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Archive for September, 2013

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Last night I enjoyed another semi-regular, good late night conversation with the flat mate. The subject of soul-ties came up. What’s that? As good Pentecostals we like to acknowledge — in contrast to secular western tendency to differentiate between the spiritual and material — that everything has a spiritual aspect to it. And this is the logic of soul-ties, that sex is also spiritual and a deep spiritual connection is made with another person through it. Perhaps Pentecostal interpreters were thinking of such verses as:

‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.

(Matt 19:5-6).

Do you not know that he who unites himself with a prostitute is one with her in body? For it is said, “The two will become one flesh.” But whoever is united with the Lord is one with him in spirit.

(1 Cor 6:16-17).

The logic goes that after having sex with one person, even though that sexual relationship is finished the spiritual connection remains. I wonder though, where does sex start and finish? Is it even possible to use the absolute term, “virgin” to describe someone’s sexual history?

Does having sex make you lose your virginity? What if you spend a few seconds in coitus and then decide to stop? What about oral sex? What about two people who are mutually sexually aroused when in each other’s presence yet unaware of the other’s being aroused? What about viewing pornography? What about seeing a sex scene in a movie? What about masturbating? What about having a wet dream? What about entertaining a stray sexual thought? What about getting a stiffy? What about using a tampon? What about producing sperm or eggs, you dirty little sexual being? Really how virginal are virgins? How sexual is sex?

All this is not to undermine what different things that will come about from engaging in any of these actions, and I would be very reluctant to acknowledge something like pornography as “just part of growing up.” However, perhaps the ideas of soul-ties and virginity as absolute categories need to be re-examined when considering someone’s sexual history? Maybe it’s best for Christians entering into marriage to discuss their differing sexual histories on individual bases?

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I just realised that there was a fatal flaw in the reasoning of my last post. By positing all possibilities as actuality in the way I described, I implied that all possibilities are eventually fulfilled. But if possibilities are only actual insofar as they are fulfilled then this leads to a very fatalistic understanding of time, because there are no possibilities other than what will be! I wish to maintain that possibility is actual in that it takes place within actuality, that which is.

Nevertheless, the possibility — and this is perhaps an unnecessary, tautologous qualification, but — the potential of that possibility should be distinct from its fulfillment. So, possibility as a whole encompasses actuality insofar as it is rooted in the present, that which could be, potential, but the totality of possibility maintains one foot outside of actuality, in non-being. An unfulfilled possibility which is no longer possible remains in history as a historical possibility, so in this case it has being, actuality, yet it never found completeness and thus remains forever as … half-being? (Though, of course, this is only if viewed in totality. The potential and fulfillment, and whatever other parts make up this possibility can be seen each as having respectively a being and non-being (or being if this is made reference to) fully in themselves). This can be illustrated with reference to an illustration from an earlier post. I have not yet learned to distinguish between probability and possibility, though in a literal sense the former appears much more biased! Arguendo I’ll equate them. If something has a 0.5 probability of coming into being, then, my lack of experience with probability notwithstanding, I assume that the possibility of being or non-being is equal. However if the probability is 1 then there is no possibility, only necessity, let’s say of being. Likewise, for 0, there is only necessity of non-being. Possibility, as it views from the perspective of the not yet, is awkwardly and beautifully thrust between being and non-being.

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Recently, in using the terms actuality, possibility, and necessity, I’ve run into a problem. The problem is that I cannot compare that which is possible with that which is actual because the possible is contained in the actual. More on this presently! I like to start from the start with these things mostly because I’m too lazy to do any background reading, but (small) partly because I’d like to understand my own thinking before developing it dialectically.

I’ll focus just on the relationship between possibility and actuality because the reader can make the further necessary connections. I cannot exclude possibility, that which could be, from actuality, that which is, because possibility is based in the actual, defined in relation to it. Additionally, similarly, etc, the only thing outside of actuality is that which is not because actuality encompasses all that is. Possibility is not that which is not but that which is not yet. It only escapes actuality by virtue of time and time is actual. It is a weak actuality that is only defined by the present, because the present is propelled by the past and pulled by the future. Thus actuality encompasses all that was, is, and will be. Possibility is actuality.

How then can we speak of a possibility which has not yet been actualised/realised? We falter in our terms. Possibility is always actual, but its mode differs according to where it occurs in time. When possibility is viewed in the present, in a vulgar sense it has not been actualised. Yet it is actual. And when it eventually is vulgarly actualised, it remains actual. Since they are both actual, real, etc, maybe they could be named with reference to time, so the former present possibility and the latter future possibility. Or more simply, can we speak of unfulfilled and fulfilled possibility?

One final thought on imagined possibility. Just because something is imagined as possible, it doesn’t necessarily make it possible. The imagining remains actual as an imagining, but not as a possibility. Possibility isn’t contingent on an observer.

* * *

See also Everything is impossible if you put your mind to it

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I’m back, but not for long. I was just reading Jeremiah and found this:

Now, therefore, say to the people of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem: Thus says the Lord: Look, I am a potter shaping evil against you and devising a plan against you. Turn now, all of you from your evil way, and amend your ways and your doings. But they say, “It is no use! We will follow our own plans, and each of us will act according to the stubbornness of our evil will.”

(18:11-12).

Probably would have realised earlier if I checked out a commentary, but there’s a clear allusion to this in Romans 9, the famous free-will?-no-such-thing passage:

You will say to me then, “Why then does he still find fault? For who can resist his will?” But who indeed are you, a human being, to argue with God? Will what is molded say to the one who molds it, “Why have you made me like this?” Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one object for special use and another for ordinary use? What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience the objects of wrath that are made for destruction; and what if he has done so in order to make known the riches of his glory for the objects of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory— including us whom he has called, not from the Jews only but also from the Gentiles?

(9:19-24).

In Jeremiah, Israel was asked to repent but ignored it. Interestingly, in Romans 9-11, Paul is nutting out the theological problem of why Israel has not been so keen to receive the gospel, which was first for them.

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