The Religious Right’s Perversion of Sexuality and Marriage

Jun 21 2011 Published by under Uncategorized

Inanna, Queen of Heaven

It is the summer solstice, a holy time for many millennia for millions of devout people. We stand today at the midway point between the return of life to the world in spring and its death before a long winter and the resurrection to follow. It seems a good time to reflect on a “Christmas” that has been re-purposed. More so because the religion that re-purposed it has become ever more hostile to facts, including especially any facts related to it that might weaken its hold on the people.

Sometime in a past long lost to memory, the mortal herdsman Dumuzi met, was loved and married by Inanna, the goddess of love and war. For the Babylonians, the marriage was between Tammuz, the farmer, and Ishtar. For the Greeks, the couple was known as Adonis and Aphrodite.  The Sumerian songs of love predate the psalms, many of which are influenced by or based upon older Canaanite songs. These Sumerian songs are some of the oldest love songs in the world, and Dumuzi’s death and resurrection long overwritten and forgotten by a new religion.

This conversation took place between Inanna and Utu, her brother, the sun god:

“Brother, after you’ve brought my bridal sheet to me,

Who will go to bed with me?

Utu, who will go to bed with me?

“Sister, your bridegroom will go to bed with you.

 

He who was born from a fertile womb,

He who was conceived on the scared marriage throne,

Dumuzi, the shepherd! He will go to bed with you.”

 

This was a natural marriage, a marriage that celebrated fertility and sexuality rather than criminaliing it, not the “perverted parodies” that is Abrahamic marriage.[1]

Dumuzi waited expectantly.

Inanna opened the door for him.

Inside the house she shone before him.

Like the light of the moon.

Dumuzi looked at her joyously.

He pressed his neck close against hers.

He kissed her.

Inanna spoke:

“What I tell you

Let the singer weave into song.

What I tell you,

Let it flow from ear to mouth,

Let it pass from old to young:

 

My vulva, the horn,

The Boat of Heaven,

Is full of eagerness like the young moon.

My untilled land lies fallow.

As for me, Inanna,

Who will plow my vulva?

Who will plow my high field?

Who will plow my wet ground?

As for me, the young woman,

Who will plow my vulva?

Who will station the ox there?

Who will plow my vulva?

 

Dumuzi replied:

“Great Lady, the king will plow your vulva?

I, Dumuzi the King, will plow your vulva.”

 

Inanna:

“Then plow my vulva, man of my heart!

Plow my vulva!”

Out of this marriage came the life that was celebrated each spring:

As the farmer, let him make the fields fertile,

As the shepherd, let him make the sheepfolds multiply,

Under his reign let there be vegetation,

Under his reign let there be rich grain.

In the marshland may the fish and birds chatter,

In the canebrake may the young and old reeds grow high,

In the steppe may the deer and wild goats multiply,

In the orchards may there be honey and wine,

In the grasslands may the lettuce and cress grow high,

In the palace may there be long life.

Canaanite, if not Sumerian, poems have now been shown to have been the basis of some of the Pslams. In a world in which polytheism had not been the victim of wholesale genocide by monotheists, readers today might be opening a book of holy scripture and reading Pslam 29 in reference to Baal rather than YHWH, or Pslam 89 about Baal on his holy Mt. Saphon in Syria rather than YHWH on Mt. Sinai in Israel (the descriptions are identical save for the name change). They might be reading the fourth and fifth chapters of Genesis in their Sumerian original, the texts Genesis is based upon,[2] or reading about the shepherd Dumuzi rather than the carpenter Jesus, and of his death, godhood, and resurrection. The roots of modern monotheism are wholly polytheistic.

The union of Dumuzi with the goddess Inanna was an unhappy marriage. Like that of Jesus after him, his life ended in tragedy and then, miraculously, in triumph. In these Sumerian songs, Inanna went to the lands of the dead after their union. Her attempt to rule that land ended in failure and she had to agree to provide a substitute for herself in order to escape. Because the hapless Dumuzi did not mourn her sufficiently when she was gone, she had him sent in her place. But he did not die and he did return for half of each year while his sister went in his stead.

“You (Dumuz), half the year! Your sister (Gestinanna), half the year!”[3]

Inana had realized that Dumuzi could not be sent away forever without destroying the fecundity of the earth. And meanwhile, she repented of her anger and mourned his absence for six months of each year.

As the farmer, let him make the fields fertile,

As the shepherd, let him make the sheepfolds multiply,

Under his reign let there be vegetation,

Under his reign let there be rich grain.

In the marshland may the fish and birds chatter,

In the canebrake may the young and old reeds grow high,

In the steppe may the deer and wild goats multiply,

In the orchards may there be honey and wine,

In the grasslands may the lettuce and cress grow high,

In the palace may there be long life.

The song above would have been recited in honor of Dumuzi’s return from the land of the dead, to celebrate his triumph over death and the return of life to earth his resurrection brought.

The return to life of Dumuzi/Tammuz/Adonis predated the triumph over death that was said to have been the unique contribution of Jesus of Nazareth. Dumuzi’s triumph over death is attested as far back as 2000 B.C.E. – two millennia before Jesus.

Dumuzi’s lament reminds one of Jesus’ cry on the cross:

Dumuzi wept at the meaning of the decreed fate:

“I who am a shepherd, after walking among men – how singularly I have been treated!

My ewes have indeed been seized, my kids have been carried off – how singularly I have been treated!

My she-goats have indeed been seized, my kids have been carried off – how singularly I have been treated!

My holy little donkey-mares have indeed been seized with them  – how singularly I have been treated![4]

In the 320s, the Christians, angry at the proof that the resurrection was not unique, were in a position to take him out of the picture. Constantine, the first Christian emperor, tried to kill Dumuzi/Tammuz/Adonis and his memory by destroying his holy shrine of Aphaca where he was said to have died and returned to life, a site as sacred as the site of Jesus’ crucifixion. Constantine destroyed Adonis’ temple at Aphaca, but destroying his temple could not destroy Adonis or discourage the faithful, who continued to make their yearly pilgrimage in the heat of the summer year after year.

I speak of these things because they are important. They are part of our common past that has been re-purposed – stolen – to make legitimate a new king who long after Dumuzi is said also to have triumphed over death. And we are being told only his triumph matters. And this religion now seeks to extend its sway over the federal government just as it once extended its hold over kings, to make its stolen stories and doctrines and mythology the law of the land, to ignore its own theft while decrying others and to pervert, once and for all, the naturalness of fertility and sexuality and reduce femaleness to criminality.


[1] David Leeming, “Religion and Sexuality: The Perversion of a Natural Marriage,” Journal of Religion and Health (Summer, 2003), pp. 101-109

[2] George A. Barton, “A Sumerian Source of the Fourth and Fifth Chapters of Genesis,” Journal of Biblical Literature (1915), pp. 1-9

[3] Samuel Noah Kramer, “Dumuzi’s Annual Resurrection: An Important Correction to ‘Inanna’s Descent’,” Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research (Oct., 1966), p. 31

[4] Samuel Noah Kramer, “The Death of Dumuzi: A New Sumerian Version,” Anatolian Studies
Vol. 30, Special Number in Honour of the Seventieth Birthday of Professor O. R. Gurney (1980), pp. 5-13

 

 

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