Rules for Christian sex and rules about rules

Rules are a lousy way to get people to follow rules.

Just at the most basic level, giving rules and expecting them to be followed doesn’t work unless those rules are explained, understood and owned by the people you expect to follow them. No one will, or can, respect a rule that hasn’t been explained and understood.

So if you’re big on rules, or if you’re trying to make a career or a hobby out of scolding people for not following your rules, then it might be good to step back and consider whether you might be the source of this problem. If you haven’t explained your rules, or if you’re not able to explain your rules, then it’s pretty silly to expect anyone else to treat them with respect.

This is why our Christian Rules for Sex and our Rules for Christian Sex are a dead end. It’s not so much that these rules are widely disobeyed, but that they are largely irrelevant. We don’t bother explaining most of them. We aren’t able to explain many of them. So it shouldn’t be surprising that others don’t understand them either.

Part of the reason we don’t bother explaining these rules is that they seem so simple. The Christian Rules for Sex/Rules for Christian Sex seem to boil down to a single, binary question: Yes or no? Are we talking about sex between a married straight couple? If yes, the rules say, then everything is fine. If no, the rules say, then it is an abomination and a vile stench in the nostrils of God.

Libby Anne summarized this nicely in her “Tale of Two Boxes,” from which I’ve borrowed the illustration used here.

When the church teaches this binary question and the set of rules it provides as the whole of Christian teaching about sex it’s basically inviting people to ignore what it has to say. As long as such rules are asserted without being explained, explored and defended, then no one should ever expect them to be followed, honored or otherwise taken seriously. (And, no, citing chapter-and-verse is not a way of defending the rules, just of reasserting them.)

Now, I think that part of the reason this binary question and its collection of rules haven’t been explained and defended is because these rules, as usually asserted, can’t be explained or defended. I think our usual assumptions about the CRS/RCS are, in many ways, wrong.

This is where my more conservative evangelical critics accuse me of wanting to “do away with the rules” and of arguing that “anything goes.” That’s not true, but such accusations are to be expected from folks who have asserted and embraced a set of rules without exploring or explaining them, even to themselves.

My response to such accusations is always the same: I’m not saying anything goes, I simply want you to treat your “biblical rules about sex” exactly the same way that you’re already treating the biblical rules about money. I want you to take the exact same hermeneutical approach that you are already taking to every biblical teaching on wealth and possessions and apply that to biblical teaching on sexuality. Then treat both sets of teachings — and other people — with more respect than your current practice seems to do with regard to either subject.

My point here, though, is not to argue about the substance of the CRS/RCS, but to note that this rule-based approach is fundamentally misguided — that rules are just about the worst possible method for getting people to obey the rules.

Asserting  and reasserting a list of rules rather than offering a functional sexual ethics won’t ever produce ethical behavior. All you’ll get from asserting a list of rules is a long list of people who break them.

This rules-based approach also has all kinds of disastrous unintended consequences. (At least, I hope these consequences are unintended.) Rod at Political Jesus outlines many of them in a righteous rant titled “India, Ohio, John Piper, Religion and the Triumph of Rape Culture.”

His focus there is on how the “purity culture” of American Christianity feeds and fosters the rape culture of American Christianity. (Yes, the rape culture of American Christianity. When the church is noticeably different from the rest of American culture on this point, then we can start talking about “the rape culture of American society surrounding the church.” But we’re nowhere near that yet.)

Rod says, bluntly, that it’s time for America’s Christian subculture to “kiss purity culture goodbye”:

In the Old and New Testament, purity and religion are never separate from seeking justice from others. Religious purity according to James 1:27, “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to care for orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world” shows an understanding of purification that is not limited to sexual purity.

What complementarians (church going men who see women as 2nd class citizens) cling to is exactly what is impure: the power that men have over women.

He also links to several other excellent posts elsewhere on this same subject of purity culture as a way of enforcing men’s power over women, including Sarah Moon on the Orwellian logic of “complementarianism,” E.J. Graff’s powerful, disturbing essay, “Purity Culture Is Rape Culture,” and a killer post from Wartburg Watch on John Piper and Domestic Violence (about which, see also the latest from Dianna Anderson).

I want to highlight in particular a post from Julia at Women in Theology on “Sexual violence and the church: talking to teens.” After some wise words on what needs to be taught to teens, and how to teach it, Julia concludes with an important explanation of why sexual ethics is better than sexual rules — and the cruel consequences of the rules-based teaching that predominates in our churches:

The reality of sexual violence is important to discuss and teens, like the rest of us, need to hear that it is a very serious sin. Yes, sin. The churches have language to bring to this discussion that secular society does not. We can talk about gravely harmful behavior without having to resort to legal definitions  and loopholes. We can claim that sexual activities, in every instance, should embody love and respect for oneself and the other. The language of sexual activities as an expression of love and respect clearly exposes the misstep that a rape victim could ever be “asking for it” and the mistake of defining consent exclusively in terms of its minimum requirements. It is important that we keep talking about sexual violence in church.

Julia sees theological language as an asset in teaching sexual ethics, and she employs such language forcefully.

Yet she also shows how the mere assertion of rules — X is sin, don’t do X — isn’t just unhelpful, but harmful. It contributes to the victim-blaming that allows the triumph of rape culture Rod discusses.

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  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    There is really only two rules that need be worried about: Are both persons capable of consenting? And have they both consented?

    Then the rest can be left well enough alone.

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

    My response to this ballooned out of control, so I ended up putting it in my own blog instead.

    Short form:
    1) on balance, I want to add “Is anyone being hurt?”
    2) a different culture would require different (and perhaps fewer) rules.

  • christopher_y

    That’s some comment thread you’ve got going on over there, Dave.

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

     I suppose. In the heydey of LJ, it would have been a lot more active for this much of a hotbutton topic; most of my commenters have since gone elsewhere.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    In reply to here and there: Mutual consent implies mutual lack of harm (except as agreed upon by both parties), at least as I see it, since the element of consent includes an implicit agreement not to hurt the other person.

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

    I tentatively agree that given a clearly-enough-specified notion of “consent” that is shared by everyone involved, “don’t violate consent” is the only rule we need to follow to avoid doing things we ought not do.

  • http://www.lara-thinkingoutloud.blogspot.com/ Lara

    If only it were that simple.  Are the two people educated about the fact that their sexual act can create a child?  Do they have a plan in place in case a child is conceived?  The child cannot consent to it’s creation or care.  Do they know how to prevent pregnancy and the statistics of it’s probability of working? 
    Is one of these consenting people in a committed relationship?  If my husband and his friend from work both consent to sex that doesn’t leave anyone un-harmed.  I am harmed and my children are harmed by a broken home. 
    We are societal creatures so our decisions affect other people, not just ourselves.  And this is why we need to be talking about this and discussing it and why simple rules don’t ever solve our problems.
    I’m so sorry to contrarian.  I am not a conservative.  I don’t believe that sex must be confined to happening after an American Wedding.  I DO very much agree that consent must be talked about more and more.  These were just my thoughts that popped up after reading this comment.

  • EllieMurasaki

    All the problems you mention could be solved by changing Neutrino’s statement to say ‘all persons’ (if Anne’s married to Bob, and Anne and Cathy want to sex, Bob’s an involved party who needs to consent whether Bob is a participant or spectator of the sex or not) and ‘informed consent’.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    Yeah, that pretty much covers it.

  • http://www.lara-thinkingoutloud.blogspot.com/ Lara

    Whoops.  I should have read all of the comments before posting this.  Apparently these issues have already been brought up.  So sorry.

  • http://www.youtube.com/user/SirWinstoneChurchill Winston Blake
  • Lunch Meat

    This is a brilliant post. I touched on this in my blog here:

    Take a question that was raised in Bible class recently: “What does the
    Greek word for “sexual immorality” mean?” The teacher explained that the
    word (“porneia”) is about as vague and far-reaching as the English
    phrase is, and asked the student what she thought (a good teaching
    response). And she said “Well, God gives us rules because He loves us
    and wants to protect us, so I think it means anything that has, like,
    bad consequences.” My response was, “God doesn’t just give us rules to
    protect us, He gives us rules to protect others from us. So why can’t
    sexual immorality mean the same thing as other immorality, but with
    regard to sex? Or in other words: don’t be a jerk. Don’t objectify
    people. Don’t lie. Don’t use sex as a tool to manipulate. Don’t withhold
    sex from your partner for petty reasons.” Do others as you would have
    them do you.

    But instead of us thinking in terms of ethics, and what loving people
    actually means, we think about what the Bible literally says, and how
    can we summarize this book down into a list of rules? And our consciences, ability to reason, empathy and critical thinking are hampered because we never use them.

  • Carstonio

    I’ve long argued that the problem with “God-given rules” is that we don’t know that any such rules were indeed given that way – anyone can write down rules and claim a divine source.

    You and the other student didn’t even agree on first principles. You were articulating a reasonable approach to interpersonal ethics that any society could use, irrespective of religion. The other student was saying Father Knows Best, which at a minimum requires the assumption that I question above. But beyond that problem, as a father I can say with a degree of certainty that parents don’t know best. They make decisions to the best of their ability regarding the welfare of their children, but they’re not perfect. Part of raising children is teaching them to appreciate the reasons and benefits of the Golden Rule, instead of simply following rules for their own sake. What the other student was articulating was living one’s entire life as a child who doesn’t know any better.

  • http://www.nicolejleboeuf.com/index.php Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little

    Or in other words: don’t be a jerk. Don’t objectify
    people. Don’t lie. Don’t use sex as a tool to manipulate. Don’t withhold sex from your partner for petty reasons.” Do others as you would have them do you.

    I have a big, big, huge problem with the text that I’ve bolded there. It rests on the assumption that there are times when your reasons for not having sex aren’t good enough. I don’t care if you’re “withholding sex”* because you have a headache, because you’re not in the mood, because you’re petty enough to use this as a means to punish your partner for not loading the dishwasher right–it’s your body. It’s up to you and no one else, at any given moment, whether to have sex with it.

    By counseling people not to “withhold sex for petty reasons,” you are basically reinforcing the rape culture attitude that because we can refuse to have sex our reasons have to be “good enough.” And you’ve got to know it’ll overwhelmingly be women who get that message reinforced more than men.

    “I don’t want to” is always a good enough reason, no matter what “because” statement gets tacked onto the end. If the “because” statement is “petty,” that may point to problems in the relationship, but the answer to those problems is not “You better put out unless you have a good reason.”

    *Come to think of it, I pretty much despise the phrase “withholding sex”; it rests on the assumption that sex with me is something my partner is entitled to by virtue of being my partner, that it’s something I must and should give.Sex isn’t an object to give. It’s an activity to partake in. I’m not withholding some object I owe my partner; if I’m withholding anything, it’s consent, because I do not wish to partake at this moment. Scolding your readers for withholding consent is pretty damn rapey, no two ways around it.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

     Yeah, but I think you’re deliberately changing the meaning from the one they were going for. I know women who believe that sex in marriage is for no other purpose than to be granted or withheld to the husband as a means of controlling his behavior.

    And I think that’s wrong, and I think that’s all they meant by it.

  • Carstonio

    From Graff:

    A culture in which women are expected to remain
    virgins until marriage is a rape culture. In that vision, women’s bodies
    are for use primarily for procreation or male pleasure. They must be kept pure.

    Exactly – purity is about women as property.

    From Clark:

    Asserting  and reasserting a list of rules rather than offering a
    functional sexual ethics won’t ever produce ethical behavior. All you’ll
    get from asserting a list of rules is a long list of people who break
    them.

    While Fred is right, I was hoping that he would say that consent is the basis for any humane and rational concept of sexual ethics.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_NR2MMC4EJXJWJMLH6IF457XL64 Alex B

    He didn’t say that rules are bad, or that there are no rules, but rather that the guiding principle should be sexual ethics. There are a number of rules that come out of such sexual ethics, “all parties must be consenting” is certainly one of them.

  • Carstonio

    He didn’t say that rules are bad, or that there are no rules

    I didn’t read Fred that way, and I wouldn’t advocate those, either. My criticism is aimed at the concept of rules for their own sake. There should be ethical principles behind any rule that should be easily understandable, otherwise it’s “Because I said so.”

  • markedward

    I think this (the first quote) is quite true of how Christianity has perceived it in the past (and in the present). But I think the criticism should be clarified a bit, because it is criticizing a subset of Christians (albeit a rather large subset) who have this view of ‘purity’.

    Many other Christians (another subset, perhaps smaller than the other one) do not think of ‘purity’ as just ‘women are expected to remain virgins until marriage’, but that both men and women are expected to remain virgins until marriage. Not because one or the other is being viewed ‘primarily for procreation or [] pleasure’ (a tool to be used and discarded at will), but because it can strengthen the relationship between them. In other words, it is a proleptic commitment to that relationship.

    In other words, the first quote should include the important word of ‘only’, i.e. ‘A culture in which only women are expected to remain virgins until marriage is a rape culture’, because that is the notion it is criticizing; that the same sentiment is not being applied evenly between men and women.

  • Carstonio

    both men and women are expected to remain virgins until marriage. Not
    because one or the other is being viewed ‘primarily for procreation or
    [] pleasure’ (a tool to be used and discarded at will), but because it
    can strengthen the relationship between them.

    That sounds like a much more recent phenomenon both religiously and culturally. I suspect that the double standard for sexuality has been a norm for most of human history. Even if the official stance was that men should also remain virgins until marriage, in practice societies probably looked the other way. Or else they seemed to treat unwed fatherhood as a property crime and not a sin like unwed motherhood.

  • markedward

    And that’s probably true. Hopefully we can get this to change.

  • arcseconds

     A friend of mine reported staying with a family for a little while where it became clear that the father was more-or-less outright encouraging his boys to go out and sow their wild oats.

    Of course, his daughters on the other hand were virtually in a cloister, because he knows what men are like.  Not some vague ‘there are plenty of men out there, possibly living on the wrong side of the tracks or belonging to some wrong cultural group, who will take advantage of you’ kind of ‘knowledge’, but real, actual, first-hand knowledge of what he himself is turning out with his sons.

  • Carstonio

    In my experience, the men who joke about buying shotguns before their daughters mature are the same ones who talk about women as meat.

  • Makabit

    In my experience, the men who joke about buying shotguns before their daughters mature are the same ones who talk about women as meat.

    Dunno about always. We’re expecting a baby girl in a few days, and my husband is already planning creative ways to harass her eventual suitors. I’ve never noticed any malevolent misogyny on his part.

  • Carstonio

    He could have some unquestioned assumptions about the genders, simply because he grew up in a culture that hasn’t yet shed such assumptions. I’m no stranger to that phenomenon myself, and actually being the father of daughters has helped lead me to question those assumptions. Perhaps anyone in his position would benefit from asking why, if you had a son, he wouldn’t be harassing the boy’s eventual girlfriends. 

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    And if you had a son, would YOU be planning creative ways to harrass his eventual suitors?

    The fact that such a thing probably seems totally absurd should point up to you the differential treatment of males and females, whose origins lie in the idea that women can’t defend themselves and need a man around to protect them.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    Um. I don’t find it totally absurd. Is the experience of mothers fretting about the hypothetical whores and harpies who will one day steal their beloved little boy away from them a less common experience than I imagine?

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    Apparently, judging from the sheer prevalence of this kind of male-protector gender-essentialist stuff I see floating around the Interwebs in fiction and in ‘net forum discussions.

  • http://www.youtube.com/user/SirWinstoneChurchill Winston Blake
  • http://www.youtube.com/user/SirWinstoneChurchill Winston Blake
  • Carstonio

    When Bill Cosby’s oldest two daughters were very young, his material had some of the same sexist attitudes. He went from wanting sons to deeming boys as basically nasty, saying “pretty soon they’ll be coming after me.” Notice he didn’t say they’ll be coming after his daughters. Years later when his children were teenagers, the material still implied his and his father’s disappointment that his first child wasn’t a son.

  • Mark Z.

    While Fred is right, I was hoping that he would say that consent is the basis for any humane and rational concept of sexual ethics.

    No, it’s not.

    Consent is the basis for a rational shared societal doctrine of sexual ethics, because we are a pluralistic society and sex is a social activity. We acknowledge that my idea of “right” sexuality is not necessarily the same as yours, and therefore the principle we apply is that there must not be any sexual contact between us unless we both agree to it. Consent doesn’t replace our individual concepts of sexual ethics. It mediates between them.

    But a large part of what we’re talking about here is not negotiation between adults with already-established sexual desires and boundaries, but what to teach children about sexual desires and boundaries. Consent absolutely must be part of that, but can’t be all of it.

  • Carstonio

    What else would be involved for sexual ethics where children are concerned? I had thought that boundaries in sexuality are fundamentally about consent.

  • Splitting Image

    Years ago I read about a man who was charged with molesting his daughter so frequently that she assumed it was normal. It wasn’t that she had consented (in any meaningful way), but that she was brought up to believe that sex was such a trivial thing to ask of her that she ought to consent automatically when someone asked her for it.

    No one had taught her that there were things she shouldn’t consent to. You can tell a child that when she (or he) gets older she can decide for herself what she will and won’t consent to, but she can’t really understand that unless you also teach her how to think about different activities.

    So while consent is a big part of it, kids also need to learn the physical and emotional risks associated with sex in order to make an informed decision about whether to consent to something.

  • Carstonio

    While I’m nodding my head in agreement, I also see that as integral to personal boundaries, instead of being a separate ethical concept. Consent must be informed to have any meaning, and what you describe is simply an aspect of the ethical principle behind consent. It’s very possible that the daughter in that horrid story never learned to respect other people’s boundaries either, and I can imagine a son in that situation growing up to be a rapist for the same reason. 

  • The_L1985

    Well, considering that power differentials make non-coerced consent with kids really, really iffy at BEST, and coerced consent may as well be no consent at all, I’d say “don’t boink children/teens if you are an adult” would be a pretty safe rule of thumb for anybody.

  • histrogeek

     Consent is the foundation of all legitimate sexual ethics. Built on that though is respect, responsibility, and consequences (by which I mean more than just pregnancy and STDs).
    Just as a basic scenario, if consent is the only benchmark, then an eighteen-year old who seduces a fifteen-year old into having sex, then dumps him or her, could be seen as ethical (or at least not unethical), even if the younger person is predictably left an emotional train wreck. Still  I doubt most people would see that sort of behavior as ethnic, even if it’s not the sort of thing we’d want to make illegal.

  • Carstonio

     (nods) That’s what I was expressing as well. Consent as not the sole benchmark but the foundational one.

  • Makabit

    Dan Savage takes a ‘national park’ approach to older people having sex with younger and more vulnerable people (within legal boundaries, natch)–not only do you need consent and all that good stuff, you have to commit to leave them in better condition than you found them in.

  • histrogeek

    Interesting thought, though not especially practical or reasonable. Too many older people justify their behavior toward younger people as “teaching” them or releasing them from repressive social strictures (as in Lolita, if read without understanding that Hubert is an unreliable narrator). To say nothing of tempting the older person to be super-patronizing, which really won’t help the younger person.
    My guideline would be that the older person commit to behaving as close as possible to what would be appropriate if their partner were also older. Still not perfect but it’s a seriously bad ethical situation to begin with. I imagine it can be done (not that I have just to be clear), but it’s one of those cases that is more likely to work out in an ethics discussion than in real life.

  • Jake Litteral

    So where do Progressive Christians stand on pre-marital sex?

  • Beroli

     Patheos’ confusion on the subject aside, I am unaware of such a  Christian denomination as the “Progressive.”

  • Jake Litteral

    Let me rephrase, what do some in the Progressive Christian umbrella think about pre-marital sex? Is it allowable, is the question completely irrelevant, etc. I’m asking because I’m going through a critical “rethinking” of my theological views, from a fundie Calvinist to now, hell, I have no idea.

  • http://www.facebook.com/ericrboersma Eric Boersma

    Note that I don’t represent everyone under the Progressive Umbrella when I say this, but: I don’t view it as a big deal. There are potential negatives to premarital sex, but there are potential negatives to marital sex too, that are often glossed over. 

    Perhaps the post at the top of this thread most succinctly sums up my views: If both are capable of consenting, and both have consented, then I don’t have any problem with it. 

  • http://www.oliviareviews.com/ PepperjackCandy

    I suspect that for every person who considers him- or herself to be a progressive Christian, the stance on premarital sex is going to be different.  This is probably because many of us start out with  “love God, love your neighbors” and work outwards from there.  How to express that love is up to personal choice and interpretation.

    I, personally, cannot see myself having sex outside of a formal monogamous relationship of some sort (even if not actual marriage).  For me sex involves a huge leap of faith that I am not going to be hurt, physically, emotionally, or healthwise, and I just cannot take that leap with someone that I don’t have a formal relationship with. 

    I try not to draw conclusions about others’ relationships.  If they are having sex within a committed marital (or marriage-like) relationship, great.  If they are having lots of casual sex and getting physical and emotional benefits from it, then that’s great for them, too.  If I know that uncommitted sex has hurt him or her in the past, I may push for him or her to wait for a commitment in the future not because some rules say that he or she should, but because of who he or she is and because  of his or her past history.

  • histrogeek

     Your initial post came across as a bit accusatory, especially since as has been pointed out, “Progressive” is a best a description though we have essentially no gatekeepers so anything could be said.
    With that out of the way, the one thing nearly all Christians who would call themselves progressive would agree (most likely) is that sex ought not to be a central preoccupation of the Christian life. Justice and compassion are WAY more important than who someone with boinking.
    Second point is that violence and exploitation are great evils, if not THE great evil. Sexual violence in particular has no justification, unlike say violence used to defend another person (about which there is a good deal of disagreement).
    Third point sexuality is a complex, thorny enough issue so worry about yourself rather than other people.
    Beyond those three points, you can find individual progressives pretty much run the gamut from personally puritanical monogamy to anything with consent is OK.
    On a more positive note, sexuality is a gift from God, which is expressed in a vast and fascinating array. Sex is an expression of love (though not the only one). Individuals should explore as they feel comfortable and with whom they feel comfortable.
    So in terms of pre-marital sex, the best advice is talk and understand one another’s feelings. Figure it out together.

  • CoolHandLNC

    Well, “some” means at least one. There is probably quite a bit of diversity.

    As for me, I am very much in agreement with Julia’s statement:

    sexual activities, in every instance, should embody love and respect for oneself and the other

    This is consistent with the notion, from Jesus himself, that there is no law but Love.
    About your question, though, it is irrelevant unless it pertains to you personally. It seems like you are looking for rules, as if there is a set of instructions somewhere. That seems to me to be the wrong question. When you were 5, your mother told you not to cross the street by yourself. That is a rule, suitable for a young child. But you don’t follow that now. Now you understand that crossing streets can be dangerous and requires caution and judgement. Likewise, there is no rule about where you go when, and what you do there. One exercises good judgement to avoid going to unsafe places at 2AM. But nobody says that it is a sin to be there, only that it might be unwise. Why should it be otherwise for sexual activities? Intimate relationships are a wonderful part of life but are potentially hazardous, requiring caution and judgement.

    So, why are you concerned about premarital sex? If your thinking is that you are taking something that you don’t own or defiling something, then you are thinking of women as property. If, on the other hand, you are wary of sexual relationships without a permanent commitment as being too emotionally risky for you to handle, or you don’t feel you can handle the responsibilities of a sexual relationship outside of a marital commitment, then that is your decision to make. But for yourself, not for others. What other people do behind closed doors is not your business unless and until you are in a relationship with a commitment to or understanding of exclusivity.

    Now, in discussion with certain other people who identify as Progressive Christians, I have been shocked and dismayed to have them react very negatively to my notion of sexual ethics. I am not sure what they are seeing in what I say. Perhaps it is because I tend to value marriage very highly and they read into that a notion that marriage is about one person owning another. That is not what I mean by it at all. However, the fact that they hear something very different from what I think I am saying leads me to disclaim that there exists a set of Progressive Christians whose views on marriage and sexual ethics I do not fully understand and cannot represent.

    Give life your best shot and don’t worry so much. God will understand if you don’t get everything just right.

  • Jake Litteral

     Thank you for the reply, and yes I guess I was looking for some sort of “rule.” It’s hard though at the same time for me to grasp this conversation because of my former Calvinist, conservative, penal-substitution, rules-based mindset.

  • The_L1985

     It took me a while to get used to the idea of reasons vs. rules, too.  I still get tripped up and it’s been years. :)

  • CoolHandLNC

    I can sympathize. For some years now, I have been in a process of deconstructing my faith to get to the essentials and what I really believe. It has been painful, but also liberating and exciting. I expect it to be a journey of a lifetime.

    I try not to criticize other people’s religion but religions that damage people suck. Calvinism, from what I know of it and IMHO, is a piece of work.

    We are trained from youth to think of good things as scarce. God’s love and grace are bountiful beyond measure. 

    Let’s see, rules:
    * Love God. Seek God: a journey of infinite discovery.
    * Love others. Don’t be a jerk. Give freely of yourself, what you are an what you have. (Our baptismal vows include a promise to respect the dignity of every human being, and to seek and serve Christ in all persons. I love that last bit. I think in a different tradition that might be namaste.)
    * Love yourself. Don’t tear yourself down. You aren’t more important than other people, but neither are you less. (Seek and serve Christ [the divine] in yourself too.)

    Isn’t that enough?

  • Carolinereid54

    Jake, try the Progressive channel of Patheos for input in this area!

  • walden

     So where do Progressive Christians stand on pre-marital sex?

    Well, on the stairs can be good,  if you’re different heights.

  • Foreigner

    I’m now picturing that famous class sketch with John  Cleese at the foot of the stairs, Ronnie Barker higher up, and Ronnie Corbett at the top …

    … but I’m also picturing horrific falling downstairs scenarios, cos I’m old, and what I want mostly from a sexual venue these days is comfort. Privacy if possible, but comfort always, and no falling off of things.

  • Carstonio

    I only know about that sketch because they showed it in a Monty Python retrospective. Disappointing that very little of the members’ earlier work (At Last the 1948 Show, Do Not Adjust Your Set, Complete and Utter History of Britain) survives on video. Apparently the BBC was close to erasing the Python shows before PBS showed interest. On this side of the Atlantic, it was also customary to erase and reuse videotape, so we have only bits and pieces of Johnny Carson’s early work – his humor was more risqué in the 1960s.

  • Foreigner

    In the black and white era (in which fall the shows you mention) it usually wasn’t videotape, even, but huge great glass(?) discs, which were hideously expensive and hence had to be re-used.  What survives is stuff that was filmed illegally by viewers or filmed (on film film) by the BBC in case somebody said something actionable and it had to be played for the court; all of it as of a horrible quality as you could imagine; the original Four Yorkshiremen sketch is especially vile.

    But we are straying from the topic. So, you’ve got her legs up against the mantelpiece …

  • Carstonio

    Was that a UK process? US broadcasters adopted videotape fairly early, because it was a better format for delivering content to multiple time zones. But it was very pricey for many years, hence the reuse.

  • Foreigner

    I’m going on memory here, as a quick search revealed nothing to the point, but I do recall seeing something on TV about TV being recorded onto discs in the early days … perhaps down to differences between US and UK broadcast systems?

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    It’s still absolutely criminal that the Beeb wiped their airing of The Caves of Steel. I’m just thankful there wasn’t a similarly asinine destruction of 1984; as cheezy as its appearance is to modern viewers, as best as I can tell it’s faithful to the book, even to the way the Ministries in Oceania are great pyramidal structures.

  • The_L1985

     And no head games, am I right? ;)

  • http://www.youtube.com/user/SirWinstoneChurchill Winston Blake
  • spinetingler

     most actually lie down.

  • animus

    Doing it standing up might lead to dancing.

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    That’s gonna depend a lot on which progressive Christian you ask.

  • everstar

    So where do Progressive Christians stand on pre-marital sex?

    Wherever there’s enough room.

  • Eamon Knight

    Generally good, except this quote:

    The churches have language to bring to this discussion that secular
    society does not. We can talk about gravely harmful behavior without
    having to resort to legal definitions  and loopholes. We can claim that
    sexual activities, in every instance, should embody love and respect for
    oneself and the other.

    Since when can’t “secular society” talk about all those things? Every sex/rape/gender issues thread on Pharyngula says otherwise, loudly and forcefully. Granted, that’s not all of society, not even all of the atheist movement — but the churches, as a whole, don’t seem to be any better. I flatly reject the implicit claim that there is any moral issue one which religion, as religion, has any uniquely valuable thing to say.

  • http://vovinyl.blogspot.com/ FangsFirst

    That’s not true, but such accusations are to be expected from folks who have asserted and embraced a set of rules without exploring or explaining them, even to themselves.

    (Emphasis mine, of course.)

    This is and shall forever remain the key. They don’t see “self-evident truths” as requiring any exploration or explanation. Before, now, or ever. To them, quoting scripture is explanation, because scripture=word of God=from on high=unassailable. In a sense, that’s an explanation: “It came from a source that determines anything and everything, and we cannot understand that source completely, just know that everything that source provides is good and true.” It’s a pretty lame one, and one that doesn’t actually explain the reasoning but it does explain why (in theory) it should be followed.

    I don’t think or know that there’s any way to get around that. If someone thinks God is not entirely “knowable”, how could you have any hope of understanding the reasons? How could you explain to someone that it’s important to understand why God said do this, don’t do that (can’t you read the signs)? 

  • banancat

    There’s another problem with those boxes: they’re not mutually exclusive. Both gay sex and polyamory can be marital sex. Also, since when is the Bible against all forms of polygamy?

  • http://www.youtube.com/user/SirWinstoneChurchill Winston Blake

    Only religious faggots get married…

  • LL

    Well, the truth about sex rules everywhere (not just in Christianity or America) is that – from the point of view of people who believe this shit – sex belongs to men. They own it. Therefore, they get to make all the rules. Women’s (or very, very often, young girls’) opinions are irrelevant. 

    So it doesn’t matter if the rules make no sense or result in terrible things happening to people (both male and female, but let’s face it, mostly female). That’s a feature, not a bug. 

    Decent people like Fred try to explain the problem. But to many men, there is no problem. Women get raped – what’s the problem? Not a problem for men. Just a problem for women. And since it happens mostly to women (though not exclusively, which is another scuzzy layer of this repellent onion, the rape of boys and men), it’s not really a problem, anyway. 

    Obviously, the concept of “purity” and “cultures” that allow rape to flourish go hand in hand. When females are not people but property, their “virtue” becomes their only really marketable value. So raping a female is not harming a person, but lowering the value of someone else’s property (as someone else already noted above). Not as serious as stealing a cow or other livestock, though.

  • ReverendRef

    Just at the most basic level, giving rules and expecting them to be followed doesn’t work unless those rules are explained, understood and owned by the people you expect to follow them.

    Well, I can tell you that explaining rules to coaches does not result in understanding of said rules.  There have been times when explaining the rule to a coach simply results in him thinking I really don’t know what I’m talking about and only making things up to piss him off.

    But I digress . . .

    I don’t think rules are the best way to maintain a religion.  For starters, relying on rules negates (or certainly diminishes) the place of faith.  There are certain tenets/doctrines of Christianity, such as the Trinity, the Resurrection, fully human-fully divine, that are a basic part of being a Christian.  And there are other aspects that can be held to or debated.

    But to say, “These are the rules that you MUST obey,” . . . I’m not buying that.  Not only does it have a tendency to constrict and drive people away, but it really devalues humanity in general in that rules assumes that we can’t be trusted to develop our faith on our own.

    As Paul says over in Philippians, “Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.”

    Kind of hard to do that when you’ve got a bunch of rules hanging over your head.

  • The_L1985

    For me, it was the rules that caused the fear and trembling.  Made me quite neurotic, as a matter of fact.

  • ReverendRef

     For me, it was the rules that caused the fear and trembling.  Made me quite neurotic, as a matter of fact.

    I’m pretty sure that’s not what Paul had in mind. 

    Sorry to hear that.

  • The_L1985

    Frankly, sir, knowing that Christians in general, and Christian pastors in general, are Not All Like That helps a lot with coping.  I’m a bit too scarred to go back to church any time in the near future (possibly ever), but just knowing that folks like you would welcome me back if I did, and not care whether I was some arbitrary value of Good Enough, kind of helps to undo what was done a wee bit. :)

  • histrogeek

    I think it’s important not to blame the arbitrary rules as the only source of pain around sexuality.  I know the rules were a big source of fear and trembling for me too, but alas they weren’t the only source. Fear of loss, anxiety over how the other person viewed me, low self-esteem, etc. were at least as big a source of neurotic relationships.
     Not that the arbitrary rules help at all mind you. Just for many, maybe even most, people, just dropping religious or social norms is not going to remove all problems. I don’t know if that what you meant to imply, but some people inevitably jump to that conclusion.

  • glendanowakowsk

    Like this?

    http://xkcd.com/592/

    Maybe the rules need to be changed gradually.

  • histrogeek

    Pretty much. I think the area below the line is fixed after the rule change. Change the rules gradually and you get less extreme drama spread over a lot longer.

  • The_L1985

    No, and you’re absolutely right, it wasn’t the rules alone, by any means.  (After all, my brother was raised in the exact same environment and is totally fine.)  It was more the sense, all the time, that I was somehow a grave disappointment to my earthly father, and that a lot of suggestions for going Above And Beyond were actually Rules You Mustn’t Break.  CCD sort of went from very stark, black-and-white, Do This, Not That sort of morality, into mentioning other things it’s good to do, but which aren’t absolutely necessary–and didn’t make this clear enough for the non-neurotypical girl to realize it was happening.

    So I felt like I had to do a lot of things that I just wasn’t managing, per mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa, and clearly I was just a horrible person and everyone else was doing all these things just fine.  Or at least that’s what it seemed like at the time.  Now I realize nobody can do everything, but we can all do something, and they were just trying to suggest some nice Somethings for us to do.

  • histrogeek

    Oh do I know that song all too well. I’ve got two decades of anti-depressants to almost be able to deal with that.

  • banancat

    Oh, also, where does the Bible say pedophilia is wrong? There are cases of very young brides that the biblical authors make no effort to condemn.

  • GeniusLemur

    I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again: anytime someone says “why?” the conversative’s already lost.

  • Magic_Cracker

    “Bob” said it, I smoked it, that settles it.

  • Fusina

    I had thought about this stuff a lot (I have now an 18 year old daughter and we have had discussions for years now about these sort of things,), and one of my questions for the authoritarian/patriarchal people is, If purity is so important, why do only the girls get purity rings and balls/parties? Because if the sexes are treated differently in regard to this, then something is out of balance.  Also, Why? Why the girls and not the boys?

  • http://thatbeerguy.blogspot.com Chris Doggett

    If purity is so important, why do only the girls get purity rings and balls/parties?

    Because to the authoritarian/patriarchal people, sexuality is understood primarily through the commodity model. Sexual activities are “given” by women to men, or “taken” by men from women. A woman who “gives” sexual activites has decreased value, unless it is given in exchange for something else of value. (increasing levels of commitment culminating in marriage)

    In this model, women are solely responsible for “sexual gatekeeping”. Male sexual agency is viewed as biological, primal, and at best a step away from uncontrolled; women are responsible for preventing men from acting on their “baser urges”. This is expressed in a myriad of ways, from demands of “modest dress” to outright victim-blaming. Female sexual agency is complete erased in this model; sex is something that men want and women give. There is no room in this model for female sexual agency that is not devaluing, nor is there room for male sexual modesty that is not seen as effeminate or “weak”. 

    This model does not have a strong value for consent. Sex-as-commodity views rape largely in terms of property-loss or theft. Husbands cannot rape wives, and prostitutes cannot be raped at all. Any other sexual encounter that would be classified as “rape” is viewed as a failure by the woman to be a responsible “owner” of her sexual activities. 

  • Carstonio

    Put more simply, patriarchists define women and their reproductive power as male property, either of husbands or fathers.

  • http://thatbeerguy.blogspot.com Chris Doggett

    I think that’s a tiny bit of an oversimplification. Yes, it’s about reproduction (which is why abortion gets them so very mad!) but they’re offended by non-reproductive sexual acts as well. 

    The view is very anti-sexuality in general, anti-pleasure, and hold male sexuality in strong contempt. (though not nearly as strong a contempt as female sexuality) 

  • Fusina

     So basically, the same reason that some Muslims make women wear burkas etc… Because a man goes totally out of control on seeing a woman and has to “have” her then and there, right out in public and all.

    Um, I’m aware that doesn’t generally happen, and yes, I was being sarcastic. I guess I am just tired of seeing the same arguments rehashed over and over. I’m fifty, and this same shit has been going around since before I was 18. I really hoped that there would be some progress, and since I have an 18 year old daughter now and am seeing the same discussions… Meh.

  • http://www.youtube.com/user/SirWinstoneChurchill Winston Blake
  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    I think it comes down to the idea that women are the initiators of male sexual aggression (“I couldn’t help myself, did you see that ass in those yoga pants?”) and the protectors of the male sexual response (“Why did you get drunk at that dance club with that boy”? You should have known better!”)

    In short, victim-blaming rape culture. (>_<)

  • Carstonio

    On another board, I had someone try to convince me of the existence of “rapes of lust and excitement.” As if men were mindless from the waist down. Just a slight variation on victim-blaming like Glenn Beck’s “Don’t tease the panther.”

  • http://vovinyl.blogspot.com/ FangsFirst

    On another board, I had someone try to convince me of the existence of “rapes of lust and excitement.” As if men were mindless from the waist down.

    I often find myself wary of discounting lust or actual sex-based motivators for rape. I have always had strong (occasionally excessive–when the other person is half naked in your home by their own hand and you’re still saying, “But it’s okay if you aren’t interested,” I tend to think you might be taking it too far, though it tended not to stop me from still being super duper sure) lines about this myself, but I have a libido and am aware how strong a motivator sexual drive is. If someone is not properly educated, then lust+not understanding consent could easily=non-malicious-in-intent, lust/excitement based rape. It wouldn’t be mindless, then. It would fit perfectly logically in that mind. It also wouldn’t be not-rape.Mostly this just always worries me as a way of drawing the kind of lines that lead to idiot phrases like “legitimate rape”. I know that’s not even remotely what you mean, but when society seems to be failing pretty hard at making clear what consent is, some people could easily not understand they are not receiving it and think their actions are just “having sex”. Whether it’s bullshit or sincere, plenty of people already proclaim this to be the case. I’d rather not have anything discounted on the base of motivation.

  • Carstonio

    My use of “mindless” was probably confusing. I was describing the longstanding myth that men lose control of themselves once aroused.

    Not sure what you mean by society failing to make clear what constitutes consent. I would think that someone who respects personal boundaries would assume lack of consent unless the other person makes it explicit in some way. Perhaps understanding content should be a prerequisite for initiating sex with another person. As I mentioned elsewhere, that lack of understanding could also make the person vulnerable to being raped. This issue isn’t about motivations.

  • The_L1985

     You have to remember that in abstinence-only circles, there is an implicit assumption that women don’t have any sort of libido at all.  It’s never stated outright, but since all the Stay A Virgin! advice for girls tends to consist of “It’s ok to say no, and he has to respect it” sort of things, with no similar information given to the boys, it’s practically broadcast that Women Don’t Want Sex, Just Marriage And Babies.

    When you’re assuming that half of humanity can’t possibly want to partake in the activity you want to enjoy with them, you’re not going to recognize female desire or consent as such, nor will you see much difference between “Ooh, yes!” and “Well, all right, if it’ll shut you up” except that one is better at “acting” than the other.

  • Carstonio

     If I really believed that women have no libido, I don’t know that I could bring myself to have sex with them at all, and not just out of respect. The woman would be providing me a service out of obligation, which would be a galaxy-sized turnoff. No different from buying a plastic fantastic lover. My preference is to be desired.

  • Tricksterson

    “it’s practically broadcast that Women Don’t Want Sex”

    And if they do then they’re unnatural, which is why one of my “definitions of a slut” is “What a man calls a woman who scares him because her sex drive is as strong as his”.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    Even in non-abstinence-only circles, the default assumption is that girls do not want to have sex, and the primary issue of the choice of a young couple whether to have sex is that the girl probably doesn’t want to and needs to be taught ahead of time to have the courage and confidence to steadfastly refuse.

    The closest thing you’re liable to see to a sex-positive message in what we teach our children about sex is something like “If you decide to have sex, don’t worry; you’re not ruined forever.”

  • EllieMurasaki

    the girl […] needs to be taught ahead of time to have the courage and confidence to steadfastly refuse.

    Which, y’know, she does. So does he. (Or ze or the other she as applicable.) They also need to be taught that there’s nothing wrong and can be much right with saying yes, but if they don’t know that there’s nothing wrong and can be much right with saying no, there’s a problem.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

     No disagreement, but I think that trying to teach the latter without teaching the former  fails to result in learning the actual “there’s nothing wrong and can be much right with saying no” and instead leads to “‘no’ is the only right answer,” with at best a “‘yes’ isn’t necesarily the worst answer, but it’s still bad”

    But my primary point anyway was we teach from the assumption that girls must be taught to say “no” because girls are supposed to want “no”.

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    You have to remember that in abstinence-only circles, there is an implicit assumption that women don’t have any sort of libido at all.

    That’s reaching.

  • The_L1985

    Not by much.  I went through abstinence-only, and felt like I was some sort of a freak because I had sexual urges sometimes.

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    Maybe “some” would be an appropriate adjective, is what I’m suggesting.

  • Fusina

     Yeah. And you don’t want to be there for the anti-mastubation lecture. Yeep.

    And if Slactivist is reading these, can he do something about this Blake character? He’s harshing my bliss.

  • http://vovinyl.blogspot.com/ FangsFirst

    My use of “mindless” was probably confusing. I was describing the longstanding myth that men lose control of themselves once aroused.
    Not sure what you mean by society failing to make clear what constitutes consent. I would think that someone who respects personal boundaries would assume lack of consent unless the other person makes it explicit in some way. Perhaps understanding content should be a prerequisite for initiating sex with another person. As I mentioned elsewhere, that lack of understanding could also make the person vulnerable to being raped. This issue isn’t about motivations.

    What I mean is that society seems fuzzy on consent.
    When we still have victim-blaming bandied about, there’s not absolute clarity on consent. “Asking for it” is an implied sense of consent: if you ask for something, you are generally consenting to it, if you will. If people still think–and we can see that plenty do–that someone can “ask for” rape, then there’s a failure to be clear about what consent means, and it’s a failing of society as a whole to make that clear.And the motivation relates to the idea that I see “rape is not about sex” stated consistently as unequivocal, absolute and unassailable truth. In most cases–truthfully, maybe even all–it is. But that is a declaration of motivation, and denial of another kind: if rape is never, ever about sex, then a rape that is “about sex” logically isn’t rape. I don’t understand the need to harp on this point, as a rape of lust or excitement, in and of itself, should not be discounted. I realize the value of clarifying the majority as being about power and not sex (in terms of helping to normalize sex in the face of an act that has, in effect, nothing to do with it, for instance), but it just strikes me as worrisome to make that so absolute (that’s the sentiment I got from your original post: rape cannot result from lust/excitement, and people are silly/stupid to even posit it).

    While I’m who I am and disconnected from my emotions or other people or whatever the hell is wrong with me, so this event did not have a distinct effect on me personally, I wrote the below and realized it might need a Trigger Warning for others. So, bear that in mind, folks (you can probably guess the topic from context)

    Plenty of people don’t assume lack of consent  in the absence of explicit consent. You’d think they would, but they don’t. I do, I’m sure you do, but having had someone, as an adult, choose to put their hand on me in a place it most certainly did not belong without my permission, I’m pretty sure she didn’t think a damn thing about whether I wanted her to do it or not, nor that it might actually be ethically or morally wrong. Based on the rest of her behaviour that night–which apparently concluded with her drunk in a bathtub and calling out for me, someone she’d never met before that night, and before that attempting to climb on top of me at midnight (it was a new year’s party) to kiss me despite the knee and shin held up in front of me and against her chest. No one told her this was wrong. No one said anything except, honestly, I swear, “Come on, just let her give you oral sex, it will make you feel good and her feel worth something.” I had an argument about this, because I insisted I did not feel comfortable with any of this, and thought it was wrong for her.
    No one was concerned about my absolute disinterest in being sexually involved with this person, no one saw it as wrong to ignore that and stick us together or let her do whatever she felt anyway. Disturbingly, they were also encouraging me to use their friend sexually and walk away, but that’s something else again.

    And I was a man and she was a woman. To think that the reverse would always be seen differently (ie, inherently wrong) is shown to be false by numerous actual events, which is why we have the phrase “victim-blaming” in the first place. She wasn’t motivated by power–if I’m realistic, it was motivated by a desire to “win me over”, believing that sex was the way to do it. It definitely wasn’t power. Logistically, what she did was moving toward rape (or it was, I don’t even know–I like to think that’s my call, but maybe it isn’t). I made myself obviously pretty clear. If someone sticks their leg out and puts their knee to your chest while you’re trying to climb into their lap, I don’t think there’s much question how you feel. But if she could think, no, I really wanted it–why couldn’t anyone else, and then act on the lust that motivates them toward sex in the first place?

    I don’t understand why there’s a need to deny any rape could be motivated by lust. It doesn’t necessarily mean there’s mindless slavery to arousal. It could mean someone doesn’t understand when there’s not mutual arousal or agreement that mutual arousal should lead to actual physical activity. But I see that insistence a lot. I don’t get it. It brings motivation into the picture, when I think your final sentence is right: motivation doesn’t matter. But as soon as one motivation is deprecated (and saying one motivation or underlying cause is the never the case most certainly deprecates it) we’re left with the question of whether an event coming from it “counts”. Again, my point is not to debate semantics, it’s that I see that argument and it looks like it’s bringing semantics in in the first place, as it’s denying a cause out of hand. And if it sounds like I’m just being purely theoretical: my story is real, and is it really implausible that the same thing could go further? And would that not still be rape?

  • Carstonio

    Without discounting what you went through, my objection to the claim of “rapes of lust and excitement” is the assumption that these alone are capable of causing a person to disregard another’s personal boundaries. That’s a myth that’s almost always used to excuse rape by men. My theory is that rape involves a prior assumption that the person’s desires are more important than the personal boundaries of others. Entitlement. In your case, the person may very well had some degree of disinterest in your personal boundaries and alcohol simply lowered the inhibitions connected to this belief. Not a motivation but a mindset.

  • http://vovinyl.blogspot.com/ FangsFirst

    I do see your point, and that is a good phrasing that sort of elucidates for me a better definition of where the issue is, in terms of desire vs. boundaries as opposed to simply focusing on the boundary itself (which is obviously where the moral, personal exception occurs). I do think plenty of people are crap at understanding the boundaries of others. My experience, for instance, might relate back, somewhat ironically, to the notion that men are uncontrolled when it comes to lust, and she suspected I “should” have just thought “oboysex!” and happily gone for it–thus being totally unaware that I might actually have boundaries, which makes it hard to feel disinterest in them.

    On the flipside, lot of people are also convinced that I don’t want to be touched, ever. I can’t say I have any particular affection for it, but when a stranger can reach for my genitlas completely without my permission and I mostly think “Uhhh…?” it seems like something other than that. Still, my body language apparently says something I’m not actually thinking at all. But, as implied, therapists have generally agreed something’s off in that realm for me. Maybe that should discount me from attempting to understand this entirely and just leave me to operate on my “intense confirmation” approach to consent (much though I don’t intend to even risk my confusion on anyone else).

    On an unrelated note, I got a version of “women don’t have libidos” myself, without celibacy-encouragement involved–more like “all women think sex is gross and icky”, which was validated by a variety of women I’ve known, and defied utterly by others (occasionally going further than my own boundaries of comfort/disgust). Then, I actually had experience with a woman whose perception of sex described the one you mentioned as so off-putting. It was less a turn off than an absolute horror, I have to say–that perception of obligation. On the bright side, she told me this after she learned she had a libido. Still kind of horrifying, but more in a “that would have been awful” sense.

    EDIT: Disqus needs to stop breaking my formatting. And I need to get back to writing my own blog here and not getting distracted.

  • Lliira

     I don’t understand why there’s a need to deny any rape could be motivated by lust.

    Because it never, ever, EVER is. There have been multiple studies done on this fact. Rapists rape because they like to rape: they know they are committing rape, they know how to get out of paying for it if they’re accused (which they very rarely are), and it’s not about sexual lust.

    Rape is motivated by a desire for power. That is it, that is all, that is the beginning and end. If it were motivated by lust, everyone with a sex drive would be a rapist. If it were motivated by lust, I would have been raped multiple times and committed rape multiple times, and so would virtually every other person in existence. Everyone is sometimes refused. It. Is. Not. About. Sex. Sex is nothing more than a useful tool to have power over someone. It is a massively intimate act, and therefore the most intimate violation; and it’s not like you’re gonna have to pay for being a rapist unless you’re wildly unlucky.

    Also: there have been cultures in which rape was virtually unknown. (Northeast Native American seaboard, pre-colonization.) What, men in those cultures experienced less lust? Please!

  • http://vovinyl.blogspot.com/ FangsFirst

     If it were motivated by lust, everyone with a sex drive would be a rapist. If it were motivated by lust, I would have been raped multiple times and committed rape multiple times, and so would virtually every other person in existence.

    Wait, do we not agree that rape is defined by the absence of consent?
    If so, you’re saying the majority of humanity has participated in nonconsensual sex acts, but that, it doesn’t count as rape because it was motivated by lust…?!
    By everything I hold dear, I am terribly glad to be an exception from virtually all of humanity then…

  • Shallot

     …I think you may have misread Lliira’s post, because I’m getting something completely different.  “It doesn’t count as rape because it was motivated by lust,” is what she’s arguing is false, because it puts lust in a different category from all the other emotions that we can and are expected to control.  And it falls apart at any scrutiny, which is how I understood the part you quoted above.  After all, we don’t see people having spontaneous, uncontrollable sex at the grocery store, no matter how cute the guy behind the deli counter is. 

    To put it a different way, my father has been described as someone who has an “uncontrollable temper.”  This is completely wrong.  If he could not control his anger, then when his boss at work irritated him (for example), he would have yelled or thrown things at his boss.  He didn’t, because he knew he would get fired or go to jail.  Instead, he would finish his shift, go home, find something to get angry about, and then go ballistic.  He had control of his anger, he just chose to only intimidate people weaker than himself.

  • http://vovinyl.blogspot.com/ FangsFirst

    because it puts lust in a different category from all the other emotions that we can and are expected to control. And it falls apart at any scrutiny, which is how I understood the part you quoted above.  After all, we don’t see people having spontaneous, uncontrollable sex at the grocery store, no matter how cute the guy behind the deli counter is.

    This makes no damned sense.
     If someone thinks they got consent and acted on it, but was wrong, then it is not “uncontrolled”. That’s not about “uncontrolled lust”, which is not one whit of what I have said at any point. I already addressed that with “mindless”.  It’s about controlled lust being used wrongly. Acknowledging that some dipshit could think they got consent and be wrong says, “You absolutely must be clear that you have received it, because thinking what you’re doing is okay and consensual is not what makes it okay and consensual: it is what the other person thinks and feels.” 
    This “it can’t be lust” requires that every rapist ever is 100% capable of reading every other human being on the face of the earth under any circumstances whatsoever.That is fucking ludicrous.I know people who gave “consent” under social or similar pressures. I most certainly don’t discount their experiences (even though some of them do). Some people are terrible at reading other people. Some people are also just stupid. Some people will hear “yes” as “yes”, even if it isn’t a yes that is actually comfortable. If we want to legally or morally or ethically define that as “not rape” because they “gave consent, however technical”, it doesn’t do shit about how it affects that person.And that, to me is the crux: what matters is that it harms another person, not swearing up and down the field that the person who did it knew what they were doing, no ifs, ands, or buts, and definitely no exceptions of any kind ever. The person doing it is not my first concern. If you tell someone “All rapists like to rape, and it is never done for sex,” then someone who thinks “Well, I don’t like raping, and on this particular occasion, I just want to have sex,” is basically being told they should go ahead, that can’t be rape. It doesn’t matter if they actually shouldn’t or that maybe it actually is, because the definition given tells them, they, as “not-rapists”, cannot rape. It narrows the definition, turns all rapists into explicit, simplistic, pure evil. It allows people to go, “Whew, not me,” and go on with whatever they are going to do, even something harmful. Regardless of retrospective perceptions (or awareness of those who know better), it tells people that they’d never be able to violate someone else’s will unless they were already going to.There are two people in these scenarios. They can easily have different perspectives. And I do not want those scenarios discounted because we just cannot believe that Person A was absolutely convinced they had Person B’s permission and proceeded with what they thought was just sex. Because that says it is Person B’s fault for not making it clear enough  to Person A that they couldn’t be confused. And if you seriously think that alcohol and people who feel pressure from society to “consent” against their own interests don’t confuse anyone, you’re throwing a bunch of people under a bus and saying, “Nope, all rapists can always read everything you do and say and know you were not consenting.”The emphasis of that definition is on making sure people know rapists are evil, not rape. Except it’s the action is the problem. The people wouldn’t be the problem if not for the action. A “rapist” that never rapes isn’t a good thing, but it’s a hell of a lot–incalculable amounts–better than a rapist that does. The point is the action. Not the person. Or, if any person, the person harmed. Insisting on rendering people who perform evil actions as evil before the action is even performed opens you up to evil performed by the ignorant, the stupid, and the confused.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    Rape is motivated by a desire for power. That is it, that is all, that is the beginning and end.

    If “that is it, that is all, that is the beginning and the end,” then it is passing strange that rapists seem so often to express this desire for power in the form of sex acts, and that they so often express it toward the same sorts of people they would like to have sex with. If there’s no other thing involved in addition to power, then it’s very strange that they consistently choose to gain power in one specific way that is sex-shaped. 

    I mean, if it was “power + lust”, then it would make a bit more sense, but if it’s just power and nothing else, that’s as strange as if domestic abuse was just about uncontrollable anger.

  • PatBannon

    Uh, I guess, trigger warning: rape discussion.

    This is a pretty grotesque comparison, but it’s about focusing power through the lens of sexuality onto an appropriate target. The same power could also be focused through the lens of violence by hunting some creature (or killing someone). I wouldn’t be surprised if some heartless banker in this great economic collapse got his rocks off by focusing his power through the lens of commerce and destroying people financially.

    Rape is one way among many of saying “I’m going to find something, grab it, and then things are going my way.” It is about power, but it is power as exerted through sexuality (and often physical force), so the sexual element is intermingled with the power element until it’s hard to distinguish which one is which.

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

     Now I’m confused.

    So, OK, consider four people, all of whom feel a pathological urge to say, as you put it, “I’m going to find something, grab it, and then things are going my way.”

    One of those people hunts a creature.
    One of those people kills someone.
    One of those people destroys someone financially.
    And one of those people rapes someone.

    If I’ve understood your account correctly, all four of those people share a property which is about power. And those four people have different properties which affect how that desire for power gets expressed. The second guy might not be satisfied by financial destruction, and the fourth guy might not be satisfied by murder, and so forth.

    Have I understood your account correctly?

  • PatBannon

    It’s a gross oversimplification, but, basically. Some people can express it more benignly through video games, like going on a rampage in Grand Theft Auto or Skyrim or something. My main point is that it’s the same primal urge at the core that is expressed through behavior in different – and more or less healthy/destructive – ways depending on the person.

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

    OK, thanks for clarifying that.

  • http://www.youtube.com/user/SirWinstoneChurchill Winston Blake
  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

    One thing I found interesting about Libby Anne’s  Tale of Two Boxes was that the Progressive version of the boxes contained “rape” and the Conservative version didn’t.

    Granted,  it’s easy to put rape in one box and not the other when the boxes are about consent.

    Then again, if it’s not easy to do so when the boxes are about God’s Rules, so much the worse for God’s Rules.

  • The_L1985

    She talked about that too, in the adjacent post “Rape: that’s a form of premarital sex, right?”

    Basically, as she pointed out, if the rapist and victim aren’t married to each other, it goes under the “Forbidden” box, but the victim is often blamed for it anyway, and it’s treated more or less like consensual premarital sex, because she’s no longer “pure.”  If they are married to each other, then it isn’t really rape, because she consented for life when she put that ring on her finger.  In other words, conservative Christian culture doesn’t have a good way of dealing with rape at all, and completely ignores the possibility that forms of rape other than male-on-female could even exist.

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

    Yeah, exactly.

    Though I guess fairness requires me to admit that there exist edge cases that motivate similarly unsatisfying hair-splitting about what’s really consent on my side.

  • Lunch Meat

    In my experience, conservative Christian culture acknowledges that rape exists, but it’s a lesser crime than divorce–so if your husband rapes you, you should pray for him and forgive him. Same story with abuse.

  • The_L1985

    Ew. Ew ew ew. That is just 40 kinds of wrong.

  • Turcano

    Dude, a lot of these people think murder isn’t as bad as divorce.

  • The_L1985

     I’ve heard of that side of things too, but I’m one of the lucky ones who never experienced the communities that practiced “an abusive husband is better than divorce” or dared to speak such a thing.  *major hugs*  It still boggles me that that is allowed to fly, anywhere, especially when it’s stated nearly that baldly as abuse.  The idea that saving your life and (if you have them) your children’s lives should come second to trying to “fix” someone who’s constantly hurting you is both deeply cruel and utterly nonsensical, but I suppose if you attach the word “God” to it, you can make even the cruelest nonsense sound good.

  • Makabit

    A friend of mine, raised Southern Baptist, encountered an extremely strange (at least I thought it was strange) version of this in her former church. 

    She had dated a young man for about a year, and then they broke up. He did not take this well, and continued to harass her in various small ways–touching her, not backing off when she said she didn’t want a backrub, arranging for her to ‘accidentally’ end up reading sexually explicit passages during Bible study, making inappropriate comments in front of others in the church. Nasty behavior. She asked their pastor to speak to him about his behavior, and the pastor treated it as an opportunity to get them back together, and did a lot of foolish talk about forgiving one another, and repairing the relationship.

    She hadn’t been married to this guy, she dated him for a while. It baffled me. The relationship was clearly dead as a doornail, and yet, instead of ‘knock it off, and stop sexually harassing girls because they won’t date you any more’, the message seemed to be ‘this abuse is just a sign that the two of you aren’t in a godly place with your relationship’.

  • The_L1985

    I’m guessing that’s the point at which it became her former church?  Because dating =/= marriage, by any measure.

  • Original Lee

     I think that church used the “courtship” model for relationships between young singles.  The church a friend of mine used to attend uses that model, too, recently described in detail by the book “Waiting for Prince Charming” (IIRC).  Apparently, the girl is supposed to maintain her purity under her father’s wing by not even dating until she’s met someone she’s reasonably sure she wants to marry.  Dating encourages emotional involvement with the other person, and if a young woman has had emotional involvement with someone, she’s no longer capable of pure love for anybody else afterwards. (See, the purity thing again.)  She would bring emotional baggage into subsequent relationships, and that’s not fair to the young man, apparently.

    So I think your friend, by dating this guy, was announcing that she thought he was husband material, and without a really really good reason for rejecting his suit, breaking up with him was not actually considered terminating their marriage relationship – she was just announcing that their relationship needed work.  She needed to be able to say to the pastor that her ex-date had been unfaithful, or was gay, or something else of moment, for the pastor to accept that she had used good judgment instead of being all female and whimsical.  (snark intentional)

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    That is both terrible and familiar. I once dated a woman who broke up with me for no clear reason, and then got very upset that I took her seriously and considered the relationship over, rather than interpreting it as a call for me to do something aggressive and manly to win her back (such as cutting her brake lines, as her previous ex had done)

  • EllieMurasaki

    …I hope she got help. Cutting someone’s brake lines isn’t romantic, it’s potentially fatal.

  • AnonymousSam

    Yeah… I was never directly exposed to that either, but I’ve heard my share of “it takes a good woman to marry a bad man” tales of redemption and sticking-through-the-abuse stories and they never fail to make me shiver, because it doesn’t take a sociopath to see through the fact that these guidelines ensure that the man gets exactly what he wants for as long as he wants it.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    I don’t know who originated the idea that women should “fix” men, but it seems a very pernicious thing. :

  • Random_Lurker

     I believe this is good example of exactly this attitude, besides it’s high time it got posted here again:

    http://www.patheos.com/blogs/lovejoyfeminism/tag/created-to-be-his-help-meet

  • MaryKaye

    A reasonable three-prong test:  will this harm me?  Will it harm my partner?  Will it harm someone else, or the community as a whole?

    There is no set of fixed answers to this.  Of my two experiences with pre-marital sex, one was a (predictable) failure on the first and second points:  my reasons were lousy, my expectations were confused and contradictory, and both my partner and I got hurt.  The other seems to me to have been fine on all counts.  Having sex did lead to a very strong emotional entanglement,  but we dealt with that appropriately.  If we hadn’t been prepared to deal, it would have been a mistake to have sex.

    It’s a good idea to think this through when you are not in lust.  It’s hard to think straight while horny, which is part of why bad sexual decision-making is so common (I think an even bigger factor is that people are discouraged from thinking about it, with predictably disastrous consequences).

    I have nothing but respect for people who look at the emotional-entanglement issue and say “I don’t want to take this risk in the absence of a rock-solid commitment.”  I also respect people who know that for them sex is not an emotionally-charged shortcut to entanglement, and therefore the issue doesn’t come up.  Appropriate behavior for the two groups *differs*.

  • http://www.youtube.com/user/SirWinstoneChurchill Winston Blake
  • Random_Lurker

    The nature of the problem with a rules based approach is exemplified (though not limited to, by any means) in one term:

    Technical Virgin.

  • http://vovinyl.blogspot.com/ FangsFirst

    The nature of the problem with a rules based approach is exemplified (though not limited to, by any means) in one term:
    Technical Virgin.

    Oh, deary me. I think you’re dead on here.Even if I have been guilty of the term myself (more as semi-non-explicit factual descriptor than moral judgment, though)

  • spinetingler

     “Technical Virgin.”

    You mean like prog-rock fans?

  • AnonaMiss

    But… but a seasoned witch could call me from the depths of my disgrace :(

  • AnonaMiss

    That was a reply to the “Prog rock fans are technical virgins” post. Stupid Disqus messing up my in-jokes.

  • Launcifer

    At least there’s a Donovan song to go with that ;).

  • The_L1985

     Ew, I know!  I had Tab-A-In-Slot-B sex for the first time about half an hour after I’d first been touched in that area by a guy.  Mainly because I wasn’t sure if I was a virgin anymore or not, and couldn’t stand not knowing, and at least if we had sex, even if I didn’t want it all that much, I would know again.

  • http://vovinyl.blogspot.com/ FangsFirst

    even if I didn’t want it all that much, I would know again.

    Egads. I mean, I realize we already established this is a terrible sensibility to raise people with, but…crap!

  • The_L1985

    I was maybe slightly aroused–if I’d been against the idea of sex I wouldn’t have let it get to the touching phase to begin with.  But it wasn’t the sex itself that I wanted as much as the knowing where I stood.

    There wasn’t a classification for women-who-have-been-touched-but-haven’t-had-a-penis-in-there.  There were Virgins and Not-Virgins, and this classification was, apparently, important.  So I had to know where I stood, because that was the big issue. A really huge deal had been made of this.

    The real problem was finding out that the particular individual I picked for this was probably the last person on Earth I should have chosen. Things very quickly went downhill once we realized we were NOT reacting the same way to that experience.

  • http://vovinyl.blogspot.com/ FangsFirst

    Yeah, I mean, I thought as I was typing that, “This may seem a bit of an overreaction, I suppose, or like I’m making a bigger deal out of every first sexual experience than I mean to.” I certainly don’t like the purity-related emphasis on “first times”, but recognize that not liking it and its relational existence doesn’t have any effect on how it affects other people. Just because that purity-based nonsense is horrific and wrong doesn’t mean it doesn’t cause self-loathing and such, I guess.

    The idea only bugs me in the sense that, as much as I chose the worst person I could have myself, I definitely chose it because that was where I wanted to go at that time and thankfully feel no regret (even as many of my friends have, ah, less than kind words for her for other things…). I don’t like the fact that societal influence can have such a great effect on a decision a lot of people see as important–rightly or wrongly. I’m not pitying you of course, I just think it’s crap that society gets to have that kind of influence on something that is clearly personal.

    I had a conversation go into a weird place when a woman I loved said that sex education should really include emphasizing to women the emotional response involved and such, and how that should be acknowledged in deciding one is “ready.”  I had no idea what to say, as I certainly didn’t see it that way, and was pretty sure plenty of my female friends (as she noted this specifically as a sex-based difference) didn’t either. Heck, the woman to whom I lost my “technical virginity” was told I wasn’t getting over her because she was my “first.” When she repeated that to me, on the one hand it felt like an insult (as did a lot of things she said…) as I knew that event did not feel “important” enough to have any relevance, and on the other hand suggested she thought the idea of clinging to “your first” was weird as a woman.

    But I don’t like making assumptions and allowed that anything I’d heard could have been “brave face” stuff to avoid social reprisal/shame/etc. That that conversation-to-weird-place was in the most important relationship in my life and her perspective on sex was distinctly unique in an extraordinarily negative direction as compared to everyone I knew at the time only left me even more unsure of being able to say anything at all with any hope of validity or relevance.

    Then again, sometimes I think I’ve just always hung around strange, strange people. One of my best friends refused to talk about his sex life for fear he would sound like he was bragging, so lost was he in the notion that talking about it at all meant you were discussing “conquests” (when we’d all been around for him nervously playing a song over a broken phone connection to his distant girlfriend, the one that later cheated on and dumped him, leaving him miserable for ages–hardly signs of callous disposal on his part).

    In the end: I just don’t like (or, really, understand) how any of this whole politics of sex works, and live in mortal fear of screwing up the balance between recognizing autonomy and allowing someone space to escape external pressures (or ones mistakenly believed to come from me personally). So I mostly just live like a hermit now anyway. I recently moved quite deliberately into an area of unpleasant politics (the district of the unfortunate Virginia Foxx, for whom this district should feel rightly ashamed, but instead keeps re-electing her) and mostly married (or still home-bound and young) people so that I could just forget the entire idea of sex and relationships. Well, participating in either, anyway–obviously the ideas linger….There’s probably something intensely unhealthy in that. For who I am, anyway.

  • The_L1985

    The main problem was, there were warning signs there, long before the sex happened, and I didn’t see them for what they were because I was too badly sheltered to have any real means of recognizing them.  The only signs of a bad relationship that I could identify right off were things like the other person hitting you or calling you nasty things or having a shouting match.  The warning signs in my case were all little things before the sex (that rapidly mushroomed into Great Big Nasty Things), so I didn’t see that something was very wrong.

    It’s not really the sex I regret, although I’m also disappointed in the ridiculous level of importance that is attached to the “virgin” label, as if anyone could tell at a glance.  It’s the whole stupid relationship, which did me no good and quite a bit of emotional harm.

    The other guys I’ve dated who turned out to be Not The One aren’t people I regret dating.  Our personalities clashed, we both moved on and learned from it.  This fellow–was not like that at all.

  • http://vovinyl.blogspot.com/ FangsFirst

    That makes sense and is way more healthy–I feel, at least–than specifically regretting the sex (same thing for me I suppose: I regret the relationship, not the sex–except that it taught me very, very clearly not to get sucked into someone else’s depression, which was valuable at least).

    And that just tells me how much I hate trying to understand other people, as I feel like an idiot for gauging the relative importance based on how you originally phrased it and not realizing it was not mentioned for importance but relevance. And then makes me think I look like some condescending ass that assumes female=takes it as emotionally important. I think I’m going to stick with my hermit idea.

  • The_L1985

     Honestly, I can’t think of a single thing about that relationship that I wouldn’t mind having a do-over for.

  • KevinC

    Fred:

    My response to such accusations is always the same: I’m not saying
    anything goes, I simply want you to treat your “biblical rules about
    sex” exactly the same way that you’re already treating the biblical
    rules about money. I want you to take the exact same
    hermeneutical approach that you are already taking to every biblical
    teaching on wealth and possessions and apply that to biblical teaching
    on sexuality.

    So, “anything goes” then?  Seriously, that is how these guys (and they are pretty much all guys) treat the Biblical rules about money.  They ignore every single thing Jesus and the Prophets ever have to say about money except “Hey, the Parable of the Talents says it’s good to get rich off of investments!”  Then they go and get their actual monetary “ethics” from the Satanic Bible and the Gospel According to John Galt.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Ann-Unemori/100001112760232 Ann Unemori

    Still bringing the ends together: http://newevangelizers.com/blog/2013/01/09/homosexuality-and-marriage/
    Forewarned is forearmed.

  • Another Matt

    I’m seeing a lot of good posts which all say, in effect, “does it cause harm? How?” Conservatives I’ve known have tended to mock liberals for basing moral questions on harm. In fact for them, it seems the arrow of causation goes in exactly the opposite direction.

    (Utterly Simplified)Liberal: it’s immoral because it causes harm.
    Conservative: it causes harm because it’s immoral.Even in this simplistic form I think the implications for most of the current ethical/political disputes is pretty clear.

  • Another Matt

    (Hopefully better formatting)

    I’m seeing a lot of good posts which all say, in effect, “does it cause harm? How?” Conservatives I’ve known have tended to mock liberals for basing moral questions on harm. In fact for them, it seems the arrow of causation goes in exactly the opposite direction.

    (Utterly Simplified)Liberal: it’s immoral because it causes harm.
    Conservative: it causes harm because it’s immoral.Even in this simplistic form I think the implications for most of the current ethical/political disputes is pretty clear.

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    Richard Beck (of the experimental theology blog) has written about some interesting work by Jonathan Haidt on moral foundations.

    Haidt identifies 5 foundations people use to make moral judgement: harm/care; fairness/reciprocity; ingroup/loyalty; authority/respect; purity/sanctity. He finds that liberals (in the American sense) tend to refer to the first two foundations when making moral judgements, while conservatives use all five.

    If your conservative acquaintences mock liberals for refering to harm, they’re either unrepresentative or what they’re actually mocking is what they see as an overemphasis on harm at the expense of other foundations, like authority.

    Haidt’s research finds that conservatives *do* refer to the fairness and harm foundations, but they weigh up those considerations alongside factors that a lot of liberals pay no attention to. A conservative might decide, on balance, that a judgement call should go a particular way based on their assessment against a moral foundation that liberals have no regard for.

    One of our big problems as a society is that it’s hard to reason each other into valuing one of the moral foundations that we don’t value–especially purity/sanctity. Someone says that wearing casual clothes and swearing inside a church is an offense to the sacredness of God; I say it’s not. Someone says burning a flag is desecration of a sacred object that people died for. I say no, it’s a just piece of cloth and the point the protestor was making is important enough for the symbolic act. Our arguments are strongly based in emotion. You can’t get me to feel offended about the flag; the germ of the emotion just isn’t there. So we have situations where one person feels something is terribly wrong and the other doesn’t. So we face off, unable to reach agreement because we don’t even share the same foundations.

    Beck’s full post is here: http://experimentaltheology.blogspot.com.au/2007/10/purity-as-harm.html

  • Carstonio

    While moral arguments do rely strongly on emotion, only harm and fairness could reasonably articulated on their own into ethical principles. I admit I might be confusing morality and ethics. I mean that I perceive the central question of ethics as whether a principle would benefit society and as many people as possible in it if the principle were followed. I don’t know of ways to establish the ethical merit of loyalty and authority without resorting to the consequentialist principle behind harm and fairness.

    Ethics seems to be a matter of shoulds. If one is going to argue that no one should burn flag, than the argument requires more than just personal offense. That’s different from simply asserting a belief that flag-burning is wrong. The same would be true if one insists that everyone should burn flags, or if one argues that flag-burning should be left as personal preference.

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    While moral arguments do rely strongly on emotion, only harm and fairness could reasonably articulated on their own into ethical principles.

    You’ve just illustrated what Haidt found in his research. You have asserted as self-evident that only the harm/care and fairness/reciprocity foundations are valid–which is apparently typical of a US-style liberal. You say loyalty isn’t a sufficient basis for moral decisions; someone else will say that it is. Either of you reasserting your claim doesn’t make the gap any narrower.

  • Carstonio

    You say loyalty isn’t a sufficient basis for moral decisions;

    No, I’m saying that I know of no way to argue on behalf of an assertion such as “everyone should be loyal to their nation” without using another principle such as harm. Otherwise, it’s not about loyalty making the world a better place for everyone, but loyalty for its own sake.

  • AnonymousSam

    Hmm. Interesting. I can see the possibility, but I disagree with the premise. One might make an argument and separate it into these five possible motivations, but I see these motivations as all falling under the umbrella of what one values. Appeals to authority are especially dubious and the weight associated with them is a variable whose boundaries are “all real and imaginary numbers.”

    If I live in Uganda, hate homosexuality and say that you should respect the laws passed by the president of Uganda… well, you live in Australia. Why should you? And if you live in Uganda and happened to be homosexual… why would you?

    I feel this way every time a conservative Christian tells me that homosexuality is a sin. It’s not my country, and even if it were, I’d be more inclined to vehemently disagree than accept it. Our values are too different, and any omission on my part is not because I think an appeal to authority is irrelevant, but because I’ve already realized that it’s futile.

  • http://twitter.com/WayofCats WayofCats

    I understand there is a growing therapy category of “Christian sexual problems” and that is probably all you need to know about the damage these rigid and joyless rules can wreak.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    Content: References made to expressions of intent to commit rape.

    I also have concerns about claiming “rape is not about sex, it’s about power”.

    It seems to me it is more about the expression of power specific to the sexual realm.

    Given that some men will express the intent to force sex upon a woman if she doesn’t “put out”, the implication is that they want sex, but brush aside questions of consent and in doing so, express their power over the women by raping her (whether physically or by browbeating her into sex, the end result is the same).

  • Lliira

     Females have an organ that exists purely for sexual pleasure and nothing else. Males don’t. I do wonder how anyone who thinks women don’t have sex drives can possibly explain the clitoris.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

     “God’s greatest mistakes, volume 2”?

    (Volume 1: The Duck-Billed Platypus)

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    Lay off the platypus.

  • PatBannon

    Aaargh, Fred, you’re tap-dancing around the notion of consequentialism versus deontology – the notion of results-based as opposed to rules-based ethics/morals. Asserting a rule again and again without regard to its results makes one a deontologist, and a deontologist will never convince a consequentialist that that rule is to be followed. The consequentialist will ask “Why should that rule be followed? What is the result of following this rule? For what reason was this rule put into place?” These are questions to which the deontologist not only has no answer but considers them offensive, useless and almost non-sequiturs.

    Fred, if you could make a post about consequentialism and deontology directly, that would be just about the best thing ever.

  • The Cricket

    I live in a region Pentecostal people, women with hair to their butts, where if you don’t shout and speak in tongues something is wrong with you. These people are conservative. And if a woman is raped married or not her family and friends half beat him to death and if they were married they don’t stay that way for long. I don’t believe it’s a question of conservative or liberal, but a question of sexual comfort. People are usually overly sensitive or completely desensitized. I think both groups are missing out. The sensitive are to afraid to find ecstasy in sex and the other is to jaded to find it. I seen the convo about first times not mattering and sex not mattering. That’s as bad as the zealots who expect women to lay there grit their teeth, close their eyes and pray thru it. It something special if you make it, it’s animalistic and all consuming. Honestly I think sex IS holy I truly believe who don’t think so have never done it right or with the right emotions behind it. I learned that lesson the hard way I’ve been in both groups and am now comfortably I the middle… Teeheehee


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