Abstinence and Education

April 21, 2008 at 5:54 pm 57 comments

One of my biggest mistakes as young uber-Christian, although clearly not my only one, was in misunderstanding the role of sex in a happy romantic relationship. I don’t think it’s that unusual for this crowd: frankly the irony is that abstinence-based sex-ed seems to translate into “we never talk about sex except to say ‘don’t do it!’ Well, don’t do it until you’re married.”

My only parental guidance on this subject was Josh McDowell’s book from the “Why Wait” series. My youth pastor at church referred to losing one’s virginity as analogous to a baseball crashing through a plate-glass window: you were left to pick up the pieces and you could never reclaim what you once had.

The problem is, and I’m far from the first person to notice this, that it is then hard to turn overnight from an angel to a vixen. The whole thing is tainted–and I don’t buy the Born Agains who claim that they can get the guidance they need to make this transition through prayer and study of the gospels. Yes, you need to study. No, I don’t think the information you need is in the words of Paul. Nor is it in pornography, another Christian favorite (for reasons that boggle the mind).

I know this one far too well and from painful personal experience. I was the good girl who got married too young as a dressed-in-white virgin, in a wedding doomed for failure involving another (technical) virgin. I was then harshly mistreated by said husband, who seemed to think sexual intercourse was an inalienable right and my participation was optional. I blame him but I don’t–his problems were the result of his own Christian upbringing. Yes, he should have known better or learned better, but then again, I should have worked at this one too. I was frigid and scared and unwilling to do what is required in the context of really great sex: to get messy, to laugh together, to revel in sharing the things that you keep from other people.

When I finally escaped the marriage and began the slow recovery from Evangelical Christian-ness, I learned about sex the way normal (non-Evangelical) women do. I watched every episode of Sex and the City at least three times. I read “Glamour” and “Cosmo” every month to recalibrate my ideas about normal. I bought books–manuals, you could say–about how to please a man. I bought every chick-lit novel I could afford and re-read them until the pages were worn. What I did not do was become promiscuous: the legacy of being sexually mistreated by a spouse is that you have to work really hard on the trust issue. But at least now, in my middle thirties and continuing the long recovery from this particular brand of Christianity, I have learned how to have a normal adult relationship including intimacy of both the sexual and non-sexual sorts.

The thing that really confuses me is the group of “Born Again Virgins.” I truly don’t know what to make of it. Was the effort never made by these people to have truly great sex when it was on the “allowed” list? That’s the only logical explanation I can think of, that the people who advocate this movement never really enjoyed it in the first place. Or perhaps they were in unfulfilling relationships that otherwise lacked intimacy. Perhaps by very nature of their backgrounds, they too were wracked with guilt or other negative feelings. Surely not all BAVs had religious upbringings, but maybe the very nature of the personality type that joins this sort of ‘club’ predisposes them to have had unfulfilling sexual experiences and struggles with sexual guilt.

This seems to be a uniquely Evangelical thing. Although I try to stay away from anyone who professes a Born Again mentality, I do in fact still feel stirrings of Christian faith in my soul. Shockingly, I attend church on a regular basis, although it’s one of those churches where they chant things and follow a rigorous and long-established service order (no rock bands, choruses that don’t rhyme, or dramas). In other Christian crowds, while promiscuity is discouraged, there is no condemnation for thoughtful sexual relationships between consenting adults trying to establish the partnership.

From all I’ve seen, the bottom line is simple. The only cure for abstinence is education. And that means raunchy, explicit education, both of the book-learning variety and of the “laboratory experiment” type. With a lot of education, and a lot of effort, you too can recover from a puritanical upbringing and learn to have a healthy attitude towards lawful carnal knowledge.

- ExEvangel

Entry filed under: ExEvangel. Tags: , , , .

My Abstinence Education The thrill of discovery

57 Comments Add your own

  • 1. writerdd  |  April 21, 2008 at 6:05 pm

    I agree with this completely. Education is an absolute necessity. However, I did have some sex ed in school, but it still could not counteract the abstinence nonsense I got in church because of all of the fear of backsliding and hell.

  • 2. ashluvleigh  |  April 21, 2008 at 6:23 pm

    I was brought up catholic…so I dealt with and am still dealing with a lot of guilt and religiously created thoughts about sex and my own sexuality….although, I think I’m headed the right direction. I follow my sexual impulses and am safe, I encourage everyone to spice up their sex lives and enjoy. This does not mean go overboard but don’t repress it either….I disagree with abstinence that’s not education that’s running scared…and here you go… masturbate!
    Check these guys out very nice and into healthy sexual pusuits…PleasureMeNow.com

  • 3. Jersey  |  April 21, 2008 at 8:58 pm

    I slept through sex ed — literally!! — because I was sexually underdeveloped till I was 20. Don’t ask how an atheist whose friends were gay and sex-addicted was able to keep her virginity all throughout H.S., because, like I said, mentally I was immature compared to all my friends in that area.

    I relearned the whole sex deal two months before I got married…I still don’t get the full “pleasure” from it, because unfortunately touch hypersensitivity is a killjoy.

  • 4. exevangel  |  April 21, 2008 at 9:01 pm

    Don’t get me wrong, I am NOT suggesting that this is the role of schools. I’m hoping to say that the education has to come from other means. Pure sex-ed covers the basics, the risks, the diseases, but to learn how to enjoy sex? A totally different domain.

  • 5. orDover  |  April 21, 2008 at 9:19 pm

    Great post exevangel, thanks so much for sharing it.

    Sex & The City (as silly as it may sound) was also a big help to me in starting to let go of the shame associated with sex.

    I’m not gonna lie. I can’t wait for the movie. :)

  • 6. notfromaroundhere  |  April 21, 2008 at 9:34 pm

    orDover

    Me too! I swear I have seen season 6 more than a person should and I know the movie will be interesting if nothing else. I wish there was more than just 2 hours to look forward to!

  • 7. Andrea  |  April 21, 2008 at 10:57 pm

    I had a boyfriend for two years who thought even kissing was “impure”. My next relationship was with my (now) spouse. Boy was I a tough nut to crack! But it turned out for the best. He sings the praises of my body, and I in turn learned to delight in it, not hide it.

  • 8. Aphrodite  |  April 21, 2008 at 11:25 pm

    I hate abstinence only education. I think it’s horribly irresponsible. Having said that, here I am living in the city of “Sex and the City” and I’m a virgin. It started out as a religious thing and now it’s a matter of it being the healthy and right thing for me to do – sleeping with someone at this point would be psychological disaster for me not because of my religious past but because of the way I form attachments in relationships. I’m a virgin by choice and I feel like I’m the only one out here who isn’t religious, who is still a virgin and no one is addressing that category of people. As much as I feel alone in this, I can’t possibly be the only one who feels this way, can I?

  • 9. writerdd  |  April 22, 2008 at 9:44 am

    Aphrodite, I”m sure there are others who feel the way you do.

    The thing is, sex is not some earth-shattering other-worldly experience. I’m betting you have it way out of proportion in your mind, largely as a result of the religious teaching you mentioned.

    I’m not advising you to do anything that you don’t feel ready for. But I do want to say that sex is a natural and beautiful activity and it’s not at all the big scary thing that religion makes it out to be. It’s not a life changing event and it won’t spoil or drastically your relationship (if you’re already involved with someone). Having sex won’t make you into someone different, it won’t make your “soul” cleave to the other person for eternity.

    Being a virgin is, essentially, no different than not being a virgin.

  • 10. exevangel  |  April 22, 2008 at 3:08 pm

    writerdd, you don’t think that the exposed vulnerability that comes with sex makes people closer? I guess I do but maybe I’m just sappy or something. I agree completely that religion needs to stop turning it into a big scary thing, or pretending that any sex will get you pregnant or give you HIV. The truth about the real risks would be so much better than the scare tactics.

  • 11. Jean-Baptist Emmanuel Zorg  |  April 22, 2008 at 3:18 pm

    The first little bit of education that has to occur is teaching that the bible is not the blue-print for the way a man should treat a woman. It has been one of the greatest obstacles in the suppression of women, sexism and inequality, not only with respect to women but also racism. You simply cannot study a book that emphatically teaches that a woman is the property of a man without dire consequences. As I stated to my wife the other day, (of 33 years by the way) and yes its better today than ever, as horrendous as the polygamist story is, it actually reflects a more accurate biblical view than other members of society. Our knowledge and technology has outpaced our morality.

  • 12. Quester  |  April 22, 2008 at 3:19 pm

    DD:

    It’s not a life changing event and it won’t spoil or drastically your relationship (if you’re already involved with someone).

    The first half of that, I can see. As for the second, and maybe this is my own lack of personal experience talking, but I’ve heard many people tell me that sex does not affect or change their relationship, but (being the person they come to with their struggles and complaints) I’ve never actually seen this to be the case. Sex can be a beautiful and natural part of a relationship, but, for the guy at least, I’d say it does affect and change the relationship, sometimes drastically. It depends, I suppose, on the relationship and where both partners are in the relationship.

  • 13. exevangel  |  April 22, 2008 at 3:25 pm

    My favorite line on this was in the movie “Circle of Friends” where (I think) Minnie Driver says “It’s like sticking your finger up someone else’s nose” When you think about it that way, that is definitely a different sort of relationship where the boundaries are blurred, than without it. The change can be positive or negative–I do think sex can make people closer and I also think it can drive them apart (“Not tonight dear I have a headache and all the resentment that follows”)

  • 14. LeoPardus  |  April 22, 2008 at 3:46 pm

    Jean-Baptist:

    a book that emphatically teaches that a woman is the property of a man

    Where? Verse citations please.

  • 15. LeoPardus  |  April 22, 2008 at 3:58 pm

    Aphrodite:

    I’m a virgin. It started out as a religious thing and now it’s a matter of it being the healthy and right thing for me to do

    Nothing wrong with that at all.

    sleeping with someone at this point would be psychological disaster for me not because of my religious past but because of the way I form attachments in relationships.

    Very savvy of you to recognize this in yourself. I don’t know your particulars, but I’m very glad you do. I’ve seen what can happen when a person doesn’t watch for just this sort of thing. Take all the time you need to work on this. If you think ti will help, see a professional counselor, if you can find one you trust. (FWIW, my sister did and it helped her a lot.)

    I’m the only one out here who isn’t religious, who is still a virgin and no one is addressing that category of people. As much as I feel alone in this, I can’t possibly be the only one who feels this way, can I?

    You’re not the only one. I’ve encountered areligious virgins before. You have good reasons for your choices and you sound like your trying to work through whatever issues you need to. Take your time; stick to your guns; and to blazes with anyone who tells you otherwise.

    One comment you’ve gotten (from dd) “It’s not a life changing event and it won’t spoil or drastically your relationship (if you’re already involved with someone). Having sex won’t make you into someone different, it won’t make your “soul” cleave to the other person for eternity.”

    Horribly wrong:
    Sex can, and often does, change a relationship drastically. It can have a profound effect on your life. And people to cleave to each other because of sex.

  • 16. dd  |  April 22, 2008 at 3:59 pm

    writerdd, you don’t think that the exposed vulnerability that comes with sex makes people closer?

    Not really. Or maybe only when you are young an inexperienced. Of course that’s a very personal question, and for some people it could definitely be that way. We all feel vulnerable for different reasons and in different situations.

    a book that emphatically teaches that a woman is the property of a man

    The 10 commandments, for one, groups women in with oxen and other possessions of men as things not to be coveted.

  • 17. Jonathan Blake  |  April 22, 2008 at 4:05 pm

    LeoPardus:

    Exodus 20:17
    Exodus 21:4
    Exodus 21:7
    Judges 5:30
    Judges 14:20
    Judges 19
    Judges 21:10-12
    Judges 21:21

    Tell me when to stop.

  • 18. exevangel  |  April 22, 2008 at 4:08 pm

    Writerdd,

    I’m neither young nor inexperienced so I guess I’m left with “it’s a personal thing”. I guess you could argue it’s more important to me after having sex forced on me by my ex-husband, but I know plenty of people who have had a less dramatic background who think sex changes things. It makes friendship with exes often difficult, especially at first, and the pure concept of “make-up sex” supports the idea that it is some sort of relationship glue.

    We humans wear clothes for a reason, nakedness is not the typical state and we don’t let everyone into that realm. Trust is implicitly important when the stakes are so high.

  • 19. Jean-Baptist Emmanuel Zorg  |  April 22, 2008 at 4:14 pm

    LeoPardus;

    For starters The Ten Commandments, Exodus 20 “TEN: ‘You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, nor his male servant, nor his female servant, nor his ox, nor his donkey, nor anything that is your neighbor’s.’

    Notice that the wife is included in and with the neighbor’s property.

    If this reference is insufficient let me know and I will try to put together a more exhaustive list.

    Women in bronze age Palestine were treated very similar to many fundamentalist muslim communities today. Their value was just a might greater than a toaster. For example in some muslim communities (Extremist) if a woman is raped she is put to death because of the shame she has brought on her husband.

    This is not all that far from the mindset of pre-christian Palestine.

  • 20. dd  |  April 22, 2008 at 4:19 pm

    exevangel, so sorry to hear of your bad experience in your past marriage. Yes, our past experiences definitely flavor how we experience things in the future.

  • 21. LeoPardus  |  April 22, 2008 at 4:25 pm

    Jonathan:

    I took you to mean that one’s wife was property. Most of your verses support slavery. The one that mentions a wife (same thing dd mentioned), could be taken as a list of property if you like. But that is not a necessary, or even clearly invited, interpretation.

    I will say that the one on selling one’s daughter into slavery is lovely. I’m always glad to know that I have that holy option should I be financially strapped. Wonder how much I can get for her? Hmmm. have to try e-bay.

    I was kind of hoping for something really clear like, “Behold woman thou shalt be his for a possession” If you know any that clear, let me know. It would be nice to have the option of selling the wife along with the daughter. Perchance can I sell sons?

  • 22. exevangel  |  April 22, 2008 at 4:39 pm

    dd

    I really subscribe to the “anything that doesn’t kill us makes us stronger” rule and so in many cases I’m not too fussed. Although talking openly about what happened on blogs has helped release the tension. But I’m not sure I want to believe that this is the only reason I value sex. I work in a male-dominated field and my friends are mostly men and those relationships are very different than the one I have with my partner. Obviously it’s intimacy and obviously some of it is emotional but I think more of it is physical, both sexual and non-sexual.

  • 23. karen  |  April 22, 2008 at 5:11 pm

    I’m a virgin by choice and I feel like I’m the only one out here who isn’t religious, who is still a virgin and no one is addressing that category of people. As much as I feel alone in this, I can’t possibly be the only one who feels this way, can I?

    There was just an article in the NY Times magazines about an abstinence group at Harvard. I’m not sure if most of them were religious or not, but you’re definitely not alone.

  • 24. Lady through the Looking Glass  |  April 22, 2008 at 5:15 pm

    Ex Evangel, thanks so much for sharing. I really appreciate you touching on this topic.

    Aphrodite,

    “It started out as a religious thing and now it’s a matter of it being the healthy and right thing for me to do – sleeping with someone at this point would be psychological disaster for me not because of my religious past but because of the way I form attachments in relationships.”

    Aphrodite, I can totally identify.

    My experience is that one is not seen as “normal” by some folks if one is a virgin after age 16. In fact, you’re likely to be considered some sort of freak. Since I’m in my late 30s, and still a virgin, one can imagine that it’s a dearly held secret. Like you, that was mainly due to my religious upbringing and an unnatural fear, I think, of the opposite sex, thanks to my mother’s overprotective sheltering. The only education I had about sex while growing up was from a sex ed class in high school.

    However, I did manage to break free enough to have dating relationships in my 20s. Although the intimacy I experienced in them didn’t progress to actual intercourse, I still feel that I may not have explored my sexuality because 1) I was clueless, and 2) deep down I felt that they just wanted to score and didn’t have my best interest at heart. I felt that I always had to be in control so that there would be no chance of unplanned sex and the related risks. So I never really could relax enough to enjoy my body and simply let go.

    One thing I’ve noticed since deconverting is that I’m no longer obsessed with sex, as I used to while I was a Christian. I find that so odd, but have no explanation for it. Since I’ve only begun deconverting recently, I realise it will take some time for me to be completely liberated from certain teachings that have held me shackled, and left me feeling repressed, such as, the concept that sex belongs only within marriage, the theory that soul ties are created with someone with whom one has sex, the guilt that’s associated with premarital sex, etc.

    In recent weeks I’ve asked myself if I’m sorry that I haven’t had sex already. No and yes. No, because I’m glad I didn’t give myself to any of those jerks who didn’t care two hoots about me; yes, because I wish I had experienced something that’s beautiful and natural.

    I still have hopes of one day having a healthy, sexual relationship in a loving, committed partnership. But now, I won’t necessarily wait until marriage. Until then, I’ll continue the daily journey towards total freedom.

  • 25. Lady through the Looking Glass  |  April 22, 2008 at 5:18 pm

    Oh, and Writerdd, thanks for your post that sparked this discussion.

  • 26. LeoPardus  |  April 22, 2008 at 5:20 pm

    LTTLG:

    One thing I’ve noticed since deconverting is that I’m no longer obsessed with sex, as I used to while I was a Christian. I find that so odd, but have no explanation for it.

    It’s the old adage of “what gets your attention, gets you”. Many Christians spend loads of time obsessing about sex, so they are tempted ’cause it’s always in their mind. ‘Tis almost worse than porn.

  • 27. notfromaroundhere  |  April 22, 2008 at 5:24 pm

    LTTLG:

    Exactly, we want what we cannot have and so sex takes on a different perspective. I talked a bit about this on my own blog before in the context of dealing with my sexual deviant-church music director father and the unbelievable proportion of “Christian” men with clinically defined porn addictions.

    My sister is a thirty something virgin and someone I admire a lot. It’s not a disease nor is it a “lifestyle choice” ha. We all have different experiences, different people we meet along the way.

  • 28. LeoPardus  |  April 22, 2008 at 5:26 pm

    ExEvangel:

    What kind of church do you go to? Sounds like Anglican or something. Like you, I enjoy the established service order (liturgy).

    Re: BAVs. I think those people have come to feel guilty about sex they’ve had, whether it was good or not. A lot of them are people who came into the faith later (e.g. weren’t raised in it). So they are dealing with being told that their whole life up to then was “sinful”. If you buy into that, you’re gonna have a lot of guilt, and not just relative to sex.

  • 29. exevangel  |  April 22, 2008 at 5:32 pm

    LeoP:

    Yes, Anglican. Good call. I sing in the choir! I love the service because it is so different to what I know. I actually have years of experience watching the pope on Christmas eve thinking, “this is so much better than praise choruses and drama skits”

    Guilt is a very powerful thing, and the evangelical church has used it to great success. My secular therapist is stunned by the things I feel guilty about, as in everything, and the fact that it can cripple me so much. Thank my evangelical years.

  • 30. orDover  |  April 22, 2008 at 6:40 pm

    There might not be specific Bible versus saying that women are property of men verbatim, but to deny the obtuse tone of misogyny that exists throughout the entire Bible is nothing but purposeful self-deception.

    Take all of the verses in the New Testament about women not being allowed to speak in church. If women were considered equal to men, would this be a problem? It’s even worse in the Old Testament, where women are used as fodder. Take Lot giving his daughter to the angry mob, the fact that fathers could sell their daughters, or given them in marriage to whomever they chose (remember Rachel and Leah and their father Laban?). Women were also up for the taking, like Bathsheba. What she ever given a choice in the matter? No. She was a mere pawn.

    Even if such passages didn’t exist, as has already been pointed out, women were treated as property according to cultural norms. This highlights perfectly how silly it is to try to use the Bible as any sort of moral guide today. It is outdated, completely and utterly. And not just in regard to women. It only makes sense in the context of an ancient culture.

  • 31. Jonathan Blake  |  April 22, 2008 at 7:59 pm

    LeoPardus:

    If you’re waiting for the Bible to say anything plainly, you’re going to have a long wait ahead of you. But perhaps you’ll be happy with one of the following:

    1 Peter 3:5-6 (Sarah called her husband “master”)

    Ephesians 5:22-24 (Wives must submit to their husbands in everything)

    There’s more, but why waste my time? Denying that women/wives in the Bible were considered chattel (forcing women slaves to marry you – hello?) doesn’t give me hope that I can convince you.

  • 32. Jonathan Blake  |  April 22, 2008 at 8:00 pm

    I’m not sure where that winky emoticon came from, but I didn’t mean it.

  • 33. JonF  |  April 23, 2008 at 12:30 am

    I’m glad that there are posts like this talking openly about the whole sex issue, as I suspect it is one issue perhaps more than any other that Christians think about but do not talk about. You would simply not believe the number of hits my blog gets each day because of the search words “masturbation christian sin” following a couple of posts I did on the subject quite a while ago. I hope you continue to discuss this issue openly honestly and fairly on this blog as I think it is an area of real confusion and concern for many christians (although almost none of them will admit it). Personally, this whole area caused me just grief that it was one of the main motivators for me to leave the faith entirely.
    Peace,
    Jon

  • 34. bleport  |  April 23, 2008 at 2:54 am

    de-conversion contributors,

    I write on occassion for PoliticalInquirer.com on matters regarding faith and society. I wanted to offer one or two of your contriubutors to participate in a debate with one or two contributors from the Atheism is Dead blog (atheismisdead.blogspot.com).

    The two equal questions that would be asked of both individuals/groups is (1) Is Atheism Beneficial or Dangerous to Society? and (2) Is Theism Beneficial of Dangerous to Society?

    Being that politicalinquirer.com is a politics and society blog this would give you a platform along with the representatives of Atheism is Dead to suggest what benefits your worldview offer people in a pragmatic sense juxtaposed Theism.

    I have e-mailed the gmail address for this site but I decided that leaving up a following comment wouldn’t hurt either. Please feel free to respond to this offer either at brianleport@gmail.com or at my blog brianleport.com.

    Thank you.

  • 35. Quester  |  April 23, 2008 at 4:10 am

    Is it even possible to talk about atheism as a worldview? I mean, looking at the world as if there’s no such thing as Santa Claus, unicorns or the Loch Ness monster doesn’t actually provide anything to speak of, “in a pragmatic sense”. Humanism, buddhism, epicureanism, naturalism, existentialism or utilitarianism are a few worldviews atheists might hold, off the top of my head. Some basic research could probably add a couple hundred more. But how do you talk about atheism as a worldview?

  • 36. Lady through the Looking Glass  |  April 23, 2008 at 9:39 am

    LeoPardus & Notfromaroundhere, thanks for shedding some light on that matter. Do you, or anyone else, have any suggestions as to how I can further free myself from the heavy indoctrination I’ve received re sex and virginity? I’ve been reading as much as I can, and talking freely with a couple trusted friends, but is that enough? In the past, it was easy for me to feel almost crippling guilt at the drop of a hat. While I know I have less hang-ups now about sex than in the past, I think some residue still exists. Should I just let time take care of that? I’d appreciate any thoughts/suggestions. Thanks.

  • 37. dd  |  April 23, 2008 at 10:15 am

    Lady through the Looking Glass,

    You could consider seeing a therapist if that’s something you’re comfortable with and you can afford the expense. Otherwise, be patient with yourself. It takes a long time to overcome years of indoctrination. Just the fact that you desire to change and are actively discussing the topic with trusted friends is a huge step forward.

    I don’t know what kind of church you went to in the past, but for many of us, being an ex-fundamentalist is like being a recovering alcoholic. It’s something we will have to deal with on and off for the rest of our lives when something triggers the old feelings or fears.

  • 38. exevangel  |  April 23, 2008 at 11:06 am

    Lady through the looking glass,

    time definitely helps and so does exposure. I think what really helped me most was seeing something like sex and the city and realizing that it was us who were odd and constrained and fearful and closed off. Then I started opening up bit by bit with good friends who had all had the same background and were all now going through something similar. There are a LOT of us out here!!!

    JonF,

    thanks. I agree completely, I have no idea how things ended up in such a prudish style. Especially ironic when church-going types have so many kids on average! I always worry about my cousins, that they are in real “lie back and think of England” situations but I have never figured out how to broach the subject with them directly. I do sometimes get mad at myself, though. I should have been more proactive when I was younger, should not have just done what I was told (virgin marriage to another virgin), should have read more, should have been seeking out more information. When I need to know something in any other area of life I look it up (in books in the old days!) but somehow the guilt and shame over sex meant that I never did as much as I should have. Wedding night disaster. And so I hope now with the beauty of the anonymous internet, that more people can find what they are looking for.

  • 39. LeoPardus  |  April 23, 2008 at 12:03 pm

    orDover and Jonathan Blake:

    I’m not really denying anything. Just asking for the clearest indicators you can give.

    I think most old cultures relegated women to second-class status. The old Jewish culture too. And I don’t think the OT or the NT did much to change that.

    I’m not convinced though that an OT Jew would have called his wife “property”. His slave, yes. His daughter, yes. But his wife, not so sure. Of course anyone who offers a slave, concubine, or daughter up for a raping is messed up, and I wouldn’t give a fig for his wife’s chances of a happy life.

    It is worth pointing out that there are examples in the Bible of women having significant roles. The judge Debra, the women who saw Jesus after the resurrection, a couple women acknowledged in NT epistles as leaders in the early church. I’m leaving some out I’m sure.

    So while women in the Bible mostly get sucky roles and there is a fairly prevalent view of them as second-class, it’s not 100% one-sided.

  • 40. LeoPardus  |  April 23, 2008 at 12:30 pm

    LTTLG:

    My own wife suffered from this damaged and damnable view of sex. I can’t tell you what all she has done to get over it (and in some measure she is still in the process), but some bits I’ve picked up are:
    -Recognizing that the people/organizations that fed her that stuff are flat out WRONG and full of sh:t
    -Acknowledging (just intellectually at first) that sex is good, great, wonderful, and beautiful
    -Acknowledging (again intellectually at first) that she IS supposed to enjoy sex…. a lot
    -Deciding to willfully suppress the old (wrong) messages as thoroughly as possible.
    -Occupying her thoughts with the good of sex, with love of her husband, and with desire, when having sex.

    She also made the interesting decision to not acknowledge the effect of tickling anymore. Because she was very ticklish, she jumped a lot when touched. She deliberately chose not to let that happen anymore. Now she’s very hard to tickle at all. And it’s a lot easier for her to relax and enjoy sex. (I have to admit that I think this a singularly difficult thing to have done, and I’m rather impressed.)

    Hope some of that helps. Of course it all takes time, and you’ll have to build toward things at your own pace. [ So there'll be no running to the singles bar tomorrow night. :) ]

  • 41. Anonymous  |  April 23, 2008 at 1:40 pm

    You’re right. Sex is beautiful, but due to the conditioning of society and especially religion, many people(especially women) don’t think that way. It can be difficult to free oneself from the demands of society when you’ve been taught wrong by the world for so long. All and all, it’s a good thing that we are moving from these false beliefs and teachings and are finally beginning to embrace our bodies and sexuality. We have quite a way to go, but we’ll get there, eventually.

  • 42. Jean-Baptist Emmanuel Zorg  |  April 23, 2008 at 4:00 pm

    LeoPardus; You may be correct that jewish men would not have “called” their wives “property” but the effect is still the same, wives in Judea were valued less than the family bass boat.

    My point is, fundamentalist men, especially from the south, without higher education, who believe in the inerrancy and infallibility of scripture may be harsh with respect to the needs of their wives, emotionally, sexually and even physically considering that most of these women live lives that border on chronic exhaustion due to the expectations that are placed on them. The roles of women in this particular culture is that of a second class citizen.

    The submissive, subservient role imposed on women is due to the interpretation of passages that are found in scripture. In this respect, the bible has had a deleterious effect on opportunities available for women, education for women, the freedom of women and even sexual enjoyment that they were allowed to experience.

    Tremendous strides have been realized in the past 60 years but for many women in the world, they have not realized those advancements and in almost all of these cases, religion is to blame. In many societies today women’s genitals are still mutilated for the purpose of diminishing the enjoyment of sex;
    again, these are predominately religious cultures, fixated on following verbatim the writings of some ancient book written, by a goat herder.

    It has taken 30 years to undo the programming imposed on my wife by religion. It is a shame. She is such a beautiful woman who in the last ten years has begun to express her sexuality without guilt and self imposed shame. She will be truly free when she sheds the last vestiges of the hateful doctrines that some fool foisted on her.

  • 43. James  |  April 23, 2008 at 5:08 pm

    Well, I wanted to post my letter on the reasons premarital sex is better than sex after marriage, but it doesn’t seem to want to let me. Basically, I think its important to figure out your sexual compatibility before making a lifelong committment, and it helps prevent couples from getting married after too short a courtship for the purpose of having sex.

  • 44. Cthulhu  |  April 23, 2008 at 7:14 pm

    So many comments – so little time :-)

    What follows is strictly my opinion The view may not represent the view and opinions of d-conversion.com and/or their commentators ;-)

    1. Sex is beautiful…i also think that it belongs in a place of mutual trust and love in a relationship – married or not.

    2. You can change things – if YOU want to. Don’t let anyone rush you into anything and EXPLAIN to your (perhaps potential) partner what you are dealing with as pertains to physical intimacy. Believe me, if they are worth having a physical relationship with, and are truly interested in a loving relationship with you, they will understand and if possible, help.

    3. It is almost impossible to be friends (this is for the ladies from a man’s perspective) with a male after a relationship ends – if it involved sex. This is definitely not universal, but I have rarely seen it happen in my personal experience.

    Just my 2 cents worth…if it is worth anything at all ;-)

  • 45. Lady through the Looking Glass  |  April 24, 2008 at 10:10 am

    dd, ExEvangel, & Leopardus,

    You have no idea how much your counsel and suggestions mean to me. I will take all the necessary steps towards my healing, even if that may include professional therapy. At this point, I’m open to anything, within reason, that will work towards my liberation.

    No, no singles bar :) but I met someone six months ago. We are becoming good friends and are quite attracted to each other. If our friendship should progress to a relationship of mutual love and commitment, I feel assured that I would be ready then to take things to the next level, and experience the sexual relationship that I was meant to have. I’m looking forward to that :) Many thanks again.

  • 46. dd  |  April 25, 2008 at 9:18 am

    Lady through the Looking Glass, best wishes for your continued growth!

  • 47. lostgirlfound  |  April 29, 2008 at 10:02 pm

    I was raised in that same “don’t do it” mentality … but you’re right … education “saved” my intimate relationship with my husband of now 21 years! I read (the good, the bad, the ugly), and even in our “premaritial” counseling, we read books about “the act”. Even to this day, my husband and I are very open to “exploration” (think Kama Sutra…).

    With my kids, we’ve encouraged abstainance as well, but we’ve been very open about relationships — sexual and otherwise. And we don’t make sex mysterious, dirty or a forbidden subject. Sure, they’re “embarassed” sometime (we’re pretty mushy as a couple), but we’ve determined not to be like my mom — who asked me the night before I got married if I “had any questions.” Crazy.

  • 48. karen  |  April 30, 2008 at 3:23 pm

    who asked me the night before I got married if I “had any questions.” Crazy.

    I’ll never forget what my mom, a fundamentalist who was very uptight about sex, told me crossly when I was preparing to get married:

    “Believe me, I’ve experienced sex from A to Z, and it’s not all it’s cracked up to be!”

    Gee, thanks Mom! ;-)

  • 49. LeoPardus  |  April 30, 2008 at 4:01 pm

    karen:

    Did you ever ask her who A and Z were? :D

  • 50. James  |  May 3, 2008 at 7:35 am

    I thouroughly believe abstinence until marriage (carrying it out, not just teaching it) is a bad idea. In fact, I even wrote a very long letter to a website about it. They never replied, but it makes my point well.

    Maybe you all don’t care, but here it is anyway. Its in reply to this article: http://www.iamnext.com/sexandlove/dsex2.html

    Regarding the article on your website by Rusty Wright, specifically the section called “Dynamic Sex: What About Premarital Sex”, I believe Mr. Wright has failed to fully address “The Compatibility Argument”, and also fails to consider at least one more argument. I would like to clarify these two arguments in favor of premarital sex, and if possible, receive a reply that accurately addresses them.

    When Mr. Wright states, “The “try-before-you-buy” idea breaks down because the human plumbing system is very flexible and almost always works,” he demonstrates either that he does not fully understand the concept of sexual compatibility, or is simply avoiding answering it. I will allow him the benefit of doubt, and assume he simply is not completely familiar with the reasoning behind this aspect of premarital sex.

    To say that the issue of sexual compatibility is one of physical compatibility misses the mark. The penis and vagina are almost always compatible, only in exceptional cases do their physical dimensions create unpleasant sex, or make it impossible. Worrying whether the sex organs are physically compatible is such a minor issue that it is almost asinine to argue against it. But if physical compatibility is such a non-issue, what sort of compatibility is actually important? The answer is somewhat simple: the compatibility of interests.

    People undeniably have different interests when it comes to sex, typically referred to as kinks, or fetishes in some circles. Kinks and fetishes come in an infinite number of variations, but all are the same in one aspect: the activities involved in each kink are sexually arousing or stimulating to the people who engage in them. Not everyone engages in the same fetishes, some people find some fetishes boring, unpleasant, or even disgusting. Fetishes and kinks encompass more than just the most extreme variations on sexual intercourse as well. Dressing a certain way, using different orifices (for example the mouth, or anus), sex toys, role playing and location are only a few of the possible sexual interests a person can have.

    But because sexual interest is different from person to person, and because some people can be completely disgusted by certain kinks, the best idea is to generally engage in them only with people who enjoy the same variations. Sometimes even relatively “normal” kinks, like dressing in lingerie, can be a turn-off to a partner.

    Sex is not the only, or most important, aspect of a relationship, though it is very important for a healthy relationship, and requires trust and communication to work well. In general, the aspects of a relationship that determine its quality, and how long it will last are commitment, intimacy (being good friends with your spouse), and enjoying sex. Without one of these three aspects, a relationship can fall apart; they do all the time.

    Marriage is a huge step in a relationship, only really rivaled by divorce and having children. In general, it is considered the ultimate commitment to someone (though we can see how well those commitments actually hold up today). Because marriage is such a huge step, it requires absolute certainty on the strength of the relationship. Marriage should not be used to create commitment, it should be a symbol of the commitment two people already have for each other. Marrying without being certain of a relationship is the quickest road to divorce or unhappiness.

    Lets imagine a young man named Tyler. Tyler is a virgin, but he has always really wanted to have anal sex, simply because the concept of it excites him. Maybe he would really enjoy it, maybe not, he doesn’t know, because he’s never engaged in it. Tyler meets a girl named Amy, and they start dating. After awhile, they begin having sex, after becoming comfortable with each other. One night, Tyler brings up anal intercourse. Maybe Amy finds the idea of anal intercourse disgusting, or thoroughly uninteresting. Perhaps Tyler convinces her to give it a try one night, however, and it still turns out the way Amy predicted; they end up quitting, leaving Tyler frustrated, and Amy somewhat put-off. After awhile, the relationship goes a little sour, which is not unrelated to Amy’s disinterest in anal intercourse. Finally, Tyler and Amy break up, and end up dating different people.

    Now lets rewind to the day Tyler and Amy met, and change the story a little. This time, both of them are virgins, but both are also dedicated to waiting until after marriage to have sex. Because they never have had sex, and aren’t having, they don’t really talk about it, figuring they’ll simply wait until they start having sex to really worry about it. The wedding night comes, and they finally begin having sex. After a few months, Tyler thinks its alright to suggest anal intercourse to Amy. He does, and the initial reaction is not good. She isn’t particularly interested, and finds it a little disgusting, just like the previous scenario. But just like the alternate reality, Tyler convinces Amy to try anal intercourse. Once again, the result is poor. Amy worries that she isn’t satisfying Tyler, Tyler worries that he’s scaring Amy, but at the same time really wants Amy to be open to anal sex.

    Because they’re married, Tyler and Amy begin working out the problems that have cropped up around the anal sex issue. Finally, Tyler suggests trying anal sex again to Amy. Worried about the marriage, she agrees to try again, but once again the end result is less than desirable for both parties. The next time Tyler brings it up, Amy snaps at him, a little angry at his persistence. Tyler is a little angry at Amy for not being willing to try again. He still wishes he could have anal sex with someone, but it is becoming very clear that his wife is not the person to do it with. At this point, several things can happen:

    1: Tyler and Amy displace their frustration and anger, arguing more often, until eventually both of them has had enough. As committed to each other as they felt on their wedding day, they both no longer want to be in the marriage, and they finally divorce. At this point, the entire divorce process takes place. If they have children, those children suffer, and Amy and Tyler of course suffer large amounts of stress from the separation.

    2: Once again, Tyler and Amy displace their anger, and argue more. This time, their marriage means slightly more than before, and they cannot convince themselves to divorce. Tensions remain high throughout the rest of the marriage, neither party is very happy, and their unhappiness lasts pretty much the rest of their lives.

    3: This time, Tyler decides that if he can’t get Amy to have the kind of sex he wants, he’ll go somewhere else for it. Maybe he hires a prostitute, maybe he goes out to bars and meets someone, and begins to have an affair. Eventually, inevitably, Amy finds out about Tyler’s unfaithfulness, and it ruins what was left of their marriage.

    None of those outcomes are particularly attractive to me. But what happened to the other Tyler, the one that had premarital sex? Because Tyler and Amy were only dating when they broke up, the aftermath is significantly less painful. If they were responsible and used protection or birth control, they won’t have any children to complicate matters either. Eventually, Tyler dates other girls. Tyler decides to wait each time before having sex with his girlfriends, to make sure they’re relatively compatible. He breaks up with some before they ever have sex, but he does have sex with a few as well. Once again, with proper protection, none of them become pregnant, and no STDs are transmitted. Finally he meets Jill. Jill and Tyler get along great, they have very similar interests, and become very committed to each other. When they finally begin having sex, Jill is open to anal sex, and enjoys it. Their sexual interests are very compatible, and when they get married, sex creates very few if any problems.

    Obviously, there are risks involved in having sex. STDs and pregnancy are not uncommon consequences of unprotected sex. Involving more sexual partners also increases those risks, which is why having lots of casual sex with people you don’t know, or people you can’t trust is a bad idea. Waiting to see if you are compatible with someone on all other levels before having sex, as well as using protection or contraceptives will significantly lower, if not eliminate the risks.

    Sexual compatibility also includes how much a person wants to have sex, and under what circumstances. Some people do not enjoy sex as much as other people, or do not desire it as much. These people should not be worried about their own sexual preferences, or try to change them, instead, the objective should be to find someone else who has interests that fit with yours. If you don’t want sex very often, your objective should be to find someone who wants sex only as often as you do, not someone who wants it more, or less. Some people’s sexual interest is restricted to sex within a marriage, and they are more than welcome to that interest. But people who do not desire to wait until they are married to have sex should not convince themselves to abstain from it, at the risk of being stuck with someone they have little in common with sexually.

    I understand that some people may find the idea of anal intercourse immoral in itself. Here I feel it necessary to point out that nearly any other potential sexual incompatibility can fit into that story. The same events could take place not because Tyler wants anal sex, but because he only wants “quickies”, that simply do not satisfy Amy. Think of something that turns you on personally, and there will be people out there unwilling to do whatever it entails, no matter how morally innocuous it is.

    Meanwhile, I believe Mr. Wright has also ignored, or is not familiar with another potential argument in favor of premarital sex. I like to call this argument “The Rushing Argument”.

    As a college student, I know a lot of people who are either currently engaged, or who have been engaged to be married but called it off. I even have several friends who actually are married now. The disturbing trend that all of these engagements have, or had in common was the length of “courting time” involved. The vast majority of them involved a courting and engagement time of less than one year. Many of them lasted only six months, in fact. The friends of mine who have called off their engagements have mostly told me the same thing; they found out they were not really in love, and called it off.

    As reason go for ending an engagement, I’d say that’s a pretty good one. But when I asked them why they got engaged in the first place, without waiting long enough to see whether they were really in love, some of them gave me a very troubling answer. All of them believed it was morally right to abstain from sex until marriage, but they also really wanted to have sex. Their solution was pretty straightforward; get married so its ok to have sex.

    Biologically speaking, a person will become “infatuated” with a person at the beginning of a relationship. This infatuation is almost entirely the result of hormone and pheromone interaction, and it is incredibly easy to mistake for true love. This blast of hormones does not last forever, but typically runs out after anywhere between one month to two and a half years after the two people begin dating, depending on the people’s genes. The end of these hormones does not have to mean the end of a relationship however. Sometimes if two people really are compatible in all aspects, they will continue to feel love for each other (though it is a significantly different feeling from the infatuation that occurs before). If the two people are not compatible, the relationship typically ends, because either the commitment, intimacy (friendship), or passion (sexual compatibility) necessary are not present.

    When young people anxious to have sex get married too quickly, they run the risk of getting married before the hormone infatuation has subsided, only to discover after being married that they do not actually have much in common with the person they have married. While impatience is not something we typically want to reward, it is nonetheless a reality of relationships. By allowing oneself to have sex before marriage, you remove the risk that you will get married before finding out if you and your partner are truly compatible on all the necessary levels for a healthy marriage.

    I have been dating my girlfriend for over three years now. Biologically speaking, we can be fairly certain that the hormone infatuation period is over. I actually have a hunch that it ended about a year and a half into the relationship. We are, however, both still very committed to each other. When we finally get married, I feel very confident that the marriage will be a sturdy and devoted one. If we have children, they will be raised in a nurturing two-parent home, with little risk of divorce. All because we allowed ourselves to have sex so we did not rush to get married without ensuring we were truly compatible.

  • 51. exevangel  |  May 3, 2008 at 4:36 pm

    James–

    wow, thanks for that. Beautifully written and full of interesting points.

    I was one of those who got married to someone I’d known far less than 2 years on the wedding day, and because that was the only “legal” route to sex. Misery ensued a la Tyler and Amy although in different ways.

    I cannot agree more with your comments about short relationships and the associated pheromones/hormones/whatever. This is something I have both read about and written about a bit on my own blog . I also found very interesting in this context (although not-God-centered at all) this article from Psychology today.

    There is so much information out there suggesting that rushing to the alter just to have sex is a bad idea, but it still seems to be the “gold standard” for the Christian youth of today. Personally, I think it’s because they are raised with such a stunted emotional maturity level due to all the indoctrination, that they cannot handle the thought of their partner ever having had intimate relationships with anyone else except God. Yes it’s a bold statement, and perhaps controversial, but I have “been there and done that” and have the divorce decree to prove it!

  • 52. exevangel  |  May 3, 2008 at 4:38 pm

    I of course meant “altar” and not “alter” in that context, eek.

  • 53. Brian  |  June 19, 2008 at 2:01 pm

    It’s strange how, at least in my very limited observation, sex ed limited to the the “don’t do it until you’re married” type tends to increase one’s sexual appetite.

    As sort of a corollary to your post, in my fundamentalist church, I was told by all sorts of people that various acts were sinful, such as birth control, oral sex, even non-missionary positions, and even between married people. These same people told me not to believe anything that wasn’t in the Bible. They certainly never gave me any Biblical evidence as to why these various acts were sinful. This helped me to see through their lies and to see that they were pretty much blowing smoke.

  • 54. Eve's Apple  |  March 28, 2009 at 6:52 pm

    Wow, after reading and re-reading James’ comment I sure am glad that I am celibate, if sex is such a make-or-break deal. It sure seems to cause a lot of misery in this here world.

    Ok, so what if Tyler and Amy try anal sex and Amy decides she just doesn’t like that particular activity but she still wants to be with Tyler (married or not married)? Does Tyler then have to decide which is more important to him, anal sex, or Amy’s company? In other words, is that the end of their relationship?

    Now let’s put the shoe on the other foot. Amy and Tyler have had a sexual relationship for some time (again, it is irrelevant here whether they are married). Amy finds out she really, really, really likes sex. But here’s the problem: Tyler has ED and can’t or won’t seek help for it. Tyler loves Amy very much and still wants to be with her. But Amy says, no dice. If you can’t satisfy me, there are plenty of guys who can. So long.

    Do you see what I am getting at here? Am I the only one who looks at the women’s magazines–Cosmopolitan, Redbook–at the supermarket checkout and is appalled by the messages they send women about frantic, competitive sex? “If you don’t learn this technique, he will leave you for someone else.” You have to keep up, get with it, or be left behind. Well, I am glad that I am not in that rat race. I do not like conditional friendships, whether the condition be religion or sex. James, you and I would definitely not get along, because I could never relax around you. You sound like a guy with an agenda, and I have had my fill of those.

    That is not to say that sexual differences aren’t real or are not important, but when sex (like anything else) becomes an IDOL, people get hurt. But I realize my views are definitely in the minority, and that is why I am celibate. And that is a good thing, because I won’t be wasting anybody’s time.

  • 55. Joshua  |  March 28, 2009 at 7:07 pm

    “It sure seems to cause a lot of misery in this here world.”

    If evolution is true, we are hard-wired sexually in more ways than we can imagine. It would make sense that the majority of pleasure – and the majority of agony – would stem from this.

    “You have to keep up, get with it, or be left behind.”

    Yeah, it sucks. I can’t decide which is worse: being in a relationship where you are not sexually satisfied or having to work hard to be sexually satisfying. But every animal on the planet deals with this…I’m just glad I’m not certain species of deer and could lose my mating rights for life because of one lost match…

    That would suck! Of course, then it would be easy to be celibate!
    :D

  • 56. LeoPardus  |  March 28, 2009 at 7:17 pm

    Hmmm…. I’d forgotten about this post of James. I wondered how the Tyler/Amy story might go if Amy taught Tyler a little BASIC biology. You know; things like telling him why parents tell kids to keep their hands away from their bottoms and not to play with poo-poo.
    And then Amy could teach Tyler JUST A LITTLE about microbiology and what’s in poo-poo. That might help Tyler understand why he wasn’t supposed to play with poo-poo and was supposed to keep his hand away from his hole.
    And then Amy could teach Tyler JUST A LITTLE about rectal prolapse, and anal sphincter incompetence.
    And then maybe Amy could do an advanced course about inappropriate introduction of proteinaceous material to mucosa.
    And then – but let us not hold out too much hope here – maybe Tyler would allow education and reality to sink in, and he’d realize why anal sex is a bad idea, why it’s harmful, and then maybe he’d think that people who love themselves and love others don’t seek to do harm to one themselves or others.
    Nah. People rarely accept reality unless it agrees with what they already want to believe.

  • 57. Boy46  |  October 22, 2009 at 4:05 pm

    A grasshopper walks into a bar. ,

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Attention Christian Readers

Just in case you were wondering who we are and why we de-converted.

de-conversion wager

Whether or not you believe in God, you should live your life with love, kindness, compassion, mercy and tolerance while trying to make the world a better place. If there is no God, you have lost nothing and will have made a positive impact on those around you. If there is a benevolent God reviewing your life, you will be judged on your actions and not just on your ability to blindly believe in creeds- when there is a significant lack of evidence on how to define God or if he/she even exists.

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