For at least two years I’ve had the same Gravatar: “Cupid Chastised”, by Bartolomeo Manfredi. You can see it here. From the comments, some of my interpretation of the piece:
I believe is it Mars whipping Cupid, and Venus interfering. I think it’s natural to assume that Cupid must have shot someone that caused a complication for Mars–either stopping a war Mars didn’t want stopped, or starting a war of which Mars does not approve. I’ve always thought the doves flying away (doves are symbols of peace) actually encourages the latter interpretation. This is a war Mars does not want.
So, we have a picture of manliness whipping Cupid for interfering, and he’s using a cord of three braids to do it. I’m fairly knowledgable of tropes, and the most common trope of cords with three braids is the three-fold cord of marriage–which makes sense. Marriage is the whip of manly civilization that brings sexual energy to useful purpose.
What’s interesting to me about Venus is: 1) She doesn’t seem to be trying very hard to stop Mars. Maybe this has happened before? Maybe she’s assuming Cupid’s immortal state will spare him? Maybe she’s afraid if she’s too aggressive Mars will turn on her?
My money says those things in her hand are the key. Yes, she’s trying to spare Cupid, but her real concern is salvaging those arrows of Eros. Just as Mars came to represent general manliness and male energy, so Venus came to represent femininity and female energy. Why save the arrows? Hypergamy in corruption seems to be a pretty good explanation.
I go on later to talk about the symbolism of the three-fold cord.
The important point isn’t whether I’m reading Manfredi correctly, but that years ago I had deduced that the problem with Christian marriages concerns the involvement of the spirit of Eros; Cupid’s Greek name. Additionally, I have been writing a series of posts called “Doublethinking Lust” as a sort of spot-treatment guide to how Christians have idolized lust–Eros, Cupid–and keep it under the their skirts.
These years later, Social Pathologist (who is always interesting) too has decided that Christians really need to take a second look at Eros; that is: Cupid. SP’s take is wildly different: He thinks we need more reverence for the spirit of Eros.
I think the errors with that should be obvious, but if I have learned one thing in my time here in the Men’s Sphere it’s this: Most people don’t know what they are talking about. Because of that, they don’t know what others are talking about. This impairment is much more foundational than definitions of Game (conversations of which irritate some people, and even I find tiresome), but it remains that I am trying to have a discussion with people who don’t know what the word spirit means. They don’t know what the Gospel actually is. So when I tell them that Game tinkers with spirits and stands against the implications of the Gospel they don’t know what in the world I’m talking about. I strike them as a different species. Presumably, that means as a subhuman oppressor.
They dismiss spirit as something that is not really real, but merely imaginary. It’s mere to such people because don’t know that imaginary things can be real things because they don’t understand that the word imaginary doesn’t actually mean pretend. These things are important to know for a person who is going to preach “Fake it ’til you make it.” Fake WHAT until you make WHAT?
“Fake it ’til you make it.” is a spiritual discipline (This is probably a good time to point out that the word discipline shares the same root as the word disciple, and that the practice of the previous results in the formation of the latter.) It is imagining (making and assuming the image of a spirit with your mind) until that spirit has conformed your form–your mind, your will, your heart, your spirit–to it. What does the Bible that God used His people to write, collect, and protect) say about this:
12 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. 2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.
Look at what it says! The whole person of the Christian is to be transformed by the renewing of the mind; which is where the spirit works. Paul continues on to say what that renewing looks like:
3 For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.
There goes self-esteem. There goes self-confidence, and in its place keeping confidence (faith with) God. There (certainly!) goes irrational self-confidence; as irrational is not sober. There goes Demonstration of Higher Value. There goes pride. Lest anyone get confused: This is criticism of worldly Christians, and the merely worldly.
4 For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office: 5 so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another. 6 Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith; 7 or ministry, let us wait on our ministering: or he that teacheth, on teaching; 8 or he that exhorteth, on exhortation: he that giveth, let him do it with simplicity; he that ruleth, with diligence; he that sheweth mercy, with cheerfulness.
9 Let love be without dissimulation.
No deceit allowed; not even to make someone feel better.
Abhor that which is evil
Stay away fornication, among other things.
cleave to that which is good.
Hooray for marriage! Hooray for what marriage represents!
10 Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another;
Make it your business to show good men as successful
11 not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord;
No lounging poolside.
12 rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer;
Keep morale high.
13 distributing to the necessity of saints; given to hospitality.
14 Bless them which persecute you: bless, and curse not.
No hating on non-Christians or other enemies, but hoping for their conversion.
15 Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep.16 Be of the same mind one toward another.
Sympathize, and put your feelings to the side for the sake of others.
Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate.
Don’t chase success, but make effort to make less fortunate men successful.
Be not wise in your own conceits.
See things from others’ perspectives, and don’t put too much trust in your own.
17 Recompense to no man evil for evil.
No paybacks. No revenge. No “mutually assured destruction”. No “go bags”. No plots of humiliation.
Provide things honest in the sight of all men.
Be truthful and do not lay traps for others.
18 If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men.
Make effort to not only avoid conflict, but to find common ground; though not at the expense of the what has been said above.
19 Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord. 20 Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head. 21 Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.
Not only: No paybacks, no revenge, no mutually assured destruction, no go bags, no plots of humiliation; but do good to them. Sacrifice for them. Do not fight fire with fire. The answer to the Feminist who gets mad at your holding the door is to call her “ma’am”.
Please understand that this is in contrast not only to what worldly people say and do (PUAs, Oprah, Muslims, etc.) but in contrast to those Christians who sniff that the sort of men we have today aren’t the sort of men who could have stood with Constantine, Charles Martel, or any of the other so-called “heroes” of pre-Enlightenment Christendom. Anybody who believes the might of God and rightness of Christianity was proved by martial force, cultural dominance, or even accumulated traditions of worship is making the mistake that I’ve gone on about over and over:
Here in [The Book of Job] the question is really asked whether God invariably punishes vice with terrestrial punishment and rewards virtue with terrestrial prosperity. If the Jews had answered that question wrongly they might have lost all their after influence in human history. They might have sunk even down to the level of modern well-educated society. For when once people have begun to believe that prosperity is the reward of virtue, their next calamity is obvious. If prosperity is regarded as the reward of virtue it will be regarded as the symptom of virtue. Men will leave off the heavy task of making good men successful. He will adopt the easier task of making out successful men good. This, which has happened throughout modern commerce and journalism, is the ultimate Nemesis of the wicked optimism of the comforters of Job.
Most people–including most professing Christians, and across history–have answered wrongly. Social Pathologist, Novaseeker, Vox, and those like them say that the answers to what ails Christians is a dearth of Cupid, a disdain of Aristotle, a hunger of Machiavelli, and a lack of Neitzsche–all those thinkers and thoughts which we mean when we ask, “What has Athens to do with Jerusalem?” They speak as non-Christians when they do. Not because Jerusalem cannot benefit from Athens, but because those who mistake success for righteousness do not understand Jerusalem at all, and so they do not know that while they may mean to add to Jerusalem, what they do in their ignorance is flood it with successful invaders and say it is good.
So it’s no bad thing to learn from Roissy’s dissections that the old saw is truer than you knew: “Beauty is old skin deep, but ugly goes to the bone.” Adapting Christian marriage and the Christian view of sex is the problem. Thomas Aquinas’ desire to learn from Aristotle and pass it on to Christians wasn’t his problem. The error was trying to create a philosophy of God that satisfied Aristotelian logic; along with assumptions that success meant good merely because it satisfied our desires to want success to be the reward of virtue. Christians (Jerusalem) can certainly benefit from non-Christian (Athens) thought. It happens all the time. However, it is profoundly unlikely to happen when the Christian making the Athenian argument earnestly likens marriage with prostitution; marriage with fornication; marriage with mathematics; and even marriage with operating a car.
We’re told what marriage is like: It’s like Christ’s relationship to the Church. It’s like farming. It’s like shepherding. It’s like work. We’re also told what sex is like:
4 Thou shalt not muzzle the ox when he treadeth out the corn.
It’s like enjoying work. Let the married eat and be filled with the joy of sex and let it produce. It is a reward for the work. It draws the worker onward to more work and more reward. It is pleasurable even when not profitable with children, and reaps profits even when it’s not terribly pleasurable. Whoever is not treading out the grain should not eat, and whoever is treading out the grain should not be kept from eating. These things work together, and are self-evident.
As a general rule: If there’s something important for the Christian to know, it’s something that can be learned by even the commonest of men; like farmers, and shepherds. Simpletons can’t help but intuit the ox-and-grain truth about sex and marriage, but the educated hem and haw; harrumphing about that what we could really use here is some more Eros (from the Greeks; so famous for homosexuality that Greek is now a euphemism for sodomy) and Cupid (from the Romans who’s sexual achievements are orgies and egalitarian divorce laws).
The existence of these things among Christians is evidence of them having been poisoned with Cupidity; not a sign of its absence. We see a similar cupidity when the response to teen pregnancy is contraceptives, abortion, and college instead of marriage.
10 For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat. 11 For we hear that there are some which walk among you disorderly, working not at all, but are busybodies. 12 Now them that are such we command and exhort by our Lord Jesus Christ, that with quietness they work, and eat their own bread.
The Christian who wants to consume sex must tread marriage, and sex should not be withheld from the married.
18 For the scripture saith, Thou shalt not muzzle the ox that treadeth out the corn. And, The labourer is worthy of his reward.
 For a brief time, I changed it to a picture I took of a sign over an airport luggage carousel. It read: “Please Stay Off The Carousel”.
 The Gospel is the story of Jesus Christ: The good news that God became man, died on the cross to take away the sins of all who believe on Him and to reconcile and redeem sinners to God; hat He rose from the dead and ascended into Heaven to rule. The Gospel is not lived, but told. Acceptance of the Gospel should and will inform how one lives, but it cannot be told in silence.