A SEXUAL MANIFESTO: MODERN ENLIGHTENED THINKING ON HUMAN SEXUALITY
TRADITIONAL CHRISTIAN TEACHING ON SEX
AN ORTHODOX CHRISTIAN RESPONSE TO THE POINTS IN THE SEXUAL MANIFESTO
By Monk Andrew
A SEXUAL MANIFESTO MODERN ENLIGHTENED THINKING ON HUMAN SEXUALITY
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This Manifesto is an invention only in the sense that this writer has
joined together in it many current ideas, using a manifesto format. The contents, however,
are no invention. This Manifesto is fundamentally an organized collage of actual quotes
from actual people, passionate testimonies of personal faith that I have heard from a large
number of clinicians over the past two decades in Florida, New Jersey and New Mexico, and
from American clergy friends twenty-eight and more years ago in Puerto Rico and elsewhere.[I have added in brackets a few
brief comments, and references to recent public events.] These ideas are repeated
continually by myriad counselors, educators, clergy and other professionals. On numerous
occasions I have heard many of these convictions, complete with their inherent logical
inconsistencies, spouted forth by the same person.
I have heard and read these veritable dogmatic formulas in many
different places and they tend to "all sound alike." One gets the strong impression that
these beliefs have universal currency in our culture. That impression is confirmed when
you discover that every American who has been in our public school system and/or in college
has been catechized with these ideas. Anyone who grew up mainline Protestant, and since
the late '60s, Catholic as well, has probably been taught some of these ideas in church or
at young people's meetings! Many of us have absorbed a number of these ideas into our way
of thinking without realizing it. And we have done that in spite of their many
self-contradictions and their anti-Christian implications.
Never, before the composition of the following Manifesto, have I seen
these widely believed and broadly touted statements of belief set down together in one
written profession of faith. Most of us are so inured to these ideas that seeing them in
print or hearing them one at a time our emotional reaction is "so what else is new?"' But
when the many tiles of this mosaic of conventional wisdom are arranged together, forming a
vivid portrait of our cultural values, both their seductive power and their maddening
inconsistencies are vividly revealed. The completed image is rather disturbing.
In lectures, classes, clinical staffings, and even in denominational
meetings where these fundamental principles are discussed or referred to, and where lip
service is breezily offered to consistency, it is assumed that "everybody knows" the
apparent inconsistencies are actually illusory. To enable that process of self-deception,
the contradictory nature of the material is almost always somehow masked so as not to be as
uncomfortably obvious as it turns out to be in an "all-inclusive" format. But when the
individual points are mercilessly recorded side by side, their inconsistencies cry out for
ridicule. These would indeed be hilariously funny if the consequences were not as tragic
as those of children locked inside a burning house!
In spite of the inherent irrationality clearly evident throughout this
Manifesto, the following material is today accepted by millions and taken with deadly
seriousness, in toto. (Literally "in all." An equivalent English expression is "hook,
line and sinker.") These statements are believed dogmatically by millions who themselves
delight in decrying dogmas! The contents of this Manifesto function as the creed of many
influential educators and writers of textbooks. These doctrines are commonly taught as
"gospel" in school. This is the faith of the militant and highly successful religion of
Secularism, which in effect is anti-Christianity, and indeed, anti-traditional-Judaism.
In spite of its myriad self-contradictions, this secular creed promotes itself as
"scientific." It is seen as "caring," "tolerant," "open," and "progressive."
The points in this Manifesto cover a number of issues other than sex,
but one soon realizes that they have a strong connection with one or another modern sexual
question. They are in fact used regularly to support current views on the subject of
sexual liberation. Is modern thinking primarily "mostly about sex"? Does the issue of sex
serve in our culture the same function as bread and circuses in the Roman Empire? What a
frightening consideration! "You can do anything to us you want. You can even take away
our political freedoms, but please don't threaten our precious sexual rights!"
I have frequently heard the anti-Christian remarks found in the
Manifesto expressed crudely, as recorded. But more often the expression "religious
people" is used as a polite euphemism for "Christians" (to avoid accusations of bigotry?)
as if the millions of people who solemnly profess the following confused dogmas do not
themselves overqualify as religious people!
We encourage the reader to pay very close attention to the points in
this Manifesto. On careful examination, one realizes that very many assertions in the
Manifesto diametrically contradict the previous point(s). (That often happens in real-life
situations where these statements are recited with religious conviction!) Some of the
assertions, in their self-contradiction, condemn themselves, for example, the highly
dogmatic statement that "dogmatism is absolutely evil." Similarly, if one seriously
espouses several of the views found in the Manifesto, one is thereby guilty of the same
fault he accuses others of. For instance, the assertion that "authoritarianism is
disgusting" is itself an authoritarian remark! Keep a lookout for others!
A SEXUAL MANIFESTO
The Thirty-three Points
(A Collage of Politically Correct Expressions of Belief)
l. The problem with conservative Christians is that they are dogmatic,
and dogmatism is absolutely evil.
--A. Christian leaders tell their constituents how to believe and how to behave.
--B. It is wrong to impose one's values on others.
--C. The Constitutional amendment separating church and state forbids religion to
influence or affect public policy. [The First Amendment actually forbids establishing a
national church, while insuring freedom of religion, and freedom of speech.]
------(1) Most conservative Christian leaders are white males so what do you expect. White
male conservative Christians are typically racially biased and insensitive to gender
------(2) Conservative Christians are not humanitarians.
2. Conservative and traditional-type Christians are all
fundamentalists of one kind or another, and fundamentalism is clearly evil.
--A. We don't need light from authority figures in the past [except post-Enlightenment
philosophers, and ancient Oriental spiritual teachers.]
3. Prejudice and authoritarianism are disgusting.
--A. If Christians get political power, they will take away our freedom and turn
America into a Puritan police state.
--B. Christians will force their views on everybody. ['We sure won't! We stand for
total freedom of conscience!']
--C. The very idea that some kind of 'culture war' is going on in our society is stupid
and groundless. Besides, it wouldn't be taking place if the conservative Christians would
mind their own business, and stay out of the public arena where they don't belong.
------(1) Enlightened Christians who think like us are okay.
4. Conservative Christians stereotype groups, races and
5. Today Science has absolutely proved that there exist no
absolute truths. (cf. Nietzsche 1883)
6. Belief in moral absolutes is not only rigid fundamentalism,
but also clearly a sign of severe psychological impairment.
7. Deconstruction teaches us that all human principles are
merely highly personal subjective constructs.
--A. Since moral principles are merely subjective constructs, therefore, 'There is no
black or white, there is no wrong or right.' (Monkeys 1968).
8. No human behavior is discernible by reason and logic as
'moral or immoral by nature,' The Catholics apparently first invented this ridiculous
concept of so-called natural law. [In fact it comes from the pre-Christian Stoic
philosophers. St. Paul, familiar with Greek philosophy, uses the concept in Romans
--A. Logical thought is merely a patriarchal construct typically used by males to
------(1) women are not significantly different from men.
----------a. Only sexists see men and women as different except in terms of physical sexuality.
------(2) Clinical studies show that the dynamics of therapy groups differ sharply in
relation to the male-female ratio in each group, and whether the facilitator is male or
female. (Rosenberg 1992.)
--B. It is obvious to everyone that human rights are a given.
--C. We know now, of course, that all forms of discrimination and injustice are by the
very nature of things wrong.
--D. Sexual enjoyment is simply totally natural behavior. It is merely a form of
harmless fun. Only occasionally does it have any connection to reproduction, and it is not
necessarily linked to marriage.
9. It is obvious there exist no absolute truths or moral
--A. It is also clear that child abuse is totally evil. [But of course, that depends on
how you define child abuse.] Preventing the birth of unwanted children before they become
human beings is not child abuse. Abortion is instead merely a simple medical procedure,
which the highly sensitive majority on the Supreme Court established as a legal solution
in heartbreaking situations.
10. Humankind and human knowledge are steadily evolving into
better forms and higher concepts. 'Newer is truer.'
--A. The history of the 20th century demonstrates beyond a shadow of a doubt that we
have become steadily more and more humanitarian.
11. We all know the Nazi Holocaust was the worst massacre in
human history. It should never be allowed to occur again. [The abortion massacre, of
course, doesn't count!] Some people feel Stalin also killed a few people. And of course
Saddam Hussein. Maybe the Turks also, and some others.
--A. We dislike religious people intensely because nothing causes war and conflict more
than narrow-minded Christian dogmatism.
12. It doesn't matter what you believe as long as you are
sincere. All religions are equal.
--A. Traditional Judeo-Christian values should be despised, and if possible,
eradicated. ['Some animals are more equal than others.' (Orwell, Animal Farm.)]
13. The use of the word should is a form of self-oppression,
and indicates low self-esteem. It should be avoided.
14. The Government should be totally neutral in religious
--A. Of course sometimes the state has to take unfortunate severe legal measures against
religious groups that teach non-progressive doctrines which scientific studies and public
opinion show are contrary to the common good.
15. Opinion polls are one of the most valid measures of
democratic public opinion.
--A. Discernment is of the essence. If the polls manifest progressive opinion it
indicates grass roots support, but if they don't, the population sample is not
--B. The suggestion is silly that poll questions are often tendentious, i.e., that they
tend to bias one's answer.
--C. There is no evidence that opinion polls influence public opinion in any significant
16. Pornography and sexual harassment are absolutely evil and
always totally contrary to the well being of women. [Mainstream Feminists have recently
--A. Whether consensual or not, sexual contact between a boss and an employee is
disgusting, demeaning, evil behavior, and should never be condoned under any
------(1) Research demonstrates that women victims never ever lie about sexual harassment and
rape. (cf. A. Hill, 1991.) We should always believe the woman victim. [But apparently
any woman who makes sexual accusations against an ideological 'icon' is clearly not telling
17. Children are equal to adults, and their wishes should be
--A. Children have the right to reject their parents.
--B. Children (like adults) have the right to invent their own values, and should be
allowed to make their own decisions.
--C. It is discrimination to assume children are limited in their perceptions of how to
18. Freud and other social scientists make it clear that
children, like adults, are sexual beings with deep sexual needs. (Freud 1928.)
--A. Children have the right to experiment sexually however they choose. (Ellis 1930.
19. Freedom of active sexual expression is necessary for
healthy functioning in life, and happiness.
20. Autoeroticism is perfectly natural and healthy.
--A. Children should be instructed in school how to engage in autoerotic techniques.
(Ellis 1930. Haeberle 1978.)
21. Since children are equal to other human persons, parents
should be honest with them, saying, 'This is what I want you to do,' not 'This is what you
--A. Children should never be saddled with nouns of behavior that are purportedly of
'universal validity,' such as the dogmatic concept that there are things you should and
should not do.
--B. It is clearly evil for society, and especially for Christians to impose their
personal sexual mores on others, especially children.
------(1) Scientific clinical surveys and other studies indicate that such dogmatism, far
from giving children healthy values, actually warps young, people, creating sexual hang-ups
22. There is no fundamental difference between boys and girls
when we treat them differently, we promote later adult sexism.
23. The public schools must be kept free from religious dogma.
--A. Moral norms are basically religious and; therefore, have no place in
--B. In order to avoid saddling children with moral prohibitions, we teach that
all sexual behavior is okay.
--C. We make certain, that students do not develop a belief in a Creator.
--D. By avoiding the question in class, we imply that even if God exists, he
(she) is irrelevant in the real world.
--E. We maintain religious neutrality by assiduously avoiding any discussion of
the place of religion, especially Christianity, in history.
24. People are not truly responsible for their behavior --
society and early childhood experiences make them act as they do.
25. All Christian teaching against homosexual practice is
homophobic, and causes acts of violence against homosexuals.
--A. Homosexuality is merely a natural product of evolutionary development.
--B. Violent acts against homosexuals are typically perpetrated by so-called
devout Christians. (Simply not so.)
------(1) Most abusive males are religious Christians. [This contradicts all
--C. It is fundamentalist Christian propaganda that churches which favor law and
order promote the protection of all minorities.
------(1) The members of the KKK claim to be religious so that settles the question.
[Rabbi Daniel Lapin writing in American Enterprise (1999) says Jews are ''blessed" to live
in this country, not in spite of the fervent Christianity of most Americans, but because of
26. The biggest problem with conservative Christians of all
sorts is that they [unlike us?] are judgmental.
27. The age of sexual consent for a post-pubescent teenager is
merely a question of legal opinion and may be lowered at any time by a majority legislative
vote or high court decision. [The English House of Commons voted in January 1999 to lower
the age of homosexual consent to 16 and has sent the bill on to the House of Lords for
28. Rape, the severest form of sexual harassment, is always
very wrong, and deserves the harshest punishment. [Except when engaged in by someone
special we highly approve of.]
29. Every form of sexual contact of adults with minors, both
male or female, is always a type of rape, and as one of the very worst of all evils, it
should be dealt with severely.
--A. [This demonstrates that:] We have very strong moral principles. We occupy
the highest moral ground. We care about victims. We respect the need for boundaries. We
do not believe 'anything goes,' as fundamentalists allege.
30. Some unhealthy people might imagine that 'putting two and
two together' there are a lot of liberated ideas about sex today (such as in this
manifesto) that can validly be used to justify adult/underage young person sexual
activity. They cannot.
--A. Doubtless lurking in this egregious assumption is the Christian
rightist/fundamentalist attitude that consistent logical processes lead us to truth.
(As noted in point 8.A., insistence on logic is merely patriarchal arrogance.)
31. [One's interpretation of points 28./29./30.A., however,
depends of course on how you define 'rape.'] Highly qualified clinicians wonder if Dr.
Alfred C. Kinsey's scientific conclusions might not be correct that under favorable
circumstances adult/underage young person sexual activity is merely a harmless natural
alternative form of healthy sexual expression. (Kinsey 1948, Haeberle 1978.) [Most
clinicians today adamantly disagree. In spite of this, they have already 'sold the
store.' Rejecting traditional moral principles and logic, they believe values are all
based on sincere feelings, i.e., let your authentic feelings be your guide!]
32. 'Claim your truth.' 'Do your own thing.' 'What counts is
how you sincerely feel.' [Diametrically opposed views, such as seen above again and again,
are felt by many to be all equally valid.]
33. As humanitarians we are totally committed to Freedom of
Religion, Freedom of Conscience, and Freedom of the Press.
--A. The Government needs to deal severely with anyone who out of moral or
religious bigotry disagrees with enlightened views about human sexuality. Such reactionary
attitudes stand in the way of human progress, and threaten all our hard-fought-for gains in
TRADITIONAL CHRISTIAN TEACHING ON SEX
AN ORTHODOX CHRISTIAN RESPONSE TO THE POINTS IN THE SEXUAL MANIFESTO
The Orthodox approach to morality is not legalistic. It is never a
question of "a rule is a rule which you must obey, simply because the people in power have
made it a rule." Moral standards are understood instead as spiritual prescriptions for
healthy behavior, showing us the way of living that promotes spiritual growth and true
joy. Moral norms teach us as well how to avoid behavior that is personally and socially
destructive. God's moral law, confirmed by centuries of trial and error, is in effect
the ultimate "Maker's instructions."
Since World War II it has been alleged on many occasions that
traditional Christian sexual morality is sex-negative (i.e., against sex.) That perhaps
sounds attractive to modern ears, but it doesn't survive objective research. Closer
scrutiny shows that Christian moral teaching is instead quite sex positive. Sexual
activity within its God-given boundaries is a good of the highest order, indeed sacred.
By the Creator's design, sexual relations between a man and a woman have a twofold
purpose: l) to create the next generation; and 2) to signify and celebrate mutual love,
and eternal commitment. In effect, sexual relations between a married couple are viewed
in the Christian Tradition as a sacred manifestation of the couple's permanent marital
commitment. But obviously if such a commitment does not in fact exist; then sexual
relations become in effect the moral equivalent of a lie.
From the traditional Christian perspective then, the twofold purposes of
human sexual expression, namely reproduction and interpersonal commitment, together foster
family life. This perspective provides the foundation of all Christian sexual morality.
Christian Tradition teaches that to remove human sexual activity from this life-giving
context transforms it into unhealthy behavior, debasing God-created and ordained human
capacities. From a traditional Christian viewpoint, common modern teachings about sex are
themselves highly sex-negative, for they promote misuse of good human capacities.(footnote 1)
Similarly, the common allegation that Christian sexual teaching is based
on a puritanical abhorrence of the body is without historic foundation. The Bible from
beginning to end makes that clear, as does later Christian teaching. Modern commentators
often mistakenly identify the ascetic teaching of St. Paul, or the Christian modesty of the
Fathers, with agnostic disdain for the body. They teach that conclusion by projecting
their own agnostic disdain for the realities of nature onto traditional Christian writers.
Nor is Christian modesty "sex-negative." It is rather a paramount example of the Christian
custom of veiling that which is sacred. For example, in the historic Liturgies of the
Church holy people, places, things, and times, are veiled to signify their sacredness.
Similarly, although the Orthodox marriage rite is obviously about sex, out of deep respect
both the liturgical texts and the ceremonial veil the sacred subject of marital sex.
It is important to add here that in the Church's many centuries of
experience the art of long-term sexual abstinence for the unmarried, when achieved, is
truly liberating. That is a major reason one finds much serene joy in places like Valaam
Monastery in Russia, or among the monks of Mount Athos, or the nuns of Ormylia in Greece.
A life of peaceful chastity, even for those who will one day be married, is not unlike
sober living for the alcoholic. One may need to struggle to achieve such chastity, but it
is not at all impossible. Disciplined fasting, prayer and free obedience to an experienced
spiritual guide teach us how to obey our own holiest aspirations. This is the experience
of all the spiritual lights of the Church, both male and female.
Many modern authorities in the Orthodox Church view the use of
contraception within the bonds of matrimony as permissible. (Although this is now a widely
accepted teaching, it remains an open question, having no approval from a General Council.)
What is certain, however, is that in the Orthodox Church no advocate of
contraception-within-marriage views the practice as anything more than a permitted pastoral
economic. (Economia, "household-management," is a Greek canonical term indicating a
mitigation of the standards for sufficient pastoral reasons.) Economia allowing
contraception is patterned on ancient Orthodox canons permitting a second or even a third
marriage (but no fourth) after either divorce or the death of a spouse. The highly
penitential liturgical rite for blessing second and third marriages makes it obvious that
this practice is clearly a pastoral economia, not the celebration of a "norm." The norm
in the Church remains only one marriage. Economia in allowing second, or third, marriages
is permitted simply because the Church can envision the possibility of real good and
healing resulting from them.
But in the Tradition there is no concept of economia blessing sexual a
ctivity outside of the sacramental commitment of matrimony. In her more than three
thousand years of existence (in Christian Tradition the Christian Church is understood to
be the continuation of the Old Testament Church) non-marital sexual activity has been
consistently experienced as potentially destructive behavior, giving birth not only to
undesired infants, but also to mistaken beliefs, unhealthy situations, and profound
personal tragedy.(footnote 2) Nor has extra-marital sexual activity been found to foster sober and
deep spiritual living. All additional discussion of sexual behavior takes place with the
Church's centuries of consistent experience in mind.
Footnote 1. In Orthodox countries there have been at times stringent
secular laws against some forms of sexual behavior, and extreme permissiveness for others.
The Byzantine Empire, for instance, tolerated prostitution, but legislated against
homosexual relations (probably most often what our culture identifies as pedophilia.) But
the laws forbidding certain types of behavior were typically enforced only in cases of
public scandal. There is no tradition of "vice squads" in Orthodox Lands. Nor today do we
favor secular legal proscriptions for adults. Orthodox Christians are not
characteristically "nosy" about what might be the private relationship between two adults.
That is considered a matter between them and their spiritual father or monastic mother. It
is taken for granted that all go to sacramental confession, and all are struggling to
reach the highest standards of Christian sexuality.
Footnote 2. This traditional Christian view finds an echo in some research
documents. In them, secular clinicians report evidence of direct links between a
"harmless" practice like habitual masturbation, and a variety of later problems. For that
reason they consider masturbation to be much more problematic than clinicians commonly
assume. Viewing the practice in terms of behavioral psychology, they suggest that
masturbation can easily produce a negative example of Pavlovian conditioning in which the
intense gratification derived from masturbation is paired with very harmful fantasies.
Among the resulting problems they cite cases of confusion about sexual orientation, rape
tendencies, and much more commonly, the inability to relate to another person sexually.
Masturbation has also been identified on occasion as a "gateway drug." Many adolescents
compulsively use it as if it were a drug, thereby gaining perceived benefits which they
later discover are more abundantly supplied by much more powerful actual drugs.