleep in my bed or sit on my lap. I prefer to spend time with my husband than with my son. There is no activity my older son and I do together by ourselves.

Is this a normal relationship? Do we have cause for concern?

Thanks Kage - good point. We have never entertained the notion that the human body is anything to be ashamed of, so both boys have frequently seen both of us naked at various points of time. As far as my older son goes, however, that has over the last few years become more of an accidental occurrence than the norm, and I haven't seen him naked in about two years. He locks his bathroom door when he changes. I knock before entering his room, as does my husband.

I get that an adolescent boy has sexual feelings and reactions he cannot control. My husband says he is trying to help avoid our son having, in future, possible relationships with older women that are dictated by his subconscious rather than by his free and objective will.

On my part, I feel that his concern is misplaced and - to some extent - a case of over-rationalization.

chappa, I think your husband is sensing something that is real. I have teenage boys, and I rumple their hair, and grab at them, and we have a close relationship, but I sense something else in your posts.

I don't think it's natural, or normal, for teenage boys to have "crushes" on their mothers. Are you saying, in this last post, that you do notice that he is sexually aroused by your contact?

I think maybe you should listen to your husband on this one, he's sensing what I am from your post - that your physical relationship with your son has a sexual edge to it.

No, I have never noticed any kind of sexual arousal. At this age, he is ok with hugging or being hugged, but it's more a sort of resigned, eyeball-rolling, "not AGAIN mom" tolerance of me than an enthusiastic embrace.

I think that most boys would be revolted at the thought of seeing their moms as sexual in any way. Ergo, in my first post, "As for sexual arousal - i'm his MOM. " About crushes. I was trying to say that psychology acknowledges that adolescent boys go through a period of idolizing mom and even secretly wanting to "marry" her, just as girls go through it with their dads. It's a commonly acknowledged phase that a lot of boys go through. I'm not implying that either of my sons has a crush on me. just that they are closer to me than they are to my husband.

Chappa, 4 year old boys do often say they're going to marry mom when they grow up, that's true.

Not 14 year old boys. It is not the norm for them to have sexual fantasies about their mothers.

From how you describe your husband, and because he's male and your son is male, I think you might want to take his word for it that he knows what he's seeing.

Stepdads often have kind of weird possessiveness feelings about their wife and her son, biodads don't usually feel that way and I sense he's seeing something.

This is what I think about it. let's say your son had an "accidental sexual" dream about you. He should wake up feeling grossed out (no offense to you - just as an understanding of boundaries). As an effect, I think he would want to keep his distance from you after that dream because he would be so alarmed that he had one about his MOM! He would be exhibiting good boundaries - comfortable to him.

However, if the boy is having sexual fantasies about you - it's not normal - fantasies can be consciously controlled while dreams can not be.

I think you two just have a close relationship is all. Now, I have never heard of a son having a crush on his mother, or at least the ones I know ever did.

My son is at the age where he IS pushing boundaries (15), and testing to see how true "mom & dad's threats are". VERY TRUE.

But my son discovered girls in the 5th grade, and mom was pushed to the side. I rarely gets hugs from him, only when he is telling me good night and even then it is a kiss on the forehead or cheek. Don't get me wrong, my son & I are close, but he has his boundaries and I respect them.

Just because your son is not pushing the limits does not mean he is abnormal. It just means he is not devious as others, nor does he want to be and NOTHING wrong with that. Not all boys have the same behavior.

"About crushes. I was trying to say that psychology acknowledges that adolescent boys go through a period of idolizing mom and even secretly wanting to "marry" her, just as girls go through it with their dads. It's a commonly acknowledged phase that a lot of boys go through."

NOT TRUE. You are greatly misinformed.

You will want to refer to classic psychology, the tenants of which you have clearly stretched -- (you are about ten years off) -- as a way to oddly defend your own viewpoint. It is not in adolescence when boys adore their mothers and want to "marry" them it is in toddlerhood, when little boys are about 31/2-5 yrs -- called the "Oedipal stage," when they fantasize about marrying Mom and see Dad as a competitor for Mom's attention and affection. The young boy vies for his mother's affection vis a vis his father -- however, a strong Dad shows the son that it is he (the Dad) who is the mother's authentic companion and the boy sees the Dad as more powerful than he is in healthy family relationships, the young boy comes to understand that the father wins out as Mother's true companion. A strong & involved father stands in the space next to the mother and the boy eventually relinquishes his desire for the mother, as he comes to see he cannot compete on this level with his father, thus successfully "resolving" the Oedipal complex. In relinquishing the attachment to the mother, the boy realizes the Dad's true position and comes to identify with the dad as a male person, rightly identifying with his father as a male and paving the way into a healthy latency (approx. 7-11 years) and onward to his teen years when gender identification shapes its final stages.

Classical theory considers the successful resolution of the Oedipus complex to be developmentally desirable, as it is the key to the development of identity and healthy gender roles later in life (gender identity shaped in the teen years). It is held in classic analytical circles that the unsuccessful resolution of the Oedipus complex could result in neurosis, paedophilia, and homosexuality -- thus it is important for the parent to be knowledgeable about the psychological development of the young child during his young years.

Classical theory also holds that "resolution" of the Oedipus complex takes place through identification with the parent of the same sex, i.e., the boy gives up his desire for the mother and begins to correctly identify with his Dad as gender-identification -- the opposite-sex parent is then "rediscovered" as the growing individual's eventual adult sexual identity, i.e., the "boy" becomes the "man."

The same pattern exists for girls, called the Electra complex, when the little girl wants to "marry' her dad, only to come to see that it is the mother who is the father's true grown-up companion, thus "resolving" this dilemma, correctly identifying with her mother as a female, laying the foundation for healthy development in the years ahead.


2. Mediaeval Sexual Behaviour From Sex In History by Gordon Rattray Taylor

RAPE and incest characterise the sexual life of the English in the first millennium of our era homosexuality and hysteria the years that followed. The Christian missionaries found a people who, especially in the Celtic parts of the country, maintained a free sexual morality. On them, it sought to impose a code of extreme severity, and it steadily increased the strictness of its demands.

The Church never succeeded in obtaining universal acceptance of its sexual regulations, but in time it became able to enforce sexual abstinence on a scale sufficient to produce a rich crop of mental disease. It is hardly too much to say that medieval Europe came to resemble a vast insane asylum. Most people have a notion that the Middle Ages were a period of considerable licence, and are aware that the religious houses were often hotbeds of sexuality, but there seems to be a general impression that this was a degenerate condition which appeared towards the end of the epoch.

If anything, the reverse is the case. In the earlier part of the Middle Ages what we chiefly find is frank sexuality, with which the Church at first battles in vain. Then, as the Church improves its system of control, we find a mounting toll of perversion and neurosis. For whenever society attempts to restrict expression of the sexual drive more severely than the human constitution will stand, one or more of three things must occur. Either men will defy the taboos, or they will turn to perverted forms of sex, or they will develop psycho-neurotic symptoms, such as psychologically-caused illness, delusions, hallucinations and hysterical manifestations of various kinds. The stronger personalities defy the taboos: the weaker ones turn to indirect forms of expression.

The free sexuality of the early Middle Ages can be traced in early court records, which list numerous sexual offences, from fornication and adultery to incest and homosexuality, and also in the complaints of moralists and Church dignitaries. Thus in the eighth century, Boniface exclaims that the English "utterly despise matrimony" and he is filled with shame because they "utterly refuse to have legitimate wives, and continue to live in lechery and adultery after the manner neighing horses and braying asses. " A century later Alcuin declares that

Three centuries after this John of Salisbury puts his views in verse:

The pages of Chaucer reveal that even in the fourteenth century there were still many-such as the Wife of Bath ready to enjoy sexual opportunity without inhibition and Chaucer Chauntecleer, we are told, served Venus "more for delyte than world to multiplye".

So far from accepting the Church's teaching on sex, most people held that continence was unhealthy. Doctors recommended a greater use of sexual intercourse to some of their patients and it was for this reason that the Church demanded and obtained, the right of passing upon all appointments the medical profession, a right which in Britain it formally retains to this day, though it does not exercise (The issue remains a live one, and Dr. Kinsey, in his report on male sexual behaviour, thought it worth his time to show statistically that persons who practise continence are more likely to have histories of instability than those who do not.)

Aphrodisiacs were much sought after - usually on principles of sympathetic magic. The root of the orchis, which was thought to resemble the testicles, as its popular name " dog-stones " shows, was eaten to induce fertility: though it was important to eat only that one of the stones which was hard, the soft one having a contrary effect. By the complementary arguments nuns used to eat the root of the lily, or the nauseous ' agnus castus ' to ensure chastity. The famed restorative powers of the mandrake were similarly derived from its phallic appearance. (69)

In the later period frank sexuality is also betrayed by the clothing. In the fourteenth century, for instance, women wore low-necked dresses, so tight round the hips as to reveal their sex, and laced their breasts so high that, as was said, "a candle could be stood upon them". (184) Men wore short coats, revealing their private parts, which were clearly outlined by a glove-like container known as a braguette, compared with which the codpiece was a modest object of attire. (95) In the time of Edward IV, the Commons petitioned that

Persons of the estate of a Lord or higher might naturally do as they pleased. Even the clergy shortened their frocks to their knees, and in the following century made them "so short that they did not cover the middle parts". (17)

Prostitution was extremely widespread, and at most periods was accepted as a natural accompaniment of society. The Early Church had been tolerant of prostitution, and Aquinas said (precisely as Lecky was to do six hundred years later) that prostitution was a necessary condition of social morality, just as a cesspool is necessary to a palace, if the whole palace is not to smell. The English were especially apt to prostitution, and Boniface commented:

The Crusades introduced to Europe the public bath, which became a convenient centre for assignations, though it was not until later that they became brothels as we now understand the term. Henry II issued regulations for the conduct of the "stews" (i.e. baths) of Southwark, which make it clear that they were houses of ill-Fame. (13) These regulations were confirmed by Edward III and Henry IV, and the stews remains until the seventeenth century. (254) Many of these stews belonged to the Bishopric of Winchester, the Bishop's palace being near by — hence the euphemism "Winchester geese" and at least one English cardinal purchased a brothel as an investment for church funds. Some jurists argued that the Church was entitled to ten per cent of the girls' earnings, but this view was not officially accepted however, just as today, the Church did not draw the line at receiving rent from property put to this use. (204)

On the Continent the open acceptance of prostitution went considerably further. Queen Joanna, of Avignon, established a town brothel, as better than having indiscriminate prostitution, and when Sigismond visited Constance, the local prostitutes were provided with new velvet robes at the corporation's expense in Ulm, the streets were illuminated by night whenever he and his court wished to visit the town lupanar . (154)

Yet with all this there went a kind of simplicity. Men and women could go naked, or nearly naked, through the street to the baths in a way which today would be impossible, except perhaps at a bathing resort, or for undergraduates living out of college at one of the major British universities. The daughters of the nobility thought it an honour to parade naked in front of Charles V. And it was by no means unheard-of for a young man to pass the night chastely with his beloved, as we hear from the romance, " Blonde of Oxford ".

One of the things which has done much to build up in our minds a false and idealized conception of the Middle Ages is the representation of King Arthur and his knights as paragon of chaste and gentlemanly behaviour. This has been done primarily by the Christian authorities, who rewrote the old British folk-tales so as to bring them in line with the approved morality of the Middle Ages, though the process was carried further by the romantics of the eighteenth century and by Victorian sentimentalism. The facts are very different. Gildas, as a Christian historian, is no doubt somewhat biased, but he describes the knights as "sanguinary, boastful, murderous, addicted to vice, adulterous and enemies of God", adding "Although they keep a large number of wives, they are fornicators and adulterers." The morals of the ladies are no stricter. At King Arthur's court, when a magic mantle is produced which can only be worn by a chaste woman, none of the ladies present is able to wear it.

When we examine these stories in their original form, we begin to see, not immorality as such, but a completely different system of sexual morality at odds with the Christian one: a system in which women were free to take lovers, both before and after marriage, and in which men were free to seduce all women of lower rank, while they might hope to win the favours of women of higher rank if they were sufficiently valiant. Chrestien de Troyes explains:

As Briffault comments, however, the first part of the rule does not seem to have been regarded so strictly as the poet suggests. Traill and Mann say, "To judge from contemporary poems and romances the first thought of every knight on finding a lady unprotected was to do her violence." Gawain, the pattern of knighthood and courtesy, raped Gran de Lis, in spite of her tears and screams, when she refused to sleep with him. The hero of Marie de France's Lai de Graelent does exactly the same to a lady he meets in a forest — but in this case she forgives him his ardour, for she recognizes that "he is courteous and well behaved, a good, generous and honourable knight". And as Malory recounts, when a knight entered the hall of King Arthur and carried away by force a weeping, screaming woman "the king was glad, for she made such a noise".

In Christianized versions of early folk-tales, the knight or hero is often offered the hand of the king's daughter in marriage if he performs the allotted task but in the original versions the question of marriage rarely arises. Thus in the Chanson de Doon de Nanteuil, the warriors are promised that if they "hit the enemy in the bowels, they may take their choice of the fairest ladies in the court". The knight who loves the chatelain of Couci exclaims simply: "Jesus, that I might hold her naked in my arms!" And this is precisely the reward which the ladies themselves frankly promise. In any case, marriage itself was often regarded as a temporary liaison, so that the reward of the hand of the king's daughter implies few obligations.

It is noticeable how, more often than not, it is the women who made the advances: Gawain, for one, is pestered by women and they are sometimes curtly refused. They make their proposition in the clearest terms:

It is a praiseworthy act to offer oneself to a valiant knight: Gawain praises the good taste of his own lady-love, Orgueilleuse, for having offered her favours to so valiant warrior as the Red Knight. In a Provencal romance, a husband reproaches his wife with her infidelity. She replies:

The husband is reduced to silence by the explanations and is filled with confusion at his unseemly interference. (23)

It must be understood that in thus ignoring the Christian code, the knights were not abandoning morality, but were simply continuing in the manner which had been traditional before the arrival of the Christian missionaries, and which continued to be traditional for many hundreds of years after. Our knowledge of the behaviour of the Celtic and Saxon tribes is limited partly by the fewness of the written records they produced, and still more by the systematic way in which the Church destroyed them and substituted its own purified and moralized redactions. However, we do know something about the Irish in the first few centuries of the Christian era, for they produced a considerable literature. It shows us a people strongly matriarchal and with few inhibitions about sexual matters. Virginity was not prized, and marriage was usually a trial marriage or a temporary arrangement. Queen Medb boasts to her husband that she always had a secret lover in addition to her official lover, before she was married. Sualdam marries Dechtin, the sister of King Conchobar, knowing her to be pregnant, and when Princess Findabair mentions to her mother that she rather fancies the messenger who has been sent from the opposing camp, the Queen replies:

In this pre-Christian era, even more notably than in the early Middle Ages, the running was made by the women. Their method of wooing was often most determined: Deirdre seizes Naoise by the ears, tells him that she is a young cow and wants him as her bull, and refuses to release him until he promises to elope with her. Nevertheless, polygamy was not uncommon, and many of the heroes are portrayed as having two or more wives. Marriage, even more so than in the days of chivalry, was a temporary affair: thus Fionn marries Sgathach with great pomp "for one year", and frequent change of partners was usual until quite late in the Middle Ages, a fact which makes Henry VIII's marital experiments more easily understandable. Dunham asserts that most of the Frankish kings died prematurely worn out, before the age of thirty.

Nudity was no cause for shame: not only were warriors normally naked, except for their accoutrements, but women also undressed freely: thus the Queen of Ulster and all the ladies of the Court, to the number of 610, came to meet Cuchulainn, naked above the waist, and raising their skirt "so as to expose their private parts", by which they showed how greatly they honoured him.

In such times, to be called a bastard was a mark of distinction, for the implication was that some especially valiant knight had slept with one's mother: this is why the bastard son of Clothwig, the founder of the Frankish kingdom, received a far larger share than his legitimate brothers when the kingdom was divided up after his father's death. William the Conqueror by no means resented the appellation "William the Bastard", as our history books usually fail to make clear. Indeed, it was almost obligatory for a hero to be a bastard, and bastardy was constantly imputed to Charlemagne, Charles Martel and others, as also to semi-legendary figures, such as King Arthur, Gawain, Roland, Conchobar and Cuchulainn. (21) This pride in bastardy is not wholly unknown in modern times: some twenty years ago, for instance, a British Prime Minister used to boast of his illegitimacy.

In circumstances such as these, the Church's first object was necessarily to establish the principle of lifelong monogamous marriage, without which its stricter regulations were practical meaningless. The Anglo-Saxon synod of 786 decreed

It was long before this attempt succeeded. The tenth-century ordinances of Howel the Good, for instance, allow seven years' trial marriage, and one year's trial marriage existed in Scotland up to the Reformation. (232), (240)

In this period marriage was still (as it had been in the Classical world) a private contract between two individuals - one for which the blessing of the Church was customarily sought, but not invalidated by its absence. Today we hardly remember that there was once a time when the Church did not claim the power to make a marriage.

It was not until the Counter-Reformation that the Church first ordained that a wedding must be conducted in the presence of a priest, and by this time England had left the Roman communion. Any man could marry any woman, within the laws of consanguinity, and provided neither was already married, by a simple declaration of intention. This process was known as spousals , and effected a valid marriage, even if performed without oath or witness. (191) This was clearly understood in Shakespeare's time, as we can tell from the scene in Twelfth Night , where Olivia asks the priest to say what has passed between Viola (supposedly a boy) and herself The priest replies, not that he has married them but that they have made

It was considered very desirable to have witnesses, in case of any future dispute, but their absence did not invalidate the marriage. It was usual to follow such spousals by going to church and saying a Bride Mass, and so it became the practice to perform the spousals at the church door, supported by one's friends, before entering for the Mass. As Chaucer's Wife of Bath tells us, "Husbondes at churche dore have I had five." It was only in the tenth century that the priest took to supervising the marriage at the door, and not until the sixteenth that it became obligatory to conduct the whole of the ceremony inside the church. (133) In the form of marriage used in England, the break between the two parts of the ceremony, the actual marriage in the presence of witnesses, and subsequent blessing of the marriage by God, can be clearly seen, but in the corresponding U.S. service the part after the break is now omitted.

The Church, it must be made clear, distinguished between an illegal marriage and an invalid marriage. To enter into spousals without a priest was illegal, and called for penalties but it was still a valid marriage. An illegal marriage might also lead to difficulties in the inheritance of property.

The form of spousals just described was known as spousals ' de praesenti '. It was also possible to perform spousals ' de futuro ', by promising to take someone as spouse at some future date: whence the present practice of announcing one's engagement. The legal age for marriage was fourteen in the case of males, twelve in the case of girls, but the Church performed marriages on children much younger, even on infants in arms. For instance, the youngest marriage in the Chester records is one between John Somerford, aged three, and Jane Brerton, aged two the point of these early marriages was frequently to prevent an estate reverting to the crown under feudal law. For the marriage of those under seven, parental consent was necessary. But all such marriages could be declared void when the legal age was reached, provided copulation had not taken place. Conversely, copulation was also what converted spousals, technically, to marriage, and penalties were imposed if it occurred before church blessing had been given. (172) (This point was controversial, as I shall explain later.)

By way of relief let me try to put a little flesh on these dry bones of canon law by describing the marriage ceremony as it may actually have occurred towards the end of the Middle Ages, and in the early days of the Reformation.

The bridal procession would set out from the house of the brides father: first, the bride, accompanied perhaps by two pages, bearing a branch of rosemary, "gilded very fair" in a vase and hung about with silken ribbons. Next would come the musicians, fiddling and blowing, then a group of maidens. These would all be dressed in the same way as the bride, in order to confuse any demons, who might have been attracted by the odour of contamination, as to who was actually the bride and if the bride happened to be called Mary they would all be in blue — the deep blue in which the Virgin is usually shown as being clad in medieval paintings. In Reformation times some of the bridesmaids would be carrying great bride cakes, others garlands of wheat finely gilded, or wheat sheaves on their heads — symbols of fertility and memories of Ceres — and they would throw gilded wheat grains over the couple. (137) Thus it is in honour of a pagan deity that today trees are felled in Sweden or Canada, and converted into coloured paper discs that we may throw them at weddings and miscall them by the Italian name for a sweetmeat, ' confetto '.

Last would come the bride's family. In Saxon times, the father would sell his daughter, for at that time women were valued as a source of labour, and the father was felt to suffer a loss. But the Crusades, and other wars, had caused women greatly to exceed men in number, and now he only comes "to give her away". The priest, appearing, asks if the man will take the bride to be his wedded wife — the ' wed ' being the bride price — and he promises. The bride, promising in almost the same words as are used in England today, takes a similar oath, but adds the promise to be "bonere and buxum in Bed and at Boorde, if Holy Chyrche will it ordeyne". The bride and groom drink the wine and eat the sops — the Hereford missal attached special importance to this act, which was still practised in Shakespeare's time, as we know from the reference in the " Taming of the Shrew ". (233) After the Bride Mass has been said, the priest kisses the groom, who transfers the benediction to his bride by kissing her. The married couple, followed their friends, might then play follow-my-leader all round the church and end by sitting down to the wedding feast in the body of the church, which would be, of course, free from obstruction in the form of pews. The body of the church was always felt to belong to the local people, only the parts about the choir and altar being reserved to the clergy, a distinction which is easily perceived in any great cathedral, such as Salisbury.

At nightfall there would be a banquet and dancing at the house of the bride's father, and bride and groom might remain there a week or more before going to their own home.

But the ecclesiastical precautions are not yet finished. The married couple retire with their friends, who help them undress and help them into bed, where they sit wearing their dressings gowns. Next comes the ceremony of throwing the stocking. Two of the groom's friends sit on one edge of the bed, two of the bride's maids on the other each man then throws one of the groom's stockings over his shoulder, hoping to hit the bride then each girl throws one of the bride's stockings, in an attempt to hit the bridegroom. If the stocking hits, the thrower is likely to marry before the year is out. Now appears the priest, and the benediction posset. This drunk, the priest blesses the bed, sprinkling holy water on the couple and censing the room, to dispel the demons who will undoubtedly be attracted by the performance of the sexual act which is presumably to follow though not, if the couple are devout, until the three Tobias-nights have passed. Finally, the curtains of the bed are drawn and the guests withdraw, leaving the newly married couple to their own devices. (137)

In early feudal times, the marriage day might have ended differently, with the feudal lord deflowering the new bride, before releasing her to her husband. The existence of this ' jus primae noctis , also known in France as " jus cunni ", in England as " marchette ", in Piedmont as " cazzagio ", has been much disputed, but Ducange has provided detailed evidence and the best authorities now accept that it existed (190) cases are even known where monks, being at the same time feudal lords, held this right — for instance the monks of St. Thiodard enjoyed this right over the inhabitants of Mount Auriol. (71) Analogous practices are found in many other societies: for instance, in the so-called Nasamonian custom all the wedding guests copulate with the bride. (23) The psychological purpose of the custom, derived from fertility-religion, is said to be the diversion from the husband of the resentment which a woman generally feels for the man who deprives her of her virginity. Whether or not this is an adequate explanation, it would certainly be misleading to regard the ' jus cunni ' simply as the cruel and wilful exercise of feudal power, even if that is what it finally became. It is chiefly of interest as evidence of the survival of magical beliefs.

The picture of normal sexual behaviour which I have been trying to sketch so far cannot, unfortunately, be left to stand on its own. Against it must be put a very different one, if an accurate impression of medieval sexuality is to be presented — a picture of the perversion and neurosis which emerged wherever the Church succeeded in establishing its moral codes. About the beginning of the twelfth century, soon after the Hildebrandine reforms and the extension of celibacy from the cloister to ministers, a perceptible change comes over the character of the Middle Ages. We begin to find references to sodomy, to flagellation, to sexual fantasies, while false Christs appear and heresy springs up all over Europe as tens of thousands begin to question the doctrine of the Church.

Perhaps the most remarkable phenomenon is the development of extensive fantasying about the idea of a really satisfactory sexual congress. These fantasies soon took the specific form of claiming that one was visited in the night by a supernatural being, known as an Incubus (or, in the case of men, a Succubus). In his book " On the Nightmare ", Ernest Jones has traced the relation of these fantasies, and of nightmares generally, to sexual repression. Medieval writers evidently recognised the connection also. Chaucer satirically points out that Incubi have become much less heard of since the 'limitours', or wandering friars, appeared on the scene — for it was notorious that these friars took their pleasure of women while their husbands were absent. (In America, today, an exactly similar reputation is conventionally attached to travelling salesmen.)

Writers noted that widows and virgins were more frequently troubled with Incubi than were married women, and nuns most of all: as it was put at the time, "Incubi infest cloisters". The more enlightened medical men were certainly aware that Incubi were delusions: du Laurens, for instance, recounts how he was able to bring two women who had complained of the attention of Incubi to admit that the whole thing was a wish-fantasy. (257) The Church, of course, accepted their real existence and asserted that they were devils in human shape, and this belief persisted in Catholic countries long after the end of the Middle Ages. Just as today psychologists note that patients often do not wish to give up their neurotic illusions, so also in this case. Thus Goerres describes how he was sent to exorcize a girl of twenty who had-been pursued by an Incubus.

At the same time, it seems possible that, at least towards the end of the period, people sometimes deliberately made use of the belief in the Incubus as a convenient excuse. The sceptical Scot certainly thought so. In his " Discoverie of Witchraft ", under the heading of

he tells how once an Incubus came to a lady's bedside and made "hot loove unto hir". The lady, being offended, cried out loudly, and the company came and found the Incubus hiding under her bed in the likeness of Bishop Sylvanus.

Scot, writing in the sixteenth century, sees the psychological origin of these fantasies even more clearly than Chaucer.

— a diagnosis which antedates by three centuries Freud's teaching that sexual repression causes depression.

Not infrequently these delusions were followed by phantom pregnancies. Thus the Inquisitors, Sprenger and Kramer, write:

The strict sexual taboos imposed by the Church created widespread fears of impotence, as we can tell from the countless Church edicts forbidding attempts to restore potency by magical means, from the demand for restoratives, and from the fact that witches were constantly accused of blighting potency, as we shall later see in more detail. Such potency difficulties are precisely what one would expect to find in a period when the sexual act was represented as a mortal sin.

The marked increase in homosexuality which occurred in the twelfth century is commonly attributed to the Norman invasion, but since homosexuality is not, in fact, a contagious disease some further explanation is called for. It certainly affected court circles: for instance it was because of his homosexuality that King Rufus was refused burial in consecrated ground. Bloch has denied that Edward II was a homosexual, despite his love for Piers Gaveston, but it seems likely that he was, since Higden says that he was

But it was above all the failing of the priesthood, as one can tell from the numerous church edicts on the subject: for instance in 1102 we find a Church council specifying that priests shall be "degraded for sodomy, and anathematised for Obstinate sodomy". This new preoccupation with the subject is also betrayed by the constant accusations of buggery levelled at the heretic sects.

Naturally, persons vowed to total celibacy exhibit the earmarks of sexual repression more vividly than laymen: not only inversion but perversion and hysterical symptoms are found in the monasteries and cloisters in very marked forms, as also among the practising clergy as soon as the rule of celibacy was enforced. Perhaps it is not generally realized how strongly the clergy opposed the imposition of priestly celibacy. It is true that it was an age of violence — an age in which, for instances Archembald, Bishop of Sens, taking a fancy to the abbey of St. Peter, could simply evict the monks and install himself, establishing his harem in the refectory-but, even so, the scale of the clerical revolt against celibacy was remarkable. Monks repeatedly murdered their abbots for preaching better behaviour to them priests left their benefices to their sons, as if they were private property, openly defying the rule. In 925, for instance, we find the Council of Spalato forbidding priests to marry for a second time, having apparently become resigned to first marriages. In 1061 these protests culminated in an organized rebellion: a number of Lombard bishops and Roman nobles, claiming that it was no sin for a priest to marry, elected Cadalus, Bishop of Parma, as Antipope, under the title Honorius II. Honorius marched on Rome and captured it, but two years later the defection of Hanno of Cologne, for complex political reasons, caused the revolt to fail.

The repeated failure of the Church to impose a life of celibacy on the clergy, and the extent to which the clergy defied its efforts by marriage, fornication and turning to homosexuality, have been recounted in a degree of detail which is unlikely ever to be surpassed by H. C. Lea in his " History of Sacerdotal Celibacy ". He relates how, as priestly marriage was made increasingly difficult, priests were driven to content themselves with simple fornication — to the point where, in Germany, the word Pfaffenkind (parson's child) was used as a synonym for bastard. It was said that in many towns the number of bastards exceeded the number of those born in wedlock, and the claim does not seem incredible if one judges from such examples as that of Henry III, Bishop of Liege, who was known to have sixty five natural children. So serious did the situation become that in many parishes — at least in Spain and in Switzerland — the parishioners insisted that the priest must have a concubine as a measure of protection for their wives.

More sinister was the danger of incest, which was deemed sufficiently real for the Papal Legate in France, Cardinal Guala, to rule, in 1208, that mothers and other relatives must not live in the house of clerics, a regulation repeated in many subsequent orders up to the end of the fourteenth century. In general, May has noted that in the court records of the period, priests outnumber laymen, sometimes by as much as fifty to one. This was not because the Church was especially punctilious in prosecuting clerics: quite the contrary. It was frequently declared that clerical sins should be overlooked unless they became a public scandal, exceptionally light penalties were imposed, and frequent dispensations and absolutions were granted by the Curia. (154)

That the clergy should break the rule of celibacy is no doubt understandable: what is more dreadful is that they were often prepared to use their supposed power of granting or with holding absolution for sin as a weapon to force a woman's compliance — and what a weapon that was in an age when many believed that they would roast in hell without absolution! This frightful crime was, however, treated by the ecclesiastical courts with the greatest lenience, in line with their policy of treating fornication as a milder offence than concubinage, and absolution for it could be purchased for as little as 36 gros tournois. As an example of the fantastic lenience of such courts we may take the case of Valdelamar, tried at Toledo in 1535 for seducing two women and refusing absolution to a third unless she slept with him — and also accused of theft, blasphemy, cheating with bulls of indulgence, charging for absolution and frequenting brothels. His whole sentence was to be fined two ducats and condemned to thirty days' seclusion in church, before being free, as Lea puts it, to resume his flagitious career.

It was to reduce the incidence of such crimes that the confessional box was evolved. The Council of Valencia ordered it to be used in 1565, and in 1614 it was prescribed for all churches, though 150 years later the decree was still being ignored in many places. Unfortunately this invention created another evil: salacious laymen used to enter the box in order in hear confessions. This was regarded as a serious matter by the Church only if, at the end of the confession, they gave absolution: This amounted to usurping the prerogative of a priest and the penalty was being burnt alive. Theology also dominated consideration of sacerdotal offences: the Judges were more interested in discovering whether the attempt at seduction had been made before or after granting absolution than in protecting the women. Thus it was argued that to give a woman a love letter in the confessional was only "solicitation" (as the offence came to be called) if it was intended that she should read it on the spot, before being absolved. Once the question of intention had been introduced the casuists were able to confuse the issue still further: it became possible to argue that a conditional statement, such as "If I were not a priest, I should like to seduce you", was innocuous. (154)

Confession had other abuses: for instance, requiring a man who confessed to fornication to name his partner, so that the priest might discover where best to apply his own efforts — a thing which was not banned until 1714. There is also evidence that confessors would talk at length with young nuns on sexual matters, discussing every detail of the sexual act, ostensibly to warn them, actually to arouse their desires, but it would take us too far from the subjects and require too many pages, to record all the ingenuities of priestly lust.

The influence of the clergy can best be summed up by the comment made by Cardinal Hugo, when Innocent IV left Lyons after a visit of eight years' duration. In a speech of farewell to the citizens, he said:

The bad example set by the clergy, as this story hints, was not confined to those of lower rank and in point of fact the Vicar of Christ himself descended again and again to the utmost licence. Sergius III contrived, with the aid of his vicious mother, that his bastard should become Pope after him. The notorious John XII (deposed 963) turned St. John Lateran into a brothel: at his trial he was accused of sacrilege, simony, perjury, murder, adultery and incest. Leo VIII, while still a layman, replaced him: he died stricken by paralysis in the act of adultery. Benedict IX, elected Pope at the age of ten, grew up

While the popes were resident in Avignon,

Balthasar Cossa, elected Pope to end the Great Schism, confessed before the Council of Constance to "notorious incest, adultery, defilement, homicide and atheism". Earlier, when Chamberlain to Boniface IX, he had kept his brother's wife as mistress: Promoted to Cardinal as a result, he was sent to Bologna

For those who were enclosed in monastic orders, the opportunities of satisfying sexual appetites were even more limited, and especially, perhaps, for women, who could less easily take the initiative in such matters. Hence, while the records show plenty of cases of nuns, and even abbesses becoming pregnant or being involved in scandal, (43) we also find the sexual impulse emerging in the form of hysterical manifestations — using the term hysteria in the strict medical sense. It has long been recognized that people can (without conscious intention) induce in themselves various forms of illness and defects of function at the behest of an unconscious or repressed need. Thus a man who has seen a particularly terrifying sight may develop blindness, and this blindness will disappear as suddenly as it came, when the underlying anxiety has been dissipated. In a similar way, people sometimes become ill in order to escape from situations which they find intolerable — and the illness is quite genuine. Such hysterical seizures usually bear a close relationship to the unconscious fantasy: in particular, women sometimes exhibit convulsive bodily movements, or become rigid, with the body arched so that the pudenda are thrust forward as in coitus — the so-called ' arc-en-cercle ' position.

Throughout the Middle Ages, and especially in nunneries, we find epidemics of such convulsions. A particularly clear-cut case is that investigated by the great German doctor de Weier (1515-76), one of the first people to explore such supposed cases of diabolic possession clinically and objectively. He reports them in his great work " De Praestigiis Daemonum ", a model of scientific detachment. He was one of the members of an investigating committee sent in 1565 to enquire into the case of "possession" occurring among the nuns of the convent of Nazareth at Cologne. De Weier noted that the convulsions exhibited several features betraying their erotic origin: during the attacks, he noted, the nuns would lie on their backs with closed eyes and their abdomens elevated in arc-en-cercle . After the convulsions had passed, his notes say, they

The epidemic had started when a young girl who lived in the nunnery began to suffer from the hallucination that she was being visited every night by her lover. Nuns who were put to guard her became frightened by her convulsive movements and began to exhibit them also. Soon the epidemic spread to the entire group. (25)

Upon investigation, the committee discovered that some of the neighbouring youths had been climbing into the nunnery every night to enjoy an affair with nuns of their acquaintance. It was when this had been discovered and stopped that the convulsions developed. De Weier also studied similar phenomena in other nunneries and an orphanage, as he recounts in his Fourth Book. (256) Maury has collected a number of such cases in his " Histoire d'Astrologie et Magie ".

Erotic convulsions seem frequently to be induced when a hysteric loves a particular individual and the love is withdrawn or is not returned. In the celebrated case of Loudun (1634) which Aldous Huxley has recently popularized, the nun concerned, Jeanne des Anges, was enamoured of the Cure Grandier: as a move towards coming to know him better she invited him to become the confessor of the small convent of which she was abbess. He refused. She then developed a prolonged series of convulsions, accusing him of having bewitched her — and, psychologically, he was of course the responsible, though innocent, party. The sexual character of her hysteria is patent. Thus she claimed to have become possessed by seven devils, each of which she named and described. The first, Asmodeus, filled her head, she said, with sexual fantasies. The fourth, Isaacaron, aroused her passion by more direct methods, and this, she explained, was the cause of the violent bodily movements — a frank explanation which anticipates that of Freud by almost 300 years. Her convulsions culminated in a phantom pregnancy. The Cure was burnt alive as a sorcerer the nun became an object of veneration, was presented to the queen and performed several miracles.

Many other cases can be found. A quarter of a century earlier a young girl called Madeleine de Mandol, of La Baume, accused a local priest, Gaufridi, of seducing and bewitching her, and soon she was joined in these accusations by Louise Capeau. Both exhibited convulsions with the characteristic rigidities. Once six men stood on the arched body of Madeleine de Mandol, just as later men were to stand on the body of Jeanne des Anges.

Only ten years after the Loudun incident, while Jeanne was still performing tours of France, the nuns of Louviers accused two priests, one of them already dead, of bewitching them, and we are told that in their convulsions they indulged in "foul languages", that is, they gave voice to the sexual desires in their unconscious minds, which were indeed the cause of the convulsions. Once again, the priests were burned, the dead one being exhumed for the purpose.

Even a century later, in the comparatively enlightened year of 1731, we find the story repeated almost without change. Catherine Cadiere of Toulon accused her confessor, Fr. Giraud, of seduction and magic. Levi says that she was a stigmatized ascetic and suffered

Apart from these grossly erotic manifestations, it is difficult to avoid detecting the influence of erotic feeling in the language and behaviour of many Christian mystics. Catholic authorities attempt to explain this eroticism by saying that the language of romantic poetry had become common currency, and was borrowed by the clergy. (52) And certainly the use of erotic images in an attempt to convey a transcendental experience is quite understandable — as understandable, say, as the use of the image of thirst — even if one adds that one can hardly employ the image without having at some time experienced the reality to which it corresponds. But much of this imagery seems to go so far beyond the mere expression of longing, and to dwell so fondly on physical detail, that it is difficult to resist the suspicion that in many cases the writers were projecting on to the deity an earthly love which had been deprived of its natural object, and colouring very human fantasies with a veneer of mysticism.

Mechthild of Magdeburg (1210-88) felt herself sick from passionate love for the Saviour, and advised

that He might embrace them. Her " Dialogue between Love and the Soul " is studded with passages such as:

If the writer was describing a mystic experience, there can be little doubt that this experience was created by the damming up of erotic feeling. We can readily see how the blocking of the normal outlet produces the religious erotomania by a case such as that of Margaretha of Ypern (1216-37) who, after the cessation of her mania for men believed herself engaged to Jesus. Similarly, Christine Ebner (1277-1356), after two years of masochistic self torture, was seized by sensual visions in which she felt herself embraced by Jesus and to have conceived a child by Him. (81)

Fosbroke points out that the medieval ceremony for the consecration of nuns was in several respects like a wedding A ring was put on the candidate's finger and a wedding crown on her head. one of the responses which she had to make ran:

After the kiss of peace had been bestowed, she was urged to

It may be added that the Church received the sum of money which had been put aside by the parents for their daughter's dowry if and when she married.

Is it remarkable to learn that nuns filled with such thoughts frequently developed phantom pregnancies?

The official explanation seems hardly adequate to explain the ardent longing of La Bonne Armelle and St. Elizabeth to mother the infant Jesus or the action of Veronica Giuliani beatified by Pius II, who, in memory of the lamb of God, took a real lamb to bed with her, kissing it and suckling it on her breasts. The desperate frustration of natural instincts is also shown by such incidents as that of St. Catherine of Genoa, who often suffered from such internal fires that, to cool herself, she lay upon the ground, saying "Love, love, I can do no more". In doing this she felt a peculiar inclination for her confessor. (86) Again, it seems rather naive to absolve of erotic feeling the nun Blaubekin, who became obsessed by the thought of what had happened to the part of Jesus's body removed by circumcision. (In point of fact, she need not have distressed herself: no fewer than twelve churches possess, among their sacred relics, the prepuce of Jesus Christ — notably St. John Lateran, Coulombs, Charroux, Hildesheim, Puy-en-Velay and Antwerp, the last imported at great expense by Godefroy de Bouillon in an attempt to discourage the worship of Priapus. (110), (165) There is also an equal number of umbilici. (71))

Psychoanalysts have shown how a sense of sexual guilt leads to the in turning of Thanatos, in an attempt to relieve the guilt by continual self punishment, while flagellation, specifically, which is a kind of assault, may be a substitute for sexual intercourse. It is therefore in no way surprising to find that the celibates often indulged in prodigies of masochism, and especially in flagellation, and we find cases of confessors making use of their power of absolution to force their female parishioners to beat them.

The early Christian fathers delighted in such simple self tortures as hair shirts, and failing to wash. Others proceeded to more desperate extremes, such as Ammonius who tortured his body with a red-hot iron until it was covered with burns. In the Middle Ages, these excesses became ever more frantic. Christine of St. Trond (1150-1224) laid herself in a hot oven, fastened herself on a wheel, had herself racked, and hung on the gallows beside a corpse not content with this, she had herself partly buried in a grave. Fielding observes:

Christine Ebner, who as noted earlier imagined herself to have conceived a child by Jesus after being embraced by Him, cut a cross of skin over the region of her heart and tore it of, sufficiently demonstrating the linkage of sexual desire and masochism. (81)

It would not be necessary to dwell on these depressing details if it were not for the fact that the Church erected these appalling practices into a virtue, often canonizing those who practised them, as in the case of St. Margaret Marie Alacoque, St. Rose of Lima and St. Mary Magdalene dei Pazzi. It is true that her superiors forbade the Alacoque to practise excessive austerities, but she ingeniously found others. She sought out rotten fruit and dusty bread to eat. Like many mystics she suffered from a lifelong thirst, but decided to allow herself no drink from Thursday to Sunday, and when she did drink, preferred water in which laundry had been washed She, too, fell to the ground in convulsions and had the illusion that the devil was buffeting her. she said incessantly "ou souffrir, ou mourir", either suffer or die. Not content with miraculously caused infirmities, rather like Christine Ebner, she cut the name of Jesus on her chest with a knife, and because the scars did not last long enough, burnt them in with a candle. Her respectful biographer, who has been at pains to emphasize her remarkable holiness and splendid example, here cautions his readers against imitating "this astonishing, not to say imprudent operation". (99) She was Canonized in 1920.

The stories of these masochistic nuns indeed show a dreary similarity. St. Rose ate nothing but a mixture of sheep's gall, bitter herbs and ashes. (214) The Pazzi, like the Alacoque, vowed herself to chastity at an incredibly early age (four, it is said). Like St. Catherine, she ran about in a frenzy, calling "Love, Love". After a prolonged rapture in 1585, she had hallucinations of being mauled and pushed about. She would run into the garden and roll on thorns, then return to the convent and whip herself. She would have herself tied to a post and demand to be insulted, or drop hot wax on her skin. Like the Alacoque, she was thought a suitable person to put in charge of the novices, but whereas the latter had one of the novices dismissed for rivalling her in holiness, the Pazzi made one stand on her mouth and whip her. (65) She was canonized in 1671.

It is in the eleventh century that one first finds the Franciscans extolling self flagellation as a penance and it is at the end of the same century, when the practice of confession became generally established, that one finds confessors also imposing sentences of whipping. At first the priests used to do the whipping themselves, the penitents usually being entirely nude, and the penance being inflicted in a place attached to the church. To judge from illustrations, the victims accepted the penance in just the resigned spirit in which today people accept the verdict of a doctor and penitents, stripped naked, awaited their turn for treatment as placidly as patients at a doctor's clinic. In the twelfth century St. Dominic made the practice widely known, and established a scale of equivalents, 1,000 lashes being considered equivalent to the reciting of ten penitential psalms. But the danger of priests indulging their sadistic instincts soon became evident, and other methods were evolved, especially public processions of flagellants, nude from the waist up.

There were those who sensed the perverted nature of this development: France refused to accept the practice and the Polish king imposed penalties on those who adopted it. But the device of organizing groups of Flagellants proved unwise, for in groups a strange contagion occurs. Perhaps the fact of being with others who are giving- rein to powerful instincts normally held in check, gives a man a sense of being licensed by public opinion to break the normal rules, as seems to occur, for instance, in lynchings, looting and other mob phenomena. Whatever the explanation, in the middle of the thirteenth century Thanatos burst loose in the populace at large, but not, as in a lynching, directed outward upon others: this time, it was directed inward in a masochistic sense. The contagion started in North Italy in 1259 everywhere people formed themselves into groups for the purpose of self-flagellation.

Even children of five years old took part. Magistrates, appalled, expelled them from their cities, but to no effect. Ultimately the movement died down, only to flare up again in 1262 and again in 1296. In the following century, stimulated by the fears aroused by repeated earthquakes this Flagellomania reappeared in 1334. Finally, the culminating horror of the Black Death, which started in 1348, caused an outbreak far exceeding any of the foregoing in scale. Beset by the fear of death and the evidence of God's displeasure whole populations indulged in a desperate frenzy of self maceration. Processions of men and women, nobles and commoners, priests and monks, numbering hundreds and sometimes thousands, spread over Austria, Bohemia, Germany, Switzerland, and the Rhine province, to the Netherlands and even to England. (77) The movement continued all through 1348 and 1349, while the Plague raged, killing in many cases seven in every ten of the population. These flagellants, like pilgrims, moved from town to town and in each town they sought out the shrine of the most powerful saint, hoping to procure his help. They began to form themselves into a coherent organization, under the title the Brethren of the Cross. The idea emerged that one could dispense with the services of the Church in attaining salvation. Thirty-three and a half days of scourging, recalling Christ's thirty three years of life, were the passport to salvation. The Pope, instantly alarmed, on October 20 issued a Bull accusing them of forming a new sect without permission, condemning them as devilish, and calling upon bishops and inquisitors to stamp out the heresy. Under this pressure, the movement broke up or went underground, only to burst out again two years later, and yet again three years after that. This time the sect was destroyed by fire and sword. Except for sporadic outbreaks in Italy, Holland and Thuringia in the early fifteenth century, we hear no more of Flagellomania. That is, we hear no more of a mass popular movement: we find plenty of processions of flagellants on specific occasions under control of the Church.

By giving official sanction to actions which in normal people are deeply repressed or held under control, the Church contrived that the tendencies to conformity which normally act as a civilizing force should be put at the service of the dark and uncivilised desires of the unconscious. Here, as so often in other fields, the Church acted in just the way calculated to release the very forces it was officially trying to repress — so easily do our unconscious desires mould our conscious action to their purpose. It was an attempt which recoiled on the Church and was therefore dropped: the Church's next experiment in this field was to direct the death dealing forces outwards in the form of witch persecutions, as I shall attempt to show in another chapter.

If a reasonable brevity were no object, this account of medieval sexuality could be greatly extended. I have considered only general trends: a full account would have to consider the differences between different classes and different regions, and would have to study the demoralizing effect of social disorganization such as occurred in the wake of wars and pestilence. It would have to describe the violence and lechery of the Crusades, and the wave of frantic debauchery which followed in the wake of the Black Death, when it was held that to commit incest on the altar was the only certain prophylactic against infection. (184) But for such matters I have no space.

The frank sexuality of the early Celts was associated with the worship of fertility religions when the Christian missionaries imposed a new morality, many of the old ceremonies survived and provided occasions for outbursts of sexuality in defiance of Church law. Best known of these were the May Games and the Christmas mumming. The May Games, which celebrated the growing of the crops, took place round the maypole, and these we know survived until the Puritans abolished them in the seventeenth century. Chaucer speaks of the "great shaft of Cornhill" from which the church of St. Andrew Undershaft takes its name. Similarly the Christmas mumming coinciding with the middle of the winter solstice, derived from the Roman Saturnalia. Indeed, actual phallic worship continued at first openly, later secretly, throughout the Middle Ages, and Early Church statutes often inveigh against it. A full account of medieval sexuality must also consider certain religious sects and minority groups which developed distinctive attitudes to sex. But all these are subjects of such interest and importance that they deserve chapters to themselves and I shall discuss them at a later point.

I opened the chapter by suggesting that the Middle Ages resembled a vast insane asylum. The phrase was not intended as a hyperbole. John Custance, a manic depressive who has been certified on a number of occasions, has recorded his feelings and sensations: a few extracts will serve to establish the resemblance. In the manic phase, he says, he experience a "heightened sense of reality" which Canon Grensted has compared with the experience of St. Teresa. He felt a sense of love in which there was no repugnance for the loathsome He strives to describe his sense of intenser life, of being at peace of love with the whole universe. There was a sense of revelation he saw visions continually and could not distinguish them from dreams. With this went an insensitivity to pain and a release of sexual tension: he had hallucinations of male and female sex organs copulating in mid-air. He felt, also, that he might follow the promptings of the spirit with impunity, however unorthodox he felt an impulse to throw off all his clothes. He often saw aureoles round people's heads.

Strangest feature of all, so far from feeling any repugnance at the loathsome, he felt attracted by it. He explains how his sense of the nearness of God was in some way associated in his mind with the idea of dirt, so that dwelling on the idea of dirty and disgusting things, such as spittle or faeces, seemed to emphasize and enhance his nearness to God. This is particularly striking, since many Christian ecstatics have made precisely the same observation. The Alacoque, for instance dwelt on these ideas with an irresistible compulsion. In her diaries she describes how once, when she wished to clean up the vomit of a sick patient, she "could not resist" doing so with her tongue, an action which caused her so much pleasure that she wished she could do the same every day. Mme. Guyon the seventeenth century quietist, describes an almost exact similar experience. (149) St. John of the Cross licked out the sores of lepers, which he described as "pleasurable". St. Rose, more ambitiously, drank off a bowl of human blood, newly drawn from a diseased patient. (214)

But whereas the performers of these hardy acts were canonized, Custance, undergoing exactly similar experiences, in modern times, was certified.

Before the mystic reaches his sense of unity with God, and the release of sexual tension, he passes through two dreadful phases which have been called the "dryness" and the "dark night of the soul". Custance underwent experiences which seem identical with these in his depressive phase. He felt, he says, that he had sold his soul to the devil. He was hypnotized by an absolutely horrifying vision of ever increasing pain — remarkably similar to the conviction of endless torture in hell described so vividly by Calvinists. Furthermore, this depressive phase developed in two stages. The first was a state of deep depression about ordinary earthly misfortunes, which Custance himself calls "a dark night of the soul", echoing St. John of the Cross's phrase. The second stage was a sense of spiritual abandonment and of "vulnerability to demonic attack", resembling the sensations reported by Bunyan, Luther and others. In this phase, Custance was obsessed by a sense of guilt for his sexual sins and found himself to be impotent indeed, he says that sin appeared exclusively as sexual sin. And he adds that he suddenly understood why Catholics find it impossible to conceive of Heaven without also believing in a purgatory.

And just as in the manic phase he had felt attracted to the idea of dirt, now he felt repelled from it and associated with this fear of dirt was a sense of remoteness from God, which could only be combated by getting rid of every speck of it — a feeling which, as we shall see, the Puritans had already experienced. I may add that this very compressed summary does small justice to Custance's extraordinary book, which should be read.

With this in mind, it hardly seems too much to say, therefore, that the Church's code of repression produced, throughout Western Europe, over a period of four or five centuries, an outbreak of mass psychosis for which there are few parallels in history. Perhaps only the Aztec passion for blood sacrifice provides a comparable case.

It is an important psychological, as it is also a physical, fact that every action breeds an equal and opposite reaction. While the Church claims that repressive measures were required because of the immorality of the times, it seems more probable that, in reality, the immorality of the times was a result of the pressures applied. As Pascal observed:


Love without Boundaries: The Enmeshed Mother

Of all the toxic patterns of maternal behavior, perhaps the most emotionally confusingand one of the hardest to navigate and deal withis that of the enmeshed mother. If you were to ask if she loves her daughter, shed answer you with the utmost surety because, as she sees it, her love is boundless. In truth, it lacks any and all healthy boundaries. What makes it confusing for the daughter is that her mother does love her but this variety of love has a special kind of toxicity nonetheless. It lacks oxygen, for one thing. It is consuming, for another. And, finally, it ignores the fact that the daughter is an individual in her own right.

My friends all adored my mother and envied me. She was always there, anticipating my every needor so it seemed. When I was a teenager, she suggested I straighten my hair and get my nose fixed to maximize my beauty, as she put it. It made me feel flawedI thought my curls and my nose were finebut I did it anyway to make her happy. And besides, she was so good to me. She called me five times a day in college and when I didnt pick up, shed call my friends to find out where I was. She found me my first job and my first apartment which was three blocks from where I grew up. You see the pattern? I was drowning in love.

Love without boundaries

Culturally, we tend to think of love as being the opposite of a boundary or wall this is most evident in our tropes about romantic loveas in being swept off your feet or consumed by lovebut it trickles down to the mother-daughter relationship. Popular opinion aside, the psychological truth is that a sense of separateness, along with deep connection, are both necessary as the foundation for the kind of love that helps you thrive. An attuned mother teaches her child that I am me and you are you together with though we are separate and whole on our own, we are closely connected and nourished by our bond. This is not how the enmeshed mother sees it.

As I discuss in my latest book, Daughter Detox: Recovering from an Unloving Mother and Reclaiming Your Life, the enmeshed mother, despite all the apparent attention she lavishes on her daughter, ignores her emotional needs just as a dismissive mother does or one high in narcissistic traits. Like the narcissistic mother, the enmeshed mother sees her daughter as an extension of herself. But the effects of having an enmeshed mother, while similar in some ways, are importantly different in others.

The stage mother and other examples

The so-called stage mother is a variation on the theme of enmeshmenta woman who appears to sacrifice her own life and independence in order to garner her daughter fame, fortune, or both. But the sub-plot is quite different as biographies of Gypsy Rose Lee, Judy Garland, and many others attest: The enmeshed mothers ambitions are the driver, not the daughters needs or wants.

Of course, you dont need to become a movie star or celebrity to have an enmeshed mother, as Vivian Gornicks searing memoir, Fierce Attachments, makes clear. In fact, you can grow up relatively ordinary in a small American city in New England and have precisely the same experience:

My mother always saw me as the answer to her own thwarted ambitions. I was going to be important and admired as she never was. She pushed me hard and I became an attorney and, for the longest time, I thought that was what I wanted. But despite my success, I was miserable and after wrestling with it for a decade, I quit my law partnership at age 40, retrained, and became a school teacher. Make that a lowly teacher in my mothers eyes. No money and no prestige. It doesnt matter to her that Im happy, only that I disappointed her and threw it all away. To say that shes never forgiven me is an understatement. Worse, shes convinced anyone who will listen that Im crazy or stupid or both. I had no boundaries with her for years I do now.

It may take the daughter decades to realize how she&rsquos been affected even if she&rsquos chafed at her mother&rsquos interference from time to time. After all, how her mother behaves feels like love even if it sometimes drives her crazy.

Effects on enmeshment on the daughters development

Again, its important to realize that these daughters see their mothers as loving and also suffocating which makes for a lot of emotional confusion. Its only when the daughter finally realizes how shes being damaged by her mothers behavior that she begins to take steps to disentangle herself. Many of these mothers are single or widowed the daughter may be an only child, the only girl in the family, or the last-born separated by a number of years from her siblings.

What differentiates the enmeshed mother from the other types, other than the role-reversed mother, is that, deep down, she does love her child. With therapy and support, this is one of the few mother-daughter relationships that can be salvaged if the mother is willing to listen and accept and respect boundaries. Often, they are.

That said, these are the major effects on a daughters behavior and development:

  • Has trouble recognizing and articulating her own wants and needs
  • Has an impaired sense of self
  • Alternates between feeling guilty and feeling angry about her mother
  • May be drawn to relationships that are equally engulfing or controlling

Love isnt really love without the proper balance of separateness and connection, interdependence and independence.


6. You're Scared To Stick Up For Yourself

Living with a toxic mom can be very confusing, McBain says. "Children don't know which mom they are going to get on a given day." That can impact self-esteem in the future, particularly if establishing boundaries or saying no has produced tantrums or pushback in the past.

Figuring out how to protect yourself and flourish with a toxic mother can be difficult — and therapy can help. "Therapy can be a great place to process your feelings surrounding the home life you grew up in, come to terms with your mom’s possible mental health issues, and learn to not blame yourself for someone else’s unhealthy behaviors," McBain says. If you decide that the right thing for your own well-being is to stop talking to your mother, then don't believe that doing so makes you an awful person. You're doing what you need to do to take care of yourself you're just someone who's been dealt a rough hand, and odds are you're trying to do the best you can with it.


13 Women Describe Their

I don&rsquot know who needs to hear this, but sexual fantasies come in all difference shapes and sizes. It&rsquos likely you won&rsquot have the same fantasies as your best friends, and that&rsquos okay. So long as everything is consensual, these things are completely personal to you.

For some, it can mean simply bringing a bullet vibrator vibrator into the bedroom for some extra clitoral stimulation (which I *highly* recommend, btw). For others, it could mean hanging a ceiling sex swing, grabbing some handcuffs, securing a blindfold, and/or buying leather lingerie. So, yeah, there&rsquos a bit of a spectrum.

But regardless of what you may or may not be interested in, exploring sexual fantasies are a great way not only to

up the bedroom in whatever way that floats your boat, but it can take the monotony out of your normal day-to-day. (Oh, and if you love Halloween, it&rsquos basically the perf excuse to get into a character and/or costume, even when it&rsquos not even October).

But remember, no matter how elaborate your sexual fantasy is, every sexual act in and out of the bedroom should start with a conversation&mdashand yup, this means you should be having the sex talk with your partner regularly. What this looks like: For one, you need to develop a safe word (like &ldquopineapple&rdquo or &ldquored&rdquo). This word would only be used to relay to your partner that the scene is going too far or there&rsquos a boundary being crossed. You and/or your partner should stop immediately once a safe word is brought up. This ensures safe, consensual sex.

The second thing you can do is easy: Just talk to your partner. Since you&rsquore diving into new sexual territory with whatever you&rsquore trying, here are some questions you should be asking beforehand to make sure you&rsquore checking in with your partner and their pleasure: How will I know if you&rsquore having fun? How will I know when I need to do something different? What kind of mood or feelings do we want to have while we play?

Now, the fun part. For all of you looking for inspo (or, hey, maybe are just super into voyeurism), here&rsquos 13 women&rsquos most hottest, sexual fantasies.


13. The Boundaries of Godly Sexuality (Leviticus 18:6-29)

Leviticus 18:6-29 has a very simple structure and message. Its intent is to define the boundaries of godly human sexual relationships. There are three of them, which I call the inner, middle, and outer boundaries of godly sexuality. Verses 6 through 18 define the “inner boundary,” prohibiting sexual relationships with close relatives. Verses 19 and 20 define the “middle boundary,” which limits sexual relations within marriage and prohibits them outside marriage. Verses 21 through 23 define the “outer boundary” of unnatural sexual relations. Verses 24 through 29 tell us about God’s judgment upon a nation that crosses these boundaries. They clearly tell us that God’s judgment for sexual sin applies to all nations, not just the covenant nation of Israel.

Cultural Background

When I started my study of this chapter, I read it not as an ancient Israelite, but as a man whose sight is distorted by the sexual revolution. Our nation, and perhaps the world, implicitly separates sexual intercourse from marriage. Diverse cultural voices tell us that sex is a drive similar to hunger and that it is almost impossible to control. The cultural message penetrates our lives in subtle ways and affects our view of life and the Scriptures. Take the movie, “Spies Like Us,” for example. At the end of the movie, the two heroes, two attractive Russian women, an older Russian man and woman, and two other Russian men have inadvertently launched a missile that will start World War III and end the world. Knowing their imminent doom, each hero enters a tent with one of the two attractive women, the older man and woman go to another tent, and the two men go to a third. This scene asserts an answer to the question, “What is the most important thing you can do when the world is about to end?”

We can better understand Leviticus 18 by understanding what the ancient Israelite view of sexual intercourse was under Torah.

First , in ancient Israel, sexual intercourse was marriage . Exodus 22:16, 17 reads: “If a man seduces a virgin who is not pledged to be married and sleeps with her, he must pay the bride-price, and she shall be his wife. If her father absolutely refuses to give her to him, he must still pay the bride-price for virgins.”

This verse implicitly tells us that ancient Israel had no concept of pre-marital sex. Having sexual intercourse with a virgin was an act of marriage, unless her father intervened. In other words, sexual intercourse was marriage . Another example is Genesis 24, which tells about the day Isaac’s bride, Rebekah, came to him. Genesis 24:67 reads: “Isaac brought her into the tent of his mother Sarah, and he married Rebekah. So she became his wife, and he loved her and Isaac was comforted after his mother’s death.”

In an uncomplicated way, Isaac married Rebekah by publicly entering a tent to have intercourse with her. This points out once more that in ancient Israel sexual intercourse was marriage. Furthermore, notice that Isaac had no knowledge of what Rebekah looked like or what kind of person she was prior to this event. Obviously, ancient Israel had no concept of making sure that two people were compatible. Rather, they understood that compatibility was something two people made for themselves.

Second , men in Israel practiced, and the Torah regulated, polygamy and concubinage (female slaves with whom the master will have sexual intercourse). This meant that family make-up could be very complex. Leviticus 18 contains the laws that define the most liberal position society may maintain regarding sexuality and remain an intact society.

From the beginning, sexual intercourse meant becoming “one flesh.” “One flesh” is not an emotional attachment between a man and woman. It is an unavoidable consequence of a man and woman joining physically. The Law and the New Testament affirm this. That “one flesh” has no special eternal significance is clear from the answer that Jesus gave to a question posed by the Sadducees about seven brothers who eventually shared the same wife. In heaven, there is no marriage or sex. 101

So, if “one flesh” is not an emotional bonding and has no significance to our life in heaven, what does it mean in this life right now? The answer is simple. The Lord makes no distinction between sexual intercourse and a relationship for life. Look at three key texts concerning this.

“Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife and the two will become one flesh’? So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate” (Matthew 19:4-6).

Do you not know that he who unites himself with a prostitute is one with her in body? For it is said, “The two will become one flesh” (1 Corinthians 6:16).

Another thing you do: You flood the Lord’s altar with tears. You weep and wail because he no longer pays attention to your offerings or accepts them with pleasure from your hands. You ask, “Why?” It is because the Lord is acting as a witness between you and the wife of your youth, because you have broken faith with her, though she is your partner, the wife of your marriage covenant. Has not the Lord made them one? In flesh and spirit they are his. And why one? Because he was seeking godly offspring. So guard yourself in your spirit, and do not break faith with the wife of your youth. “I hate divorce,” says the Lord God of Israel, “and I hate a man’s covering himself with violence as well as with his garment,” says the Lord Almighty. So guard yourself in your spirit, and do not break faith (Malachi 2:13-16).

The first passage is a prohibition of divorce based on the “one flesh” principle.

The second passage affirms that the sexual union produces “one flesh” no matter who or why. If you think “one flesh” only happens at the consummation of a marriage, this passage shows that the act of a man and woman joining physically causes the Lord to recognize that union as “one flesh.” “One flesh” is an obligation before God to be joined for life, commencing with sexual intercourse. The obligation is there whether we fulfill it or not, whether we are able to fulfill it or not, whether we are fulfilled by it or not.

The third passage tells us that God made a man and a woman “one flesh” because he “was seeking godly offspring.” As I shall show, when society denies the principle of “one flesh,” children are no longer safe.

The Inner Boundary of Godly Sexuality

By understanding the close association between sexual intercourse and marriage, the diverse and complex family make-ups, and the principle of “one flesh,” we can better understand Leviticus 18. The first section prohibits sexual intercourse with “close relatives.” The modern word for this is incest. The second section warns the Israelites of the consequences of disobeying these prohibitions.

A question that one might ask is whether the first section discusses incest in the modern secretive oppressive sense, or does it tell an Israelite who they cannot marry? I believe the answer is both. I am going to defer discussing abusive forms of incest until later and discuss the question of marriage. Given the liberal marriage relationships in ancient Israel, if your father dies or divorces your mother and she is alone, can you, her son, marry her? If you have received her into your home for support and protection, are sexual relations with her appropriate as with your wives and concubines? Given the broad scope of sexual relationships within the family in Israel, this is not an unnatural question for an Israelite to ask. In fact, different ancient cultures gave different answers to questions like these. The Persians, for example, encouraged unions with mothers, daughters, and sisters as having special merit in the eyes of the gods. 102 The answer for Israel, however, was “No!”

What follows is a table that I created to help you understand the relationships the Lord makes off limits to family members. It includes the verse, a modern wording for the relationship described in Leviticus, and the penalty for violating the command, as found later in Leviticus 20.

Brother and sister
Brother and maternal half-sister

Brother and paternal half-sister

Nephew and aunt (father’s sister)

Nephew and aunt (mother’s sister)

Nephew and aunt (wife of father’s brother)

Father and step-daughter
Father and step-granddaughter
Husband and mother-in-law

Compare the first prohibition, verse 7 (mother and son), with the last prohibition, verse 18 (husband and sister-in-law). A mother and son relationship is much closer emotionally and physically than a husband and sister-in-law. There was no closer verifiable blood relationship in the ancient world than a mother and the children she bore. In the context of “close relative,” mother and son have the closest possible relationship a husband and his wife’s sister have the least. Notice, then, that as you go down the list, the relationships become less and less close.

Why is this list different from similar lists in other ancient cultures? I submit to you that this list of prohibitions is a logical extension of becoming “one flesh” through sexual intercourse. For example, verse 18 prohibits a man from marrying his sister-in-law. There is no genetic reason for this (I am assuming a culture permitting multiple wives). But if Fred is “one flesh” with Amy, Ava is as good as a blood sister. Here then is how the “one flesh” principle applies through the list of prohibitions:

(1) Verse 7 says you cannot marry your own mother. This restriction continues to be obvious even in our own day.

(2) Verse 8 says you cannot marry your father’s wife. For this verse to say anything different than verse 7, it must mean a wife other than your mother. It is worth asking, “Since, there is no genetic closeness between a stepmother and stepson, why is this relationship second only to a natural mother and her son?” It is because your father is one flesh with your mother and his other wives, and you are to honor him by honoring them.

(3) Verse 9 says you cannot marry your own sister or half-sister born to your mother. To discriminate between verse 9, “father’s daughter or mother’s daughter,” and verse 11, “daughter of your father’s wife, born to your father,” means verse 9 applies to sisters related to you through your mother, and verse 11 applies to sisters related to you only through your father. I would suggest that this is so because of the certainty of blood relatedness through the mother. With the father, this is not always the case.

(4) Verse 10 says you cannot marry your granddaughter. This question could legitimately arise if your son and his wife were killed and you began caring for their children.

(5) Verses 12 through 14 deal with the three ways a woman can be your aunt. The principle of “one flesh” applies to verse 14, which refers to an aunt who becomes “one flesh” with your father’s brother.

(6) Verse 15 deals with a father and daughter-in-law. This is the inverse of verse 8 which prohibits the son from marrying his stepmother. It is not as serious in terms of “close relative” because the commandment to honor your father and mother does not apply, but clearly the notion of “one flesh” applies. Until the son marries a girl, it would be possible for the father to marry her. Once the son has married her, the two are one flesh.

(7) Verse 16 also stems from the principle of one flesh—you cannot marry your brother’s wife. There is an important exception to this stated in Deuteronomy 25:5, 6: “If brothers are living together and one of them dies without a son, his widow must not marry outside the family. Her husband’s brother shall take her and marry her and fulfill the duty of a brother-in-law to her. The first son she bears shall carry the name of the dead brother so that his name shall not be blotted out from Israel.” This is called Levirate marriage and was an important institution.

(8) Verse 17 says you cannot marry a girl and her mother. If you marry a woman who has children by a previous marriage, you may not marry her daughter or her granddaughter. By becoming “one flesh” with your wife her children and children’s children become your own.

(9) Verse 18 says you cannot marry your wife’s sister while your wife is still alive. This “close relative” relationship is at the fringe of the inner boundary and has more to do with the feelings of the two sisters who must compete for the attention of the same husband. The kind of distress that can occur is illustrated by the competition between Leah and Rachel, who were sisters married to the patriarch Jacob.

I want to pause here before continuing on, in order to present some other observations and some reflections. First , the “close relative” laws here are the most detailed and severely punished of all similar laws in ancient times. This is significant because, a nation’s laws will protect what its people consider important . The law of the Lord tells us, by its exactness and severity, what He considers most important, and from this section we must conclude that the Lord values the family and the “one flesh” principle very highly.

Second , nowhere in the Bible is compatibility ever a criterion for a relationship. This is somewhat off the main subject of the text, but it is illustrated by the fact, mentioned earlier, that Israel had no such thing as premarital sex. Once you had sexual relations with someone, he or she became your spouse. In the illustration of Isaac and Rebekah, Abraham sent his servant off to find a wife for Isaac. Isaac had no choice in the matter. He was expected to marry Rebekah and live with her and love her. The brother who must marry his dead brother’s wife and the wife who must marry her dead husband’s brother also illustrate it. This was an obligation that they were to fulfill whether they liked each other or not. The Lord expects us to get along with each other, and to compensate in love for differences and conflicts.

Third , I have emphasized how these laws relate to the question, “Who can I marry?” in order to show how the “one flesh” principle applies. I have already mentioned that these laws also pertain to more secretive violations, but I will defer this once more until later.

The Middle Boundary of Godly Sexuality

Verses 19 and 20 limit when you may have sexual intercourse with your wife, and they also prohibit adultery. I refer to these laws as the “Middle Boundary of Godly Sexuality.”

Verse 19 prohibits having intercourse with your wife during the uncleanness of her monthly period. All discharges from the body are considered ceremonially unclean, and the woman’s monthly flow is no exception. Obedience to this law relates specifically to holy living within the Mosaic covenant. There are two ways a man can violate this: one is accidentally in which case he is unclean for seven days as is the woman, and the other is the deliberate act of sexual intercourse during her period, and this is to be punished by death. The issue here is fundamentally one of holiness. The Lord has said the woman is ceremonially unclean and to purposely come in contact with an unclean woman was to violate the holiness of God. Therefore, it was strictly forbidden.

Verse 20 prohibits having intercourse with your neighbor’s wife and is an important transitional verse, because a change in a person’s concept of sexuality must occur before he can imagine and commit adultery . The change is this: adultery denies the concept of “one flesh.” It is failing to recognize that the person you are committing adultery with is “one flesh” with another person. Adultery divorces sexual intercourse from marriage and elevates it to an independent status. It focuses on sexual fulfillment as a goal rather than a byproduct of a relationship. It is important to also note that children, produced by an adulterous union, are quite frankly a grievous nuisance.

Verse 20 is transitional. If a society has established the inner, middle, and outer boundaries of godly sexuality, it is this portion of the middle boundary that collapses first in society. Once the middle boundary has collapsed, the outer and inner boundaries collapse soon afterward. I bring this up now before I discuss the outer boundary, because the outer boundary is best understood from the viewpoint of the collapse of the middle boundary and its effect on society and the land.

The Outer Boundary of Godly Sexuality

At one point in our nation’s history the three boundaries of godly sexuality were firmly established from a cultural viewpoint. I understand, of course, that individuals within that culture may have disregarded them, but both our laws and popular consensus supported them. This included a family based on the Judeo/Christian affirmation of one husband, one wife. This was even higher than the Jewish marriage because it included one wife. The ancient practice of polygamy was abandoned through the teaching of Jesus and the effective ministry of the Holy Spirit in the lives of men.

Towards the beginning of the century our nation, following the lead of Europe, adopted the doctrines of higher criticism that began to tear away at the Bible. Science embraced the theory of evolution and turned away from God. The church, caught by surprise, retreated and disconnected itself from our culture. It was no longer an active force. People were set free from God, and shortly thereafter, sexual intercourse was set free from marriage. Sex became autonomous and recreational. Somewhere, someone got the idea that romantic attraction was the proper foundation for a lasting relationship and sold it to us. The movie entertainers and artists, the purveyors of this message, were the first to suffer a string of divorces and remarriages, but we ignored the evidence, and we accepted the lie. The middle boundary began to collapse.

The sexual revolution of the 1960s marked the near total destruction of the middle boundary of godly sexuality. Sex became completely autonomous. People began to live together without long-term commitment. Masters and Johnson studied human sexual response using the real thing as well as some artificial machines to let them observe what otherwise could not be observed. Marriages began to fail by the score. Unwed teenagers became pregnant. Children became a nuisance. Then The Joy of Sex appeared in the bookstores. Sex became so explicit, so open, such a good seller of merchandise, that society maintained a constant low-level state of sexual arousal. The outer and inner boundaries began to fall.

As the middle boundary crumbled, grandfathers, fathers, uncles, and brothers sexually molested family members. I do not know a single person who is not personally aware of an incident. Putting a stop to this, however, is very difficult. Once sex is set autonomous, the wheels begin to move and it’s hard to stop the wheel.

Outer Boundary Stage 1—The killing of unwanted children

“Do not give any of your children to be sacrificed to Molech, for you must not profane the name of your God. I am the Lord” (Leviticus 18:21).

In the middle of Leviticus 18 is a verse that is seemingly out of place. What could this possibly have to do in the context of unlawful sexual unions? I think this is the first phase of the destruction of the outer boundary of godly sexuality. It means that children are no longer safe when the middle boundary falls.

In 1973, the Supreme Court handed down its Roe v. Wade decision. It is the modern equivalent of ancient child sacrifice, but don’t take my word for it. Hear it, instead, from someone who views it from a pro-abortion position. The following is a quote from a 1984 science magazine article entitled, “Infanticide” by Barbara Burke,

Among some animals, then, infant killing appears to be a natural practice. Could it be natural for humans, too—a trait inherited from our primate ancestors? When we hear that some mother has killed her own baby, we are horrified and assume she must be deranged. Some killers, of course, are sick. … But human infanticide is too widespread historically and geographically to be explained away just as a pathology or the peculiarity of some aberrant culture. Charles Darwin noted in The Descent of Man that infanticide has been “probably the most important of all” checks on population growth throughout most of human history.

… This may seem a cruel and inefficient method of family planning, but in cultures without effective contraceptives, where childbirth is safer than primitive abortions, it may appear to parents to be the only way to keep family size in line with family resources. 103

I do not believe there is much difference between offering children to Molech and offering them up to abortion. For different reasons and different conclusions, Barbara Burke does not believe there is much difference either.

Outer Boundary Stage 2—Homosexuality

“Do not lie with a man as one lies with a woman that is detestable” (Leviticus 18:22).

Following the book The Joy of Sex came The Joy of Gay Sex and The Joy of Lesbian Sex . As the outer boundary began to crumble with the destruction of children, as sex became autonomous, sexual experience between members of the same sex was an unavoidable next step. Here is why: if your sexual goal is pleasure independent of marriage, and your sexual freedom comes from denying its wrongness, there is no foundation left to judge an alternate practice. Consequently, many homosexuals are begging for us to be compassionate and accepting. What follows is an extended quote from Dr. Edward W. Bauman, a prominent Methodist television minister,

I was prepared for trouble, but the intensity of the storm took me completely by surprise. The whole thing started when I presented a television program and preached a sermon on “The Gay Life” as part of a series on Love and Marriage. I must confess to some negative feelings about homosexuality and it wasn’t difficult to find excuses for turning my attention to other things. As the time for the TV taping approached, however, I began to prepare, working hard to make up for lost time. The preparation included covering the books on a long reading list and talking with numerous individuals—straights and gays, medical doctors and psychiatrists, ministers and members of their congregation, men and women, young and old, Christians and Jews. A lot of time was spent getting “into” the Biblical passages on this subject. I prayed and meditated, and began to share some of my ideas with other members of the Christian community. Then I presented the TV program and preached the sermon, suggesting among other things that we need to express compassion and acceptance toward the homosexuals among us.

The intensity of the anger I encountered almost swept me off my feet! The deep primal feelings many of us have on the subject have been so repressed that when we are confronted with them, they break out like a pent up storm. 104

The “deep primal feelings” Dr. Bauman is talking about is part of the outer boundary. We must remember that once upon a time our culture had deep primal feelings concerning adultery, premarital sex, divorce, and abortion too. One by one we have gotten rid of them, but I believe it’s time to get our “deep primal feelings” back. 105

Outer Boundary Stage 3—Bestiality

“Do not have sexual relations with an animal and defile yourself with it. A woman must not present herself to an animal to have sexual relations with it that is a perversion” (Leviticus 18:23).

This verse marks the current line in our culture today. We are not there yet in a widespread way, although bestiality occurs frequently in pornographic books. If our nation accepts homosexuality as it has accepted adultery and abortion, bestiality will be next. Perhaps it will have mythic overtones, such as Zeus in the form of a bull.

God’s Coming Judgment

“Do not defile yourselves in any of these ways, because this is how the nations that I am going to drive out before you became defiled. Even the land was defiled 106 so I punished it for its sin, and the land vomited out its inhabitants” (Leviticus 18:24-29).

This should be sobering to a lust-filled society. This is not Israel violating its covenant with God. This is God looking at Gentile Canaan, seeing how it has defiled the land and is casting Gentile Canaan out. This is a universal principle, not a covenant principle. God judges all nations alike.

Acts 15:23-29 contains the text of the letter from the Church in Jerusalem to the Gentile believers accepting them into the church without binding them to Jewish Law. Verse 29 reads: “You are to abstain from food sacrificed to idols, from the meat of strangled animals and from sexual immorality. You will do well to avoid these things.” God is against sexual immorality, and His condemnation is universal.

As we read Romans 1:18f. think of the progression we have seen in Leviticus 18 from the crumbling of the middle boundary of godly sexuality, through the crumbling of the inner and outer walls.

18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, 19 because that which is known about God is evident within them for God made it evident to them. 20 For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. 21 For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God, or give thanks but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. 22 Professing to be wise, they became fools, 23 and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures.

24 Therefore God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, that their bodies might be dishonored among them. 25 For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen. 107

26 For this reason God gave them over to degrading passions for their women exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural, 27 and in the same way also the men abandoned the natural function of the woman and burned in their desire toward one another, men with men committing indecent acts and receiving in their own persons the due penalty of their error. 108

28 And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper, 29 being filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, evil full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice they are gossips, 30 slanderers, haters of God, insolent, arrogant, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, 31 without understanding, untrustworthy, unloving, unmerciful 32 and, although they know the ordinance of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of death, they not only do the same, but also give hearty approval to those who practice them.

May God have mercy on us. This passage in Romans follows the same course as the passage in Leviticus does—line by line practically. Once homosexuality is accepted, it seems all kinds of wickedness can be expected to break out. Quite frankly, I believe the Lord has given us as a nation over to our sinful desires.

The Christian and the Church’s Response

The spread of adultery, pre-marital and casual sex, abortion and homosexuality is the result of our nation turning from the Lord. He has given us as a nation over to the sinful desires of our hearts. It is very hard for us as individuals and as a church to remain pure in such a society, as the problems in the Corinthian church demonstrate. It is hard, but not impossible. I do not know if we can turn our country around or not. I know many who are working on many fronts to do just that, and we are beginning to see some battles won in the areas of pornography and parent’s rights.

We must examine our own attitudes toward sexuality. How closely do we associate sexual union with becoming “one flesh?” Is it to the degree that we have seen in Israel? If not, can we change?

We are confronted by spiritual warfare on three fronts in the area of sexuality. First, there is our flesh, which is all too willing to have autonomous sex that is released from association with marriage. When a hedonistic philosophy comes around our flesh begins to leap up and say, “go for it!” Second, there is Satan, who through humanism and other philosophies promotes an intellectual system antagonistic to God’s righteousness. Humanism tells us that autonomous sex is okay. It tells us that homosexual sex is okay. It tells us that killing our children is okay. This is the work of Satan through humanist leaders in our country. Third, there is the world, which is the alliance of Satan and corporate flesh which either ignores or directly confronts the church to maintain societies’ perversions.

If you are losing the battle with your flesh, whether it craves heterosexual or homosexual experiences outside the three boundaries of godly sexuality, you can overcome through living by the Spirit (Galatians 5:16). This section of Galatians contains much more for you to meditate upon and ponder. You are not promised liberation from the flesh’s desire, but you are promised that the Spirit will provide you with self-control. Another key aspect of living by the Spirit is love for the brethren, the kind of love that considers all others more important than one’s self.

Against Satan, we have the truth of the Scriptures and the gospel. If we are faithful and true to our message, we will be heard. The message must be presented in all forms: books, music, painting, dance, and the performing arts. Let us instill godliness in our children and encourage their interests in journalism, politics, the arts, and science. By participating in the full spectrum of culture, we can push back the hold humanism has on it.

Against the world, we need a pure and obedient church. We must build strong families based on the principle of “one flesh.” We must learn to have strong marriages regardless of who the partners are, or who they have become over the years. People may be compatible when they first marry, but over the years, they change. Our need to obey the Lord does not change. Our requirement to learn to be compatible with anybody doesn’t change because this is what it fundamentally gets down to. We can learn to be compatible with a person.

I hear about the peer pressure our children are under. Is it wise for us to put our children in circumstances where we ourselves could not stand? We will neither purify ourselves, or the church, or the nation without cost. It will cost us time, money, inconvenience, effort, pain, or worse, but a pure church will stand up before a perverted world. I guarantee it.

Given the fact that the boundaries have crumbled in our culture, it is likely that this message has deeply disturbed some of you. Many of you have past experiences. To you I say this: Look at the love with which Jesus favored the Samaritan woman at the well (John 4). Look at how He dealt with the woman caught in adultery (John 8). Remember how He turned His back to the dinner host and his guests to affirm a prostitute who honored Him by anointing His feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair (Luke 7). Let your past be past. Receive His love and His words, “Go and sin no more.” But also, through Him and His grace and love, let your sense of shame fall away. You are clean and pure, because He has cleansed you.

100 This message was preached by Don Curtis, an excellent student of the Scriptures, teacher, and good friend. Don graduated from Pennsylvania State University in 1974 with a degree in Philosophy. He has since become a Senior Computer Programmer with the IBM Corporation. For a number of years, Don and his family attended Community Bible Chapel in Richardson, Texas, until his job took him to Atlanta, Georgia. Partly from Bob Deffinbaugh’s influence, biblical studies and teaching have become a passion in his Christian life. Don is currently an elder and teacher at Cobb Vineyard Christian Fellowship in Kennesaw, GA.

101 I discussed this issue with a person who valued sexual encounters so highly that (s)he found it inconceivable to imagine heaven without sex, especially if we are clothed in a resurrection “body.”

102 R. K. Harrison, Tyndale Commentary: Leviticus , 1980 Intervarsity Press, p. 194.

103 Barbara Burke, “Infanticide,” Science 84, May 1984, pp. 29, 30.

104 Dr. Edward W. Bauman, Reflections on the Gay Life , 1977, 1979 United Methodist Board of Global Ministries.

105 It is interesting to see how Barbara Burke, on the one hand, uses evolution to excuse parent’s violent behavior against their children. Dr. Bauman, on the other hand, sees “deep primal feelings” as something we must obviously overcome. It seems to me that “deep primal feelings” would also be an evolutionary left over. Such dichotomies are typical of humanistic thinking in “evolutionary” terms evolution is always adapted to justify a preconceived moral position.

106 As I typed this I remembered the blood of Abel crying from the ground. Is our country defiled from the millions of aborted babies?


13 Women Describe Their

I don&rsquot know who needs to hear this, but sexual fantasies come in all difference shapes and sizes. It&rsquos likely you won&rsquot have the same fantasies as your best friends, and that&rsquos okay. So long as everything is consensual, these things are completely personal to you.

For some, it can mean simply bringing a bullet vibrator vibrator into the bedroom for some extra clitoral stimulation (which I *highly* recommend, btw). For others, it could mean hanging a ceiling sex swing, grabbing some handcuffs, securing a blindfold, and/or buying leather lingerie. So, yeah, there&rsquos a bit of a spectrum.

But regardless of what you may or may not be interested in, exploring sexual fantasies are a great way not only to

up the bedroom in whatever way that floats your boat, but it can take the monotony out of your normal day-to-day. (Oh, and if you love Halloween, it&rsquos basically the perf excuse to get into a character and/or costume, even when it&rsquos not even October).

But remember, no matter how elaborate your sexual fantasy is, every sexual act in and out of the bedroom should start with a conversation&mdashand yup, this means you should be having the sex talk with your partner regularly. What this looks like: For one, you need to develop a safe word (like &ldquopineapple&rdquo or &ldquored&rdquo). This word would only be used to relay to your partner that the scene is going too far or there&rsquos a boundary being crossed. You and/or your partner should stop immediately once a safe word is brought up. This ensures safe, consensual sex.

The second thing you can do is easy: Just talk to your partner. Since you&rsquore diving into new sexual territory with whatever you&rsquore trying, here are some questions you should be asking beforehand to make sure you&rsquore checking in with your partner and their pleasure: How will I know if you&rsquore having fun? How will I know when I need to do something different? What kind of mood or feelings do we want to have while we play?

Now, the fun part. For all of you looking for inspo (or, hey, maybe are just super into voyeurism), here&rsquos 13 women&rsquos most hottest, sexual fantasies.


Sex Education: An Islamic Perspective

If you tell kids about sex, they'll do it. If you tell them about VD, they'll go out and get it. Incredible as may seem, most oppositions to sex education in this country are based on the assumption that knowledge is harmful. But research in this area reveals that ignorance and unresolved curiosity, not knowledge, are harmful. Our failure to tell children what they want and need to know is one reason we have the highest rates of out-of-wedlock teens pregnancy and abortion of any highly developed country in the world."

"What Kids Need to Know," Psychology Today, October 1986. Dr. Sol Gordon,
Professor Emeritus, Syracuse University, and an expert on sex education.

"Say: Are they equal those who know, and those who do not know?" (Quran 39:9).

"Blessed are the women of the Helpers. Their modesty did not stand in the way of their seeking knowledge about their religion" (Saying of the Prophet - Bukhari and Muslim).

Introduction

Although the Quran has placed so much emphasis on acquiring knowledge, and in the days of Prophet Muhammad Muslim men and women were never too shy to ask him questions including those related to private affairs such as sexual life, for Muslim parents of today, sex is a dirty word. They feel uncomfortable in discussing sex education with their children, but do not mind the same being taught at their children's school by secular or non-Muslim teachers (of even the opposite sex), by their peers of either sex, and by the media and television. An average child is exposed to 9000 sexual scenes per year.

These parents should know that sex is not always a dirty word. It is an important aspect of our life. God Who cares for all the aspects of our life, and not just the way of worshiping Him, discusses reproduction, creation, family life, menstruation and even ejaculation in the Quran. Prophet Muhammad , who was sent to us as an example, discussed many aspects of sexual life including sexual positions with his Companions.

The main reason Muslim parents do not or cannot discuss sex education with their children is because of the their cultural upbringing, not their religious training. They are often brought up in a state of ignorance in regard to sex issues. As a result, they may not be comfortable with their own sexuality or its expression. They leave Islamic education to Islamic Sunday schools and sex education to American public schools and the media.

What is sex education and who should give it?

Is sex education about knowing the anatomy and physiology of the human body or about the act of sex or about reproduction and family life or about prevention of sexually transmitted diseases and unwanted pregnancy? Is giving sex ed equivalent to permission in engaging in sex? One sex educator at my son's school told the parents, "I am not planning to tell your children whether or not they should engage in sex or how to do it but in case they decide to do it, they should know how to prevent sexually transmitted diseases (STD), venereal diseases (VD), acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) and pregnancy."

The problem with this is that at the present time sex ed as taught in the public schools is incomplete. It does not cover morality associated with sex, sexual dysfunctions and deviations and the institution of marriage.

One of the basic questions is, "Do children need sex education?" Do you teach a baby duck how to swim or just put it in the water and let it swim? After all, for thousands of years men and women have been having sex without any formal education. In many traditional civilizations, sex education starts after marriage and with trial and error. Some couples learn it faster than others and do it better than others due to difference in sexual perception and expression of one partner. In my opinion having a dozen children is not necessarily proof of their love. An appropriate and healthy sex education is crucial to the fulfillment of a happy marriage.

With regard to the question who should teach sex education, I believe everyone has to play his or her role. Parents have to assume a more responsible role. A father has a duty to be able to answer his son's questions and a mother has the same duty to her daughter. We can hardly influence the sex ed taught in public schools or by the media, but we can supplement that with an ethical and moral dimension adding family love and responsibility. Apart from these players, some role can be played by Sunday school teachers, the family physician, the pediatrician and the clergy. Within a family, the older sister has a duty towards the younger one and the elder brother has a duty towards younger ones.

Sex Education in American Schools

Sex education is given in every American school, public or private, from grades 2 to 12. The projected 1990 cost to the nation was $2 billion per year. Teachers are told to give technical aspects of sex ed without telling the students about moral values or how to make the right decisions. After describing the male and female anatomy and reproduction, the main emphasis is on the prevention of venereal diseases and teenage pregnancy. With the rise of AIDS, the focus is on 'Safe Sex' which means having condoms available each time you decide to have sex with someone you don't know. With the help of our tax dollars, about 76 schools in the country have started dispensing free condoms and contraceptives to those who go to school health clinics. Very soon there will be vending machines in school hallways where 'children' can get a condom each time they feel like having sex.

The role of parents is minimized by American sex educators and sometimes ridiculed. In one of the sex ed movies I was made to watch a film called, "Am I Normal?" as a parent at my son's school. Whenever the young boy asks his father a question about sex, the father, shown as a bum and a slob, shuns him and changes the topic. Finally the boy learns it from a stranger and then is shown going into a movie theater with his girlfriend.

Sex education as promoted by some Western educators is devoid of morality is in many ways unacceptable to our value system. The examples of the teachings of one such educator are:

A. Nudity in homes (in shower or bedroom) is a good and healthy way to introduce sexuality to smaller (under 5) children, giving them an opportunity to ask questions. At the same time, in the same book, he also states that 75% of all child molestation and incest (500,000 per year) occur by a close relative (parent, step-parent or another family member).

B. A child's playing with genitals of another child is a permissible 'naive exploration' and not a reason for scolding or punishment. He is also aware that boys as young as 12 have raped girls as young as 8. We don't know when this 'naive exploration' becomes a sex act.

C. Children caught reading dirty magazines should not be made to feel guilty, but parents should use it as a chance to get some useful points across to him or her about sexual attitudes, values and sex exploitation, Like charity, pornography should start at home!

D. If your daughter or son is already sexually active, instead of telling them to stop, the parent's moral duty is to protect their health and career by providing them information and means for contraception and avoiding VD. Maybe this its true for rebellious teens and their submissive parents!

Educators like the one referred to above do not believe that giving sexual information means giving the OK for sex. I just wonder as to why some folks after being told the shape, color, smell and taste of a new fruit, and pleasures derived from eating it, would not like to try it? These educators say that even if your child does not ask any questions about sex, parents should initiate the discussion using i.e. a neighbors pregnancy, a pet's behavior, advertisement, popular music or a TV show. I wonder why these educators are obsessed with loading children with sexual information whether they want it or not.

The more they know it - The more they do it

Sex education in American schools has not helped decrease the teenager incidence of VD or teenage pregnancy. This is because it has not changed their sex habits. According to Marion Wright Elderman, President of the Children' Defense Fund, in a recent report, out of every twenty teens, ten are sexually active but only four use conceptions, two get pregnant and one gives birth. In 1982, a John Hopkins study found one out of every five 15 year old, and one in three 16 year old are sexually active. The incidence increased to 43% in 17 year old. The Louis Harris poll in 1986 found that 57% of the nations 17 year old, 46% of 16 year old, 29% 15 year old were sexually active. Now it is estimated that about 80% of girls entering college had sexual intercourse at least once. Going to church does not help either. 1438 teenagers, mostly white, attending conservative evangelical church were sent questions about their sex life. 26% of 16 year old, 35% of 17 year old, and 43% of 18 year old said they had sexual intercourse at least once. 33% that responded also said sex outside of marriage was morally acceptable.

Hazards of early sex

The health hazards of early sex includes sexual trauma, increase in incidence of cervical cancer, sexually transmitted disease and teenage pregnancy. We will take up each individually. A variety of injuries are possible and do happen when sex organs are not ready for sex in terms of full maturation. Some of these injuries have a long lasting effect. Cervical cancer has been thought to be related to sex at an early age and with multiple partners. Dr. Nelson and his associates in their article on epidemiology of cervical cancer call it a sexually transmitted disease.

Teenage Pregnancy

About one million or more teenage girls become pregnant every year, at a rate of 3000 per day, 80% of whom are unmarried. Out of this I million, about 500,000, decide to keep their baby, and 450,000 are aborted (or ? murdered). 100,000 decide to deliver and give the baby up for adoption. In 1950 the incidence of birth from unmarried teenagers was only 13.9%, but in 1985 it increased to 59%. It is a myth that teenage pregnancy is a problem of the black and poor. To the contrary 2/3 teens getting pregnant now are white, suburban and above the poverty income level. The pregnancy rate (without marriage) in 54,000 enlisted Navy women is 40% as compared to 17% in the general population.

What is the life of those who have teenage pregnancy? Only 50% complete high school and more than 50% of them are on welfare. They themselves become child abusers and their children, when grown up, have 82% incidence of teenage pregnancy. 8.6 billion dollars are spent every year for the financial and health care support of teenage mothers., The sexual revolution of the 60's has affected another dimension of health care. In 1985 alone, 10 million cases of chlamydia, 2 million cases of gonorrhea, I million venereal warts, 0.5 million genital herpes and 90,000 syphilis were diagnosed. The plague of AIDS is adding a new twist to our fears. 200,000 cases have been diagnosed in the US alone, out of which 50% have already died. The disease is growing at a rate of one case every 14 minutes and so far there is no effective treatment. Father Bruce Ritter in New York, who operates shelters for runaway children, says the biggest threat to the nation's 1 million runaways is the threat of AIDS now.

Why do children get involved in sex?

There are many reasons why children get involved in sex. The most common is peer pressure. Their common response is "since everybody is doing it." One of the reasons is their desire for sexual competence with adults and a way to get ahead. Another common reason is their lack of self-esteem which they want to improve by becoming a father or mother. Sometimes it is due to a lack of other alternatives to divert their sexual energies. It could also be due to a lack of love and appreciation at home. Detachment from home can lead to attachment elsewhere. Sexual pressure on them is everywhere, at school from their peers, from the TV where about 20,000 sexual scenes are broadcasted in advertisement, soap operas, prime time shows and MTV. The hard core rock music nowadays fans the flames of sexual desires. Most parents do not know what kind of music their children are hearing. If they care and listen to rock songs like Eat Me Alive (Judas Priest), Purple Rain (Prince), Losing It (Madonna), The Last American Virgin, Papa Don't Preach, Private Dancer (Tina Turner), Material Girl (Madonna) and Cyndi Lauper's songs, they will know what they are talking about. The songs have pornographic words and sentences which made Kandy Stroud, a former rock fan, begged parents to stop their children from listening to what she calls 'Pornographic Rock'. This shows music does affect our sexual mood. It does so by activating melatonin, the hormone from the pineal gland in the brain which is turned on by darkness and turned off by flashing lights. It is the same gland which has been thought to trigger puberty and affects the reproductive cycle and sex mood.

What is the role of parents?

American educators are putting the blame for their failures (i.e. teenage pregnancy) on the parents. In fact in Wisconsin and many other states the grandparents of a baby born to a teenager are responsible for the financial support of the child. Remember parents are not needed if their teenage daughter needs contraceptives or abortion. Faced with such hypocrisy, the parents job is to instill in their teenagers mind what is not taught in sex ed classes, i.e. reason not to engage in sex, reason not to get pregnant, etc. At the same time, they should divert their energies to some productive activities like community work, sports, character growth, or Sunday schools. Another role of parents is to help their children make the right decisions.

In Islam anything which leads to wrong is also considered wrong. Therefore parents should control the music children are listening to or the TV program they are watching, the magazines they are reading, and the clothes (which may provoke desire in the opposite sex) they are wearing. While group social activity should be permitted with supervision, dating should not be allowed. When American teenagers start dating, sex is on their mind.

In fact during a recent survey, 25% of college freshman boys responded by saying that if they have paid for the food and the girl does not go all the way, they have a right to force her to have sex. Many of the rapes occur at the end of the date and are not reported. Anything which breaks down sexual inhibition and loss of self-control i.e. alcohol, drugs, parking, petting or just being together for two members of the opposite sex in a secluded place should not be allowed for Muslim teenagers. Kissing and petting is preparing the body for sex. The body can be brought to a point of no return.

In summary Muslim parents should teach their children that they are different from non-Muslims in their value system and way of life. Having a feeling and love in your heart for someone of the opposite sex is different and beyond control, while expression of the same through sex is entirely different and should be under control. Muslim children should be told that they don't drink alcohol, eat pork, take drugs, and they don't have to engage in pre-marital sex either.

Islamic concept of sexuality

Islam recognizes the power of sexual need, but the subject is discussed in the Quran and the saying of Prophet Muhammad in a serious manner, in regard to marital and family life. Parents should familiarize themselves with this body of knowledge.

Saying of Prophet Muhammad

* "When one of you have sex with your wife, it is a rewarded act of charity." The Companions were surprised and said, "But we do it purely out of our desire. How can it be counted as charity?" The Prophet replied, "If you had done it with a forbidden woman, it would have been counted as a sin, but if you do it in legitimacy, it is counted as charity."

* "Let not one of you fall upon his wife like a beast falls. It is more appropriate to send a message before the act."

* "Do not divulge the secrets of your sex life with your wife to another person nor describe her physical feature to anyone."

Concept of adultery in Islam

God says in the Quran, "Do not go near to adultery. Surely it is a shameful deed and evil, opening roads (to other evils)" (Quran 17:32). "Say, 'Verily, my Lord has prohibited the shameful deeds, be it open or secret, sins and trespasses against the truth and reason"' (Quran 7:33). "Women impure are for men impure, and men impure are for women impure and women of purity are for men of purity, and men of purity are for women of purity" (Quran 24:26). Prophet Muhammad, has said in many place that adultery is one of the three major sins. However the most interesting story is that of a young man who went to the Prophet and asked for permission to fornicate because he could not control himself. The Prophet dealt with him with reasoning and asked him if he would approve of someone else having illegal sex with his mother, sister, daughter or wife. Each time the man said 'no'. Then the Prophet replied that the woman with whom you plan to have sex is also somebody's mother, sister, daughter or wife. The man understood and repented. The Prophet prayed for his forgiveness.

Adultery is a crime not against one person but against the whole of society. It is a violation of marital contract. 50% of all first time marriages in this country result in divorce in two years and the main reason for divorce is the adultery of one of the partners. Adultery, which includes both pre-marital and extra marital sex, is an epidemic in this society. Nobody seems to listen to the Bible which says frequently, "Thou shall not commit adultery." The Quranic approach is, "Do not approach adultery."

What does it mean that not only is illegal sex prohibited, but anything which leads to illegal sex is also illegal? These things include dating, free mixing of the sexes, provocative dress, nudity, obscenity and pornography. The dress code both for men and women is to protect them from temptation and desires by on lookers who may lose self-control and fall into sin. "Say to the believing men that they should lower their gaze and guard their modesty that will make for greater purity, and God is well acquainted with all they do. And say to the believing woman that they should lower their gaze, and guard their modesty" (Quran 24:30-31).

Concept of marriage in Islam

Islam recognizes the strong sexual urge and desire for reproduction. Thus Islam encourages marriage as a legal sexual means and as a shield from immorality (sex without commitment). In Islam the marriage of a man and woman is not just a financial and legal living arrangement, not even just for reproduction, but providing a total commitment to each other, a contract witnessed by God. Love and joy of companionship is a part of the commitment. A married couple assumes a new social status and responsibility for himself, his wife and his children and for the community. The Quran says, "Among His signs is that He created consorts for you from among yourself, so that you may find tranquility with them, and (He) set love and compassion between you. Verily in this are signs for people who reflect" (Quran 30:21).

Saying of Prophet Muhammad

"Marriage is my tradition. He who rejects my tradition is not of me" (Bukhari, Muslim).

"Marriage is half of religion. The other half is being Godfearing" (Tabarani, Hakim).

In Islam there is no fixed rule as to the age of marriage. It is becoming fashionable for young Muslim men not to marry until they have completed their education, have a job, or reached age 26-30 or more. Similarly young Muslim girls say they want to marry after age 24. Why? When asked, they say, "I am not ready for it." Not ready for what? Don't they have normal sexual desire? If the answer is yes, then they have only one of the two choices a) marry or b) postpone sex (abstinence until they marry). The Quran says, "Let those who find not the where withal for marriage, to keep them selves chaste till God find them the means from His Grace" (Quran 24:33).

The Prophet said, "Those of you who own the means should marry, otherwise should keep fasting for it curbs desires" (Ibn Massoud). The Western reason for delaying marriage is different than ours. When I suggested this to one of my sexually active young female patients, she bluntly said, "I don't want to sleep with the same guy every night."

Role of Muslim parents and Muslim organizations

I am not proposing that all Muslim youth be married at age 16. But I must say that youth should accept the biological instinct and make decisions which will help to develop a more satisfied life devoted to having a career rather than spending time in chasing (or dreaming about) the opposite sex. Parents should help their sons and daughters in selection of their mate using Islamic practice as a criteria and not race, color or wealth. They should encourage them to know each other in a supervised setting. The community organization has several roles to play.

To provide a platform for boys and girls to see and know each other without any intimacy.

Offer premarital educational courses to boys and girls over 18 separately to prepare them for the role of father and husband and of mother and wife. The father has a special role, mentioned by Prophet Muhammad , "One who is given by God, a child, he should give it a beautiful name, should give him or her education, and training and when he or she attains puberty, he should see to it that he or she is married. If the father does not arrange their marriage after puberty, and the boy or girl is involved in sin, the responsibility of that sin will lie with the father"

Marriage of Muslim girls in the USA

Marriage of Muslim girls in this country is becoming a problem. I was not surprised to read the letter of a Muslim father in a national magazine. He complained that in spite of his doing his best in teaching Islam to his children, his college-going daughter announced that she is going to marry a non-Muslim boy whom she met in college.

As a social scientist I am more interested in the analysis of the events. To be more specific, why would a Muslim girl prefer a non-Muslim boy over a Muslim? The following reasons come to mind:

She is opposed to and scared of arranged marriages. She should be told that not all arranged marriages are bad ones and that 50% of all love marriages end up in a divorce in this country. Arranged marriages can be successful if approved by both the boy and girl. That is, they need to be a party to the arrangement. I am myself opposed to the blind arranged marriage.

Muslim boys are not available to her to make a choice. While parents have no objection or cannot do anything about non-Muslim boys with whom she talks or socializes at school or college for forty hours a week, she is not allowed to talk to a Muslim boy in the mosque or in a social gathering. If she does, they frown at her or even accuse her of having a loss character. As a Muslim boy put it, "If I grow up knowing only non-Muslim girls, why do my parents expect me to marry a Muslim one?"

Some Muslim boys do not care for Muslim girls. On the pretext of missionary work after marriage, they get involved with non-Muslim girls because of their easy availability. Muslim parents who also live with an inferiority complex do not mind their son marrying an American girl of European background but they would object if he marries a Muslim girl of a different school of Islamic thought (Shiah/Sunni) or different tribe like Punjabi, Sunni, Pathan, Arab vs. non-Arab, Afro-American vs. immigrant, or different class, Syed vs. non-Syed. Both the parents and the body should be reminded that the criteria for choosing a spouse that was given by the Prophet Muhammad was not wealth nor color but Islamic piety.

She may have been told that early marriage, that is, age 18 or less, is taboo and that she should wait until the age of 23 or 25. According to statistics, 80% of American girls, while waiting to get settled in life and married, engage freely in sex with multiple boyfriends. However, this option is not available to Muslim girls. Every year nearly one million teenage girls in this country who think that they are not ready for marriage, get pregnant. By the age of 24 when a Muslim girl decides that she is ready for marriage, it may be too large for her. If she reviews the matrimonial ad section in Islamic magazines, she will quickly notice that the boys of the age group of 25 to 30 are looking for girls from 18 to 20 year age group. They may wrongfully assume that an older girl may not be a virgin.

She may also carry a wrong notion not proven scientifically that marrying healthy cousins may cause congenital deformities in her offspring.

Thus, unless these issues are addressed, many Muslim girls in the US may end up marrying a non-Muslim or remain unmarried.

Curriculum for Islamic Sex Education

Islamic sex education should be taught at home starting at an early age. Before giving education about anatomy and physiology, the belief in the Creator should be well established. As Dostoevsky put it, "Without God, everything is possible," meaning that the lack of belief or awareness of God gives an OK for wrongdoing.

A father should teach his son and a mother should teach her daughter. In the absence of a willing parent, the next best choice should be a Muslim male teacher (preferably a physician) for boys and a Muslim female teacher (preferably a physician) for a girl at the Islamic Sunday school.

The curriculum should be tailored according to age of the child and classes be held separately. Only pertinent answers to a question should be given. By this I mean that if a five year old asks how he or she got into mommie's stomach, there is no need to describe the whole act of intercourse. Similarly it is not necessary to tell a fourteen year old how to put on condoms. This might be taught in premarital class just before his or her marriage. A curriculum for sex ed should Include:

a. Sexual growth and development
* Time table for puberty
* Physical changes during puberty
* Need for family life

b. Physiology of reproductive system
* For girls- the organ, menstruation, premenstrual syndrome
* For boys- the organ, the sex drive

c. Conception, development of fetus and birth

d. Sexually transmitted disease (VD/AIDS) (emphasize the Islamic aspect)

e. Mental, emotional and social aspects of puberty

f. Social, moral and religious ethics

g. How to avoid peer pressure

Sex education after marriage

This essay is not intended to be a sex manual for married couples, although I may write such someday. I just wanted to remind the reader of a short verse in the Quran and then elaborate. The verse is, "They are your garments, and you are their garments" (Quran 2:187).

Husbands and wives are described as garments for each other. A garment is very close to our body, so they should be close to each other. A garment protects and shields our modesty, so they should do the same to each other. Garments are put on anytime we like, so should they be available to each other anytime. A garment adds to our beauty, so they should praise and beautify each other.

For husbands I should say that sex is an expression of love and one without the other is incomplete. One of your jobs is to educate your wife in matters of sex especially in your likes and dislikes and do not compare her to other women.

For wives I want to say that a man's sexual needs are different than a women's. Instead of being a passive recipient of sex, try to be an active partner. He is exposed to many temptations outside the home. Be available to please him and do not give him a reason to make a choice between you and hellfire.


Love without Boundaries: The Enmeshed Mother

Of all the toxic patterns of maternal behavior, perhaps the most emotionally confusingand one of the hardest to navigate and deal withis that of the enmeshed mother. If you were to ask if she loves her daughter, shed answer you with the utmost surety because, as she sees it, her love is boundless. In truth, it lacks any and all healthy boundaries. What makes it confusing for the daughter is that her mother does love her but this variety of love has a special kind of toxicity nonetheless. It lacks oxygen, for one thing. It is consuming, for another. And, finally, it ignores the fact that the daughter is an individual in her own right.

My friends all adored my mother and envied me. She was always there, anticipating my every needor so it seemed. When I was a teenager, she suggested I straighten my hair and get my nose fixed to maximize my beauty, as she put it. It made me feel flawedI thought my curls and my nose were finebut I did it anyway to make her happy. And besides, she was so good to me. She called me five times a day in college and when I didnt pick up, shed call my friends to find out where I was. She found me my first job and my first apartment which was three blocks from where I grew up. You see the pattern? I was drowning in love.

Love without boundaries

Culturally, we tend to think of love as being the opposite of a boundary or wall this is most evident in our tropes about romantic loveas in being swept off your feet or consumed by lovebut it trickles down to the mother-daughter relationship. Popular opinion aside, the psychological truth is that a sense of separateness, along with deep connection, are both necessary as the foundation for the kind of love that helps you thrive. An attuned mother teaches her child that I am me and you are you together with though we are separate and whole on our own, we are closely connected and nourished by our bond. This is not how the enmeshed mother sees it.

As I discuss in my latest book, Daughter Detox: Recovering from an Unloving Mother and Reclaiming Your Life, the enmeshed mother, despite all the apparent attention she lavishes on her daughter, ignores her emotional needs just as a dismissive mother does or one high in narcissistic traits. Like the narcissistic mother, the enmeshed mother sees her daughter as an extension of herself. But the effects of having an enmeshed mother, while similar in some ways, are importantly different in others.

The stage mother and other examples

The so-called stage mother is a variation on the theme of enmeshmenta woman who appears to sacrifice her own life and independence in order to garner her daughter fame, fortune, or both. But the sub-plot is quite different as biographies of Gypsy Rose Lee, Judy Garland, and many others attest: The enmeshed mothers ambitions are the driver, not the daughters needs or wants.

Of course, you dont need to become a movie star or celebrity to have an enmeshed mother, as Vivian Gornicks searing memoir, Fierce Attachments, makes clear. In fact, you can grow up relatively ordinary in a small American city in New England and have precisely the same experience:

My mother always saw me as the answer to her own thwarted ambitions. I was going to be important and admired as she never was. She pushed me hard and I became an attorney and, for the longest time, I thought that was what I wanted. But despite my success, I was miserable and after wrestling with it for a decade, I quit my law partnership at age 40, retrained, and became a school teacher. Make that a lowly teacher in my mothers eyes. No money and no prestige. It doesnt matter to her that Im happy, only that I disappointed her and threw it all away. To say that shes never forgiven me is an understatement. Worse, shes convinced anyone who will listen that Im crazy or stupid or both. I had no boundaries with her for years I do now.

It may take the daughter decades to realize how she&rsquos been affected even if she&rsquos chafed at her mother&rsquos interference from time to time. After all, how her mother behaves feels like love even if it sometimes drives her crazy.

Effects on enmeshment on the daughters development

Again, its important to realize that these daughters see their mothers as loving and also suffocating which makes for a lot of emotional confusion. Its only when the daughter finally realizes how shes being damaged by her mothers behavior that she begins to take steps to disentangle herself. Many of these mothers are single or widowed the daughter may be an only child, the only girl in the family, or the last-born separated by a number of years from her siblings.

What differentiates the enmeshed mother from the other types, other than the role-reversed mother, is that, deep down, she does love her child. With therapy and support, this is one of the few mother-daughter relationships that can be salvaged if the mother is willing to listen and accept and respect boundaries. Often, they are.

That said, these are the major effects on a daughters behavior and development:

  • Has trouble recognizing and articulating her own wants and needs
  • Has an impaired sense of self
  • Alternates between feeling guilty and feeling angry about her mother
  • May be drawn to relationships that are equally engulfing or controlling

Love isnt really love without the proper balance of separateness and connection, interdependence and independence.


6 Things You Can Learn From How A Man Treats His Mother

It doesn't matter whether he loves men or women — a man's relationship with his mother will create serious lines and crevices into his personality.

It's the first person he had a close and connected relationship with (in most cases) and is, in many circumstances, the person who shaped his values and outlook on the world.

When you meet a man, take heed of what sort of relationship he has with his mom. It's going to reveal quite a bit about who he is as a person or, at the very least, how he relates to his romantic partners.


1. Your conversations feel a little awkward.

Sexual tension is all about, well, tension. and tension can be awkward. While you may want to passionately go at it in one of the handicap stalls, you&rsquore instead standing by the water cooler asking when they plan to finish their TPS reports.

Those reports, clearly, are not what&rsquos really on your mind. It&rsquos undeniably awkward speaking about something banal when your mind is off imagining what the two of you could be doing together. Since it&rsquos distracting, you might not be focusing on whatever they&rsquore actually saying, which can cause you to miss a beat in the conversation or ask them to repeat themselves. That leads to a hell of an awkward conversation.

Still, you need to make sure that they, too, are acting awkwardly because they feel the sexual tension&mdashnot because they're uncomfortable.

"In the midst of what you think is sexual tension, be sure not to get blinded by your own excitement," Procida says. "When there's an awkward pause in the conversation, does she smile while nervously looking away, giggling as she fidgets with her hair? Do his cheeks get red? Or are her eyes trying to locate her phone so she can make a quick escape?"

"You need to ask yourself," Procida makes clear, "are you reading sexual tension in her body language, or are you seeing what your desires want you to see?"


Is this a normal mother-son relationship?

I am 38 years old, and my husband is 46. We have two sons, aged 10 and 14. My older son is a swimmer and golfer, younger plays soccer and learns karate. Neither have eating disorders, mental health issues or chronic health issues. I am a more forceful person than my husband, who is calmer, more patient, and more tolerant than I am. I am also more gregarious and spontaneous than he is, and more comfortable displaying physical affection.

My husband has been a participative father, and has always done more than his fair share of pitching in with caring for for them, ever since they were infants I have been the primary source of "authority" in their lives, and in charge of the academic and social areas of their growth. This was a mutual choice.

It seems to have resulted in the boys being closer to me than they are to him. Now that my older son is 14, this seems to be a cause for concern (for him) and a source of friction (for us).

My husband's take: at the age of 14, it is inappropriate for me to be hugging my son so often as it may lead to involuntary sexual arousal. It is unusual for me to know exactly what my son is thinking and how he will react to most situations as he should by now have a private life of his own (I will concede that there are things he doesn't tell me, but I'll also say that I know when he is hiding things). He should be starting to push boundaries and test limits, and indulge in risky behavior and he isn't doing that. this is abnormal, and perhaps due in part to my excessive level of involvement in his life. Overall, there is need for caution in this area.

My take: We have a friendly, respectful and healthy relationship. He has grown into a responsible and capable young man and I enjoy talking with him, whether that involves us both flopping in bed, slouching on a couch, or sitting at the dinner table. I believe there's no such thing as too much hugging or physical display of affection (he doesn't let me hug him as much as I used to anyway). I hug BOTH boys, and am constantly grabbing the younger one for a cuddle. And as for sexual arousal - I'm his MOM. Yes, it is natural, perhaps for a boy of this age to have a crush on his mom. The key word is natural.

We have always been open with they boys about their bodies, how babies are conceived and born, biological functions, etc. My older son does not sleep in my bed or sit on my lap. I prefer to spend time with my husband than with my son. There is no activity my older son and I do together by ourselves.

Is this a normal relationship? Do we have cause for concern?

Thanks Kage - good point. We have never entertained the notion that the human body is anything to be ashamed of, so both boys have frequently seen both of us naked at various points of time. As far as my older son goes, however, that has over the last few years become more of an accidental occurrence than the norm, and I haven't seen him naked in about two years. He locks his bathroom door when he changes. I knock before entering his room, as does my husband.

I get that an adolescent boy has sexual feelings and reactions he cannot control. My husband says he is trying to help avoid our son having, in future, possible relationships with older women that are dictated by his subconscious rather than by his free and objective will.

On my part, I feel that his concern is misplaced and - to some extent - a case of over-rationalization.

chappa, I think your husband is sensing something that is real. I have teenage boys, and I rumple their hair, and grab at them, and we have a close relationship, but I sense something else in your posts.

I don't think it's natural, or normal, for teenage boys to have "crushes" on their mothers. Are you saying, in this last post, that you do notice that he is sexually aroused by your contact?

I think maybe you should listen to your husband on this one, he's sensing what I am from your post - that your physical relationship with your son has a sexual edge to it.

No, I have never noticed any kind of sexual arousal. At this age, he is ok with hugging or being hugged, but it's more a sort of resigned, eyeball-rolling, "not AGAIN mom" tolerance of me than an enthusiastic embrace.

I think that most boys would be revolted at the thought of seeing their moms as sexual in any way. Ergo, in my first post, "As for sexual arousal - i'm his MOM. " About crushes. I was trying to say that psychology acknowledges that adolescent boys go through a period of idolizing mom and even secretly wanting to "marry" her, just as girls go through it with their dads. It's a commonly acknowledged phase that a lot of boys go through. I'm not implying that either of my sons has a crush on me. just that they are closer to me than they are to my husband.

Chappa, 4 year old boys do often say they're going to marry mom when they grow up, that's true.

Not 14 year old boys. It is not the norm for them to have sexual fantasies about their mothers.

From how you describe your husband, and because he's male and your son is male, I think you might want to take his word for it that he knows what he's seeing.

Stepdads often have kind of weird possessiveness feelings about their wife and her son, biodads don't usually feel that way and I sense he's seeing something.

This is what I think about it. let's say your son had an "accidental sexual" dream about you. He should wake up feeling grossed out (no offense to you - just as an understanding of boundaries). As an effect, I think he would want to keep his distance from you after that dream because he would be so alarmed that he had one about his MOM! He would be exhibiting good boundaries - comfortable to him.

However, if the boy is having sexual fantasies about you - it's not normal - fantasies can be consciously controlled while dreams can not be.

I think you two just have a close relationship is all. Now, I have never heard of a son having a crush on his mother, or at least the ones I know ever did.

My son is at the age where he IS pushing boundaries (15), and testing to see how true "mom & dad's threats are". VERY TRUE.

But my son discovered girls in the 5th grade, and mom was pushed to the side. I rarely gets hugs from him, only when he is telling me good night and even then it is a kiss on the forehead or cheek. Don't get me wrong, my son & I are close, but he has his boundaries and I respect them.

Just because your son is not pushing the limits does not mean he is abnormal. It just means he is not devious as others, nor does he want to be and NOTHING wrong with that. Not all boys have the same behavior.

"About crushes. I was trying to say that psychology acknowledges that adolescent boys go through a period of idolizing mom and even secretly wanting to "marry" her, just as girls go through it with their dads. It's a commonly acknowledged phase that a lot of boys go through."

NOT TRUE. You are greatly misinformed.

You will want to refer to classic psychology, the tenants of which you have clearly stretched -- (you are about ten years off) -- as a way to oddly defend your own viewpoint. It is not in adolescence when boys adore their mothers and want to "marry" them it is in toddlerhood, when little boys are about 31/2-5 yrs -- called the "Oedipal stage," when they fantasize about marrying Mom and see Dad as a competitor for Mom's attention and affection. The young boy vies for his mother's affection vis a vis his father -- however, a strong Dad shows the son that it is he (the Dad) who is the mother's authentic companion and the boy sees the Dad as more powerful than he is in healthy family relationships, the young boy comes to understand that the father wins out as Mother's true companion. A strong & involved father stands in the space next to the mother and the boy eventually relinquishes his desire for the mother, as he comes to see he cannot compete on this level with his father, thus successfully "resolving" the Oedipal complex. In relinquishing the attachment to the mother, the boy realizes the Dad's true position and comes to identify with the dad as a male person, rightly identifying with his father as a male and paving the way into a healthy latency (approx. 7-11 years) and onward to his teen years when gender identification shapes its final stages.

Classical theory considers the successful resolution of the Oedipus complex to be developmentally desirable, as it is the key to the development of identity and healthy gender roles later in life (gender identity shaped in the teen years). It is held in classic analytical circles that the unsuccessful resolution of the Oedipus complex could result in neurosis, paedophilia, and homosexuality -- thus it is important for the parent to be knowledgeable about the psychological development of the young child during his young years.

Classical theory also holds that "resolution" of the Oedipus complex takes place through identification with the parent of the same sex, i.e., the boy gives up his desire for the mother and begins to correctly identify with his Dad as gender-identification -- the opposite-sex parent is then "rediscovered" as the growing individual's eventual adult sexual identity, i.e., the "boy" becomes the "man."

The same pattern exists for girls, called the Electra complex, when the little girl wants to "marry' her dad, only to come to see that it is the mother who is the father's true grown-up companion, thus "resolving" this dilemma, correctly identifying with her mother as a female, laying the foundation for healthy development in the years ahead.


2. Mediaeval Sexual Behaviour From Sex In History by Gordon Rattray Taylor

RAPE and incest characterise the sexual life of the English in the first millennium of our era homosexuality and hysteria the years that followed. The Christian missionaries found a people who, especially in the Celtic parts of the country, maintained a free sexual morality. On them, it sought to impose a code of extreme severity, and it steadily increased the strictness of its demands.

The Church never succeeded in obtaining universal acceptance of its sexual regulations, but in time it became able to enforce sexual abstinence on a scale sufficient to produce a rich crop of mental disease. It is hardly too much to say that medieval Europe came to resemble a vast insane asylum. Most people have a notion that the Middle Ages were a period of considerable licence, and are aware that the religious houses were often hotbeds of sexuality, but there seems to be a general impression that this was a degenerate condition which appeared towards the end of the epoch.

If anything, the reverse is the case. In the earlier part of the Middle Ages what we chiefly find is frank sexuality, with which the Church at first battles in vain. Then, as the Church improves its system of control, we find a mounting toll of perversion and neurosis. For whenever society attempts to restrict expression of the sexual drive more severely than the human constitution will stand, one or more of three things must occur. Either men will defy the taboos, or they will turn to perverted forms of sex, or they will develop psycho-neurotic symptoms, such as psychologically-caused illness, delusions, hallucinations and hysterical manifestations of various kinds. The stronger personalities defy the taboos: the weaker ones turn to indirect forms of expression.

The free sexuality of the early Middle Ages can be traced in early court records, which list numerous sexual offences, from fornication and adultery to incest and homosexuality, and also in the complaints of moralists and Church dignitaries. Thus in the eighth century, Boniface exclaims that the English "utterly despise matrimony" and he is filled with shame because they "utterly refuse to have legitimate wives, and continue to live in lechery and adultery after the manner neighing horses and braying asses. " A century later Alcuin declares that

Three centuries after this John of Salisbury puts his views in verse:

The pages of Chaucer reveal that even in the fourteenth century there were still many-such as the Wife of Bath ready to enjoy sexual opportunity without inhibition and Chaucer Chauntecleer, we are told, served Venus "more for delyte than world to multiplye".

So far from accepting the Church's teaching on sex, most people held that continence was unhealthy. Doctors recommended a greater use of sexual intercourse to some of their patients and it was for this reason that the Church demanded and obtained, the right of passing upon all appointments the medical profession, a right which in Britain it formally retains to this day, though it does not exercise (The issue remains a live one, and Dr. Kinsey, in his report on male sexual behaviour, thought it worth his time to show statistically that persons who practise continence are more likely to have histories of instability than those who do not.)

Aphrodisiacs were much sought after - usually on principles of sympathetic magic. The root of the orchis, which was thought to resemble the testicles, as its popular name " dog-stones " shows, was eaten to induce fertility: though it was important to eat only that one of the stones which was hard, the soft one having a contrary effect. By the complementary arguments nuns used to eat the root of the lily, or the nauseous ' agnus castus ' to ensure chastity. The famed restorative powers of the mandrake were similarly derived from its phallic appearance. (69)

In the later period frank sexuality is also betrayed by the clothing. In the fourteenth century, for instance, women wore low-necked dresses, so tight round the hips as to reveal their sex, and laced their breasts so high that, as was said, "a candle could be stood upon them". (184) Men wore short coats, revealing their private parts, which were clearly outlined by a glove-like container known as a braguette, compared with which the codpiece was a modest object of attire. (95) In the time of Edward IV, the Commons petitioned that

Persons of the estate of a Lord or higher might naturally do as they pleased. Even the clergy shortened their frocks to their knees, and in the following century made them "so short that they did not cover the middle parts". (17)

Prostitution was extremely widespread, and at most periods was accepted as a natural accompaniment of society. The Early Church had been tolerant of prostitution, and Aquinas said (precisely as Lecky was to do six hundred years later) that prostitution was a necessary condition of social morality, just as a cesspool is necessary to a palace, if the whole palace is not to smell. The English were especially apt to prostitution, and Boniface commented:

The Crusades introduced to Europe the public bath, which became a convenient centre for assignations, though it was not until later that they became brothels as we now understand the term. Henry II issued regulations for the conduct of the "stews" (i.e. baths) of Southwark, which make it clear that they were houses of ill-Fame. (13) These regulations were confirmed by Edward III and Henry IV, and the stews remains until the seventeenth century. (254) Many of these stews belonged to the Bishopric of Winchester, the Bishop's palace being near by — hence the euphemism "Winchester geese" and at least one English cardinal purchased a brothel as an investment for church funds. Some jurists argued that the Church was entitled to ten per cent of the girls' earnings, but this view was not officially accepted however, just as today, the Church did not draw the line at receiving rent from property put to this use. (204)

On the Continent the open acceptance of prostitution went considerably further. Queen Joanna, of Avignon, established a town brothel, as better than having indiscriminate prostitution, and when Sigismond visited Constance, the local prostitutes were provided with new velvet robes at the corporation's expense in Ulm, the streets were illuminated by night whenever he and his court wished to visit the town lupanar . (154)

Yet with all this there went a kind of simplicity. Men and women could go naked, or nearly naked, through the street to the baths in a way which today would be impossible, except perhaps at a bathing resort, or for undergraduates living out of college at one of the major British universities. The daughters of the nobility thought it an honour to parade naked in front of Charles V. And it was by no means unheard-of for a young man to pass the night chastely with his beloved, as we hear from the romance, " Blonde of Oxford ".

One of the things which has done much to build up in our minds a false and idealized conception of the Middle Ages is the representation of King Arthur and his knights as paragon of chaste and gentlemanly behaviour. This has been done primarily by the Christian authorities, who rewrote the old British folk-tales so as to bring them in line with the approved morality of the Middle Ages, though the process was carried further by the romantics of the eighteenth century and by Victorian sentimentalism. The facts are very different. Gildas, as a Christian historian, is no doubt somewhat biased, but he describes the knights as "sanguinary, boastful, murderous, addicted to vice, adulterous and enemies of God", adding "Although they keep a large number of wives, they are fornicators and adulterers." The morals of the ladies are no stricter. At King Arthur's court, when a magic mantle is produced which can only be worn by a chaste woman, none of the ladies present is able to wear it.

When we examine these stories in their original form, we begin to see, not immorality as such, but a completely different system of sexual morality at odds with the Christian one: a system in which women were free to take lovers, both before and after marriage, and in which men were free to seduce all women of lower rank, while they might hope to win the favours of women of higher rank if they were sufficiently valiant. Chrestien de Troyes explains:

As Briffault comments, however, the first part of the rule does not seem to have been regarded so strictly as the poet suggests. Traill and Mann say, "To judge from contemporary poems and romances the first thought of every knight on finding a lady unprotected was to do her violence." Gawain, the pattern of knighthood and courtesy, raped Gran de Lis, in spite of her tears and screams, when she refused to sleep with him. The hero of Marie de France's Lai de Graelent does exactly the same to a lady he meets in a forest — but in this case she forgives him his ardour, for she recognizes that "he is courteous and well behaved, a good, generous and honourable knight". And as Malory recounts, when a knight entered the hall of King Arthur and carried away by force a weeping, screaming woman "the king was glad, for she made such a noise".

In Christianized versions of early folk-tales, the knight or hero is often offered the hand of the king's daughter in marriage if he performs the allotted task but in the original versions the question of marriage rarely arises. Thus in the Chanson de Doon de Nanteuil, the warriors are promised that if they "hit the enemy in the bowels, they may take their choice of the fairest ladies in the court". The knight who loves the chatelain of Couci exclaims simply: "Jesus, that I might hold her naked in my arms!" And this is precisely the reward which the ladies themselves frankly promise. In any case, marriage itself was often regarded as a temporary liaison, so that the reward of the hand of the king's daughter implies few obligations.

It is noticeable how, more often than not, it is the women who made the advances: Gawain, for one, is pestered by women and they are sometimes curtly refused. They make their proposition in the clearest terms:

It is a praiseworthy act to offer oneself to a valiant knight: Gawain praises the good taste of his own lady-love, Orgueilleuse, for having offered her favours to so valiant warrior as the Red Knight. In a Provencal romance, a husband reproaches his wife with her infidelity. She replies:

The husband is reduced to silence by the explanations and is filled with confusion at his unseemly interference. (23)

It must be understood that in thus ignoring the Christian code, the knights were not abandoning morality, but were simply continuing in the manner which had been traditional before the arrival of the Christian missionaries, and which continued to be traditional for many hundreds of years after. Our knowledge of the behaviour of the Celtic and Saxon tribes is limited partly by the fewness of the written records they produced, and still more by the systematic way in which the Church destroyed them and substituted its own purified and moralized redactions. However, we do know something about the Irish in the first few centuries of the Christian era, for they produced a considerable literature. It shows us a people strongly matriarchal and with few inhibitions about sexual matters. Virginity was not prized, and marriage was usually a trial marriage or a temporary arrangement. Queen Medb boasts to her husband that she always had a secret lover in addition to her official lover, before she was married. Sualdam marries Dechtin, the sister of King Conchobar, knowing her to be pregnant, and when Princess Findabair mentions to her mother that she rather fancies the messenger who has been sent from the opposing camp, the Queen replies:

In this pre-Christian era, even more notably than in the early Middle Ages, the running was made by the women. Their method of wooing was often most determined: Deirdre seizes Naoise by the ears, tells him that she is a young cow and wants him as her bull, and refuses to release him until he promises to elope with her. Nevertheless, polygamy was not uncommon, and many of the heroes are portrayed as having two or more wives. Marriage, even more so than in the days of chivalry, was a temporary affair: thus Fionn marries Sgathach with great pomp "for one year", and frequent change of partners was usual until quite late in the Middle Ages, a fact which makes Henry VIII's marital experiments more easily understandable. Dunham asserts that most of the Frankish kings died prematurely worn out, before the age of thirty.

Nudity was no cause for shame: not only were warriors normally naked, except for their accoutrements, but women also undressed freely: thus the Queen of Ulster and all the ladies of the Court, to the number of 610, came to meet Cuchulainn, naked above the waist, and raising their skirt "so as to expose their private parts", by which they showed how greatly they honoured him.

In such times, to be called a bastard was a mark of distinction, for the implication was that some especially valiant knight had slept with one's mother: this is why the bastard son of Clothwig, the founder of the Frankish kingdom, received a far larger share than his legitimate brothers when the kingdom was divided up after his father's death. William the Conqueror by no means resented the appellation "William the Bastard", as our history books usually fail to make clear. Indeed, it was almost obligatory for a hero to be a bastard, and bastardy was constantly imputed to Charlemagne, Charles Martel and others, as also to semi-legendary figures, such as King Arthur, Gawain, Roland, Conchobar and Cuchulainn. (21) This pride in bastardy is not wholly unknown in modern times: some twenty years ago, for instance, a British Prime Minister used to boast of his illegitimacy.

In circumstances such as these, the Church's first object was necessarily to establish the principle of lifelong monogamous marriage, without which its stricter regulations were practical meaningless. The Anglo-Saxon synod of 786 decreed

It was long before this attempt succeeded. The tenth-century ordinances of Howel the Good, for instance, allow seven years' trial marriage, and one year's trial marriage existed in Scotland up to the Reformation. (232), (240)

In this period marriage was still (as it had been in the Classical world) a private contract between two individuals - one for which the blessing of the Church was customarily sought, but not invalidated by its absence. Today we hardly remember that there was once a time when the Church did not claim the power to make a marriage.

It was not until the Counter-Reformation that the Church first ordained that a wedding must be conducted in the presence of a priest, and by this time England had left the Roman communion. Any man could marry any woman, within the laws of consanguinity, and provided neither was already married, by a simple declaration of intention. This process was known as spousals , and effected a valid marriage, even if performed without oath or witness. (191) This was clearly understood in Shakespeare's time, as we can tell from the scene in Twelfth Night , where Olivia asks the priest to say what has passed between Viola (supposedly a boy) and herself The priest replies, not that he has married them but that they have made

It was considered very desirable to have witnesses, in case of any future dispute, but their absence did not invalidate the marriage. It was usual to follow such spousals by going to church and saying a Bride Mass, and so it became the practice to perform the spousals at the church door, supported by one's friends, before entering for the Mass. As Chaucer's Wife of Bath tells us, "Husbondes at churche dore have I had five." It was only in the tenth century that the priest took to supervising the marriage at the door, and not until the sixteenth that it became obligatory to conduct the whole of the ceremony inside the church. (133) In the form of marriage used in England, the break between the two parts of the ceremony, the actual marriage in the presence of witnesses, and subsequent blessing of the marriage by God, can be clearly seen, but in the corresponding U.S. service the part after the break is now omitted.

The Church, it must be made clear, distinguished between an illegal marriage and an invalid marriage. To enter into spousals without a priest was illegal, and called for penalties but it was still a valid marriage. An illegal marriage might also lead to difficulties in the inheritance of property.

The form of spousals just described was known as spousals ' de praesenti '. It was also possible to perform spousals ' de futuro ', by promising to take someone as spouse at some future date: whence the present practice of announcing one's engagement. The legal age for marriage was fourteen in the case of males, twelve in the case of girls, but the Church performed marriages on children much younger, even on infants in arms. For instance, the youngest marriage in the Chester records is one between John Somerford, aged three, and Jane Brerton, aged two the point of these early marriages was frequently to prevent an estate reverting to the crown under feudal law. For the marriage of those under seven, parental consent was necessary. But all such marriages could be declared void when the legal age was reached, provided copulation had not taken place. Conversely, copulation was also what converted spousals, technically, to marriage, and penalties were imposed if it occurred before church blessing had been given. (172) (This point was controversial, as I shall explain later.)

By way of relief let me try to put a little flesh on these dry bones of canon law by describing the marriage ceremony as it may actually have occurred towards the end of the Middle Ages, and in the early days of the Reformation.

The bridal procession would set out from the house of the brides father: first, the bride, accompanied perhaps by two pages, bearing a branch of rosemary, "gilded very fair" in a vase and hung about with silken ribbons. Next would come the musicians, fiddling and blowing, then a group of maidens. These would all be dressed in the same way as the bride, in order to confuse any demons, who might have been attracted by the odour of contamination, as to who was actually the bride and if the bride happened to be called Mary they would all be in blue — the deep blue in which the Virgin is usually shown as being clad in medieval paintings. In Reformation times some of the bridesmaids would be carrying great bride cakes, others garlands of wheat finely gilded, or wheat sheaves on their heads — symbols of fertility and memories of Ceres — and they would throw gilded wheat grains over the couple. (137) Thus it is in honour of a pagan deity that today trees are felled in Sweden or Canada, and converted into coloured paper discs that we may throw them at weddings and miscall them by the Italian name for a sweetmeat, ' confetto '.

Last would come the bride's family. In Saxon times, the father would sell his daughter, for at that time women were valued as a source of labour, and the father was felt to suffer a loss. But the Crusades, and other wars, had caused women greatly to exceed men in number, and now he only comes "to give her away". The priest, appearing, asks if the man will take the bride to be his wedded wife — the ' wed ' being the bride price — and he promises. The bride, promising in almost the same words as are used in England today, takes a similar oath, but adds the promise to be "bonere and buxum in Bed and at Boorde, if Holy Chyrche will it ordeyne". The bride and groom drink the wine and eat the sops — the Hereford missal attached special importance to this act, which was still practised in Shakespeare's time, as we know from the reference in the " Taming of the Shrew ". (233) After the Bride Mass has been said, the priest kisses the groom, who transfers the benediction to his bride by kissing her. The married couple, followed their friends, might then play follow-my-leader all round the church and end by sitting down to the wedding feast in the body of the church, which would be, of course, free from obstruction in the form of pews. The body of the church was always felt to belong to the local people, only the parts about the choir and altar being reserved to the clergy, a distinction which is easily perceived in any great cathedral, such as Salisbury.

At nightfall there would be a banquet and dancing at the house of the bride's father, and bride and groom might remain there a week or more before going to their own home.

But the ecclesiastical precautions are not yet finished. The married couple retire with their friends, who help them undress and help them into bed, where they sit wearing their dressings gowns. Next comes the ceremony of throwing the stocking. Two of the groom's friends sit on one edge of the bed, two of the bride's maids on the other each man then throws one of the groom's stockings over his shoulder, hoping to hit the bride then each girl throws one of the bride's stockings, in an attempt to hit the bridegroom. If the stocking hits, the thrower is likely to marry before the year is out. Now appears the priest, and the benediction posset. This drunk, the priest blesses the bed, sprinkling holy water on the couple and censing the room, to dispel the demons who will undoubtedly be attracted by the performance of the sexual act which is presumably to follow though not, if the couple are devout, until the three Tobias-nights have passed. Finally, the curtains of the bed are drawn and the guests withdraw, leaving the newly married couple to their own devices. (137)

In early feudal times, the marriage day might have ended differently, with the feudal lord deflowering the new bride, before releasing her to her husband. The existence of this ' jus primae noctis , also known in France as " jus cunni ", in England as " marchette ", in Piedmont as " cazzagio ", has been much disputed, but Ducange has provided detailed evidence and the best authorities now accept that it existed (190) cases are even known where monks, being at the same time feudal lords, held this right — for instance the monks of St. Thiodard enjoyed this right over the inhabitants of Mount Auriol. (71) Analogous practices are found in many other societies: for instance, in the so-called Nasamonian custom all the wedding guests copulate with the bride. (23) The psychological purpose of the custom, derived from fertility-religion, is said to be the diversion from the husband of the resentment which a woman generally feels for the man who deprives her of her virginity. Whether or not this is an adequate explanation, it would certainly be misleading to regard the ' jus cunni ' simply as the cruel and wilful exercise of feudal power, even if that is what it finally became. It is chiefly of interest as evidence of the survival of magical beliefs.

The picture of normal sexual behaviour which I have been trying to sketch so far cannot, unfortunately, be left to stand on its own. Against it must be put a very different one, if an accurate impression of medieval sexuality is to be presented — a picture of the perversion and neurosis which emerged wherever the Church succeeded in establishing its moral codes. About the beginning of the twelfth century, soon after the Hildebrandine reforms and the extension of celibacy from the cloister to ministers, a perceptible change comes over the character of the Middle Ages. We begin to find references to sodomy, to flagellation, to sexual fantasies, while false Christs appear and heresy springs up all over Europe as tens of thousands begin to question the doctrine of the Church.

Perhaps the most remarkable phenomenon is the development of extensive fantasying about the idea of a really satisfactory sexual congress. These fantasies soon took the specific form of claiming that one was visited in the night by a supernatural being, known as an Incubus (or, in the case of men, a Succubus). In his book " On the Nightmare ", Ernest Jones has traced the relation of these fantasies, and of nightmares generally, to sexual repression. Medieval writers evidently recognised the connection also. Chaucer satirically points out that Incubi have become much less heard of since the 'limitours', or wandering friars, appeared on the scene — for it was notorious that these friars took their pleasure of women while their husbands were absent. (In America, today, an exactly similar reputation is conventionally attached to travelling salesmen.)

Writers noted that widows and virgins were more frequently troubled with Incubi than were married women, and nuns most of all: as it was put at the time, "Incubi infest cloisters". The more enlightened medical men were certainly aware that Incubi were delusions: du Laurens, for instance, recounts how he was able to bring two women who had complained of the attention of Incubi to admit that the whole thing was a wish-fantasy. (257) The Church, of course, accepted their real existence and asserted that they were devils in human shape, and this belief persisted in Catholic countries long after the end of the Middle Ages. Just as today psychologists note that patients often do not wish to give up their neurotic illusions, so also in this case. Thus Goerres describes how he was sent to exorcize a girl of twenty who had-been pursued by an Incubus.

At the same time, it seems possible that, at least towards the end of the period, people sometimes deliberately made use of the belief in the Incubus as a convenient excuse. The sceptical Scot certainly thought so. In his " Discoverie of Witchraft ", under the heading of

he tells how once an Incubus came to a lady's bedside and made "hot loove unto hir". The lady, being offended, cried out loudly, and the company came and found the Incubus hiding under her bed in the likeness of Bishop Sylvanus.

Scot, writing in the sixteenth century, sees the psychological origin of these fantasies even more clearly than Chaucer.

— a diagnosis which antedates by three centuries Freud's teaching that sexual repression causes depression.

Not infrequently these delusions were followed by phantom pregnancies. Thus the Inquisitors, Sprenger and Kramer, write:

The strict sexual taboos imposed by the Church created widespread fears of impotence, as we can tell from the countless Church edicts forbidding attempts to restore potency by magical means, from the demand for restoratives, and from the fact that witches were constantly accused of blighting potency, as we shall later see in more detail. Such potency difficulties are precisely what one would expect to find in a period when the sexual act was represented as a mortal sin.

The marked increase in homosexuality which occurred in the twelfth century is commonly attributed to the Norman invasion, but since homosexuality is not, in fact, a contagious disease some further explanation is called for. It certainly affected court circles: for instance it was because of his homosexuality that King Rufus was refused burial in consecrated ground. Bloch has denied that Edward II was a homosexual, despite his love for Piers Gaveston, but it seems likely that he was, since Higden says that he was

But it was above all the failing of the priesthood, as one can tell from the numerous church edicts on the subject: for instance in 1102 we find a Church council specifying that priests shall be "degraded for sodomy, and anathematised for Obstinate sodomy". This new preoccupation with the subject is also betrayed by the constant accusations of buggery levelled at the heretic sects.

Naturally, persons vowed to total celibacy exhibit the earmarks of sexual repression more vividly than laymen: not only inversion but perversion and hysterical symptoms are found in the monasteries and cloisters in very marked forms, as also among the practising clergy as soon as the rule of celibacy was enforced. Perhaps it is not generally realized how strongly the clergy opposed the imposition of priestly celibacy. It is true that it was an age of violence — an age in which, for instances Archembald, Bishop of Sens, taking a fancy to the abbey of St. Peter, could simply evict the monks and install himself, establishing his harem in the refectory-but, even so, the scale of the clerical revolt against celibacy was remarkable. Monks repeatedly murdered their abbots for preaching better behaviour to them priests left their benefices to their sons, as if they were private property, openly defying the rule. In 925, for instance, we find the Council of Spalato forbidding priests to marry for a second time, having apparently become resigned to first marriages. In 1061 these protests culminated in an organized rebellion: a number of Lombard bishops and Roman nobles, claiming that it was no sin for a priest to marry, elected Cadalus, Bishop of Parma, as Antipope, under the title Honorius II. Honorius marched on Rome and captured it, but two years later the defection of Hanno of Cologne, for complex political reasons, caused the revolt to fail.

The repeated failure of the Church to impose a life of celibacy on the clergy, and the extent to which the clergy defied its efforts by marriage, fornication and turning to homosexuality, have been recounted in a degree of detail which is unlikely ever to be surpassed by H. C. Lea in his " History of Sacerdotal Celibacy ". He relates how, as priestly marriage was made increasingly difficult, priests were driven to content themselves with simple fornication — to the point where, in Germany, the word Pfaffenkind (parson's child) was used as a synonym for bastard. It was said that in many towns the number of bastards exceeded the number of those born in wedlock, and the claim does not seem incredible if one judges from such examples as that of Henry III, Bishop of Liege, who was known to have sixty five natural children. So serious did the situation become that in many parishes — at least in Spain and in Switzerland — the parishioners insisted that the priest must have a concubine as a measure of protection for their wives.

More sinister was the danger of incest, which was deemed sufficiently real for the Papal Legate in France, Cardinal Guala, to rule, in 1208, that mothers and other relatives must not live in the house of clerics, a regulation repeated in many subsequent orders up to the end of the fourteenth century. In general, May has noted that in the court records of the period, priests outnumber laymen, sometimes by as much as fifty to one. This was not because the Church was especially punctilious in prosecuting clerics: quite the contrary. It was frequently declared that clerical sins should be overlooked unless they became a public scandal, exceptionally light penalties were imposed, and frequent dispensations and absolutions were granted by the Curia. (154)

That the clergy should break the rule of celibacy is no doubt understandable: what is more dreadful is that they were often prepared to use their supposed power of granting or with holding absolution for sin as a weapon to force a woman's compliance — and what a weapon that was in an age when many believed that they would roast in hell without absolution! This frightful crime was, however, treated by the ecclesiastical courts with the greatest lenience, in line with their policy of treating fornication as a milder offence than concubinage, and absolution for it could be purchased for as little as 36 gros tournois. As an example of the fantastic lenience of such courts we may take the case of Valdelamar, tried at Toledo in 1535 for seducing two women and refusing absolution to a third unless she slept with him — and also accused of theft, blasphemy, cheating with bulls of indulgence, charging for absolution and frequenting brothels. His whole sentence was to be fined two ducats and condemned to thirty days' seclusion in church, before being free, as Lea puts it, to resume his flagitious career.

It was to reduce the incidence of such crimes that the confessional box was evolved. The Council of Valencia ordered it to be used in 1565, and in 1614 it was prescribed for all churches, though 150 years later the decree was still being ignored in many places. Unfortunately this invention created another evil: salacious laymen used to enter the box in order in hear confessions. This was regarded as a serious matter by the Church only if, at the end of the confession, they gave absolution: This amounted to usurping the prerogative of a priest and the penalty was being burnt alive. Theology also dominated consideration of sacerdotal offences: the Judges were more interested in discovering whether the attempt at seduction had been made before or after granting absolution than in protecting the women. Thus it was argued that to give a woman a love letter in the confessional was only "solicitation" (as the offence came to be called) if it was intended that she should read it on the spot, before being absolved. Once the question of intention had been introduced the casuists were able to confuse the issue still further: it became possible to argue that a conditional statement, such as "If I were not a priest, I should like to seduce you", was innocuous. (154)

Confession had other abuses: for instance, requiring a man who confessed to fornication to name his partner, so that the priest might discover where best to apply his own efforts — a thing which was not banned until 1714. There is also evidence that confessors would talk at length with young nuns on sexual matters, discussing every detail of the sexual act, ostensibly to warn them, actually to arouse their desires, but it would take us too far from the subjects and require too many pages, to record all the ingenuities of priestly lust.

The influence of the clergy can best be summed up by the comment made by Cardinal Hugo, when Innocent IV left Lyons after a visit of eight years' duration. In a speech of farewell to the citizens, he said:

The bad example set by the clergy, as this story hints, was not confined to those of lower rank and in point of fact the Vicar of Christ himself descended again and again to the utmost licence. Sergius III contrived, with the aid of his vicious mother, that his bastard should become Pope after him. The notorious John XII (deposed 963) turned St. John Lateran into a brothel: at his trial he was accused of sacrilege, simony, perjury, murder, adultery and incest. Leo VIII, while still a layman, replaced him: he died stricken by paralysis in the act of adultery. Benedict IX, elected Pope at the age of ten, grew up

While the popes were resident in Avignon,

Balthasar Cossa, elected Pope to end the Great Schism, confessed before the Council of Constance to "notorious incest, adultery, defilement, homicide and atheism". Earlier, when Chamberlain to Boniface IX, he had kept his brother's wife as mistress: Promoted to Cardinal as a result, he was sent to Bologna

For those who were enclosed in monastic orders, the opportunities of satisfying sexual appetites were even more limited, and especially, perhaps, for women, who could less easily take the initiative in such matters. Hence, while the records show plenty of cases of nuns, and even abbesses becoming pregnant or being involved in scandal, (43) we also find the sexual impulse emerging in the form of hysterical manifestations — using the term hysteria in the strict medical sense. It has long been recognized that people can (without conscious intention) induce in themselves various forms of illness and defects of function at the behest of an unconscious or repressed need. Thus a man who has seen a particularly terrifying sight may develop blindness, and this blindness will disappear as suddenly as it came, when the underlying anxiety has been dissipated. In a similar way, people sometimes become ill in order to escape from situations which they find intolerable — and the illness is quite genuine. Such hysterical seizures usually bear a close relationship to the unconscious fantasy: in particular, women sometimes exhibit convulsive bodily movements, or become rigid, with the body arched so that the pudenda are thrust forward as in coitus — the so-called ' arc-en-cercle ' position.

Throughout the Middle Ages, and especially in nunneries, we find epidemics of such convulsions. A particularly clear-cut case is that investigated by the great German doctor de Weier (1515-76), one of the first people to explore such supposed cases of diabolic possession clinically and objectively. He reports them in his great work " De Praestigiis Daemonum ", a model of scientific detachment. He was one of the members of an investigating committee sent in 1565 to enquire into the case of "possession" occurring among the nuns of the convent of Nazareth at Cologne. De Weier noted that the convulsions exhibited several features betraying their erotic origin: during the attacks, he noted, the nuns would lie on their backs with closed eyes and their abdomens elevated in arc-en-cercle . After the convulsions had passed, his notes say, they

The epidemic had started when a young girl who lived in the nunnery began to suffer from the hallucination that she was being visited every night by her lover. Nuns who were put to guard her became frightened by her convulsive movements and began to exhibit them also. Soon the epidemic spread to the entire group. (25)

Upon investigation, the committee discovered that some of the neighbouring youths had been climbing into the nunnery every night to enjoy an affair with nuns of their acquaintance. It was when this had been discovered and stopped that the convulsions developed. De Weier also studied similar phenomena in other nunneries and an orphanage, as he recounts in his Fourth Book. (256) Maury has collected a number of such cases in his " Histoire d'Astrologie et Magie ".

Erotic convulsions seem frequently to be induced when a hysteric loves a particular individual and the love is withdrawn or is not returned. In the celebrated case of Loudun (1634) which Aldous Huxley has recently popularized, the nun concerned, Jeanne des Anges, was enamoured of the Cure Grandier: as a move towards coming to know him better she invited him to become the confessor of the small convent of which she was abbess. He refused. She then developed a prolonged series of convulsions, accusing him of having bewitched her — and, psychologically, he was of course the responsible, though innocent, party. The sexual character of her hysteria is patent. Thus she claimed to have become possessed by seven devils, each of which she named and described. The first, Asmodeus, filled her head, she said, with sexual fantasies. The fourth, Isaacaron, aroused her passion by more direct methods, and this, she explained, was the cause of the violent bodily movements — a frank explanation which anticipates that of Freud by almost 300 years. Her convulsions culminated in a phantom pregnancy. The Cure was burnt alive as a sorcerer the nun became an object of veneration, was presented to the queen and performed several miracles.

Many other cases can be found. A quarter of a century earlier a young girl called Madeleine de Mandol, of La Baume, accused a local priest, Gaufridi, of seducing and bewitching her, and soon she was joined in these accusations by Louise Capeau. Both exhibited convulsions with the characteristic rigidities. Once six men stood on the arched body of Madeleine de Mandol, just as later men were to stand on the body of Jeanne des Anges.

Only ten years after the Loudun incident, while Jeanne was still performing tours of France, the nuns of Louviers accused two priests, one of them already dead, of bewitching them, and we are told that in their convulsions they indulged in "foul languages", that is, they gave voice to the sexual desires in their unconscious minds, which were indeed the cause of the convulsions. Once again, the priests were burned, the dead one being exhumed for the purpose.

Even a century later, in the comparatively enlightened year of 1731, we find the story repeated almost without change. Catherine Cadiere of Toulon accused her confessor, Fr. Giraud, of seduction and magic. Levi says that she was a stigmatized ascetic and suffered

Apart from these grossly erotic manifestations, it is difficult to avoid detecting the influence of erotic feeling in the language and behaviour of many Christian mystics. Catholic authorities attempt to explain this eroticism by saying that the language of romantic poetry had become common currency, and was borrowed by the clergy. (52) And certainly the use of erotic images in an attempt to convey a transcendental experience is quite understandable — as understandable, say, as the use of the image of thirst — even if one adds that one can hardly employ the image without having at some time experienced the reality to which it corresponds. But much of this imagery seems to go so far beyond the mere expression of longing, and to dwell so fondly on physical detail, that it is difficult to resist the suspicion that in many cases the writers were projecting on to the deity an earthly love which had been deprived of its natural object, and colouring very human fantasies with a veneer of mysticism.

Mechthild of Magdeburg (1210-88) felt herself sick from passionate love for the Saviour, and advised

that He might embrace them. Her " Dialogue between Love and the Soul " is studded with passages such as:

If the writer was describing a mystic experience, there can be little doubt that this experience was created by the damming up of erotic feeling. We can readily see how the blocking of the normal outlet produces the religious erotomania by a case such as that of Margaretha of Ypern (1216-37) who, after the cessation of her mania for men believed herself engaged to Jesus. Similarly, Christine Ebner (1277-1356), after two years of masochistic self torture, was seized by sensual visions in which she felt herself embraced by Jesus and to have conceived a child by Him. (81)

Fosbroke points out that the medieval ceremony for the consecration of nuns was in several respects like a wedding A ring was put on the candidate's finger and a wedding crown on her head. one of the responses which she had to make ran:

After the kiss of peace had been bestowed, she was urged to

It may be added that the Church received the sum of money which had been put aside by the parents for their daughter's dowry if and when she married.

Is it remarkable to learn that nuns filled with such thoughts frequently developed phantom pregnancies?

The official explanation seems hardly adequate to explain the ardent longing of La Bonne Armelle and St. Elizabeth to mother the infant Jesus or the action of Veronica Giuliani beatified by Pius II, who, in memory of the lamb of God, took a real lamb to bed with her, kissing it and suckling it on her breasts. The desperate frustration of natural instincts is also shown by such incidents as that of St. Catherine of Genoa, who often suffered from such internal fires that, to cool herself, she lay upon the ground, saying "Love, love, I can do no more". In doing this she felt a peculiar inclination for her confessor. (86) Again, it seems rather naive to absolve of erotic feeling the nun Blaubekin, who became obsessed by the thought of what had happened to the part of Jesus's body removed by circumcision. (In point of fact, she need not have distressed herself: no fewer than twelve churches possess, among their sacred relics, the prepuce of Jesus Christ — notably St. John Lateran, Coulombs, Charroux, Hildesheim, Puy-en-Velay and Antwerp, the last imported at great expense by Godefroy de Bouillon in an attempt to discourage the worship of Priapus. (110), (165) There is also an equal number of umbilici. (71))

Psychoanalysts have shown how a sense of sexual guilt leads to the in turning of Thanatos, in an attempt to relieve the guilt by continual self punishment, while flagellation, specifically, which is a kind of assault, may be a substitute for sexual intercourse. It is therefore in no way surprising to find that the celibates often indulged in prodigies of masochism, and especially in flagellation, and we find cases of confessors making use of their power of absolution to force their female parishioners to beat them.

The early Christian fathers delighted in such simple self tortures as hair shirts, and failing to wash. Others proceeded to more desperate extremes, such as Ammonius who tortured his body with a red-hot iron until it was covered with burns. In the Middle Ages, these excesses became ever more frantic. Christine of St. Trond (1150-1224) laid herself in a hot oven, fastened herself on a wheel, had herself racked, and hung on the gallows beside a corpse not content with this, she had herself partly buried in a grave. Fielding observes:

Christine Ebner, who as noted earlier imagined herself to have conceived a child by Jesus after being embraced by Him, cut a cross of skin over the region of her heart and tore it of, sufficiently demonstrating the linkage of sexual desire and masochism. (81)

It would not be necessary to dwell on these depressing details if it were not for the fact that the Church erected these appalling practices into a virtue, often canonizing those who practised them, as in the case of St. Margaret Marie Alacoque, St. Rose of Lima and St. Mary Magdalene dei Pazzi. It is true that her superiors forbade the Alacoque to practise excessive austerities, but she ingeniously found others. She sought out rotten fruit and dusty bread to eat. Like many mystics she suffered from a lifelong thirst, but decided to allow herself no drink from Thursday to Sunday, and when she did drink, preferred water in which laundry had been washed She, too, fell to the ground in convulsions and had the illusion that the devil was buffeting her. she said incessantly "ou souffrir, ou mourir", either suffer or die. Not content with miraculously caused infirmities, rather like Christine Ebner, she cut the name of Jesus on her chest with a knife, and because the scars did not last long enough, burnt them in with a candle. Her respectful biographer, who has been at pains to emphasize her remarkable holiness and splendid example, here cautions his readers against imitating "this astonishing, not to say imprudent operation". (99) She was Canonized in 1920.

The stories of these masochistic nuns indeed show a dreary similarity. St. Rose ate nothing but a mixture of sheep's gall, bitter herbs and ashes. (214) The Pazzi, like the Alacoque, vowed herself to chastity at an incredibly early age (four, it is said). Like St. Catherine, she ran about in a frenzy, calling "Love, Love". After a prolonged rapture in 1585, she had hallucinations of being mauled and pushed about. She would run into the garden and roll on thorns, then return to the convent and whip herself. She would have herself tied to a post and demand to be insulted, or drop hot wax on her skin. Like the Alacoque, she was thought a suitable person to put in charge of the novices, but whereas the latter had one of the novices dismissed for rivalling her in holiness, the Pazzi made one stand on her mouth and whip her. (65) She was canonized in 1671.

It is in the eleventh century that one first finds the Franciscans extolling self flagellation as a penance and it is at the end of the same century, when the practice of confession became generally established, that one finds confessors also imposing sentences of whipping. At first the priests used to do the whipping themselves, the penitents usually being entirely nude, and the penance being inflicted in a place attached to the church. To judge from illustrations, the victims accepted the penance in just the resigned spirit in which today people accept the verdict of a doctor and penitents, stripped naked, awaited their turn for treatment as placidly as patients at a doctor's clinic. In the twelfth century St. Dominic made the practice widely known, and established a scale of equivalents, 1,000 lashes being considered equivalent to the reciting of ten penitential psalms. But the danger of priests indulging their sadistic instincts soon became evident, and other methods were evolved, especially public processions of flagellants, nude from the waist up.

There were those who sensed the perverted nature of this development: France refused to accept the practice and the Polish king imposed penalties on those who adopted it. But the device of organizing groups of Flagellants proved unwise, for in groups a strange contagion occurs. Perhaps the fact of being with others who are giving- rein to powerful instincts normally held in check, gives a man a sense of being licensed by public opinion to break the normal rules, as seems to occur, for instance, in lynchings, looting and other mob phenomena. Whatever the explanation, in the middle of the thirteenth century Thanatos burst loose in the populace at large, but not, as in a lynching, directed outward upon others: this time, it was directed inward in a masochistic sense. The contagion started in North Italy in 1259 everywhere people formed themselves into groups for the purpose of self-flagellation.

Even children of five years old took part. Magistrates, appalled, expelled them from their cities, but to no effect. Ultimately the movement died down, only to flare up again in 1262 and again in 1296. In the following century, stimulated by the fears aroused by repeated earthquakes this Flagellomania reappeared in 1334. Finally, the culminating horror of the Black Death, which started in 1348, caused an outbreak far exceeding any of the foregoing in scale. Beset by the fear of death and the evidence of God's displeasure whole populations indulged in a desperate frenzy of self maceration. Processions of men and women, nobles and commoners, priests and monks, numbering hundreds and sometimes thousands, spread over Austria, Bohemia, Germany, Switzerland, and the Rhine province, to the Netherlands and even to England. (77) The movement continued all through 1348 and 1349, while the Plague raged, killing in many cases seven in every ten of the population. These flagellants, like pilgrims, moved from town to town and in each town they sought out the shrine of the most powerful saint, hoping to procure his help. They began to form themselves into a coherent organization, under the title the Brethren of the Cross. The idea emerged that one could dispense with the services of the Church in attaining salvation. Thirty-three and a half days of scourging, recalling Christ's thirty three years of life, were the passport to salvation. The Pope, instantly alarmed, on October 20 issued a Bull accusing them of forming a new sect without permission, condemning them as devilish, and calling upon bishops and inquisitors to stamp out the heresy. Under this pressure, the movement broke up or went underground, only to burst out again two years later, and yet again three years after that. This time the sect was destroyed by fire and sword. Except for sporadic outbreaks in Italy, Holland and Thuringia in the early fifteenth century, we hear no more of Flagellomania. That is, we hear no more of a mass popular movement: we find plenty of processions of flagellants on specific occasions under control of the Church.

By giving official sanction to actions which in normal people are deeply repressed or held under control, the Church contrived that the tendencies to conformity which normally act as a civilizing force should be put at the service of the dark and uncivilised desires of the unconscious. Here, as so often in other fields, the Church acted in just the way calculated to release the very forces it was officially trying to repress — so easily do our unconscious desires mould our conscious action to their purpose. It was an attempt which recoiled on the Church and was therefore dropped: the Church's next experiment in this field was to direct the death dealing forces outwards in the form of witch persecutions, as I shall attempt to show in another chapter.

If a reasonable brevity were no object, this account of medieval sexuality could be greatly extended. I have considered only general trends: a full account would have to consider the differences between different classes and different regions, and would have to study the demoralizing effect of social disorganization such as occurred in the wake of wars and pestilence. It would have to describe the violence and lechery of the Crusades, and the wave of frantic debauchery which followed in the wake of the Black Death, when it was held that to commit incest on the altar was the only certain prophylactic against infection. (184) But for such matters I have no space.

The frank sexuality of the early Celts was associated with the worship of fertility religions when the Christian missionaries imposed a new morality, many of the old ceremonies survived and provided occasions for outbursts of sexuality in defiance of Church law. Best known of these were the May Games and the Christmas mumming. The May Games, which celebrated the growing of the crops, took place round the maypole, and these we know survived until the Puritans abolished them in the seventeenth century. Chaucer speaks of the "great shaft of Cornhill" from which the church of St. Andrew Undershaft takes its name. Similarly the Christmas mumming coinciding with the middle of the winter solstice, derived from the Roman Saturnalia. Indeed, actual phallic worship continued at first openly, later secretly, throughout the Middle Ages, and Early Church statutes often inveigh against it. A full account of medieval sexuality must also consider certain religious sects and minority groups which developed distinctive attitudes to sex. But all these are subjects of such interest and importance that they deserve chapters to themselves and I shall discuss them at a later point.

I opened the chapter by suggesting that the Middle Ages resembled a vast insane asylum. The phrase was not intended as a hyperbole. John Custance, a manic depressive who has been certified on a number of occasions, has recorded his feelings and sensations: a few extracts will serve to establish the resemblance. In the manic phase, he says, he experience a "heightened sense of reality" which Canon Grensted has compared with the experience of St. Teresa. He felt a sense of love in which there was no repugnance for the loathsome He strives to describe his sense of intenser life, of being at peace of love with the whole universe. There was a sense of revelation he saw visions continually and could not distinguish them from dreams. With this went an insensitivity to pain and a release of sexual tension: he had hallucinations of male and female sex organs copulating in mid-air. He felt, also, that he might follow the promptings of the spirit with impunity, however unorthodox he felt an impulse to throw off all his clothes. He often saw aureoles round people's heads.

Strangest feature of all, so far from feeling any repugnance at the loathsome, he felt attracted by it. He explains how his sense of the nearness of God was in some way associated in his mind with the idea of dirt, so that dwelling on the idea of dirty and disgusting things, such as spittle or faeces, seemed to emphasize and enhance his nearness to God. This is particularly striking, since many Christian ecstatics have made precisely the same observation. The Alacoque, for instance dwelt on these ideas with an irresistible compulsion. In her diaries she describes how once, when she wished to clean up the vomit of a sick patient, she "could not resist" doing so with her tongue, an action which caused her so much pleasure that she wished she could do the same every day. Mme. Guyon the seventeenth century quietist, describes an almost exact similar experience. (149) St. John of the Cross licked out the sores of lepers, which he described as "pleasurable". St. Rose, more ambitiously, drank off a bowl of human blood, newly drawn from a diseased patient. (214)

But whereas the performers of these hardy acts were canonized, Custance, undergoing exactly similar experiences, in modern times, was certified.

Before the mystic reaches his sense of unity with God, and the release of sexual tension, he passes through two dreadful phases which have been called the "dryness" and the "dark night of the soul". Custance underwent experiences which seem identical with these in his depressive phase. He felt, he says, that he had sold his soul to the devil. He was hypnotized by an absolutely horrifying vision of ever increasing pain — remarkably similar to the conviction of endless torture in hell described so vividly by Calvinists. Furthermore, this depressive phase developed in two stages. The first was a state of deep depression about ordinary earthly misfortunes, which Custance himself calls "a dark night of the soul", echoing St. John of the Cross's phrase. The second stage was a sense of spiritual abandonment and of "vulnerability to demonic attack", resembling the sensations reported by Bunyan, Luther and others. In this phase, Custance was obsessed by a sense of guilt for his sexual sins and found himself to be impotent indeed, he says that sin appeared exclusively as sexual sin. And he adds that he suddenly understood why Catholics find it impossible to conceive of Heaven without also believing in a purgatory.

And just as in the manic phase he had felt attracted to the idea of dirt, now he felt repelled from it and associated with this fear of dirt was a sense of remoteness from God, which could only be combated by getting rid of every speck of it — a feeling which, as we shall see, the Puritans had already experienced. I may add that this very compressed summary does small justice to Custance's extraordinary book, which should be read.

With this in mind, it hardly seems too much to say, therefore, that the Church's code of repression produced, throughout Western Europe, over a period of four or five centuries, an outbreak of mass psychosis for which there are few parallels in history. Perhaps only the Aztec passion for blood sacrifice provides a comparable case.

It is an important psychological, as it is also a physical, fact that every action breeds an equal and opposite reaction. While the Church claims that repressive measures were required because of the immorality of the times, it seems more probable that, in reality, the immorality of the times was a result of the pressures applied. As Pascal observed:


6. You're Scared To Stick Up For Yourself

Living with a toxic mom can be very confusing, McBain says. "Children don't know which mom they are going to get on a given day." That can impact self-esteem in the future, particularly if establishing boundaries or saying no has produced tantrums or pushback in the past.

Figuring out how to protect yourself and flourish with a toxic mother can be difficult — and therapy can help. "Therapy can be a great place to process your feelings surrounding the home life you grew up in, come to terms with your mom’s possible mental health issues, and learn to not blame yourself for someone else’s unhealthy behaviors," McBain says. If you decide that the right thing for your own well-being is to stop talking to your mother, then don't believe that doing so makes you an awful person. You're doing what you need to do to take care of yourself you're just someone who's been dealt a rough hand, and odds are you're trying to do the best you can with it.


Watch the video: Seksuelt misbrugt hjælper hinanden videre til et godt liv (August 2022).