Spiders Don’t Eat Steak

Recently I’ve heard from a lot from people up in arms about ending the “stigma” of various things.

The latest “stigma” that activist millennials and oddly presumptuous older “intellectuals” want to end seems to be the “stigma of pornography.” The particular article I read is so bad I considered not providing the link as I respect my readers enough to not want to waste their time and worried half of them would read it ironically and mistakenly think the author was joking. Unfortunately, however, his opinions are fairly common and I’ve heard many of them before so I wanted to address it.

There are essentially 2 parts to the argument:

  1. The Church views sex in an unhealthy/repressive way.
  2. It is healthy and natural for men to want to have sex, and viewing pornographic material is a natural offshoot of that natural desire.

We are going to address the second part of the argument first because I am so exhausted of hearing this fallacy.

Spiders may or may not have the capacity to eat a steak, but regardless they never do and they never will because they are truly slaves to their natures. They spend their lives spinning webs, eating insects, and in some cases frightening humans, but they do not dream like a human does. They never stop and think that there is a whole host of options beyond insects to consume. They never dream about having a family or what career is the best fit for their personality. They are never tempted to give up spinning webs. They exist on a natural level of instinct and nature, never deviating from either. To claim that we are slaves to our desires like an animal is a false comparison because animals have no desire. Desire stems from will and animals do not have the capacity to choose or will for themselves anything beyond what their nature demands for survival. Therefore they are not able to be tempted because all temptation involves choice. In other words, not only will the spider never eat the steak, he will not even be tempted to eat the steak in the first place so there is no virtue in him never eating it at all.

What separates man from animals, and why it is not a sin to kill an animal like it is to kill a man, is twofold. First, that man is created in the image and likeness of God. Second, that man has free will. This means that man has a choice in what to eat, how to act, where to live, and in what to dream.

As usual, G.K. Chesterton says it best:

“Man is an exception, whatever else he is. If he is not the image of God, then he is a disease of the dust. If it is not true that a divine being fell, then we can only say that one of the animals went entirely off its head.”

The freedom of choice is a term that is thrown around all the time and to promote the power of choice when supporting abortion while denying the existence of choice when one chooses to view pornography is a grave hypocrisy at best. It is weak to say that one simply has no choice in choosing to view pornography because his nature points him in the direction of wanting to have sex. This is hinged on the idea that only way a man will appease that temptation is if he gives into it in some capacity. That argument for sin is like the argument of the blackmailer who claims that the way to get beyond the problem is to pay once and get it over with. However, time and time again nature proves this line of thinking to be the opposite of what is true, when the payment to get it over with becomes prolonged and the blackmailed or the sinner gets drawn in deeper.

The reason people often don’t understand the Church’s teaching on temptation, sexual purity and a call to avoid pornography is because they often prefer to view nature as a singularly positive, organic, and “natural” thing. It adopts an overly simplistic view of nature, equating the complex human experience to a mere animal subsistence in order to diminish the significance of free will and choice. This is a problematic view to hold because reducing everything in our world to something explainable as part of a purely mechanical material reality ignores the spark of divine present in every human being. If man is a mere animal who is a slave to nature and lives in a purely natural world then how do we explain the most definitive characteristic of man, his thirst for the infinite?

Moreover, this limitation makes anything associated with nature (the “good”) seem inevitable while ignoring or refusing to explain the problem of evil, the choice and temptation to do things that are bad and that have the potential to harm oneself, others or one’s relationship with God. (In my mind to deny the existence of evil is like denying the existence of water, a bold and futile endeavor when the evidence of both can be found everywhere on earth.) In spite of what modern psychology would have you believe evil is inextricably linked to choice and free will as evidenced by the fact that evil remains a problem only among humans and not at all among animals who, as we established above, have no freedom of choice and can do nothing good or evil. 

Consequently, I reject the conclusion that porn is an inevitable desire that stems from a natural desire for sex because I do not view pornography as the result of a natural sexual desire. Instead, I view it as the result of a desire for pleasure, which would explain its prevalence in a society like ours dedicated to the pursuit of pleasure and the primacy of the self. Sex can be healthy and natural when it serves the purpose it was intended to serve, but that purpose is not mere pleasure (as many would have you believe). Pleasure strikes me as the root of pornography because the justifications that rise in defense of pornography are a rationalization of a behavior which I believe would not be necessary if there was no guilt associated with the act. For example, I can give you a lot of compelling reasons as to why I eat peanut butter m&ms but I have never once justified my choice to eat a zucchini because regardless of what I say I know in my soul which one is better for me and which one is truly natural.

If you’ve managed to agree with me thus far you might find yourself thinking okay so pornography might be rooted in pleasure which isn’t part of the natural order per say but which is part of the universal human experience and shouldn’t we have the right to seek pleasure at our pleasure? Does it really do any harm to eat peanut butter m&ms and/or view pornography? Are you really so Catholic that you regard eating peanut butter m&ms as a sin on par with pornography, as in one that could send you to HELL? Wouldn’t you really be better off “freeing” yourself from your oppressive religion which seeks to do nothing but ruin your pleasure and leave you wracked with guilt?

All of the above are excellent questions and kudos to you for your inquiring mind because asking good questions sets you on the path to wisdom.

However, since this blog post is already quite lengthy I am going to address all of those questions in my post next week.

Link will be posted here once the next article is published.

 

 

 

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Are soulmates still a thing?

So I was hanging out with my single friends, I guess I could say we were hanging out because technically I’m single too, but they were on the prowl and I’m not (trust me there’s a huge difference) and they we’re talking about guys non-stop. I was mostly listening because with me not being on the prowl there was really not much I could add unless you count the fact that my kind-hearted, completely platonic male co-worker bought me a Panera chocolate chip cookie.

In short, my night was full of stories about crappy dating misadventures where they regaled me with tales of awkward encounters with the opposite sex.  It was entertaining as anything, don’t get me wrong, but I felt all adult-y because it was the first time I’d seen these old friends in a while and they are far more stereotypical twenty-somethings than I am (in that they go out on Friday nights and I like to be in bed by 11 because that is literally when I start to fall asleep.)

Yet with my premature adultness, I noticed a weird paradox about my friends as they were telling these stories that has bugged me ever since. And the paradox was this: they both really wanted to meet a nice guy and be in a good relationship while all the while dating these zeros/jerks/losers/whatever you want to call them. (I’ll go with non-gentleman.) Yet they still proceeded to man bash their dates like the more traditional feminists they are (calm down, I’m feminist too but of a different kind that I’ve already described in detail with Bad Feminism and Equality for All.)

But this cycle of the wanting and the compromising and the disappointment and the bashing really upset me, being the tenderhearted person I am, because I have the perfect solution to this problem, one that I wish more women would utilize. In fact, it even works for men too, just reverse the genders. The perfect solution to going on a date with a non-gentleman is this: don’t call him back, agree to go out with him again, or talk to him again ever beyond what polite conversation requires.

Every time I speak (or write I suppose) like that everyone tells me I’m oversimplifying things. Not at all. I think the truth is a very simple thing, it’s humans who make everything complicated. Because here’s the thing, all of my friends in attendance that night were very sweet, kind, and intelligent and I enjoy being their friend. They each have a desire to be loved, not even in a stupid Nicholas Sparks kind of way, but for who they are. Yet they, along with most of my fellow millennials, all seem to feel that they should compromise on this desire. Blame the media, blame the parenting, blame the scars of the divorce generation and lousy marriage statistics, blame the decline in religious morality, blame the skepticism that true love even exists, blame it on the millennials themselves for being self-centered, afraid/unable to commit, and having no clue what to do with their lives. However, the fact remains that many a person in my generation who reads Buzzfeed’s “Top 10 reasons why you should be in a relationship” or “Top 12 reasons why being single is the best” has become so overloaded with statistics and advice that something awful is happening, we’ve collectively made dating/relationships/marriage meaningless, just empty terms that can mean whatever you want them to mean.

Dating and relationships should be more than just a series of whatevers. And I would argue that relationships now are almost casual to a fault. Because the truth is if you meet someone who doesn’t even care enough about you to ask your last name before wanting to hook up with you, it is a clear signal that you are completely dispensable to that person, simply a means to their pleasure, because he or she is looking to use you for sex. You know that, the other person knows that, and if you proceed to hook up, you’ve made a terrible compromise. You settled for love’s cheap imitation, instead of taking the time to cultivate real and authentic love (which can be done even while you’re not dating as you learn to love and respect yourself). 

Justify it however you want to- say you enjoy sex or wanted to feel in control or didn’t want to be alone or you’re a slave to your passions and just had to have it. Maybe you don’t believe love exists anymore so why not? Maybe you didn’t feel like waiting. Maybe you didn’t want to take the risk. Maybe you’ve just plain been hurt before and wanted something “simple.” Maybe you believe the lie that sex is just pleasure and that it doesn’t mean anything or that it doesn’t count as being used if there were two consenting adults who each knew they were being used but wanted to do it anyway for any of the reasons I described above.

I point this out not to judge, but because in spite of those many reasons the truth still remains that you deserve better. I hope you know that. And I think my friends knew that deep down, because the point where they finished telling me their dating misadventures is precisely the point where the disappointment kicked in. That’s the place where the bitterness and the man-bashing began, where conversations of “there are just no good guys out there” and “screw this we don’t need them we’re just as tough, financially independent (etc)” started to happen.

It was an upsetting conversation for me to hear as their friend, but it ultimately brings us back around to my perfect solution, because by not dating or having any type of sexual encounter with a non-gentleman you spare yourself that entire cycle. I know the hookup roller coaster may seem fun at first, like you’re living a popular TV sitcom: the drama of being single and young and free and endearingly unlucky in love until one day that perfect person comes around the corner and changes everything (and that, kids, is how I met your father). And I hope for your sake that you’re right, but I’m more inclined to believe that that is a lie as fake as the sitcom set. Because the truth is when you waste your formative years dating the wrong kinds of people it is much more likely you will simply get sucked into the cycle I described and remain alone or much worse: in a bad relationship, instead of preparing to become the type of person who will be ready when the right person does come around the corner. 

And even though I am currently single (which always gets thrown in my face whenever I offer any sort of dating advice) the gentleman method, as I’m coining it from now on, has been extremely effective for me because even when the relationship didn’t work out with the gentleman, we usually remained friends and I could walk away with complete faith in the opposite gender and an appreciation for their complementary abilities. No bashing was necessary because the relationship was always based on a mutual respect for the dignity of the other, and that does not end once the romantic portion of the relationship is over. And unlike these disappointing hook-ups, this type of dating prepares me for future relationships, because they lead me not to a lifetime of casual and increasingly unsatisfying hookups, but to marriage. Maybe not everyone wants that to be the end result of their dating, but even people who are against monogamy or marriage usually want some form or imitation of it, someone to love them when they are not sexually attractive anymore (it’ll happen to all of us). But as for me, I think soulmates are still a thing, mostly because I refuse to believe I’m the only one who embarrassed myself by crying the first time I saw Disney/Pixar’s Up.

And also a little during the short film with the volcanoes…

v

Equality for all (except you)

Hello again peasants! (I had a history professor who used to begin every class that way. I miss him and his frequent Monty Python references.)

I’ve been blogging for a short time now and while I’m still a very small deal (if I’m any kind of deal in the first place) I do get a lot of interaction from this website- so thanks for making that possible with your readership! I genuinely do appreciate it. I still find it incredibly humbling, even after these many months. I kind of can’t comprehend that as many people would read my stuff as they have, so thanks again- really.

Anyway, today I wanted to pay tribute to a comment that someone posted to my article that I just can’t get over. It was in response to Bad Feminism and the comment was this: “The ‘political movement’ you’re referring to is called equality.” The person’s misunderstanding of my article fascinated me because the entire misinterpretation hinged on our differing opinions as to the definition of the word equality. And while this commentator tried to enlighten me to his definition as you saw above, he missed the point of my article expressly because he did not catch the distinction in our definitions.

To elaborate, we were discussing feminism and we disagreed about the nature of the feminist movement. The commentator sees feminism as a political movement for equality between men and women that makes fantastic strides for my gender whereas I see feminism as an evolving cultural movement with its roots in political equality that undermines authentic feminity.

Since a picture is worth a thousand words, his views can best be summarized by the graphic below:

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And my views are closer in line with this artsy internet graphic:

What he did not understand/care to realize was that I’m not against giving women the right to vote or giving them equal pay or giving them access to an education because I think each person is born with an inherent, God-given worth that far transcends politics and makes no distinctions.

However, I find it offensive that a woman’s worth is now subject to judgment by worldly standards of power, the types of power which have traditionally been held by men. By that I mean I can’t help but notice that a woman’s societal worth is measured in terms whether or not she is as successful as a man in doing whatever a man does.  It places women at a disadvantage right from the start because it automatically assumes that men are inherently superior to women and that women “bridge that gap” by successfully imitating men and/or surpassing men entirely in any arena where competition is plausible. That is why my masters degree in elementary education was once laughed off by a feminist speaker at a lecture I attended, because women have always been good at the whole “children thing,” and if I wanted to truly assert my intellectual prowess I ought to do something more, in a word, masculine like business, science, or politics (although she didn’t say masculine, I believe her word was empowering). What she essentially meant was that her view of women was to see them as unequal and inadequate men, and her solution to this was to encourage women to behave like better men than men. Therefore, her insult to my studies was to be viewed as a compliment in this bizarre light, because she essentially believed that I had the power within me to transcend my lowly womanhood (of children and childbearing) and succeed in the world of men, thereby validating us all.

I prefer the direct approach of entirely rejecting that view for the utterly infuriating nonsense that it is because not only is her conclusion drawn from dubious logic, it is bad theology (might I recommend Pope John Paul II’s Theology of the Body because he explains it better than I could ever hope to). And I have always viewed men and women as complementary halves to a beautiful whole picture rather than two separate whole pictures competing for the same position of prestige on the wall.

Moreover, the true definition of equality is hard to measure because it is, in essence, the measure of two things being equal, and beyond mere mathematics this can be a hard concept to quantify. So best of luck to my opponent in this debate because I am inclined to believe he will never achieve the equality he strives for because life is not static and equality is. And if we insist on politicizing something so abstract, then with every change that life inevitably brings, the moment that one gender is perceived to have an advantage over the other the messy process of state mandated equality will begin again. The protests will ensue, demands of the injured party will be given, and the whole cycle of negotiations and political rhetoric and social media outrage will carry on for an indefinite amount of time as each side grows more acrimonious. And the more I see the ideal of equality unfold the more I see it play into a culture of victimhood where the disadvantaged seek not equality but a sort of revenge against those who once had an advantage, which is also not equality, merely a reversal.

I know my opponent may have the best of intentions when he espouses ideals of equality for all, but I still can’t help but wonder what continuing down this path will truly accomplish. Because I could tell from his condescension that he had already written me off as an opponent to his cause and was more interested in demonizing my dissent by highlighting my ignorance (the only conceivable explanation for my dissent in his mind) than he was in listening to me, and that is the tragedy of modern politics and of most modern debates.

And with these observations in mind, it is easy for me to discern that I will always prefer the path of Christian love of God and neighbor to the path of retribution because purely human justice has its limitations, and I pledge my life not to human ideals of justice but to Divine mercy.