15:20
Tuesday, 1
October 2019


Idea
15:20

Why #MeToo is a Christian movement

by Ed West

Tom Holland’s Dominion is truly is an epic work, telling the story of how Christianity came to create the modern, western soul.

One of Holland’s central points is that Christianity was a sexual revolution, placing restraints on men’s sexual appetites whereas previously a powerful man might have taken any slave girl he liked while engaging in worshipping a bunch of rapists.

Now, as Paul had commanded, every human body was sacred.

Instincts taken for granted by the Romans had been recast as sin. Generations of monks and bishops, of emperors and kings, looking to tame the violent currents of human desire had laboured to erect great dams and dykes, to redirect their floodtide, to channel their flow. Never before had an attempt to recalibrate sexual morality been attempted on such a scale. Never before had one enjoyed such total success.
- Tom Holland, Dominion

Christianity had brought “revolution to the erotic” in a quite spectacular way.

The insistence of scripture that a man and a woman, whenever they took the marital bed, were joined as Christ and his Church were joined, becoming one flesh, gave to both a rare dignity. If the wife was instructed to submit to her husband, then so equally was the husband instructed to be faithful to his wife. Here, by the standards of the age into which Christianity had been born, was an obligation that demanded an almost heroic degree of self-denial.
- Tom Holland, Dominion

Divorce was prohibited, and to leave a wife was to “render her an adulteress”, as Christ had said. Even more radically, couples could no longer be forced into marriage and priests were instructed to join couples even without the permission or knowledge of their parents. “The Church, by pledging itself to this conviction, and putting it into law, was treading on the toes of patriarchs.”

Dominion traces the influence of Christianity up to the present-day Great Awokening, a political movement with a hugely religious strain to it.

The social justice theory of intersectionality is just the latest sub-strand of western thinking that owes its origins to Christianity, a hierarchy of victimhood that could be best summed up as “The last were to be first, and the first were to be last”.

Even the #MeToo movement is heavily Christian in origin. For Holland the likes of Harvey Weinstein (pictured) are like figures from Ancient Rome, a return to old sexual norms; whereas Pauline Christianity had used shame and guilt to tame the sexual activity of men, today sexual freedom tends “to be, as in antiquity, the perk of a very exclusive sub-section of society: powerful men”.

This aligns with an idea Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry made a while back that the 1960s actually saw a “sexual reaction”, a return to more traditional sexual norms before the revolution of Christianity.

The #MeToo movement is a corrective to that, conservative in the Christian sense, aiming as it does to restrict the behaviour of powerful men. St Paul would certainly have approved.


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15th December 2019