Monday, May 20, 2013

Never Trust Anyone Who Hasn't Looked in a Mirror
By Emily O'Malley

         The other day I came across an article that must be seen to be believed. It’s called “Never Trust Anyone Who Hasn't Been Punched in the Face,” written by a man named Scott Locklin. It's been receiving a great deal of attention and praise. I clicked on the article because the title intrigued me. What followed was a tangent so riddled with misogyny, gender stereotypes, racism, homophobia, and outrageous misinformation that my husband theorized that it may actually be from another world, transported to ours via the Tardis.
          I briefly wondered if it was satire, but as I continued to read, I realized the truth. Locklin wholeheartedly believes his own bunk. He’s expressed the same views in other articles he’s written, most of which are featured on (Taki’s Magazine is a publication which pretentiously describes itself as “mental caviar.” The “About Us” page claims that they’re politically and ideologically neutral, but they mainly publish material that is sexist, racist, or homophobic in nature. Only two of their columnists are women, both of whom are virulently anti-feminist. Another regular columnist is Pat Buchanan, who wrote a piece bemoaning the “anti-Christian” assault on Christmas. Despite the fact that 77 percent of American adults identify as Christian, America is clearly an anti-Christian country and Christmas is in grave danger of going the way of the dinosaurs and Paris Hilton’s career.)
         I couldn’t resist adding my own input. Locklin’s article follows below, and my own commentary is the bold print after each of his paragraphs.


“Conservatives like to talk about the causes of Western Civilization’s downfall: feminism, loose morality, drug abuse, Christianity’s decline, reality TV. Blaming civilization’s downfall on lardy hagfish such as Andrea Dworkin is like a doctor diagnosing senility by an old person’s wrinkles. The fact that anyone listened to such a numskull is a symptom, not the cause, of a culture in decline.”

        At first I was perplexed as to why he’d mention Andrea Dworkin at all, let alone mark her as the first target of his diatribe. She’s hardly relevant to this topic or to modern public discourse. Later on in his screed, I realized why. You’ll see.

“The cause of civilizational decline is dirt-simple: lack of contact with objective reality. The great banker-journalist (and founder of the original National Review) Walter Bagehot said it well almost 150 years ago: ‘History is strewn with the wrecks of nations which have gained a little progressiveness at the cost of a great deal of hard manliness, and have thus prepared themselves for destruction as soon as the movements of the world gave a chance for it.’”

      “Hard manliness”…I see what he did there.

“Every great civilization reaches a point of prosperity where it is possible to live your entire life as a pacifist without any serious consequences. Many civilizations have come to the state of devolution represented by modern Berkeley folkways, from wife-swapping to vegetarianism. These ideas don’t come from a hardscrabble existence in contact with nature’s elemental forces; they are the inevitable consequence of being an effete urban twit removed from meaningful contact with reality.”

           …And this article was penned by a Berkley-dwelling number cruncher who self-admittedly has “limited experience with violence.” Also, referring to wife-swapping as an act of “devolution” contradicts his own argument, since that practice would almost certainly lend itself to a population increase. He makes it sound like a mainstream lifestyle within our society, rather than something marginal. Now who’s the one “removed from meaningful contact with reality”?
         A side note: Why the bitterness about vegetarians? This resentment is pervasive in his other articles as well. Did this guy have a traumatic experience with a soy burger or something? And how presumptuous—and inaccurate—to assume that vegetarians don’t get into fights. There are wrestlers, MMA fighters, and other athletes who eat vegetarian and vegan diets. You don’t need to eat meat to kick ass.
        I may be overanalyzing a bit, but it seems that Locklin equates "meat eater" with "tough guy" because to him, meat isn't just a part of one's diet. He appears to think that eating an animal is an act of conquer. It's one of many examples of his overcompensation. (Not that every non-vegetarian eats meat because they want to "conquer" an animal, but those who regard vegetarians as weak and wimpy seem to hold that attitude. It's a form of posturing that's near-painful to listen to.)

“The over-civilized will try to portray their decadence as something “highly evolved” and worthy of emulation because it can only exist in the hothouse of highly civilized urban centers, much like influenza epidemics.”

         Actually, non-urban people can certainly be vegetarians or wife-swappers. And influenza epidemics are hardly limited to “highly civilized urban centers.”
        Yes, it is flawed reasoning to deduce that a behavior which can only exist in a highly advanced society must, in itself, be an evolved and highly productive behavior. But as we've established, vegetarianism and non-traditional marriages don't fall into this catagory. Another fact to consider is that a society resting on fistfights, gang violence, and abuse is not highly evolved, and certainly not one to strive toward. Technology doesn't separate us from that way of life, either. On the contrary, technology often enables us to develop more far-reaching forms of warfare.

“Somehow these twittering blockheads missed out on what the word “evolution” means. Evolution involves brutal and often violent natural selection, and these people have not been exposed to brutal evolutionary forces any more than a typical urban poodle.”

        In other words, people never face violence in cities? Cue a blank stare.

“Through human history, vigorous civilizations had various ways of dealing with the unfortunate human tendency toward being a weak ninny. The South Koreans (for my money, the hardest men in Asia today) have brutally tough military training as a rite of passage. I’ve been told that the Soviet system had students picking potatoes during national holidays. The ancient Greeks used competitive sports and constant warfare. The Anglo-American working classes, the last large virtuous group of people left in these countries, use bullying, violent sports, fisticuffs, and hard living.”

           There is so much wrong with this paragraph that I barely know where to begin. You’re either a violent bully or a “weak ninny”? Wow, someone’s dichotomous thinking is showing. He uses the ancient Greeks as an example of a group that thrived because they were stoic and aggressive. They were tough, but also every bit as “decadent” as the contemporary urban masses he sneers at. Not only that; he’s trying to condone brutality by using ancient Greece and the Soviet Union as examples to emulate, though both of those governments fell. (Whether their downfalls were due to warfare or in spite of it is beside the point.) In regard to the Soviet Union, he criticizes their form of government later on in his essay. This article has the consistency of a bowl of Jell-O.
           He lauds bullying as some sort of strength of character, when by its very definition, it is anything but. Bullying is the act of targeting someone vulnerable; someone who won’t pose a challenge to oneself. In that sense, a bully is a coward.
          Also, the Anglo-Americans are “the last virtuous group of people left in these countries”? Mad props on the xenophobia and white supremacist overtones, bro.

“I think there is a certain worldview that comes from violent experience. It’s something like…manhood. You don’t have to be the world’s greatest badass to be a man, but you have to be willing to throw down when the time is right.”

         Or, in the author’s case, you have to imagine you would hypothetically be willing to beat up those nefarious wife-swapping vegetarians if one of them kidnaps you in his Prius, force-feeds you his homegrown soy products, and tries to rope you into his polyamorous marriage. In reality, any one of those folks could probably kick him to the curb with their faux-leather Birkenstocks.

“A man who has been in a fight or played violent sports has experienced more of life and manhood than a man who hasn’t. Fisticuffs, wrestling matches, knife fights, violent sport, duels with baseball bats, facing down guns, or getting crushed in the football field—men who have had these experiences are different from men who have not. Men who have trained for or experienced such encounters know about bravery and mental fortitude from firsthand experience. Men who have been tested physically know that inequality is a physical fact. Men who know how to deal out violence know that radical feminism’s tenets—that women and men are equal—are a lie. We know that women are not the same as men: not physically, mentally, or in terms of moral character.”

           Welcome in, sexism! I was wondering when you’d arrive. For those of us less fluent in Misogynese, his dig at women roughly translates to: “I’ve been blocked too many times on OKCupid.” BTW, way to knock feminism without the slightest inkling about what it is. By asserting that men and women are equal, feminists do not claim that both genders are “the same.” As far as that’s concerned, men are vastly different from other men and women vary greatly from other women.
          From the get-go of this essay, he’d set the bar pretty high in terms of gender clichés, and this paragraph does not disappoint. The statement that “a man who has been in a fight or played violent sports has experienced more of life and manhood than a man who hasn’t” is meaningless. You could say that a man who’s attended college or traveled to foreign countries is different than a man who has not. That generalization could apply to anything.

“Men who have fought know how difficult it is to stand against the crowd and that civilization is fragile and important. A man who has experienced violence knows that, at its core, civilization is an agreement between men to behave well. That agreement can be broken at any moment; it’s part of manhood to be ready when it is. Men who have been in fights know about something that is rarely spoken of without snickering these days: honor. Men who have been in fights know that, on some level, words are just words: At some point, words must be backed up by deeds.”

           “Civilization is an agreement between men to behave well.” He completely excludes women from his definition of civilization, even though we make up over half the population and we certainly fight, too. As far as words being backed up by deeds, who’s to say that those deeds always have to be violent in nature? There are numerous ways to change society, stand up for oneself, and gain power without employing violence. Civil disobedience, boycotts, changing laws, suing one’s oppressors, and gaining media attention are just a few of those methods. History has shown time and again that there are myriad factors which contribute to people gaining power. You don’t need to be a bloodthirsty brute. People climb to positions of influence by way of intelligence, talent, useful information, money, manipulation, social connections, and more. Not all of those are positive or honest means of ascent, but they’re not necessarily violent.

“Above all, men who have been in fights know that there is nothing good or noble about being a victim. This is a concept the modern “conservative movement,” mostly run by wimps, has lost, probably irrevocably. They’re forever tugging at my heartstrings, from No Child Left Behind to Israel’s plight to MLK's wonders to whining that the media doesn’t play fair to the overwrought emotional appeals they use to justify dropping bombs on Muslims. The Republicans even took seriously a pure victim-candidate: Michelle Bachman. As far as can be told, she’s a middle-American Barack Obama with boobs and a slightly loopier world view.”

            Ah, yes. You can’t write a racist, sexist, xenophobic piece without a good old fashioned dose of victim-blaming. No, a victim is not always a brave or noble person (it would depend on the individual), and it’s true that victimhood is not a badge of honor in itself. At the same time, it is neither a sign of weakness nor a fair cause for derision. Many people who have been victimized have chosen to turn their experiences into triumphs by learning from them and using their unique insight to help others avoid their own plights.
           Besides, what kind of alternate universe does he live in? Is there really a parallel world in which the modern GOP is overly sympathetic to marginalized victims? Or another planet in which Republican media frequently invokes the rhetoric of MLK? No Child Left Behind was in no way a sentimental initiative. Sure, it used a double-speak name in a shallow attempt to sound more humane, but it focused on punishing schools for their underperforming students. It assessed a student’s entire aptitude by their grade on a standardized test.
          As far as the comparison of Obama to Michelle Bachman, I have no words. Just an incredulous blink.

“Modern “civilized” males don’t get in fistfights. They don’t play violent sports. They play video games and, at best, watch TV sports. Modern males are physical and emotional weaklings. The ideal male isn’t John Wayne or James Bond or Jimmy Stewart anymore. It’s some crying tit that goes to a therapist, a sort of agreeable lesbian with a dick who calls the police (whom he hates in theory) when there is trouble. The ideal modern male is the British shrimp who handed his pants over to the looter in south London.”

1.) A great many civilized males and females play violent sports. What makes them civilized is the fact that they don’t allow that violence to leak into other areas of their lives.
2.) I understand using examples of John Wayne or James Bond, but when was Jimmy Stewart ever regarded as a masculine ideal? He was admired, but never seen as especially macho. Additionally, James Bond is highly educated and cultured—two qualities that Locklin often thumbs his nose at.
3.) This can be paraphrased as “real men don’t cry or go to therapists.” I just rolled by eyes so far that I’m surprised they didn’t lock into place.
4.) Aside from the glaring sexism and homophobia inherent in using “lesbian” as an insult for men, it’s not even consistent with his other thoughts. He hates men who he sees as “effete” and “wimpy” (his definition of feminine). In the beginning of this article he took a swipe at Andrea Dworkin for her feminist outlook, but her perspective was far from pacifistic. She was frequently criticized for being forceful and endorsing violence toward male supremacists. She doesn’t represent the face of feminism at all; there’s great variation within the movement. However, the author seems to use her as an example of the quintessential feminist. He only criticizes aggression when women use it. This tells me that it's not really passivity he objects to; it's people who don't conform to gender stereotypes.
5.) He is in no position to express contempt for those who would call the police instead of taking vigilante action. Unless he’s prepared to take down a burglar with his own brass knuckles (or tin knuckles, more likely), it’s just plain ridiculous for him to judge. Anyway, police are trained to maintain order and use violence if necessary, so you’d think he would appreciate their societal role.

“How did we get here? Estrogens in the food supply? Cultural Marxism’s corrosive influence? Small families? Some of the greatest badasses I’ve known had many brothers to fight with growing up. When good men who will fight are all extinct, there is no more civilization. No lantern-jawed viragos are going to save you from the barbarian hordes. No mincing Nancy boys with Harvard diplomas will stand up for the common decencies: They’re a social construct, dontcha know. The conservative movement won’t save you: They’re chicken-hearted careerists petrified of offending a victim group.”

           Sounds like someone’s a subscriber to WorldNetDaily.
           Plenty of scrappy adults grew up without brothers to fight with, and plenty of pacifists have siblings.
          Why does he have a problem with barbarian hordes? They’re far from the “mincing Nancy boys” he disdains. It sounds more like he wishes he were a member of a barbarian horde instead of a metropolitan office worker.
          His anti-intellectualism makes little sense, since he seems to be desperately grasping for the tone of a Harvard graduate. He believes that “common decencies” are not a social construct, but blindly insists that bullying, sexism, rigid gender roles, homophobia, and overcompensating machismo are healthy and innate aspects of our nature. Doesn't common decency require us to not hold those attitudes?
         And once again, he asserts that American conservatism somehow panders to victim groups. I don’t know which bodily orifice he pulled that concept from, but it certainly was not from his head.

“Teddy Roosevelt, my ideal President, kept a lion and a bear as pets in the White House and took his daily exercise doing jiu-jitsu and boxing. He even lost vision in an eye in a friendly boxing match while he was president. Our last three glorious leaders are men who kept fluffy dogs and went jogging. I don’t trust squirrelly girly-men in any context. When confronted with difficult decisions, they don’t do what’s right or tell the truth—they’ll do what’s easy or politically expedient. Unlike the last three, Teddy Roosevelt never sent men to die in pointless wars, though he was more than happy to go himself or risk his neck wrestling with bears.”

         So he believes that an ideal president treats himself as expendable by choosing to go out and wrestle with bears while the country is in his hands?
        And “real” men don’t own fluffy pets? I wonder if he’s aware that his favorite president had guinea pigs.

“I’m no great shakes: I’m a shrimpy egghead in a suit who thinks about math all day. I don’t train for fighting anymore, and my experiences with violence are fairly limited. Nonetheless, I judge people on these sorts of things. When I first meet a man, I don’t care what kind of sheepskins or awards he has on his walls. I don’t care if he is liberal or conservative. I want to know if they have my back in a fight. That’s really the only thing that matters.”

        He recognizes this about himself, yet believes he’s still in a position to judge. Not only that, but he claims not to judge people by their political views while assuming that a liberal would be unwilling or unable to defend another person in a fight.
       Then again, what do I know about logic or consistency? I’m just an “effete urban twit,” and worst of all, female. I should just spend my days picking flowers and baking cupcakes for a bored internet-surfing financier who wishes he were a Skyrim character. He’s the real expert on what life is all about.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Now I remember why I don't use Craigslist.

So, I have an interesting story to share with you all.

Mike and I have been looking for a new apartment because he needs to be closer to his job. We've finally decided on a place. While we were still looking, we considered a certain apartment in Bridgeport. We visited, and an older lady (I'll just call her "Betty") gave us the tour. Now, she seemed nice enough at first. A bit high-strung and neurotic, but friendly. She came across as the kind of person who could be fun in small doses. The apartment was lovely and reasonably priced, so Mike and I prioritized it. Although we liked Betty well enough, she had some mannerisms that were off-putting. We would be engaged in pleasant conversation, but as soon as either Mike or I expressed a (reasonable) concern, she would start yelling at us. It would happen like this:

Me: "I really like the way the sunlight floods into the rooms. It's cheerful."
Betty (smiling): "Yes, it's beautiful, isn't it?"
Me: "I notice there's no laundromat nearby, though."
Betty (dramatically stepping back as the smile dropped from her face): "IT'S ONLY A SHORT DRIVING DISTANCE AWAY! WHAT DO YOU EXPECT, A PALACE??"

This sort of exchange occured more than once. She pushed for us to sign the lease immediately. When Mike said he wanted to discuss it with me and call her in a few days, she shouted, "A FEW DAYS?? And what do you need to discuss it for? There's nothing to discuss! It's perfect!" When I asked about the price of utilities, she answered me and then indignantly added, "I think this apartment is just fine! I'd be very happy with a place like this!" Her mood shifts were so abrupt that it was jarring. It couldn't be attributed to age. She was elderly, but clearly not senile.

Mike and I went home and thought about it. We toured another apartment that we really liked, and the landlord was laid-back and friendly. The neighborhood was cute and we'd be allowed to keep our cats there. The cats are important to us, and the other apartment had a no-pet policy. That was the deciding factor, so Mike called Betty and informed her that we'd decided to live somewhere else. Betty became even pushier. She insisted that we revisit the apartment and said she would lie to the landlord about our cats. Mike responded that he appreciated the offer but didn't want to move there under false pretenses. (Plus, it would be pretty difficult to hide our kitties. They're very friendly and love to greet everyone who comes to our door.) Betty told him she would persuade the landlord to relax the no-pet rule for our sake. She also told Mike that the other apartment we had toured was in a bad neighborhood, and said, "You don't want to worry about your wife walking around on those streets!" Now, there was absolutely nothing sketchy about the area, and there has never been a single break-in at that apartment building. Her tactics were growing increasingly manipulative and wearing down on our nerves. Nonetheless, Mike agreed to meet with Betty and see the apartment again. We figured we should give it another chance.

We returned to the place on Saturday. Betty spoke with us while we waited for the landlord to arrive. She said she'd told him we only had one cat, and instructed us to keep up the ruse. I was wary right away. When the landlord came, Betty continued to pressure us. Just like the last time, she rapidly alternated between speaking pleasantly and then becoming angry and defensive whenever we asked questions or expressed concerns. When she mentioned that we'd looked at another place, she made it sound like we'd betrayed her. The landlord pointed out that she'd shown the apartment to other people too, and she looked embarrassed when he said so. She expected us to have a monogomous relationship with the apartment and refuse to cheat on it by seeing any others.

When Mike and I left, we were still undecided. However, the events on Sunday changed it all.

We hadn't planned to talk to Betty on Sunday. The landlord had said he would call us on Monday (today) and let us know if he'd decided to lease us the apartment. But yesterday, Betty called us four times and left four separate messages. The last three calls were made within only three hours. The final one was from her cell phone. I suspect she knew we were ignoring her and used her cell so we wouldn't recognize the number. She just wouldn't leave us alone. Mike was getting more irritated, so he didn't answer. Her fifth attempt came early this morning and Mike called her back. He put her on speaker phone. As soon as she answered, she told us we'd gotten the apartment and scolded us for failing to respond to her earlier messages (in the same breath). Mike told her we decided to go with the other one. She gasped and asked, "Why? What happened?" This was the ensuing discussion:

Me: "Well, there are a few different reasons. For one, the other place costs less."
Betty: "But you'd only be saving fifty dollars a month!"
Me: "That adds up to six hundred dollars a year. And I still think the cats would pose a problem--"
Betty: "The cats would be no problem at all! The landlord said he'd make an exception for you!"
Me: "Even so, he doesn't know we have three cats. It would be hard to hide the others when he comes by to collect rent. And he said the neighbors aren't supposed to know about our pets, which will be difficult. What if we make friends with the neighbors and want to invite them over? It would be weird to hide the cats from them."
Betty (shouting): "It wouldn't be so hard to hide them!"
Me (not shouting): "Also, we like the neighbors at the other apartment. They're a friendly Jamaican couple and they make delicious food that they'll be happy to share."
Betty: "There's plenty of good food around this place!"
Mike: "We like the other neighborhood better."
Betty: "Where did you say the other apartment was? Crowley Street?"
Mike: "Yes."
Betty: "Well I've got news for you, boy! Crowley Street is not a good neighborhood! If you care about your wife at all-"
Me: "Honestly, your approach is putting us off."
Betty: "What? I'm not doing anything wrong!"
Me: "You're being pushy. It comes across as manipulative."
Betty: "Wha--no! No, I'm not like that! I'm not pushy!"
Me: "You're being pushy right now."
Betty: "I can't believe this! Everybody likes me!"
Me: "I never said we don't like you. I said you're being too aggressive."
Betty: "I AM NOT BEING AGGRESSIVE!! Now I'm going to get in trouble for not leasing the place. I hope you're happy!"
Mike: "I'm sure the landlord will understand."
Betty: "You should have told me you're not moving in!"
Me: "We're telling you now."
Betty: "I can't believe this! I thought you were such a nice girl! Boy, was I wrong!"
Me: "We have the right to say no, and this is really unfair. I'm hanging up now."

With that, I hung up as she continued to argue. I've got to say, I don't think I handled the situation badly. I managed to speak in an even tone the whole time, even though she was screaming. Mike said he was proud of me, although he felt badly because she's an old lady. I felt guilty at first, but then lost sympathy for her as she became more conniving and hostile. That's the thing: It's good to be polite, but you are not obliged to please someone who's being outrageously rude to you. A person can be a bully at any age, and they're never too old for you to stand up to them.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

An old poem

I wrote this one a few years ago and rediscovered it tonight.

Birth of a Star
By Emily O'Malley

When a wish takes form
It breaks free and ascends
To the boundless cosmic expanse.
The hopeful seed nestles
Into a cloud
Until it rises from the haze and
Nourished by moon's milk
In a celestial garden.
The stars hang from their stems,
Waiting to be picked
By those who plant them.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

The Anti-Sex Attitudes That Harm Religion

             This is an essay about the sexually oppressive attitudes found in fundamentalist Christianity (as well as in the more conservative sects of other religions). I will explain why I don’t think the Bible actually promotes such restriction. In writing this, I have no intention to bash Christianity or any other faith. I also won’t preach to anyone or claim that something is true simply because the Bible “says” so. I’m just going to explain, to the best of my knowledge, what it really reads. You can use this information however you wish. Ideally, this perspective will be refreshing. If you and a fundamentalist are discussing a sexual topic, this essay may be a useful resource. If you are religious and feel burdened by sexual constraints, I hope this piece will ease your worries.
            I welcome your thoughts on this matter.

*     *     * 

Part One: Language

Last month I read an article that addressed the decline of organized religion in the Western world. It said that in recent years, less young people have been identifying with Judeo-Christianity. They are not all atheists; they simply wish to distance themselves from any theological label. It’s no coincidence that at the same time, many who do identify with religion are becoming more extreme.
            When a group notices their membership is dwindling, they often respond by tightening the reins. It’s a classic attempt at self preservation, but tends to yield the opposite result. I think that Jesus taught the ideal tenets to live by, but the modern surge of fundamentalism has alienated me from Christian gatherings. Many others have told me that they share this sense of estrangement.
            Not all fundamentalists are stern, humorless, or self-righteous. However, there is a good reason why these traits are frequently ascribed to them. I’ve heard a great deal of fundamentalists express the following beliefs: “You can’t truly love anyone unless you’re a Christian.” “If you’re not a Christian, you’re an atheist by default. You may believe in another god, but ours is the only one that’s real.” I have also heard fundamentalists accuse non-Christians of “trying to rob God of his glory by refusing to worship him.” This falsely assumes that everyone believes in God, and that anyone who is not a practicing Christian is simply refusing to comply out of willfulness. They fail to see that anyone of any ideology could easily make the same claim. It doesn’t help that they tend to construe any form of dissent as persecution.
            These issues are frustrating and polarizing, but I think the biggest source of contention is sex. By this, I don’t just mean intercourse. I mean any sex-related topic at all. It’s very difficult to establish a comfortable friendship with someone if you have to walk on eggshells when you speak to them. I know fundamentalists who cringe when they hear the word “underwear.” There are plenty who want to censor media that contains sexual language. This is odd, since it’s such a prevalent theme in the Bible. In fact, the scriptures cover all of the following topics:
-Incest (Genesis 19:30-38)
-Bestiality (Exodus 22:19; Leviticus 18:23, 20:15-16)
-Prostitution (Revelation 17:1-6; Joshua 6:25)
-Concubines (Genesis 25:5-6; 2 Samuel 3:7, 5:13, 16:20-23)
-Rape (Genesis 19:1-8, 34:1-31; Deuteronomy 21:10-14, 22:23-29, 2 Samuel 13)
-The rhythm method (Genesis 38:8-10)
-Breast fondling (Ezekiel 23:3, 8)
-Nocturnal emissions (Leviticus 15:16-18; Deuteronomy 23:10-11)
-Circumcision (Genesis 17:9-14; Acts 16:3; Galatians 5:1-4; 1 Corinthians 7:18-19)
-A battle in which King David killed 200 men and kept all their foreskins as trophies (1 Samuel 18:23-27)
-Castration (Deuteronomy 23:1; Matthew 19:12)
-A scene in which God grabs Jacob’s testicles (Genesis 32:25)
-The practice of placing a hand on a man’s testicles as he swears a sacred oath; hence “testify” (Genesis 24:9)
-Menstrual blood (Leviticus 15:19-33)

Last but not least, it makes references to donkey penises and horse semen (Ezekiel 23:20. Look this up on if you don’t believe me!)
As you can see, sex and genitalia are broadly covered in scripture. However, some Christians are still uneasy discussing it. Some argue that the Bible may address certain practices without endorsing them. This is true. Notwithstanding, the scriptures don’t condemn all of the acts listed above, either. Some are mentioned without any judgment passed upon them. To me, this means that the Bible does not forbid dialogue about sexual matters. And if we can talk about it, why not also joke about it?
Some cite Ephesians 5:4 as a prohibition of sexual humor: “Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving.” But in this context, “obscenity” and “coarse” have different meanings than they do today. “Obscenity” is translated from the Greek word aischrotes, which means “filthiness.” Something can be “filthy” without any sexual connotation at all. “Coarse joking” translates from eutrapelia, which has a variety of definitions. These include “abusive,” “evil,” and “sexually aggressive.” Thus, coarse talk is not merely sex-related talk. It refers to speech that is sexually abusive; with the intent to make others feel degraded. According to the etymology, yelling unwanted explicit comments at a woman would be considered “coarse,” but making a non-malicious innuendo would not. Telling a “that’s what she said” joke would not be classified as sinful. Whether or not a statement is vulgar depends on the speaker’s intent. The same is true for cursing. When James 3:8-10 instructs Christians not to curse, it does not pertain to modern-day expletives. It refers to the actual act of “cursing” or wishing harm upon someone. Saying “I hope you die” is a curse. Saying “bullshit” is not.
The terms and gestures we consider obscene are socially relative. Centuries ago, the words “pants” and “pregnant” were deemed inappropriate. (Maternity clothing would have been a very taboo topic!) In the Middle East, offering your left hand for a handshake is a grave insult. In the Middle Ages, Germanic words were seen as vulgar because the English thought the Germans were unrefined. As we can see, our standards of “proper” language are trivial and subject to cultural change.

Part 2: Sex and Marriage

            Certain Christians may still conclude that the Bible forbids them to joke about sex because of Matthew 15:18-20, which denounces “sexual immorality.” But what is sexual immorality according to scripture? Throughout the Bible, various sex acts are described as immoral. These consist of incest, rape (unless one rapes a woman from a rival tribe), bestiality, adultery, and fornication. The word “fornication” has caused great confusion over the course of history. Today, it is most commonly associated with “premarital” sex (which is a phrase completely absent from the Bible). More conservative Christians have extended the definition to include any intimate contact outside of marriage, and even sexual thoughts. This interpretation is not biblically supported, either. According to Matthew 5:32, “But I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for fornication, makes her the victim of adultery, and anyone who marries a divorced woman commits adultery.” This clearly indicates that fornication can mean an activity other than premarital sex, since it would be impossible for someone to have premarital sex while they are married.
            The two Greek words translated to “fornication” are porneia and fornicatio. “Porneia” has the following meanings: incest, bestiality, adultery, and fornication. “Fornication” is derived from fornicatio, which meant prostitution. It came from the Latin word fornix, which meant “under the arch.” That refers to the fact that in ancient Rome and Greece, prostitutes stood under the public archway to solicit customers. Some people may respond that this pertains to premarital activity because women who had sex before marriage were considered “whores.” This argument does not hold up, because Ezekiel 16:33 states that “all prostitutes receive payment” (some translations say “receive gifts.”) Ergo, the Bible defines prostitution as the exchange of sex for money or rewards. It is distinguished from promiscuity in this sense. Promiscuity is also different from premarital sex. One can choose to only be intimate within a committed relationship, whereas a promiscuous person chooses their partners non-discriminately.
            While I’m on the subject of marriage, I’d like to point out that it may have a more subjective meaning than we’ve been taught. What qualifies a couple as married? It’s not a wedding, since you can be legally wed without going through the ceremony. To be married in a legal sense, you only have to sign some paperwork. But legal documentation doesn’t make a marriage, either. People were marrying each other long before paperwork was ever part of the process. Do the vows bond you to your spouse? Not if you don’t keep them. If a couple is legally married but are not committed or loving to one another, are they still married in a spiritual sense? I don’t believe they are. In that way, the vows don’t determine the marriage. Some would say that you’re only genuinely married if you say your oaths to each other and to God. If you follow this logic, it would infer that atheists cannot be married. Obviously, that’s ridiculous. Because of these quandaries, I believe that marriage cannot be narrowly defined. As long as two people love each other romantically and are completely devoted to their union, I think that can be considered a form of marriage. Sex within this type of relationship is healthy.
            In ancient Israel, there did not appear to be much of a distinction between a fiancé and a spouse. When Mary was engaged to Joseph and became pregnant, he was sure she had been unfaithful and planned to “divorce her quietly” instead of inciting a public scandal. How would he have been able to divorce her unless they were, in some way, already considered married? Deuteronomy 22:23-24 mandates that a man who rapes an engaged woman must be executed for violating another man’s wife. Notice that they are not officially married yet, but she is still called his wife. In various periods of history, engaged couples have been considered married. For the first five centuries of Christianity, the Catholic Church allowed betrothed couples to be sexually intimate. This was also broadly accepted in Colonial America.
            Back in the days of ancient Israel, however, it was unusual for women to carry on sexual relationships before they were married. This is because most people were married off as soon as they reached puberty. On average, they married at age thirteen. Mary was said to be fourteen when she gave birth to Jesus, which means she most likely became pregnant when she was only thirteen years old. It has always been unusual for people to be sexually active before adolescence (unless it’s non-consensual). Also, most marriages were arranged by the parents for financial gain. A wedding was basically a business transaction in which the wife was purchased. They did not date beforehand, and certainly didn’t wait to get to know each other first.
            In 1 Corinthians 7:8-9, Paul wrote, “Now to the unmarried and the widows I say: It is good for them to stay unmarried, as I do. But if they cannot control themselves, they should marry, for it is better to marry than to burn with passion.” When he mentioned passion, he was talking about promiscuity and sexual obsession. He was not declaring that it’s evil to have a libido before you’re married. In addition, he specified that he was sharing his own opinion, and that God was not using him as a mouthpiece (1 Corinthians 7:25). 2 Timothy 3:16 claims that all scripture is inspired by God, but that in itself was not classified as scripture when it was written. Paul’s letters were not seen as scripture at the time, either.
1 Corinthians 7 is frequently cited as evidence that the Bible forbids premarital sex. It is important to examine this letter in context. Socially, women (or, rather, 13-year-old girls) were expected to remain virgins until marriage. However, the expectation was socially sanctioned rather than biblically mandated. In their culture, slavery was an accepted norm, too. When Paul wrote this epistle, he knew that a bride would be shunned and victimized if she was “discovered” to be non-virginal. (However, their method of “proving” virginity was shoddy at best. A lack of blood on the bed sheet does not disprove virginity. Not all women bleed the first time.) For this reason, Paul believed a man should be punished for lying about his wife’s sexual history. He also believed that a girl should be held accountable if she pretended to be a virgin, but that was because he objected to any kind of dishonesty.
I suspect that the historical fixation on women’s virginity is mainly rooted in competitiveness. It’s a race to see who “gets there first.” The focus is also engendered by the concept that women are property, not people. According to this rhetoric, marrying a non-virgin is like buying used merchandise. The seal is broken; the original packaging unwrapped. We’ve all heard the misogynistic adage, “Why buy the cow when you’re getting the milk for free?” This dehumanizes women by comparing us to livestock and commodities. I have never heard this expression used in reference to a man. On a related note, men in ancient Israel were not expected to be virgins until marriage. Even after being wed, they were not required to limit their sexual partners. A married man could keep concubines and sleep with his slaves, and these actions were not considered adultery. Plenty of “righteous” biblical figures kept sex slaves, and the scriptures did not criticize them for it.
Even today, the classic bridal ensemble contains symbols of virginity. The white fabric invokes images of bed sheets. The veil clearly represents a hymen, since it’s a thin layer the groom must penetrate to gain full access to his bride. People say the white denotes “purity,” but this is clear code for virginity. Unsurprisingly, it isn’t customary for grooms to don white. To me, the quality of “purity” is irrelevant to virginity and should be recognized as such. I see purity as a state of optimism, idealism, honesty, and good intentions. In this way, you do not need to be a virgin to be pure. 

Part Three: Homosexuality

            The underlying misogyny of idealizing virgins can be seen in homophobia as well. Sexism and homophobia are tightly interwoven. Anti-female attitudes are a strong driving force behind the denigration of gay men.
            Almost everyone who is anti-gay disdains homosexual males because they “act like women.” Socially acceptable women are soft-spoken, gentle, and nurturing. If a man fits this description or partakes in interests traditionally deemed “feminine” (fashion, dance, etc), he is assumed to be gay and often ostracized. At the core of this lies contempt for “female” characteristics.
            Anti-gay Christians justify their rejection of the LGBT community by quoting Genesis 1:27; Leviticus 20:13; 1 Corinthians 6:9-10; 1 Timothy 1:10; and Romans 1:26-27. They’re also fond of mentioning Sodom and Gomorrah. However, none of these verses provide a valid reason to shun homosexuals.
Genesis 1:27 says that “…God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him, male and female he created them.” This is taken by many to mean that the only permissible relationship is between a man and a woman. Granted, this is the most common union and regarded as the general standard. That does not mean it’s the only acceptable pairing, though.
Leviticus 20:13 is another favorite passage for anti-gay believers to quote: “If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them.” We have to remember that this is but one part of the Leviticus holiness code, which no longer applies. The holiness code was introduced mainly to differentiate the Israelites from other Middle Eastern tribes. It was meant to be observed by Jews, not by gentiles. This code included bans on shaving, cutting one’s hair, wearing two different types of fabric, and eating shrimp. Whenever it called something an “abomination,” it meant it was ritually unclean. This did not indicate that it was fundamentally immoral.
Jesus overwrote these laws and taught that instead of clinging to a rigid and complicated code, we are simply to love God and love one another. He said he came to fulfill the law, not to destroy it. “Fulfill” is translated from the word pleroo, which means “to come true.” It does not infer that he came to continue or add to the code. According to the text, he chose to obey all the laws so the other Israelites wouldn’t have to. Once he had “fulfilled” the ordinances in this way, the Jews could be freed from them. See Hebrews 7:12, 8:6-13, 10:1,9; Romans 7:4-6, 10:4; Ephesians 2:14-16; Colossians 2:14-17; and Galatians 3:23-25, 4:21-31. These passages all explain that the Old Testament laws are no longer required, which includes the ban on same-sex relations.
While some will concede that Christians are not bound by the Leviticus code, they argue that the prohibition of homosexual activity is featured in the New Testament and thus still applies. This claim doesn’t hold its weight under scrutiny.
In 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 it is stated: “Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.” The phrase “men who have sex with men” is translated in some modern versions as “homosexuals.” The word “homosexual” never appeared in the Bible until the 1940s, though, and had previously been translated as “effeminate.” All of these interpretations stem from the two original Greek words, malokois and arsenokoitai. (Arsenokoitai was also mistranslated to "those practicing homosexuality" in 1 Timothy 1:10, New International Version.) “Malokois” refers to young male prostitutes, and “arsenokoitai” refers to the older men they serviced. This denounces a form of child prostitution that was common at the time. It does not relate to consensual sex between two men of appropriate age.
Paul wrote in Romans 1:26-27, “Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed shameful acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their error.”
Now, that passage brings several interesting points to mind. The first is that Paul was not labeling same-sex relations as sins in themselves. Instead, he speculated that homosexual attraction is the punishment for another sin. Specifically, he believed it to be the consequence of worshipping pagan gods. He likely saw a correlation between paganism and homoerotic activity because the latter was commonly incorporated into pagan rituals. We must be aware that the sexual acts performed in those rituals were far removed from the intimate type of sex that occurs within loving gay relationships. During the rituals, men engaged in public orgies with one another. They were also known to include bestiality, prostitution, and castration in their ceremonies. These were certainly “shameful acts.”
Paul was not making a judgment about the homosexual orientation. In the ancient world, no one was even familiar with the concept. Same-gendered lovers did not live together, date, or start families. Paul could not have been referencing something he had never heard of.
He didn’t use any word that meant “homosexual,” as no such word existed. He never said that being gay was unhealthy or immoral. The word he used was physikos, which was translated into English as “unnatural.” In modern parlance, “unnatural” denotes that something is perverse. This is not the meaning of physikos. It actually means “that which is not produced by nature.” Today, any reputable scientist will tell you that same-sex attraction is produced by nature. It has been observed in over 1,400 species. It’s an involuntary instinct. Biologists call homosexuality a genetic trait. Pagans who partook in same-gender relations for religious rituals were not acting in accordance with their inborn drives. They were presumably heterosexual, and only performing such acts for the sake of the ceremony. Therefore, they were not behaving in a way that came naturally to them. This was a form of social coercion as well as self betrayal.
Genesis 19:1-29 is the final, and perhaps most famous, passage used to promote gay bashing. This is the story of Sodom and Gomorrah. As one can deduce, the word “sodomy” is derived from this tale.
Sodom and Gomorrah were cities of great vice. The residents lived in decadence but refused to be charitable to the poor. They bullied outsiders and cared only for themselves. When two traveling angels came to the cities to see if they were as egregious as rumored, a virtuous man named Lot offered to let the angels stay at his home overnight. A group of townspeople gathered outside Lot’s door and threatened to rape the angels. In response, God destroyed both cities but spared Lot and his daughters.
This is not a cautionary tale about homosexuality. It’s an allegory of rape. The Sodomites intended to violate the angels, which were the purest creatures imaginable. Lot offered up his daughters in their place (despite being “righteous”), but the townspeople would accept no substitute. Raping someone of the same gender is no more sinful than raping a person of the opposite sex, and raping an angel represents the lowest form of depravity. The Sodomites would settle for nothing less. In Ezekiel 16:49-50, the sin of Sodom is explicitly explained. Once again, it is completely unrelated to gay sex: “‘Now this was the sin of your sister Sodom: She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy. They were haughty and did detestable things before me. Therefore I did away with them as you have seen.’” There you have it. A Sodomite is a rapist, or a grossly inhospitable person.

Part Four: Lust and Adultery

            One of the most harmful assumptions about same-gender relationships is that they are only based on lust. Plenty of gay couples share profoundly close bonds and a deep love for one another, just as many straight couples do. There are also heterosexual couples whose relationships are strictly lust-based, yet no one uses this fact to denounce heterosexuality.
            The word “lust,” in itself, is frequently misused. It’s often taken as a synonym for “libido,” as if it’s a sin to have a sex drive at all. This cannot be true, because an immoral act would not be necessary for reproduction. In its true definition, lust is a greedy, selfish desire that trumps all consideration for other people. This can definitely entail sexual acts that cause harm, like adultery or the compulsion to commit adultery. Lust, however, is not always sexual. One can be consumed with a greedy desire for money, power, or violence. Wishing for money or influence is not evil, nor is wanting or enjoying sex. If one’s yearning causes them to lose sight of compassion or reason, however, it has gone too far. This is regarded as sin.
            In Matthew 5:28, Jesus spoke of lust in relation to sex. The verse reads, “But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” This is another verse that has been vastly misconstrued over the centuries. Some have taken it to mean that it’s wrong to ever feel desire for anyone. Others even think it implies that if a man is single, he cheats on his future wife by thinking about other women! The former interpretation is wrong, because desire is not immoral, and Jesus was not even discussing basic sexual impulses. By “lust,” he referred to an obsessive and demanding yen that causes people to behave selfishly. In regards to the latter interpretation, it is only possible to commit adultery if you’re in an exclusive relationship or if you get amorously involved with someone who is. The idea of “cheating on your future spouse” is preposterous because you’re not even with that person yet. Furthermore, the Hebrew word for “woman” was interchangeable with the term used for “wife.” Since Jesus cautioned his disciples against adultery, I believe he was warning them not to covet one another’s wives.

Part Five: Birth Control

            The majority of overly restrictive attitudes result from misunderstandings. When analyzing the Bible, people often make this mistake: they read verses which only applied to specific people, but assume they apply to everyone. They find passages which were only relevant in the time they were written, but assume they’re always relevant. Those who assert that the Bible bans contraception are making this error.
            The belief is born of a flawed understanding of Genesis 38:8-10. In this passage, God killed Onan for using the rhythm method in lieu of impregnating his brother’s widow. However, the practice of withdrawal was not called a sin. Onan’s sin was his refusal to comply with God’s order. God had directly instructed him to impregnate the wife of his late brother, so that their lineage may continue. Instead, Onan used the woman solely for his own pleasure. This parable does not teach that sex is only for procreation. It conveys that in this particular instance, Onan was commanded to continue his bloodline, but shirked his duty. His transgression was disobeying God and exploiting the woman. Contraception was never condemned.
            Anti-contraceptive attitudes are also drawn from Genesis 9:7, in which God ordained that Adam and Eve be fruitful and multiply. (Incidentally, this quote seems to refute the popular but misinformed doctrine that sex was the “original sin.” In the story, God encouraged Adam and Eve to reproduce when they were still living in the Garden of Eden.) Some take this to mean that God was speaking to the whole human race through Adam and Eve, and therefore we are all supposed to reproduce. This is an extrapolation. In the context of this story, God was telling the two of them to have children. He was not addressing every person who would ever live. Even if he had been addressing others, it wouldn’t entail that every person must become a parent or that couples should only have sex with the intent to procreate. It would be a general guideline, not an all-encompassing rule.
            Grievous outcomes have resulted from the misapplication of these verses. The condemnation of birth control has contributed to overpopulation (and, in turn, poverty), unwanted children, the subjugation of women, and the spread of disease. Contraception, on the other hand, has curbed those problems immensely. The use of birth control is a much more responsible choice.

Part Six: Morality

            Numerous quotes from Jesus have been warped and used to justify harsh, prejudiced, and sexually oppressive outlooks. This is often influenced by the perception that Jesus was a fundamentalist.
            Jesus was passionately dedicated to Judaism and strove to share that passion with others. That being said, he was far from the current definition of “fundamentalist.”
            Today, fundamentalism is defined by strict adherence to doctrine, a literal understanding of scripture, and the notion that you cannot be a “true” believer unless you agree with an immutable set of tenets. Any dissent is disloyalty, and to question the tenets is sacrilege. By this definition, Jesus was not a fundamentalist at all.
            Jesus repeatedly encouraged his followers to question the traditional “orthodox” teachings. He told them to judge for themselves what is right (Luke 12:57). The Pharisees were like the Pat Robertsons and Jerry Falwells of the time, and Jesus criticized them for constraining people with too many demands. He also repeatedly exposed the fallacy of literal interpretation, which is driven by overly concrete thinking. Jesus’ disciples were accustomed to interpreting scripture literally, but he advised them to open their minds to a new and broader understanding. At one point, he encountered a woman at a drinking well and said he could offer her “living water” which would forever quench her thirst. She mistakenly thought he was talking about physical thirst and water, when he was symbolically alluding to her spiritual craving and the wisdom that would satiate it. When Jesus spoke of being “born again,” people were confused because they thought he was speaking concretely. In fact, when you read the New Testament, you can see that just about everyone who took abstract concepts literally was proven wrong. They served as examples of spiritual naiveté.
            Throughout Christian history, the scriptures have not always been read literally. Moreover, the tenet of Biblical infallibility did not come about until recently. It wasn’t deemed “inerrant” by mainstream sects until the early twentieth century. Martin Luther believed that the book of Revelations should be removed from the Bible. Now, people are accused of blasphemy if they express such an opinion.
            Those who insist on an entirely literal reading of the Bible and consider it inerrant also tend to lean toward a more fire-and-brimstone Christianity. They often confuse pessimism with realism, believing that theology can only be genuine if it’s unpleasant. Any approach that’s more hopeful is called “watered down” or “sugarcoated.” Such fundamentalists spend a lot of time defining who is or isn’t “Christian,” and exclude most people from the club. From my perspective, no one has the right to tell someone who regards himself as a Christian that he is not. It’s presumptuous to make that judgment call. I strongly disagree with the fundamentalist approach, but would never say they’re not “real” Christians. I think it’s better to emulate Jesus than to mimic people who think they’re like him. If anyone regards him or herself as Christlike, it automatically means they’re not. That type of self image is arrogant, which is un-Christlike by default.
            I think that biblical literalism (and the sexual oppression that grows from it) is the biggest threat to Christianity. This approach is woven from many assumptions, one being that a story cannot be mythological and true at the same time. These threads knit a shroud for Jesus and bury him under conjecture, rather than resurrect him.
            The Christian philosophy is corrupted when it’s reduced to a set of black-and-white statements that its followers must agree with. “Faith” and “belief,” the words most central to modern evangelism, have been distanced from their original usage. “Believe” derives from the word “belove.” To belove someone or something is to value it. Saying “I believe you” is not the same as saying “I believe in you.” The last sentence expresses the word’s primary intent. When the books of the Bible were written, to believe in Jesus was to love him. It didn’t oblige you to be certain he was the only son of God, that he had supernatural powers, or that his mother had been a virgin when she conceived him. If you believed in Jesus, it meant you respected him and sought to practice his teachings.
            The same is true for faith. Hebrews 11:1 is commonly translated as, “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” Many fundamentalists are inclined to think this means they should take things at face value without any supporting evidence, and even despite evidence that indicates otherwise. I highly doubt this is the message the author intended. First, hope differs from confidence. One anticipates an event they are sure will happen. They don’t hope for it. Hope implies a measure of uncertainty, which is not a negative thing. Secondly, this appears to be a mistranslation. The King James Version is much closer to the authentic biblical language, and it has an alternate translation of Hebrews 11:1: “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (emphasis by me). Substance is distinct from confidence. With this phrasing, the verse does not advise Christians to display fidelity to God by believing things against their better judgment. It defines faith as the foundation of what we hope for, and says that our hope is evidence of what we believe in. In John 20:29, Jesus told Thomas, “Because you have seen me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” Again, he was not asking Thomas to take things for granted without any proof. He was reminding Thomas to trust (belove) him, and had already demonstrated that he was worthy of Thomas’ trust.
            Trust is the opposite of fear, and religious fundamentalism is deeply steeped in fear. It generates neuroticism about God, sex, and secular culture. It exalts the spiritual while vilifying the physical, as if the two were irreconcilable. The body and spirit do not need to be at odds with one another. This isn’t even a biblical concept. Paul wrote about the conflict between flesh and spirit, but he never said that everything physical is evil. He used flesh as a metaphor for humans’ carnal nature. Carnality doesn’t always relate to sex. It’s the impulse to fulfill one’s desires at the expense of others. It is callous disregard for one’s fellow man. This can certainly involve sex, in cases like rape or adultery. At the same time, it can encompass plenty of nonsexual behaviors. Cruelty, theft, and all types of violence are carnal.
            Plato popularized the notion that the spirit and body are opposites. His writings have heavily influenced Catholic thought. Plato’s theories continue to resonate in our society. They can be found in dualistic thinking, such as the idea that a smart woman shouldn’t care about being attractive. It’s conveyed in the belief that one must choose between the body and the mind.
            Bodies and sexuality are not to be feared, nor is the secular world. Many fundamentalists are wary of nonreligious media and secular activities. But God is tantamount to good, so we honor Him as long as we do what is right. We honor God when we console a friend, feed an animal, or open a door for someone. God is also honored by self respect. One doesn’t need to be completely selfless in order to have compassion. On the contrary, empathy develops from ego. When we know how we want to be treated, we learn how to treat others. Whenever compassion is shown, Jesus is resurrected and returns to this world. As long as kindness lives on, Jesus will be born and born again.