Lebanon: Finding Sex Through the Party of God?

Just like the time Slate's Jacob Weisberg invited me to join his Mafia family, his latest tweet made me think some wiseass had hacked his Twitter account: "If you're looking for a hook-up in South Beirut, best to go through Hezbolllah." Still, I clicked the link and arrived at a Foreign Policy piece called "The Militarization of Sex (The story of Hezbollah's halal hookups)." It's interesting, unexpected, and nuanced. Seriously.

Now, I should really write that "The Militarization of Sex" seems nuanced. I have no personal knowledge of the pre-marital/extra-marital sexual habits of Hezbollah supporters. So let me stipulate that I can't vouch for any of what Hanin Ghaddar wrote for Foreign Policy. Skeptics should feel free to tuck all that follows in the "Interesting If True" folder of their brain's Trapper Keeper.


There are moments when Ghaddar's piece seems as if it's shaping up to be nothing more than a chronicle of hypocrisy — the literal "Party of God" facilitating "temporary marriages" that allow "couples to have religiously sanctioned sex for a limited period of time, without any commitments, and without the obligatory involvement of religious figures."

But hypocrisy is banal. I wouldn't have called Ghaddar's piece interesting, unexpected, and nuanced if it began and ended with hypocrisy. The striking passages are ones like this:

With his designer jeans, trendy haircut, and sharp sense of humor, Ali seems to be an unlikely Hezbollah supporter. He has always supported the resistance and what Hezbollah has achieved in this regard; however, in the last couple of years, he has developed a strong support for Hezbollah on issues he was previously critical of, such as its affiliation with Iran, involvement in domestic politics, and its religious rhetoric.
Coincidently or not, these developments took place as he was drawn to practice temporary marriage. In his southern village, it is difficult to meet girls and have normal relationships with them, and he acknowledges that getting closer to the party's social network has helped him meet more girls who were open to this kind of marriage. Gradually, Ali stopped drinking alcoholic beverages, took up praying and fasting ...

How to account for Ali's simultaneous trajectories both toward and away from what we'd conventionally think of as a devout life? According to an activist Ghaddar quotes, Hezbollah's social network "is only a matter of more control rather than being tolerant."

LinkedIn meets Tinder in this mindful networking app

Swipe right to make the connections that could change your career.

Getty Images
Sponsored
Swipe right. Match. Meet over coffee or set up a call.

No, we aren't talking about Tinder. Introducing Shapr, a free app that helps people with synergistic professional goals and skill sets easily meet and collaborate.

Keep reading Show less

Why are women more religious than men? Because men are more willing to take risks.

It's one factor that can help explain the religiosity gap.

Photo credit: Alina Strong on Unsplash
Culture & Religion
  • Sociologists have long observed a gap between the religiosity of men and women.
  • A recent study used data from several national surveys to compare religiosity, risk-taking preferences and demographic information among more than 20,000 American adolescents.
  • The results suggest that risk-taking preferences might partly explain the gender differences in religiosity.
Keep reading Show less

Steven Pinker's 13 rules for writing better

The Harvard psychologist loves reading authors' rules for writing. Here are his own.

NEW YORK, NY - JULY 21: Steven Pinker speaks onstage during OZY Fest 2018 at Rumsey Playfield, Central Park on July 21, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Brad Barket/Getty Images for Ozy Media)
Personal Growth
  • Steven Pinker is many things: linguist, psychologist, optimist, Harvard professor, and author.
  • When it comes to writing, he's a student and a teacher.
  • Here's are his 13 rules for writing better, more simply, and more clearly.
Keep reading Show less

Proposed carbon tax plan would return proceeds to people once goals are met

It could put the American fossil fuel industry on a clear path to extinction.

Politics & Current Affairs
  • A bipartisan group of renowned economists has proposed the U.S. implement a carbon tax.
  • The tax would increase until climate goals are met, and all proceeds would be given back to the people in equal lump-sums.
  • Recent research suggests that a majority of people would support a carbon tax policy that redistributes proceeds back to citizens.
Keep reading Show less