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Grey_Wolf_Leader

Modern Society vs. The Law of Chastity (a.k.a. "Sexual Repression")

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Over the past few years I have been wandering the internet gobbling up information as I go like Pac-Man, and a few months ago I hit upon the search term "Mormon Sexuality" in Google's recommended searches list. I hit enter and up came a looooonnnngg list of various sites.

A select few were positive, like ones about feminine sexuality via popular LDS therapists, doctors, counselors, and authors like Jennifer Finlayson-Fife or Laura M. Brotherson.

The vast majority however were either supposed "Mormon Hidden History" exposure sites with pages on our sexual beliefs [all portraying them in the most negative light possible], ex-Mormon rant sites, and a few secular journalistic pieces with obviously dismissive and irreverently tones on Mormon sexual beliefs.

The words which appeared in these results were surprisingly consistent. Terms like, "repression", "self-hate", "shame", "social conditioning", et cetera, et cetera kept popping up.

There were even a couple of sites with members who claimed to be LDS, but whose writings clearly left nothing to imagination that they did not practice the Law of Chastity.

As a deeply intellectual person, I have long studied my religion and have tried to build a complete, encompassing, and yet simplified personal concept map which lays out my beliefs and how they interrelate, especially in contrast to the modern secular world.

And I see little but open hostility in the Western World towards the very idea that you shouldn't have sex whenever you want, without regard to whether you are married, or even for whomever your partner is.

What are your thoughts? Why do you think people dislike Chastity so much? (Aside from the obvious "gets in the way of fun" part I mean).

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It is a strong drive in many of us. Our carnal self is a strong part of us. As hedonism and carnality becomes more and more popular, we give ourselves permission, even excuses and defenses, to indulge.

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What are your thoughts? Why do you think people dislike Chastity so much? (Aside from the obvious "gets in the way of fun" part I mean).

That's the core of it, not only is it fun, it can be quite a hard thing to obey. What you see in people mocking the concept of chastity is an outgrowth combined with the common tendency to mock 'other' and in the more vicious cases a defensive mechanism against the implication that their behavior is wrong.

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I recall once, whilst playing about on Yahoo Answers, a woman who was engaged to a man who was determined to wait till marriage for sex. This woman's question was simple and just wanted to know on how to deal with situations, but there were a couple of responses chastising this woman for NOT forcing her fiance to have sex with her and promised her the man would leave her unless she made him break the law of chastity. Those answers just shocked me.

I still think about it from time to time, and I've come to the conclusion those nasty answers were based on the stereotype that men have significantly higher sex drives than men and that men cared ONLY about sex. Seemed like very backward thinking.

Applying that to your question, society could be a little too focused on the natural man and a little too ignorant of other aspects of relationships.

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I speculate that many women who consider themselves progressive, secular, modern, or simply who engaged in unchaste behavior in their younger years have repressed guilt. Rather than confront it, and recognize the holy God behind it, they lash out at anyone who reminds them, or who pricks that barely scabbed over wound. Even the irreligious have a built-in moral intuition.

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There is a problem with "good girl syndrome" and issues being comfortable with sexuality within some LDS marriages (and probably mainstream Christians who wait until marriage, too, but that's just a guess on my part). I think that we could stand to have a healthier view on sex, but only within the bounds God has set (e.g., within marriage, nothing deviant, and no masturbation). Of course this article is the other side of the pendulum swing. Either side is bad, but that side is definitely worse.

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I'm not even sure chastity it's self it the real issue so much as how it's taught. I'll state upfront I'm not really a follower of conventional chastity, but do hold to some last threads of it from my upbringing. There is a lot of negative focus applied to sexual matters in a lot of religious teachings( not strictly Mormon, or christian at all) There's nothing wrong with the core of the message at all, just how it's relayed to the masses. There is a lot of stigma attached, a lot of poor information, a bit of guilt and apprehension. We've seen it from both men and women on this site, not all but enough to say it does occur more than just here and there. Some better communication all the way around and focusing on a bit more of the positive could help quite a bit, but that's just my opinion.

Secondly there's the fact that chastity for some people is as alien a concept as promiscuity is to most members of the church. It's not part of their instilled code of morals because it's not part of their beliefs and to tell them they are wrong is just as distasteful to them as them telling you it's wrong to be chaste. It's a point of morals that will never be agreed upon because neither side is willing to shift. We can blame media and satan or the tooth fairy but in the end it's one belief system clashing with another and probably respecting each other about the same amount.

Thirdly you have those caught in between. They are against being promiscuous but also don't live up to the expectation of chastity that is expected by religion. They take sex seriously, confine it to only serious relationships, treat it with the utmost respect but at the end of the day get grouped in with those who run to every orgy they can find. Knowing they are seen just as bad they have no reason not to side with who they are grouped with by default and come down on a side they really don't fully endorse.

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Joseph Smith once talked about looking for the "kernel of truth" that might be behind the false claims and rumors that were circulated against him. In that same line of thinking, I think Soulsearcher makes a good point -- I'm not sure that our methods of teaching about sexuality and chastity are completely free from "repression", "shame", and "self-hate."

One of the things I've found interesting as I've looked at those same LDS experts' websites is how often they talk about how our church culture tends to put excessive shame and guilt on people over sexual issues. The difference here is that, rather than trying to "expose" Mormons as evil, they are trying to help shed light on how our teaching methods might be improved.

As I see it, the main difficulty is trying to balance the "negatives" we teach about sexuality against the "positives". We get so caught up in teaching "abstinence before marriage" (and it sometimes seems that we will say anything -- good or bad -- to promote that) that we neglect to teach how sexuality is a positive, God-given part of life.

Don't get me wrong, I believe God wants us to teach and preach and practice the law of chastity without apology. It just appears to me that there is room for improvement in the way that we teach about sexuality.

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I've always thought that chaste people have healthier, happier sex lives. Most studies indicate this is true. The world would have us believe otherwise.

Mark Regnerus and Jeremy Uecker, in their recent book, “Premarital Sex in America.” Their research, which looks at sexual behavior among contemporary young adults, finds a significant correlation between sexual restraint and emotional well-being, between monogamy and happiness — and between promiscuity and depression.

This correlation is much stronger for women than for men. Female emotional well-being seems to be tightly bound to sexual stability — which may help explain why overall female happiness has actually drifted downward since the sexual revolution.

Among the young people Regnerus and Uecker studied, the happiest women were those with a current sexual partner and only one or two partners in their lifetime. Virgins were almost as happy, though not quite, and then a young woman’s likelihood of depression rose steadily as her number of partners climbed and the present stability of her sex life diminished.

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/07/opinion/07douthat.html

and

Better Sex

About 40% of married people have sex twice a week, compared to 20-25% of single and cohabitating men and women. Over 40% of married women said their sex life was emotionally and physically satisfying, compared to about 30% of single women. For men, it’s 50% of married men are physically and emotionally contents versus 38% of cohabitating men.

The Case for Marriage: Why Married People Are Happier, Healthier, and Better off Financially|PsychPage

My own experience and those of close family who married converts who were more "experienced" prior to marriage is that LDS people in general...have it "going on" in the Bed Room.

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Over the past few years I have been wandering the internet gobbling up information as I go like Pac-Man, and a few months ago I hit upon the search term "Mormon Sexuality" in Google's recommended searches list. I hit enter and up came a looooonnnngg list of various sites.

A select few were positive, like ones about feminine sexuality via popular LDS therapists, doctors, counselors, and authors like Jennifer Finlayson-Fife or Laura M. Brotherson.

The vast majority however were either supposed "Mormon Hidden History" exposure sites with pages on our sexual beliefs [all portraying them in the most negative light possible], ex-Mormon rant sites, and a few secular journalistic pieces with obviously dismissive and irreverently tones on Mormon sexual beliefs.

The words which appeared in these results were surprisingly consistent. Terms like, "repression", "self-hate", "shame", "social conditioning", et cetera, et cetera kept popping up.

There were even a couple of sites with members who claimed to be LDS, but whose writings clearly left nothing to imagination that they did not practice the Law of Chastity.

As a deeply intellectual person, I have long studied my religion and have tried to build a complete, encompassing, and yet simplified personal concept map which lays out my beliefs and how they interrelate, especially in contrast to the modern secular world.

And I see little but open hostility in the Western World towards the very idea that you shouldn't have sex whenever you want, without regard to whether you are married, or even for whomever your partner is.

What are your thoughts? Why do you think people dislike Chastity so much? (Aside from the obvious "gets in the way of fun" part I mean).

Because people like to move in the direction of "whatever you like, is right". and the second thing they like doing is if anything has any sort of negative consequence they want everyone else doing it so they can say, hey everyone else is doing it so it's ok.

We are always drifting in this direction and an individual has to always fight it, at least if you want to maintain civilized behaior. LDS just fight it a bit more in general than popular culture is doing.

On the flipside i've known several people who have been "sexually free" in the past and now it is really coming back to haunt them. Free would not be what i call their situation now.

Sexual freedom is more or less a cover to be able to indulge in vices without having to worry about the consequences, unfortunately many think that laws are the only downside to it, and that if they were removed everything would be hunky-dory.

Edited by Blackmarch

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It just appears to me that there is room for improvement in the way that we teach about sexuality.

I agree with this, I think though that the place where improvement really needs to happen is in the home. I think it's a vicious cycle where attitudes instilled at home come forth in the teaching of the church curriculum. Either because of the teacher interpreting the material through their lens or the pupil doing the same. I think some parents neglect to really consider the note made to them in the Gospel Principles Manual's lesson on the Law of Chastity.

Linky: Gospel Principles Chapter 39: The Law of Chastity

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Being a convert at 16, and not being raised with the Gospel in my family, what I have learned about sexuality and the Church's teaching on sexuality comes largely from Church approved resources and representatives (General Conf, lesson manuals, Ensign articles, etc).

I often find myself scratching my head in confusion when people begin to say "the Church is repressive in it's teaching". I hear General Authorities say frequently that sexual intimacy is good, wonderful, appropriate, even commanded. Even from President Kimball’s The Miracle of Forgiveness, which was a depressing read for me as it focused so heavily on the sinfulness of fornication and adultery, did not leave me with any sort of impression that he taught any aspect of sexuality being bad, dirty, or something to be repressed.

I am well aware there are many members incapable of maturely and appropriately teaching their children about sexuality, and giving it the proper reverence. I suspect many that claim "the Church" is doing wrong are confusing individuals with the organization. Otherwise, I must conclude that they are listening to General Conference with a skewed perspective, or perhaps listening to leaders of another church organization altogether.

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I am well aware there are many members incapable of maturely and appropriately teaching their children about sexuality, and giving it the proper reverence. I suspect many that claim "the Church" is doing wrong are confusing individuals with the organization. Otherwise, I must conclude that they are listening to General Conference with a skewed perspective, or perhaps listening to leaders of another church organization altogether.

And this is exactly what I was trying to get at with my comment about values instilled at home coming forth in the Church curriculum. If sexuality is being incorrectly taught at home and if those teaching/discussing it at church are allowing incorrect perceptions at home to color their teaching at church then someone is going to have a fairly heavy handicap to proper understanding regardless of the actual doctrine.

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Yes, this is just another one of those things that I know I don't understand, so I trust the church to make these decisions for me.

ISN'T it WONDERFUL to be a part of the true church, so we don't have to have a full understanding of all things, we can trust that the right decisions are being made?

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Thank you very much everyone for your insightful contributions.

Honestly, I thought that this subject might be a little too serious and heavy and that I might actually get banned for it, and only on my very first post too! :itwasntme:

Satan. He has used the media to great effect in convincing people that not being sexually active is not only bad for you but it makes you a laughing stock of every sensible person.

That is definitely a good answer.

I recall that the restored gospel points out Lucifer doesn't have a body.

So, part of his ill-intentions towards all of us, his spirit siblings who chose to follow God and not him, those of us who got bodies for keeping our first estate as a reward for our loyalty, may be something of an inferiority complex.

He's jealous and covetous of our sacred gift. The inheritance that we got and he didn't.

And thus the first item on his agenda would naturally be to vandalize and ruin that gift.

It's kind of like how a really jealous brother would like to take his rival sibling's fancy new sports car on a destructive joy-ride.

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The words which appeared in these results were surprisingly consistent. Terms like, "repression", "self-hate", "shame", "social conditioning", et cetera, et cetera kept popping up.

Well, I think a lot of LDS people are taught, from a very young age, to feel ashamed of their sexuality. Official LDS doctrine teaches that sex is positive, in the right context, but many individual members of the Church hang on to more repressive Puritan beliefs, teach them to their children, and that can be damaging.

And I see little but open hostility in the Western World towards the very idea that you shouldn't have sex whenever you want, without regard to whether you are married, or even for whomever your partner is.

What are your thoughts? Why do you think people dislike Chastity so much? (Aside from the obvious "gets in the way of fun" part I mean).

A large part of Western culture is still influenced by the Christian church, and you will find that LDS are not alone in promoting chastity. However, you are certainly right that many, many Westerners have a pretty casual attitude about sexuality.

My own feelings on the matter are that various sex acts are not wrong per se, but that the Law of Chastity exists to help foster good relationships between people, and provide stable homes for children (well, for adults, too! :lol:). In other words, chastity helps "grease the wheels" of society and helps things run smoothly. (The double entendre was not intended, but I'll take it!)

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Well, I think a lot of LDS people are taught, from a very young age, to feel ashamed of their sexuality. Official LDS doctrine teaches that sex is positive, in the right context, but many individual members of the Church hang on to more repressive Puritan beliefs, teach them to their children, and that can be damaging.

Actually, it's not really fair to the Puritans that we use their name as a term for "unhealthy, repressive shaming" tactics. If you study the Puritans closely, many of whom were ancestors of Joseph Smith, you realize that their beliefs are nothing like what people portray them. In fact, one particular Puritan preacher was well known in his time for his sermons which lauded marital sexuality. That could hardly be considered repressive.

Part of the problem may be that parents simply don't perform as effective a job as they should--or fail their job completely by refusing to talk about it in the first place--and then people expect some outside authority, whether it be public schools, the culture, or the Church, to bear the responsible instead of the parents.

A large part of Western culture is still influenced by the Christian church, and you will find that LDS are not alone in promoting chastity. However, you are certainly right that many, many Westerners have a pretty casual attitude about sexuality.

You are most certainly right that many churches from the Catholics to the Baptists and Evangelicals share our belief in the value of Chastity and proclaim it. But there are many "socially progressive" liberal churches out there who claim to be Christan and side with the boys in power: the secularists in academia and the media who pretty much control our society as well as what we see and hear in the culture. It's not exactly a fair game when only one side's pinching the ear of the referee.

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