We, Roberta and Jard who collaborated on LOVERS FOR LIFE, write with values that in our case are distinctly spiritual. And while this isn't a religion course but our marriage enhancing program, there is no way we can deny our faith without compromising our message. Indeed, we cannot ignore our covenant connection with the Creator of the Cosmos. We believe that God is the source of all love and while love obviously existed for women and men many millennia before Jesus' great spiritual revelation, that mission was to most clearly reveal God's love for humans and to demonstrate our human potential for love.
God's love is our own example; we feel that Jesus' sacrificial act was the greatest display of love ever revealed by a single person. In a very special way it opened the door for God's spirit to enter more fully into this world of women and men who carry within their souls, bodies and minds the capacity for becoming lovers for life. In fact, Jard has been instrumental in developing two programs, one for ministers and another for lay persons that applies practical faith, hope and love in one of the world's fastest growing Christian denominations. These two programs have been instrumental in helping lead millions of African, Latino, European and Asian men and women into a covenant relationship with the God of the Cosmos. And God alone knows where this shall go in the next decade. Because moving toward spiritual maturity means so much to us, Jard feels that contribution to faith, hope and love is his most valuable contribution to society.
Having said that, we must also tell you that we are deeply disappointed by the failures of fundamentalist Christianity, Islam and Judaism that enforce sexist neuroticism, cruel traditions and immature religious ideologies on women and then claim their crippling psychopathies are God's will for everyone. God wants no such thing -- but what really angers us about such reactionary pretension is its hypocrisy. As researchers, counselors and teachers, we know all too well that the fundamental power brokers who want to dominate your spirituality have the same sexual yearnings as the rest of us. Need we go beyond T V preachers Jim Bakker who was long seducing his young secretary and James Swaggert who paid prostitutes to let him watch them masturbating. Consider the heavy penalties some Catholic dioceses are paying because neurotic priests, because of the pressures caused by abstinence and the loneliness it causes, seduced trusting boys and girls. Can anyone really believe that their life-long celibacy had nothing to do with the disasters that followed?
We have found in our research that the greatest problems faced by women and men are caused by the fact we are spiritual souls with a great capacity for love and self-sacrifice, woven into a primitive homosapien bodies hobbled with narcissism and capable of great rage, violence and selfishness.
If, as the connectional covenant religions teach, humans are called by God to serve one another in love, a great many of us fail in our selfish attitudes and choices. The strengths and shortcomings of human love is revealed in our attitudes, expectations, beliefs and choices. Actually there is much more to each person than these bodies that can bring us such enchanting relationships when joined with a lover. What we do with them is crucial to our happiness. The way our bodies evolved through the long eons is important to us. What we think about them and how we use them is critical and how we express our love is especially vital to our contentment. Men and women are mirror image souls who need one another for fulfillment -- for intimate caresses through the long nights of winter, for the yin and yang of masculine and feminine strengths, for perpetuating ourselves immortally through our children. Our precious bodies fit together so well that Jesus called lovemaking becoming one flesh -- as indeed it does in many different ways during loving sexual relationships when two otherwise barren persons join to create the miracle of new life.
Of course, perceptive women and men have always been filled with awe by the miracle of conception and birth. The creation of life is indeed almost beyond comprehension to most of us -- so much so that every society and religion has surrounded the birth of children with many myths, traditions and ideologies to explain that which was very difficult for them to understand. Virtually every society has, as Sigmund Freud wrote so perceptively, developed a great deal of squeamishness, anxiety and neuroticism about human sexuality. There is something about lovemaking that both fascinates and terrifies a great many persons and leads to major frustrations and perversions that many unfortunate people never overcome. Some of those fearful souls become clergy or theologians who ponder what God wants from us -- and reach answers according to their unconscious needs and conscious justifications.
All primitive, pre-industrial and pre-fossil fuel societies, needed strong young workers so badly that they reached conscious and unconscious decisions about the responsibilities of women to the tribe or clan that are pointless today, even though fundamental religious leaders assume they still are important. Since so many laborers were needed to do the unending labor of survival and many soldiers were needed to protect the workers from raiding tribes, virtually every primitive clergyman and theologian in Christianity, Judaism and Islam developed the belief that God created women to be expendable. At a time when half the children died of starvation and disease before they could be turned out to work, the important people, the decision making men, decided it was better that women remain pregnant for twenty years, even if they died with a fifteenth child, rather than the tribe be endangered by a labor shortage. Since women were expendable, they were obviously second class souls who must be restricted in their education, their influence and in their careers, so they could remain brood mares for the clan. This was seen as their God given role to the society, each of which believed that it had a lock on God. And since the basic role of fundamental religion is to block change in every way possible, to preserve the good old fashion religion forever, every generation from time immemorial; has tried very hard to keep women from breaking free from the old ideologies and theologies with which the primitive priests and theologians justified the abuse of women.
For example, some earlier neurotic clergy of the Christian church internalized into their theology and traditions a twisted hatred of women and a deep, dark disgust with their own sexual needs. Around the year 1000 a clutch of psychopathic theologians and bishops were so fearful of women that they banned them from every aspect of leadership and public worship. In their quest for congregations that paid and prayed and obeyed -- they drowned and butchered and burned at the stake thousands of women whom they insisted had become witches by fornicating with Satan. The Devil must have been very busy, must never have taken a night off as he bounced from bed to bed of women eager to doom their souls to eternal punishment in return for a quick lay with the master demon!
Certainly, pretty women must obviously be witches, the neurotic priests reasoned, for they would walk by and smile and the men would be sexually aroused by the way their breasts and buttocks moved. Such lust couldn't possibly come from within themselves, they assumed -- they were priests, they were holy and sanctified servants of God! Such sinful feelings had been overcome by the Holy Spirit when a man took his holy orders! They rationalized that their lust had to come from the outside, as spells cast on them by the satanic witches who were seeking to seduce men in order to drag their souls to hell with themselves. Better slay such evil women as quickly as possible rather than to risk one's own salvation. The Medieval church, with all its fears and frustrations, fell to the slaughter with an eager will. We shudder to think how many friendly, compassionate women of grace and beauty were murdered to justify the psychopathy of neurotic men with the power of life and death over their parishes.
Unless, of course, you actually believe Satan still sleeps with women in order to turn them into witches who are then recruited to damn holy men of the cloth to the flames of hell.
The psychopaths rationalized that God distrusted women as the carriers of sexuality as much as they themselves did. Haven't religious reactionaries always confused their own fears with God's will? Didn't Jerry Falwell and Bob Jones spend the first fifty years of their lives insisting that God had made black Christians inferior to white Christians and thus must be segregated lest the pure white race be contaminated by black evil? Sexual love was seen as a weakness caused by the sin of Adam and Eve. Since the Medieval period, much of the church has taught that sexual intercourse was the forbidden fruit that caused alienation from God in the Garden of Eden and insured our inevitable death as punishment for their sin. What a monster this makes God -- what a perversion of love.
It was as if God was saying;
I gave humans a hunger for joyous sexuality and a yearning for love and then forbid them from satisfying this powerful drive. I created this clever double bind as a means of testing their obedience to my commands.
Great problems arose -- the neurotic bishops couldn't monitor every bed -- they learned in the confessional that the peasants were still weak -- confessing their sins of the flesh, accepting their penance and going right back to the marriage bed. Since something must be done, they decided that God and themselves who spoke for him, could bring himself to tolerate sex but only if it included the possibility of conception. They had to allow some sex for obviously, the prohibition of sex couldn't be complete or else the human race would vanish in one generation. Nevertheless, they believed that God still hated sex and distrusted women who carried sexuality in their bodies, but he would allow it as a concession to human weakness. After all, not everyone could be as holy and as chaste as God's priests. Especially not women.
Women are still devalued and debased; condemned to second class citizenship as not one woman in the huge Catholic and Orthodox movements has been admitted to priestly leadership. In Islam any woman who shows a modicum of interest in anything from voting to driving a car or in limiting the number of children she shall carry, is quickly stoned to death. The Southern Baptist Convention of some fifty thousand American congregations automatically cast out each of the sixty odd churches that recently defied the Convention's order against ordaining women preachers. The Missouri Synod Lutheran councils have only recently decided that under some circumstances women can vote on congregational issues. In contrast, we are pleased that our own denomination is now ordaining as many women as men. In fact, the United Methodists have become a refuge for the best and brightest young women from the reactionary groups. We gain their best and brightest, for we will ordain and hire them and set them out doing God's work. Even some of our bishops are women which drives many reactionary clergymen wild when they must work with them on community issues.
Thus, as it always happens, the nature of Christ's revelation of love for women as well as men has been distorted and debased by a narcissistic male aristocracy within the church and through each secular society. From the very beginning of the Christian era, men with religious and political power immediately began shaping the church and its theology to meet their own needs. When the rich estate owners needed farm workers to plow the fields and harvest the crops, the church soon agreed and began teaching that human sexuality was legitimate only if we paid the piper with a new child to work the aristocracy's estates. When slave trading and owning was a common abuse of black humans, the clergy of Dixie fell right into line with the slave traders and owners. There was hardly a single group within Colonial America that didn't profit from the slave trade so, of course, expedient preachers in fundamentalist churches had to bless and justify the wretched business. The reactionary church still blesses every war that secular rulers begin and always send their young men to kill other young men and to die horrible deaths to profit the society. For sixty years the church -- Catholic, Orthodox and Fundamental Protestant, taught that the Cold War was a struggle between God and Satan. Of course, it was really a desperate struggle between two great financial, political and industrial systems for dominance around the world. Every intelligent person sees that now -- but the reactionary church for reasons of its own soon turned the Cold War into a great spiritual crusade being fought by God's holy people. Actually, both Roberta and Jard have trouble seeing Chase Bank and Wells-Fargo -- or General Motors and Standard Oil as great spiritual entities doing God's work for humankind!
We both are covenant Christians but never Victorian prudes for whom any departure from radical assumptions is an adequate reason for punishment -- preferably a public flogging -- from self-righteous and reactionary pulpits across the land. We, ourselves have had rollicking sex lives for half a century and recommend it most highly. We don't care -- let the hypocritical and primitive blue noses call us a dirty old couple for enjoying our love, we have an even lower opinion of their sexual neuroticism. Of course we wouldn't have titled our book about marriage LOVERS FOR LIFE had we not believed that God's ideal for each couple is a permanent union that matures from youth through all of life and on to the elderly years with even deeper love. We believe that sexual love and our reproductive capacity are spiritual gifts that are best shared with one very special person within a life-long commitment. We understand and accept that for many reasons marriages fail and both men and women move on, doing the best they can to settle into a new relationship that offers them the love and satisfaction each person deserves. It is total lunacy for any neurotic bully within the church to teach that a pair of kids must remain lonely, loveless and celibate for the next fifty years because they made an unfortunate marriage when twenty or twenty-two years of age. God has never limited us to one roll of the dice at love that is blessed by the church -- and even if we mature along the way, must live a loveless life forever after. That truly is psychopathy disguised as spirituality regardless of how well concealed by a Medieval sexist theology.
We accept that this psychosexual union most persons crave should be open to new life; is most satisfying with children, grandchildren and in our case, with great-grandkids! But we really didn't want to be over blessed with offspring every time we shared sexual pleasure in the past half century! To satisfy our curiosity we once calculated that there have been some 5,000 times one of us has reached for the other with carnal intent and ended up sleeping in one another's arms, deeply contented, both going off to work the next morning with a smile on our faces and a song on our lips. Jard had no intention of keeping Roberta barefoot and pregnant all our lives and she would likely have strangled him had he tried! We are convinced -- the religious assumption that any expression of sexuality that blocks conception is an affront to God and the church -- is pure neuroticism from the sick minds of those Medieval scholars who corrupted the church's beliefs about sexuality during the Dark Ages of Europe. We understand how difficult it is for fundamental and orthodox clergy to accept women as equals without ripping theology, methodology and traditions out by the roots. Much of the church is trapped by its ancient view of women and sexuality. One Catholic philosopher we know recently wrote about sexuality -- including homosexuality and contraception.
We all long to hear that our sexual disorders are not really disorders, that the simple yearning to be righteous makes it so. That would quickly eliminate the struggle to mature spiritually from our lives. But to do that would mean that our souls were not to be taken seriously -- that the revelation of Christ doesn't lead to better lives. The church cannot accept this -- not even in the name of compassion for those who are in error. No good is served when we abandon the old Truths about the role of conception in lovemaking, of love bringing about the creation of new life to glorify God.
To which we add that we cannot see that a woman who brings twelve to fourteen children, into an often hungry world before she dies during her last childbirth, is glorifying God. His rationalization expressed the theologian's sexist views lingering from the Medieval Era. To which Jard adds:
No good is served if we internalize Medieval psychopathy in 21st century theology and demand that couples obey a clutch of sexually frustrated men who pretend God lets them make the rules governing our sexuality without ever playing the game! Great family disasters are formed when theologians insist that women are little if anything more than brood mares to their men and the church.
Actually, the Catholic Church's position about celibacy for the clergy is enforced only among European, North American and Asian priests. The point is often moot across the southern hemisphere, because the vast majority of Latin American and African priests are either married with families or in permanent relationships with mistresses and the children they conceive together. Both the Pope and the Curia have lost that battle and they pragmatically tolerate it. They must, for their entire program would collapse should they enforce the rules -- the priests would leave their parishes to care for their families. Somehow we cannot see the sexually reactionary portion of the church changing much of anything without a revolution by religious women who demand equality in which they are truly valued as first class persons. Women cannot force the reactionary primitives to ordain them -- in every reactionary religious group the old boys control the machinery, but more than ninety-six percent of English speaking Catholic couples of child bearing age use contraception to space their pregnancies. The intelligent and educated women of the West -- through Europe, America, Canada and Australasia have opted out of producing floods of ragged kids they can neither feed nor educate, to work in the fields for the nobles and to fight the aristocracy's wars. They have sense enough to know that playing Vatican Roulette condemns themselves to perpetual baby making and poverty rather than enjoying satisfying lives of their own. That is, assuming one hasn't been abandoned by a macho husband who has run away to San Francisco to find himself, after giving her six children in seven years to support without any earning skills.
The worst of the lot fear and hate women, resent them and detest their own sexual needs that make them vulnerable to any woman they love. They are trying very hard to block women from breaking free of their restrictions, just as their fathers and grandfathers in the religions tried desperately to block the use of contraception, the right of women to vote, to work outside the home and in places like Iran and Saudi Arabia to learn to read and write and to drive an automobile and to choose her own husband. Orthodox Catholic, fundamental Protestant, orthodox Jew and reactionary Muslim men are especially determined to keep women in a subservient relationship with God and his especially blessed rulers -- they themselves. Of course, they lay all the blame for their wicked pettiness toward women on God -- whom they insist tells them he wants women barefoot and pregnant, subservient and meek and always available sexually to they, themselves.
Artice Source: http://www.articlesphere.com
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