08 June 2012

The Theology of Game

There was a question at Athol Kay’s site asking how Christian teachings match up with the concepts of Game.  “Christian teachings” is a rather broad term, and can refer to a variety of things ranging from any doctrine that any nominal Christian has ever taught to the specific and sole teachings of Christ on the matter.  Since I do not know what, specifically, is meant by “Christian teachings,” I will supply my own definition, which in this case will simply Biblical teachings.

In specific, the reader has concerns in five areas:  1) Attracting other women, 2) Alpha attitude, 3) Indifference to emotion, 4) Willingness to walk away, and 5) Hot kinky sex.  Before addressing each of these in turn, though, there are a couple of things that need to be put in order.

First, it is critical to understand that the relationship between males and females mirrors the relationship between God and Man.  In Ephesians 5, the Apostle Paul compares the relationship of husbands and wives to the relationship of Christ and the church.  This general metaphor is also found in the Old Testament as well, particularly in the book of Hosea, wherein the prophet Hosea is told to marry a prostitute in order to illustrate to the Children of Israel the pain that God felt for their unfaithfulness.  They way that a man feels when he knows his wife is a whore is the way God felt when the children of Israel forsook him for other gods.

Second, it is important to understand that humans—that is, those who bear the image of God—are expected to imitate God as dear children.  Thus, it would be hypocritical for God to tell his children to act in a way that differs from his own behavior, or to condemn his children for engaging in the same behaviors that he has engaged in.*

With this in mind, consider the first matter:  is it wrong for men to try to attract other women?  In Romans 11:11, Paul asks whether Israel had stumbled so as to fall.  He answers this question in the negative, and goes on to say that salvation had come to the gentiles in order to provoke Israel to jealousy.  In essence, God gave up his special relationship with Israel and turned his attention to the gentiles in order to make Israel jealous.  The relationship dynamic, in a metaphorical sense, is that of a husband engaging with other women in order to provoke strong feelings in his wife.  If God can and did do this, it would be hypocritical for him to condemn his children for doing the same thing.  Thus, it is not wrong for men to provoke jealousy in their wives.

The second matter—alpha attitude—is a bit vague in meaning.  I assume it refers to the general attitude of high self-regard (arrogance or confidence, depending on one’s view) and self-direction (leadership or selfishness, depending on one’s view).  God claims that he is radically superior to man.  Since their assertions were and are correct, this is not arrogance but rather a simple assertion of higher value.  I would posit that as long as one’s assertions of higher value are observably true, then it is not inherently arrogant to highlight one’s superiority.  The command in Romans 12:3 is to not think of yourself more highly than you ought.  It is not arrogant to, say, claim that you are extremely good at playing guitar if, in fact, you are extremely good at playing guitar.  Thus, it is perfectly acceptable demonstrate higher value, and to be confident in one’s higher value if one actually has higher value in some specific dimension.  Regarding leadership, I will simply point out that leadership is not only permitted, but actually expected, per Ephesians 5.

The third matter—indifference to emotion—also has interesting theological connotations.  In Matthew 13, Christ, in the course of explaining the parable of the tares and the parable of the dragnet, claims twice that those who are unacceptable in the sight of God will be cast into the fire where there will be “weeping, wailing, and gnashing of teeth.”**  There will certainly be emotional turmoil among those whom God punishes.  Interestingly, though, God is indifferent to this emotionality.  Those who have sinned against God will be punished, and no amount of crying or histrionics will change that fact.

 A broader point to be made regarding emotions is that of their purpose in creation.  Quite simply, we must ask ourselves why God gave man the ability to feel.  Perhaps it was merely a way for Man to bear the image of God (and God certainly experiences emotion).  Perhaps it was a way to prevent life from being interminably boring.  The emotions we feel certainly give life some degree of meaning.  However, we are not to be ruled by our emotions.  We may feel a certain way about something or at a given point in time in response to a specific stimuli, but we are not to be ruled by emotions.***  Extending this principle further, we should not be ruled by other people’s emotions.  As Christ said on the Sermon on the Mount, no man can serve two masters.  Man should thus serve God, not his emotions, or anyone else’s emotions, for that matter.

The fourth matter concerns a willingness to walk away.  This is really nothing more than an extension of the third matter, and both are merely applications of aloofness.  In the interest of brevity, I will simply note that even though God desires that all men to repent (i.e. turn to him), he neither forces men to repent nor excuses their lack of repentance.  In essence, if men do not obey God, he has no problem with leaving them alone to experience the natural consequences of their actions.

The fifth matter—hot kinky sex—has caused some consternation among Christians, probably because most people (Christians especially) are idiots about sex.  Catholics have correctly pointed out that humans were expected to be fruitful and multiply, and sex is thus intended to be procreative in nature.  Unfortunately, many have ignored the part of the Bible that talks about how two are to become one flesh.  Neurological studies indicate that rather intensive pair-bonding generally occurs during sex.  This suggests, then, that the purpose of sex is more than mere procreation; it is also a way to solidify the most sacred of bonds.

The two goals of procreation and pair-bonding are not inherently exclusive.  By the same token, they are not synonymous.  In fact, it would appear that the former is a subset of the latter, given that pair-bonding occurs during every occasion of intercourse though procreation does not.  At any rate, there is a serious problem when one builds a doctrine by considering only one of the purposes of sex.  To be blunt about it, procreation is not the only purpose for sex.  Therefore, it is theologically shallow to argue that it is immoral to engage in non-procreative sexual acts with one’s spouse.  Since sex also has the purpose of strengthening pair-bonding, any sexual act that strengthens the bond between husband and wife would be acceptable.  Furthermore, since variety is generally considered the spice of life, sexual experimentation within the confines of marriage is certainly acceptable.

I believe that it was Vox Day who, some time ago, asserted that concepts of Game are certainly compatible with Christianity.  I would say, though, that not only are the concepts of Game compatible with Christianity, they are the proper theological application of Christianity, particularly as it concerns the relationship between men and women.  Furthermore, the relationship between man and wife mirrors the relationship between God and Man, which means that there are many subtle spiritual truths to be learned by observing not only good relationships, but bad relationships as well.  Ultimately, marriage is but a way of looking at God through a glass darkly, and it thus behooves husbands and wives to consider whether their marriage properly reflects God.

* There are a couple of theological side points worth dwelling on here.  The first is that since all humans are made in God’s image, all humans are, in a sense, children of God.  Some of them may currently be prodigal.

The second is that this theological approach explains why God allowed men under the old law to marry two wives.  Romans 2:14-16 tells us that gentiles who lived by the law of conscience would be found acceptable in the sight of God, though the Jews still had to live by the Law of Moses.  In essence, God had entered into covenants with two different people.  One covenant was with the Jews; the other was with the gentiles.  In a metaphorical sense, God had two wives.  As such, it would hypocritical for him to condemn his children for doing what he was doing.

** Sounds like a woman who gets told no, amirite?

*** Just to be clear, I am not saying that we should deny our feelings, only that we should not be ruled by them.  If we, say, feel fearful, we should acknowledge that feeling but make sure to do what we know or believe to be best.  And yes, this is a very tall order.

11 comments:

  1. Nicely done, very thorough. We're such puritans, (especially Christians!) we can't bring ourselves to talk about it. Only naughty people do that.

    Of course our attitude also works for feminists. If we won't talk about it, they can change the unspoken rules right under our noses.

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  2. Christianity and other religions that have been around for an extended time are still around because they have survived the test of time. Or, to put it another way, they have been selected for in the process of natural selection. Our society today is here because the beliefs, morals & ethics taught over the centuries has allowed us to survive and prosper while societies that followed other belief sets failed.

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  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  4. Jesus was highly dominant in his relations with women, the original Alpha if you will, I wrote a post about this in the past: http://religionnewsblog.blogspot.com/2009/08/origins-of-game-jesus.html


    As a rule, Christian men are commanded to be the leaders in their marriages. Insofar as "Game" encourages that, fine.

    The problem comes in the definition of Game. Game arose in the context of Pick Up Artist culture, and was popularized on the internet through the synthesis of PUA technique with evo-psych theories.

    The popular packaging of this PUA/evo-psych synthesis has been done by quasi-pornographers, such as Roissy and FerBard, who are by and large, extremely hostile to religiousness and traditional morality.

    If you take your Christian discipleship seriously, you will not fellowship with this culture. It is that simple.

    I will leave you with this:

    "Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?"

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  5. Worlds 2nd Most Interesting Man08 June, 2012 17:45

    To be blunt about it, procreation is not the only purpose for sex. Therefore, it is theologically shallow to argue that it is immoral to engage in non-procreative sexual acts with one’s spouse.

    AFAIK, no serious Christians argue this. It is not "immoral to engage in non-procreative sexual acts with one's spouse" even for Catholics... as long as one does not frustrate the telos of the sexual union. To be utterly and unromantically reductive, it matters only where the squirts end up. Arbitrary levels (and orifices) of pre- and post- play may bookend that particular event. So you really can have your cake and eat it too!

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  6. @Suz- thanks.

    @Justin- Well if PUAs suggested it, it must automatically be contrary to God's word. I completely forgot about that rule of logic.

    When you're finished with your logically spurious ad hominems, feel free to offer a logically sound rebuttal to my assertions.

    @World's 2nd Most Interesting Man- Your argument is predicated on circular reasoning and is therefore invalid (the informal name of your error is the "no true Scotsman" error). There are Christians who teach that it is immoral to ever engage in non-procreative sexual acts, as evidenced by the reader asking about the biblicality of kinky sex. To me, it doesn't matter whether these Christians are "serious" (whatever that means). What matters is that there are some Christians who are teaching falsehoods.

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  7. Unless you are defining "non-procreative sexual acts" you are not making an argument at all. Is kissing a sexual act? Is that procreative? What about kissing the nipples? Equally non-procreative. What about cunnilingus? Still non-procreative. I know of no major Christian denomination, much less authoritative and binding Catholic teaching that would forbid any of these. Unless by "non-procreative sexual acts" you mean, specificially, "ejaculating where it don't go", then you arguing against a straw man, or at least an insignificant groups of Christians under a rock somewhere. But if you do mean that... then... well... you have your argument... but it does seem a very narrow definition of non-procreative sex acts.

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  8. "I know of no major Christian denomination, much less authoritative and binding Catholic teaching that would forbid any of these."

    Do you say this because you are ignorant, dishonest, suffer from low reading comprehension, or too lazy to do any research?

    Here is a direct quote from a Catholic catechism:

    "Any sexual act is unnatural if it is a type of sexual act not inherently capable of procreation. Thus masturbation, oral sex, anal sex, manual sex, sexual acts involving devices, and sexual acts involving persons of the same gender (homosexual acts) are all unnatural sexual acts. Any sexual act other than one man and one woman engaging in the type of intercourse inherently capable of procreation is an unnatural sexual act. Sexual acts involving three or more persons are unnatural sexual acts, even if there is at least one man and at least one woman, because only one man and one woman is necessary (and ordained by God) for procreation, and because having more than two persons harms the unitive meaning. If unnatural sexual acts are combined in some way with the natural sexual act, this combination is immoral, but each act remains either natural or unnatural." [Emphasis added. Source: http://www.catechism.cc/articles/marriage-bed.htm ]

    Now, if you had taken the time to read the linked post upon which my blog post was based, you would have read this:

    This one I don’t really have a problem with but thought I would throw it in. It does present some Christian match up questions and we all know that many Christian women have hang ups about sex based on Christian teachings while growing up (my wife did for years).

    The question here is what is acceptable and what isn’t. Christianity doesn’t seem to allow for anything goes in the bedroom. Lots of religions have made statements against anal, oral, etc etc. We all know that both parties in the marriage need to be comfortable with whatever is going on, but is there any basis in Christian teaching for limiting sexual behaviors in a marriage to rule out certain things? (I’m not talking about hardcore porn stuff here either, just the stuff it actually takes to get your wife sexually satisfied. If this could be done with just the missionary position and only p & v, well then that would be fine I suppose and we wouldn’t have this question).
    [Emphasis again added.]

    Obviously, then, there are at least some Christians that teach certain sexual acts are immoral, primarily because they don't result in procreation. Those who hold to these beliefs may or may not be in the majority, but they do exist. That is precisely why I addressed this issue in my post. Now, you may decry these people as outliers or unserious, but that is not a substantive argument; it is hand-waving. Since you have thus far persisted in illogic predicated on stupidity, willful blindness, ignorance, dishonesty, laziness, or some combination thereof, please kindly refrain from commenting on the blog. Your stupidity is not welcome here.

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  9. Worlds 2nd Most Interesting Man11 June, 2012 17:40

    Geesh, Simon, no need to get personal.

    What the catechism means is "completed" sexual act, i.e., the squirts end up in the wrong place. Elderly bachelors are skiddish that way; i.e., not naming things conjugal as clearly as they might--as clearly as those of us called to the conjugal union would.

    So if by "non-procreative sex acts" you meant the same thing, then, sure you have found a Christian denomination that disagrees with you. I did not take you to mean this at first, i.e., this narrow definition. Can a Catholic wife go down on her husband, licitly? Yes. As long as he doesn't "finish" there. Can they do anal? Same rule applies. Cunnilingus? Fine, as long as the dude doesn't cum on the sheets while he's down there. Whips & handcuffs? Doesn't even register in the CCC.

    What I'm saying depends on what one means by "non-procreative sexual acts"... which I've noted now multiple times. I take solace in the fact that nearly all of the time, you are a careful reader... only not this time.

    Ban me if you wish... I say this only because it is actually an important point. Many Christians are indeed confused about what types of conjugal behavior is licit within marriage. And they are confused precisely because "non-procreative sex acts" (NPSA) remains undefined. If by NPSA we mean defeating the telos of the conjugal union, i.e., cumming where it don't go (CWIDG) or taking a pill that tries to do the same thing, then that is a real argument betwixt extant and influential Christian factions, and there is little doubt in my mind, after seeing the effects of contraception on a culture, which faction is correct. But if by NPSA we mean merely kinky sex (that otherwise properly culminates in a manner open to life), then we are arguing about nothing, because neither major Prot denominations nor the RCC (properly understood) forbid that sort of thing.

    Hey, I'm a sex positive Catholic. What's not to like?

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  10. SG, have you ever read any of the Theology of the Body materials out there in the Catholic Church? Christopher West is one of the better authors on it or you can read BJP2's Man and Woman He Created Them.

    On the issue of sexual acts, from what I understand, sex has two ends: procreative and unitive. (Dr. Peter Kreeft said to see it from the perspective of investigating aliens. What would they determine as the purpose of sex in humans? Unity and procreation) To be clear, the unitive end involves pleasure, enjoyment, becoming one flesh.

    Now when a couple has sex, and no conception occurs, did the couple violate the procreative end? No, so long as no contraception was used, since there was no outright denial of that particular end. Even if NFP models (Creighton, Sympto-thermal) were used to determine that she was not fertile it still is not violating the procreative end if the couple, while seeking to avoid pregnancy through such means, is open to it occurring anyway against the odds if it be God's will. Also, a couple that has sex purely to try to get pregnant is not violating the unitive end of sex in doing so. If however a spouse uses the other in a non-loving way during sex, such as just getting off for the sake of it with the other, then yeah, the unitive end is denied because the act lacked love. And agape and eros are not supposed to be separated.

    The teaching is pretty big and elaborate, it would require a small series of blog posts to cover the major points, but I think you'd be interested in it. Google it and the names I mentioned when you have the time.

    As for specific acts, be careful quoting that website you used by Rob Conte, whose opinions are not official Church teaching. While I've never see a list of actually sanctioned sexual acts...Christopher West noted that certain acts, if their end was finish in coitus, could be used for foreplay. I believe he noted oral and helping hands being okay as foreplay so long as the man finished within his wife. Anal sex is forbidden since it violates the nature and end of that particular body part. But again though, not official. But don't put the words of one man as the words of the Church.

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  11. @W2MIM- I refer to the more narrow definition, of sperm ending up where it presumably doesn't belong. I figured the quoted catholic cathechism would have clarified this. My assertion and argument is that where one "finishes" should not be a major issue since procreation is not the sole or (I would argue) even the primary purpose of sex.

    @Durandel- I have not read anything on the theology of the body. I am extremely busy right now, and will not have much of a chance to pursue this further until the end of the summer.

    I don't disagree with your major points, but I do want to clarify that the reason for the above quotes was to demonstrate that there are some Christians, even within the Catholic church that teach non- or extra-vaginal sex is immoral. Obviously, not all Christians believe and/or teach this, but some do. Also note that my fifth point was in direct response to someone claiming that there were some Christians who forbade certain sex acts. As such, I was making a legitimate response, and not attacking a straw man as was supposed by another commenter.

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