Some 25 years ago, a fellow named Dennis Prager wrote an article for Crisis Magazine entitled “Judaism’s Sexual Revolution: Why Judaism (and then Christianity) Rejected Homosexuality.” In the article, Prager made several dubious claims, but he also unearthed some important and oft-neglected distinctions between monotheistic peoples and those of pantheistic or paganistic beliefs, which is to say those who don’t like to have a lot of sex and those who do, respectively.
So for your enlightenment and entertainment, let’s score the hits and misses of this old talking head. Quick, before he croaks!
Societies that did not place boundaries around sexuality were stymied in their development. The subsequent dominance of the Western world can largely be attributed to the sexual revolution initiated by Judaism and later carried forward by Christianity. This revolution consisted of forcing the sexual genie into the marital bottle. It ensured that sex no longer dominated society, heightened male-female love and sexuality (and thereby almost alone created the possibility of love and eroticism within marriage), and began the arduous task of elevating the status of women.
To be sure, societies that didn’t (or don’t) place boundaries on sexuality can hardly pretend to call themselves “societies” at all. Hell, they can hardly pretend to have any relation to humans whatsoever, so completely glazed are the sticky pages of history with rules and restrictions around sex. After all, it’s not death and taxes that are unavoidable, it’s death and sex. Since death is quite simply unavoidable, channeling sexual drives is therefore the primary function of any society’s elite. If said elite is wont to take on a dozen or a hundred wives per man, as history has repeatedly shown is the case in everywhere from Persia to Peking to Paris, then the remaining men require other outlets for their groin-fueled furies. Such outlets range from military conquests to whore houses to freely available marijuana dispensaries, but they must exist all the same. Sex, after all, and in spite of Prager’s unfounded claims to the contrary, dominates all societies in all places and in all times. Sex and death… what else is there ? They’re two sides of the same coin. It just so happens that Judaism and its heretical offshoots promote marriage as the target of the average man’s affections, possibly because King Saul just couldn’t be bothered to keep harims and so codified this apathy, which then had the trickle-down effect of leaving spare women for the ever-spare men. But the idea that marriage, much less monotheism,i can largely be attributed to the dominance of the Western world is exactly like saying that the reason Steve Jobs was so successful was because he always wore the same clothes everyday. While you could probably attribute some small portion of any man’s or any group’s success to any single one of their behaviours, it’s awfully narrow to attribute causation to what are more reasonably viewed as correlates. After all, you’re not poor because it’s raining outside, are you ?
As to the arduous task of elevating the status of women, holy shit arduous is right! In any sexuate species, of which we unequivocally are, there is an unbridgeable gap between the sexes defined by the resultingly imperative functions of our respective biologies.ii All of which is to say that “elevating the status of women” as a broad group is a fool’s errand (if one enshrouded in typically Jewish optimism and idealism), even if creating meritocratic opportunities for individual women is perfectly admirable, even desirable. Who wouldn’t want the best to succeed ? Well, other than the jealous worsts…
[T]he first thing Judaism did was to de-sexualize God: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” by his will, not through any sexual behavior. This was an utterly radical break with all other religions, and it alone changed human history. The gods of virtually all civilizations engaged in sexual relations. In the Near East, the Babylonian god Ishtar seduced a man, Gilgamesh, the Babylonian hero. In Egyptian religion, the god Osiris had sexual relations with his sister, the goddess Isis, and she conceived the god Horus. In Canaan, El, the chief god, had sex with Asherah. In Hindu belief, the god Krishna was sexually active, having had many wives and pursuing Radha; the god Samba, son of Krishna, seduced mortal women and men. In Greek beliefs, Zeus married Hera, chased women, abducted the beautiful young male, Ganymede, and masturbated at other times; Poseidon married Amphitrite, pursued Demeter, and raped Tantalus. In Rome, the gods sexually pursued both men and women.
We can agree that the desexualisation of Hashem relative to his masturbatory competitors was a stark break in foundational mythologies, but I’d also cast a ballot for technology, viz. timekeeping.iii The linearity of the Hebrew calendar was a perfectly remarkable departure in world view relative to the other peoples of the Near East with their circular understandings of time. Counting years in perpetual succession seems obvious enough to those of us who timestamp documents with any regularity, but the calendars of the Ancient Egyptians and Chinese had no such delineations – they both reset the years of their respective calendars with each new Pharaoh or Emperor. Before the Jews started counting higher and higher and higher with each passing year regardless of dynastic duration, everyone basically just counted in circles, round and round and round. The linear calendar was an innovation made manifest by the decentralised realities of the frequently nomadic Jews. Only periodically – in times of great strife and necessity – was centralisation under a monarch deemed imperative, but this was never to be the lasting institutional arrangement that defined relations between the Hebrew tribes. Smaller groups have always been an essential part of our story, if one occasionally disrupted, making marriage a better fit for the Wandering Jew.
Judaism placed controls on sexual activity. It could no longer dominate religion and social life. It was to be sanctified — which in Hebrew means “separated” — from the world and placed in the home, in the bed of husband and wife. Judaism’s restricting of sexual behavior was one of the essential elements that enabled society to progress. Along with ethical monotheism, the revolution begun by the Torah when it declared war on the sexual practices of the world wrought the most far-reaching changes in history.
As a practising Jew,iv I can attest to the fact that sexual activity nowhere near dominates our religious and social lives.v Not that it’s non-existent, it can hardly be quashed, but at least in the more liberal strains that I’ve somehow found myself involved, there’s no particular emphasis on having larger families the way, say, Hasidic traditions do. It’s hard to say that this separation or “sanctification” of sex into its “marital bottle” has enabled society to “progress” – I’m not convinced that social progress can ever be anything more than an ephemeral fashion – but we can say with a healthy degree of confidence that the whole monogamous marriage thing does wonders to facilitate urbanisation, which is not only the direction the world is now hurtling towardsvi but is itself premised on a significant degree of feminisation, which is to say anti-territorialism. But given that it’s really beta males who benefit from marriage rather than women per se,vii who can be surprised ? That the clichéd “life of the mind” pursued by Jews lends itself so well to the tighter quarters typified by urban centres is no accident, nor are the clichéd professions of jewellers, art dealers, money lenders, scribes, lawyers, doctors, etc. unsuitable to this reality. It’s a Jew-eat-Jew world out there (not that this is some well-kept secret), which is just to say that being penetrated is very much in vogue. Speaking of which, what does Prager think about bro-love ?
The revolutionary nature of Judaism’s prohibiting all forms of non-marital sex was nowhere more radical, more challenging to the prevailing assumptions of mankind, than with regard to homosexuality. Indeed, Judaism may be said to have invented the notion of homosexuality, for in the ancient world sexuality was not divided between heterosexuality and homosexuality. That division was the Bible’s doing. Before the Bible, the world divided sexuality between penetrator (active partner) and penetrated (passive partner).
Fascinating, isn’t it ? It’s irrefutable that sexuality is defined by the penetrator and the penetrated as the fundament of any sexuate species, and yet before Judaism none had thought to make this about “gender.” Why ? Because l’chaim, that’s why. This is ironically a denial of biology, which demands that the fringes be explored without regard for the wellbeing or even continuance of the individual, but that’s the Jewish pathos for you. Even the Jews know that the fringes don’t always hit their marks – often times they’ll miss horribly and lose their lives for their troubles – but the dynamic is what’s important. The agency goes to the active because the penetrator takes the risk for the reward. Maybe he fucks an electrical socket. But maybe he fucks Cleopatra. That’s the chance he takes. Yet Judaism, and subsequently Christianity, attempted to corral this experimentation with the institution of (largely monogamous and definitely heterosexual) marriage. The idea being, I suppose, that sexual energies would then be directed towards commercial ends and experimentation in that arena and that arena alone, which would then better serve the group than would the pursuit of strictly biological ends. This is only too true in the cities we find swelling the world over today, but it was a less than ideal strategy in pre-industrial agricultural societies. I guess it’s a good time to be alive!
Judaism affirms whatever enhances life, and it opposes or separates whatever represents death. Thus, a Jewish priest (cohen) is to concern himself only with life. Perhaps alone among world religions, Judaism forbade its priests to come into contact with the dead. To cite some other examples, meat (death) is separated from milk (life); menstruation (death) is separated from sexual intercourse (life); carnivorous animals (death) are separated from vegetarian, kosher, animals (life).
The Jewish perspective that life is the basis of all goodness is at once optimistic, idealistic, and thoroughly braindamaged. It’s optimistic in the sense that it sees the light in each and every new person added to the earth and it’s idealistic in the sense that it presumes such a light to exist in the first place, but it’s equally braindamaged in that it neglects or perhaps just willfully denies the balancing force that death and punishment play in culture. Not that the stories of the Old Testament were exactly devoid of death and punishment, but the underlying philosophy that life is the supreme good is certainly the take-home message despite it being very much double-edged, for it can inspire determination just as much as it can lend itself to passivity in the face of existential threats. This bit of mental gymnastics might be impressive, and the codification of Semmelweis’ insight four thousand years early is no small matter, but it’s no wonder that Israel is such a big deal despite is minuscule dimensions. A Jewish state with a big dick ? Of course the Satmar Hasids, Neturei Karta, and the entirety of the Muslim World want it burned to the ground. It’s an affront to tradition! They’re not wrong either. If you’re looking to keep your people mobile and flexible (because they’re used to getting penetrated and running away after the fact), small family units are a potent resource.
Contrariwise, the establishment of a strong military state that channels the sexual urges of its people towards territorial expansion, the combatting of terrorism, the systematic oppression of lesser peoples, and even more technological innovation would appear to be dangerously rigid by comparison to the idealised Wandering Jew living off nothing but his wits. In a weird way, then, Israel breaks the idealistic mold of its ancestors despite being the apple of so many Jewish eyes for fifty generations before 1948. Israel is a pragmatic institution that’s almost as practical as it is monocultural. I’m hardly the world’s staunchest Zionist either, but I have to admire the work ethic, inventiveness, and down-to-earthedness of the people who choose to live there, my own extended family included. That they’ve been able to unwind so many deeply seeded social and religious mores speaks volumes to their commitment, focus, and open-mindedness. They show that these needn’t be contradictory ideals either. Still, about the only thing that the traditionalists and modernistsviii can agree upon is that it’s best to channel the sexual energies of their disciples productively, which is to say away from homosexuality and other similarly wanton penetrations.
The bedrock of this civilization, and of Jewish life, has been the centrality and purity of family life. But the family is not a natural unit so much as it is a value that must be cultivated and protected. The Greeks assaulted the family in the name of beauty and Eros. The Marxists assaulted the family in the name of progress. And today, gay liberation assaults it in the name of compassion and equality. I understand why gays would do this. Life has been miserable for many of them. What I have not understood was why Jews or Christians would join the assault. I do now. They do not know what is at stake. At stake is our civilization.
While it’s absolutely true that the family unit isn’t natural as such, particularly in an urban context, Jews/Christians/Marxists/Greeks/gays who would pander to and promote the notions of thirty-seven all equal and all equally valid genders do so not because they misunderstand what’s at stake but because of the double-edged sword that is Judeo-Christian optimism and idealism. With optimism and idealism comes the belief in progress. With the belief in progress comes the belief in utopia. With the belief in utopia comes the belief in pantheistic orgies on the beach while being fed fresh grapes by tender cherubs. For everyone!!1! At least vicariously. It’s cuckoo for cocopuffs when it’s all laid out in plain language instead of nebulous feelings underpinned by reality tv, but it’s what it is.
What’s at stake then isn’t “our civilisation” anymore than it’s “our democracy.” Both of those have lost the war even if there are still skirmishes underway. Homosexuality is just a fashion of going out with, well, a bang. And in styyyyyle! But going out all the same.
After all, what goes in, must come out.
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- The aberrant notion of a “Christian Europe” is disabused more eloquently elsewhere. It’s also worth recalling that, for most of the Middle Ages, Europe was principally a centre of Islamic culture, not Christian. While the differences between Judaism, Christianity, and Islam may seem prosaic or even academic to our Hindu and Confucian friends of a thousand years ago, as today, try telling the Abrahamites that. [↩]
- To quote MP :
Consider this : if you’ve made your species sexuate, and thereby it followed you’ll have a female, and thereby it followed the female will store fat and be slow and physically ineffectual as her bones will be optimized for parasite supportiv rather than locomotion and so on and so forth : it doesn’t just follow that culturally she’ll live her life fettered in a pen somewhere while the males go roaming about in the garden. Culture at least you could revise (so you flatter yourself in thinking), but it doesn’t stop there.
Because if indeed you’ve got a sexuate species, it then therefore follows that it is more productive to do the searching in the male genetic space than in the female genetic space. What do I mean by searching ? Oh, you know, “wut does this purine base do”, random recombination as is at the basis of all evolution. And of all cancer.
It then so happens that if we normalize female fenotypical variation at 110% (in any field, note that we’re making no assumptions as to whether this is height or ability to thread needles — whatever the defined skill, whatever the considered ability, the model stands for all time) we’ll measure male fenotypical variation at something around 125%.
What does this mean ?
It means that in a sexuate population and for any arbitrarily defined ability, should you measure five females and find three at 10, one at 9 and one at 11, when measuring five males you will likeliest find one at 12, one at 11, one at 10, one at 9 and one at 8.
Then what happens irl is that the 8 male dies, because the minimum level of the ability required for maintenance is 8.4, and your population of 9 (55.(5)% female) will exhibit an average male ability of (12+11+10+9)/4 = 10.5, and an average female ability of (11+3*10+9)/5 = 10. That’s 5% better males on average. At anything.
Numbers don’t lie.
Numbers don’t lie.
Which isn’t to say that statistics apply to individuals. They don’t. And the chances of my girl crushing you (not your girl, you) in calculus or cross fit are higher than you’d expect. But that’ll just teach you to expect. [↩]
- The technologies a group of people leverages is, after all, hugely more important than whether they believe in a hundred rapacious deities or a single celibate one. [↩]
- Whatever that means… [↩]
- There sure as shit aren’t temple whores! /jealous [↩]
- The world isn’t urbanising because cities are inherently better, you understand. The world is urbanising because it’s more cost effective to feed cattle when they’re more tightly corralled. And goodness know there’s a shit-ton of cattle on the planet at the moment. What are we up to now, 7 billion ? 8 ?? Either way it’s a lot. [↩]
- It’s an inconvenient truth that the Duke’s 7th wife is better off materially and spiritually than the only wife of the six-fingered cobbler, a truth masked almost completely by the pretense that “we’re all equal” and “worker’s rights,” etc. [↩]
- I’m here using “modernists” in its proper sense, not that abused as a synonym for contemporary. Incidentally, if you’re looking for the world’s largest collection of Bauhaus architecture, strangely, Jerusalem is it. Not Berlin, not Munich… Jerusalem. [↩]