Body pleasure, Abrahamic religion and the origin of violence

According to this seminal article, inter-personal and societal violence is caused by low incidence of physical pleasure in infancy and childhood, the repression and punishment of pre-marital sex during young adulthood and, to a much lesser extent, the repression of extra-marital sex as a substitute for a marital relationship which provides low levels of pleasurable physical experiences.

In Western societies, these repressive attitudes are correlated with the violence and sexual repression of the Abrahamic religions.

Are these religions the root cause of societal violence or the product of repressive sexuality?

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How do you explain the Indonesian nation? It's 95 percent Muslim but no-one wears a burkha, and even head scarfs are the exception rather than the rule.

The ancient religions of Indonesia were Indian: Hindu (still practised in Bali) and Buddhist (seen in ancient statues and relics in Java). Animist religions are even more ancient and still exist in remote sections of the country. There is a community in the back blocks of Bali which used to be canabalistic not too long ago. They are still not very friendly to strangers.

Indonesia's Islamic tradition came via Portuguese sailors. Ironically, the Portuguese are now traditionally Catholic. It was probably modified by the Christianising presence of the English (for three years in Jakarta) and the long Dutch rule.

Today there are pockets of Christain belief, especially in the eastern islands of Flores (very Catholic) and Ambon (Protestant type Christianity). In both cases, the morality taught by these versions of Christianity is heavily influenced by the otherwise prevailing Muslim culture. For example, East Islander Indonesian Christians believe that it is sinful to show bare shoulders and to wear shorts. It is also frowned on for a woman to walk around on her own, unless she is escorting a child. The same Islamic-based morality is tacked onto Balinese Hinduism as well. "White" tourists, regardless of their religion, are believed to be immoral because they break these rules.

The difference with Balinese culture in particular, and other parts of Indonesia to varying extents, is that babies and children get a lot of physical touching and same-sex adolescents and adults are encouraged to touch and hug each other. This includes physical touching between men. OTOH, inter-sex touching is taboo from adolescence onwards. This makes some kind of sense in a world where effective contraceptives are not readily available and, when they are available, are beyond the economic means of a large proportion of the population.

The inter-sexual ban seems to be enough to trigger some very aggressive behavior by Indonesian men as well as the general down-grading of women. The latter, however, is nowhere near as bad as it is in other Muslim countries.

Danny, the stuff about Indonesia is from my own personal experience of living in that country. What's in the linked article relates to other societies, with the exception of the Balinese culture. Bali really is different from other islands. It is the only one with a strong Hindu background. Fortunately, the Hindu gods reward art and beauty so Bali is full of artists, scuptures and architects and the scenery benefits greatly because of it. This is in sharp contrast to the islands on either side (Java to the west and Lombok to the east.)

While the Balinese are a gentler people than the inhabitants of other islands there is a streak of violence underneath, nevertheless. One time when I was there, a Javanese (presumably Muslim) man was caught stealing from a tourist. Stealing is strongly against the island's dominant religion and culture. The man was caught and killed by a mob of Balinese men. Horrific "justice".
I usually don't comment on anything before I read it, but given my limited time I hope you don't that chime in without reading the article.

There is a belief that given the right social conditions human would be non-violent. Violence is a human behavior that is universally expressed in all cultures throughout known history. There are factors that contribute to the expression of violent behavior, some of which you point out. However, attributing a causal effect to social conditions is a bit of a stretch.

Violence is one of the extremes within the range of antagonistic behaviors expressed by humans and so long as we are humans this behavior will always be expressed.
Rosemary, thanks for posting. This is rather long, but I will bookmark it and hopefully get to it one day soon.




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