What Would Happen if a Mormon Woman Fell for an Atheist Philosopher…?

This is the first line of a description for the book A Lost Argument: A Latter-Day Novel (Strange Violin Editions):

The summer after her freshman year at all-Mormon Brigham Young University, Marguerite Farnsworth falls in love with philosophy by way of falling in love with an atheist philosophy student.

Blasphemous! I like where this is going…

Author Therese Doucet has some experience with the subject since she’s an ex-Mormon herself. She was kind enough to offer a slightly risqué excerpt from the novel (see below) and she’s giving away a free copy of the book to one reader! (More on that in a moment.)

A little flustered by the attention, Marguerite said, “Well, I doubt you’ll convince me, but I’m not afraid of any arguments. The truth is the truth, and it should hold up no matter what anyone says.”

“Ah, well. That all depends on how you define truth. But come here, come sit by me, and let’s talk.” Damon patted the bench next to him.

Marguerite complied and scooted further down the bench to sit closer to him.

“What makes you believe in God, first of all? What reasons do you have for believing?”

“Well–” she blew air out of her mouth. “Where to start. There are so many reasons. The scriptures, of course, they say He exists and loves us. Then there’s so much beauty in the world, and so much goodness in people. There’s the fact that I was raised around a lot of people who believe, and it’s hard to imagine they could all be wrong.”

As she listed off reasons, he countered them. The scripture were flawed historical documents–why trust them anyway? Why should any human being be trusted solely on the basis of the authority he claimed to have from God? What about all the evil and ugliness in the world? All these things she called evidence were ambiguous and could be interpreted multiple ways. How could she be sure it was God and not something else, or pure coincidence behind them?

But Marguerite had an ace up her sleeve, and now she brought it out: There was also such a thing as personal revelation through spiritual experience. Mormons, Marguerite included, believed if you prayed, God would let you know through spiritual feelings the Church was true and He was real.

“Interesting,” said Damon, “but if that’s so effective, then what are you doing sitting here talking to me? If God came down and told you He exists, then why should you have any doubts about it?”

Marguerite hesitated. “I suppose it’s not as clear as God coming down and telling you what’s what–I mean, it’s never been that clear for me. Joseph Smith, the founder of Mormonism, did have a vision where God came down and said, ‘This is my church,’ but for me and most of the people I’ve talked to about it, it’s more like a feeling you get when you pray–a feeling of peace and calm and rightness.”

“Aha.”

“So I guess you’ll say that’s just another ambiguous piece of evidence like all the rest, because it’s just a feeling.”

“That’s pretty much what I was going to say.” He grinned. “This is going to be easier than I thought. You’re doing all the work for me.” His face sobered. “But you know, this is serious stuff. This is your life here we’re talking. We only live once, and it’s tragic, don’t you think, to waste it on something that’s not for real and give up your happiness because someone guilted you into believing in an imaginary God who’s going to punish you in the afterlife if you don’t obey. Aren’t you worried about that?”

Marguerite shrugged and tried to think of a way to answer him. While she was still considering it, Damon asked what kinds of things Mormons believed anyway–what sort of commitments and sacrifices did her belief system entail? Marguerite listed off the usual roster of don’ts, but when she got to the part about staying a virgin till you were married, Damon, who was already starting on his third beer, howled in protest.

“No, that’s not for real. You’re shitting me. Excuse my language. So, you’re telling me you’re still a virgin? A girl as cute as you?”

Marguerite squirmed in embarrassment.

“So, if you can’t have sex, how far can you go? Is oral sex okay? Can you get naked with your boyfriend? Can he feel you up?”

“I don’t have a boyfriend. And I guess the answer would pretty much be no.” She was still in shock at having heard the phrase “oral sex.”

“Oh, that is tragic. So all you can do is kiss, basically. God, that must be incredibly frustrating.”

“Well … I don’t know … I’ve never had a real boyfriend exactly, not what most people would consider a boyfriend. The truth is, I’ve never even French-kissed. Although that’s allowed, I think.”

Damon looked thunderstruck. With an expression of mingled pity, anger, and disgust, he said, “Now that’s just obscene. We really have to do something about this. I mean, doesn’t this upset you? Don’t you want to be with someone?”

Marguerite wouldn’t meet his eyes. “Well, yes, I mean–yes. But it’s not so bad. At least I never have to worry about getting pregnant or getting some awful disease. And in a way I kind of like it–the purity of it. It’s nice to feel naive and innocent, relatively speaking. And … I like the idea that I’m saving myself for my future husband, for someone who’ll love me enough to want to be with me for the rest of my life, and for eternity.”

Damon leaned back and rubbed his chin with the fingers of one hand. Then he said slowly, “But what if you never get married? Or worse–what if you get married and it turns out you’re sexually incompatible? I mean, if you can’t even fool around before you marry him, how do you know you’ll like how he does it to you?”

Marguerite struggled not to show how uncomfortable this phrasing made her. “I always thought that was sort of a myth–sexual compatibility, I mean. Everyone always says you can work on those things. If you have your whole life ahead of you to work on it together, surely you can get good at it at some point?”

“I hate to break it to you, but that’s not how it works. In any relationship, it’s an ironclad rule that the sex is best at the beginning, and it’s all downhill from there. Because in the beginning you’re all excited, and it’s new and it’s hot and you don’t know what to expect. If it’s lousy to start with, you’re in for a very long marriage full of bad sex, or more likely, no sex at all, because you’d probably just give up on it at some point. So you better be pretty sure it’s going to be hot with a guy if you’re planning to stay with him for life. And how can you even get a sense of that if you have no experience beforehand?”

Marguerite at last managed to look up and meet his eyes. “Luckily, I have a good imagination.”

“Oh, I’ll bet you do.” He laughed. “Jesus.”

I’m not asking for your personal scandalous stories… but I’d love to know how your views on sex changed from back when you were religious to after you came to your senses.

Leave your thoughts below, and if you’re interested in winning a copy of the book, put the word “Palmyra” at the end of your comment. I’ll choose one winner at random next week!

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the chair of Foundation Beyond Belief and a high school math teacher in the suburbs of Chicago. He began writing the Friendly Atheist blog in 2006. His latest book is called The Young Atheist's Survival Guide.

  • http://twitter.com/HomelessGirl1 Homeless Girl

    I used to be so uptight and confuse about the subject and cos of what was drilled into me at sunday school and stuff it even haunted me when I lost my faith but now I’m total opposite and please don’t interpret that the wrong way. Oh and
     Palmyra

  • Lamont

    viewpoints never changed…   because i was never religious…  not all atheists had to reject religion first…

    • Anonymous

      So true.

    • Rich Samuels

      I think I must have just missed your comment before submitting my own. I completely agree.

  • Rich Samuels

    I can’t believe you’re alienating those of us who were brought up by agnostic/atheist parents who never imposed their religion on us and so were never able to come to our senses as we already had them.

    *sniff*

  • Anonymous

    Does the novel have a passage where Damon asks the Mormon chick to come to his room for coffee?

  • x-x-x

    I was mos def a good boy and it wasn’t only church that had me thinking i should wait for marriage as a kid. I actually waited until college and thought i was all hip and sophisticated by then, but ended up having a crisis of faith over it all that led to my rejection of christianity. i no longer worry about any judgment that may be coming but i still struggle to separate sex from commitment.

    sorry to go off topic, but this is my best opportunity to tell a story about some friends, one of whom was vocally anti-christian. The other was telling her about her new boyfriend (maybe even fiance by then).  She sheepishly admitted he was a christian. The reply: “Oh, well, at least he’s not mormon.”  Ooops!

  • Alic

    My beliefs on sex changed little by little even as I was losing my faith. I lost my faith largely because of little questions and objections to what I had been told came with religiosity. Why is homosexuality evil? Why do my male friends have to refrain from masturbating as if it were a drug addiction? Why can’t someone have multiple partners if all of them agree to it? Why does God care if we have sex before marriage? I came to a point where I no longer thought being religious made me a good person morally, and then started looking into whether or not it was true. What’s a palmyra? Is it sexy?

  • Patrice M

    I was also never really religious, but I do have a few problems with what he said about sex, though. I mean, if you are a virgin, chances are it’s definitely going to get better. Even if you aren’t a virgin, it takes time to know a partner’s preferences.
    “it’s an ironclad rule that the sex is best at the beginning, and it’s all downhill from there.”
    I mean, if you are a virgin, chances are it’s definitely going to get better. Even if you aren’t a virgin, it takes time to know a partner’s preferences.

    Palmyra

    • Scramble

      I was about to say the same thing. Sex can very definately get better over the course of a relationship, as you get more accustomed to each other, more comfortale sharing personal things about yourselves to each other, and get to know what works best on the other. Also, you expand your repertoire as you get to know someone, because you pick up new ideas from them. For example, I’m very introverted and need to establish a good rapport with someone before getting too adventurous. I’m definately a partner that *improves* with time!

      As for my changing attitudes about sex, count me among those who wasn’t raised with much religion. I had religious friends, though, and North American culture is still heavily influenced by “christian” values, so I certainly did have some indirectly religous-based hangups about sex growing up. And, I did at one time believe in an all-powerful benevolent universe, wich brought with it a loose, vague notion of sex as a deep, spiritual connection between people that you feel in every fibre of your being. This used to be very troubling to me my first few sexually active years, as -surprise!- I never achieved this feeling with anyone. With the acceptance of an unconscious universe and the nonexistence of a ‘spiritual realm’ has come the understanding that sex is, above all, a physical activity like any other we engage in and that can, but does not necessarily, produce an emotional response. 

      Now that I know what to realistically expect from sex, I enjoy it a lot more!
      Palmyra

    • Lyra

      I’m with you on this. Although I’ve never had sex (so I cannot corroborate that part) my masturbation has significantly improved over the years. I see no reason why orgasms with someone else would be different in this regard that orgasms by yourself.

    • Jacob

      +1 for the comment. It can definitely change for the better/worse over time. Just depends on the people.

      Palmyra

    • Lurker111

      “the sex is best at the beginning, and it’s all downhill from there.
      Because in the beginning you’re all excited, and it’s new and it’s hot
      and you don’t know what to expect. If it’s lousy to start with, you’re
      in for a very long marriage full of bad sex, or more likely, no sex at
      all, because you’d probably just give up on it at some point.”

      In my experience, this is true.  If your partner at the beginning is inhibited, things are very, very unlikely to get better.  If religion is involved, nearly absolutely unlikely to get better.

      • Charon

        In your experience. Not in mine, and clearly not in the experience of a number of other people.

  • Amanda McCoy

    Even when I was young as a christian, the idea seemed pretty outlandish to me to wait till marriage. I pretended to go along with it and told myself I would save it for somebody that truly mattered…But I never fully promised to myself that I would obey the rules of no sex before marriage.
    Now as an atheist, my feelings are mostly the same. It’s best to be with somebody you are committed to. But sometimes deviation from that is fun too!
    I can see the idea behind no sex before marriage…I can see the romantic notion in it…but it just doesn’t work for most people. I completely agree with Damon that sexual compatibility isn’t a given. And I might not have ever realized that if I had waited till marriage. I’ve been with some people that I really liked their personalities but they were just AWFUL in bed and there really wasn’t much I could do about it. 
    So yeah, I guess I now believe that it is between two consenting and responsible adults. The consequences lie in their hearts and lives, not some god above. There should still be respect and often reverence, when appropriate. But there should also be laughter, sweaty bodies, and bumped heads. ;-)
    Palmyra

  • gs

    Growing up with a Catholic family, the biggest sex-related issue was living in absolute terror of getting pregnant and wanting/needing an abortion.  My mother is active in the pro-life movement (not yelling at people outside of clinics, but volunteering at ‘pregnancy crisis’ centers and running drives for baby supplies for teen mothers).  The standard false statistics were repeated in my house– severe mental health issues always follow abortions, an abortion raises the risk of breast cancer, etc.  For what it’s worth, I don’t think they know these stats are made up; they were just parroting things they heard from sources they trust. 

    I’m in my 20s now, and I would probably have an abortion if I were to become pregnant at this point due to my financial and work situation.  I know though that I could never tell my family about it; they would consider me a murderer.  
     
    (Palmyra)

  • Eskomo

    I found out I was an atheist when I was 12 in the late sixties. Atheism was very shameful then and that was how I felt about myself. I don’t know if Madalyn Murry O’Hair was really as bad a everyone claimed she was because everyone treated her the same as Fox News treats Dave Silverman. That’s what I grew up with.

     I am not offended by premarital sex, just didn’t get to participate.

    Palmyra

  • anonenmity

    Oh, my, was I ever the “good girl” back in my days of naivete. I was so damn proud of my ‘true love waits’ ring and cried miserably when it was lost somewhere in the dirt while volunteering with churchy people on a Habitat for Humanity job site.

    Yes, I was that person. Until one fateful semester in college, where, for our mandatory book club, I chose an intriguing-looking novel that had drawn the least amount of interest from all the other students (Daniel Quinn’s “Ishmael”, if you’re curious); in fact, there were only about four of us in the discussion group, and I was the only one who found it at all revelatory. The others stuck to their Christianese and ate their Arby’s sandwiches with mingled expressions of confusion and disgust.

    But I, I was on fire! The world opened. I began to allow my mind to finally reason through the questions that had always perturbed it. I began to dream of freedom and openness, and yes, sex, in vivid imaginations I had never before allowed myself. And yes, I had many a holiday fight with my uber-Christian mother, who attempted to raid my bookshelf and take away anything that struck her as incendiary. I had made the mistake of telling her excitedly just how much I felt changed by that one book. Boy, was that a fun Christmas!

    Anyway, my mother probably thinks I went out and started selling my body on the street the very next day, but in fact, it was a few years yet before I became sexually active. Not from lack of trying, mind you. My particular college was just too conservative and just didn’t have a lot of options, if you know what i mean ;)

    And now…well, let’s just say that I’ve been known to make some of my coworkers blush during girl-gab lunch breaks with tales of my adventures. I simply feel an obligation to make sure that I’m doing my part to spread the good gospel of getting it on.

    Cheers, and happy adventures to you all :D
    Palmyra.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_LKTF6H5YXBEGHEFMRSOESS3KWU Advent Gred

    Well I had all kinds of warped views.  Mostly I secretly liked all kinds of fantastic sexual variety.  But I had this sex=marriage thing going on.  So basically I hated the ambiguous term “sexual immorality” in the bible because people would apply it to everything.  And I only thought it could be defined by some of the old testament rules which were basically sex=marriage.

    I read “The Ethical Slut” while I was still christian.  Despite my liking of abundance of sex, the whole ‘being a slut with more than one person’ was something I thought I was against.  I read the book more out of a determination that I would find them to be wrong, and I was right.  Turns out I actually didn’t disagree with anything they said.  It was shocking to find that I was reading my own beleifs written to me, and that my other beleifs (sex=marriage and anything else is bad) were just a confusing contradiction superimposed overtop of my actual values.  Though I think I dropped christianity before I got to the last page, or soon afterwards.

    Palmyra

  • Anonymous

    I grew up knowing a little of God and Jesus, but after I was five my mother stopped taking me to church, so religion wasn’t a huge part of my life.  Fast forward to when I was fifteen and awkward as hell and enter a new friend who decided to “save me”.  I was thrilled. Someone loved me and when I died there wouldn’t be nothing.

    Fastforward again to college at eighteen and a half.  I’d yet to be kissed, let alone be flirted with or had any interest show in me because I was a woman.  I met my first boyfriend within three months of being in college and two months after that, despite my promise to save myself for marriage, I slept with my boyfriend.  And after that I stopped being a Christian.  I was angry with God for a very long time because I didn’t think it was fair that I could go to hell just for enjoying intimacy with someone I cared about.  It wasn’t until about a year ago that I really started to think that I had no reason to be angry with God (firstly because I realized there isn’t one), but rather all the people who told me or showed me with their attitudes that women could only have one partner, their husband. All because of their belief in a god that I no longer believed in.

    I’m a lot happier now that I’ve gotten over those worries and let go of those rules.  I’m sure some would say I’m terrible for having six partners in the past fourteen years. And would frown even deeper if they knew those partners occurred in the first eight of those because the last six have been partner free.

    Such is life.

    And I adored that passage.  Even if I don’t win the book, I will be adding it to my wishlist.

    Palmyra

  • Michael Carpenter

    I think the “keeping myself pure” (as well as the pregnancy and disease) issues are part of an authority and fear based worldview. She’s really keeping herself “pure” out of fear (pregnancy, disease, social stigma, parental disapproval, church leader disapproval) rather than some higher goal of purity for the sake of purity. 

    And, I’ve been to Palmyra. 

  • edgyllama

    I was lucky to grow up with (mostly) non-practicing southern baptist parents, so sex wasn’t actively discouraged.  It wasn’t talked about either, which left me to grow up figuring things out on my own.   I’m guessing that, for my generation and the ones before, sex education either didn’t exist or was deliberately negative towards sex.

    Though I’m married to a devout Christian woman, I’m making sure sex is addressed correctly and frequently with my children.  And though my wife debates with me on certain related topics (such as the topic of premarital sex), I will, for sure, make sure my children grow up educated about sex and leave them to make the final decisions for themselves.

    Palmyra!

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_E5IVDLJRGQTAVFK4KHLDKDH55Y Daniel

    My views didn’t really change.  My parents were divorced and dad had a fairly liberal view of sexuality.  I more or less went that route.  

    Mom is a hardcore Catholic and waited to have sex until marriage in both her marriages (which both ended in divorce within 5 years).  We would argue about it occasionally, with a real winner being the “How would you feel if me or one of your sisters were in Playboy?” discussion wherein I had to honestly inform her that the mother of a girl I was seeing had been a Playmate in the 60s.  She knew the mom and the girl and thought reasonably well of them, so was pretty shocked.Conversely, dad had was reasonably open about sex, clear that masturbation wasn’t really an issue, and in one memorable incident, had to show us a pin-up model who used to be a guy and what an amazing job doctors had done.If anything, sexual issues might have been one of the things that made me start questioning religious doctrine.  Like, wait a minute, if male masturbation is a sin because you are “wasting life”, shouldn’t menstruation also be a sin, but female masturbation totally okay? Might as well Palmyra

  • Saltyestelle

    I’ll paraphrase Hal Sparks regarding premarital sex:  “You don’t save yourself for that one special person, you PRACTICE for that person and get good at stuff!”

  • http://twitter.com/mitnerd36 Jacob Minter

    I didn’t exactly have to reject religion to a great degree, but once I did definitively I’d say the main difference was that I actually had a greater respect for sex.  Whereas before it was something I was told was inappropriate but necessary, I began to realize it was necessary and important in ways beyond reproduction (I was about 17 at this point).  For example, until I got a little more godless and started to hear about the casual side of sex, I hadn’t realized that sex was actually the big factor in a lot of make-or-break relationship moments.  I realized how important sex is.

    Palmyra

  • http://www.facebook.com/wendydunst Wendy S. Dunst

    My views on sex and reproduction changed A LOT.  I was a devout Catholic until about age 18, when my son was already 2 years old.  I hid my pregnancy from my parents for about 6 months, all the while looking up all the biblical stories that condemned me as unworthy in the church’s eyes.  It was really a form of self-flagellation.  Once everyone found out I was pregnant, they took me and my then-boyfriend to Catholic Charities for “counseling”.  What really happened was a hard sell for me to give up my baby, regardless of what *I* wanted to do.  My mother, who is still religious, refuses to ever support CC because of this.  Once I stopped being religious, I felt a whole lot better about myself as a human, which included the sexual side of me.  So there was no great revelation about sex, per se, but more about realizing that I didn’t have to believe what others (even Imaginary Others:) might think of me. 

    Coming to the realization that I was an atheist came much later, but was no less revelatory.

    Palmyra

  • Anonymous

    Molested before my parents became Mormons I was exposed to the sensations of sex and was soon thereafter ordered to abstain.  I spent my entire pre-teen and teenage life repressing those feelings and even thoughts.  As you know, to think is to do according to the word of God.  

    My father told me to imagine a woman in her garments (the official church underwear) to help fend off those lustful thoughts.  That didn’t work, but I avoided masturbation until my 17th year, after my first attempt at intercourse.  I felt at times as if I could explode.

    Knowing that it was all over for me and that even God couldn’t save me, I went full bore.  I had sex with every girl that would let me.  I had a thirst that was unquenchable in those years and everything I did was in an effort to get laid.  

    I lived with guilt beyond words.  I fasted and prayed when the guilt would overwhelm me.  I wanted to die and forgo the God-given challenges that I had been dealt.   Why oh why, would this loving father embed in me a desire so grand – yet declare it evil? 

    I married and oral sex became the source of guilt.  How could I do something so immoral and so nasty – yet I continued on my path to hell.  

    I felt as though I was nailing the coffin closed on my eternal damnation with every sex act performed on my all too willing wife.  

    It would be some 20 years before I would come to know Jesus, the real Jesus; you know the one that never existed, the one imaginary friend of my parents, ok, they actually have 3 imaginary friends; God, Jesus and the Holy Ghost.   

    3 years ago, I declared myself to be an atheist.  The weight from decades of guilt slid off my shoulders and although it was a slow process, I remember the day that it was all gone.  All of it.  Those lustful thoughts from yonder years, the acts performed with girlfriends those sinful acts upon my previous wife, all were washed away by the death of my imaginary friend.  

    I now enjoy guiltless sex.  I enjoy the freedom of my mind and will forever hold in contempt those whom indoctrinated me with such ignorant and powerful condemnations.  

  • AwesomeCloud’s mom

    My views haven’t changed much. I still believe in personal responsibility and considering the consequences of your actions. I believe that if you’ve got those covered, whatever sexual exploration you do is great. I value marriage a lot less, though. I think marriage should be less of a formal, legal institution and more of an option among many options.

    I don’t think my church influenced my sexual views much. Sex wasn’t much of a topic for church. I got all my ideas from my friends.

    Palmyra

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1077776423 Amanda Bracarello

    For me it wasn’t my lack of religion so much as my sexuality that formed my views on sex before marriage. If I live in a country where only a few states will let even me get married, what’s the point of waiting?  My atheism was closely tied there though, because I feel that if the people are mature and educated enough to make that decision and actually accept the potential consequences, to each their own. There’s no god to spite me so I saw no other reason to wait.
    Ah, to be raised in a non-religious household. I’d be pretty mentally scarred otherwise, because the guilt imposed by society was hard enough to get past as a young atheist lesbian.
    Palmyra :).

  • Drew Bentley

    I have a really religious life long friend who actually went 29 years, 340 days as a virgin (had plenty of opportunities too). I thought he was crazy as he was pro-masturbation but I think he set the date a month or so before he turned 30 because I threatened years earlier that if he hadn’t gotten laid by then, I was going to give it to him; and I’m straight and married and my wife was on board with the idea.  ;)

  • Patrick

    I was raised agnostic by a family who was not very forthcoming when it came to sex. I discovered masturbation at a very early age and indulged frequently, yet somehow through cultural osmosis I was ashamed of it, even a little frightened. Fortunately a combination of good public sex ed. classes, pop culture, and Internet resources (not porn, which I looked at but wasn’t that helpful) let me assemble a reasonable picture. My parents never managed to give me the fabled talk, but seemed to loosen up considerably when I demonstrated understanding of the topic.

    In late high school I stopped equivocating and declared myself an atheist. That was pretty much the exorcism of my sexual guilt. I didn’t turn into a sex fiend overnight though…just not my personality, or my choice.

    Palmyra!

  • Ariel

    For awhile, when I was young, I thought the only way I would have sex before marriage was if I got raped, which, in a weird, shallow way, I wanted to happen.  Because then it wouldn’t be my fault for having premarital sex, but I would still get to experience it.  As I got into high school, and got progressively less religious, I figured that I would probably have sex at some point in college, just because I didn’t want to wait until marriage and it seemed silly.  I was right…

    Palmyra.

  • Nathaniel

    Pretty boring story for me. Any issues I’ve had with sex are entirely unrelated to religion, beyond general cultural osmosis.

    Palmyra

  • http://www.gratefultobeofthisworld.blogspot.com/ Dea

    I used to be a good mormon girl. Mormons are obessed with sex. The first time an adult seriously talked to me about sex was in a bishop’s interview where the bishops decided that he needed to define what he meant when he asked if I was morally pure and then proceeded to tell me that lesbian acts, hetreosexual sex acts, oral sex, french kissing, “dry humping”, masterbation, and touching another’s private parts through clothing or allowing someone to do that me was all morally wrong and I was to confess and not take the sacrament (bread and water) if Iwere guilty of any of these things. The only thing I was guilty of was masterbation (which I confessed) but I didn’t want to have to go through that again so I abstained from everything else and was fairly successful at abstaining from the big m – but every few months or years I would relapse.

    I have only been with one man, my-now husband, but we did have premartial sex and I’m glad we did, it was and remains an important part of our relationship. I was a 28 year-old, newly ex-mormon virgin when I met him. My views had changed regarding sex after leaving the church and religion behind me. I had decided that I still wanted to wait until I found someone I cared for, and was prepared to handle discussing sexual history (ie. my virginity, his past, testing for STDs), what we would do for protection, and how we both felt about potential unexpected pregnancies (if contraception failed). I didn’t know when we had sex that I would marry this wonderful man, so waiting until I found someone I cared for did not equal marriage to me. I felt like a responsible person who had sex on her own terms and although I was 28, I kind of felt like a real adult for the first time in over 9 years, whereas before, although I was an adult, I had be living as a “child of god” and let that identify rule my passions, values, and autonomy.

    Palmyra

    • Delinquus

      I’ve lied my way through temple recommend interviews too
      now that im an atheist im actually rather proud. The best/worst part is, im still the president of the deacons quorum

    • Anonymous

      I found that extremely creepy when I learned about it. Men asking kids about their sexual habits seems vaguely pedophilic.Like he gets off on learning that stuff

  • Jeff

    The biggest change I noticed was that I could now scream “Oh, God” “OOOOh, God” without feeling I had just invited a judgmental voyeur to take a peek.  Palmyra.

  • John Small Berries

    My views on sex didn’t change, honestly. I was fortunate enough to be raised by parents who had a healthy and realistic view of sexuality, and in a church where I don’t recall sexuality ever even coming up as a topic.

    Palmyra.

  • http://www.spellwight.com spellwight

    Wasn’t raised religious and my parents were fairly open about having sex, though not as much about talking about it. 

    My story is about my own kid. My 17-year-old son was in a relationship with a Mormon girl (years ago) and I knew they were having sex. We’d discussed all the appropriate protections, etc. After they’d been together for a year I got a phone call from her mother (1st contact ever) where she yelled at me for some time about allowing/encouraging their sexual relationship. My response? My intact family (married 20+ years at that point) living in the real world and using protection trumps her mormon family where the mother had 5 different children by 5 different husbands. How dare she yell at me for being immoral? Multiple marriages is a strange and convoluted way to scratch your sexual itch. Just do it…carefully.

  • http://www.shadesthatmatter.blogspot.com asmallcontempt

    My views on sex have certainly changed a great deal since de-converting; before, everything was off-limits and sinful and please, think of your mother….just don’t. 

    Now, although I’d echo many of the commenters who strongly believe in personal responsibility, I feel that as long as it’s happening between consensual adults exploring their own personal pleasure, then do it when and how you please!

    I was a Christian when my husband and I first started dating, but we had copious amounts of extramarital sex/plenty of practice. Even though we were religious, we abandoned our guilt pretty quickly when we realized that we were really committed AND that the act of sex, when applied consensually, didn’t really have a negative effect on anyone (as in, who cares? It didn’t harm anyone else, and I think it was an enormous benefit to our relationship. Sex is important!)

    Everyone should check out this article I read the other day; it chronicles the experiences of a (still) Christian man who endured some SERIOUS fucked-up-ness from his fundie upbringing. It’s easy to talk about how modesty and purity screw up young women, but men are affected – strongly – by those stereotypes and restrictions as well. It was an interesting read. 

    A Different Kind of Sexual Abuse

    Thought it was pertinent. 

  • http://theresedoucet.wordpress.com/ Therese Doucet

    Great comments, I’m hugely enjoying all the stories and discussion. It’s so interesting to hear about the differences between those who left a strict religion to become atheists versus those who didn’t. Hemant – thanks so much for starting the post! Obviously I won’t say Palmy-you-know-what myself, since I’m already pretty familiar with the book … :)

    • http://theresedoucet.wordpress.com Therese Doucet

      [Typo in my comment, and me being a big geek, am distressed that for some reason having technical difficulties that won't let me edit it. So here it is without the typo!] Great comments, I’m hugely enjoying all the stories and discussion. It’s
      so interesting to hear about the differences between those who left a
      strict religion to become atheists versus those who didn’t. Hemant –
      thanks so much for the post! Obviously I won’t say
      Palmy-you-know-what myself, since I’m already pretty familiar with the
      book … :)

  • JimG

    My views on sex didn’t change so much as develop outright, since my parents and church alike were careful to express nothing definite about the subject. They agreed that sex was foolish and shameful, but were so afraid of giving any practical details (which horny teenagers might use as a checklist) that exactly what things were so bad were always left too vague for specific condemnation. Anyway, I didn’t have many offers to test my tentative beliefs.

    But I do have a story, from the interaction of my best friend, C, with one of our other friends, B. B and C had both gone to a terrifyingly demented local Christian school (run by Southern Baptists, though the school was officially nondenominational) which tried to pound all sorts of weird ideas into their heads. I know a lot of people who went there, and all were damaged to some extent; but while C was there for just a few middle-school years, B had to go K-12, and was accordingly warped thoroughly.

    C, who actually did become a philosophy major, later shared an apartment with B and would discuss those weird beliefs. B would start out by stating some absurdity that he’d been taught as a basic premise. But since he  is actually a very smart and reasonable person, once C had shown him how that contradicted some other belief or observable reality, B would usually shrug and say “Well, I guess that’s another thing I don’t believe anymore.”

    At one point B mentioned how much he was hoping to sleep with a girl he’d arranged a date with. C said “Wait a minute, B – don’t you think that sex outside marriage is a sin? And you were just telling me that Judgment Day is coming soon. Aren’t you worried about that? You don’t plan to marry this girl, do you?”

    B only hesitated for a second before coming out with this belief-destroying contradiction: “Well, yeah, it is a sin. And no, I’m not going to marry her. But, you know, I’m saved, so Jesus will have to forgive me. I want to experience sex, since  I know there won’t be any sex in Heaven.”

    “… So I’m just going to have to get all the pussy I can before the Good Lord comes back.”

  • JimG

    Oh, and: Palmyra.

  • The Linguist

    I never let religion dictate my views of sex. However, I was a bit of a hypochondriac when I was younger and that definitely kept my sexual exploits to a minimum ’til I was about 20.

    Accio Palmyra!

  • Marcie

    I was atheist by the time I hit puberty so I didn’t really think about it much before.

    Palmyra

  • cee

    Shedding the guilt of religion allowed me to shed the guilt of enjoying sex. And to scoff at my mother’s questions about whether I was “guarding my honor.” (What century does she think it is, honestly?!” 

    Palmyra

  • http://twitter.com/enuma enuma

    I think maybe I did it backwards, because my views on sex changed and those changes helped lead me away from religion.  It was the Catholic Church’s teachings on sex that made me realize that, despite the Church’s claims to the contrary, fiat morality is arbitrary.  It’s when I started to see a distinction between sinfulness and immorality.  I had always been taught to conflate sinfulness with harmfulness, which I never thought to question when being taught not to steal or hit, since those actions cause immediate and obvious harm.  It was when examining the Church’s sexual morality that I realized that the very concept of sin was not useful to preventing harm, and that relative morality (judging the rightness or wrongness of an action based on its circumstances and potential outcomes) is vastly superior to so-called absolute morality.

  • Happycynic

    Sex has always been a bit of a red-flag for me. I found the wonders of masturbation around 6th grade, and since that point I’ve been merrily whacking off on a regular basis. I knew masturbation was a sin, because someone had told me so at some point (I didn’t even know who), but I thought they were probably wrong because it didn’t hurt anyone and felt good. I mean, lusting after someone you’re not married to is a sin just as bad as adultery, but if you whack off to an imaginary fantasy girl, or just boob-images without the rest of the person attached, you aren’t lusting after a real person. You can’t be adulterous with Lara Croft :P

    Anyhow. Then I found a game intended for middle-school age kids with a chatroom attached, and that particular corner of the internet was a den of scum of villiany, in that most of the people online were there for cybersex. So I spent many days in the library getting a hard-on while I chatted with horny girls my own age (hopefully…). Never was stupid enough to give out any of my personal info though.

    Sex became an increasing fascination for me. I tried multiple times to give up the masturbation habit, but it never worked. Eventually I came to the conclusion that there wasn’t anything wrong with premarital sex and non-marriage sex in general, and it was just some sort of mis-interpretation of the Good Book or something. About the same time I was in the middle of my slow slide into atheism, I was accepting that sex isn’t dirty and isn’t bad. 

    Nowadays, I view sex with respect, even reverence, compared to how I thought of it as guiltily-wanking-off christian. Before, it was something dirty, shameful, not to be talked of in public, something you weren’t supposed to think about or want. Now, I almost have a reverence for it. Sex is powerful, and amazing, when done right. I’ve had two partners, and while there really wasn’t chemistry with the second (A close friend of mine, we decided we’d give it a go), my first girlfriend and I were sexually active and it was exciting, intimate, and exhilirating (and sweaty!).

    Unfortunately, I go to an engineering-dominant college, and ladies of any repute are a rare treasure. Maybe in Palmyra I’d have better luck?

  • Happycynic

    Sex has always been a bit of a red-flag for me. I found the wonders of masturbation around 6th grade, and since that point I’ve been merrily whacking off on a regular basis. I knew masturbation was a sin, because someone had told me so at some point (I didn’t even know who), but I thought they were probably wrong because it didn’t hurt anyone and felt good. I mean, lusting after someone you’re not married to is a sin just as bad as adultery, but if you whack off to an imaginary fantasy girl, or just boob-images without the rest of the person attached, you aren’t lusting after a real person. You can’t be adulterous with Lara Croft :P

    Anyhow. Then I found a game intended for middle-school age kids with a chatroom attached, and that particular corner of the internet was a den of scum of villiany, in that most of the people online were there for cybersex. So I spent many days in the library getting a hard-on while I chatted with horny girls my own age (hopefully…). Never was stupid enough to give out any of my personal info though.

    Sex became an increasing fascination for me. I tried multiple times to give up the masturbation habit, but it never worked. Eventually I came to the conclusion that there wasn’t anything wrong with premarital sex and non-marriage sex in general, and it was just some sort of mis-interpretation of the Good Book or something. About the same time I was in the middle of my slow slide into atheism, I was accepting that sex isn’t dirty and isn’t bad. 

    Nowadays, I view sex with respect, even reverence, compared to how I thought of it as guiltily-wanking-off christian. Before, it was something dirty, shameful, not to be talked of in public, something you weren’t supposed to think about or want. Now, I almost have a reverence for it. Sex is powerful, and amazing, when done right. I’ve had two partners, and while there really wasn’t chemistry with the second (A close friend of mine, we decided we’d give it a go), my first girlfriend and I were sexually active and it was exciting, intimate, and exhilirating (and sweaty!).

    Unfortunately, I go to an engineering-dominant college, and ladies of any repute are a rare treasure. Maybe in Palmyra I’d have better luck?

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=509626665 Melissa Lynn Zator

    When I first met my boyfriend who I am serious with now, I made it quite
    clear I wanted to wait until marriage, for my own sake and not for
    religious sake or anything like that (maybe it was partly religiously
    influenced who knows) but then when we became serious I decided to give
    in, and in the end it was a good decision. We are still together 3
    almost 4 years down the road and I couldn’t be happier =)

    Palmyra

  • http://www.colormeatheist.com Color Me Atheist

    I grew up in a break off of the mormon church so they followed the no sex before marriage rule.  My views of sex changed a few years before I came out as an atheist.  I did want to have sex before I was married just because it’s human nature.  At the time I didn’t want to make god mad so I resisted as long as I could stand.  I could never understand why god didn’t want us to experience something so amazing as sex.  At 23 I just decided enough was enough and did it.  I didn’t feel any different, I wasn’t struck dead by the wrath of god.  It’s true what Damon said, what if it sucks?  are your really going to live with crappy sex for the rest of your life?  Hell no!  You find someone else and if the sex is good then keep them!  I’m happily married now (not to the guy I lost it to, he was terrible) and the sex is still amazing!

    Palmyra

  • Nezzaraj

    I also never had religion and I believe my thought process as a teenager was “the sooner the better!”

    Palmyra

  • http://disienai.tumblr.com/ Semipermeable

    My thoughts on the subject have changed considerably as I grew up and gained first hand experience enough
    though I have never been particularly religious. My parents were
    raised Roman Catholic, they left the church for their own reasons,
    but kept some of the traditions I think simply out of habit and
    remembering how they themselves were raised. They were doctors, so
    they were not as uncomfortable as many other people are talking about
    sex and other functions, and on the subject they were pretty
    practical. They told me the ‘truth of things’ when I was very young
    in simple terms, hinting that it was better to wait until marriage
    but that wasn’t always the case. For them waiting until marriage was
    issued as a practicality for pregnancy and STD’s, without much stress
    on any form of sin, and they cautioned about doing it to early but I
    never really felt shamed into that choice, I simply decided I would
    do so because it seemed ‘safer’. As I gained more experience I became
    disillusioned with the huge ‘romance’ of it, but when I became more
    realistic about my expectations I ended up dating a partner who I
    really sexually connected with. It is hard to explain, but in simple
    terms if he, and some one else did the exact same thing, the experience with him would be far, far better. I’m not really sure how
    to quantify it, if something about him just hits the right brain
    chemistry with me or what but now I see sex as an important but not
    all consuming part of my relationships, with different meanings and experiences each time.

    Palmyra!

  • BrotherGilburt

    Palmyra! xD

  • Ann

    I was somewhat of a devout catholic but became an atheist about 4 years ago. Since then, my attitude about sex changed from a deep sense of shame and guilt to one of self love and acceptance. 
    Palmyra.

  • KJG

    I lost my religion WAAAY before I lost my virginity.

    Palmyra

  • KoritzerMarie

    My views on sex were radically conservative when I was young. At 14 I decided that I was Wiccan, and that the Goddess blessed her virgin daughters. I wanted to be a virgin forever. 
    I didn’t believe in sex before marriage. And, because of my parent’s divorce, I didn’t believe in marriage. Oh, I had boyfriends. All we ever did was kiss, and I never wanted to take it further. When my best friend had sex, I was honestly disappointed in her. Relationship or not, anyone who had sex was a slut in my opinion. Then I met Dakota. We were long-distance friends for years before we decided to give the long-distance relationship a try. We had phone sex before we had our first kiss. We live together now, and I cannot imagine why I was ever so repressed. I’m an Atheist now, but my Atheism wasn’t what changed me. The experience did. Truly loving him hasn’t left any room for guilt. 
    Also, Palmyra

  • KoritzerMarie

    My views on sex were radically conservative when I was young. At 14 I decided that I was Wiccan, and that the Goddess blessed her virgin daughters. I wanted to be a virgin forever. 
    I didn’t believe in sex before marriage. And, because of my parent’s divorce, I didn’t believe in marriage. Oh, I had boyfriends. All we ever did was kiss, and I never wanted to take it further. When my best friend had sex, I was honestly disappointed in her. Relationship or not, anyone who had sex was a slut in my opinion. Then I met Dakota. We were long-distance friends for years before we decided to give the long-distance relationship a try. We had phone sex before we had our first kiss. We live together now, and I cannot imagine why I was ever so repressed. I’m an Atheist now, but my Atheism wasn’t what changed me. The experience did. Truly loving him hasn’t left any room for guilt. 
    Also, Palmyra

  • Drew M.

    Come on, Virginia, don’t make me wait. Catholic girls start much too late.

    Palmyra

  • Drew M.

    Come on, Virginia, don’t make me wait. Catholic girls start much too late.

    Palmyra

  • Delinquus

    well im still only 14 so i don’t have very much experience with this subject, but i really was a little bastard when i was mormon. I was extremely judgmental, anti-gay, and just all around stupid. Any girl who was in any way popular was obviously a slut and i was stupid enough to go around telling people that. That came back to bite me in the ass when i decided not to wait til 16 to start dating.
    I was still branded as the spiteful self-righteous mormon bastard. Now whenever i try to get any (not even talking about sex, just anything) i cant and that really sucks. I’ve recently gone to a school where i dont know anyone so luckily i dont have a reputation yet.
    The only thing that bugs me about being an atheist is sitting through church (my fascist parents still force me to go) and trying not to gouge my eyes out the whole time. I’ve recently come to the conclusion that its almost impossible for any liberal to be christian without stepping on their own toes.
    not really a romance novel type person though

  • ColoQ

    I am an ex mormon, male, and bisexual.  My initial feelings regarding sex were sculpted by the doctrine of the Mormon faith: which I understand is a “beautiful and wonderful thing”  to be shared only by husband and wife: and mainly used for procreation – and you should procreate mightily!  Even to the point where many of my friends’ families had more kids than they could financially handle. 

    As such, we were kept in the dark about most things of this nature. I was Pulled out of the public education Sex-ed and health sciences classes, and kept virtually in the dark.  It wasn’t until *friends* told me the functions that I actually learned anything. I even felt bad – sinful  in fact – for nocturnal emissions as I hit puberty. 

    Puberty is also when it got weird for me: when I started the “backward slide” as my mom calls it into being an agnostic and now an athiest. Concurrently, I was learning I had an interest in boys as well as girls. It took a while, but I was eventually able to learn to be OK with these new feelings, and thoughts. 

    My sexual identity now is very sex-positive. My (bisexual as well) wife and I are in a positive open relationship, and find sex to be an enjoyable expression of being alive: and are now looking forward to raising a family. 

    I think of it as  an X vs Y statement. 
    I’m now for Responsibility vs Procreation Only.
    I’m now for Communication vs Ignorance
    I’m now for Acceptance vs Dogma

  • http://annainca.blogspot.com/ Anna

    I’m a lifelong atheist, so my views have never really changed. I didn’t have any idea that so many people were taught to feel guilt and shame about their sexual urges. Of course, I knew that some groups taught teenagers to avoid sex until marriage, but I didn’t realize the kids took it that seriously. I even sat through a “chastity” lecture at Mormon summer camp when I was 14, but the manipulation was quite apparent to me. I didn’t realize that most of my fellow campers accepted what we were being told, or that it must have had harmful psychological effects on them later on.

  • Mrjazzitup

    Palmyra

  • absent sway

    My views changed before I “came to my senses,”  at least partially. I remember feeling guilty for messing around with my then-fiance (and also feeling worried about the times I didn’t feel guilty) and talking about it with a good friend with the same values. In a nonjudgmental way, she said she was concerned for me, because this could get in the way of my walk with God, and what would I do if things didn’t work out and I didn’t marry him? Wouldn’t I feel awful that I had gone so far with someone who was not my husband? I was surprised at how quickly I felt and stated that “No, if we broke up, that would be the least of my concerns. If we broke up, I would lose the man I love and everything else would pale in comparison.” After getting married, my husband and I both thought something along the lines of, gee, what’s the big deal everyone’s been freaking out about?

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Elizabeth-Masters-Hiatt/1089954620 Elizabeth Masters Hiatt

    I had sex and lived with my now husband several years before becoming an atheist. The conflict between feeling guilty about it and feeling guilty for not feeling guilty contributed to my leaving religion behind. If nothing else, our Catholic marriage prep was so over the top that I really had to take a look at what I believed. If you ever want a laugh, I recommend God’s Plan for a Joy Filled Marriage. 

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Elizabeth-Masters-Hiatt/1089954620 Elizabeth Masters Hiatt

      Also, Palmyra. 

  • Fry

    As a lifelong atheist, I never had any hangups about sex. As a lifelong nerd and geek, my awkwardness held me back more than anything else anyway. Looking back, I’m rather glad I got to focus on my friendships rather than trying to force bad high school relationships (not that I would have turned one down). My wife, however, as the repressed Catholic girl, wound up way more experienced before we met each other. Go figure.

    This book sounds grand.
    Palmyra

  • miss_ellie

    I was raised catholic and was taught that you were supposed to wait til marriage. ha! i hardly knew any virgins when i finally graduated from catholic highschool ( i was one of a handful in my class). i know work at a porn store so i have a very different view of sex. i feel now  that you should be able to have sex with anyone you want (as long as it is consensual, of course, and assuming that you want to have sex with anyone at all), including your self. 
    i am now no longer a virgin, but kind of regret it. not because of some religious hangups still hanging on from catholic school, but because i also believe that sex should be special, at least that is what i want it to be. if im having sex with someone, it needs to be some one i care about, not something that i just do for the hell of it. 

    Palmyra

  • dauntless

    When I was religious, I was in a relationship with much premarital sex. I was quite a happy little fundie. In my eyes, we were “as good as married”. In her eyes, we “were married, in God’s eyes”. This way, it was guilt-free sex, even in the confines of my religious fundamentalism, so my self-esteem and conscious were preserved. I have seen similar things among friends (such as the continued wearing of “purity rings” even after copulation — “we’re still pure, in God’s eyes”). Just some cognitive dissonance.

  • ListenMaudy

    Sex wasn’t discussed, so I didn’t actually think about it all that much before I realized I was an atheist. We always went to church, but I never really thought of me or my family as being very religious, even as I went to bible camps, etc. By the time I was going through puberty, my religion was gone, so it wasn’t an issue for me, from a strictly religious sense.

    This book looks excellent, so Palmyra.

  • Jacob

    I’ve also enjoyed all the comments; good post!

    Neither of my parents were religious and we were never open about sex. I did masturbate like the world was going to end and started from a pretty early age. My dad tried talking to me REALLY late in the game about sex (I think I was 15 or 16) and that was just weird. I didn’t have sex until I was a freshman in college, with my now fiance. I never really considered having sex without commitment also. We’re  5+ years in and we haven’t had vaginal sex in 10+ months, but we have oral sex a ton which is awesome….
    Palmyra

  • paul caggegi

    Ha. Never really had any hang-ups & I was raised Catholic (but had very liberal parents). The only thing I ever heard about safe sex was in my later years: “If you use a condom, just make sure you throw a blanket over Jesus so he doesn’t tell the Pope what you did”

    (appearently all glow-in-the-dark Jesus statues were bugged, & obviously monitored by the Vatican)

    Palmyra!

  • Beth

    My view on sex changed while I was religious, not after. I’m not entirely sure how much my views on sex were influenced by the church and how much was abuse issues and culture in general.  I know it was bad for me that the church heavily discouraged any sexual contact with genitals. It was also terrible for the church to hold the untouched virgin up as the goal and anyone else as broken, lesser and with pieces of their hearts and souls torn away from them by who they’d biblically known before. Someone raped as a child likely feels bad enough without hearing that.
    I didn’t even realize what my sexual tastes were until I was around 20. I had been convinced they meant I was severely mentally ill. I’m not sure that’s the church’s fault aside from encouraging the notion that I was broken, lesser, worthless, in need of healing, etc.
    My turning point came not with losing religion but when a friend suggested that perhaps that significant bit of my “illness” was actually something sexual. It honestly hadn’t occurred to me and was a profound revelation. My world changed. No longer did I have to think I was sick any time I indulged myself the least bit. In a way, I guess I did lose a religion there, one that among other things held the belief that what I liked was sick, wrong, evil. As I started trusting myself more, I became less crazy.
    I don’t think I could have lost my religion had I not first changed my views on sex because my views on sex combined with my desires meant I was crazy and couldn’t trust myself, my feelings, or my reasoning.

    I was a Baptist who fell for an atheist philosopher. Had nothing to do with him being into philosophy, though.

    Palmyra

  • Psychotic Atheist

    There seems to be a lot of people who can say that their views on sex didn’t change and I’m almost one of them.  I had essentially lost my Christianity before I had gained my libido.   I had adopted a more sort of new-agey eastern type religion by that time.  This had slightly misogynistic positions, but it had  more or less a healthy relationship with sex.  Sex was practically a holy act during which meditation could be performed and so on.

    I did feel shame at masturbation, but that was because I was convinced that unseen people were watching – a symptom I expect of my psychosis rather than of my religious views.

    I maintained some semblance of religion into my twenties,  but my sex life was thankfully guilt free and diverse. So while there may have been influencing factors, on the whole religion played very little role in deciding whether I should have sex and how I should do it.  I was raised CofE

    Palmyra

  • Holly

    I grew up in a southern evangelical household. My dad was a youth leader so we were at the church every time the doors were open. My parents were fairly frank with me when I asked about sexual topics but of course they were always discouraged. I was taught abstinence-only education in my private-Christian school, where they showed awful pictures of genitalia with varying STDs, assuring us that if we had sex just one time this would happen to us.  We then had to sign a pledge that we would remain “pure” until our wedding night. This was all in 8th grade. I was never, once, taught how to use a condom, where to obtain birth control, or other methods of protection. I became sexually active when I was 16 and I would still have classified myself as a “Christian”, although I never actually went to church or practiced. Luckily the guy was a decent guy so he made sure we used protection, although I never would have insisted if he didn’t. Terrible, I know. After getting in a serious relationship with him (cart before horse, no?) he suggested that I go to a planned-parenthood type clinic to get on birth control. All of this unbeknownst to my parents. Fast-forward 5 years and I’m now 22, an atheist, and am married. We both have had premarital sex and we don’t let that take away from our relationship at all. I don’t know exactly what triggered my ideas on sex to change but I did realize how oppressing the Christian ideas on sex are. 
    Palmyra

  • Theuppityalaskan

    Librarian checking in: please go to your local library and request this book be added to the collection (if you think it should be). Most libraries have request forms and most will at least consider ordering the books that are requested.

    If you don’t request this one, please request another atheist/ humanist- friendly book that might be of interest to a broad audience; public libraries are never ever lacking in Christian- themed literature, but almost always lacking, or completely devoid of, atheistic lit.

    Thank you!

  • JustKat

    I was always willing to experiment sexually even when I was religious – you know, do what you want, feel a little guilt but pray for forgiveness, later, rinse, repeat.

    The part that I love about now is that I no longer believe that any of my dead relatives (let alone a sky daddy) can see what I’m doing. I mean I would really think things like, “I sure hope Grandma’s not watching THIS.”  Whee…

     “Palmyra”

  • JustKat

    “Lather” for Pete’s sake.

  • ChrisK

    My views didn’t really change, but there was less guilt.

    Palmyra

  • Charon

    You often ask about people’s opinions changing as a result of losing their religion… which is indeed interesting, but there are plenty of us who’ve never been religious. And yet our opinions can change as well. Because, you know, our middle-school plan of being married in our early twenties just didn’t work out.

    That said, both characters have really stupid opinions on sex, in my view. They honestly both sound like virgins imagining what it would be like. Either that or Damon has never had a relationship that’s lasted any appreciable length of time.

    Palmyra

  • Audtree

    I’m a post Mormon girl and felt guilt from sexual thoughts and acts for years. Even though I met my now husband I high school, I managed to stay a virgin till I was 20 and I just couldn’t resist him any longer. We had been together for 5 years and I still went home after we had sex and cried all night because of the guilt. I was literally sitting in my Bishops office confessing what I had done when I realized that this was the stupidest reaction to have after such a great act.

    I had doubts about the church before this moment but this was my tipping point. I left the church soon after and after doing extensive research, dumped religion all together. I will never subject myself to unnecessary guilt again.

    On another note, I have a 63 year old Aunt who has stayed true to the church but has never married. I’ve always wanted to ask her about this topic but I never will.

    Palmyra

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/ Hemant Mehta

    A winner for this contest has been notified!  Also, if anyone else would like to obtain a copy of this book, Therese was kind enough to offer a discount code to readers through next week!  Type in JQ72F at Smashwords (http://j.mp/nfYvpu) and you will get a 20% discount on the book!

    • http://theresedoucet.wordpress.com/ Therese Doucet

      Thanks Hemant, and thanks everyone for signing up! The JQ72F code is good through October 28. (I’ve also got a book giveaway running on Goodreads.com, and if anyone would like to sign up for that, it’s open through Sunday the 23rd.)

  • Erick Chastain

    You know, it’s not just mormons who believe that asceticism in sexual matters is good. The atheist philosophers Lucretius, Schopenhauer and Epicurius taught the virtues of asceticism for building self-control and enjoying life more overall. So maybe the philosopher should’ve praised her asceticism in this passage. It seems clear that this character, the philosopher, is no lover of wisdom (or even very good at philosophy). 


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