My Abstinence Education

April 19, 2008 at 2:00 pm 146 comments

When I was 15, I fell in love with J— and with Jesus. One stole my heart, the other my soul. Neither love would last, but both haunt me to this day.

In the ‘60s, while I was jumping rope and playing hop scotch, Jesus got down off of the heavy cross at the altar of the Catholic church and turned into a cool, hippie dude who loved everyone. It was quite a change of image for a guy who’d been King of Kings and Lord of Lords for almost 2,000 years to start chumming around with the regular folks as good ole boy, JC. The Jesus Movement, started in California by hippies who got high on Jesus instead of LSD, knew Jesus not as the stern, Father-God sorting out the sinners and the saints on Judgment Day, but as an earthy, loving brother accepting all humanity with open arms.

By the time the Jesus Movement reached Long Island at the end of the decade, it had lost most of its hippie accoutrements and had become quite suburban. Its evangelists looked more like Ozzie and Harriet than like Peter, Paul, and Mary. My parents were too old to be hippies and I was too young, but both of our generations succumbed to the hippie mantras of the Jesus Movement: Peace, Love, and Joy.

The further Jesus moved from the cross, the closer he moved to my heart. From Almighty Son-of-God to Personal Savior to friend. When his sandal-shod feet finally hit the dusty ground, I was ready to fall in love with him forever. At church, I was right in the middle, sitting in the front row, raising my hands to praise God, dancing in the aisles, speaking in tongues, playing worship songs on my guitar, reading the Bible over and over again, the way I’d read The Lord of the Rings the year before. (In the end, Frodo, Merry, Pippin, and Sam stuck with me. Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John did not.)

My view of romantic love came out of my relationship to God. We sang, “Jesus I love you. Jesus I praise you. Jesus I worship you,”as we gathered together in impromptu basement churches filled with metal folding chairs. Not a pattern of mutual respect and adoration, but of master and slave, lord and liege, creator and creation. I loved J— from afar, too, with the same fervor, longing, and unfulfilled desire.

I made up my own ten commandments for the single Christian girl to explain the rules I lived by:

  • Thou shalt not have premarital sex.
  • Thou shalt save thyself for thine husband.
  • Thou shalt not have a baby out of wedlock.
  • Thou shalt not kiss a boy (or a girl!).
  • Thou shalt be a good girl at parties.
  • Thou shalt be chaste, your body is a temple.
  • Thou shalt not get drunk or stoned.
  • Thou shalt not be a glutton.
  • Thou shalt be a good wife, because it is better to marry than to burn.
  • Thou shalt not have an abortion.

And that’s where sex didn’t come into the picture.

J— and I never had sex, never went on a date, never went “steady.” We should have been making out in the basement, instead we were holding hands in church. We should have been exploring our sexuality, instead we were following outdated rules. We should have been studying for our SATs, instead we were poring over the Bible. We should have been stoned at a rock concert, instead we were singing “Amazing Grace.” I remember sitting next to J— at a quaint old-fashioned church we visited, wanting to hold his hand, but too shy. Did he want to sit closer, put his arm around me, as if we were in a movie theater instead of a sanctuary? I imagined saying “I love you,” but I never did. Neither did he. We sang, “I love you with the love of the Lord,” when they told us to greet one-another in church. I think we both saw in each other’s eyes, that wasn’t what we meant.

Looking back, I see that I used my “personal relationship with Jesus” as a cop out that allowed me to I could hold onto the black-and-white morality that had been comfortable to me when I was 5, 8, and 11 years old. By the time I was 15 I should have been outgrowing that and learning how to emotionally and physically deal with adult issues and moral ambiguity, but I was afraid to. Jesus gave me the perfect excuse to hold onto a juvenile morality. I thought I was being chaste, but I was just being childish.

My own experiences make me wonder how many teens who are making chastity pledges are doing it because they are afraid to grow up. Now, I don’t think teens should have sex before they are ready, and no one should never do anything sexual that makes them uncomfortable. But you can’t avoid puberty and hiding in a cave of piety will not help you mature emotionally or spiritually. This type of behavior simply stunts growth and development. Looking back, I am sad for my younger self–sad that she missed out on so many wonderful experiences and that she was so afraid of everything. I am also sad that so many teens today are falling into the same trap, and that they are being encouraged to do so by their parents, pastors, and peers.

Eventually, I realized that my romantic visions of J— and Jesus were illusions. I had made them up in my head. They didn’t exist in the real world. I wasn’t in love with either of them as much as I was in love with my own imagination. Eventually, I had to say goodbye to both of my imaginary friends and move on with my life. Eventually, I grew up. But it took me a lot longer than it should have.

- writerdd

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Why I still study the Bible Abstinence and Education

146 Comments Add your own

  • 1. karen  |  April 19, 2008 at 2:46 pm

    Looking back, I see that I used my “personal relationship with Jesus” as a cop out that allowed me to I could hold onto the black-and-white morality that had been comfortable to me when I was 5, 8, and 11 years old. By the time I was 15 I should have been outgrowing that and learning how to emotionally and physically deal with adult issues and moral ambiguity, but I was afraid to. Jesus gave me the perfect excuse to hold onto a juvenile morality. I thought I was being chaste, but I was just being childish.

    Oh man, Donna. I could have written this word for word about my own adolescence. So True!

    The scary thing is that if you give in to fear and hide in that childish world (using religion or whatever), the lack of personal development does seem to catch up with you eventually. In my case, it was the mother of all midlife crises in my late 30s. I would never wish that on anyone.

    It’s one thing to have an existentialist crisis and spend some years “finding yourself” as a young adult – before you have financial obligations and family commitments. It’s quite another to do the same in midlife when there’s so much more at stake.

    I came out of it intact – though without religion – but so many people do not.

  • 2. LeoPardus  |  April 19, 2008 at 5:53 pm

    We should have been making out in the basement…….. We should have been exploring our sexuality…… We should have been stoned at a rock concert,

    You should have been playing at romance you weren’t mature enough for……. You should have been risking pregnancy…. You should have been killing brain cells….. ???????

  • 3. salient  |  April 19, 2008 at 6:43 pm

    To belabour the obvious here, LeoPardus — exploring sexuality is not necessarily equivalent to risking pregnancy. Nor, by the same mechanism, is it necessarily equivalent to risking infection.

    How does one become mature enough for romance? At what magical age does a young person pass into “mature enough”? One day, immature, next day, mature.

    If ‘stoned’ meant marijuana, as it probably did in writerdd’s youth, then few brain cells would have been at risk.

    I think that you are missing the germane point — about working towards social and emotional maturity freed of unhelpful rules — by racing down that Angstvoll slippery slope.

  • 4. LeoPardus  |  April 19, 2008 at 8:26 pm

    exploring sexuality is not necessarily equivalent to risking pregnancy. Nor, by the same mechanism, is it necessarily equivalent to risking infection.

    You’ll have to define what you mean by the term “exploring sexuality” then, since it doesn’t appear to include “having sexual intercourse” the way you use it.

    How does one become mature enough for romance? At what magical age does a young person pass into “mature enough”? One day, immature, next day, mature.

    I made something of an assumption. Namely that writerdd was speaking of her mid teen years. I’d say that’s too early for most people. If she was writing about her late teens or 20′s, then the comment wouldn’t apply.
    As to the magical age, i don’t have one. For some people the late teens is OK. For some the late 80′s is still too soon. I’d rate the mid teens too early for almost everyone.

    Re marijuana- don’t be fooled by the current propaganda. It’s not the harmless little teddy bear that many would like you to think it is. By the same token, it’s not the deadly bugaboo some others would like to make it out as. More later if I have a bit of time.

    working towards social and emotional maturity freed of unhelpful rules

    I take it you mean the list writerdd had above. You think they are unhelpful. I quite disagree. Of course I don’t go for all the rules. Some are pretty useless. But neither do I throw them all out.

  • 5. orDover  |  April 19, 2008 at 10:58 pm

    In my married life I still struggle with the overwhelming feeling that sex is a dirty and horrible thing, which was drilled into my head all of my life. Even though my pastor said that sex within the context of marriage is beautiful, I couldn’t separate the two. I honestly wish I could let go, be free, be adventurous, and just enjoy myself and my body, but my psyche is scarred from all of those years of conditioning. I can’t even wear lingerie without feeling like a horrible slut. Thanks a lot, pastors, teachers, mom and dad.

  • 6. LeoPardus  |  April 20, 2008 at 1:11 am

    orDover:

    From what my wife tells me, the women’s groups are the worst with that crap. Hard to even imagine. Yeesh!

  • 7. Slapdash  |  April 20, 2008 at 9:14 am

    Oh my…there’s so much I could say on this topic.

    I am not sure I am in 100% agreement with the original article. On the one hand, my emotional development was surely stunted by my abstinence education at church. To wit, I didn’t have sex until my early thirties.

    On the other hand, I’m not sure it would have been a better outcome to have been “stoned at rock concerts” or to have “explored my sexuality” as a teenager. Rather, I suspect those could have, or would have, led to different kinds of damage and problems.

    That being said, I agree with the larger point.

    orDover: I wish I had something helpful to say. In my case, I was luckily able to shed the “sex as dirty and horrible and wrong” church teachings fairly easily. But I know for many, many women brought up in the Christian church, it is a huge struggle to enjoy sex. Which totally sucks.

  • 8. writerdd  |  April 20, 2008 at 12:06 pm

    Hi everyone, sorry I was out of town for a few days! Looks like an interesting discussion. I’ll try to get caught up tomorrow when I’m back to “work”!

    Donna

  • 9. karen  |  April 20, 2008 at 4:22 pm

    In my married life I still struggle with the overwhelming feeling that sex is a dirty and horrible thing, which was drilled into my head all of my life. Even though my pastor said that sex within the context of marriage is beautiful, I couldn’t separate the two.

    Oh, I’m so sorry. I know exactly what you mean. This is one of the worst ways in which women (and men, too) are abused by repressive church teachings about the “lust of the flesh” and the evil, sinful physical nature. You hear that forever, and then you get this ‘Okay, you’re married now, it’s all good!’ message and damn if it just doesn’t compute!

    Add in Jesus, living in your heart and “knowing your every thought” and that’s not so conducive to free expression either! ;-)

    There are supposedly large percentages of women in the U.S. who are non-orgasmic. I have never seen any studies on it, but I would love to know how many of them were raised in fundamentalist religious teachings. I know at least one of my church friends is in this category.

    <blockquote< I honestly wish I could let go, be free, be adventurous, and just enjoy myself and my body, but my psyche is scarred from all of those years of conditioning. I can’t even wear lingerie without feeling like a horrible slut. Thanks a lot, pastors, teachers, mom and dad.

    You know, there’s probably a lot you could do to improve things, if you’re willing to pursue this. There are many good books focused on women’s sexual lives. You might start with some basic information on anatomy, achieving orgasm (if you are not orgasmic) and communicating with your husband frankly. If books aren’t sufficient, try a few therapy sessions. It might be well worth it if you’re able to overcome some of that negative conditioning.

  • 10. paulmct  |  April 20, 2008 at 8:29 pm

    Yes, I am also disappointed when women don’t choose to explore their sexuality. ;-)

    Very good point about stunting your growth. You have to grow up some time. Clinging to religious moral codes does seem to result in a certain childish outlook. That seems apparent from many of the comments from Christian commenters here. I also recall seeing one of the 1979 hostages commenting on TV on how childish and naive their fundamentalist captors seemed to be.

    As for LP’s response, there are sexual acts that don’t risk pregnancy and, of course, there is birth control. On the maturity factor, I don’t think there is a magic number or know that it makes a big difference. Most women tend to think their first partner is special, because it is a new experience, regardless of how old they were.

    Also – I wish I could remember where I read this but I can’t – the notion of teenage innocence is a fairly new one. Little more than a hundred years ago it would have been common for a girl in her mid-teens to be married and having children. It is different today because people stay in school longer to meet the needs of the modern world. Women and men need more education to join the work force before they can realistically, or responsibly, raise a family. So, social and economic development have created the need to resist or overcome the forces of nature in the form of puberty, which happens when it does for a reason.

    Good post, dd. Very real world stuff.

  • 11. mutantcheez  |  April 20, 2008 at 11:57 pm

    I feel… conflicted.

    I too grew up in a pretty standard evangelical home and was preached the same message as you described. I was heavily involved in my church as well as youth ministry Once I hit a certain age (likely around 16-18ish) I began to become frustrated with the religion I grew up with, and in the spirit of the philosophy class I took in high school, I vowed to forsake everything I had once unfoundedly assumed.

    I surrounded myself with books and opinions trying to figure out what made the most sense to me.

    After two years or so, I finally ended up at Christianity again, but a qualified Christianity. I remain frustrated with certain aspects of the Church – for example: the way the Church takes sexual purity and makes that the core belief of Christianity to it’s younger members. Not to say that I think that abstinence education should be removed from youth ministry, simply that there doesn’t appear to be a substantial amount of Biblical reference to sexual immorality to warrant the emphasis the Evangelical Church seems to place on it. That’s just my own opinion though.

    To advocate making out in the basement, exploring sexuality, getting stoned at rock concerts, and (worst of all) studying for SATs (a joke….) over holding hands in church, having set boundaries in mind concerning physical intimacy, singing hymns while not under the influence of… certain substances, and reading the Bible seems like a pretty drastic step to take – at least to me – for a girl at the age of 15.

    Anyways, that’s my take. Feel free to respond.

  • 12. writerdd  |  April 21, 2008 at 9:22 am

    The whole point of my message, that several people making comments seem to be missing is this:

    I should have been a normal teenager. I would have been better off being a normal teenager. There is nothing wrong with being a normal teenager.

    Instead I was a sexually, mentally, and emotionally repressed kid who thought I was better than everyone else when I was really completely screwed up because of the teachings of evangelical Christianity. A shrink would have helped me more than another Sunday school class and, yes, smoking a joint would have been better for me than more prayer. Why? Because the former in each case are part of the real world, and the latter were part of my imaginary fantasy world.

    This really comes down to my main problem with Christian doctrine: that it is somehow evil to be a normal human being and that our physical existence is tainted and must be resisted.

    We are physical beings. There is no soul or spirit — no supernatural essence inhabits our bodies. Our bodies are not a temple or a house for some non-corporeal “real” us. Our bodies are us. There is absolutely nothing wrong with fulfilling our natural instincts and desires for things like sex — even outside of marriage and even (perhaps especially) when we are young. There is nothing wrong with being human.

    My refusal to realize that the world was more complicated and morality was more ambiguous than my Sunday school teachers told me stunted me almost until my 30s and stole a part of my life that can never be regained. And I hope I can somehow help other young people resist the forces that try to coerce them into this kind of phony, stifling life.

  • 13. LeoPardus  |  April 21, 2008 at 10:29 am

    mutantcheez:

    the way the Church takes sexual purity and makes that the core belief of Christianity to it’s younger members

    Man am I with you on this gripe. The Catholic church and the EOC also are guilty of this quite often.

    If I had a dollar for every time that I saw a church youth group holding a talk on sexual purity, doing a purity ball, handing out purity pledges, showing videos on purity, etc, etc, etc, I could probably fly every contributor to this blog to Frisco and treat them to a dinner along the Bay.

    The sex obsession backfires too. Hells bells, you spend all your idiot time thinking about it, guess what’s gonna happen.

    My wife tells me that she saw some article saying that evangelical kids, raised with this stuff, actually are more likely to engage anal sex. Just so long as they avoid “the real thing” they are OK I guess. I didn’t look into the study, but it is plausible. Gawd, I hope the evy/fundy’s don’t hear about this a start an anti-anal campaign. They’re anal enough as it is.

  • 14. Rob V.  |  April 21, 2008 at 10:58 am

    As far as I can tell, this author is just upset she didn’t get to be more promiscuous at an earlier age, and blames her belief in Jesus for this.

    How utterly pitiful.

  • 15. orDover  |  April 21, 2008 at 11:12 am

    Way to completely miss the point, Rob V.

  • 16. LeoPardus  |  April 21, 2008 at 11:12 am

    writerdd:

    I think you, and some following responses, rightly condemn a prevalent tendency of churches to produce a severely fouled up view of human sexuality. It’s wrong, unhealthy, and ultimately counterproductive I think.

    Gotta agree with your main problem with Christian doctrine too. it is somehow evil to be a normal human being and that our physical existence is tainted and must be resisted

    We are, as you said, physical beings. What’s amazing to me is that trying to deny our physicality is one of the better known ancient heresies. Manicheism. Even the EOC does a poor job of defending against it.

    While I’m with you there appears to me to be insufficient restraint in what you advocate for an alternative. (Tell me if you disagree.)

    When you say, “There is absolutely nothing wrong with fulfilling our natural instincts and desires for things like sex — even outside of marriage and even (perhaps especially) when we are young.” my first thought is, “Hang on. That requires some caveats.” Such indulgence needn’t go too far before one’s health is at risk. Such indulgence can and does produce problems with old boy/girl friends. Such indulgence does not make a good basis for marital fidelity.

    So while I agree with much of your analysis of the problem, I don’t perceive a healthy balance in your solution.

    Thoughts?

  • 17. LeoPardus  |  April 21, 2008 at 11:16 am

    Just as troll George seems to disappear, up pops another religious attack dog to show us how insensitive and opinionated the “love of Jesus” can be. Thanks Rob V. You’re an inspiration to rabid Rottweilers everywhere.

  • 18. writerdd  |  April 21, 2008 at 11:42 am

    So while I agree with much of your analysis of the problem, I don’t perceive a healthy balance in your solution.

    As long as young (or old) people:

    1) Don’t feel pressured into doing anything they are not ready for or anything that makes them uncomfortable

    2) Protect themselves against disease and unwanted pregnancy

    I don’t really see what the stodgy anti-sex rules are good for at all, except to give a bunch of preachers a power buzz and to keep women, particularly, under their control.

  • 19. writerdd  |  April 21, 2008 at 11:48 am

    To be fair, Rob V is partially right about his evaluation of my post.

    He misses the larger psychological and social issues — which are quite important and should not be overlooked — but partly I am pissed off that my belief in Jesus robbed me of my youth. I obeyed a bunch of fuddy-duddy religious rules that should have been tossed into the rubbish bin of stupid human ideas a long time ago. It makes me sad to see that so many people would rather go back to the 1950s mentality of denial rather than face the realities of human life, and that religion gives them an easy way to bury their heads in the sand.

  • 20. LeoPardus  |  April 21, 2008 at 12:05 pm

    dd:

    I know next to nothing about your youth. When you say, “but partly I am pissed off that my belief in Jesus robbed me of my youth.“, how do you mean?

    Obviously you lived through it. You got through school. I’d guess you had some fun (picnics, mountain climbing, whatever). And there is some positive to abstinence in that you never had to worry at all about pregnancy, or STDs, or jealous boyfriends, or about a drug overdose, or being taken advantage of while drunk/stoned.

    My sister suffered every one of the above (except for an STD so far as I know). She’s still a messed up human. So I don’t see indulgence as anything like a solution. Restraint looks a lot safer.

  • 21. Rob V.  |  April 21, 2008 at 12:12 pm

    Thanks to dd, who acknowledged I got her point partially right.

    [ I should have added this next bit to my previous comment, but I wanted to see the reaction. Juvenile, sorry. (I still think dd's lament pitiful, though.) ]

    As a young man bombarded by my hormones, I can say that it was not an easy road to wait until I was married before I had sex. But I in no way feel I was cheated or that I missed out on anything. Quite the opposite, actually. I feel I not only protected myself from possible disease and unplanned pregnancy, but I also protected myself and other girls/women from the emotional turmoil of a breakup that almost certainly is worsened by the added bonds created by sex. I liken the term “exploring one’s sexuality” to a selfish behavior that simply uses another person for one’s own gratification, rather than the wonderful sexual exploration that goes on in the loving, focus-on-your-new-spouse honeymoon.

    And honestly not trying to sound smug, I like the fact that I have personally proved that humans are not just animals that “must” copulate just because their hormones tell them to. We have self-control, and there’s nothing wrong with exercising it, physically or emotionally. There’s absolutely no psychological-stunting going on if tennagers abstain from sex, and I challenge anyone to provide proof in the form of a peer-reviewed article that studied such a hypothesis.

  • 22. HeIsSailing  |  April 21, 2008 at 12:13 pm

    My wife and I rented the movie ‘Kinsey’ a few months back, and it provoked hours of thoughtful discussion between us. We both came to the conclusion that human sexuality is *human* and needs to be discussed in a discreet and tactful manner among responsible people. It cannot and does not deserve to be ignored, or placed under baseless religious taboos.

  • 23. HeIsSailing  |  April 21, 2008 at 12:16 pm

    writerdd:
    “The Jesus Movement, started in California by hippies who got high on Jesus instead of LSD, knew Jesus not as the stern, Father-God sorting out the sinners and the saints on Judgment Day, but as an earthy, loving brother accepting all humanity with open arms.”

    This is the environment I was raised in. Those Jesus Freak hippie communes had plenty so-called ‘Love-Ins of their own. I was well aquainted with sex (and drugs) at a very early age. Not that I participated in it – I just saw it everywhere. It was only when we moved to the midwest that I found sexual repression in the Baptist church we attended.

  • 24. Anonymous  |  April 21, 2008 at 2:02 pm

    What is really pitiful is that we have people like Rob V. that think that we are supposed to be celibate because of religious beliefs. I am a Christian myself, sort of, and I know that people have tried to live according to God’s so-called “will” for so long that the false lives of many of these people began to fall apart. The result is an increase in sexual expression. If people think sexual promiscuity is a problem, they must realize that religion only covered it up, not solved it.

  • 25. Anonymous  |  April 21, 2008 at 2:03 pm

    What is really pitiful is that we have people that think that we are supposed to be celibate because of religious beliefs. I am a Christian myself, sort of, and I know that people have tried to live according to God’s so-called “will” for so long that the false lives of many of these people began to fall apart. The result is an increase in sexual expression. If people think sexual promiscuity is a problem, they must realize that religion only covered it up, not solved it.

  • 26. LeoPardus  |  April 21, 2008 at 2:08 pm

    Rob V:

    Thanks for stepping back in with thoughtful comments.

    I agree with your post 21 pretty much entirely.

    There have been some studies looking for correlations between pre-marital sex and post-marital fidelity and/or divorce. Pre-marital promiscuity correlates with post-marital infidelity and divorce. Pre-marital abstinence has only a weak correlation with fidelity, and a similarly weak correlation with avoiding divorce.
    I don’t recall there being any correlation between pre-marital sexual behavior and physical abuse in marriage. There is however, a strong correlation between non-marital (pre- or post-) promiscuity and physical abuse.

  • 27. Anonymous  |  April 21, 2008 at 2:27 pm

    The thing with promiscuity is that we’ve gained this freedom and don’t know how to rightly use it. This is one of the first times that we’ve had freedom like this, so we go wild with it. It’s like a poor person instantly scoring big in the lottery, and then he/she becomes poor again after a few months of excessive spending. We just aren’t used to this kind of sexual freedom yet.

  • 28. Quester  |  April 21, 2008 at 3:00 pm

    I’m of two minds about sexual experimentation as a teenager. On one hand, I have regrets that I didn’t experience some things. On the other hand, I was the guy everyone went to when things went wrong for them. They came to me for a listening ear and a shoulder to cry on. And I found, beyond the Christian insistence on abstinence, there were a lot of things I was glad I didn’t experience.

  • 29. LeoPardus  |  April 21, 2008 at 3:16 pm

    Anonymous:

    You are right. Humans didn’t evolve with the ability to turn their reproductivity on and off. And until only a century or so ago, we still didn’t have the ability. Less than a century is far too short a time to make the adjustment.

    Quester:

    beyond the Christian insistence on abstinence, there were a lot of things I was glad I didn’t experience.

    Right on. During my teens I was not Christian. Neither were my sisters, nor most of my friends. We all have things from our past we could have done well without.

  • 30. A thinker  |  April 21, 2008 at 3:43 pm

    It’s funny that there seems to be no indication that there is any middle ground between a stifled upbringing that denies a lot of freedom of emotion and outright teenage debauchery. The point is, giving someone freedom to take some choices about themselves does not mean handing them a one way ticket to destruction. I think what the writer said was along the lines that the church she belonged to gave her little freedom to express herself emotionally and so she had little understanding of how her emotions worked – her love for J- that she realised was a fantasy. I think the most disturbing commandment: “It is better to wed than to burn” shows the crux of the matter: to promise hellfire for activities that seem to amount to no more than a kiss – that is not reasonable, as some seem to suggest the church’s control of the writers sexuality was.

    Maybe abstinence may promote fidelity, but what is the point if that comes form fear of damnation? (though I do not suggest all abstinence stems from this) Saying “people aren’t ready” seems a weak defense, assuming as it a does a weakness in all given freedom. As for Rob, you seem to have, partly, abstained from fear of getting hurt – but yet we live and learn, and if you never do anything due to that fear, then you do not truly live; and when you are hurt you have no experience – it hurts worse. You do not want the bonds from sex with someone you may not love, but it is little emotional protection for others to hold them at arms length until they are legally bound to you – they are still hurt, they wonder what is wrong with the tat you deny them this intimacy. And, without those stronger bonds, how can you be truly sure you have foundthe one?

  • 31. writerdd  |  April 21, 2008 at 3:47 pm

    Having sex before marriage does not make a person promiscuous. I once wrote an article on why I think it is a bad idea to wait until marriage to have sex. It is a particularly bad idea for women, but I think it’s pretty stupid for anyone. Perhaps I’ll write on that topic again for this blog.

    Regarding having my youth stolen, I really did not have much fun. I was afraid of everything, mostly because I thought if I did anything fun it would make Jesus unhappy with me and/or I would end up backsliding and going to hell.

  • 32. Anonymous  |  April 21, 2008 at 4:22 pm

    Just throwing this out there, but, as best said by the wordsmith Andrew Bird, “Moderation itself can be a kind of extreme.”

    Also, we seem to be focusing our discussion around the idea that monogamy is the situation we will eventually all find ourselves in. How do these kind of discussions hold up for a person who never intends to marry? Do they never get to have sex, ever?

    (PS- Thank you all for your kindness and concern over the scars left from my early Christian life. My husband is wonderful and we have open converstaions about my problems and are slowly but surely working through them. Baby steps!)

  • 33. writerdd  |  April 21, 2008 at 4:24 pm

    Rob V., it sounds like you had the same kinds of fears that I did when I was younger. I disagree with your assumption that “exploring sexuality” is inherently selfish. There is no reason that two people have to be married to explore sexuality together and in a mutually satisfying and generous manner.

    I hope you and your wife are happy with your sexual compatibility. If so, you were just lucky. But it would be sad to marry someone you’d never had sex with and realize that your sex life was terrible because you weren’t compatible. Abstaining because of fear or pressure from religion is not admirable. It’s just sad.

  • 34. LeoPardus  |  April 21, 2008 at 5:01 pm

    A thinker:

    I quite agree about moderation. There is middle ground. And as you said, folks don’t seem to want to go there. The tendency to polarize is just silly, and in this case harmful too.

    “It is better to wed than to burn” shows the crux of the matter: to promise hellfire for activities that seem to amount to no more than a kiss

    You misunderstood the verse. Burn is understood to mean “burn with passion”, not “burn in hell”. There are however a lot of people who seem to prefer the latter meaning. Sad.

    Maybe abstinence may promote fidelity, but what is the point if that comes form fear of damnation?

    Agreed. It ought to come from desire for future happiness.

    Saying “people aren’t ready” seems a weak defense, assuming as it a does a weakness in all given freedom.

    Wha’? There’s no connection there at all. Five-year olds are ready to pick a career. How does that assume a weakness in all given freedom? Come on now. There are times and ages when people are not ready for certain things. Sorry, but you call ‘weak defense’, I call ‘far weaker objection’.

    Rob, you seem to have, partly, abstained from fear of getting hurt – but yet we live and learn, and if you never do anything due to that fear, then you do not truly live; and when you are hurt you have no experience – it hurts worse.

    So you don’t refrain from grabbing electric fences why? Could it be for fear of being hurt? Maybe you saw others do it. Maybe you believed a parent who said, “Don’t touch it or you’ll get one nasty zap.” People avoid lots of stuff not to get hurt. To fail to do so is likely to result in a short, painful, and unhappy life. This objection is not though through.

    You do not want the bonds from sex with someone you may not love, but it is little emotional protection for others to hold them at arms length until they are legally bound to you – they are still hurt, they wonder what is wrong with them that you deny them this intimacy.

    You can’t help it if someone is that insecure. You could of course try telling them why you believe it is better to abstain, but if they are so insecure that they can’t accept it, you can’t help that.

    And, without those stronger bonds, how can you be truly sure you have found the one?

    And with those stronger bonds how well will you do breaking off when you find out they are not “the one”?

    And that brings up this utterly nonsensical idea that there is “the one” out there. The best piece of relational/marriage advice I’ve ever heard was actually a short quote. “Successful marriage is not so much a matter of finding the right person. It’s a matter of being the right person.”

    dd’s idea that Rob (or me for that matter) was “just lucky” to find a “compatible partner” without premarital sex is silly. I’ll wager Rob and his wife, dd and husband, and pretty well every married person on this blog, weren’t too compatible when they got married. At least in terms of communication style, conflict resolution methods, taste in decor, sleeping habits, etc. You had to work all those out.

    How much time did you spend before marriage ‘exploring’ those? How much time after marriage did you spend striving to work them out? How big a part of your life are all those in terms of hours/day?

    So you want to pretend that sex, which takes up a much smaller part of your day, and is far from the number one reason for divorce, absolutely MUST be hammered out before marriage.

    Sorry but the dreamy idea of “the one” is the stuff of Disney animations (or The Matrix). And the idea of “ya cain’t marry what ya ain’t screwed” is also the stuff of the movies.

    In reality (i.e. outside of the movies) “happily ever after” takes work, not matchmaking. And virgins marry virgins, produce children and have good marriages. (And as I said before, what studies there are indicate they do a bit better at it than the victims of the “boff’ em first” mindset.)

  • 35. LeoPardus  |  April 21, 2008 at 5:10 pm

    dd:

    Having sex before marriage does not make a person promiscuous.

    Obviously. Here’s a definition, “characterized by or involving indiscriminate/casual/irregular/haphazard. mingling or association, esp. having sexual relations with a number of partners on a casual basis.”

    When I used the word ‘promiscuous’ I used it properly. Generally I don’t use terms too loosely. In my field that’s really bad form.

    I once wrote an article on why I think it is a bad idea to wait until marriage to have sex. It is a particularly bad idea for women, but I think it’s pretty stupid for anyone.

    Fine. I disagree thoroughly. I think sex before marriage does more harm than good. And while the statistical significance values I’ve seen aren’t huge, the data are on my side.

    You can have your opinion and write on it, but kindly don’t condemn those of us who think you’re wrong. You may think our ideas harmful, we think the same of yours. Ideally we ought to lay out what data can be found to find the verity of the matter. Even more ideally one side, after looking at the data, ought to be prepared to say, “I was wrong. Now I will change my tune.”

  • 36. LeoPardus  |  April 21, 2008 at 5:13 pm

    dd:

    By the way, it sounds like the sect you belonged to in your youth was a bloody disaster. I’ve seen it’s like a few times, and would frankly not lift a finger to stop you if you tied them to a pole and caned them daily for a year.

  • 37. orDover  |  April 21, 2008 at 5:18 pm

    Comment #32 was me, I forgot to put my name in. Sorry!

  • 38. writerdd  |  April 21, 2008 at 5:46 pm

    Marriage is an artificial construct invented by people as a financial and cultural institution. It has no meaning and does not exist in nature.

    What makes it better to have sex with only one person in your entire life anyway? I agree that cheating is wrong, because it can hurt the other person. But that’s just because of deceit and a breach of trust. The reason that cheating is wrong has absolutely nothing to do with sex.

    I don’t see what could be wrong with serial monogamy or even with having sex with multiple partners during the same period of one’s life as long as all were agreed and all took adequate precautions to prevent disease and unwanted pregnancies.

    All these sexual rules from religion are based on nothing but the desire to keep women under the control of men.

  • 39. writerdd  |  April 21, 2008 at 5:49 pm

    By the way, it sounds like the sect you belonged to in your youth was a bloody disaster.

    Just a side note, and not directly in response to this. But it reminded me of how every Christian sect is happy to point out all the flaws in the other sects — in fact I often hear that I only turned away from God because I was involved in a “bad” form of Christianity — but they never are able to see the motes in their own eyes.

  • 40. Abstinence and Education « de-conversion  |  April 21, 2008 at 5:54 pm

    [...] I was motivated to re-post something from my blog of last August after seeing the discussion of earlier this week.  I think it’s a different take on a similar upbringing but perhaps with a different [...]

  • 41. exevangel  |  April 21, 2008 at 5:57 pm

    LeoPardus said
    Fine. I disagree thoroughly. I think sex before marriage does more harm than good. And while the statistical significance values I’ve seen aren’t huge, the data are on my side.

    I really think it’s age dependent. I don’t wish I could go back to have free sex at 15 but I maybe wish that age/maturity/relationship status were seen as a distinction separate from the issue os marriage. I don’t begrudge the message against teenage promiscuity, although I do begrudge the tactics used by the church in trying to force this. And I definitely believe that sex can be restricted to committed serious relationships without requiring marriage.

  • 42. Rob V.  |  April 22, 2008 at 8:51 am

    dd said:

    Marriage is an artificial construct invented by people as a financial and cultural institution. It has no meaning and does not exist in nature.

    Boy, with that argument, I should be able to convince the IRS I don’t have to pay my taxes! To say that an artificial construct has no meaning because it does not exist in nature is ridiculous! Written language is an artificial construct that doesn’t exist in nature, but it surely has meaning.

    (Oh, and by the way, swans mate for life.) ;)

    dd also said:

    All these sexual rules from religion are based on nothing but the desire to keep women under the control of men.

    I think you just revealed your true heart about this subject, which explains some of the passion you have about your stance. Either you were, like Leo said, exposed to a sect of Christianity that was way off, or you misinterpreted what was being preached. Because the fact is, abstinence education is not for women alone, it’s for men just as much. I think men have gotten a pass on their promiscuity for too long, even within Christianity. That can change. It is changing.

    Don’t you see the heart behind it? It’s not out of control, it’s out of respect for another because of their value as a person, not as a plaything that can be tossed aside. Who would reject the love and respect of a person who says, “I was with no one before you, and I will be with no one but you, for as long as we live.” If you really stop to think about that.. it’s just… wow!

  • 43. orDover  |  April 22, 2008 at 12:46 pm

    Again, I would like to bring this up: What about people who don’t WANT or don’t plan to ever be married? Are they not allowed to have sex? Leo? Rob?

    Rob, you are displaying the classic holier-than-thou Christian attitude. You are presuming to know writerdd’s “true heart,” which is nothing any of us can do. Most of the Christians who come around here really don’t understand that. You must be a bloody psychic.

    I think her comment about sexual rules leading to the subjugation of women has a lot of truth to it, it isn’t the ranting of an ultra-feminists who is bitter at all men, or something like that. Just consider genital mutilation for a second. It is done within religious sects (Muslim AND Christian), and many times its goal is to prevent women from enjoying sexual activities so they won’t be tempted into “sin”. What about the church proclaiming that birth control is sinful? It’s that the same thing? It’s just another way to control women’s bodies, do tell them what they aught to do with their reproductive organs. Abstinence education might be geared toward both boys and girls, but I’ve never heard about Christians cutting off a boy’s penis so that he can’t enjoy sex.

    You last comment doesn’t make me go “wow!” Not in the least.

  • 44. writerdd  |  April 22, 2008 at 1:09 pm

    It does not make me go “wow” either. It makes me think, “Why would anyone care about this?”

    I care that my partner is with me now. I don’t care what he did before he met me. It’s, frankly, none of my business. (Unless he has a disease that I should know about.)

    The whole cult of virginity borders on mental illness if you ask me.

  • 45. LeoPardus  |  April 22, 2008 at 1:11 pm

    Rachel:

    Meant to get back to you on that. Just busy.

    My take on the unmarried is that they can choose what they do with the “sex question”. Some do choose life-long celibacy. Fine if they want to. Most, I suspect, do not choose celibacy. (I know I would not have.) They may just live together, or they may have a girl/boy friend they don’t live with. That’s fine too as far as I’m concerned.

    For the most part I don’t have big issues with what adults do in their private lives. As long as it isn’t likely to impact the lives of others much. And of course that would be where a promiscuous person would bother me. Such behavior can indeed impact other lives.

  • 46. Rob V.  |  April 22, 2008 at 1:18 pm

    orDover:

    Rob, you are displaying the classic holier-than-thou Christian attitude. You are presuming to know writerdd’s “true heart,” which is nothing any of us can do. Most of the Christians who come around here really don’t understand that. You must be a bloody psychic.

    Actually, I was using psychology. I have a theory that with enough comments on a blog post, a person’s true wordview will be expressed, you just have to look for it. I could be wrong about dd, I admit that. (Hence why I said, “I think.”)

    What about people who don’t WANT or don’t plan to ever be married? Are they not allowed to have sex?

    By a strictly Christian definition, no, they shouldn’t be having sex. Sex is only supposed to be had within the boundaries of the marriage of a man and a woman.

    You last comment doesn’t make me go “wow!” Not in the least.

    Oh well.

  • 47. Anonymous  |  April 22, 2008 at 1:20 pm

    from my previous comment (#46), wordview should be WORLDview

  • 48. mec  |  April 22, 2008 at 1:39 pm

    Rob V.– I remember my college-era pastor completely twisting and turning Song of Solomon to make the point that the couple were married before having sex….never quite got that from the text itself! I’d like to challege you to show where the Bible says no premarital sex……

  • 49. writerdd  |  April 22, 2008 at 1:42 pm

    Actually, I was using psychology. I have a theory that with enough comments on a blog post, a person’s true wordview will be expressed, you just have to look for it.

    Yeah, right, Rob. Get over yourself. I write what I think and am quite forthright in stating my opinions. I have no reason to be dishonest when I post online. In fact, the main reason I blog is to say what I think.

    Evangelical and fundamentalist Christians often accuse me of having a hidden agenda but that makes no sense at all because I just blurt it out there for everyone to read. I don’t know anyone who has a more open agenda than I do, frankly.

  • 50. LeoPardus  |  April 22, 2008 at 2:26 pm

    writerdd:

    Regarding your statements:
    Marriage is an artificial construct invented by people as a financial and cultural institution. It has no meaning and does not exist in nature. ……
    All these sexual rules from religion are based on nothing but the desire to keep women under the control of men.

    I recognize both of these as points of view expressed by an extreme wing of gender feminism. Like most extreme views, they do nothing toward reaching understanding, balance, or truth. Don’t go from extreme, fundamentalist religion to extreme, fundamentalist feminism (or any other extremes or fundy’s). It won’t bring balance, or joy. Just bitterness.
    [And yes, I notice that comes of preachy. 'Twasn't meant so. I've done my share of extremes and was never happy in them.]

    What makes it better to have sex with only one person in your entire life anyway?

    I’ve cited some reasons already.
    -You needn’t fear STDs.
    -You needn’t fear rivals and jealousies.
    -You foster stability in your life.
    -You foster trust for yourself and your partner.

    A counter-list of the problems of multiple partnering could be made if you wish.

    The reason that cheating is wrong has absolutely nothing to do with sex.

    If you leave out disease and pregnancy I suppose.

    I don’t see what could be wrong with serial monogamy

    That’s easy. It’s an oxymoron. It doesn’t exist, just like square circles, and omnibenevolent condemnation to hell.

    To your side note:
    every Christian sect is happy to point out all the flaws in the other sects

    One of the reasons I left was that I finally realized they were ALL full of sh:t.

  • 51. Rob V.  |  April 22, 2008 at 2:43 pm

    mec:

    Christians sometimes use the very old word “fornication” to refer to premarital sex. This is expressly forbidden in the Bible in many places. (A few: 1 Corinthians 6:13 & 18, 1 Corinthians 7:2, Ephesians 5:3, 1 Thessalonians 4:3) More modern translations call it “sexual immorality” or even just “immorality” and it’s a bit ambigous said that way, in my opinion. Either way, the greek word is “porneia.” You can learn more what that word means here, if you’re interested, and it will show you the other passages where it is used. Note: sometimes it is used metaphorically when Israel “cheats” on God, but you have to read the verse in context to see if it is literal or figurative.

  • 52. Quester  |  April 22, 2008 at 2:57 pm

    Leo, I don’t want to get between you and DD, but I don’t understand what you’re saying.

    DD: What makes it better to have sex with only one person in your entire life anyway?

    Leo: I’ve cited some reasons already.
    -You needn’t fear STDs.
    -You needn’t fear rivals and jealousies.
    -You foster stability in your life.
    -You foster trust for yourself and your partner.

    I can see that the first one of those four is true, but why would having had sex in the past affect any of the other three?

    DD: The reason that cheating is wrong has absolutely nothing to do with sex.

    Leo: If you leave out disease and pregnancy I suppose.

    Both are consequences, the second possibly negative, but would they be so upsetting if it weren’t for the “deceit and breach of trust” DD mentioned?

    DD: I don’t see what could be wrong with serial monogamy

    Leo: That’s easy. It’s an oxymoron. It doesn’t exist

    And this point, really, is the one that inspired me to respond. What on earth do you mean by “It doesn’t exist”? Even in the bounds of a worldview that allows sexual intercourse only within the confines of marriage and divorce is considered impossible, widows and widowers are allowed to fall in love and marry a second time, after their first partner has died. If they are loyal to that second partner, they are “serially monogamous“.

  • 53. exevangel  |  April 22, 2008 at 3:13 pm

    The writer and theologian Adrian Thatcher (who wrote “Marriage after Modernity” http://www.religion-online.org/showarticle.asp?title=2051 ) argues that the one partner for life thing is a modern invention, not associated with the history of the church at all. His arguments are pretty convincing and I’d say he supports a position of limited serial monogamy where the relationships are very serious (kind of the idea that you would only sleep together if engaged and perhaps the engagement might end and you both move on). He certainly seems to suggest a fact finding mission of whether two people can sustain a happy marriage and this involves sex. I agree completely.

  • 54. LeoPardus  |  April 22, 2008 at 4:13 pm

    Quester:
    I can see that the first one of those four is true, but why would having had sex in the past affect any of the other three?

    You needn’t fear rivals and jealousies.
    Jealousy about old boy/girl friends. Especially if they still live nearby or come visit. Would you really trust your spouse with a person he/she used to sleep with? Or yourself for that matter?

    You foster trust for yourself and your partner.
    Same as above. And, if you enjoyed variety before marriage, what makes you things you’ll be happy with monotony/monogamy after?

    You foster stability in your life.
    Most folks think that jealousy, rivalry, and mistrust are destabilizing.

    would they be so upsetting if it weren’t for the “deceit and breach of trust” DD mentioned?

    Hmmm. You don’t think you’d be upset, aside from the breach of trust, if your spouse was diagnosed with an STD? or if you were faced with a pregnancy you hadn’t planned on?

    What on earth do you mean by “It doesn’t exist”?
    Monogamy is understood to mean a single mate for life. So when one dies, that commitment has been fulfilled. And I’ve never met anyone who uses “serial monogamy” to mean “one person only until one of us dies”.

    Now divorce and remarriage brings in a whole ‘nother ball of kittens.

  • 55. exevangel  |  April 22, 2008 at 4:47 pm

    LeoPardus: Jealousy about old boy/girl friends. Especially if they still live nearby or come visit. Would you really trust your spouse with a person he/she used to sleep with? Or yourself for that matter?

    If you don’t trust your spouse that’s a problem period. Classic “if you love the bird let it go free, if it doesn’t come back it was not yours in the first place” argument. I’d be appalled if someone claiming to be my one-and-only distrusted me that much! You are giving her so little credit!

  • 56. LeoPardus  |  April 22, 2008 at 5:34 pm

    exevangel:

    Do you honestly think that having the person you or your spouse used to sleep with around presents no temptation? That it is a really comfortable situation? That it would be just “no problemo”?

    I don’t care how much credit you want to give someone. It’s not a happy situation.

    (No. I don’t speak from personal experience. I speak from knowing many others (Christian and non) who have been in this situation. The nigh universal consensus is that it’s not a happy, comfortable situation.)

  • 57. exevangel  |  April 22, 2008 at 5:40 pm

    LeoP:

    Simply: yes. She chose you. End of story. There is no longer any temptation unless the relationship with you is damaged in some way. So if there is temptation it’s a good indicator of “red flag! need help!” but otherwise it is not a temptation. People only stray when they are unhappy for some reason, however small and justified/unjustified.

  • 58. Quester  |  April 22, 2008 at 6:02 pm

    Jealousy about old boy/girl friends. Especially if they still live nearby or come visit. Would you really trust your spouse with a person he/she used to sleep with? Or yourself for that matter?

    My wife and I were both virgins when we married. I am jealous when she spends time with her exes, as is she when I spend time with mine. We trust each other. We are just both jealous and possessive.

    Do you think it’s somehow better knowing that your spouse loved and cared for this person, and still cares for this person, but doesn’t know what it is like to have sex with them?

    Same as above. And, if you enjoyed variety before marriage, what makes you things you’ll be happy with monotony/monogamy after?

    Because you chose monogamy after experiencing the variety, making an informed decision. If you tried renting more than one type of house before choosing which one you would buy, you can still be happy with the choice you made.

    Most folks think that jealousy, rivalry, and mistrust are destabilizing.

    Very much so, but they are not dependent on sex. I am jealous of my rivals in storytelling and humour and have to keep myself from being mistrustful when other men entrance my wife with funny stories, as my wife works at trusting me when she notices other women listening to my stories and laughing at my jokes.

    Hmmm. You don’t think you’d be upset, aside from the breach of trust, if your spouse was diagnosed with an STD? or if you were faced with a pregnancy you hadn’t planned on?

    I would be upset, but I’m not sure if I’d be more upset (aside from the breach of trust) than if she got a disease that was not sexually transmitted, or became pregnant with a child I fathered despite our plans to not have a child yet and the precautions we take to keep this from happening.

    Monogamy is understood to mean a single mate for life.

    If you go to my response #52 and click on the final word in my response, it will take you to Merriam-Webster’s definition for monogamy:

    1archaic : the practice of marrying only once during a lifetime
    2: the state or custom of being married to one person at a time
    3: the condition or practice of having a single mate during a period of time

  • 59. LeoPardus  |  April 22, 2008 at 6:26 pm

    exevangel:

    It would be nice if things were really that clean and simple, but they aren’t.

  • 60. orDover  |  April 22, 2008 at 6:30 pm

    The notion that two people being virgins until they are married to each other and that leading to a marriage of near perfection is ridiculous. As has already been said, there can be jealousy with or without sex. There can also be doubt about “what you are missing” which can cause people to engage in extra-marital affairs.

    My husband had sex with other women before we were married, I did not. We have spent time with a few of his ex-girlfriends. He doesn’t keep in contact with them, but twice we’ve bumped into them and ended up having dinner. I didn’t feel at all threatened because he had had sex with them. It isn’t as if having sex with a person makes you pine for them for the rest of your life, or causes you to lose you self-control in their presence. My husband’s relationships ended with these other women for specific reasons, and I know that he doesn’t have any sort of feelings for them. As unlikely as it is that he will cheat on me, it’s doubly unlikely that he will cheat with a woman that he already knows he isn’t compatible with. I trust him around other women, whether he has slept with them or not.

  • 61. exevangel  |  April 22, 2008 at 6:36 pm

    LeoP

    I don’t mean to imply that you will not feel jealous, but that you should trust your spouse.

    Things are never clean and simple but in the end game if you trust and love someone truly you will never find a lack of contentment enough to act on. If you are married to someone and have no reason for doubt you should not restrict their motions even if that includes seeing an ex-love. Sometimes people just need to see what’s out there without acting out of context and when they do, and they come home to you (rejecting a past love) they demonstrate that they are firmly committed to you. This takes patience and faith but it is rewarded.

  • 62. dd  |  April 22, 2008 at 11:03 pm

    My wife and I were both virgins when we married. I am jealous when she spends time with her exes, as is she when I spend time with mine. We trust each other. We are just both jealous and possessive.

    Sounds like a very immature relationship to me. And I think you are in denial to think that you actually trust each other if you are as jealous and possessive as this sounds. I hope you find what you need to help your relationship to mature into real trust.

  • 63. dd  |  April 22, 2008 at 11:07 pm

    Do you honestly think that having the person you or your spouse used to sleep with around presents no temptation? That it is a really comfortable situation? That it would be just “no problemo”?

    Yes, yes, a thousand times yes.

    I would not loose one ounce of sleep even if I found out that my husband was stranded on a deserted island with his ex-lover. He left her and stopped having sex with her and chose to be with me. Why would I have any fear that he secretly still wants to have sex with her? I have no desire to get back together with any of my previous crushes either. Those relationships are less of a temptation to me than a stranger would be.

    I have to ask the obvious question — would you cheat on your partner with an ex-boyfriend or girlfriend? It sounds like you are projecting your own desires onto the rest of us.

  • 64. Quester  |  April 23, 2008 at 12:06 am

    Sounds like a very immature relationship to me. And I think you are in denial to think that you actually trust each other if you are as jealous and possessive as this sounds. I hope you find what you need to help your relationship to mature into real trust.

    *laughs* Why, thank-you for your insightful analysis, DD! I think you are foolishly and hypocritically jumping to conclusions from insufficient data, but appreciate your kindly expressed hope for me and mine.

  • 65. dd  |  April 23, 2008 at 10:18 am

    Quester, I didn’t mean to sound insulting, but I am not the type of person who will beat around the bush just to sound polite.

    Jealousy and possessiveness are not signs of a healthy relationship.

  • 66. LeoPardus  |  April 23, 2008 at 11:11 am

    exevangel:

    I don’t mean to imply that you will not feel jealous, but that you should trust your spouse.

    Fair enough and I agree.

  • 67. LeoPardus  |  April 23, 2008 at 11:51 am

    dd:

    I don’t think your view is realistic, but if you can operate that way, great for you.

    would you cheat on your partner with an ex-boyfriend or girlfriend?

    I only date may four or five gals besides my wife. No sex with any of them. There were a few female friends I found attractive. I still have female friends who are attractive. Would I have sex with any of them? …. I cannot give an absolute ‘yes’ or ‘no’. While I reckon that I generally try to be a good boy, given the right gal, the right time, the right mind frame or emotional state, I don’t doubt that I’d indulge temptation.

    It sounds like you are projecting your own desires onto the rest of us

    I know that some people seem to be quite immune to sexual temptation. Others are not immune. I seem to be in the latter category. I’m sure others hereabouts are too.

  • 68. dd  |  April 23, 2008 at 3:35 pm

    Well, one thing for sure: this is a very personal topic and everyone has unique perspectives and experiences!

    I’m no expert by any means and what I express here are my opinions and nothing more. YMMV.

  • 69. Quester  |  April 23, 2008 at 5:28 pm

    Quester, I didn’t mean to sound insulting, but I am not the type of person who will beat around the bush just to sound polite.

    DD, I’d be more insulted if I thought you knew anything about me, my wife, or my relationship that would put you in a position where you could make an informed judgement. As it is, I’m more amused than anything else.

    Jealousy and possessiveness are not signs of a healthy relationship.

    No, they aren’t, but as far as I can see they are signs of being human, and only after acknowledging personal feelings of jealousy and possessiveness can such emotions be compensated for and can conscious decisions be made to not act on these emotions. There is little we can do to actually control what emotions we feel, after all.

    In a similar manner, if I were to deny I have a very poor sense of direction, I would be lost all the time. Since I acknowledge and admit this lack on my part, I have been able to train myself in map and compass use, and have bought a GPS. You can call that immature, unhealthy or in denial, and I will take your claims for what I think they are worth.

    I’m no expert by any means and what I express here are my opinions and nothing more.

    As you say. The same is true for me.

  • 70. LeoPardus  |  April 23, 2008 at 6:53 pm

    dd:

    Just wanted to say that I appreciate your “get it out in the open” way of dealing with an issue. It may look brusque, but as I see it, it’s just that you really do want to bring issues into the full light of day and really deal with them.

    A long way of getting around to just saying ‘thanks’.

  • 71. dd  |  April 23, 2008 at 7:01 pm

    Thx Leo. My mother’s best friend called her “hammer mouth”…. the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree…. there’s some truth to these old cliches, huh?

    Quester, we all have to find our own way. As long as you’re both happy, then all is well in my book.

    Everyone else, great discussion. I think I’ll work on an article about masturbation next. :-) Oh boy!

  • 72. LeoPardus  |  April 23, 2008 at 7:09 pm

    I think I’ll work on an article about masturbation next.

    And WHAT will you use for the image at the top of the article? Hmmmmm??

  • 73. Dennis Downs  |  May 29, 2008 at 12:24 pm

    “It is better to wed than to burn” shows the crux of the matter: to promise hellfire for activities that seem to amount to no more than a kiss

    You misunderstood the verse. Burn is understood to mean “burn with passion”, not “burn in hell”. There are however a lot of people who seem to prefer the latter meaning. Sad.

    How can this verse mean burn with passion?
    It is not a matter of prefering but simple logic.
    If you lust you have commitied a sin and have to go to hell.
    Or if you have premarital sex you have sinned and have to go to hell.

    Logic is the key here and it is why christianiaty is flawed.
    In the old testament at least you were not condemmed for your thoughts, just actions.
    As an example…..
    I think anyone ought to be given credit for for not killing when they get mad at someone.

    Not that I think either book is more valuable than the paper it is written on.

  • 74. writerdd  |  May 29, 2008 at 12:34 pm

    Actually it’s ambiguous and not knowing the original language, it can be taken either way: burn with lust, burn in hell. But doesn’t lust end you up in hell anyway?

  • 75. HeIsSailing  |  May 29, 2008 at 1:11 pm

    writterdd, I wanted to comment on your latest article on your blog – but cannot figure out how to log into your site. Anyway, I just wanted to let you know that book looks really interesting – I will buy a copy soon. My experience with Christan pop culture ends at about 1990, so I have some catching up to do. I want to learn about this Power Team you speak of.

  • 76. writerdd  |  May 29, 2008 at 1:27 pm

    Thanks, HeIsSailing. I think we’re going to cross post the interview here. I sent it in this morning.

    That’s about when my interaction with Christian pop culture ended too.

  • 77. Cthulhu  |  May 29, 2008 at 2:50 pm

    writterdd,

    Read the interview on SkepChick – good stuff. One question I have (credit here to you!!) is this:

    If Christians are supposed to be ‘in the world, not of the world’, why is there such a thing a ‘Christian pop culture’ anyway? Doesn’t make Christianity just another social club? (I have seen plenty of that in many churches)

  • 78. Aussie  |  June 3, 2008 at 8:34 pm

    “It is better to wed than to burn”

    I know many young Christians who married way too young because they thought it was their only avenue to go further in their relationship (including being able to have sex.)
    Some of these marriages survived but plenty fell apart pretty early when they ‘grew up’ and realised they didn’t really want to be married anymore.

  • 79. writerdd  |  June 4, 2008 at 10:36 am

    Personally, I think it’s better to have pre-marital sex than to burn. :-)

  • 80. lenbitme  |  June 5, 2008 at 4:11 am

    It’s obvious that all of the reasons the Xtian responders are coming up with happen to be fear based. This is cowardly, in my opinion, rather than smart. What I’ve learned from being sexually active with my boyfriend is that this fear is based on absolutely nothing. Not only has he had multiple partners in the past and he is CLEAN (yes, I wanted him tested! that’s one way of expelling fears of STDs, and finding out how honest your significant other is and how important you are to them), but I also am not jealous of his past partners, NOR do I consider it relevant to be angry or upset that he has had past partners (at the time that he was with them, he was with THEM and he didn’t even know me. now what he and i have is special because it is between us alone and he does not share it with anyone else at the present), and he and I fully agree with the bird analogy, that is what our trust in one another is based on and we have had a fulfilling and wonderful social life including his exes, and I remember the only reason i ever experienced heart ache involving sex was when Xtians in my life told me I had to leave him because we were having fulfilling, exciting sex that caused us to bond and trust one another on a deeper level. They knew nothing about other possibilities, and that’s what has bothered me about fundamentalist religion so much. You can’t think outside the box and don’t let yourself, so without experience and based only on what you’ve been TOLD and the information in FAVOR of this particular stance that is given to you BY these people of the same opinion only SOLIDIFIES your negative beliefs towards alternate ideas and therefore you never truly KNOW. That pisses me off. Only when I stepped outside of the box and experienced new ways of thinking did I realize that what I thought before was based completely on FEAR of NOTHING.

    Tell me, RobV and Leo, about your heart aches from having safe sex outside of marriage with people you were committed to and then we will talk about how to move on and become a stronger more balanced person with some experience under your belt. And if you haven’t had any experience outside of marriage, what do you have to offer to defend your position against it? Hearsay? That’s what most of the church’s doctrines are based on. That’s why they’re bullcrap.

    It’s like the arguement with my mother that I had the other day:

    Me: Yeah, I like to get drunk now and then.

    Her: What?! That’s a very dangerous thing to do.

    Me: Why?

    Her: Think about all of those drunk drivers and partygoers.

    Me: What if I drink with a select group of people I trust at my apartment and we don’t go anywhere, and one of us doesn’t drink to watch over everyone?

    Her: It doesn’t matter. It’s still dangerous. It does crazy things to your brain.

    Me: Have you ever been drunk?

    Her: Why would I want to?

    Me: Have you? Do you know what it’s like?

    Her: No, but I’ve heard lots of stories on the Christian radio and news.

    Me: Yes, but were those people drinking -irresponsibly-?

    Her: It is irresponsible to get drunk, period.

    Me: You haven’t answered as to WHY it is irresponsible. And why haven’t you ever gotten drunk?

    Her: I don’t need to give an explanation, I just don’t like it and it’s dangerous. Besides, I’ve had a little alcohol and it makes me feel funny and I don’t like it.

    Me: Alright, well it’s one thing not to like alcohol because you don’t like it, it’s another to judge someone else being drunk based on the fact that they’re drunk rather than the situation they’ve put themselves in.

    And this is why I don’t listen to closed minded people anymore.

  • 81. Bobbi Jo  |  June 6, 2008 at 6:09 pm

    Uh…I thought we were talking about 15 yr olds having sex or smoking pot. I didn’t think we were having a discussion on pre-marital sex vs being a virgin when you do get married. The reason I ask is because this is a maturity issue, not a religous one. Most teens are not mature enough to handle the responsibility of those desires. For example, we (in America) wait until a person is 21 before they can drink. Give a 13-15 yr old alcohol and see how much they consume. Same with a trust fund baby. They usually don’t get it until they’ve reached a certain age, otherwise they would spend it all.

    lenbitme wrote “It’s obvious that all of the reasons the Xtian responders are coming up with happen to be fear based. This is cowardly, in my opinion, rather than smart”

    As for it being a fear issue? why don’t you rob a bank then? For me, it’s because I fear going to jail. Does that make me cowardly? Stupid? I ask this because I work at a finacial institution and was held at gun point. I don’t think the guy was very brave or smart for his actions, but hey, at least he didn’t fear jail, cuz he’ll be there for the next 7-10 yrs. Shoot, he even used protection (he wore a mask). We all have fears in us whether they stem from from religion or something else. That doesn’t have to be a bad thing if it keeps us from making bad choices in our lives.

    I’m sorry your mom was closed minded, but not all of us are. Some would do it out of concern for your safety. I have to ask, while you are being responsible and not driving durring your drunken endevors, how often are you having sex, doing drugs while drunk? How many partners? Has anyone ever been seriously injured? Have you ever waken up and not remembered what you did? or worse remembered and been ashamed? Have you ever thought about that you are breaking the law and what that does towards your attitude towards authority? Has a male ever tried to use your drunkeness to their advantage? I ask this because this happened to me. These are some of the why’s your mom didn’t give you.

    There are serious consequeses to doing anything beyond moderation, especially if you’re a teenager and are not mature enough to handle those consequenses. So, yes DD, I agree that the church in general takes this a bit far, but the other extreme is quite dangerous as well. As for being a normal teen, most “normal” teens aren’t mature yet. I’m not sure you can be a normal teen in this day and age and come out unscathed whether religious or not.

    Just my two cents…

    BJ

  • 82. writerdd  |  June 6, 2008 at 6:16 pm

    No, we were not talking about 15 year olds having sex or drinking. We were definitely talking about how stupid abstinence only teaching is and how ridiculous it is to assume that sex outside of marriage is a “sin” and that it is wrong for everyone just because some religious people choose to be celibate.

    Why does everyone think there are only two choices: no sex outside of marriage or screw anyone that walks by at as soon as you have “teen” on the end of your age. Geez. How about, whenever YOU are ready, have sex even if you are under 21 and not married, and screw everyone else’s (especially the Bible’s) rules.

  • 83. Bobbi Jo  |  June 7, 2008 at 10:59 am

    dd- you as an adult can do what you feel is right for you.

    However, you were the one who said that you were robbed of a “normal” teenage life because of the religious influence in your life. I was just pointing out that most, not all, teenagers are not mature enough for sex at 15, even if they think they are ready. but again, I don’t what your mindset would have been if you had had no religion in your life.

    “How about, whenever YOU are ready, have sex even if you are under 21 and not married, and screw everyone else’s (especially the Bible’s) rules.”

    I am assumming you mean mostly religious rules. There are rules of society that you would have to follow. I guess you don’t have to, but you have to pay the consequences. (ex- a 15 yr old and 25 yr old sleeping together. Statuatory rules and such.)

    Not trying to create anomosity so here is a story…

    I remember asking my mom at a young age, why there was only 6 months between her aniversery and my sis’s b-day. She told me not to have sex till I was married. that was the extent of my sexual education. Obviously I didn’t listen, I have been married 3 years and have a 7 yr old daughter. (my husband is the father by the way). Even though (now) I don’t think pre-marital sex is a good idea, I have no regrets about having sex before marriage with the man I loved, as I have the most beautiful daughter. But I was also an adult when I made those decisions in my life. I wasn’t having sex at 15. There is a big difference.

    BJ

  • 84. csr  |  June 8, 2008 at 12:58 am

    I’m 43, married a very catholic girl with much the same story. She passed away eight years ago and made me promise not to raise our girls, then 10 and 11, with the same puritanical values she had. Hard to do for a father, but I did. Messed up thing is, the more agnostic, liberal, and permissive I became the more puritanical they’ve become. It turns out, they find some perverse pride in advancing their goals (education) than exploring their wild sides. Don’t know if they’ll regret this when their older but they sure can’t blame it on me.

  • 85. Gabe  |  June 10, 2008 at 11:47 am

    This whole discussion seems to boil down to one thing, as I perceive it, at least. Is God (as revealed in the Bible) real? Because if so, then He is God, and there is no other. He is God, and He is perfect and good. He is God and Creator, and knows what is best for His creation. He is God and gives commands that are in the best interest and good of His creation. He is God and is forever worthy of worship and adoration.

    If there is really a God (the God as revealed in the Bible), then these are givens.

    Obeying Him is the wisest thing to do, because its best and most pleasing thing for His creatures to do. Worshipping Him is the right thing to do, because its the most worthy and pleasing thing for His creatures to do.

    Otherwise, He is not God, and everything ever taught about Him is a sham. But also, if that’s the case, why argue about this … why be defensive and have a long forum about it. Move on.

  • 86. Ubi Dubium  |  June 10, 2008 at 2:32 pm

    Gabe -
    It’s really not that simple. There are many possibilities regarding religion, and once a person starts to think about it for themselves, it’s often a long and agonizing process resolving the issue.

    Consider these possibilities
    1. God exists and is exactly as portrayed in the bible according to your denomination’s (the one you were raised in) interpretation of it.
    2. God exists and is exactly as portrayed in the bible according to some other denomination’s interpretation of it.
    3. God exists, but is not the christian god, but rather god (or gods) as worshipped by some other religion (for instance, maybe the Muslims have it right after all. Or the Hindus.)
    4. God exists, but no human religion has yet found a correct interpretation.
    5. Supernatural forces exist, but not one unifying conscious force that one could call “god”.
    6. Gods and other supernatural forces do not exist, but are simply fictions made up by humans for their own purposes.
    (I’m sure there are plenty of other alternatives, besides these.)

    I started out at option 1, as many of us have. From your post, I gather that this is your current position too. I have come to the conclusion that option 6 is the right one, but not all de-converts arrive at the same conclusion. De-conversion is not simply a “yes or no” proposition, and long forums are a wonderful way to work through tough questions. I have heard too many preachers describe belief in such black and white terms, but that’s not the way belief is.

    (Sorry this is a little off-topic, but I wanted to answer Gabe.)

  • 87. Gabe  |  June 10, 2008 at 3:32 pm

    Ubi Dubium,
    ‘Preciate your comments. Agreed, there are many “options” as created by man. Yes.

    But my general tenant still remains: If there is one true God (key terms being “one” and “true” [side note: "one" is a given, if there is any god at all, for if there were many, then there would be none; god by definition must be all-supreme, or He is not God; there cannot be many all-supremes ... end of side note]
    … to continue, If there is one true God, then He is all-wise and all-worthy. Wise as to what is best for us, and worthy of all our devotion and worship. Otherwise, He would not be God, that is, if He were not all-wise and all-worthy.

    So, this does come down to is there or is there not one true God (if we neglect, for the sake of the discussion, man’s subjective wranglings coming into the picture).

    Indeed, if there is one true God, then He (regardless of man’s subjective reasonings and interpretations of reality) existent and transcendent and real, whether or not we acknowledge such.

    So, I guess, I’d prefer the discussion to be about God as He is in Himself and His self-revelation, not about man’s interpretations (mis-), understanding, or definitions of Him.

  • 88. Ubi Dubium  |  June 10, 2008 at 8:35 pm

    Gabe -

    The inherent difficulty in that, as I see it, is that all we have is “man’s interpretations (mis-), understanding, or definitions of Him”. That’s what the churches teach, that’s what the televangelists proclaim, that’s what’s in holy books, that’s mostly all there is. (Apart from each person’s own subjective personal experiences, which are hardly convincing evidence.) What we skeptics would want to see is some measurable evidence. And that is precisely what is lacking.

  • 89. Gabe  |  June 11, 2008 at 12:05 pm

    Ubi Dubium,

    Granted. It’s difficult for man (any human) to take the “holy book” (as you called it), and let it speak for itself, letting it remain objective … keeping our subjective thoughts out of it.

    But my point in response to your latest post is: If God made Himself known and communicated something about Himself to us, there would be something within the immediacy and transcendency of His self-revelation that would be pure, unadulterated, objective reality as disclosed by Him … and that would be worth listening to and submitting to.

    In other words, if you were completely and (somehow) perfectly aware of yourself, and you disclosed to me that you like any shade of the color blue … that “reality” (for the sake of the discussion, again, you’re perfectly self-aware) would be objective prior to my interpretation of it. And, I owe you to strive after keeping that statement objective … letting you say what it is you wanted to say (isn’t that communication with integrity, which we all desire, and which, when not done, leads to the breakdown and frustrations in all of our communication).

    That’s all I’m asking. If there is a God, He transcends man’s interpretations and understanding and is Himself in and of Himself. And if there is a God who revealed something of Himself to humans, then His revelation is true and reality in and of itself, prior to any man’s interpretation.

    Now, you would rightly say, “Communication takes two (or more), and insists on us interpreting what the other party is attempting to communicate.” Agreed.

    But faithful, honest, full of integrity communication is attempting with all of our might to interpret accurately the other party’s revelation.

    So if there is a God… He is transcendent and objective. If He reveals Himself, it is transcendent revelation … pure reality and deceleration of Himself.

    That’s what I was attempting to initially and theoretically establish … that, any frustrations with Christianity, as such, is preeminently frustrations with God Himself, not man. It is always that first, because Christianity in its essence (and I mean objective essence) is about God Himself.

    Now secondly, as you’ve pointed out, I hoped to establish that if God revealed Himself (transcendently and perfectly), it is the duty of humans to strive to understand what it is He disclosed, and to understand it as objectively and unadulteratingly as possible, however imperfect that may be … and quite frankly it will be. So, we need to continue to submit our understanding of reality again and again to the God who knows what is best for us and what is most satisfying for us … preeminently, to know and worship Him.

    Sorry, Ubi Dubium, for the ramblings. Thanks for the dialogue.

    PS–”evidence” is a broad category. What would be sufficient “evidence”? Perhaps, no amount of “evidence” we’ll do.

  • 90. LeoPardus  |  June 11, 2008 at 12:52 pm

    Gabe:

    If there is a God, He transcends man’s interpretations and understanding and is Himself in and of Himself.

    If this is true, then all you can hope to worship is, “We know not what.”

  • 91. Ubi Dubium  |  June 11, 2008 at 1:45 pm

    Gabe

    PS–”evidence” is a broad category. What would be sufficient “evidence”? Perhaps, no amount of “evidence” we’ll do.

    Well, I have two thoughts on the answer to that question. The first one would be something that would stand up as “evidence” from a scientific point of view. Something that we could specifically measure, and that gives us the same results each time.

    As an example. We could take two groups of amputees. One group is our control group – we do nothing special for them. For the other group – we request that a large group of true believers pray earnestly that their amputated limbs will grow back. After a predetermined amount of time we check both groups to see if any of them have indeed had their limbs grow back. (Of course, the people doing these checks would need to be unaware of which group each amputee was in, otherwise they might bias their results.) I would expect that in the control group, none have. That’s the result we usually see with amputees. If there were any in the prayer group that had limbs grow back, we would consider that an indication that prayer may have been effective. In that case, we would repeat the experiment several more times, with different testers, and different subjects, looking to see if we keep getting the same positive result. If we do keep getting a positive result, every time, then we would have a piece of real evidence for the power of prayer, which might indicate the existence of a god. When a scientist says “show me evidence” that is an example of the kind of measurable evidence she means. This kind of evidence would be convincing even to many non-believers.

    My other thought about evidence is that you could mean “evidence that I would personally believe in”. Well, if god is, as many religions claim, omniscient, then he would already know what evidence it would take to convince me to believe. I don’t believe, so he obviously has not sent the right evidence. So, my conclusion is that god either does not know what the right evidence would be (not omniscient), or is unable to send the right sort of evidence (not omnipotent), or does not care whether I believe (not loving) or is simply non-existent. There is a good article along these lines on this website – it’s called “Go ahead – blow away my free will.” You may want to read it, including the comments.

    (Hope the hyperlink works, I’m new at HTML tags.)

  • 92. Gabe  |  June 16, 2008 at 12:59 pm

    LeoPardus,

    “If this is true, then all you can hope to worship is, ‘We know not what.’”

    That is an absolutely great point. I like it. Except that, in His mercy, He’s chose to reveal something of Himself [and even then, His thoughts and ways are still to high for us to fully comprehend ... that would seem quite self-evident of Him being THE Greatest Thing in all the universe ... If we can't and never will fully understand all the galaxies, all the intricacies of microbes, the vastness of still yet-to-be-discovered species of animals, then it would seem logical that understanding (fully) the Creator of all of these things would be even further beyond our ability to comprehend]

    Nevertheless, if there is a God (of the caliber of transcendence and self-existence … hence, actually God), and God has chosen to reveal Himself; then in some way, God would be calling on man to understand and know something about Him.

    Now is where the real debate (among men) begins b/c our interpretations (and own prejudices) come into the picture. Such that, you take a clear statement like “I am God and there is no other, I am God and there is none like me.” — fairly simple and straightforward, if we’re seeking to be objective, honest, and full of integrity in our understanding.
    Yet somehow man can take a simple statement like the above and not submit to it as it is.
    Or, “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” Pretty straightforward, not many holes for misunderstanding.

    Of course, there are many other more difficult statements.

    But, in the end of all of these discussions (discussions about transcendence, revelation, evidence, interpretation, understanding, even this website on de-conversion), it seems that all things might come down to one simple questions:
    If there is a God, would you submit to Him as God and worship Him?
    Or, more negatively: Does man really want a God that He must submit his life to?

    The answer is generally a resounding, “No way!” We naturally do not want anyone trying to rule our lives, so even God (who is the wisest [knowing what is best for us] and the worthiest [being the most satisfying for us]) will not get our submission and devotion, because “We want to rule our own lives, thank you very much!”

    So: God makes you aware of His existence beyond a shadow of a doubt, would you worship and obey God?

  • 93. Gabe  |  June 16, 2008 at 1:17 pm

    Ubi Dubium,

    Thanks for the extended explanation.

    Couple of questions/comments.

    (1) The one thing that smacks of the scientific evidence conversation is the following. Man in his dominion is able to put to the test everything observable under creation. And it seems that’s quite warranted because man (don’t read into this statement too much) is over all of creation [that was the original intent anyways]. So that seems quite justified. What doesn’t seem worthy of God Himself, is putting the same type of criterion upon Him, same type of testing, same type of procedures … as if, He’s nothing more than the likes of an alien from another planet that we put on our autopsy table. It just smacks in light of the Creator/creation reality (again, assuming this is the reality).

    (2) How often does this type of acquiring evidence need to happen? Every new generation (so that the Baby Boomers, Generation X, etc all have had their verified tests for their respective generations)? Then it will be officially documented for future generations to read and believe, rather than make their own tests themselves. I mean, it would seem at some point, someone would say, “Hey, these tests have already been done. God’s already been proven true (or not true, depending on the results). Just believe the results that are documented!”

    What if we already have that very documentation, would you believe it? Or would a new testing need to be done again and again and again?

    I say, the documentation and verification has been given in history:
    The accounts of history recorded in the Bible (that, for the most part [depending on which researcher you ask], Ubi Dubium, have been verified as historically accurate). The recording of God’s interaction has been well documented. The description of God’s verifiable miraculous workings go back way before the Baby Boomer generation. History and the men and women from history are saying, “Hey, these tests have already been done. God’s already been proven true. Just believe the results that are documented!”

    (3) As to your other point, about God knowing what would call or cause you to believe … My question is: If you had that evidence for you, that perfect evidence for you, would you really submit your whole life to God? In other words, I don’t know that we’re being completely honest here. Evidence is one thing. Submission and obedience is altogether another.

    Our hearts say “NO!” to anyone who wants to totally rule over us (even doing so for our greatest good and satisfaction).

    But, Ubi Dubium, maybe you do want to submit your whole life and truly worship the one, true God. If so, I beg you to do so, “Be glad in God!”

  • 94. Gabe  |  June 16, 2008 at 1:26 pm

    Ubi Dubium,

    Just an added thought, not meant to be a jab or condescending to you, Ubi Dubium. Simply just a thought.


    Well, if god is, as many religions claim, omniscient, then he would already know what evidence it would take to convince me to believe.

    What if God, looked into to your heart and found utter non-belief and rebellion to Him and knew that nothing (of which He could most assuredly give) would ever convince you? What if He withheld attempts to convince you, simply because you would not be convinced, and He knows it?

    Or, what if God’s attempt to convince you is right in the midst of this post as you read what other de-conversionists have written and also read some simple rebuttal from a not-to-bright, but nonetheless joyfully devoted follower of God through Jesus Christ (like myself)? What if as you read this, this is His call to “Believe and repent and worship and be satisfied in God!”? What if?

  • 95. Gabe  |  June 16, 2008 at 1:40 pm

    PS, Ubi Dubium, thanks for the link (it worked) to that other article!
    I really appreciate the writers exploding the free will logic (in such a brief article), yes, this line of reasoning that some professing Christians use–”Free will”–simply will not do. So thanks for pointing me to that article. The first part of it was superb.

    The second part, though, was a bit misleading. I appreciate the writer making the point that the use of miracles etc. shouldn’t be “too much” for an all-powerful God. I absolutely agree.

    The problem with this part of the writers article, for me, was that there was the equating of evidence with miracles etc. As if, that’s the only way that God can prove His existence to each individual person in a way that is meaningful and legitimate. The problem with that is that there are countless upon countless people who have been persuaded that God is not by personal experience of miracles etc., but by the persuasion of some “old collection of obscure writings and a very disjointed church” … that really was quite enough for the likes of many (including myself).

    But thanks for the article regardless.

    I’ll stop writing now; I know you were thinking it; sorry.

  • 96. Ubi Dubium  |  June 16, 2008 at 4:44 pm

    Gabe:

    (sorry, was away for a couple of days)

    What doesn’t seem worthy of God Himself, is putting the same type of criterion upon Him, same type of testing, same type of procedures … as if, He’s nothing more than the likes of an alien from another planet that we put on our autopsy table. It just smacks in light of the Creator/creation reality (again, assuming this is the reality).

    This is a really circular argument. You are assuming there is a god, then say it’s not worthy of him to subject him to testing, when it’s your original assumption that I would want tested in the first place. If you are assuming there is a god, then, for you, there is no reason to test. For me – I see an extraordinary claim, and extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof.

    It just smacks in light of the Creator/creation reality (again, assuming this is the reality).

    Again, circular. You call the universe a creation, then say that this means there is a creator. Well, since having a “creator” is part of the definition of a “creation”, of course this follows from your original assumption. My question is not “Does a creation require a creator?”, but rather “Is our amazing universe actually a “creation”, or is it simply “a bunch of stuff that happened”?”

    My question is: If you had that evidence for you, that perfect evidence for you, would you really submit your whole life to God?

    If I had that perfect evidence, then I would agree that a God existed. That is a far cry from submitting to or worshipping one. Before I did that, I would have some serious questions for such a god, along the lines of “Why didn’t you do a better job with this world you created?” or “Why don’t you show up when people need you?” or “How do you expect anybody to find you among the cacophany of different writings and opinions about religion in the world?”

    So if god actually were to show up, in person, he had better have some pretty good answers. (Not sorry apologetics from various true believers, and not some self-contradictory holy book.) I’m free for lunch tomorrow. He can show up in a blaze of glory, if he likes, and explain to me why he is deserving of adoration, and why he cares whether or not I bow down. (I’m not holding my breath, though. I’m done sitting in pumpkin patches.)

    When a person shows up, and says “Listen to me! Read my holy book! I have the divine truth!” I say to them – there are 10,000 different religions in the world. The devoted followers of each one are just as sincere as you are, each say they have the truth, but none agree as to what that truth is. For me, this is consistent with gods being something that people made up. If your god was really there, and really wanted to be worshipped, he could send the SAME message to each of these groups. Imagine if Columbus had reached the New World, and found that the natives were already christians. Then imagine if Captain Cook had made contact with the Hawaiians, and they were also already christian. That might be more convincing. But this sort of thing does not happen.

    Glad you read the article on free will – I hope it gave you a little better perspective on where we are coming from. I hope reading the articles and responses on this website are prompting you to take a good hard look at your own assumptions.

    After all – if your religion is actually the true one, then going in search of answers should only lead you back to where you started. And if it doesn’t, well…., there are websites like this one who will welcome you with open arms.

  • 97. Gabe  |  June 17, 2008 at 1:26 pm

    Ubi Dubium,

    Thanks again for the dialogue.
    Alot of angles to discuss in your last post, let me just respond to one or two that immediately struck me (as I need to get back to work soon).

    I understand the circular reasoning that you seek to point out, saying that

    You are assuming there is a god, then say it’s not worthy of him to subject him to testing, when it’s your original assumption that I would want tested in the first place.

    Maybe I can clarify my assumptions and see if this helps you understand where I’m coming from a bit better.
    (1) Some assumptions about a “god’s” character; otherwise, “it” would not be god at all. In other words, if god is not like _______, then he actually is not god at all, but something else altogether … who knows what, and at that point, who cares.
    (a) God = holy;
    (b) God = all-powerful;
    (c) God = all-wise;
    (d) God = good;
    (e) God = transcendent;
    (f) God = perfect
    (g) God = self-existent
    (h) God = creator of all

    So, in my understanding about God (if he existed), he would be these things, or that being would not be god at all (even though it [whatever it is] existed).

    So, starting there with this definition of God (at least some of the defining points, not exhaustive) leads me to my next assumption.

    (2) God (as identified above) as Creator etc. is not subordinate to man, man is subordinate to Him… b/c that’s the nature of creator/creature relationship; that’s the nature of all-powerful, all-wise, perfect, infinite to man (finite, weak, not all-wise etc.)

    (3) God is inscrutable. He would not and could not stand on trial by man, and those who attempted would be laughed at by him etc.

    So those are just a few basic assumptions about God … if he were not these things, he simply would not be God.

    So to keep the dialogue going: it seems that you’re starting off with a definition of god (if one existed) that I simply would say is not God at all, and I certainly would not dare worship or serve such … here’s what I have inferred or deduced is your understanding of what God would be like (if there were a god) from your posts. Tell me if I’m correct in these gleanings.
    (1) He could be subjected to man’s interrogations.
    (2) He could be subjected to man’s testings and experiments.
    (3) He could be indicted of wrongdoing.
    (4) He could be accused of carelessness.
    (5) He could be accused of weakness.
    (6) He could be accused of foolishness (as opposed to wisdom).
    (7) He could be seen as less than worthy of worship or adoration.
    (8) His character and personhood could be judged by man as, well, negligible.

    If any of these things were true if the one who “shows up” (as you say), that one just simply would not be God, so move on, forget the questions and accusations, who cares … You still haven’t found God.

    My assumption, you’re correct, starts at an altogether different place:
    If God were to “show up”, scrutiny would cease and accusations would end b/c He’s God and He will not stand in man’s pathetic courtroom.

    So maybe, if we keep dialoguing, we need to go back a few steps and start where our assumptions start …. I would begin with these questions for you, my friend:
    (1) Why do you think God could be subjected to your testings and experiments and trials and still actually be God?
    (2) Why do you think God would owe you an explanation for anything and still be, in fact, God?

    Thanks, Ubi Dubium, for reading.

    PS — the article about “free will” just further confirmed what I was already persuaded of biblically (and even socially), that “free will” is in fact a bogus identifier of reality and existence. So that was helpful in the way the writer articulated it, particularly as a professed atheist.

    PSS — “in search of answers” apart from God’s word, I am not. But I do appreciate this website’s attempts (at least in my initial perusal) to not be heavy-handed or ruthless with their views … but “open arms” might be a bit misleading (and potentially, deceptive).

  • 98. Gabe  |  June 17, 2008 at 1:27 pm

    Sorry about the citing italics and sunglassed smiley face, I’m not up to speed on this html stuff either

  • 99. LeoPardus  |  June 17, 2008 at 2:04 pm

    Gabe:

    If there is a God, would you submit to Him as God and worship Him?

    So: God makes you aware of His existence beyond a shadow of a doubt, would you worship and obey God?

    To both questions the answer would be ‘yes’. You see, I don’t really care beforehand what turns out to be the truth about any given matter. I just want to find out the truth of a matter is and then get on the right side of it.

    And frankly, I still would like to be in the faith for a number of reasons. But so long as I remain convinced that there is no god, or at least not one who relates to us humans in any discernible way, I cannot be a Christian. It would just be rank dishonesty.

  • 100. writerdd  |  June 17, 2008 at 2:27 pm

    Gabe:
    If there is a God, would you submit to Him as God and worship Him?
    So: God makes you aware of His existence beyond a shadow of a doubt, would you worship and obey God?

    I would not obey/worship/serve the God of the Bible if I found out he was real. He seems pretty immoral to me. When I read the Bible, I don’t see a loving, good, just, and merciful God. I see an egotistical tyrant who needs everyone to kiss his *ss all the time.

    I just could not serve someone like that, even to stay out of Hell.

    Of course, I could be much weaker than I think I am and the fear could overcome me. But I hope not.

  • 101. Gabe  |  June 17, 2008 at 4:58 pm

    LeoPardus,
    Thanks for chiming in again (appreciate your “free will” article, by the way).

    All that I feel compelled to say in response to your post is: I can really appreciate your desire to refrain from any or “rank dishonesty”. And I also appreciate your frankness.

  • 102. Gabe  |  June 17, 2008 at 6:05 pm

    writerdd,

    At the probably threat of opening a long discussion, I venture a question(s) that is begged:
    Immoral? Really? A charge that needs to be substantiated. But also a charge that needs to explain by what measure/law/standard it’s claim is substantiated upon.

    Secondly, egotistical? In what way? I suppose that if God were forcing everyone to “kiss his *ss all the time” and that would be the worst thing for everyone, then you potentially could have a point. But what if “kiss his *ss” (as you put it) were the best and most rewarding thing anybody could possibly do? What if that were the greatest satisfaction possible — namely, delighting that which is most delightful and finding joy and desire in that one whom is most desirable?

    That wouldn’t be egocentric then, but giving of true life and joy.

    But, by way of further argumentation:
    It is not egocentric in God, the only one worthy of the highest praise and honor, to say “worship and adore Me, for I alone am worthy.” It would be simply the truth.
    For further reading (or fodder), look at this article linked below:

    “How Is God’s Passion for His Own Glory Not Selfishness?” (John Piper)
    OR
    “Passion for the Supremacy of God (Part 1)” (John Piper)

    [hope the html worked]

  • 103. Gabe  |  June 17, 2008 at 6:06 pm

    writerdd,
    Of course, I could be much weaker than I think I am and the fear could overcome me. But I hope not.

    Interesting thought.

  • 104. Gabe  |  June 17, 2008 at 6:08 pm

    I’d be interested to hear some of y’alls (I just gave away something of my region) comments about the historic man, Jesus.

  • 105. Ubi Dubium  |  June 17, 2008 at 7:26 pm

    Gabe:

    (1) Some assumptions about a “god’s” character; otherwise, “it” would not be god at all. In other words, if god is not like _______, then he actually is not god at all, but something else altogether … who knows what, and at that point, who cares.
    (a) God = holy;
    (b) God = all-powerful;
    (c) God = all-wise;
    (d) God = good;
    (e) God = transcendent;
    (f) God = perfect
    (g) God = self-existent
    (h) God = creator of all

    So, you are defining “god” as fulfilling all the above. The god of the bible certainly does not. There are numerous bible verses that show him as vengeful, limited, and very much like any other anthropomorphic Bronze-age deity.

    Tell me if I’m correct in these gleanings.
    (1) He could be subjected to man’s interrogations.
    (2) He could be subjected to man’s testings and experiments.
    (3) He could be indicted of wrongdoing.
    (4) He could be accused of carelessness.
    (5) He could be accused of weakness.
    (6) He could be accused of foolishness (as opposed to wisdom).
    (7) He could be seen as less than worthy of worship or adoration.

    Yes. Notice that all of those refer to questions from our point of view, not the actual nature of “god”. We could accuse him of carelessness, for instance, by pointing to examples in the world that demonstrate it (like my aching back). A “perfect” god, such as the one you described above, if any existed, would have “perfect” answers to all such questions. Answers that would silence all doubts, even from the most certain of atheists. (However, none of the attributes you listed included any concern for the day-to-day goings on on our small planet, or for whether anyone was adequately prostrating themselves. So perhaps he might exist, but just not care.)

    I see several separate issues:
    1. The existence of any supernatural beings.
    2. The existence of powerful supernatural beings, such as Thor, or Zeus, or the god of the bible.
    3. The existence of a single all-powerful being, such as the god you have described above, one that you would call “God”.
    4. Whether any of the above beings has any interest in the beliefs or devotions of humans.

    So if the god of the bible cared enough to show up, perusade me beyond any question that he was indeed the all-powerful being you described, and demonstrate that there actually was a good reason for bowing down, then I might. Again, I’m not holding my breath.

    Now, as to a historical “Jesus”.

    No contemporary classical sources mention such a person. No records of executions, no correspondence of the time mentioning crowds of people following a rabbi who was doing miracles. If there were somebody actually curing lepers, raising the dead, and causing a mob of zombies at his death, I would think somebody would have taken notice. Perhaps they did, but the manuscripts were not preserved. I expect that there were a lot of charismatic preachers at the time, (just as there are now) and that some were executed by the Romans for being troublemakers. I think that your Jesus from Nazareth was one of these.

    After the death of the actual historical “Jesus”, there was a large gap from which we have no written records of this person. What was probably happening was a mix of oral recoutings of actual events, tall tale spinning, and confabulation with other religious traditions in order to create something that could attract a following in the atmosphere of the time. Finally, a number of books were written, edited, re-edited, and then mostly discarded, leaving only those few which the early churchmen felt served their purposes the best. Then they did their best to stamp out all the others, to silence difficult questions. (Try reading the Nag Hammadi library some time. It’s full of those other books and they are very different than the NT. Quite interesting).

    Bringing in a more modern example, imagine if George Washington’s life had only been transmitted by oral tradition and spinmeisters until one or two hundred years after his death. If a biography were then written under those conditions, it would include some of his actual acheivements, but mixed up with a lot of nonsense about cherry trees, wooden teeth, events actually from the lives of John Paul Jones and Johnny Appleseed, tall tales in the tradition of Paul Bunyan, and prophecies about his being the reincarnation of Cincinnatus. The real information might be there, but impossible to sort out from all the later additions. The NT reads a lot like this, as far as I can see.

    I think that, if there was a historical Jesus, that his teachings would not be in any way reminiscent of modern christianity. I think that if you could actually take a time machine back and listen in to what your Jesus was actually saying, you would be surprised and disturbed.

  • 106. Joe  |  July 21, 2008 at 4:53 pm

    Gabe—-

    Check out the sites dealing with the Dead Sea Scrolls. Many of these scrolls agree very closely to the books found in the Bible today—-especially the book of Isaiah, as many copies were found in these scrolls which are 2000 or more years old.

    Scribes have always been extremely careful to copy the texts from one generation to the next—and the Dead Sea scrolls in many ways prove this. There are other scrolls that do not match today’s scriptures, along with many non-religious texts—-but the closeness of those scrolls to texts the Jews hold today is actually close to amazing.

    Check it out.

  • 107. John T.  |  July 23, 2008 at 8:44 am

    “By the time I was 15 I should have been outgrowing that and learning how to emotionally and physically deal with adult issues and moral ambiguity,”

    I am curious, why the need to deal with “adult” issues at the age of 15, most kids have only just begun to deal with puberty. I understand why you would not relate to Christianity, I just wonder why our kids cant just be their age, instead of wishing to be older.

  • 108. Derek  |  July 23, 2008 at 10:30 am

    at the age of 15, most kids have only just begun to deal with puberty

    Er, John, puberty usually begins around 11-13… By 15, sex hormones are in full swing and youthful emotions are just barely struggling to keep up. Young teens’ desire for “adult” relationships is quite natural, and it’s wrong to stifle it under the mantra of “let kids be kids” — as if leaving teens to their own devices would clear them of any sexual curiosity! Instead, it is good to spend that time learning about the emotional issues and responsibilities that come with the benefits of adulthood so teens can be prepared for “real” adult relationships.

  • 109. John T.  |  July 23, 2008 at 11:07 am

    Derek

    I should have been more clear. I meant that it is imperative as Parents that we help our young Teens deal with issues surrounding their hormones. As science has shown, the physiology of their brains hasnt fully developed to handle “Adult” issues. I wish our culture allowed more age benefiicial behaviour rather than trying to speed up the process. As most Teens dont reach puberty before 13, I find 15 way too young to be thinking like an Adult in relation to their sexuality. Just because you can get horny doesnt mean you should be having sex.

  • 110. Derek  |  July 23, 2008 at 12:07 pm

    most Teens dont reach puberty before 13

    Oh, I don’t know, I was barely 12 and having erections and stealing my mom’s Victoria’s Secret catalogs. And the kids at school teased me for being a late bloomer. Not only that, but studies show that puberty is happening, on average, at younger ages now than in the past.

    Just because you can get horny doesnt mean you should be having sex.

    That’s not what I’m saying, of course. I’m saying sexual repression is never a good thing. Encouraging healthy dialog about sexual curiosity, assuring teens that their feelings are normal and healthy, equipping teens with honest information about STDs and contraception, and providing them with the emotional skills that are necessary for maturity in general, let alone any sexual relationship, are vital for a child to grow up sexually mature.

    And, if a 15-year-old decides, with all the information made clear to them, that they are ready to be having sex, then they shouldn’t be judged for it.

    If you agree with that, then I see we’re on the same page.

  • 111. john t.  |  July 23, 2008 at 3:40 pm

    Derek

    “Oh, I don’t know, I was barely 12 and having erections and stealing my mom’s Victoria’s Secret catalogs”(derek)

    The plumbing works way before 12, babies can have erections when they suck on their mothers breasts. One of my best friends had intercourse at 8 with my other friends sister, she was 7.

    “And, if a 15-year-old decides, with all the information made clear to them, that they are ready to be having sex, then they shouldn’t be judged for it.”(derek)

    This is where we part ways. No matter what kind of information you give to a young adolescent, I truly believe they are not emotionally prepared to deal with the potential consequences of Intercourse. In all my years I know almost all of my female friends and some of my male friends had wished they waited longer because of their immaturity in that area. Sex isnt just a playtoy, and to think that just knowing about pregnancy and stds and other things makes you mature enough, well I think youre sadly mistaken. Most people think that great sex comes when you are physically compatible, most great sex comes when you are emotionally compatible. I dont know many 15 yr olds who know themselves emotionally let alone someone else.

  • 112. Derek  |  July 23, 2008 at 4:20 pm

    and to think that just knowing about pregnancy and stds and other things makes you mature enough, well I think youre sadly mistaken

    Again, not what I said. I said being open and frank about sexuality, and not being afraid of one’s sexual desires, as well as beginning to teach coping skills, in addition to proper sex education. And I didn’t say sex ed makes every 15-year-old ready for sex!

    All I said was at that that age, if a person makes the decision on his or her own to become sexually active, yes it’s a tad young, but we as adults shouldn’t be so quick to pass judgment on them — we should be slow to reprimand and helpful with advice and comfort when it is needed. I’m certainly not advocating wholesale teenage promiscuity.

  • 113. Derek  |  July 23, 2008 at 4:26 pm

    The plumbing works way before 12, babies can have erections when they suck on their mothers breasts.

    What I mean is for me, I was beginning to experience real sexual arousal around then.

    I was also beginning to notice and like girls and get nervous when they would pay attention to me, I couldn’t control the pitch of my voice, I grew hair in new places, and I started having about the nastiest smelling armpit sweat around then. I’m not sure why you want to correct me on when I happened to hit puberty.

  • 114. john t.  |  July 23, 2008 at 4:51 pm

    Derek

    My initial comment was in relation to the writer of the article. Hence the 15yr. old idea. As far as you hitting puberty, Im not talking about you lol. Im talking about the average age. In reality youre not a late bloomer, I didnt reach puberty until almost 16, now thats a late bloomer. Just curious, how old are you now?

  • 115. Ubi Dubium  |  July 23, 2008 at 5:13 pm

    john t

    at the age of 15, most kids have only just begun to deal with puberty

    And let me remind you that girls get there first, more like ages 10-12. At 15, most girls are long past puberty, and must learn to deal with having the body of an adult without having the emotional maturity to match. By 15 they need to have already had a good dose of sex education, and figured out their attitudes and coping skills. Otherwise they may find themselves having suddenly to deal with adult problems before they are emotionally ready for them.

    If sex education only amounts to “don’t”, it can’t do much good. Abstinence only education doesn’t work, and never has. Teenagers are sexual creatures, and they need all the accurate information and support we can give them, so that they can find ways to express that sexuality that don’t lead to pregnancy, incurable diseases, or deep emotional involvement with irresponsible partners.

  • 116. Derek  |  July 23, 2008 at 5:25 pm

    Hey John,

    I’ll be 27 this Sunday. I understand I’m quite the whippersnapper.

  • 117. John T.  |  July 23, 2008 at 9:50 pm

    Ubi D.

    “or deep emotional involvement with irresponsible partners”

    If you learn deep emotional involvement, you will be so less likely to have irresponsible partners. The problem with most people is that they think that they should have partners, instead of a partner.

  • 118. Derek  |  July 24, 2008 at 4:04 pm

    The problem with most people is that they think that they should have partners, instead of a partner.

    There’s certainly value in monogamy. However, shooting for a single partner that you keep from high school all the way to the grave is thoroughly naive, and patently bad advice.

  • 119. Bobbi Jo  |  July 24, 2008 at 4:23 pm

    “There’s certainly value in monogamy. However, shooting for a single partner that you keep from high school all the way to the grave is thoroughly naive, and patently bad advice”

    Derek, why is this bad advice? Some of the best love stories I know involve people who have been married over 50 years to their high school sweetheart. Granted, that doesn’t work for a lot of people, but why is it automatically “bad” advice?

  • 120. LeoPardus  |  July 24, 2008 at 4:30 pm

    Re post 119 by Bobbi Jo:

    ME!! 23 years with my high school sweetheart. Never been with anyone else. I would think it a great idea.

    One reason why it’s good advie…. stick with one person and jealousy isn’t likely get you killed.

  • 121. John T.  |  July 24, 2008 at 4:39 pm

    I heard a good one about what binds a relationship. Emotional connection is like superglue and sex is like duct tape. When you duct tape yourself to someone and you find that you are not emotionally connected, you have to rip the the tape off. OUCH. If you end up doing that enough times you become calloused. We should be teaching our Kids(15yr olds and under) how to develop emotional connection first. When they master that form of bonding they then can move on to the physical part.

  • 122. Bobbi Jo  |  July 24, 2008 at 5:02 pm

    John T, I agree. Most people are wanting to teach our children be “ready” first. But be ready for what? Being ready for the physical part is easy, it’s the emotional part that I don’t think the kids are learning. And without that, they are not truely ready at 15. For the record, I’m fine with them teaching the physical readiness in school. I am at home teaching the emotional readiness and our family values. With those combined efforts, I hope my children can make an informed descision on whether they are ready for ALL of it.

    And Leo, I’m glad to see another example of being with one partner that worked. Just curious, and you don’t have to answer this, but were you physically intimate with your wife in high school or did you form a friendship first before going that route?

  • 123. LeoPardus  |  July 24, 2008 at 5:07 pm

    Bobbi Jo:

    We never “did it” in HS. Then we broke up and were apart for a few years. Then we got back together. Then we “did it” about about a month after the official engagement and setting of the marriage date. (Marriage was about 3 months later.)

  • 124. Derek  |  July 24, 2008 at 5:13 pm

    Well for starters, emotional incompatibility as the two mature, the very real issues of conflicting lifelong goals, and the pitfalls of forcing a distance relationship if they go to different colleges; but really it’s bad advice *precisely* because it’s not for everybody. To teach a kid the truism that it is proper and should be their intent to marry the first person they date (sexual activity or not!) is to ignore many of these and other potential problems.

    If I had taken that advice I’d still be engaged or, worse, married to an abusive, manipulative, selfish, unfaithful woman instead of soon-to-be (3 weeks) married to someone who actually makes me happy.

  • 125. Bobbi Jo  |  July 24, 2008 at 5:58 pm

    I’m not saying marry the first person you date. But I am saying you don’t need to sleep with the first person either. It’s great to build the emotional bond first. So many kids lack to proper knowledge on how to do that because the schools and parents are so busy fighting about what they should learn sexually (or not learn). Though I don’t know Leo’s whole story, he seems to have built a proper emotional attachment without the physical part involved first. That’s all I’m saying, that waiting to be physical is not a bad thing. If the writer had gone ahead and had sex at 15, she might have had a “normal” childhood in that she might have regretted that desision later in life. That’s what most of the “normal” children that had sex in high school seem to tell me when they are adults.

  • 126. LeoPardus  |  July 24, 2008 at 6:05 pm

    emotional incompatibility as the two mature

    If they are actually maturing (as opposed to merely growing older), that problem should become less over time.

    the very real issues of conflicting lifelong goals

    Should be discussed before even popping the question. Should be revisited periodically in any relationship.

    and the pitfalls of forcing a distance relationship if they go to different colleges

    Are you kidding me?? I loved that. It was wonderful. We got to know each other so well though those letters. Hell, I’d go so far as to recommend it to anyone.

  • 127. Derek  |  July 24, 2008 at 6:08 pm

    I’m not saying marry the first person you date. But I am saying you don’t need to sleep with the first person either.

    I agree with you. I’m just saying it’s not necessarily a good idea to marry the first person you sleep with either, or to wait until you’re married.

    It’s great to build the emotional bond first.

    That’s all I’m saying, that waiting to be physical is not a bad thing.

    I don’t disagree. I’ve never said anything in favor of promiscuous behavior, at least not in teenagers.

    So many kids lack to proper knowledge on how to do that because the schools and parents are so busy fighting about what they should learn sexually (or not learn).

    I personally think it ultimately ought to be up to the parents to ensure proper sexual instruction in their own kids.

    If the writer had gone ahead and had sex at 15, she might have had a “normal” childhood in that she might have regretted that desision later in life.

    It’s possible. But she also might not have regretted the decision and instead appreciate the lessons she learned from it. She also didn’t explicitly say “I wish I had had sex at 15″, but that she wished she were more open to appropriate sexual exploration (which doesn’t have to include intercourse) at that time.

  • 128. Derek  |  July 24, 2008 at 6:10 pm

    Well Leo, it’s clear to me you and I have had VERY different romantic histories and have come away from it having VERY different opinions on the matter.

  • 129. Derek  |  July 24, 2008 at 6:13 pm

    Although I kind of wish I could get some backup here… sucks being a one-man army ;)

  • 130. SnugglyBuffalo  |  July 24, 2008 at 6:37 pm

    Although I kind of wish I could get some backup here… sucks being a one-man army ;)

    Well, I had a relationship that turned long distance with college, and it ended with her cheating on me. That said, there were deeper problems that would have ended the relationship regardless of distance or faithfulness.

    I’m really out of my depth in a discussion of this nature, anyway. Romantic relationships have been rather rare for me. Lacking much personal experience, I’ll say these issues certainly seem to depend on the people involved a lot more than they’re usually made out to.

  • 131. John T.  |  July 24, 2008 at 9:38 pm

    Derek

    I could back you up on the having some sexual experience, too many times that is. I mastered the physical, unfortunately it didnt make my life any more complete. I wish I learned more Couple skills, than learning copulating skills.

  • 132. Derek  |  July 25, 2008 at 11:46 am

    To be clear, I did not date in high school, my first kiss was at 18, I’ve only been intimate with two women, and I’m engaged to the second. I don’t regret the first at all (though I do regret carrying the relationship on for as long as I did), nor do I regret waiting as long as I did, and I don’t feel at all sexually repressed from such ostensibly “limited” experience. I certainly wouldn’t call myself a physical master, though…

    However, I sort of wish I had done some dating and perhaps *some* physical experience in high school (not necessarily going all the way!!) because even at almost 27 I still make “rookie” mistakes in my relationships.

    I do think it’s up to the individual to decide when it’s right for them and our task as adults to be supportive emotionally and forthcoming with crucial information.

    Like SnugglyBuffalo said, it seems to depend a lot on the people involved. It seems to me that people who regret parts of their sexual past tend to recommend against the way they did it, and those without regrets tend to recommend in favor of how they did it.

  • 133. Russ  |  August 17, 2008 at 1:43 am

    Rob V. made a comment that exploring one’s sexuality is only about self gratification, I find this comment to be pitiful. It has been for me finding what worked best for both people, some people have different triggers than others, and some people may have triggers they are unaware of, so exploring one’s sexuality can be as simple as exploring one’s self through their partners reactions. Sex as a beautiful union of two people is not about being married or about being twenty, it is about being ready and willing to respond to your partners needs and having them reciprocate. I, thankfully, cast of the Christian shackle early on, but it did not mean I was out trying to jump on anything that moved. To assume that people cannot be responsible without religion is false. I don’t need rules made by desert nomads thousands of years ago to tell me how to be responsible that was my parent’s job, and I think they did a good job of it.

    I will say one should be prepared before taking up a new endeavor. It is all about the research, one should not take up anything be it building model planes, operating a nuclear reactor or having sex without being properly prepared. Know the risks and know the precautions to ensure your safety, and something positive can come from the experience.

  • 134. Ben  |  September 1, 2008 at 11:46 pm

    I dont know if this has been thrown out there, but to everyone saying that mid teens is too early to be having sex, the average age for loss of virginity in the USA is 16.4. So That’s reality, whether you like it or not.

    Overall I agree with the article.

  • 135. Anonymous  |  September 20, 2008 at 2:20 am

    fucking pussy

  • 136. SCB  |  November 3, 2008 at 9:58 pm

    seriously, find some middle ground here
    on one hand you should not be sleeping around like a skank
    and on the other you should not restrict yourself to only someone you marry ok, besides like 95% of people have sex before marriage anyways.
    you wouldn’t buy a car without going for a test drive first, so you shouldn’t marry someone unless you have given them a test run 2 and not just in bed.

  • 137. Eve's Apple  |  March 18, 2009 at 6:24 pm

    I was brought up on the whole abstinence thing, too; and the older I get I am convinced that it is setting people, especially young women, up to fail in relationships.

    In my opnion sex should not be a battleground. But by focusing mainly on young women and ignoring young men (who overwhelmingly reject abstinence), you are setting the stage for very tense, unhappy dating experiences. Or no dating experiences at all. At the most extreme, it can prime young women for vaginismus, a condition where the muscles of the vagina will not relax and allow penetration. From what I understand, there are treatments but they are not always successful. So what happens on the wedding night when it is discovered that the virgin wife physically cannot make love? Well, that is not the pro-abstinence movement’s problem, is it?

    If I were going to talk to adolescents about sex and abstinence, first of all I would say that is a very serious choice and neither option is to be taken lightly. In regards to the comment about buying a car without going for a test drive (another variant is you wouldn’t buy a pair of shoes without trying them on), first of all, I nor any other human being is a car or a pair of shoes. We are all unique individuals. Yes, I am still a virgin. Mainly because I have not yet met a man who is as interested in getting into my mind as he was my pants. Oh, how often I wished I could cut off what was between my legs and fling it in my so-called date’s face and say, “Here, you want this, take it. Just leave me out of it, since obviously you are not interested in anything else.” Because I will not put up with abusive, manipulative, one-sided sex, I have been called all kinds of names; and no doubt am opening myself up for more just by writing this.

    So yes, I practice abstinence. I live abstinence. I know whereof I speak. And what these young women are NOT being told, among other things, is that should you choose abstinence as a lifestyle, is that one, you run a very high risk of NEVER being married (look at all the never-married Christian women out there in their 30′s, 40′s and on up) and two, it will affect your relationships with others in the same way that becoming a vegan or keeping kosher. To tell women that they can have their cake and eat it too, that they can practice abstinence and still have a dating life, is to tell them a lie. That is like saying that you can be a vegan and still go out to eat. It depends. And to say that this is God’s law for singles, and that ‘s just the way it is, you either obey him or not, WITHOUT getting involved with helping singles deal with the problem of keeping chaste in an unchaste society, WITHOUT actively helping them find partners who share the same values, to tell them to just say no and then turn them loose to find their own way, is cruel and irresponsible in the least.

    There is so much more I could say on this subject, but this is already a very long post . . .

  • 138. Zoe  |  March 18, 2009 at 6:51 pm

    Thanks for sharing as much as you did. Good post.

  • 139. SnugglyBuffalo  |  March 18, 2009 at 6:53 pm

    (another variant is you wouldn’t buy a pair of shoes without trying them on)

    Completely unrelated to the actual content of the comment, but I’m stuck buying shoes that I can’t try on. I have incredibly wide feet (6E) and basically can’t find local shoe stores that sell anything that even remotely fits. Growing up I just bought shoes that were too big for me, which would be broken in by the time I grew into them. Doesn’t work so well now, and I’ve taken to ordering shoes from an internet store that specializes in wide shoes; even they only have a small selection of shoes wide enough for me, most of them are between 2E and 5E. So I don’t get the luxury of trying my shoes on before I buy them.

  • 140. LeoPardus  |  March 18, 2009 at 7:28 pm

    Eve’s:

    Thanks for that post. It seems all I ever hear are either people adamantly against abstinence education or adamantly for it. You present a realistic approach of considering the reasons for abstinence as wall as the problems it can bring on.

    You should make a new educational series/approach: “Informed and Realistic Choices”.

  • 141. Joshua  |  March 18, 2009 at 7:56 pm

    Eve, while I do appreciate your view and do not think it is right for a guy just to get in a woman’s pants, I think that abstinence education can actually exacerbate the problems. It can teach women to distrust guys and to think that all guys want to do is get inside a woman’s pants. It can also make guys so horny that they can’t think about anything but having sex. Trust me, I’m a guy who was taught abstinence. Its not very easy to be attracted to a girl’s mind and personality when your body is screaming at you to get it on. Its just a sad reality.

    If guys are taught the only thing they cannot do before marriage is have sex, then gosh, what are they going to marry for?

    Sex.

    Reminds me of the story of a coworker who told about a previous lady he had known. This woman was a Christian and she and her boyfriend had done everything except vaginal sex. When she was asked why they just did not go all the way, she replied that because her boyfriend was willing to wait until they were married, she knew he was not after her just for sex.

    My non-Christian male coworker just laughed and said “Why else would he want to get married? He just wants to get in there!”

    Abstinence can actually exacerbate the problems, in my opinion.

    Don’t tear me to shreds! Just my thoughts as a single guy who was taught abstinence.

  • 142. Joshua  |  March 18, 2009 at 8:09 pm

    Gosh, I wish lauradee would post on here. She has a really interesting perspective on abstinence which is totally worthwhile to hear.

  • 143. Zoe  |  March 19, 2009 at 10:02 am

    Josh, I don’t think anyone will tear you to shreds. I’m thrilled with your honesty.

    I think Lauradee is away right now. :-)

  • 144. Joshua  |  March 19, 2009 at 11:45 am

    “I don’t think anyone will tear you to shreds”

    Well thanks :) Its an odd thing growing up in a culture that tries to suppress everyone’s natural sex drive and then getting flung “into the wild”, so to speak. Everyone’s curiosity is raging and people are bound to make mistakes.

  • 145. Eve's Apple  |  March 19, 2009 at 8:28 pm

    Josh, you sound like the kind of guy I could really get along with because you are honest. I agree with you about abstinence education AS IT IS CURRENTLY TAUGHT, creating barriers of mistrust between the sexes. I know little or nothing about the male sex drive and how the male mind really works other than the “guys are only after one thing” propaganda on one hand, and the sexual molestation that I experienced on the other. There has to be a better way. As far as the female sex drive, don’t laugh, basically it did not even exist.

    At any rate, maybe I am showing my ignorance but it is never too late to learn. And I have to confess that I probably don’t have much of a sex drive, whether due to nature or brainwashing, I don’t know. But one thing I have never understood, probably because I have never experienced it, is feeling so horny that I just gotta have it regardless. it never crossed my mind, not once, to ever force my attentions on someone else or to touch them without their express consent. I wouldn’t dream of it, no matter how attracted I was to that person. To me it is a matter of basic human decency. But, and I know, “not all” guys are like that, but a very high proportion are, and I wonder why. Were they not taught manners? Are their urges THAT strong? Men can be so frightening and intimidating some time. My biggest fear is of being raped, not by some stranger in a dark alley, but by someone I went out with, someone I thought I could trust; and I have come close to it a few times.

    What I think is lacking in this whole abstinence debate, to be or not be, is respect for each other’s choices. That as long as you had respect for the other person it should not really matter whether you are sexually active or not. Sometimes the more respectful choice is to abstain and sometimes it is not. But there should never, never be any pressure on a person to be sexual if they do not want to be. In another post you talked about Christians and conditional friendships. You could substitute men, women, gays, straights, for Christians and say the same thing, I don’t want a friendship or relationship that is “conditional” on my having sex with someone. That is not how I am made. My decision to have sex, I feel, should be one freely made, because that is what i feel like doing with that particular person at that time and they with me.

    Unfortunately we don’t live in that kind of world . . .

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