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Life at the Oneida Colony -- It was sex all the time at this 1800s commune, with anyone you wanted and none of the guilt--

Posted By: Watchman
Date: Tuesday, 16-Jan-2018 09:44:42

It was sex all the time at this 1800s commune, with anyone you wanted and none of the guilt
Life at the Oneida Colony was kind of a like a key party, but no one had cars and everyone was doin’ it for Jesus.

(This article is the first in a five-part series about experimental utopias.)

Do angels have sex? John Humphrey Noyes thought so. Related question: If they do the nasty in heaven, is it really so nasty after all? Noyes reasoned not. These were the basic philosophies that animated the creation of Noyes’s Oneida Community, a 19th century colony of so-called Bible Communists who believed that free love and ecstatic sex would bring them closer to God.

The story of John Humphrey Noyes — as told by Ellen Wayland-Smith, a descendant of Oneida’s original inhabitants, in her 2016 book, Oneida: From Free Love Utopia to the Well-Set Table, about the colony — is one of a man desperate to reconcile his competing corporeal and celestial desires. If the moniker sounds familiar, that’s because the successful silverware company Oneida was founded at its namesake colony. But while its corporate legacy shines on, Oneida’s radical approach to sex and faith has largely been obscured, in part because the colony’s descendants destroyed the evidence.

Born in Vermont in 1811 to a wealthy congressman, John Humphrey Noyes matriculated at Dartmouth College and Yale Theological Seminary. While Noyes was patrician and ministerial, he was never a prude. Throughout his youth, he was said to be “bewitched” by women; a childhood friend remembered him as “inclined to give way a little too much to the libido corporis.”
John Humphrey Noyes, founder of Oneida. (Wikimedia)

Noyes was a man of earthly appetites, and would have perhaps never become interested in the seminary had a religious revival not rocked New England in his early adulthood. In the 1830s, some radical ministers began to reject Calvinism’s austere, puritanical notions of destiny. The new theologians argued instead that people could make their own fate, or, as Wayland-Smith writes, that they had “an obligation to at least meet God halfway in ushering in paradise on earth.”

This new religious trend, known as Millenarianism, was dynamic and extravagant. Millenarian revivals were ecstatic affairs. A preacher’s voice would tremble with emotion, waxing and waning rhythmically as onlookers wept, convulsed, or collapsed. Congregants were overcome by what one preacher called “waves of liquid love.” Though people weren’t literally having sex during the sermons, revivals blurred religious and sexual experience, and saintliness with sin.

Noyes attended a few of these gatherings and was seduced by what he called their “meridian splendor.” But he struggled with the chastity required of him by the seminary. “I cannot send abroad my thoughts in any direction without crossing the track of some polluted image,” he wrote, “and a thousand needless suggestions of impurity occur daily to blast my endeavors after holiness.”

But seek and ye shall find: Noyes soon discovered the doctrine of perfectionism, which maintained that no outward act was sinful if one’s heart and love for Christ were pure. For example, one could feel holy lust, just as one could feel unholy lust.

Perfectionism led Noyes to declare sin an invalid concept, which resulted in his expulsion from the seminary at Yale. When asked if he would keep preaching, Noyes answered, “I have taken away their license to sin, and they keep on sinning. So, although they have taken away my license to preach, I shall keep on preaching.”

Noyes began publishing a journal called The Perfectionist, which put him in touch with other free-wheeling, amorous revivalists. He became fascinated by the question of whether saints were sexually active, reasoning that if the angels were getting it on, then bringing God’s kingdom to earth surely involved following suit. He concluded that if sex was a feature of the afterlife, it was surely communal and not possessive.

continue: https://timeline.com/it-was-sex-all-the-time-at-this-1800s-commune-with-anyone-you-wanted-and-none-of-the-guilt-c7ea4734e9ca





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