Virginity, Pornography and Vocations: In Dialogue with David Upham

Virginity, Pornography and Vocations: In Dialogue with David Upham July 21, 2018


Somehow I’ve attracted the ire of no less than Professor David Upham.

Up until last night, when he commented on a facebook re-sharing of my blog post from earlier this week, I didn’t know who David Upham was; apparently he’s a professor at the University of Dallas and has written a book on dating and marriage which Crisis Magazine really liked. It looks okay. It doesn’t look like a book that would interest me very much, but it doesn’t look like a train wreck a la Tony Esolen telling people that group showers in a coal mine prevent homosexuality either. It just looks fine. If he wants me to have another opinion about it, he can send me a review copy, but I have no money to buy one this week.

Anyway, my friend graciously shared my blog post with the comment that despite the title it wasn’t anti-male. Upham’s remark on this sharing article was: You’re right it’s not anti-male. A complementary article could be written: Dudes: So you may have heard, from some dude named Upham, that marriage-minded women like men who are confident, have regular sources of income, are not porn consumers, and who exhibit kindness to lots of people. But I’m here to tell you that God loves you just the way you are, that God doesn’t want you to change to please women, that a godly woman like [insert biblical woman?] won’t want you to. So go ahead, continue in your daily habits of video games and porn, and sporadic income, and surly personality–and don’t worry about what women supposedly “want.”

He also accused me of saying that “promiscuity is without consequence,” which I solemnly declare I never said. My post was mostly about the Theotokos and consecrated virgins, actually.

When questioned on this, he doubled down: Then you’re asking them to bend all the way–to bend their natural preferences, to sacrifice them to your steady indifference. That’s unjust. Further, you’re more likely to get bitter if you believe this stuff that the bending is not helpful, angry at women because they won’t just fly though your widow while you’re consuming video games all day–or even worse arguing with me on Facebook!

…let’s just say that the motivations and the standards seem to be more demanding in some or other contexts. I used to have a beard. I don’t any more. My wife doesnt’ [sic] like it. I comply. I bend. I sacrifice my sacred authenticity Good for me.

There you have it. If you are a woman, you can write an article about the martyrs of the early Church and all the saints and how to be a Christian is to serve God rather than men, and some college professor will compare it to an apologia for porn and promiscuity. Also he’ll manage to make it all about him and his beard. I’d never heard of his book and was responding to somebody else, but he still made it all about him.

I asked him if his PhD was in dating, but apparently not.

I really don’t know what it says about the field of books of folk wisdom on dating and marriage that someone who’s published in it and been praised by Crisis for his publication, thinks a woman pursuing virtue rather than men is comparable to a man playing video games and looking at porn. Video games are morally neutral, for the most part, and pleasuring yourself with pornography is a sin. Virtue is the opposite of sin. But apparently if you’re a woman, it’s the same.

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