Monday, June 18, 2007

Let's Talk About Sex

I have a friend who was raised a devout Catholic. When she was in high school, her boyfriend pressured her to have sex. She resisted, but ultimately wound up having anal sex with her boyfriend to keep her virginity intact.

I would argue that once you take it up the ass, you are no longer a virgin, but what do I know? Why, why, why would someone do this?! Because from the time she was old enough to understand English she had been told over and over again the pre-marital sex is a sin. This dogma led her to find another way to satisfy her boyfriend and her needs and try to fool God. I have said it over and over again that even if the OT/NT God could be proven to me, I still wouldn’t worship Him. However, even this atheist would think that God would not be deceived by such trickery.

Sex is one of the most powerful human urges. Unfortunately for most, religious dogma has an enormous impact on sexual behavior. In some ways, I even think that the religious rules around reproduction made a lot of sense a few millennia ago. In ancient Greece or Rome, the average life expectancy was a mere 28 years old. Getting married at 13 or 14 and reproducing right away makes a lot of sense with these kinds of odds. It’s not like our ancient ancestors were cramming for the SATs, trying to get into good schools, competing for a well-paying job, buying houses, and then having kids. They were dying at 28! They only had a few years to find a mate and start reproducing.

The emphasis on female virginity makes sense too (in a weird sort of way). If your bride was not a virgin on your wedding night, how could one be sure that if she were to get pregnant right away that the child was yours? Let’s have a show of hands from the men reading this column who really want to raise another man’s kid… That’s what I thought.

So, telling children to wait until marriage before having sex made sense. Since men don’t even go through puberty until they are 12 – 14 years old and they could be married to a woman as soon as they were even aware of their sexuality, it wasn’t really asking a whole lot. And if they made the wrong choice in mates and their wife made them miserable, they were only going to live another decade or so anyway.

Does this make sense today? Most states won’t even allow marriage under the age of eighteen. Birth control is (or should be) readily available and so are paternity tests. It takes years for a new adult to establish themselves in society. How is a 21st century is teen supposed to resist the most basic human urge for over fifteen years? Is this even healthy? I’m sure the religious folks would say they should find an imaginary friend, name their friend Jesus, and pray to Him for strength against sin. I think I have a better idea…

The Wagerist idea is to really understand what sex is. It’s a decision. Wagerists always strive to make good decisions. Sex can be unbelievably fun. It is an important part of a relationship. It comes with serious consequences including pregnancy and STDs. One in four sexually active Americans has the Herpes virus! It can make a relationship far more complicated and last longer than it should. Women (and men) are more likely to put up with abuse when in a sexual relationship.

Whether or not you have sex shouldn’t be a question of sin. There is no sin. It’s a matter of respecting your partner(s), protecting yourself, and understanding the consequences of your actions.

23 comments:

MasterJediDan said...

I guess I'll say my two cents about this...I don't think that sex before marriage is a good thing. I'll list my reasons:

I don't need stds
I don't need to die from an std
I don't need to pass one on to my future spouse
I'm going to be faithful to my future spouse
I'm going to show that I have the will to wait until I am married
I don't need any other sexual diseases (like herpes)
Life is too short to screw up and die for something like this
Your spouse will trust you a lot more if you had the courage to wait for them

Note that none of these examples are from the Bible. These are just my personal opinions on why I don't need sex before marriage.

Wil said...

I also think that sex should be saved for marriage, or at least someone you know you're going to be with for a long time. It's all a part of love, and abstinence really does show devotion to another person.

Myself, I'll probably remain abstinent until I marry. Then again, perhaps I've deluded myself because I'm just bitter I've never had a girlfriend? Hmm. Jill's pretty handy for now. Punpunpunpunpun.

PeterJ said...

I'm sorry but i think you are both incorrect in some of your views and we differ in others.

Firstly not getting std's is not really a good reason for abstinence, it's a scare tactic. With good sex education, some common sense and safe sex practices and protection there is nothing to worry about.

Your spouse should love you and trust you regardless. I'd hate to be with someone who if they found out i wasn't a virgin got very mad and thought i was less of a person, i'd just end up thinking that person didn't truly love me.

Sex is a physical thing for some people but i think it is a great part of love. You can fall in love before getting married when in a relationship so i see no reason to hold off in that situation just for some fairy tale ending in marriage.

Isn't marriage special enough in itself?

And lastly don't have any fairytale ideas that if you wait your wedding night will be some magical thing, it will most likely be very awkward and unsatisfying.

So consider that, and my advice you can consider it a special aspect of love and differ from people in that respect. But it is really a physical act and some people see it as such, and get the research and facts on STD's, etc not just scare tactics from a fundie.

Peter

Just another wagerist.

robustyoungsoul said...

I suppose abstinence can show devotion to another person. I guess that's why a lot of people save it for after marriage.

ZING!

Molly said...

@MGD

I don't know where your getting your info from but herpes is an STD. You aren't going to die from an STD. Even AIDS doesn't kill you these days unless you live in Africa. You aren't, unless you're having sex with IV drug users, probably even going to get HIV to begin with.

Your spouse will trust you a lot more if you have the courage to wait for them? What kinda bullshit is that? You've never met your future spouse, yet you know that s/he will trust you more?

@MGD and Wil

Your first time is going to suck. Your second time is going to suck, albeit slightly less. Anyone that tells you their first time was "magically" or any other Disney-inspired adjective is bullshitting you. You don't play basketball for the first time and play like MJ. Sex is the same way.

A huge problem in this country is this terrible idea that your spouse is going to be able to satisfy you sexually for the next 60 years of your life. That would be why something like 80% of marriages experiences infidelity and part of the reason why the divorce rate is at +50%.

If you choose not to have sex before marriage, thats a ok with me. However, know that over 90% of people have sex before they are married. Looks like you two have a very tiny pool to pick from.

Molly said...

@RYS

I thought couples practiced abstinence after marriage because sex is solely for procreational purposes and we all know 40 year olds aren't having kids.

zilch said...

Er, Molly, I was forty when my daughter was born. Then again, I'm the father and not the mother. And we're not even married. As for abstinence before or after kids and/or marriage- it's fine with me if someone else wants it. I don't- it's not nearly as much fun as the alternative.

Miracle said...

I was a teenager the first time I had sex, but I don't think it was bad experience. I don't know from girls' perspective, since it is usually a little painful. For me though, it was one of the most intimate and satisfying encounters. The idea that the first time one has sex is awkward and horrible is purely overblown.

I, personally, think that for a Christian, abstinence should be considered more than just a good idea. Abstinence is a covenant with God that shows that you will rely on him until you meet your spouse. Which at that point, you become dependant on another person for that need for intimacy. On the other hand, I don't think an abstinence agenda should be pushed onto those not in the Abrahamic faith.

@MJD
I don't know how old you are, but when I was a young Christian, I was given the 'practical' reasons for abstinence. They are bs. If you want to truly be abstinent, do it for God. It is not required, but a covenant that you can enter into with Him. It is an opportunity to rely on Him to satisfy your desires for intimacy. When you have sex (even more when you get married), you satisfy those desires through other people. In marriage, this is the goal. You just lose that dependance on God. I, myself, didn't understand this before I got married. I had sex before marriage and lost the opportunity to rely on God instead of others for intimacy.

Wil said...

@molly
"Your first time is going to suck. Your second time is going to suck, albeit slightly less. Anyone that tells you their first time was "magically" or any other Disney-inspired adjective is bullshitting you. You don't play basketball for the first time and play like MJ. Sex is the same way."

Sorry if I gave off a connotation that suggested otherwise, but I'm already pretty confident my first few times won't be amazing. I agree that anyone hoping for a fairytale event is bullshitting themselves.

However, neither of those are reason enough for people to take their pants off and start humping before they find someone. The development of great sex with someone as you both learn how is probably better than immediately being great after practice with other people and getting bored. Perhaps that is a contributing reason for so many divorces.

And cut my pool in half - I also refuse to date anyone who drinks ;)

MasterJediDan said...

@ Wil

Agreed, there is no reason to start now so that you're "good" at it when you actually marry.

@ PeterJ

Sex education is shit. So are condoms. Teenagers don't care about "safe sex". Neither are they satisfied by it. They want the real thing. Unfortunately, they reap the consequences of their choices. I'm 17, so I see it with kids I know. It's saddening how much one can screw up one's life with one stupid action. I only have one life, and I don't intend to mess it up by doing something stupid. Oh, and another reason that I don't need sex before marriage is because I don't need to be supporting a kid before I'm in college (or during, for that matter). Nothing to worry about...sure, whatever. What about the emotional consequences? There are too many factors to consider in sex before marriage to make it worthwile. And besides, what are the benefits?

Shawn Milo said...

I've been reading this blog for a while, and wanted to comment several times, but others made most of the good points I wanted to make.

However, there's something this time which nobody is addressing, and it only just occurred to me as well.

I think the entire concept of virginity is pretty silly. Is there any other title than "virgin" used to describe someone who hasn't done something? I mean, you'd think it ridiculous if I said you were a loomaloo only if you've never ridden a bike, but once you ride one, even once, you're no longer a loomaloo.

Just something to think about.

Tuba Terry said...

@MJD

"Sex education is shit"?

Out of the few partners I've had, the ones who had actual sex ed *did* care and proactively asked about condoms and STDs. The two that were smacked around by the abstinence bat wanted sex anyway, and one kept trying to convince me to not use a condom. (I can probably attribute that more to an issue of hers rather than just ignorance.)

People are going to want to have sex no matter what they've been taught. Some people have admirably strong willpower and can wait until marriage, many can't or choose not to wait. You imply that you're waiting until marriage, that's good for you. I couldn't do it! :) However, just because you think it's a bad idea to have sex before marriage doesn't mean that people should be deprived of information that they could use to make better decisions.

PeterJ said...

"Sex education is shit. So are condoms. Teenagers don't care about "safe sex". Neither are they satisfied by it."

LOL, where is your research and study with some facts to back this up. You know the scientific claim that will counter the one that true sex ed does work and condoms are 99% effective.

I just don't think you get it, maybe too much being spoon fed bs from the bible.

MasterJediDan said...

@ Peter

It's from seeing teens around me every day. They don't care about sex education. They just want sex because it makes them "feel good" or it's because they're the hot guy or girl in school and they do it because they can. They don't give a damn for condoms. Condoms may be 99% effective, but they're only used a small percentage of the time.

MasterJediDan said...

[edit]

It's also sad how here in New Mexico they have to have childcare at high schools.

[/edit]

PeterJ said...

Which is why its important to teach them sex ed early and make them learn it. And while what you have seen may be true for some people (after all there are some idiots in the world). You can't generalize and say everyone is like that, because it's certainly not true, in fact I'd say the opposite is true that the people you see are most likely the minority.

In either case sex ed and condoms are still more effective than abstinence. Most kids who get taught pure abstinence based sex ed on its own, end up having sex anyway, so it just doesn't work(1) and are then sometimes worse off having received no real sex ed.

Peter.

1. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/04/13/AR2007041301003.html

PeterJ said...

And i support everyone else's opinion about saving it for marriage as some special act is a misguided aspirational fairy tale belief. Marriage is special enough on its own.

It can be a special part of a relationship with someone you love and it's possible to fall in love before marriage. The act isn't inherently special in itself, you can separate the physical aspect from the emotional aspect.

Wil said...

@Peter

"It can be a special part of a relationship with someone you love and it's possible to fall in love before marriage."

Nicely put. I'd say that's probably my exception.

Atheistwager said...

@MJD
I think Peterj did a great job of summing up my beliefs on the true risks of STDs, the importance of sex ed, and of engaging in safe sex (all part of good decision making). I think I’m starting to understand why I disagree with you so often… It’s your understanding of probability that drives me crazy.

Let’s go back to Pascal’s Wager as an example. Pascal said there is either a God or there isn’t and most theists will go on to say it’s a 50/50 proposition. That’s how a lot of theists come up with their probabilities. I can have sex and I’ll either get an STD or I won’t. It’s 50/50. But it’s not!

Here’s a real example… Go pick up a regular six sided die and give it a roll. You’ll either roll a 6, or you won’t. What’s the probability you’ll roll a six (hint: it’s not 50/50).

MJD, part of decision making is really understanding probability and making good decisions based on the most probable outcome. Yes, it is possible to get an STD or impregnate a woman. Use a condom and the probability drops to near zero.

Sex is an unbelievably big part of marriage. Half of all marriages end in divorce and it always comes down to one of two issues (or both) – sex and money. If you don’t know whether or not you are sexually compatible with your future spouse, how long do you think your marriage is going to last? What if you want to have sex every day and your spouse wants it once a month at most? You’re going to have a very big problem on your hands.

I’m not advocating that you go out and become promiscuous. I actually think what you and Wil have written is admirable (albeit a bit na├»ve). Whether or not you engage in sex, now is a very good time to have some relationships with women to find out what you like in a potential mate and what drives you crazy. When you do decide to marry (if you do) please don’t do it so you can finally have sex.

PeterJ said...

Thanks, Atheist Wager. You write a great blog and have excellent views. I've been following you from the start since you were posted on Digg.

You sum up nicely the good arguments for atheism in a funny readable way.

Awesome.IBO™ said...

Someone once said, "If you have no (religious) morals, then won't you have sex all over the place with everybody, and everyone would do so?"

My quick answer to that is, "Sex is like eating. I NEED to eat, but I choose who I dine with, and whether it is with one or many."

In other words, sex is not a sin, sex is a necessity of CHOICE.

btw, there are guys I know who are seriously low in the production of the sexual hormones that they do not consider sex important, and that is them.

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