Chapter Seventeen


Life is the great indulgence, death the great abstinence. - Anton Lavey

Human life is frighteningly short, and notorious for premature expiration. Although our lives are ridiculously insignificant in the context of the universe, they are pretty much all we have, so we might as well have some fun with them.

In earlier chapters, we discussed the dangers of addiction and compulsion, both of which can seriously detract from an individual's long term enjoyment of life. This caution should not be construed as an argument for abstinence from pleasure, or even abstinence from vice. So long as an indulgence increases the net pleasure or enjoyment of an individual's life, it might as well be savored and enjoyed.

Most, if not all, of the world's major religions preach abstinence and self denial. In many religions, it is even considered sinful to masturbate. Why? How can it be wrong for a human being to bring himself to orgasm, in the privacy of his own room? Who is harmed by such an act? Even if one were to buy into the “every sperm is sacred” routine, it is a medical fact that built-up sperm will eventually be released during sleep, if it does not have an outlet during waking hours. But if an unmarried, teenage boy wants to enter heaven someday, he must endure the torment of unattended hard-ons throughout his waking hours? Absurd.

The outrage some people express over abortion is equally insane. According to most religious doctrine, an unmarried woman is not supposed to have sex, thus causing that month's egg to eventually find its way into the toilet, unfertilized. So if that egg was supposed to have died unfertilized, according to church doctrine - why is it suddenly wrong to remove it, once some sperm has found its way to someplace it shouldn't?

The true sin, apparently, is pleasure. Humans beings and other animals are undeniably sexual; indeed, were it not for this fact, our predecessors could have never evolved. The sexual urge is a healthy, beautiful, and nearly universal drive, which is precisely why it is deemed sinful. Once we have been made to feel guilt for having normal desires and acting in accordance with our nature, we are easier to control. If we truly believe that experiencing “lust in the heart” is an offense against God, the church has virtually guaranteed we will return to seek forgiveness for our sinful ways.

Some religions outlaw everything adults tend to enjoy, such as gambling, rock and roll, dancing, alcohol, recreational drugs, profanity, pornography, oral sex, blasphemy, and in some extreme cases, the consumption of caffeinated beverages. In some strict Islamic societies, it is considered sinful for a man to look at a photograph of a woman in tight fitting clothes. What is left to live for at that point? Once these facts are considered, the existence of suicide bombers in such societies is hardly surprising.

Of the seven deadly Christian sins (greed, pride, envy, anger, gluttony, lust and sloth), none even result in any direct and unavoidable harm to any other human being, when practiced responsibly. The common thread these “sins” share is the gratification, pleasure, or enjoyment they create.

Greed, pride, envy, and anger are all normal emotions that any healthy person will occasionally feel. Gluttony and sloth, when practiced in moderation, both have their own psychic rewards. And as for my personal favorite, lust... experiencing sexual desire for another adult human being is a sin? It is interesting that murder, rape, and armed robbery didn't even make the list. You could argue that these acts would not occur if their perpetrators did not first indulge in sinful emotions, but that would be akin to outlawing kitchen knives because they can be used for murder.

The world is full of opportunities for physical, psychological, and emotional gratification, all yours for the taking. Throw off the chains of irrational guilt and superstition, dive in and enjoy your life. Indulge your senses, feel the excitement, grab some thrills. Immerse yourself in life, let the adrenaline pound through your veins and blow your mind. You will be dead soon enough, there is no sense acting dead while your heart is still pumping.

This is not, of course, a recommendation to force yourself to commit acts you do not desire or which make you feel uncomfortable. Many people, for example, desire a committed, monogamous sexual relationship, either after tiring of playing the field, or from their first memories. Such people may actually do themselves or their partners great harm by pushing themselves to indulge in the libertine desires of others. There is nothing inherently good nor bad about lifelong monogamy, serial monogamy, or unabashed promiscuity, so long as your own individual needs, and the needs of your partner(s), are considered and satisfied.

We are alive for a brief, finite period, and then dead for all eternity. There will be plenty of time for abstinence when your cold, worm-ridden, lifeless corpse is rotting underground. The time for living is now, and time is running out.

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