Well, This Sucks

Oh boy. Incest will be a fun one to write about. It’s probably the least controversial of the Facets, and there are some good reasons for that. I was taught in school that incest is the only taboo that has been observed in every culture. I’m no anthropologist, but that passes my BS test. Don’t ask me why, though. I mean, I’m part of humanity, so I feel the ickiness (every time Jamie has a love scene with Cersei). But there are so many deviations I feel so strongly about and I wouldn’t list this one among the worst.

So why do we “all” agree on this? Is it diseases? Close family members having children can lead to an unusually high risk of genetic flaws. That part I agree to be pretty established science. Since it has to do with reproduction, then it doesn’t just affect the two deviants, but any offspring they might produce. The whole inbred, counting-to-12-on-only-fingers joke is well-worn. I get a mental image of Punnet squares overlapping and making several different squares, misshapen and erratic.

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Photo by Braydon Anderson on Unsplash

But I have my doubts about this explanation. Its effects are self-evident, but limited in scope, I think. The fact that we have races at all is because people were so sequestered for so long. They may not have married siblings, but exaggerated traits like very dark or very light skin, almond eyes, very tall or very short stature are all results of inbreeding to some extent. Either that or I misunderstood most of 9th-grade biology, which I admit is entirely possible.

More Possible Genetic Explanations

And there’s a hypothesis from contemporary evolutionary research as well. Current dialogue, as I understand it, postulates that humans have developed a distaste for incest because it leads to weaker, more sickly offspring. And that widespread distaste has given us an evolutionary advantage that aided us in our superior advancement as a species. Now, I have strong doubts about this, and not because I have qualms with evolutionary theory (though I do). Psychology just seems to me to be far more complex than this particular just-so story. What are the exact processes that show how taboos as complex as avoiding sex with close relations can be passed down genetically? And again, aren’t there more important things to weed out than sexual attraction to relatives? Like murder? And if our evolution almost forces us to reject incest because it decreases our success of producing strong offspring, then isn’t marriage antithetical to our purpose? Maybe monogamy should be the taboo. And how then can we explain homosexuality? That practice doesn’t just decrease the odds of having strong children, it eliminates them entirely. There may be answers to those questions, and they might even be good ones.  I remain cautiously pessimistic.

If we branch out from biological attempts to explain, there are side effects from other deviations as well. In rape, there can be extreme psychological damage. With promiscuity, there is an alphabet soup of STD’s to go around. Torture seems self-explanatory. Yeah, it seems to be far from the worst in any category. So one last time: why is incest the most widely rejected practice? Seriously, why isn’t there a necrophilia taboo? I honestly have no idea. Neither my understanding of science (sociology, biology, psychology), nor theology, nor even Christianity can explain it. All I know is that it makes me feel gross, and apparently, almost everyone else feels the same. Or maybe the sociology research I got in high school wasn’t as thorough as they made it sound.

Cover Photo by Ayo Ogunseinde on Unsplash

Being a Christian in this day and age is different than it has been in recent history. For most of America’s past, there has been an official/unofficial Christian majority. I’m not saying this because we need to “get back to basics”, I’m just stating it as an observation. Even today, we have a president who panders to a Christian voter base and claims to uphold biblical standards. I find that particularly laughable, but he does that because there’s still a very large part of the country that wants that in a president.

But as I said before, times are changing. I feel it. I feel like a country that used to love people like me in the 80’s now thinks I’m a crackpot. I’m a Bible-thumping, blind-faith, conservative WASP who refuses to go with the flow. Even some Christian peers are taking contemporary positions on issues that catch me off guard. More and more I hear them and waver. More and more the Christian voices I hear are either trying to blend in with popular rhetoric, or completely wage war with it.

So I’m writing a blog. Not in opposition to people, but in search of better ideas. Because both “sides” seem to me to have something in common: they both let the culture dictate the standard. With that foundation, there seems to be only complete assimilation or wholesale rejection. That dichotomy plays itself out every day on Facebook and Twitter. I’m all for spirited debate, but a debate requires at least a modicum of goodwill. 99% of the time on the internet, and even on TV, I encounter pithy, moralistic shouting. Even our “friends” become strangers to be damned when they dare disagree with us. So I’m writing a blog because I want to write what I want. But also because you don’t have to read it if you don’t want to. I’m not going to hide it behind pictures of my dog and then shove it in your face every time I get angry reading the news. Lastly, I write because when I have an outlet, I can begin to develop a discipline of asking questions. I want to be provocative, sure. But this blog is to be more introspective. I’ll get further into my whole train of thought later, but I want it to be clear that I don’t have most of the answers. What I want is better questions.

Specifically, I want better questions about sexuality in this culture. I don’t know if it’s a visceral reaction to a repressed, puritanical sexual ethic from our Christian heritage or an extended sexual revolution, but we as Americans are obsessed with sex. So many films were fast-forwarded in my childhood due to an overly steamy love scene in an otherwise clean story. In college particularly I was inundated with sexuality from all sides. Sex was ripe, low-hanging fruit that had but to be plucked. That message was everywhere, as though that was the real purpose of college. Now I’m not saying I didn’t like it to some extent. For most people in their prime of life, sex should be an enticing prospect, even Christians. It’s how we’re wired. But as a person who had specific religious morals, it was difficult to live in. It seemed overdone. Like it was the main event. I once read “sex is best when it’s the least interesting thing about you”. So either these people lived extremely fascinating lives, or they were way too enamored with sex.

The internet age has erected a lot of obstacles for the church in America. The growth of porn, forums for stupid ideas, and the increased reach of Hollywood are great for some, but a burden for others. And there is a lot of material from pastors and biblical scholars on the internet to combat some of that. This blog will be a little different. I’ve grown up in the church, but I have no formal education. I’m not an expert in the Bible or sexual psychology. But I’m an expert in the English language, and I’m pretty good at asking questions. Besides, most of the information and guidance I got about sexuality didn’t come from the experts. It came from friends, movies, my parents, school, and mentors. From there, it was on me to make the decisions for myself. The best thing they taught me was to think critically and question constantly. So that’s what we’ll do here.