Author Topic: Paraphilia and sexual attraction  (Read 6096 times)

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Offline narrowpathplease

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Paraphilia and sexual attraction
« on: July 10, 2007, 11:59:11 AM »
Hello everyone. I am seriously considering conversion to Orthodoxy or Catholicism from Protestantism and God willing will be attending an Oriental Orthodox service in the near future. I am hoping this forum can help me iron out a few areas of uncertainty. This being perhaps just one of many.

Any authoritative information or reasoned thoughts from the Orthodox or Roman perspectives about this issue(s) would be welcome, preferably with sensitivity if possible.

1) Is all paraphilia always wrong and/or in any way demonic?

2) Is a complete lack of sexual attraction to people necessarily desirable or undesirable?*

3) Is the answer to these questions different when both things exist in the same person?

*What is the difference between sexual attraction and lust, anyway?

Thank you in advance. :)

Offline PeterTheAleut

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Re: Paraphilia and sexual attraction
« Reply #1 on: July 10, 2007, 12:34:33 PM »
Hi Narrowpathplease,

Welcome to the OC.net community.

Regarding your questions, I certainly don't want to minimize your genuine pursuit of truth, so if you have questions feel free to ask them of us.  The first thing of which you need to be aware, though, is that an internet discussion board is often NOT the best place to search for truth regarding such sensitive psychosexual issues as you bring up.  You would do much better to seek out an actual person, in this case a Catholic or Orthodox priest, to help guide you through your inquiry--our forum Admin, FrChris, actually is a priest, so I'm sure he'd be willing to help you if you want to PM him from time to time.  That said, I don't want you to think we can't give you ANY good insights, so feel free to look to us for some guidance, and we'll answer as best we can.  Beware, though, for a couple of posters may try to mislead you with their own un-Orthodox opinions, but they don't represent the general Orthodox consensus of most here.

PeterTheAleut
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From the Merriam-Webster online dictionary:

Main Entry: para·phil·ia
Pronunciation: "pa-r&-'fi-lE-&
Function: noun
Etymology: New Latin
: a pattern of recurring sexually arousing mental imagery or behavior that involves unusual and especially socially unacceptable sexual practices (as sadism or pedophilia)
« Last Edit: July 10, 2007, 12:38:20 PM by PeterTheAleut »
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Offline lubeltri

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Re: Paraphilia and sexual attraction
« Reply #2 on: July 10, 2007, 12:48:20 PM »
Hello everyone. I am seriously considering conversion to Orthodoxy or Catholicism from Protestantism and God willing will be attending an Oriental Orthodox service in the near future. I am hoping this forum can help me iron out a few areas of uncertainty. This being perhaps just one of many.

Any authoritative information or reasoned thoughts from the Orthodox or Roman perspectives about this issue(s) would be welcome, preferably with sensitivity if possible.

1) Is all paraphilia always wrong and/or in any way demonic?

2) Is a complete lack of sexual attraction to people necessarily desirable or undesirable?*

3) Is the answer to these questions different when both things exist in the same person?

*What is the difference between sexual attraction and lust, anyway?

Thank you in advance. :)

Hello, Narrowpathplease!

I'm one of the Catholic members here.

(Very briefly; definitely consult a priest for more thorough guidance; if you have any specific questions, go to EWTN.com and ask a question of the priests there in the Q&A section. You can ask anonymously, and very private questions will be answered in an e-mail to you. http://www.ewtn.com/vexperts/conference.htm )

1) Paraphilia is like homosexuality---it is intrinsically disordered, though not necessarily sinful unless indulged or acted upon.

2) A complete lack of sexual attraction is not normal. God gave us a sexual faculty---it is something we exercise in the context of marriage or something we master in celibacy. Of course, there is nothing morally wrong or sinful about it---it would be like being born without a finger.

3) No.

-

Difference between sexual attraction and lust---lust is sexual attraction divorced from consideration of the personhood of the other individual. It is sexual attraction that is focused on your own pleasure only and that ignores the dignity of the other person. Lust can exist even within a marriage.

-

A note: We all struggle with sexual sin. In our fallenness we all tend to twist and pervert God’s plan for love and sex. God looks kindly on us and wishes us to be healed. A great resource for you is Christopher West’s short Good News About Sex and Marriage. It is based on John Paul II’s monumental series of lectures on human love in the divine plan called the Theology of the Body (also highly recommended). You can find an inexpensive paperback copy here:
http://www.amazon.com/Good-News-About-Sex-Marriage/dp/0867166193/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1/104-9012544-3215963?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1184085655&sr=1-1

God bless you, and welcome!
« Last Edit: July 10, 2007, 12:58:46 PM by lubeltri »

Offline Asteriktos

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Re: Paraphilia and sexual attraction
« Reply #3 on: July 10, 2007, 12:48:45 PM »
I would agree that this might be a question best asked of a good, pastorally-minded priest, but fwiw here are my two cents. When I was Orthodox, I tried to avoid anything involving sadism or humiliation (of others), because if we are to be meek, kind, gentle, etc., why would you go along with a practice whose main intention is to harm another person? (Well, that and I have a mild temperament... off the forum anyway).

I had actually never come across the term paraphilia, but according to what it says on Wiki, I would say that there is only a slight part of it that would be permissable in an Orthodox context (and nothing involving unwilling participants, or willing minors, would be ok). I don't want to get too explicit, so I'll just say that I wouldn't think that most pastors would consider "the use of non-sexual or nonliving objects or part of a person's body to gain sexual excitement" to be evil. Now, if you want to go the traditional route, even that is off limits, but most people wouldn't go that route these days.

Fwiw, the book Eccentric & Bizarre Behaviors, by Franzini and Grossberg, might be of some interest to you. While I thought that the theoretical views for dealing with the behaviors were a mixed bag (some good, some bad, some obvious), it was still an interesting and insightful read.

EDIT--I just looked in the index of the book I recommended, and it had a few listings for paraphilia, so apparently I have seen the word before, it's just that my memory is shot.
« Last Edit: July 10, 2007, 02:05:31 PM by Asteriktos »
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Offline Heorhij

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Re: Paraphilia and sexual attraction
« Reply #4 on: July 10, 2007, 01:17:56 PM »
Dear Narrowpathplease,

Welcome to the forum!

I respect the opinion of our section moderator and, therefore, will not comment at length. One thing I would like to say though is this. As a person with special medical education, I can see that sometimes, it might be somewhat difficult for a priest to talk about things like paraphilia, and for a person afflicted by paraphilia to talk to a priest who is not a medical doctor. *NONETHELESS*, it is perhaps something that just ought to be done, at least ought to be tried.

As for passions being morally neutral vs. passions per se being sinful - I read different opinions about this, so I, too, would love to hear, what our more learned folks have to say about this.

Thanks for your million-dollar question (I am serious), and, again, welcome to the OC.net.

George
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Offline GiC

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Re: Paraphilia and sexual attraction
« Reply #5 on: July 10, 2007, 01:59:28 PM »
Regarding your questions, I certainly don't want to minimize your genuine pursuit of truth, so if you have questions feel free to ask them of us.  The first thing of which you need to be aware, though, is that an internet discussion board is often NOT the best place to search for truth regarding such sensitive psychosexual issues as you bring up...

You're getting better at this whole debate thing, rather than rushing in with a full out attack and exposing your flanks you took a more defensive stance. A fortification of the flanks, like Scipio at Ilipa...I like it. But your skirmishers wern't in full enough force...I don't think I'll be playing the part of Barca. I'll take the luxury of moving my Cartheginians to line up with your regulars, Spaniards in the centre...then the real question is what to do with my cavalry, since yours are busy committing to a skirmish and all; no one truly understood cavalry in the ancient world, it was really Frederick and Napoleon who developed their use into a science. ;D

Asterkitos, Heorhji...you're doing a good job of playing the Spaniards on both sides... ;)


But in all seriousness to address the OP...if you wan't good advice on this issue I recommend you find a modern (read: liberal, if you like) married priest, and ask questions in vague terms...in short even our clergy are not standards of sexual normalcy and healthiness. Ultimately, though, I would argue that this is a question that should be answered by discussion with your partner, and that is probably the best answer to your question, provided the answer falls within the bounds of the laws of this Republic (Edit: or whatever western country one lives in...I noticed that you seem to be from the UK based on a post on another thread).
« Last Edit: July 10, 2007, 02:02:38 PM by greekischristian »

Offline PeterTheAleut

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Re: Paraphilia and sexual attraction
« Reply #6 on: July 10, 2007, 02:23:52 PM »
You're getting better at this whole debate thing, rather than rushing in with a full out attack and exposing your flanks you took a more defensive stance. A fortification of the flanks, like Scipio at Ilipa...I like it. But your skirmishers wern't in full enough force...I don't think I'll be playing the part of Barca. I'll take the luxury of moving my Cartheginians to line up with your regulars, Spaniards in the centre...then the real question is what to do with my cavalry, since yours are busy committing to a skirmish and all; no one truly understood cavalry in the ancient world, it was really Frederick and Napoleon who developed their use into a science. ;D
WHATEVER!!! ::)  You really think I'm here for a debate with someone who's armed with only a pencil and a slide rule?
« Last Edit: July 10, 2007, 02:35:24 PM by PeterTheAleut »
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Offline narrowpathplease

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Re: Paraphilia and sexual attraction
« Reply #7 on: July 10, 2007, 02:36:05 PM »
Thank you for the responses and welcomes. Unfortunately my PC froze as I'd just finished replying last time, so this is a second attempt.

PeterTheAleut, I might well consult the local Orthodox priest about this when I talk to him. I thought it might be beneficial to get a variety of viewpoints from people more churched than I am, especially as I don't own any Orthodox books and the Internet seems silent about the issue. Thank you for the advice however; I may contact FrChris.

lubeltri, thanks for that link, it looks very helpful. For what reason do you consider paraphilia to be like homosexuality? Unlike the latter, the Bible doesn't appear to mention it, and I can think of no hygienic, health or safety reasons against it. To answer the question you've now deleted, no, it's not of that nature. I had considered that the lack of attraction might be 'the gift of celibacy' that St. Paul mentions, but then when I think that if I conclude that self-pleasuring is off-limits, then I can't get sexual release anywhere, as marital relations seem so alien to me that for all I know I would become hysterical and run away on the wedding night - it suddenly seems more like demonic oppression.

Asteriktos, thank you for the book referral. Are you saying that self-pleasuring is not considered a sin by most Orthodox priests? I do believe it can be a sin, as anecdotal evidence suggests, but I'm not sure it always is. In my case, it does not lead to lust and I'm not addicted, but I'm not sure if that's the point or not.

Heorhij, what kind of medical professional or medical intervention would you recommend?

greekischristian, yes I'm in the UK. I know paraphilia themselves are supposedly very common. What's not so common is having them instead of any desire for other people. I've thought for some time though that my best bet is to find someone who feels the same way. There is someone I'd consider having a romantic (ie hand-holding) relationship with, and who I'm told likes me, but I'm afraid even if he agreed to wait until marriage, it would not work out for me to marry when I'm so put off by sexual intimacy. When I tried just kissing a boy for the first time I had to end the relationship because I was so disturbed the experience.

Offline Asteriktos

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Re: Paraphilia and sexual attraction
« Reply #8 on: July 10, 2007, 02:44:06 PM »
I'm not sure about masturbation... I would think that many priests would be against it because it is usually associated with lust. I don't doubt you when you say that lust isn't involved, but some people might have a hard time with that. Above all, I think you're doing the right thing in taking the time to think about it (and talking).
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Offline Heorhij

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Re: Paraphilia and sexual attraction
« Reply #9 on: July 10, 2007, 02:50:43 PM »
Dear Narrowpath,

I sent you a P.M. - maybe we should continue off-list? I will think about the "medical intervention," although any phisician would perhaps say that it is difficult to recommend "THE" exact one kind to someone without at least most basic personal information (age, gender, anamnesis morbi et vitae, etc.)

--George
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Offline narrowpathplease

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Re: Paraphilia and sexual attraction
« Reply #10 on: July 10, 2007, 03:01:59 PM »
Thanks, I agree. My reply was lost when the PC froze but I'll try again now. :)