I suppose it is a great taboo to comment on the relationship between eroticism and religion. Yet obviously there is a relationship, and not only at the archaic level of some sort of primordial lingam that must have existed at the beginning of everything. There is frankincense, in my opinion one of the most powerful boosters that exist, in every church. And that is not to mention the fact that I usually avoid the temples of my own religion as places of temptation that I find truly difficult to bear.
There is a power of libido in direct proportion to the intensity of religious commitment, at least in a sort of men. And I'm not sure what I should do about this, treat it as a proof of an enormous hypocrisy? Or rather as something, at least to a degree, natural, understandable, following a hidden, yet consistent logic?
In my old country, there exists, I believe, a class of women that find Catholic priests highly attractive. The problem appeared, at least as a background, in Kler, the movie that made a great scandal lately. But it is a very old question, treated in extenso in many a naturalist novel in any of the major western literatures. The Portuguese O Crime do Padre Amaro is, to my knowledge, among the best bibles of church eroticism.
It's not exactly the Catholic priests that I personally find attractive, but it results not less disturbing. It happened to me once, in Leiden, to positively run away, I mean gather my stuff in panic and fly as quickly as I could. I was reading Dan Brown's latest novel, just to exercise my Dutch, when suddenly a guy approached me and asked if I had a religion. I did not dare as much as lift up my eyes unto him, it was an instinctive reaction, as if I really expected to see a naked penis in full erection in front of me, and to be raped right there, on the little square in front of the McDonald in the centre of Leiden. I run away, run away, run away, not even knowing how this guy actually looked like or what was exactly the thing that startled me so much in him.
On other occasions, I do know it was something about their smell, since in such cases my instinct alerts me instantly to avoid eye contact. No serious incidents thereupon, but it is nonetheless curious to admit that there exists a kind of men that can put me out of my wits with nothing but their sheer presence. I happen to meet them with a certain frequency, since we roam the same lonely and isolated spots, such as narrow passages between bookshelves containing a specific kind of religious writings.
What I've said may just seem as a kind of residual self-defence strategy, inherited from generations of women who reacted like this throughout both prehistory and historical times, when any confrontation with the power of libido might signify a definite risk of death, injury or serious trouble. But it is clear that none of those encounters I'm thinking about implied objectively any menace of sexual violence. By the way, my personal strategies of defence against such a menace go in a completely opposite direction: stern look, demonstration of contempt and certainly no hint of being alarmed or puzzled in any way whatsoever! Also, it is my inner persuasion that sexually induced violence have nothing to do with the power of libido, rather in the contrary; men who may actually attack you with a hammer are those who know they are absolute zero in those things.
Certainly, I am very much afraid of men belonging to the class I'm speaking about; there is no way of denying it. But it is of their tremendous efficacy in obtaining my consent that I am actually afraid. And what I'm really puzzled about is to know if this instinct of slipping away in confusion, with my eyes riveted to the ground, is not by any chance a sort of residual neolithic strategy of seduction. Seduction that I deny ever to have happened.
It's perhaps time to get a full awareness of such things. I usually carry a pack of condoms in my bag, and it is through awareness this prophylactic is supposed to work against temptation.
And that was merely about a certain class of men. What about a certain class of women? Is there such a thing as sexually induced interest in religion? That is to put it quite bluntly. And I suppose it is not a great novelty to give a positive answer to this question. Various sects and denominations are known to exploit such impulses more or less overtly, usually without acknowledging them. But perhaps what I do care to know is the religiously authentic value of those ecstasies and arousals, their value as something that I would like to see more clearly for my private use. Do they possess a godly or ungodly quality in themselves, or are they valid or invalid only through lawful or unlawful deeds to which they actually lead? Also, apparently, I've suggested that men grow libidinous through their faith, while women grow religious through their libido. Is it just a lapsus generated by the rhetorical flow of my discourse, or is there any deeper thought in this? Or these are simply two sides of the same coin? A sort of feedback loop that leads to escalating levels in both fields of experience?
That's a lot of theological musings. Be that as it may, at each turn, the connection between eroticism and religion in itself results even more difficult and disturbing. In New Age terms, it would be easy to say that it is all about experiencing the sacred. But in reality nothing of this is actually easy.