Resist the Temptation

Don’t masturbate.

The Mormons don’t like that.

This one offers suggestions on how to tame your aching loins.

1. Never touch the intimate parts of your body except during normal washing and using the bathroom.

2. Avoid being alone as much as possible. Find good company and stay in this good company, especially when you are feeling particularly weak.

3. If you are associated with other persons having this same problem, YOU MUST BREAK OFF THEIR FRIENDSHIP. Never associate with other people having the same weakness. Don’t suppose that two of you will quit together, you never will. You must get away from people of that kind. Just to be in their presence will keep your problem foremost in your mind. The problem must be taken OUT OF YOUR MIND for that is where it really exists. Your mind must be on other and more wholesome things.

4. After you bathe, don’t admire yourself in the mirror. Stay in the shower just long enough to clean yourself. Then dry off and GET OUT OF THE BATHROOM into a room where you will have some member of your family present.

5. When in bed (especially if that is where you masturbate), wear pajamas or other clothes so that you cannot easily touch yourself (and so that it would be difficult to remove those clothes. The time it takes to remove your clothing gives additional time to controll your thinking and overcome the temptation).

6. If the temptation seems overpowering while you are in bed, GET OUT OF BED! Go into the kitchen and make a snack, even if it is in the middle of the night, and even if you are not hungry. The purpose behind this suggestion is that you GET YOUR MIND ON SOMETHING ELSE. You are the subject of your thoughts, so to speak.

7. Never look at pornography on the internet or elsewhere. Never read about your problem (even on sites claiming to be “educational”). Keep it out of mind. Remember — “First a thought, then an act.” The thought pattern must be changed. You must not allow this problem to remain in your mind. When you accomplish that, you soon will be free of the act.

8. Put wholesome thoughts into your mind at all times. Read good books, scriptures, talks of church leaders. Make a daily habit of reading at least one chapter of Scripture, preferably from one of the four Gospels in the New Testament, or the Book of Mormon. The four Gospels — Matthew, Mark, Luke and John — above anything else in the Bible can be helpful because of their uplifting qualities.

9. Pray. But when you pray, don’t pray about this problem, for that will tend to keep it in your mind more than ever. Pray for faith, pray for understanding of the Scriptures, pray for members of your family who need help. Pray for your friends, BUT KEEP THE PROBLEM OUT OF YOUR MIND BY NOT MENTIONING IT EVEN IN YOUR PRAYERS. KEEP IT OUT of your mind! The attitude of a person toward his problem has an affect on how easy it is to overcome. It is essential that a firm commitment be made to control the habit. As a person understands his reasons for the behavior, and is sensitive to the conditions or situations that may trigger a desire for the act, he develops the power to control it.

Reading through that, a whole slew of responses came to mind…

But it’s so much easier to reproduce the list in full and let its complete insanity shine through.

The Mormon even offers some additional suggestions (you know, just in case the first batch didn’t do the trick).

Ok, a *few* comments got through…:

Exercise daily. Exercise reduces emotional tension and depression and is absolutely basic to the solution of this problem. Double your physical activity when you feel stress increasing.

I thought masturbating did just that.

When the temptation to masturbate is strong, yell STOP to those thoughts as loudly as you can in your mind and then recite a prechosen Scripture or sing an inspirational hymn. It is important to turn your thoughts away from the selfish need to indulge.

You tell your thoughts who’s boss of you!

Be aware of situations that depress you or that cause you to feel lonely, bored, frustrated or discouraged. These emotional states can trigger the desire to masturbate as a way of escape…

Avoid life. It’s harmful to your health.

This is too fun.

Read the list and play the snarky remark game yourself!

(via Cynical-C Blog)


[tags]atheist, atheism[/tags]

  • http://keenabean.blogspot.com Kaleena

    I don’t think I’m going to have any friends left after rule #3. :(

    but rules are rules! I guess I’ll just have to sacrifice!
    :)

  • http://religiouscomics.net Jeff

    The real problem with masturbation is that it is a behavior that organized religion can’t easily control or regulate since it is usually done alone by oneself. Organized religion fears people freely choosing their own behavior or getting back to their more basic animal nature. When this happens, organized religion degrades to unorganized religion (or spirituality) and looses its power to organize people, collect tithes, convert masses, and perpetuate the organization…

  • Joseph R.

    Religion is a tool that was designed to keep people from having fun or enjoying life or experiencing pleasure, etc. etc. etc.

  • I like tea

    Never read about your problem (even on sites claiming to be “educational”).

    Anyone else smell a paradox?

    EDIT: On their other page about why masturbation is bad, they say:

    It induces feelings of guilt and shame.

    Which really irks me, because it’s actually their moralistic bullshit that induces feelings of guilt and shame, not the act of masturbation itself.

  • Adrian

    Some advice to God: if masturbation offends thee, cut it out of us.

    What kind of self-hating deity creates humans with a biological imperative to masturbate and then tells us not to? It makes no theological sense.

  • http://redjenny.blogspot.com Red Jenny

    I wonder if the increase in obesity can be directly attributed to the masturbation taboo.

    If the temptation seems overpowering while you are in bed, GET OUT OF BED! Go into the kitchen and make a snack, even if it is in the middle of the night, and even if you are not hungry. The purpose behind this suggestion is that you GET YOUR MIND ON SOMETHING ELSE. You are the subject of your thoughts, so to speak.

    I think someone should invent the masturbation diet.

  • http://www.ratmanifesto.com Robbie Taylor

    Every sperm is sacred,
    Every sperm is gooooood
    Every sperm is needed
    In your neigh-bor-hoooood

  • http://blog.infeasible.net/ Godless Geek

    When the temptation to masturbate is strong, yell STOP to those thoughts as loudly as you can in your mind and then recite a prechosen Scripture or sing an inspirational hymn. It is important to turn your thoughts away from the selfish need to indulge.

    Wouldn’t using the same prechosen scripture all the time associate that scripture with masturbation in your mind? Seems to defeat the purpose.

  • http://taste-of-ipecac.blogspot.com Ipecac

    I thought prayer was supposed to work? Wouldn’t praying about the “problem” make it go away? Or is God not more powerful than the awesome temptation of masturbation?

    Maybe when they’re praying, Mormons can’t resist the image of a lusty, sweaty, bearded Jesus with no shirt, saving them from that wicked red Satan. Gives a whole new meaning to the phrase, “Take me Jesus!”

  • http://archaeoporn.wordpress.com thadd

    6. If the temptation seems overpowering while you are in bed, GET OUT OF BED! Go into the kitchen and make a snack, even if it is in the middle of the night, and even if you are not hungry. The purpose behind this suggestion is that you GET YOUR MIND ON SOMETHING ELSE. You are the subject of your thoughts, so to speak.

    7. Never look at pornography on the internet or elsewhere. Never read about your problem (even on sites claiming to be “educational”). Keep it out of mind. Remember — “First a thought, then an act.” The thought pattern must be changed. You must not allow this problem to remain in your mind. When you accomplish that, you soon will be free of the act.

    Rule 6- Are Mormons statistically more over weight than the remainder of the US population? I wonder…

    Rule 7- Never read about it, which means stop looking at this list, educational stuff is bad too. Stop, paradox is also bad….

  • Pingback: Einstein on Religion | Prose Before Hos

  • Lainey

    Ok I am a little confused about something here. Is it ok to masturbate if your husband is watching?

  • http://www.skepchick.org writerdd

    Thank god I didn’t know masturbation was a sin when I was a teenager!

  • Daniel

    The very best way to get yourself to stop thinking about masturbating is to masturbate. Then you won’t think about it for another 4-5 hours.

  • http://intrinsicallyknotted.wordpress.com Susan B.

    Think of the kittens!

  • Siamang

    Thank god I didn’t know masturbation was a sin when I was a teenager!

    Sadly, I believed it was.

    It didn’t stop me, but it sure produced teh guilt. Which is the real goal of religion, to build up a ton of guilt with which they can control you.

  • Susan

    Where’s the part about going blind?

  • Lezard

    I liked this one:

    “The attitude of a person toward his problem has an affect on how easy it is to overcome.”

    *overcome*, heh heh heh. >:)

  • Jen

    If God doesn’t want me to masturbate, then why does the clit exist? It is the only body part whose sole purpose is to provide women with pleasure. Mmmm, pleasure. This is yet another example as to why atheism is awesome.

  • theShaggy

    Jen: “Atheism: The Clitoris Rocks”?

    I love this stuff.

    3. If you are associated with other persons having this same problem, YOU MUST BREAK OFF THEIR FRIENDSHIP. Never associate with other people having the same weakness. Don’t suppose that two of you will quit together, you never will. You must get away from people of that kind. Just to be in their presence will keep your problem foremost in your mind. The problem must be taken OUT OF YOUR MIND for that is where it really exists. Your mind must be on other and more wholesome things.

    Read: don’t ask anybody else about sexual issues, nor have friends who are sexually open. You must stay completely ignorant to defeat masturbation/believe our lies about masturbation. By the way, you go blind and kill kittens if you do it. Stay away from attractive, intelligent, sight-having cat-owners who clearly masturbate. Also, from the tips: ” If you ever do give in, don’t give up. The worst thing you can do is say “oh well, I screwed up, I guess I’ll stop trying”. ” If you give in and realize it feels good, remember that you aren’t supposed to feel good, and so you are doing bad. Don’t question why you feel good, just remember that it is bad.

    5. When in bed (especially if that is where you masturbate), wear pajamas or other clothes so that you cannot easily touch yourself (and so that it would be difficult to remove those clothes. The time it takes to remove your clothing gives additional time to controll your thinking and overcome the temptation).

    A thin layer of fabric is instilled with th Shield of god, stopping you from feeling anything. Also, nobody in the history of anything has figured out how to get their hand down the waistband of their pants; masturbation is done entirely naked.

    6. If the temptation seems overpowering while you are in bed, GET OUT OF BED! Go into the kitchen and make a snack, even if it is in the middle of the night, and even if you are not hungry. The purpose behind this suggestion is that you GET YOUR MIND ON SOMETHING ELSE. You are the subject of your thoughts, so to speak.

    “Next article on lightplanet.com: Overcoming obesity for the good Mormon.”

    9. Pray. But when you pray, don’t pray about this problem, for that will tend to keep it in your mind more than ever. Pray for faith, pray for understanding of the Scriptures, pray for members of your family who need help.

    From one of my favourite musicals, see how it worked for Judge Turpin:

    Mea cupla, mea culpa
    mea maxima culpa
    Mea maxima maxima culpa!
    God deliever me! Release me!
    Forgive me! Restrain me! Pervade me!

  • http://dcberner.blogspot.com Derek

    Never read about your problem (even on sites claiming to be “educational”). Keep it out of mind.

    Not even this one. Don’t even blog about how not to masturbate. Close your browser window now, sinner.

  • http://keenabean.blogspot.com Kaleena
  • http://pixelfish.livejournal.com PixelFish

    Back when I was a wee Mormon (born, raised, apostatized, whee!) we had all kinds of literature flung at us about staying “morally clean and pure”. But one thing that I noticed at the time was that all the masturbation lectures were aimed at the boys while all the modesty lectures were aimed at the girls. In fact, you could almost say that the modesty lecture boiled down to “wear big baggy clothing so yer body doesn’t make the boys masturbate”. In fact, the infamous Boyd K. Packer (yes, that’s really his name) talk on the subject of masturbation was entitled To Young Men Only. (Here’s a link for more crazyfun nuggets on how to prevent masturbation–the best part is when Boyd likens the penis to a “little factory”.)

    In any case, as a young girl I felt terrible because as far as I could tell, it was only boys that had a problem with masturbation. Why else would they be telling only the young men about it?

    Anyways, having confessed to my bishop (Mormon clergyman) that I had issues with such, he told me to fill my head with pure thoughts and to sing hymns.

    Not only did this NOT work, but the Mormon hymnbook has a stylized representation of the Mormon Tabernacle Organ on it. It looks awfully like other kinds of organs too.

    Responses to the other points:

    Suggestion: Don’t associate with other people who have this “problem”.

    Response: Hahahaha. This advice boils down to: Move to Antartica.

    Suggestion: Exercise.

    Response: Wait til all those endorphines make you libidinous! Whee!

  • http://myangrylittleblog.blogspot.com Phillip

    See, when I was a teenager, I’d masturbate before going to sleep, then have nightmares about Hell. It went real well.

    Freedom from religion! w00t! Handle your genitals, my friends, for it is the revolution!

  • http://gretachristina.typepad.com/ Greta Christina

    A friend of mine read excerpts from this at a porn reading once. It was unbelievably hot. (An astonishing combination, actually: it was hilarious, it was depressing, it was enraging, and it was hot.)

    As Daniel said: The best way to stop thinking about masturbating (for a while, anyway) is to just do it. These rules about avoiding it are almost an ironclad guarantee that you won’t think about anything else. It’s making masturbation the center of your life in a way that actually masturbating — even masturbating every day, even masturbating twice a day or more — couldn’t possibly accomplish.

    But as others have pointed out, I guess that’s the point. The point isn’t to minimize the supposedly bad behavior. The point is to make people feel guilty and weak and bad all the time.

  • Karen

    I don’t know whether to laugh or cry when I see things like this.

    It’s utterly absurd – and even funny – to people who don’t live by this idiocy, but when you believe the doctrine and try to obey these kinds of impossible strictures, it’s a pretty sad, defeated life. I know from personal experience!

  • http://arkonbey.blogspot.com Arkonbey

    What is the problem with masturbation, anyhoo? To quote the late, great, contradictory R.A. Heinlein:

    “Masturbation is cheap, clean, convenient, and free of any possible wrongdoing – and you don’t have to go home in the cold. But it’s lonely.”

    Show of hands: how many here, male and female, masturbate/ed and are now part of a healthy, monogamous relationship?

  • http://steelmansmusings.blogspot.com Steelman

    4. After you bathe, don’t admire yourself in the mirror.

    Acquire negative body image by thinking of one’s body as impure and sinful.

    6. If the temptation seems overpowering while you are in bed, GET OUT OF BED! Go into the kitchen and make a snack, even if it is in the middle of the night, and even if you are not hungry.

    Become a sexually dysfunctional, habitual over eater by using food as a substitute for sex, and eating when you’re not hungry as a method of assuaging feelings of guilt and inadequacy (you couldn’t stand to look at yourself in the bathroom mirror when you were fit – see #4 above – how can you look at your sinful self now that you’re fat?).

    6. (continued) The purpose behind this suggestion is that you GET YOUR MIND ON SOMETHING ELSE. You are the subject of your thoughts, so to speak.

    Just wait until you’re married for the full effect of this conditioning to come to fruition. When your honey wants sex, you’ll immediately experience feelings of guilt and self-loathing, while running to the kitchen for a midnight ding-dong (not that kind of ding-dong, you iniquitous ding-dong. Stop thinking about sex! Ever!)

    9. [...] Pray for your friends, BUT KEEP THE PROBLEM OUT OF YOUR MIND BY NOT MENTIONING IT EVEN IN YOUR PRAYERS. KEEP IT OUT of your mind!

    Sexual repression, it’s not just for Catholics anymore!

    Is there a cabal of nefarious, future client trawling, psychotherapists promoting this list?

  • http://keenabean.blogspot.com Kaleena

    Ok I am a little confused about something here. Is it ok to masturbate if your husband is watching?

    Lainey, I’m not sure if you really wanted to know, but I do know that Catholic’s believe that is wrong because there is no possibility of procreation. (Unless you follow-up with intercourse and then it is debatable.) I’m not sure about other denominations though.

    And if you are really curious… here is what the catechism says directly:

    2352 By masturbation is to be understood the deliberate stimulation of the genital organs in order to derive sexual pleasure. “Both the Magisterium of the Church, in the course of a constant tradition, and the moral sense of the faithful have been in no doubt and have firmly maintained that masturbation is an intrinsically and gravely disordered action.”137 “The deliberate use of the sexual faculty, for whatever reason, outside of marriage is essentially contrary to its purpose.” For here sexual pleasure is sought outside of “the sexual relationship which is demanded by the moral order and in which the total meaning of mutual self-giving and human procreation in the context of true love is achieved.”138

    To form an equitable judgment about the subjects’ moral responsibility and to guide pastoral action, one must take into account the affective immaturity, force of acquired habit, conditions of anxiety or other psychological or social factors that lessen, if not even reduce to a minimum, moral culpability.

  • http://keenabean.blogspot.com Kaleena

    Did you hear about the really good high school debate team?

    They were master debaters.

    :)

  • http://lfab-uvm.blogspot.com/ C. L. Hanson

    The Mormon relationship with masturbation really is that scary. If you’d like to know what it’s like to be a teenager immersed in these shaming and self-hating messages, Just have a look at my online novel Exmormon — I cover the subject pretty thoroughly. ;)

    Just the other day someone found my site on the search query “lds teenage masturbation solutions”. I hate to think what kind of solutions this person was looking for, but I hope my stories proved helpful. :D

  • http://merkdorp.blogspot.com J. J. Ramsey

    Jeff: “Organized religion fears people freely choosing their own behavior or getting back to their more basic animal nature.”

    Siamang: “Which is the real goal of religion, to build up a ton of guilt with which they can control you.”

    Greta Christina: “The point is to make people feel guilty and weak and bad all the time.”

    Can we please cut the conspiracy theory crap? If you have evidence that the religious rules about sex were intelligently designed to keep the people miserable or subjugated, instead of having evolved from people’s squicks, let’s see it. Offhand, I have yet to see anything that isn’t better explained by Hanlon’s Razor.

  • James Fox

    Had a job in Lahaina Maui back in 1982 when I took a year off college. Worked in a photo lab processing tourist and locals pictures. There was a Mormon summer camp on the island and the boys liked to take lots of pictures of themselves. Trust me when I say they jerked off, jerked each other off and liked to document the fun with their camera’s.

  • http://mollishka.blogspot.com mollishka

    Oh, looky, a 9-step program to sexual repression and the need for therapy later in life.

  • http://lfab-uvm.blogspot.com/ C. L. Hanson

    Can we please cut the conspiracy theory crap?

    It’s not that it’s a deliberate conspiracy. I think you’re right it evolved from people’s squicks, as I explained in Come on baby, won’t you show some class?.

    That said, the control over sexuality helps some religious organizations thrive. It’s definitely the case in Mormonism, where sex is the reward that is withheld for a long time, then granted only after one has made a tremendous personal commitment to the faith and the organization, namely two years of mission and then a temple marriage (from which children are expected to follow immediately).

  • Julie

    Wow. None of those suggestions would work for me.

    When the temptation to masturbate is strong, yell STOP to those thoughts as loudly as you can in your mind and then recite a prechosen Scripture or sing an inspirational hymn.

    So act like a crazy person? Imagine someone actually doing that, EVERY time the temptation to masturbate came on. It would just look nuts.

  • Julie

    Wow. I didn’t read all the comments here yet, so sorry if this is a repeat. Get a load of this suggestion.

    In the field of psychotherapy there is a very effective technique called aversion therapy. When we associate or think of something very distasteful with something which has been pleasurable, but undesirable, the distasteful thought and feeling will begin to cancel out that which was pleasurable. If you associate something very distasteful with your loss of self-control it will help you to stop the act. For example, if you are tempted to masturbate, think of having to bathe in a tub of worms, and eat several of them as you do the act. It sounds goofy, but it actually works!

    Uh…it sounds goofy all right. What the eff?

  • Siamang

    JJ Ramsey said:

    If you have evidence that the religious rules about sex were intelligently designed to keep the people miserable or subjugated, instead of having evolved from people’s squicks, let’s see it.

    I said it was religion’s goal, not the goal of the designers of the religions. Imo there are very few “designed” religions (I can think of only one at the moment).

    But here I’m speaking of the “religion’s goal” in the way we speak of evolution “having a goal” or a selfish gene “having a goal”.

    Religion, if we are to personify it as having goals wants only one thing: to spread. In order to do this, it must control the host. Guilt and sexual repression are good control mechanisms.

  • Karen

    To quote the late, great, contradictory R.A. Heinlein:

    “Masturbation is cheap, clean, convenient, and free of any possible wrongdoing – and you don’t have to go home in the cold. But it’s lonely.”

    My favorite quote on the topic is from Woody Allen:

    “Don’t knock masturbation — it’s sex with someone I love.”

    And just for fun:

    If only God would give me some clear sign! Like making a large deposit in my name in a Swiss bank.

  • http://merkdorp.blogspot.com J. J. Ramsey

    Siamang: “I said it was religion’s goal, not the goal of the designers of the religions.”

    Ahem, that’s the pathetic fallacy at work.

  • Siamang

    Not an actual logical fallacy, just a term coined by an art critic.

    I stand by my previous assertion. I further reserve the right to use the analogy of personification in my discussion of inanimate social constructs.

    I’ll use metaphors too. Don’t think I won’t. I’ll bust out a metaphor like something that busts out stuff a lot.

    Cause that’s how I roll, baby.

  • http://pixelfish.livejournal.com PixelFish

    CL Hanson: Took a look at your website. Did you go to Orem High too? Which year….? Your story reminds me that I’ve been meaning to finish Motown (my graphic novel about growing up in Utah).

  • http://intj-mom.livejournal.com INTJ Mom

    IMHO, one of the original Mormon talks aimed at the males was a bit more disturbing. In addition to telling the males to wear difficult to remove clothing to bed, the speaker also suggested that tying one’s hands to the bedposts should be used if needed. I can’t remember if it was a Packer speech or someone else. For some reason Mark E. Peterson keeps coming to mind.

    Not sure how that was supposed to work and all either. How would you get your 2nd hand tied up by yourself? Then how would you get untied in the morning?

  • http://heathendad.blogspot.com/ HappyNat

    Did you hear about the really good high school debate team?

    They were master debaters

    My friend used to go fishing all the time. He could stick a worm on a hook so fast we called his a master baiter.

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  • http://www.blakeclan.org/jon/greenoasis/ Jonathan Blake

    This would be funny if kids weren’t actually taught to believe it. Fundamentalism is its own best parody.

  • http://merkdorp.blogspot.com J. J. Ramsey

    Siamang: “Not an actual logical fallacy, just a term coined by an art critic.”

    When it’s used to really ascribe human qualities to a non-human thing, it is definitely a fallacy, and a special case of the reification fallacy.

    Siamang: “I’ll use metaphors too.”

    Somehow, your use of “metaphor” reminds me of liberal believers’ use of the word “metaphor.” They may describe “God” as somehow being a metaphor, but what God is supposedly a metaphor of is hazy. If what you wrote was meant as a metaphor or an analogy, it was poorly written, and it looked like nonsense instead.

    Siamang: “But here I’m speaking of the “religion’s goal” in the way we speak of evolution ‘having a goal’ …”

    Yes, you are doing that, and that’s why your words seem confused. Talking about evolution as having a goal has led to plenty of misunderstanding about evolution, and your attempt to ascribe goals to an abstract thing like religion likewise leads to misunderstanding.

  • Siamang

    Sorry, I just don’t see it.

    Water wants to flow down a hill, I guess. Information wants to be free. Chicken doesn’t want to be ordinary, it wants to be tender, juicy and laid across a honey-wheat roll.

    Sue me.

  • http://thatatheistguysblog.blogspot.com NYCatheist

    Re. #7:
    Don’t think of an elephant! Don’t do it! No…, stop. Damn!

    Re. #4:
    Who masturbates in front of a mirror? Is that something (attractive) homosexuals do? Unless it’s that magic mirror Harry Potter gave me where I always see Natalie Portman going… oh, never mind.

  • ThinCritter

    Is it any wonder these guys boast one of the highest teenage suicide rates in the country!?!

  • Old Beezle

    My brother was honest with the bishop (Mormon clergyman) about his masturbation “problem” and they did not allow him to go on a Mormon mission for two years. Bravo, you say—saved him all that time and money!

    Well, yes, until you consider the far-reaching effects of being a Mormon male who has not served a mission—instant ostracization by the Mormon girls his age. You see, they only want to date, marry, and have chaste love with Mormon boys who are “worthy” enough. No mission = no Mormon wife = lifetime of masturbation.

    So, did being honest help my brother or hurt him?

    I for one, lied through my teeth. Then I quit the cult. The habit didn’t go away, but the guilt sure as hell did.

  • http://religiouscomics.net Jeff

    J. J. Ramsey said,
    Can we please cut the conspiracy theory crap?

    It is an interesting question on whether a religion can “take on a life of its own” and as a social phenomena have its own “attractor” and have its own behavior or if a religion is merely and nothing more than the group behavior of its practitioners (parts). It kind of boils down to whether you believe the atomistic world-view completely characterizes the world ontologically or if there may be more going on than the interaction of autonomous parts.

    Personally, I’m quite happy to use the creative inventions (like computers) that are an outgrowth of the atomistic world-view, but I like to keep my mind open that reality may in fact be more interesting than what atomism proposes. I believe there can be a middle-ground beyond atomism but before super-naturalism.

  • http://keenabean.blogspot.com Kaleena

    Thanks HappyNat!
    Yours is even better!

  • http://msmith13.wordpress.com Mark

    Okay, Mormon kids. Here’s a little defensive ammunition, courtesy of the Kids in the Hall:

    “But Mom, I wasn’t masturbating! I was just cleaning it, and it WENT OFF!”

  • http://merkdorp.blogspot.com J. J. Ramsey

    Siamang:

    Sorry, I just don’t see it.

    Water wants to flow down a hill, I guess. Information wants to be free. Chicken doesn’t want to be ordinary, it wants to be tender, juicy and laid across a honey-wheat roll.

    IMHO, a good rule of thumb on whether you are using reification as a mere figure of speech or not is this: If you can say what you want to say without reification, then you are probably talking sense. If you cannot translate your supposed metaphor into plain literal speech, then you probably aren’t really using a metaphor but are just talking nonsense. Your first two examples pass my rule of thumb test pretty easily. The third one is more questionable.

  • cautious

    Chicken Sandwich, serves 1

    Ingredients:
    1 honey-wheat roll
    1 whole, live chicken
    3 mustard seeds

    1. Take whole, live chicken.
    2.
    3. Sandwiches!

  • Siamang

    Let’s try this then.

    The human social fabric is full of constructs that were the most successful in lasting the longest and keeping the most number of people within allegiance of those constructs, be they religions, political parties, whatever. To say a construct, say a religion, is successful, is to say that it has lasted many generations and out recruits, out baptizes, out procreates and out-maintains its member roll with respect to rival religions or those allying themselves as being outside that religion.

    Its ability to spread is based on its ability (speaking purely as seen as a result) to gain and keep adherents.

    As Richard Dawkins said, the world is full of things that were good at duplicating themselves. I should say that the world is full of religions that were good at spreading their beliefs and keeping believers, and pretty empty of long-lasting religions that did not do that.

    Because of this, we can speak of certain aspects of a religion working within a social search space, changing details of its doctrinal makeup in many ways. Some of those ways may be by the conscious decision of its leadership or membership, but some may not. Some may merely be unconscious decisions on which tenants to emphasize more than others. For our purposes, we could even assume that some of these changes could be purely random… it is no matter.

    We can then view (only in a historical view, in retrospect) which variations of a parental religion were more successful in finding the best fit within the social landscape to outcompete the rival belief-systems.

    One subset of the variations that in my opinion has shown utility in some belief systems for keeping adherents within the fold is the emotion of guilt, especially sexual guilt. Religions that provide their membership with a path to sexual guilt tend to grow quite a bit from generation to generation. In this era of birth-control on demand, one church that comes to mind has done an exceptional job out-procreating its rivals.

    Clearer?

    Sorry, the metaphor was quicker to type.. which is why I employ it.

  • Richard Wade

    There once was a Mormon named Dirken
    Addicted to jerkin’ his gerkin.
    He had no excuse
    For such self abuse
    But nothing the church said was workin’.

  • robin

    Think of the kittens!

    That might not be so effective but I heard that it works if you think of Tommy Lasorda.

  • Richard Wade

    If you associate something very distasteful with your loss of self-control it will help you to stop the act. For example, if you are tempted to masturbate, think of having to bathe in a tub of worms…

    Mmmm. Worms. Lumbricidaphilia, what a turn-on.

  • http://lfab-uvm.blogspot.com/ C. L. Hanson

    Pixelfish:

    I did not attend Orem High myself. To write that segment of my novel, I did an email interview with someone who graduated from that school.

    BTW, I would love to see your graphic novel about growing up Mormon. Please feel free to email me if you want feedback on it: chanson dot exmormon at gmail dot com. I’ve noticed your comments about being a former Mormon in the comments on some atheist blogs lately, so I added you to Outer Blogness.

    p.s. to other exmormon bloggers out there — if I don’t have you in Outer Blogness yet, please email me at the address above, thanks! :D

  • http://bjornisageek.blogspot.com Jet

    My fiancee developed this fascination with the Mormon religion, and we started having missionaries over every week for 6 months to learn of their craziness. Well, they have to keep this masturbation calender. Every time the missionary dabbles in masturbation, he marks a day off the calender. Well our missionary kept his calender in his pocket, and when he leaned over I could see it, and almost everyday was blacked out. Somewhere between his cold showers, open door urination, and story telling he found time to be human.

  • http://merkdorp.blogspot.com J. J. Ramsey

    Siamang:

    One subset of the variations that in my opinion has shown utility in some belief systems for keeping adherents within the fold is the emotion of guilt, especially sexual guilt. Religions that provide their membership with a path to sexual guilt tend to grow quite a bit from generation to generation. In this era of birth-control on demand, one church that comes to mind has done an exceptional job out-procreating its rivals.

    Clearer?

    Yes, actually. You’ve at least stated your line of thinking clearly enough that one can address it. Now the question is whether guilt is really all that good at keeping adherents in the fold, or whether sexual guilt in particular has been good at that. For example, judging from the recent Pew survey, Catholicism hasn’t been doing that well, so one might surmise that perhaps sexual guilt hasn’t worked in its favor. One might also ask what the actual evidence for your claims really is.

    Sorry, the metaphor was quicker to type.. which is why I employ it.

    The metaphor is certainly quicker to type, but metaphors can sometimes obscure rather than clarify and make it easier to hide the weakness in one’s claims.

  • http://givethedogaboner.blogspot.com/ kitten killer

    4. After you bathe, don’t admire yourself in the mirror. Stay in the shower just long enough to clean yourself. Then dry off and GET OUT OF THE BATHROOM into a room where you will have some member of your family present.

    Let me get this straight, I must leave the bathroom without dressing and go directly to a room where one of my family is displaying their member?
    Do I therefore understand that Mormons, although condemning masturbation,
    have no objection to incestuous same-sex voyeurism?
    Gotta love those god-botherers, eh?

  • Richard Wade

    Old Beezle,

    So, did being honest help my brother or hurt him?
    I for one, lied through my teeth. Then I quit the cult. The habit didn’t go away, but the guilt sure as hell did.

    Hurt or help might be beside the point. I think that in general people get exactly what they want in life in the form of the consequences of their decisions. Your brother made his decision and now has the consequences, and he chooses every day to continue living with those consequences. He was honest with the bishop but perhaps not honest with himself. That part is my own bias, but in the end only he can be the authority of his own mind. He chose to remain in the religious community in the role of a kind of pariah, so hurt or help is not necessarily relevant since he knew what he was doing.

    You on the other hand were dishonest with the clergy but perhaps honest with yourself, and I suppose it was your self-honesty that led you out of the religious community. Now you are in a sense a pariah in the view of that community but on the outside, and as with your brother you are the authority of what is best for you. From my biased point of view, your decision is the better but you and your brother obviously have different needs.

  • Siamang

    For example, judging from the recent Pew survey, Catholicism hasn’t been doing that well,

    …. in America. Better to look at more than just the Catholic Church’s growth statistics in one country.

    Now the question is whether guilt is really all that good at keeping adherents in the fold, or whether sexual guilt in particular has been good at that.

    It’s not just about keeping them in the fold. It’s also about getting your adherents to procreate a lot. And not use a condom. Even in marriage. Or masturbate. Even in marriage.

    One might also ask what the actual evidence for your claims really is.

    I’m not saying there’s only one effect or a single cause. I’m saying it’s one of several contributing and competing factors. I’m not even going to say it’s the dominant factor. But I think it’s there.

    Evidence that successful religions that strongly control the sexual activities of their membership tend to do so in ways beneficial to their member rolls? Exhibit one: The Catholic Church’s prohibition on all forms of birth control. Exhibit two: The Mormon Church and polygamy. Exhibit three: Shakers… a church that prohibited sex altogether and therefore is dying out; an unsuccessful religion. Exhibit four: Ted Haggard… a man who’s going through an emotional, spiritual and social chernobyl because his little head knows who he is and his big head doesn’t think that the Bible likes that.

    You may call that anecdotal… but you do have to admit that an awful lot of very large religions are intensely, some might say psycopathically obsessed with making sure junior doesn’t shake his pee-pee… in fact he doesn’t do anything with his pee-pee except make more converts with it. And pee (provided he leaves the bathroom door open and marks it on his calendar).

    This is some sick ass shit… which is why everyone on this thread is either reacting with horror or ridiculing it. I contend that some particular religions have thrived specifically because of this level of sick controlling dogma. At the least, it doesn’t seem to have hurt them any! Sure, it turns some of their members into twisted self-loathers like Haggard. But religion is a set of conventions that doesn’t have feelings… as you pointed out … and so can destroy people’s lives with no regard for the things that you and I as human beings care about.

  • http://www.onthespiral.blogspot.com chandelle

    i thought it would be in this list, but i know there is another list somewhere that recommends tying your hand to the bedpost. jesus h. christ. anybody know what i’m referring to?

    this is particularly disgusting:

    “In the field of psychotherapy there is a very effective technique called aversion therapy. When we associate or think of something very distasteful with something which has been pleasurable, but undesirable, the distasteful thought and feeling will begin to cancel out that which was pleasurable. If you associate something very distasteful with your loss of self-control it will help you to stop the act. For example, if you are tempted to masturbate, think of having to bathe in a tub of worms, and eat several of them as you do the act. It sounds goofy, but it actually works!”

    yes, because electrocuting homosexuals’ genitals in “aversion therapy” at BYU worked so well! why not this!

  • http://merkdorp.blogspot.com J. J. Ramsey

    …. in America. Better to look at more than just the Catholic Church’s growth statistics in one country.

    True, but if sexual guilt is supposedly something that helps the Catholic church, then it’s awfully funny that it’s doing poorly where temptation–and thus opportunities for guilt–are so easy to stumble across. America is at least worthwhile as a test case.

    It’s not just about keeping them in the fold. It’s also about getting your adherents to procreate a lot. And not use a condom.

    And again, where there is easy access to birth control, the Catholic church authorities haven’t been that good at discouraging its use. Furthermore, churches that don’t push the whole birth-control line have been doing at least as well as the Catholics.

    Exhibit four: Ted Haggard… a man who’s going through an emotional, spiritual and social chernobyl because his little head knows who he is and his big head doesn’t think that the Bible likes that.

    And that emotional, spiritual and social chernobyl has helped the church?

    This is some sick ass shit… which is why everyone on this thread is either reacting with horror or ridiculing it.

    Trouble is, in addition to that, you were saying things that were poorly supported at best and nonsense at worst.

  • Siamang

    Trouble is, in addition to that, you were saying things that were poorly supported at best and nonsense at worst.

    At this point I think we can fairly say you don’t accept my argument and leave it at that.

  • http://www.blakeclan.org/jon/greenoasis/ Jonathan Blake

    chandelle,

    The website that the post linked to is drawn from the same pamphlet that you remember. The website conveniently omits the offensive item from the list (notice the missing #19 on the copycat):

    19. In very severe cases it may be necessary to tie a hand to the bed frame with a tie in order that the habit of masturbating in a semi-sleep condition can be broken. This can also be accomplished by wearing several layers of clothing which would be difficult to remove while half asleep.

    I’m surprised they didn’t suggest self-flagellation.

  • Karen

    In very severe cases it may be necessary to tie a hand to the bed frame with a tie in order that the habit of masturbating in a semi-sleep condition can be broken. This can also be accomplished by wearing several layers of clothing which would be difficult to remove while half asleep.

    Oh my gosh – that is really disturbing. Ugh … :-(

    Why the hell is it so damned bad to just be a normal human being with a libido? Repression and abuse and oppression don’t cure anything, they just make people feel shamed and beaten down – at which point, I guess they’re more likely to “submit” to god, which is the desired reaction. It’s disgusting.

  • Siamang

    Repression and abuse and oppression don’t cure anything, they just make people feel shamed and beaten down – at which point, I guess they’re more likely to “submit” to god, which is the desired reaction.

    I guess I’m not the only one who thinks this way, eh JJ?

    Yes Karen, it’s a tactic of cults to beat you down and make you feel like shit before building you back up with the cult-think.

  • http://steelmansmusings.blogspot.com Steelman

    To J. J. Ramsey, I’m not sure what you’re not getting about how an organization can employ guilt to control its members. Once people are convinced that an organization has all the answers (purity), and that they are unable to find their own answers without its guidance (impurity), the relationship of control is established. This can happen to someone who is brought up in the church, experiences a religious conversion through crises, or joins a “self-improvement” organization like Landmark Education, or a multi-level marketing company like Amway.

    With the latter two, it’s your fault if you don’t make progress; you are holding yourself back. And don’t think about quitting; only losers, who don’t really want to reach their goals, walk away.

    With the former two, it’s your fault if you don’t make progress; you (and your inescapable sinful nature) are holding you back. And don’t think about quitting; only sinners, who don’t really want to be obedient to God and get to heaven, walk away.

    Failure to meet the expectations of the organization, bolstered by the narrative that equates adherence to those expectations with success in life, provides the impetus for the adherent to continue to strive to meet the organization’s demands (communicated via church elders, priests, facilitators, upline sellers, sacred texts, etc.).

    One way to continuously push the adherent into the arms of an organization is to ensure a constant cycle of failure and support. In the case of religions with strict sexual prohibitions, setting unrealistic expectations for control over such a critical natural desire (even thoughts of that desire!) ensures consistent failure and continued need for support, especially in impressionable youth.

    They’ve literally got you by the balls.

  • http://merkdorp.blogspot.com J. J. Ramsey

    To J. J. Ramsey, I’m not sure what you’re not getting about how an organization can employ guilt to control its members.

    What I’m getting at is there are sweeping statements made about religion that looked like they were made by people imagining a mirror image of a Chick tract where villainous clerical leaders were scheming to find ways to keep the populace in line. When I called foul, Siamang tried justifying it by treating religion as if it were a person–which obscured more than it clarified. When Siamang did clarify, what was laid out were a bunch of surmises.

    Now are there organizations that control members through guilt? Sure. If this is what the Mormons and Catholics and evangelicals are doing, they are doing it in an incompetent fashion. Guilt seems to be a double-edged sword that keeps some in line and repels others, and in still other cases, the guilt is painful but isn’t much of a lever in anyone’s favor. Siamang mentioned that “it’s a tactic of cults to beat you down and make you feel like shit before building you back up with the cult-think,” but from what I’ve observed, there’s a lot of accidental beating down without an accompanying building back up. The guilt-as-control thing also doesn’t explain very well why there are so many who are nominally religious but who honor the religious rules at least as much in the breach as in the observance. I see a lot of fanciful painting of religion as this master guilt-tripper, but not a lot of evidence of mastery.

  • http://www.blakeclan.org/jon/greenoasis/ Jonathan Blake

    The guilt-as-control thing also doesn’t explain very well why there are so many who are nominally religious but who honor the religious rules at least as much in the breach as in the observance.

    It makes perfect sense when you understand that the person who breaches the rules doesn’t see the religion as the source of the guilt. They instead blame their own actions. They think that they would be free of guilt if only they could follow the rules better, if only they were a better person. It doesn’t even enter their mind to leave the institution which offers salvation from their guilt and sinfulness. They struggle to maintain their hope of deliverance from shame, unwitting that it is a false hope.

    You and I understand that the religion is the source of the guilt, so we see that it is irrational to stay. Someone who lacks that understanding is ripe for religious control.

    That doesn’t argue that there is necessarily a cabal of cynical leaders who exercise control consciously. Leaders can be duped by religious dogma just as much as their followers yet still manipulate people through religious guilt with only the best of intentions.

  • http://merkdorp.blogspot.com J. J. Ramsey

    Jonathan Blake:

    It makes perfect sense when you understand that the person who breaches the rules doesn’t see the religion as the source of the guilt. They instead blame their own actions.

    That presumes that they are even thinking that much about their own actions or trying to follow the rules. Remember that I was talking about nominal believers in your quote of me above. From what I’ve seen, it seems like there are a lot of people who don’t really connect their Sunday ritual with their weekday behavior.

  • http://www.blakeclan.org/jon/greenoasis/ Jonathan Blake

    Remember that I was talking about nominal believers in your quote of me above. From what I’ve seen, it seems like there are a lot of people who don’t really connect their Sunday ritual with their weekday behavior.

    Quantify “a lot of people”. :)

    Participating Mormons are not generally only nominally religious. Mormons, and I suspect members of other more fundamentalist religious sects, tend to self-select. Members in name only don’t tend to hang around for long. While this might seem to support your view that guilt is not an effective control mechanism because some people leave when they realize that the religion is the source of their guilt, it has an interesting effect that indeed helps to control people.

    Self-selection tends to concentrate the fundamentalists within the religion. The fundamentalist dominance of Mormonism, for example, cloisters members away from moderating influences. This decreases the likelihood that they will recognize how their religion is unhealthy because at church they hear predominantly fundamentalist, guilt-inducing voices.

    Let’s also remember that a religion doesn’t need to grow to be successful; it just needs to survive by maintaining its numbers against the predation of other religions. A fiercely loyal core of believers is sufficient for survival. Guilt is one method to ensure loyalty if the adherents believe that their religion is the only way to assuage their shame.

    So yes, guilt is a double-edged sword for religions, but it works well for them by trimming the disloyal fat and by threatening those who remain.

  • K

    They used to mention tying yourself to the bedposts. Maybe this had an opposite effect on some people?

  • http://merkdorp.blogspot.com J. J. Ramsey

    Jonathan Blake: “Self-selection tends to concentrate the fundamentalists within the religion.”

    And now you’ve just moved the goalposts. The original remarks to which I responded were sweeping statements about religion in general, but now you are talking about a certain subset of the religious, namely the fundies.

  • http://steelmansmusings.blogspot.com Steelman

    J. J. Ramsey said: Now are there organizations that control members through guilt? Sure. If this is what the Mormons and Catholics and evangelicals are doing, they are doing it in an incompetent fashion.

    I was raised mostly in the Church of the Nazarene, attended Baptist and Lutheran parochial schools, am still on the roles of the Mormon church (I was involved with my parents, from about age 8 to 10), know a number of Catholics, and attended a Pentecostal church in my early twenties. I can tell you from experience, they’re actually pretty good at this stuff.

    However, unlike money making, cultish, marketing schemes, religion is often less cynical in its application of guilt as a motivator. Keep in mind that it’s the promise of a glorious future (financial independence, heaven, freedom form shame and impurity, or just the satisfaction of being right or superior) that is paired with guilt to provide motivation for adherence to the cause, whatever it may be.

    Jonathan Blake said: That doesn’t argue that there is necessarily a cabal of cynical leaders who exercise control consciously. Leaders can be duped by religious dogma just as much as their followers yet still manipulate people through religious guilt with only the best of intentions.

    I agree with JB here. If you’ve read Daniel Dennett’s Breaking the Spell, it seems that these methods of control can evolve through trial and error, without there necessarily being a great deal of sinister forethought on the part of those who perpetuate the organizations which employee them. The Catholic church has certainly known for centuries now that guilt (and support/reward) is an effective tool for compliance, but it’s rationalized that using it is moral since it’s for the “best possible” cause. I think L. Ron Hubbard, on the other hand, had his carrot and stick in mind from the beginning. ;)

    BTW, in addition to having found Dennett’s book interesting and enlightening, I’m currently reading and can, so far, recommend Eric Hoffer’s The True Believer.

  • http://merkdorp.blogspot.com J. J. Ramsey

    Steelman: “I can tell you from experience, they’re actually pretty good at this stuff.”

    And I can tell you that people are great at remembering the hits and forgetting the misses, and that people are likely to exaggerate the negatives of the things that they have rejected. So your reassurance that “they’re actually pretty good at this stuff” doesn’t tell me a whole lot, especially in the face of other indications that they aren’t that good.

    Steelman: “it seems that these methods of control can evolve through trial and error, without there necessarily being a great deal of sinister forethought”

    True, but the implications of the original comments implied something more sinister.

  • http://steelmansmusings.blogspot.com Steelman

    J. J. Ramsey said: And I can tell you that people are great at remembering the hits and forgetting the misses, and that people are likely to exaggerate the negatives of the things that they have rejected.

    While that’s true, how does one determine whether or not they’re doing that (confirmation bias)? After a careful, rational analysis of my past religious beliefs and practices, I can confidently state that it was confirmation bias that was part of what was keeping me the in the fold (in my early twenties). Also, a sense of community, warm personal relationships with caring church members, a drive for truth and meaning, desire for approval, and a misguided belief that so many Christians couldn’t possibly be wrong about the facts. Both good and bad reasons, aside from guilt, for belonging to a group.

    In my earlier years, it was mainly parental guidance that put me in church (staying home on a Sunday, or not attending my Christian school, wasn’t an option). Peer pressure and tradition was a motivator for both myself and my parents: good people follow the rules of life, and you learn those rules in church. Period.

    I’ve also been involved in multi-level marketing organizations, and discussed with others their experiences with certain self-improvement schemes, and they use a number of the same psychological elements as religions in their recruitment and retention methods. It’s a marketplace of ideas and faiths in the U.S.; competition can be fierce.

    So your reassurance that “they’re actually pretty good at this stuff” doesn’t tell me a whole lot, especially in the face of other indications that they aren’t that good.

    I think I’ve offered some greater detail than that in my previous posts, and above, for why people can coerce themselves into submitting to the authority of religious (and other) organizations. If you’re unconvinced about the effectiveness of the psychology involved in gaining and retaining adherents to a cause, perhaps you could tell us how you think it works? Certainly, as I’ve said, there’s more than simple guilt involved here. However, that guilt is a necessary (but not sufficient) element.

    Steelman: “it seems that these methods of control can evolve through trial and error, without there necessarily being a great deal of sinister forethought”

    True, but the implications of the original comments implied something more sinister.

    I agree that anyone can make the mistake of painting others with a broad brush. Are you interested in moving the conversation forward (as I and Jonathan Blake have), or are you still focused on what Siamang said before he clarified his position?

  • http://merkdorp.blogspot.com J. J. Ramsey

    Steelman: “If you’re unconvinced about the effectiveness of the psychology involved in gaining and retaining adherents to a cause, perhaps you could tell us how you think it works?”

    What I’m not convinced of is that broad-brush statements like this,

    Jeff: “Organized religion fears people freely choosing their own behavior or getting back to their more basic animal nature.”

    Siamang: “Which is the real goal of religion, to build up a ton of guilt with which they can control you.”

    are justified. As I noted before, they read like conspiracy-theory crap, and when I’ve pressed on Siamang, what I’ve gotten is watered-down claims that still look like half-truths. That some religious groups manipulate people with guilt to at least some degree is a given. However, Jeff and Siamang have implied that religious groups are overwhelmingly concerned with guilt and control, and the reality is that religious groups are all over the map on this. Furthermore, try as Siamang might, claiming that there is no implication that religious leaders aren’t consciously attempting to control their members through guilt doesn’t wash. Who’s the “they” in “they can control you”? If “they” is a metaphor, it’s an awfully obscure one.

    Nor does the idea that religions evolved, in Darwinian fashion, rules about sex such that the adherents stay in the fold, or that they spread themselves through their adherents’ children, really wash. For that idea to work, such rules would have to be effective, so that selection pressures would favor them. Yet these rules, as I noted before, have been double-edged swords rather than effective adaptations. And what we see is the consequence: religions are all over the map with regards to how hung up they are about sex.

  • http://www.blakeclan.org/jon/greenoasis/ Jonathan Blake

    For that idea to work, such rules would have to be effective, so that selection pressures would favor them. Yet these rules, as I noted before, have been double-edged swords rather than effective adaptations. And what we see is the consequence: religions are all over the map with regards to how hung up they are about sex.

    That’s an interesting idea, but it’s like saying that shark teeth aren’t adaptive because fish are all over the map on the teeth/no-teeth question. Religions that appeal to guilt and shame occupy a niche. Not all religions thrive through guilt. Some people are resistant to guilt, so there’s a niche for guiltless religion to attract those people. Other people are prone to guilt, so there are religions to take advantage of that trait. I think you’ll agree that treating all religion as the same is clumsy and often wrong.

    This all reminds me of a joke an Episcopalian friend told me once. She defined Episcopalianism as “Catholicism light”, all the sin and half the guilt. :)

  • http://merkdorp.blogspot.com J. J. Ramsey

    Jonathan Blake: “That’s an interesting idea, but it’s like saying that shark teeth aren’t adaptive because fish are all over the map on the teeth/no-teeth question.”

    Actually, it’s more like saying that sharp teeth aren’t adaptive for eating meat because there isn’t much evidence that there is a predominance of sharp teeth in carnivores, even though selection pressures would lead to such predominance if sharp teeth did have such an advantage. (This, of course, isn’t true for carnivores.)

    Offhand, it seems that the sexual mores that are common across most religions are carryovers from the days before effective birth control, plus some accumulated squicks, and these have persisted more because of inertia than of any functional benefit to religion.

  • http://www.blakeclan.org/jon/greenoasis/ Jonathan Blake

    If you insist that all religions are analogous to carnivores, but that would again be treating religion with a broad brush, to mix metaphors. At the risk of stretching the metaphor beyond its limits, it also assumes that all carnivores have sharp teeth which isn’t true. Some religions have other tools.

    Offhand, it seems that the sexual mores that are common across most religions are carryovers from the days before effective birth control, plus some accumulated squicks, and these have persisted more because of inertia than of any functional benefit to religion.

    Mormon mores regarding masturbation are actually a counterexample to your hypothesis. The Mormon attitude to masturbation is rooted historically to the erroneous belief that masturbation led to insanity which arose in the 1700s. Masturbation wasn’t such a concern until that time. In fact, Mormon church leaders didn’t say anything on the topic until 1870, forty years after Joseph Smith organized his church. Repression of masturbation is a relatively recent innovation.

    My personal experience confirms that guilt keeps people coming to certain churches. You should be skeptical, but for those of us who’ve lived it, there are no doubts about the power it has over people’s lives. People have committed suicide over the Mormon attitudes to masturbation.

    On March 2, 1982, Kip Eliason, age 16, distraught and filled with self-hate over his inability to stop masturbating, committed suicide. Before asphyxiating himself, Kip left his father a note:

    “Dear Dad,
    I love you more than what words can say. If it were possible, I would stay alive for only you, for I really only have you. But it isn’t possible. I must first love myself, and I do not. The strange feeling of darkness and self-hate overpowers all my defenses. I must unfortunately yield to it. This turbulent feeling is only for a few to truly understand. I feel that you do not comprehend the immense feeling of self-hatred I have. This is the only way I feel that I can relieve myself of these feelings now. Carry on with your life and be happy. I love you more than words can say.
    —Your son, Kip”

    Guilt killed Kip Eliason. It should come as no surprise that it had the power to keep me in the pews for decades.

  • http://merkdorp.blogspot.com J. J. Ramsey

    Jonathan Blake: “If you insist that all religions are analogous to carnivores, …”

    I could have picked a different group of animals sharing a common adaptation, but since you already started on sharks, carnivores were handy.

    Jonathan Blake: “Mormon mores regarding masturbation are actually a counterexample to your hypothesis.”

    To be fair to me, I’d include masturbation among the “accumulated squicks” that I mentioned, especially since it obviously isn’t a behavior that would need to be restricted on account of lack of birth control. Also, the case of Kip Eliason is an example of Mormon sexual mores being maladaptive. He certainly isn’t in a position to beget or convert more Mormons himself, nor is his suicide of much use in encouraging potential converts.


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