One script that has floated around for centuries is Platonic dualism. It is one of the most powerful and enduring ideologies that may impact you—from your social media habits to the way you eat breakfast. Don’t roll your eyes at the mention of a Greek philosopher, but Plato (and notably, the entire school of thought associated with the idea) defined the human being as having two compartments.
The first is the physical body, including the organs, bones, and muscle tissue. Because the physical world was associated with evil and the body is in this physical world, the body is also associated with evil. Activities connected with the body belong to this ephemeral world, destined to decay and disappear. This includes things like appetite and sexuality.
The second part is the spirit, often depicted as a white sparkling asterisk-shaped globule that floats around in the air like a dandelion seed in the wind. This part is where your thoughts, memories, moral self, and your self-identity reside. Some would mistakenly label this as the soul. Dualists would conclude that all that is evil is in your body, but all that is good is in your spirit. It was the moral task of the human being to choose the spirit over the body to achieve spiritual victory.
Later, institutional Christianity adopted Greek philosophy, merely placing monotheistic elements into the original polytheistic framing. While found in many other places and denominations, dualism scripts are most evidenced and visible in Roman Catholicism, where sexuality in many ways is considered to be in opposition to spirituality. In trumpeting the script of dualism, dualistic religions proclaim that bodily pleasures are contaminated. Sex is seen as “dirty,” to be avoided, one of the root evils in human existence, and incompatible with spiritual things. In line with thinking of sexuality as evil, monasticism promotes celibacy as the equivalent of sanctification. In this view, rather than being a positive perspective, sexuality exists only for reproductive means, and advanced spirituality is achieved through abstinence.
On the other hand, with the rise of atheism and evolutionary biology, another dominant script is floating around in society as well. Rather than being compartmentalized, the human being is singular, and it is just the body. The spiritual sphere is not accepted but argued away as some vestige of primitive anthropology. The ethic of this script looks to the animal kingdom for normative human behavior. The thinking is that since humanity came from animals, beasts should provide the model for what is proper conduct. Since animals procreate without regard to “socialized” rules and regulations, sexual norms look to creatures rather than the Creator for moral, social, and ethical authority (Romans 1). The satiation of powerful hormones, the allure of the mating process, and the passing down of genes all point to the human being as defined as the human body only.
Whereas physical needs are denied in the former script, they become paramount and even enter the world of morality in the latter script. According to these two scripts, sexual activity is either a necessary evil or a limitless indulgence; something to be denied or something to be binged on. Like the Jews who were stuck between the king of the North and the king of the South (also interestingly identified as, respectively, the false religion of Rome and the atheism symbolized as “Egypt” in some schools of prophecy), believers of God’s Word today are also stuck between the two ideologies of asceticism and hedonism.