13. Sex and Contingency

The sexual issue in the Work, as in the other organizations of celibates, becomes one more mechanism of authoritarian manipulation, a formula of self-contempt, (147) a source of countless sets conscious contradictions, which keep many people hooked for a long time in a self-destructive dialectic.

As the psychiatrist Alvarez Vilar diagnoses, the same emphasis on chastity that Opus Dei advocates is an index of its expansive zeal. When the libido is chained, its kinetic energy passes to other functions of the psyche.

The consequence of  what is preached is usually neurosis. Sexual repression engenders in the subject a permanent state of guilt between temptation and prohibition, between the power of desire and the abominations of the Work, between instinct and the notion of sin that gags at him. All this is done to mold obedient and submissive people.

All psychoanalytical theories, very much in vogue today, recognize that sexual repression and inhibition, which in the language of the Work is called “sacrificing the egoism of the flesh”, is at the base of its authoritarian and despotic attitude. (148) Sexuality and the natural capacity to love have thus been - a psychologist would say - dangerously sublimated.

In Opus Dei, discrimination is exercised on the basis of sex, with women suffering the worst consequences, since the aggregate numeraries and assistants are undervalued in relation to their male counterparts and very often destined to serve them.

A.G.C., (149) a numerary in Opus Dei for 15 years, relates her experience: “I entered the Work at the age of 17, but at no time was I told, "This is what Opus Dei is all about". The only thing they sell you is the idea of sanctification in the world. The rest you discover later...”

The women who run the men's houses are forbidden to deal with them. The houses are together, but separated by two doors with two keys which are kept by the director of the men and the director of the women. The men's director usually calls the women's manager first thing in the morning to say, “There are so many of us eating today”. For two hours, in the morning, the men cannot enter their rooms to avoid coinciding with the women who are cleaning. Nor can they talk to the maids who serve them at the table.

The difference between the lives of the men and women of Opus Dei is stark. While the former enjoy professional freedom, as far as possible, the latter are completely tied to their director. They cannot spend a night at their parents' house, unless they have special permission. This permission is only granted when the parents live in a town where Opus Dei has no home.

The women have to sleep on a board to “put their body on the path” as noted above. Likewise, they cannot travel alone at night and the more observant ones must ask permission to go to the hairdresser's or to buy clothes.

On the street they “guard their sight” to avoid temptation with their eyes, and that is why men usually carry their hand in their pockets, because in their pockets they carry a crucifix which will be squeezed with their fingers when temptation comes. (150)

Dr. Mynareck accuses these sectarian groups and reproaches them for repressing sexuality by giving themselves a rule of proportion between the destructive level of the group and the nuts they tighten to repress sexuality, this proportion being in direct order. The greatest repressors are usually the most repressed, having sexual problems and defects and with a certain morbid burden of their sexual pathological state. The contingency of repression and blame creates sickly beings between schizophrenia and the complex of the unrepentant sinner.


147. Moncada, "Historia oral del Opus Dei", p. 158.
148. Ynfante, "La prodigiosa aventura del Opus Dei" ("The Prodigious Adventure of Opus Dei"), p. 13.
149. "El País" Newspaper (May 1, 1988).
150. Ynfante, "La prodigiosa aventura del Opus Dei" ("The Prodigious Adventure of Opus Dei"), p. 118.

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