Religion, Sex & Politics
The recent "outing" of the double life of the
Add to this the scandal surrounding Rep. Mark Foley and his
relations with young Congressional pages. Foley, a gay but still highly popular
To try to answer this question, we first have to expand our understanding of sexuality and the role it plays in nature. Sex is not simply a matter or means of biological reproduction. Rather, the reproductive function has to be understood in the broader context of the evolutionary advance of life and the wider range of mechanisms, both physical and psychological, within which life develops. In this respect, Sigmund Freud, the father of modern psychiatry, once described sex —and for Freud, everything could be explained by sex—as being "polymorphous".
By this, Freud meant that sexuality expresses itself in
a whole host of human activities. Certainly the connections between sex and
aggression are well known. Less well
recognized is the connection between sexual drive and political leadership.
So-called "Alpha-males" (to borrow a term from sociobiology often
applied to pack or herd leadership) have long had their human counterparts. In
fact, the further we go back in history, the harder it becomes to separate
political power from sexual dominance. King Solomon, with his fabled 700 wives
and concubines, was hardly the first or the last. It is said that well over half the people of
Nevertheless, this apparent connection between leadership and sexual drive has rarely been explored when it comes to religion. Except for some old jokes about Pope Alexander VI and Brigham Young, most religious leaders, even Luther after he left his monastery, have been considered to be rather sexually restrained— in fact, even Freud admitted that the sexual drive could be "sublimated" to serve a higher purpose. But such sublimation is rarely achieved without a price to be paid, one that often involves some degree of psychological repression.
So maybe this is where the key to the puzzle can be found. Such self-restraint is not easy, especially when you consider that both political as well as religious leaders like to think, or at least often claim, that their goal in life is to serve the public or the common good of society. With this service comes public recognition and very often, great popularity.
But, at the same time, with this increased recognition also comes increased temptation to live beyond the law or to imagine that one can somehow get away with things that others can't. But the truth is just the opposite. Whether in religion or politics, with increased prestige comes greater scrutiny and accountability. If you doubt that, you don't have ask Ted Haggard or Mark Foley, both of whom are understandably trying to stay out of the public eye at the moment. Just ask Bill Clinton.
SexScan.doc 600 words 06-11-06