This book reminded me of a Dennis Prager post that impressed me.
In the ancient world, sex (like life in general) was simply about power. Sometimes the perpetrator vs the penetrated had higher status, however, if you were in power, might made "right" -- being powerful meant you got to do whatever you wanted. The idea that being in power meant that "the gods smiled on you", meant that you were inherently just. Julies Caesar for example:
Julius is “Every woman’s man and every man’s woman.”Despite the raised eyebrows with Julius playing the woman in sexual encounters with men, he was given a pass by society because he proved his strength and manliness through his many military conquestsThe idea of morality being something other than mere power is a Judaeo / Christian concept ... thus as Prager points out, it comes very close to "proving" God. If there was not revelation, why would the powerful even consider giving up ANY of their privileges?
It was Christ that instituted the idea of wives having rights equivalent to members of mans own body, and using the idea of the Church being "the bride of Christ".
The theme of the book is that what many in our culture think are "advanced ideas" about sexuality, they are in fact ancient -- and there is more to come.
"For more than a thousand years pederasty was the norm. More than the norm, in many circles it was actually considered the purest form of love."The Greeks and the Romans considered sexual relations between men and young boys to be "pure love".
While many "moderns" consider Christians to be "prudish" or "old fashioned" the "modern" pagans are in fact returning to the "moral" outlook of the ancient pagans -- including the sacrifice of children, now euphamised as "abortion".
One theme of the book that is certainly uncomfortable to many Christians (including me) is that homosexuality is not some "special sin", like blaspheming the Holy Spirit often is claimed to be (a discussion for another day).
Contrary to popular accusations, Christian opposition to homosexuality is in no way based on hatred of homosexuals. The Bible is equally firm that heterosexual intercourse outside the estate of marriage is wrong; no one suggests that the prohibition against heterosexual immorality is born out of hatred for heterosexuals.
Many a man addicted to porn feels smug in his sin because "I thank God I am not a homosexual".
Practicing Jewish men pray each day ... “Blessed are you, LORD our God, Ruler of the Universe, who has not made me a woman.” Prior to that he also blesses God for not making him “a Gentile” and “a slave”.
I'm not sure I'd go with "no one suggests that the prohibition against heterosexual immorality is born out of hatred for heterosexuals" as Rueger does. I think many do find homosexuality to be a far worse sin than adultery or fornication -- ALL of us are prone to seeing our own sins as being "less sinful" than others sins -- however, God;s ways are NOT our ways, and part of submission to Christ is accepting HIS morality rather than attempting to justify ours.
The other theme of the book that I find important is understanding how or view of "being human" has changed:
The historic Western understanding of the human person was that we are fundamentally religious creatures.
Sex education in schools builds on this fundamental cultural belief that everyone is born a “sexual being.”
Plato, Socrates, Aristotle, etc started Western civilization down the path of man's intellect and spirit being what identified him has human vs animal. Animals don't do philosophy at all. The "ancient enlightenment" was that the "higher" human was able to have at least significant rule over his animal parts through cultivation of those "higher" aspects of his being.
The "modern" idea is the thought that we are primarily animals -- and that any thought of "higher functions" creates dangerous distinctions and is "false consciousness", "privileged" or "whiteness".
If the physical rules, then eventually physical power rules -- and we can expect the ancient (and obvious) idea of might being right will increasingly replace the "2000 year reign" of Christian morality.