promoting abstinence by very bad example

October 12, 2012

egg relationship

I have a confession to make. You see, I’ve never been married but I’m not a virgin. What’s more is that I’ve been with more than one person. Just let that sink in for a minute and if that does not shock you or change your opinion of me, it’s probably because I’m just like 95% of adults in the real world who don’t wait until their wedding night to have sex, or their honeymoon to live with a partner, and chances are that you’re exactly like me in this regard. But according to Fox News columnist Stephen Crowder — whose "work" was recently mentioned in a list of all sorts of ridiculous ideas to promote abstinence — the reason why I’m not shamefully denying my sexual history is because I’m an insecure, emotionally damaged husk of a man unlike him, an ecstatic virgin who waited until his wedding night to show the world what it’s like to have sex, then gloat about his newfound prowess in marital life, and basically just be a judgmental prick.

His column sounds a little like the bragging of someone who just finished boot camp and thinks his basic training makes him SEAL Team 6 material, and provides a very handy counterpoint to my post about haughty polyamorists who look down on those in monogamous relationships as depressed shells of human beings who are just repressing their natural desires. Crowder does the exact same thing, only with high-minded abstinence talk and wants those of us who had sex more than once and had relationships beyond high school-style dates, to praise him for jumping into marriage with someone he barely knows. He bet his single life on a woman with whom he did not live in the same home, with whom he had never been intimate, and whose bathroom habits were a mystery to him until his wedding night. Maybe this will work out for him, but what he did is to leap without really getting to know his future bride and wants our applause and admiration for turning in his V card at the honeymoon suite. The man got laid, now give him a medal!

Right now, I’m sure he’s elated. But there’s a reason why we refer to periods of euphoria as the honeymoon phase. Not everything will be champagne, roses, caviar, and losing your virginity. It will only be a matter of time until the kind of compromises and decisions you only learn to make when you live with someone will have to be made, and the kind of facts you can only learn from seeing your partner day to day at home, will have to be dealt with. Our marital white belt with zero experience in any of this proudly discards these warnings as jealous rumbles from floozies and emotionally damaged men who can’t possibly understand how happy he feels right now. In that honeymoon stage they mentioned as the high point from which things will inevitably get tougher unless he’s outright manic. He’s been married for just a few weeks. I’ve shared my home with my significant other for three years. We’ve been poor together, we’ve been frustrated grad students together, and we set up our lives by each other’s’ side. Do you really think he knows his partner better than I do mine? Does he think I’m incapable of being in love without a ring on my finger or a self-imposed pledge to avoid doing anything sexual until I do?

And here’s why his column annoyed me so much. This matter actually hits pretty close to home for me. My significant other was the maid of honor for someone who refused to talk to her after learning that we didn’t just live together platonically and were happy with the arrangement. Just like Crowder, she believes that being associated with us is now beneath her superior morals, so any event at which the three of us were present at the same time quickly became torture. And a close-minded, judgmental prude like Crowder, or like my partner’s former friend is supposed to be the shining example for us to follow according to social conservatives. Rather than truly get to know each other through thick and thin and enjoy some of the pleasures of being healthy and active adults before making any wedding plans, we were supposed to jump into marriage to win their approval and learn what we’ve learned so far in a situation when a mutual parting without a lot of paperwork and lawyers isn’t an option. This is not a healthy way to have relationships. It’s an asinine fantasy by those who steadfastly ignore reality to feel better about themselves.

While those who promote comprehensive sexual education, because it solves so many social ills associated with uninformed sexual experimentation, would compare trying to stop people from having sex to peeing into a windstorm and wonder why we’re peeing into gale force winds, every abstinence-only advocate would just scream for us to pee harder and accuse us of wanting kids to end up pregnant or disease-ridden sex addicts. More than 9 in 10 adults have sex without a wedding involved in the process, but in their fantasy, everyone must be pure and asexual until a chosen partner magically falls from the sky. That’s their wish for our society, to stay ignorant and virginal until we find our soul mates. Well, when I was a kid my wish was to be an astronaut. Just because I wanted to be one doesn’t mean I ever will, and just because you have a dream of how the world should be ran doesn’t mean that it will ever happen or even that it’s a good idea. And the sooner self-absorbed abstinence-only zealots like Crowder wake up from their fantasy, the sooner we can fix a lot of major problems their denial of reality causes every day.

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  • Bruce Coulson

    Abstinence and morality = man-made. The urge to procreate = natural law. I wanted to have superpowers when I grew up, and that didn’t happen. (Of course, my parents stifled any efforts to expose myself to radiation, take dangerous untested chemicals mixtures, and simply refused to be tragically murdered, so I guess I could blame them…)

    As the adage goes, as long as people aren’t doing things in public and scaring the wildlife, it’s really none of their concern. Restricting information simply means ignorant people going out and doing things to re-invent the wheel; it doesn’t stop them. Better that younger people understand what’s going on, and what their options are.

  • venqax

    I don’t think comparisons of natural vs synthetic help resolve these types of issues. Disease-causing microbes, afer all, are natural, and human-created medicine is not. A LOT of society is necessarily based in overcoming nature, not being enslaved to it. That said, I agree wholeheartedly in condemning the behavior of others, as Greg describes, that is by any standard rude and anti-social itself. I do not think that type of intolerance of intolerance is at all hypocritical and I too find it even worse to bear when it comes with holier-than-thou judgmental smugness. I empathize as a fellow former cohabitor who had to put up with some of these attitudes and finally, agree that for the vast majority of recent cohorts, marriage without dress (or undress, more to the point) rehearsal is unwise.

    I think a lot of people in the morality-police movement confuse being morally upstanding, or even religious, with simply being old-fashioned. If we can say that “low” or common morality is in fact relative to social circumstances; and leave it that higher, or maybe genuine moral issues are NOT time-and-place relative but are much rarer things, maybe it helps clear things a bit. So murder, purposeful infliction of hurt, are morally absolutely wrong. Fornication?— well….Fact ist that there was a time when the wait-till-the-wedding-night rule made sense. People married quickly after their physical maturity and didn’t have a decade-and-a-half of additional certifications to acquire during their sexual prime before they could be very viable citizens, etc. etc. Point is for people living in a very different social environment from what the vast majority of us live in now, the rule may still be quite viable and even advantageous. Fundamentalist Christians, orthodox Jews, Muslims, e.g., who live a bubbled kind of life among their fellow believers. Most of us, however, no longer live in a world that is constructed to support or to reward, that approach and attempting it actually has bad consequences. At least that’s how I see it. The importance of public policy in these areas is to guarantee that people have some choice over the social world they choose to live in. That is, undoubtedly, tricky.