Open Thread for Episode 20.48: Russell and Tracie

Topic is the Genesis story of Eden which casts human agency as villainous, and how this is reflected in some fundamentalist ideologies regarding the “sin” of asserting one’s own agency–resulting in objectification becoming normalized and even idealized. The Eden story begins the repeated theme of subjugation of one’s own agency and will to that of another–of total subjugation and, consequently, objectification (the denouncing of that which makes us human, rather than object, the will or agency).

Examples of modern agency-denigrating comments by such brands of Christian include statement such as:

“You just want to sin and not be held accountable.”

Since “sin” is not about what causes real harm, but about simply acting in a way that is antithesis to what god would have you do, this comment merely condemns the act of asserting one’s own agency as somehow wrong.

“You worship yourself” (variants may include putting yourself in the position of god in some way).

Again, this is simply asserting that you are holding your own agency as being as important as the agency of what god would have you do, or even more important. So, it boils down to denouncing the assertion of one’s own will or agency as haughty and incorrect.

“You trust your own judgment (rather than what god tells you to do).”

Clearly viewing the person as foolish and wrong for, again, the act of simply asserting one’s own agency.

Objectification of a human being (often conflated with sexualization–although I believe it’s important to differentiate between the two, as they are not synonymous) means denying their agency and treating them as a “thing” by holding their will/agency as irrelevant or less relevant than one’s own–thereby making them nonhuman or less human, and more object-like.

The Christian religion–and especially the fundamentalist branches not only downplay, but vilify agency as wicked, evil and “sinful.” And this carries out in modern conversations with regard to issues such as abortion where analogies are often used comparing women to objects in order to show cause for why a woman’s agency can be disregarded in the equation of conflict of rights between mother and unborn. Terms like “consent” are distorted and used in ways we would not use in any other context. A woman who has consented to sex is often said, by such people, to have “consented” to gestation and childbirth, whereas we don’t say that people who consent to drive have “consented” to die in a fiery car crash–and if the crash occurs we understand why the driver would attempt to escape their death, and we would help them escape by offering whatever assistance we could to avoid the negative consequences of that risk event occurring.

By subjugating human will and agency, and undermining concepts like “consent,” Christianity has created a (sub?)culture of dehumanization and objectification that considers itself morally upright compared to other cultures where respect and regard for human agency are promoted.