The founder of Christianity may not be the person commonly known as Jesus of Nazareth, but Paul of Tarsus, a hellenised Jew and a Roman citizen, whose trade was making tents for Roman army out of cured animal skins, the job involving handling blood, much detested and looked down upon by main stream Jews. This outcast epileptic, ugly but intelligent person started a new religion to spite the Jewish religion, on the premise of his alleged vision of a resurrected Jesus, some time in the middle of the 40s of the Common Era. The odd fact is that Paul never met Jesus in person, who died around 28-30 CE, and according to the Christian belief, rose on the third day and bodily ascended to heaven after 40 days. Hence logically, the apparition that Paul claimed to have seen could not have been that of Jesus. Paul with gnostic inclination was apparently a misogamist and hater of women and everything connected with the female. He latched on to the Aristotelian concept of ‘original sin’ and postulated that humanity inherited Adam’s sin of disobedience to the Creator God. According to Paul, human redemption was achieved by faith in the resurrected Christ and the grace emanating from it.
“It is not true that Christianity brought self-control and asceticism to the pagan world that delighted in pleasure and the body.………….. Christians did not teach licentious, dissolute pagans to hate pleasure and control themselves”*. Instead the pagans found the Christians worse degenerates. According to Clement (150-215 CE), Carpocratian Christians, when they congregate for feasts indulged in orgiastic sexual intercourse, wherever and with whomsoever they could and that they believed wives should be common property. According to Ephiphanus, the Phibionites Christians, reportedly, not only indulged in promiscuous sex but also held the view that if a child was conceived because of the wanton sex, the embryo was to be aborted and eaten by the initiates. Rampant laxity in matters of sex was made against Christians by others too. That licentiousness was a problem with the earlier followers of Jesus was pointed out by Jude. The Christians were considered by the Romans as atheists. They were viewed with suspicion and derision by the general population. The Roman philosopher Celsus (CE 178) said that Christians were naïve and unintelligent; their religion spread by way of children and stupid women and such naivety made them ready listeners and believers in magic and miracles with which Christianity was replete. A serious charge made against Christians was that they believed Jesus was God and worship him as such. “They worship to an extravagant degree this man who appeared recently. They are like frogs holding a symposium round a swamp, debating which of them is the most sinful”(Celsus). “The Christians are a class of men given to a new and wicked superstition”(Suetonius).
“The poor wretches have convinced themselves that they are going to be immortal and live for all the time by worshipping that crucified sophist and living under his laws. Therefore, they despise the things of the world, and consider them common property. They receive these doctrines by tradition, without any definite evidence. So if any charlatan or trickster comes among them, he quickly acquire wealth by imposing upon this simple folk”. (Lucian). “ It is their habit that on a fixed day to assemble before daylight and to recite by turns a form of words to Christ as a God. The contagion of this perverse and extravagant superstition has not only penetrated to cities, but also to villages and the country”. (Pliny the Younger). These observations seem to have merit since the initial followers of Jesus in Roman Empire mainly consisted of maid servants and concubines of Roman nobility, slaves and migrants to the capital city from various parts of the Empire. The religion was practised in secrecy for fear of prosecution; its meetings and prayer sessions were conducted in clandestine manner in the dark hours of the night or early hours of the morning. This made Christians suspect in the eyes of others. Christians were thought to be indulging in sexual orgies and even slaughtering and eating of infants. Hence the efforts of the early Christian leadership was to project Christians as morally superior to others especially in matters connected with sex. The early church fathers known as “apologists” strived their best to present Christians as paragons of moral behaviour.
The route the church leaders opted for getting rid of the odium of moral laxity cast on the Christians was embracing Stoicism anchored to negativism, pessimism and aversion to pleasures particularly enjoyment of sex. “The negative assessment of sexual pleasure that prevailed in Stoicism and was characteristic of the first two centuries after Christ was further strengthened by the invasion of pessimism, which shortly before the birth of Jesus came out of the East, probably from Persia and made its way into the West and would prove to be the most dangerous competition for Christianity. This movement, which called itself “gnosis” (knowledge), believed that it had recognised the worthlessness and baseness of existing things. It preached abstinence from marriage meat and wine……. The body for the Gnostics was the ‘corpse with senses, the grave that you carry with you’…… Gnosticism is a passionate protest against the idea that existence is good”*. The gnostic aversion to the body and pleasure got migrated to early Christian thought through Paul.
The credit for for laying the foundation for sexual asceticism in Christianity belong to the Church Father Jerome (d.419-20 CE). In his translation of the Old Testament into Latin (the Vulgate) the authorised version all along accepted by the Catholic Church, he altered the story of Tobit skewing it towards the ideal of virginity. The Christian view on virginity is reflected in Revelation 14.4 which speaks of 144000 singing “it is these who have not defiled themselves with women, for they are virgins; it is these who follow the Lamb wherever he goes; these have been redeemed from mankind as first fruits for God and the Lamb” before the throne of God”. Thus virginity became the leitmotif of Catholic Church.
Emperor Constantine, the son of a common soldier and barmaid (St. Helena for the Catholic Church), worshiper of the sun – “Solar Invictus” – till his baptism at his death bed – at the prodding of his mother and as a political expediency, adopted Christianity as the state religion of his empire and laid its theological frame work in the Council of Nicaea convened and piloted by him. But the rigorous Stoic morality was imposed only on the proletariat, the bigwigs of the Church enjoying the Emperor bestowed opulent life style, largesse, wealth and privileges to the hilt.
The image of Virgin Birth corresponds to the legends and the metaphorical language of antiquity which trace the descent of famous individuals back to the gods and glorifying them – Plato, Alexander the Great, Augustus Caesar etc. The growing tendency to place an anti- sexual construction on passages from the New Testament with anti-physical, anti-sexual connotations was not confined only to the metaphor of the Virgin Birth. This sexually pessimistic process of reinterpret-ation can be seen quite clearly in another passage which to this day is erroneously attributed to Jesus’s view on celibacy: “he who is able to receive this, let him receive (Matthew 19.12). On the subject of celibacy Jesus’s comments on the story of creation that “have you not read that he who made them from the beginning male and female and said, ‘for this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife; and the two shall become one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man rent asunder”. Becoming one flesh is for Jesus a total irrevocable act of union, which means total sexual union between male and female, which the Popes and his minions have reduced to sexual pessimism. These devious charlatans may better be kept out of bounds by “No Entry to Bedroom” notice. The fact of the matter nowadays is nobody with even a modicum of intelligence does not subscribe to the absurd view that the chief sins of humanity are located in the bedroom.
Hostility to pleasure and the body is a legacy of antiquity, which is assiduously foisted and carried on in Christianity even to this day. Sexual pessimism in antiquity was not derived not from the fear of the curse of sin and punishment, but predominantly from medical views of the day. The Christian theologians refuse to abandon the preposterous idea that sexual intercourse will invite eternal damnation and hell fire. They hold on this absurd and perverted view as the method to make uninformed Christians to a state of self castration. The Greeks had thought that sexual intercourse with a woman especially during menstruation would result in sickness. That could be the reason that the Greeks of olden days preferred boys for sex.
“Sexuality is not a simply regional, functional determi- nation, but a peculiar feature of the essence of man that goes back to his absolutely earliest, psycho-physical origins, a peculiar feature that helps to shape, each time in a special way, all the definable dimensions of the human being, and is also shaped by each of them. Sexuality is not something that a person simply has along with many other things, but a fundamental way of being in all things, and hence something without which his or her other existential acts and relations cannot actually be thought and realised.”*
Jesus was no ascetic and eulogist of virginity and hater of the female and humans sexuality. He kept the company of Mary Magdalene, Martha and Mary. In none of his sayings the idea of virginity cropped up. The regressive ideal of virginity permeated through the Christian fantasy in search of the ever elusive untouched pristine female by frustrated celibates.
The man who irrevocably fused together Christianity and hatred for sex and pleasure was the neurotic, guilt ridden Berber African Augustine of Hippo (CE 354-430), an insatiable sexual fiend and fornicator in the heydays of his life. Augustine who never married and whose sexual pleasures were illicit and wayward posited human sexual intercourse as the mother of all sins. “Augustine was the creator of the Christian image of God, the world and the humanity that is still widely accepted by the Catholic Church. He took the contempt for sex that still permeates through the attitudes of the church leaders, both before him, in his own day, and persist even today that added a new factor: personal and theological sexual anxiety. Augustine connected the transmission of original sin, which plays so great a role in his system of redemption, with the pleasure of sexual intercourse. For him original sin means eternal death, damnation for every one who has not been redeemed by God’s grace from the ‘massa damnata’ to which all people belong. Augustine insists that not all persons will be redeemed e.g. unbaptised children are lost. Augustine’s authority in the realm of sexual morality was overwhelming. The catastrophic process of desexualisation of love was an emphatic push in the West by Augustine”*. His nauseating and rabid “confessions” are relished by the ravishers of young boys and girls, who think that a confession before a Roman Catholic priest of the same ilk will wash away the guilt of the most inhuman, debased and despicable deeds.
“The rule of celibacy was imposed on the clerics because the church hierarchy was frightened of women; the rule became a law in 1138. What bothered the bishops was not women as such, nor even sexual activity in general terms, it was the prospect of priestly intimacy with women” (The Magdalene Legacy by Lawrence Gardiner). Added to this was the fear of losing the wealth of the Church through misappropriation by clergy with family and children.
The Stoic Seneca held the view that immoderate love for one’s wife is shameful; the love for some-one’s wife is far more shameful. In his “letter to All the Priests of the Church” on Holy Thursday, 1779, John Paul II refers to “celibacy for the sake of the Kingdom of a Heaven” misquoting Matthew 19:12. (The anti-pleasure sexual prude “actor turned zealot”# John Paul II conveniently ignored for 32 years his own extortions by his, ardent, intense, morbid and passionate love for a married woman. This is another tell tale example of the double speak and dichotomy between preaching and practice on the part of the priesthood and the “(un!) Holy Catholic Church, claims to be specially selected and put on earth by no less than God himself) The view of Seneca found ardent support in Church-father Jerome. John Paul II talked about “adultery with one’s own wife”, in full approval of Seneca’s view “Do nothing for the sake of pleasure”. The Catholic Church continues to mistrust pleasure seeking love even in the conjugal bed. In Seneca one can find the idea that would disastrously prompted Catholic morality to solely concentrate on human sexuality to the exclusion of all other instinctively driven activities. The irony is all the taboos are foisted on the proletariat only while the privileged are scot-free to do whatever they chose to do behind the iron curtain away from the common population. But the situation has been radically altered because of the unbelievable strides in information technology achieved during the last few decades. The skeletons from the cupboards are tumbling down fast and furious to the chagrin of the ecclesiastics; they are frantically running for cover.
The contemporary Catholic Church characterise Jesus as free from any kind of sin and sensual pleasure, a real wretch. Jesus was called a “glutton and tippler” by his enemies (Matthew 11:19 and Luke 7:34). The sexual neurotic Popes and others display Catholic Church’s sexual pessimism and hostility to body.
Any critical evaluation of the Catholic Church since its birth in the 4th century CE, without the blinkers of faith, may reveal:
a) it is a religion set up by an epileptic, neurotic, heretic and renegade diaspora Jewish business man to settle score with his religion;
b) the Christ of Paul is a creature of Paul’s hallucination; the resurrection story of Paul does not stand the scrutiny of factual realty;
c) the Virgin concept is the ultimate male sexual fantasy and infatuation with the never never attainable pristine virgin female;
d) the Catholic theology is a rehash of, now discarded, Greek world view prior to the Common Era;
e) the Catholic fixation exclusively and solely on one organ of the human body represents neurotic and psychological disorder;
f) the clergy of the Church behaves much worse than the “ Big Brother” in George Orwell’s book “1984”;
g) the Catholic Church is the epitome of anti-life paradigm making its adherents mental wrecks;
h) the Catholic Church has brought only misery to the human realm especially in the intellectually backward and superstitious third world;
i) there is tell-tale dichotomy between the preaching and practice of the clergy who by and large lead comfortable life exploiting the inborn anxiety of the superstitious of the gullible;
j) the Catholic faith has been by and large rejected by the enlightened West and it is viewed as an anachronism by a significant segment in today’s world and
k) the bloated statistics of membership put up by the Church include mostly name-sake Catholics; it is a propaganda misinformation.
Notes : * quotes from “Eunuchs For The Kingdom Of Heaven “ by Uta Ranke-Heinemann, Ph. D. In Catholic theology, University of Essen.
# Morris West