Logical and Spiritual REFLECTIONS
Book 6.No to Sodom
Chapter 10.Sensuality and perversion
Ethical discourse in general is not logically possible without admission that it concerns beings with powers of cognition, volition and valuation. Without these powers, there is nothing to discuss, no utility in discussing anything, no one to do or understand the discussion or put its conclusions into action. In other words, we must start by recognizing here that we are talking about human beings, who have a rational faculty and freewill. If human beings were machines or subject to fate, there would be no debate.
Furthermore, ethics cannot be limited to physical and (in a narrow sense) mental considerations, but must extend to spiritual considerations. To have powers of cognition, volition and valuation is to have a soul, i.e. a spiritual life. Human beings have a soul (also called a spirit), whose interests (i.e. benefit or harm) must also be taken into consideration, together with the interests of their bodies and minds. To ignore or disregard these considerations is to display a failure to understand the very foundations of ethics.
Thus, ethics – the science of what we (people) may or should do or not do – has to develop with awareness of all aspects of human nature and human existence – not only physiological (including genetic) factors and psychological factors (including familial, social and cultural influences), but equally spiritual factors (the perceptions and conceptions, the exercises of will and the value judgments of the individual person within the body and mind).
All these different factors must be considered and weighed in the balance. To refuse to recognize one domain or the other is ignorance, stupidity, intellectual confusion or dishonesty – it is not a scientifically legitimate posture.
We have already (in the above discussion) dealt with some of the more obvious issues; here, we shall focus on some relevant spiritual issues. Here, we need to stress two attitudes, two postures and tendencies of the soul, which are spiritually damaging or destructive. These aberrations are not found exclusively in homosexuality, but are perhaps found in it more intensely than usual.
The first aspect is excessivesensuality, i.e. a mental obsession with sexual sensations. The spiritual effect of this attitude is that it keeps one tied to lower instincts, even when they have no demonstrable physiological or psychological value.
If a man or woman has no sexual partner of the opposite sex, or has given up hope of finding one (due to some handicap, old age or whatever reason), then logically that person ought to devote himself or herself to more spiritual pursuits. Artificially sustaining sexual desire and pleasure through masturbation, or other deviant means such as homosexuality, serves no useful purpose.
It is a sort of idiotic attachment to a phantom of the original, natural orientation of desire, which is inscribed in our instincts for purposes of reproduction. It is like imagining one has an arm or leg when it has been cut off. All it does is accentuate and perpetuate pain and suffering.
In the case of homosexuality, specifically, such sensuality is further complicated by the fact that the partners involved are of the same sex. This implies that all sorts of man-man or woman-woman physical and mental interactions are involved, which are not inscribed in our nature (which, as we have already explained, is geared for heterosexual relations). The homosexual has to deal with essentially artificial harmful situations. This wrongheaded situation surely takes its toll, at a spiritual level.
Why is sensuality a spiritual affliction? It consists in attaching disproportionate value to passing sensations – in vainly clinging to something as impermanent and insubstantial as smoke. Such a policy is bound to be destructive in some way or other. It is bad enough in the case of heterosexuals, but becomes suicidal in the case of homosexuals, since their existential situation is more complicated by its unnaturalness.
This brings us to the second aspect:perversionor perversity of spirit. This term is not a hollow insult, but an identifiable trait. What it refers to, generally, is valuing somethingbecauseit ought to be disvalued – i.e. not in spite of its being judged to be in some way negatively charged, but precisely because it is disallowed, forbidden, bad, evil, dangerous, harmful, unattractive, ugly, weird, kinky, ambivalent, queer, dirty, disgusting, repulsive, abhorrent, cruel, illegal, criminal, etc. It is a twisted disposition or preference for the opposite of what reason, after appropriate pondering of the issues involved, recommends.
With regard to sexual desire, specifically, this perverseness is expressed in the way of desiring sexual objects or acts that are out of the ordinary in some distorted way. For examples: an interest in sodomy or a pleasure getting dressed to look like someone of the opposite sex. Some people feel quite indifferent or blasé towards ordinary sexual objects or acts, and are only attracted to things or people that have an air of rot or corruption about them. This attitude is surely an expression of spiritual impurity, and is bound to generate more of it.
The error of reasoning inherent in perversion is the imagination that there might besome extra, hidden pleasure or other valuein what is morally forbidden.. Sexual perversion is thus an exacerbated form of sensuality – a search forextraordinarysexual excitement. To the pervert, ordinary pleasures are “not enough”. There is always a lust for more – not only quantitatively more, but also progressively more and more weird.
This is an existential problem, as it can lead a person into physical problems (e.g. Aids and other diseases), psychological problems (e.g. personality and identity derangement, lack of self-esteem) and social problems (e.g. social conflicts and ostracism). But such impure thought is especially a spiritual problem, since it is based on delusion, i.e. on a fundamental error of understanding. It is thus bound to lead one astray from inner peace, balance and clarity.
Once one develops and follows such inclinations, there is no limit to how far down one can slip. The descent may at first seem controlled, but eventually it becomes uncontrollable. Having repeatedly identified with stray physical or mental impulses, the soul has made its faculties of cognition, volition and valuation mere instruments in the service of such impulses, and becomes less and less able to reassert authority over them in the service of higher values.
Regarding the logical preconditions of ethical discourse, see my earlier bookVolition and Allied Causal Concepts, chapters 17-18.
For more detail on the psychology of sensuality, see my earlier bookMeditations, chapters 21-22.
It is hard enough for human beings to contend with the difficulties nature sets in their paths; it is silly to add to these obstacles artificial difficulties that are easily dispensed with. Wisdom would recommend avoiding such extraneous problems altogether.
Consider for instance the story of cannibalism given in an earlier footnote. This is of course an extreme example; admittedly, not all homosexuals are cannibals. But it goes to show how weird people can get, who allow themselves to develop unnatural desires.
This is well illustrated, for instance, in the Biblical story of Eve being tempted by the serpent to eat the forbidden fruit, by subtle descriptions of how “delightful” it is (Exodus 3:1-7).