Some of you guys are assuming something salacious in these inappropriate father-daughter relationships, but it’s not necessary for the father and daughter to have physical sex. The problem is actually fairly well understood (Freud and Jung both wrote article after article about this stuff).
A man who is closed off from psychological feelings of intimacy by his wife will often transfer some of his libidinal energies to his daughter. In doing so he gets to transcend a feeling of shame or failure in his loveless marriage. The daughter, too, gets something out of it. She gets to regress into a more infantile state, letting daddy take care of her emotional needs, rather than learning to take care of herself and pass into adulthood.
If you’re wondering why you meet grown women who haven’t progressed beyond the emotional age of 13, well, this might be a reason in some of those instances…
Again, it’s not necessary for the father and daughter to have physical sex or anything approaching that. In a strange way, that’s why this unhealthy process is so insidious. It masks itself as a normal relationship, with nothing outwardly untoward; but, at the deep structure, it’s unhealthy for all parties.
The reason this isn’t more widely recognized as twisted is the widespread belief that sexual passion can be neatly divided into two forms:
- Sexual emotion (romance): This is considered pure, non sexual, and if not outright holy then nearly so.
- Physical sexuality: This is considered dirty unless sanctified (purified) by romance.
But romance isn’t non sexual. It is always sexual. This was understood when the concept of romantic love was originally distilled out of sexual passion, but that was nearly a thousand years ago. The idea has morphed over time, and more importantly we aren’t even aware that we have adopted a view of sexuality that stems from a glorification of adultery in popular fiction in the 11th century. As CS Lewis explains:
They effected a change which has left no corner of our ethics, our imagination, or our daily life untouched, and they erected impassable barriers between us and the classical past or the Oriental present. Compared with this revolution the Renaissance is a mere ripple on the surface of literature. There can be no mistake about the novelty of romantic love: our only difficulty is to imagine in all its bareness the mental world that existed before its coming…
Even worse, nearly all Christians believe that the idea of romance as something non sexual and sanctifying is a biblical concept. This is why the former head of the CBMW refers to romance as “God honoring”, offering romance as a solution to the problem of sexual immorality:
Promote God-honoring romance…
But nowhere in the Bible are we told that romance is pure or “God-honoring”. This is a modern invention, part of the religion of feminism. Romance isn’t even a biblical concept, as the Bible refers to sexual passion as a single thing and does not artificially divide it out into sexual emotion and physical sexuality. Proverbs 5 uses animal imagery to describe a husband’s proper frame of mind toward his wife. Song of Solomon also describes a raw sexual passion. And 1 Corinthians 7 instructs us that the solution to the temptation of sexual immorality is to marry and have frequent sex.
But this brings us to the root of the problem. There is at least a decade between the age we expect girls to seek romantic relationships and the minimum age our feminist culture considers it proper for a woman to marry. Since the biblical solution is (for most) out of the question, the next step for modern Christians was to invent a new code of sexual morality. This new invention however needs to feel traditional, which is why the result is a form of cartoonish chivalry.
Interestingly we would understand how twisted it is to have a parent act as their child’s romantic surrogate if we reversed the sexes. When fathers dress as grooms, give their daughters wedding rings, and pose with their daughters dressed as brides or prom dates, modern Christians can’t see how twisted this is. But if Christian mothers started dressing up as brides or prom dates with their sons and had their sons place wedding rings on their fingers, everyone would immediately understand how sick this really is. The reason is when it comes to men we intuitively understand that romance is sexual in nature. It is only for women that we hold out the fiction that romance isn’t sexual.
Edit: Donal has a post making much the same point, and Cane Caldo has a new post up in response to my previous post.