Sexual Abuse and the Science of Self-Denial

Have you seen my latest article over at The Stream?

It was my response to the people who still blame celibacy for the exploding priest scandal, despite the fact that these specious arguments are based on the now discredited psychological musings of Sigmund Freud.  Freud thought that Christian asceticism was psychologically harmful, but current research shows the opposite:  self-denial actually promotes rational self-control of our passions. Here is an excerpt:

In the Epistle to Galatians, St. Paul teaches that asceticism is an essential dimension of the spiritual life, and thus also essential to the cultivation of the spiritual qualities of the human soul. In almost clinical fashion, St. Paul enumerates these spiritual qualities, or “fruits,” as the apostle calls them. One of these is self-control, which means that Paul is telling us that we need to practice self-denial to control our desires and passions.

Scientists confirmed this Biblical teaching when they discovered the dopamine reward system of the brain. It turns out that the indulgence of our desires stimulates the release of dopamine, a neurochemical associated with increased motivation and desire. Take eating for example. The more we eat, the more dopamine the brain releases, the stronger our desires for eating become. And obviously, as our desires increase in strength, they become more difficult to control:

This same process applies to a host of human behaviors including shopping and gambling. And sex.  Source: How Neuroscience Explains Sex Abuse and Vindicates … Prayer and Fasting

The moral of the story here is that it is overindulgence that is the culprit in driving humans to irrational and criminal behavior.  Christian asceticism returns the mind to rational order, which gives the practicing Christian the strength to resist bizarre and deranged temptations. Surprise! Science is discovering  what the Bible has always taught:

Thus celibacy and self-denial are not the problem here; on the contrary, the practice of asceticism is the time-honored, Biblical solution to sexual abuse and all other sins of excess. This apostolic wisdom is now being confirmed by neuroscience.  Source: How Neuroscience Explains Sex Abuse and Vindicates … Prayer and Fasting

It’s not the Church that “is sick with sex,” as The New York Times asserts in the tweet above—but the world. The United States has now set a new record for STD infections for the fourth year in a row.  As I pointed out in my book, the FBI reports that sex trafficking is the fastest growing business of organized crime.  In fact, you are 2-3 times more likely to be raped today than in years prior to the sexual revolution, when Christian morals were still basically in tact.  And that is with an incarceration rate that is seven times higher today!

We also face an obesity epidemic.  And a violence epidemic.  Our country is less democratic today than at any previous time, with our basic constitutional freedoms under continual assault from left-wing radicalism.  We are no longer ruled by the rule of law but by the tyranny of human passions. Every deadly sin has become our master.

As I showed in my book, many diverse researchers and scientists are coming to the conclusion that the solution to America’s woes is to return to the wisdom of the Bible.  They don’t say it that way exactly; nor do they see it that way.  But when you boil down their message, it is essentially the same as the ascetical one in the Bible: “Abstain from the passions of the flesh that wage war against your soul,” (1Pt. 2:11).

Now it’s time to get the message out.  We were better when we were Christian—stronger, healthier, and safer.