Sex is great, sex is good: Part 2

This is Part 2 in my series acclaiming sex, and defending pre-marital sex in particular from condemnation by the religious (here was Part 1).

To recap, the point of this series is to point out how bad many religious authority’s opinions and understanding of human sexuality are. Pastors, priests, and rabbis are supposed to be knowledgable, thoughtful people, qualified to give advise and moral guidance on imporant matters such as sex. And yet the knowledge and understanding they should demonstrate is sadly perverted by their need to adhere to ridiculous, outdated, dehumanizing religious views.

Presbyterian minister Don Hurray believes that pre-marital sex is a moral evil.

It’s amazing how one gets used to hearing this, to the point where it doesn’t sound utterly insane anymore. I would say that stealing is immoral. Rape is immoral, or a “moral evil,” if you enjoy such fantastic language. Murder is immoral. All of these acts harm people in some way. Yet some people want to put “touching someone’s genitals without a contract” on the list? It’s amazing that we even need to point out how ridiculous that sounds.

So, what does minister Hurray say is immoral about pre-marital sex?

I would first note that Hurray takes up a great deal of space not telling us. He starts off by calling our desire for sex an “out of control” or “untameable” libido – as if merely calling it a bad name made it true. Why is my desire for food and water not also described in such terms? Because Hurray wants to disparage one, and not the other. He offers no argument for why my desire for sex is “out of control” but my desire for food is natural, and I take it that he has none.

Hurray’s explanation for why pre-marital sex is evil is itself rather short. Here is the first part:

I would have you focus on why God said what you are doing is wrong. From statistics once a couple have sex their chances of having a happy marriage go way down. You guess why?

The problem with these statistics, which Hurray doesn’t bother to cite, is that they indicate a correlation – they say nothing about the cause of the relationship between the two factors.

Theresa Notaré has written an article on sex for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops website that does cite relevant studies, but she commits the same error as Hurray (who I’ll come back to in a minute). After citing several studies that show a positive correlation between pre-marital sex and divorce, Notaré says this supports her conclusion that “…sex outside of marriage causes emotional harm and also seems to harm marriage and the family.”

But we do not know that “emotional harm” is the cause for the correlation. Perhaps people who are unlikely to have pre-marital sex do so because they hold traditional values about sex, and those same people, once married, are unlikely to get a divorce due to those same traditional values. That is, after all, the interpretation of the data given by some of the researchers themselves!

We interpret the results of our analysis to mean that women who continue to hold traditional attitudes about marriage are less likely than other women to consider both premarital sex and divorce as acceptable options for themselves. It is likely that people who feel constrained by traditional expectations early in life will maintain this orientation throughout their lives, predisposing them to wait until marriage to begin sexual activity and to reject divorce as an option if they should become unhappy with their marriage.

Furthermore, this study’s statistical analyses actually ruled out a direct causal relationship – such as emotional harm – between the two factors under investigation. In other words, Notaré’s conclusion that this correlation is the result of emotional harm is directly contradicted by the study itself. By misrepresenting the research as if it suppported her conclusion, Notaré is lying to us.

Hurray is being similarly dishonest – or he simply doesn’t know what he’s talking about – when he implies that a correlation is a causation.

But his explanation for why pre-marital sex is immoral gets worse from there. Here is the rest of it:

Also, chances are that those who have sex and say they will get married never do.  You will eventually come to the conclusion like many “why pay for something I can get free.”

What an awful view of marriage! As if sex were the only thing worthwhile in it. As if there were no value in making a lifelong promise of love to another person. This would be an excellent opportunity for Minister Hurray to tell us all the wonderful things about marriage that don’t involve sex.

…But he doesn’t. That’s where he drops the issue. Apparently Hurray sees marriage as the toll one must pay for sex.

How’s that for moral guidance?

Just as in Part 1, here again we have a religious authority and counselor presenting a view of human sexuality completely devoid of sense, factual support, and decency. How does it help people to concern yourself with whether or not they have a ring on their finger when they have sex, instead of focusing on the quality of their relationship? How does it help to describe pre-marital sex using the same language we use to describe murder? How can such a perversion of values even exist?

As I stated in my opening, the adherence to particular religious beliefs comes first, and the twisted logic explaining those beliefs and the bending of data to fit one’s conclusions, follow.

Stay tuned for (most likely the final in this series) Part 3.


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Filed under Atheism, Marriage, Religion, Sex

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