Thursday, June 2, 2016

Karl Barth on Conservative Sexual Obsession

A gem from Barth ...

"So much secrete dissatisfaction with one's own conduct in this sphere, so much vexation at defeats which cannot be reversed and seem to cry out for revenge, so much indirect indemnification for virtue unwillingly maintained, so much repressed but in point of fact extremely virulent lust, can find vent in this preoccupation. One can be properly concerned about sexual ethics only when one has a clear head and a firm heart. Given a clear head and firm heart, sex will cease to be isolated and made a false absolute, either in theory or in practice. It will be understood in its vital connection with the real centre and with other aspects of the divine command and of the obedience we owe it. Therefore let it be said as a definite warning that the man who in reading or hearing ethics begins to pay attention only at this point endures the suspicion of being a doubtful character. And we can only advise or appeal to him to drop the matter for the time being and to consider how he might best come by the clear head and the firm heart which will enable him to give it proper consideration. A diversion from sexual ethics to the point of departure of al ethics and therefore to God and oneself is perhaps a fundamental requirement for many and even the majority of men in this matter of sexual ethics." CD, 3.4.119

When I read this gem from Karl Barth, I immediately thought of James Dobson and his evangelical cohorts, what with their fixation on human anatomy, that portion of the body located somewhere between the chest and the knees, a fixation that is clearly unbalancing Dobson, revealing, as Barth suggests, a man of "doubtful character." 

By making one aspect of our life before God the center of their concerns, evangelicals, are in fact, guilty of violating the command of God, to find purpose in God's own love for creation, for all, for one another. So, it's no wonder how violent and vicious evangelicals have become - living in violation of the heart and soul of God's mercy and grace, they turn upon one another, and the world around them, with the harshest of judgments and ceaseless condemnation, compelling their adherents, if not themselves, to live in blindness and fear, in some vain effort to quite the heart as it cries out for something better. No wonder they are such an unhappy lot.