The Fantasy Fallacy

Thank you very much to Beth Steffaniak of Messy Marriage for recommending this book. The book has given me a lot to think about, and has reminded me to focus on the most important aspects of my problem(s).

Overall Impression

My overall impression is that I liked the book, and I enjoyed reading it. I thought it was a friendly book. So, although I have disagreements and criticisms, I think they are minor. I’m inclined to learn from the book, and to bring its ideas into my life. Let’s get my differences and criticisms out of the way first.

differences

I don’t think homosexuality is a sin; I don’t think sex before marriage is a sin. Homosexuality: There’s nothing in the Gospels against homosexuality. Paul certainly expresses strong opinions against it, but he also has strong opinions about hair length: I don’t feel bound by Paul’s opinions on homosexuality. Similarly I don’t feel bound to follow the Mosaic Law. I can certainly see why homosexuality has become taboo in certain cultures, but for me this aspect of sexuality is purely a matter of taste and has no moral content. Pre-Marital Sex: I do think infidelity is a sin, and I extend that force to pre-marital relationships. I also think marriage and the family are important social structures. I don’t ee anything necessarily immoral with un-married people having sex.

criticisms

I think the fantasy <– trauma link the book expounds is often too unmediated and simplistic. This might have been done for space reasons — so that case studies could be described in a couple of paragraphs, and so that plenty of different case studies could be given. I can also see that in a culture where, for example there is a strong taboo against homosexuality, someone might need some kind of strong emotional push to break that taboo. However, I think a complete lack of more involved case studies weakened the book’s thesis. For example, in my own case, I can easily think of circumstances or events in my childhood that might have “guided” my sexuality towards bisexuality and fetishism, but there’s certainly no single traumatic event. Incidentally, in exactly the same way (it seems to me) I can easily think of circumstances or events in my childhood that might have “guided” my thinking about Jesus.

Strengths

In two ways I thought the book was very strong, and affecting. If I read FF again (and I might), it will probably be to hear again what the author says about these two points.

psychology and scripture working in harmony

I love to see harmony between secular science and holy scripture. I am excited when I think I see them point in the same direction, and I’m depressed when I hear scientists and religious people antagonistic with each other. Einstein often and unashamedly talked about God. Genesis 2:19 is one of my favourite verses in the whole Bible. I love the Gospels, but I’ve never much cared for the letters. This book brought them to life for me. I am just beginning to read the Bible “as if” it is addressed to me personally and this book has helped with that practical use of the Bible.

promotion of marriage

Placing marriage centre-stage was a very strong move (at least for readers who are married). My thinking (fretting) about my sexual foibles is so often ego-centred, which ignores most of the equation. Pondering myself and my own “issues” is easier, and more pleasant (but less fruitful), than pondering my relationship with my wife.

Me

disclosure

This bit might be Too Much Information, but I include it to give some context to of my thoughts on the book.

  • I have never been unfaithful, and I don’t think I could be. I felt the same in my pre-marital relationships too. It’s just not in my make-up: it seems like such a horrible thing to do to someone. (of course, even sharing thoughts like these might be thought of as infidelity, …)(afaik my wife doesn’t know about my tastes.)
  • On my old “sex” blog (which went by various names over the years, but my persona was called “perfectlips”), one of my regular readers described me as a “bisexual panty fetishist” which sums it up pretty well.
  • bisexual. Obviously inconvenient when one is married, but this aspect of my sexuality doesn’t really trouble me. As I’m not unfaithful, this taste is dormant.
  • “panty fetishist”. I’ve dressed up secretly on and off since I was a little boy. In recent years it’s just been lingerie and nighties. After a major splurge last year I decided I needed to clean up and hence this new Christian project. I recognise fetishism as a sin (otoh, I think there is so much messed up about the way society pushes people into pigeonholes, … I could easily get into a long rant). I threw out my entire collection (ok, apart from one pair of pink shorties) and haven’t dressed up at all this year.
  • pornography. Yes, I watch a fair amount of it, of all different types. I put pr0n in the same category as booze, drugs and gambling. I am having some success gradually weakening this habit.
  • looking. This is the habit that repulses and annoys me most at the moment: just the way I look at women. It really is as if my eyes have a mind of their own. This is the habit I most want to break. Getting excited about dressing up in frilly knickers might seem outré to many people, but ogling women is imho much more morally repugnant.

relevant points from the book

Apart from the new, Christian slant, much of the book wasn’t really news to me. I started my first “perfectlips” blog in 2008 precisely to work through my inconvenient tastes and fetishes. So, I’m fairly clear about how I got to where I am; what I’m looking for is support and guidance on how to break habits, turn away from sin, and most of all turn toward my wife. The strengths above are what I get from the book, especially that Bible can talk to these problems (and not just to say, “BAD BAD BAD!!!”), and putting my relationship with my wife at the centre. Practically, this book is helping me think more about my wife as part of my life, and as part of my sexuality. I don’t know if it will help me break my Main Bad Habit, although it has helped me read the Bible more personally. I plan to have verses and psalms in my head. I’d like to see a woman and bring to mind a passage with Jesus or a prophet praising women. That might calm the greedy eyes and the fantasies.

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7 Comments

  1. I’ve said it before, and will say it again: I appreciate how open and honest you are about your struggles and your beliefs/doubts. That’s a great thing, and a good example for all of us. You have admirable goals.

    I haven’t read this book, so I enjoy hearing your thoughts about it. I also love seeing psychology and scripture working in harmony. Since I was young I was always interested in psychology, and I love when it and scripture complement each other.

    Reply
    • Dear Lisa, Thank you for your comment.

      Blogging under a persona is a powerful mix of private and public. I can write things I would only ever write in my diary; and I can find valuable feedback, friendship and community. Where possible I can provide my own feedback to others.

      (I only use my “real name” online persona for work or finance.)

      David

      Reply
  2. I agree with Lisa. I truly appreciate your honesty and vulnerability here. I also admire your desire and willingness to read, not just Shannon’s book, but the Bible for yourself personally. Remember, God will show Himself to you if you seek Him with your whole heart (Jer. 29:13). Thanks so much for this brave post and for giving me a shout out as well! I hope you keep on wrestling with God on all of these fronts (Gen. 32:22-30). :)

    Reply
    • Dear Beth, Hello and welcome! Thank you for your comment.

      I’m getting quite greedy about reading the Bible. I’ve just finished reading Isaiah (see recent tweets) and indeed Jeremiah is next. Isaiah was my bedtime reading and I found it strangely stimulating and comforting: a very good preparation for sleep.

      David

      Reply
  1. My 2014 in books | Luke 7:39
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  3. God put it in front of my eyes | Luke 7:39

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