Ronin of the Spirit

Because reality is beautiful.

Orgy of loneliness

Beautiful, isnt it.

Beautiful, isn't it.

I am often accused of being controversial for the fun of it.  Sometimes, I am.  However, often as not, I am just writing from the heart and my heart is, I guess, full of controversy.  If you are so offended by controversy that you cannot read something controversial to the end, please don’t read this, because I don’t want to deal with the questions and responses of people who only read half.  Also, if you don’t want to know about what I was thinking and doing in regards to sex when I was a teen, again, stop reading, because I am going to be totally honest.

I began looking at online pornography around the age of 12 or so.  Pornography is a available with many themes, and one that intrigued me was orgy themed pornography.  Orgy is a French loan word, which came to France via the Latin orgia, meaning secret rites or secret revels.  (For the not so literate, a revel is big party.) The idea here is a big party where secret rites are practiced.  I’m not clear on the etymology (story of the meaning of a word) but orgy came in English to almost exclusively mean “a bunch of people having sex with each other all at once”.

I wasn’t only attracted to the representation of orgy in pornography, I was attracted to the very idea of it, the concept of it.  This concerned me. As a young teen growing up in a very stereotypically Christian environment I had (obviously) the attendent sexual obsession, but also the attendent homophobia.  Half the people at an orgy were male. Though the men at an orgy were having sex with women, to be in a room where other men were having sex, even with women, seemed gay.  Homosexuality held absolutely no appeal whatsoever, but orgies seemed appealing.  I struggled to answer why.

Around the same time, I took an interest in cults.  I read everything I could get my hands on about cults, particularly ones that included sexual deviancy.  I think I did this because I considered the my desire for pornography, masturbation, sex, and particularly orgy to be a sin in and off it self. (A position, I might add, that the church agrees with.)  To look at porn and to masturbate were, in my mind, bad enough.  That I desired to do these things and to have sex with my female friends, and particularly desired to be having sex in a room full of other people having sex, was appalling to me.  I felt incredibly ashamed.  So, I guess it was natural that I looked for a group of people where everyone was like me, where my desires were not a deviancy to be ashamed off, but a communal value, perhaps, even a virtue.

When I discovered the record of the Oneida Community, it seemed that I had discovered paradise.  The Oneida Community was group of “Bible Communists” who lived in upstate New York.  They believed a lot fascinating things, but the ones of note here are their sexual practices.  Unlike many cults which have achieved infamy for their sexual oddity, the Oneida’s were not primary a “sex cult”, they were a real religious group which positively effected the world around them.  It just so happened they had some unique sexual practices.

The foundation of these practices, was called Complex Marriage.  Complex marriage was a theory.  In theory, every one in the commune was married to everyone else in the commune.  Everyone shared in parenting.  Sex was seen as both physical and spiritual.  They saw nothing sinful in sex as long it was practiced in their unique way.  They were not unaware of the procreative aspects of sex, and this figured into their social norms. They considered the ability to prevent ejaculation as spiritual discipline.  For this reason, young men were paired with post-menopausal women until they had mastered this control.  Men and women who were capable of prolonged and mutually enjoyable sexual encounters were considered spiritually mature.  Immature believers were paired with them until they learned the lessons, at which point they would also begin to rotate through the commune to spread “love”.  Each member had about 3 pairings a week.  All children were planned, wanted, and raised by all.

To me this sounded like the most wonderful state of human affairs on earth.  Of course, it didn’t last.  The values got corrupted and church leaders got the most nubile and young with whom they were not “spiritually disciplined” and had many babies, not all of which were wanted by the whole community.  Aside becoming selfish lovers, they also became selfish about those lovers.  Demanding that the laity share, the clergy refused to share their treasured few.

When I was 18, and looking to move out, I looked at several “swingers’ clubs”.  For the naive among you, a swingers club is often much more than a place where people interested in anonymous sex can meet (that’s what singles bars are for).  Swinger’s clubs have rules.  Often everyone gets together once a week.  In some clubs you can’t refuse anyone who asks, in others, there are certain formalities of asking.  Some clubs require that sex take place in front of all other guests.  Some require that it does not.   The point is, all of them have certain rules and methods of operation to prevent a sex cult from forming.  By “cult” I mean they struggle to make sure that everyone relates as equals, and no one had undo force on any other person, to ensure total consent.

None of them were attractive, and coming to undertand why helped me put two and two together.  The reason that orgy themed pornagraphy had interested me in spite of myself, the reason that the Oneida Community had seemed to call to me so much, the reason that the swingers clubs had so little appeal, was all the same:  What I wanted was the intimacy.  The reason that orgy as a lifestyle intrigued me was the idea of being so loved. To love a community of people, so much, and have that love be returned, to love the women so much that I could make love to any of them, and to love the men so much that I would share the women I loved with them was what I wanted… In short, I wanted to be loved. Not just by an individual, but loved by a whole group.

I wanted it, but I was a conservative Christian.  To me to turn my back on the values of Christianity was a death sentenence.  Once I even took one step on that road, the full consequences would be taken.  I didn’t really want to get into some freaky sex, I wanted to be loved.  I wanted, however, a love the church could not give me.  The church cannot love you for who you are, since you are at worst a sinner and at best a “saint who sins”. If who you are isn’t spiritual, then loving that part of you is sin.  They can love the part of you that prays, but not the part that works on trucks.  However if you pray and evanglize, then they can love the part of you that prays as well as the part of you that works for a living. They must love you because Jesus does.  I didn’t want to be loved out of duty or obligation, I wanted to be loved because I was unique and special.  My love of science is as much a part of who I am as my love of my wife and daughter.  I wanted to belong to a community that loved ALL of me, not just the spiritual parts.

As many of you know, when I was 18 I very seriously considered going to Philadelphia and starting a sex cult.  I never thought that this would be right or healthy.  In fact, even as I considered it, I thought that it would be corrosive to my very soul.  Ethylene glycol was an early antifreeze.  It is so like sugar that it even tastes sweet.  It brakes down into the blood just like sugar, cell by cell.  Then it goes to fuel the muscles just like sugar.  Then it metabolizes into poison, this poison is filtered out by the kidneys. They stop working, and you die.  Sex is so like real intimacy that its easy to confuse the two.  Then at some critical point in your life where you need intimacy to make it, all you have is sex, and a part of you dies.  I knew thats what would happen to me.  But I was so desperately lonely and hungry to be loved by a community of people, that I almost accepted the second best to nothing at all.  I didn’t care about the personal cost, I just wanted to be wanted, not because Jesus said so, but purely because of what I have to offer.

I didn’t go start a sex cult, I tried, instead, another avenue.  I thought maybe I should go into “ministry”.  I went to bible college, I tried campus groups, eventually, I even joined a wild eyed charismatic church who talked big about the coming revolution and change at any cost.  Let me make clear here.  My point is NOT is not about sex.  My point is that I was so desperate to be loved by a group of people that I would have used sex.  I would have done anything, I would have even given my life.  And so desperate was this desire, that knowing full well I counldn’t get it with sex, I was almost willing to to use sex just to feel like I had it when I did not.

None of it worked.  No mater what I did, I couldn’t be loved for what I have to offer, I had to be loved for who I knew, Jesus.  I couldn’t be loved for what I could do right now, I had to be loved for what I could do in some distant future.  And finally, and most painfully of all, I could not be loved for what I loved (science, skeptisicm, and rationality).  The community that I wanted so much was not available in the chuch.

Of late, I have been spending a lot of time in the company of athiests, agnostics, and skeptics.  For the first time in my life, I am loved by a group not because I am pimping Christ, not out of duty, and not because I have potential.  I am loved for what I am, and greatest of all, the things that are most important to me: critcal thought, freedom, and truth, are something that people admire about me instead of tolerate.  That which I am, is loved and respected instead of channeled into things which “support the cause”.

The desire that I have had since adolesnce to be loved by a group for who I am is finally fufilled.  The Oneida Ideal suddenly has no appeal for me as I get what I need from people who respect me.  I don’t to compromise who I am to be loved, I can simply be myself and people seek me out. That which the church denied to me for 25 years I have found in the rebels of the church.  I have that “one thing” and I won’t ever go back.


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July 16, 2008 - Posted by | Religion, Self discovery, skepticism, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

3 Comments »

  1. Hey, thanks for honesty. I think your story could be encouraging to a lot of people. I agree with your analysis about intimacy too.

    If you plan on publishing your book, you might want to read some other popular similar-themed memoirs on struggling with fundamentalist Christianity, such as Blue Like Jazz by Donald Miller.

    Comment by Heather | July 18, 2008 | Reply

  2. Israel –
    Daily you amaze me.
    -Natasha

    Comment by Natasha | July 22, 2008 | Reply

  3. […] But it did work in the early history of the Church; the Bible says so.  What made that time so different?  And the reasonable answer was repeated.  The question remained in the back of my mind, rolling around for years.  I suppose it was this question, in fact, which made me take the interest in cults I mentioned here. […]

    Pingback by Godless Love « Ronin of the Spirt | August 1, 2008 | Reply


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