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Hugh Hefner’s Philosophy on the Modern Man, Sex, Style and Playboy: Part 14
  • November 01, 2013 : 00:11
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Catholicism still considers civil marriage invalid for Catholics and opposes all divorce. It also forbids abortion—even therapeutic abortion, condoned by many Jews and Protestants.

The Church's concern over sex has led many Catholics into active participation in censorship groups and their concern over birth control has sometimes produced an antagonism to public sex education. It is understandable, therefore, why the Catholic religion is still viewed, by some, as basically antisexual.

There is a more liberal element with modern Catholicism, however. Dr. John Rock, a devout and highly respected Catholic scientist, is one of the major researchers in the field of oral contraception and in his bold book, The Time Has Come, he forthrightly faces the linked problems of overpopulation and birth control; he also expresses the opinion that no state government has the right or competence to legislate on the religious aspects of the problem (this comment from the Boston scientist refers especially to the archaic laws of both Massachusetts and Connecticut, which prohibit doctors from giving out any information on birth control to their patients, even when it is requested) and states his conviction that all governmental restrictions on birth control, written or unwritten, should be removed.

In this same area, it is worth noting that whereas our previous President, a Protestant, refused to approve a policy whereby the U.S. would give out birth control information to nations suffering with the problem of overpopulation, remarking, "I can not imagine anything more emphatically a subject that is not a proper political or governmental activity or function or responsibility." President Kennedy, a Catholic, fully endorsed such assistance and permitted his representative at a UN debate on the subject to say, "So long as we are concerned with the quality of life, we have no choice but to be concerned with the quantity of life."

The more liberal element in current Catholic thought is evident in this statement from The Church and Sex by R.F. Trevett, published in 1960 as Volume 103 of The Twentieth Century Encyclopedia of Catholicism, with the official nihil obstat and imprimatur: "We have an occasional sneaking wish that the laws of the Church might be modified.... Surely there is room for more tolerance toward those struggling with a very powerful instinct that is apparently always warring against principles....

"Why is our sex life bedeviled with problems? Are those problems genuine or the result of taboos?... If we can find positive and practical answers to these questions, we may also hope to discover something very different from the negation and prudery, the obscurantism and intolerance which many sincerely believe—and we Catholics must take our share for this sorry state of affairs—make up the Church's teaching on sex."

Protestant Morality

It might be assumed that the Protestant Reformation would have produced a more natural, positive, less restrictive attitude toward sex. Just the opposite occurred.

The Roman Church had started to become more liberal in its attitude on sex with the Renaissance and this sexual permissiveness was one of the things that Protestant leaders like Calvin and Luther opposed. Calvin, especially, preached a doctrine that rejected not only sex, but all pleasure.

Calvinist Puritanism became popular in England and, later, America. The Puritans perpetuated the witch hunts of the Inquisition which, as we recorded in the August issue, were predominantly sexual in origin. The interinvolvement of church and state was extended rather than diminished and the Puritans actually gained control of the English Parliament in the 17th century, overthrew the monarchy (executing Charles I in a manner that would have made the most bestial barbarian proud), and ruled the government for a brief period, until strong opposition to their oppressive laws forced them from power.

The English Puritans attempted to make "immorality" impossible by imposing the harshest of penalties. For adultery and for incest (the latter being defined as sexual relations between any couple prohibited from marriage because of their relatedness) the punishment was death. Because the Puritan rule was not a popular one, juries most often refused to convict, but in Puritan, Rake and Squire, J. Lane reports that a man of 89 was executed for adultery in 1653 (which, as we observed in September, age considered, may seem more a compliment than an injustice) and another for incest (with his brother-in-law's daughter) in 1656. These penalties were repealed with the end of Puritan rule, but as late as 1800, and again in 1856 and 1857, attempts were made to have Parliament reimpose the death penalty for adultery.

The first courts established by the Puritans in America were clerical rather than civil, and some simply introduced the Bible as the basis for their laws. The Puritans in America never burned any witches, but they did hang a few and one of them was crushed to death.

Centuries of religious sex suppression have not succeeded in stifling the natural mating urge in humankind, but they have managed to spawn a society in which sexual expression is excessively burdened with feelings of guilt and shame. Antisexualism reached its peak in England during the early reign of Queen Victoria and, in America, extended well into the 19th century. In that time, all sexual words and references were deleted from books, including the Bible; women wore several pounds of excess clothing, and a lady's ankle was apt to cause more excitement than the sight of an entire leg does today; a woman was never pregnant, she was "in a family way"; sex education for children had babies being delivered by the stork; maidenly modesty forbade the discussion of sex, even with one's own doctor, and rather than undergo a personal physical examination a female patient would often point to the ailing part of the anatomy on a small doll doctors kept in their offices for such occasions; undergarments and even male trousers were referred to as "unmentionables"; legs were discreetly called "limbs"—on people, the Thanksgiving turkey, and even on furniture; proper ladies covered the "limbs" of their chairs and couches with little skirts of printed crinoline, for modesty's sake; some even took to separating the books on shelves by the sex of the author lest the volumes by men and women be permitted to rest against one another; the uncommonly prudish unmarried woman would not undress in a room in which a portrait of man was hung.

Far from de-emphasizing sex, such actions had the opposite effect, and so instead of remaining aloof from it, this period of English and American history must be seen as sexually obsessed—as are all periods of sexual repression.

While Victorian man urged women to purity, he distrusted them also. He wanted them to be virgins, but suspected secretly that they were whores. He was therefore compelled to divide the female sex into two categories: "good" women, who had no taste for sex; and "bad" women, who had. It is revealingly symptomatic of the times that W. Acton asserted, as a supposed statement of fact in a scientific work, The Functions and Disorders of the Re-productive Organs, that it was a "vile aspersion" to say that women were capable of sexual feeling. In A History of Courting, E.S. Turner states, "Sexual instincts became something no nice girl would admit to possessing; her job was to make man ashamed of his."

In The Natural History of Love, Morton M. Hunt writes, "The role in which Victorian man had cast woman had its inevitable effect on man himself. Patriarchal he might be, stern to his children, frock-coated, mightily bewhiskered, and not to be trifled with, but he played this part at the expense of his own sexual expressiveness and his own peace of mind. If he were a libidinous man, he was driven to resort secretly to brothels. If he were weakly sexed, the emphasis on the purity of woman might actually unman him. If he were an average man with an average drive, he might live his entire life galled by the need for self-denial and self-restraint."

Such is the stuff of which our sexual heritage is made.

It is difficult to state a contemporary Protestant view of sex, because the very nature of Protestantism, with its many denominations, makes for many viewpoints. Protestant attitudes thus range from the conservative to the most liberal.

The Puritan influence upon Protestantism, and upon the entire fabric of American society, is still pronounced. But there is also a new awakening to the sexual nature and needs of man within Protestantism, and some Protestants are quite outspoken on the subject.

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