When All That Abstinence Fetishism Goes Too Far…

Did you hear about this young evangelical couple in Topeka??

Jon and Darla Crocker, who dutifully abstained from sex during their 14-month courtship, have remained abstinent after marriage and plan to do so indefinitely.

“If it was holy before, it must be double-holy afterwards,” Darla says.

They have now completed 25 months of marriage without any sexual contact, going about their normal lives, jobs and social calendar with no hint of relational strain.

Read the whole thing.

In the end of the article, Jon is quoted as saying “For us, true love waits, and waits, and waits.”

Fortunately Jon and Darla are fictional. This story is from a satire website called Lark News. I found it funny, particularly the “true love waits, and waits, and waits” line. But then it reminded me of something very unfunny. There really are Christian young people raised staking so much of their identity in not having sex and equating sex so much with wrongness that even though they’ve all along also been told that the monogamous Christian marital sex they wait for marriage for is super-holy and face-meltingly, God-blessed awesome, they nonetheless struggle to have sex happily.

One of the most bravely honest people I’ve read talk about this was Libby Anne in her painful post “The Purity Culture and Sexual Dysfunction”. In that post she explains that out of her desperation to avoid those sinful lustful thoughts about anyone not your spouse (you know, the ones Jesus said you deserved damnation for and you’d be better off plucking out your eye than ever having) she willed herself to be asexual. And then even after marrying (as a virgin like she was supposed to) it took her months to even be able to fantasize sex, much less actively desire it. The extent her dysfunction got to the following point:

After a few months, I did start having sexual fantasies. But they were all fantasies of non-consensual sex. Why? Because on some intuitive level that made them safer, less taboo, and less sinful. After all, in these fantasies, I didn’t have a choice. I didn’t have sexual agency. I wasn’t choosing to have sex. I wasn’t active. It wasn’t that I wanted to fantasize about non-consensual sex; rather, as a result of the purity culture and my suppression of my sexuality, this was the only kind of sex I could fantasize about.

When my husband and I began having sex, we found that the only way I could orgasm was to pretend our sex was non-consensual. It was as though imagining and miming being coerced was the only way I could truly let go, detach from myself, and give myself permission to feel sexual pleasure. Being an active sexual agent, even in my thoughts, had been a no-no for so long that this suppression had become hard-wired into my brain. It literally took us years to figure out a way for me to have orgasms without pretending that our sex was non-consensual. I have nothing against people who simply enjoy this sort of sex play or this sort of fantasies, and I’m not saying it’s bad. It’s just that I really wanted to be able to experience orgasm without having to pretend sex was non-consensual.

Read much more about her journey. 

I am reminded also of Winston’s wife in 1984, in a society where young people are brainwashed by in the Junior Anti-Sex League to hate sex and only do it for procreative purposes, but also to feel duty bound to do it for those purposes:

As soon as he touched her she seemed to wince and stiffen. To embrace her was like embracing a jointed wooden image. And what was strange was that even when she was clasping him against her he had the feeling that she was simultaneously pushing him away with all her strength. The rigidity of her muscles managed to convey that impression. She would lie there with shut eyes, neither resisting nor co-operating, but submitting. It was extraordinarily embarrassing, and, after a while, horrible. But even then he could have borne living with her if it had been agreed that they should remain celibate. But curiously enough it was Katharine who refused this. They must, she said, produce a child if they could. So the performance continued to happen, once a week quite regularly, whenever it was not impossible. She used even to remind him of it in the morning, as something which had to be done that evening and which must not be forgotten. She had two names for it. One was ‘making a baby’, and the other was ‘our duty to the Party’: yes, she had actually used that phrase.

Orwell, George (1983-10-17). 1984 (pp. 155-156). Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Kindle Edition.

For the love of humanity, teach the young people you can influence to think in balanced ways about sex and what it’s all about.

Your Thoughts?

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About Daniel Fincke

Dr. Daniel Fincke  has his PhD in philosophy from Fordham University and spent 11 years teaching in college classrooms. He wrote his dissertation on Ethics and the philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche. On Camels With Hammers, the careful philosophy blog he writes for a popular audience, Dan argues for atheism and develops a humanistic ethical theory he calls “Empowerment Ethics”. Dan also teaches affordable, non-matriculated, video-conferencing philosophy classes on ethics, Nietzsche, historical philosophy, and philosophy for atheists that anyone around the world can sign up for. (You can learn more about Dan’s online classes here.) Dan is an APPA  (American Philosophical Practitioners Association) certified philosophical counselor who offers philosophical advice services to help people work through the philosophical aspects of their practical problems or to work out their views on philosophical issues. (You can read examples of Dan’s advice here.) Through his blogging, his online teaching, and his philosophical advice services each, Dan specializes in helping people who have recently left a religious tradition work out their constructive answers to questions of ethics, metaphysics, the meaning of life, etc. as part of their process of radical worldview change.