Random AsidesReligion

My abstinence education

A recent post called Lesbian Sex with Men by Greta Christina has inspired me to write about sex. Or, rather, about my relationship with sex when I was a teenager. This is some of the material I’ve been exploring for my book, although I don’t think this excerpt will end up in the final manuscript.

When I was 15, I fell in love with J— and with Jesus. One stole my heart, the other my soul. Neither love would last, but both haunt me to this day.

In the ‘60s, while I was jumping rope and playing hop scotch, Jesus got down off of the heavy cross at the altar of the Catholic church and turned into a cool, hippie dude who loved everyone. It was quite a change of image for a guy who’d been King of Kings and Lord of Lords for almost 2,000 years to start chumming around with the regular folks as good ole boy, JC. The Jesus Movement, started in California by hippies who got high on Jesus instead of LSD, knew Jesus not as the stern, Father-God sorting out the sinners and the saints on Judgment Day, but as an earthy, loving brother accepting all humanity with open arms.

By the time the Jesus Movement reached Long Island at the end of the decade, it had lost most of its hippie accoutrements and had become quite suburban. Its evangelists looked more like Ozzie and Harriet than like Peter, Paul, and Mary. My parents were too old to be hippies and I was too young, but both of our generations succumbed to the hippie mantras of the Jesus Movement: Peace, Love, and Joy.

The further Jesus moved from the cross, the closer he moved to my heart. From Almighty Son-of-God to Personal Savior to friend. When his sandal-shod feet finally hit the dusty ground, I was ready to fall in love with him forever. At church, I was right in the middle, sitting in the front row, raising my hands to praise God, dancing in the aisles, speaking in tongues, playing worship songs on my guitar, reading the Bible over and over again, the way I’d read The Lord of the Rings the year before. (In the end, Frodo, Merry, Pippin, and Sam stuck with me. Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John did not.)

My view of romantic love came out of my relationship to God. We sang, “Jesus I love you. Jesus I praise you. Jesus I worship you,”as we gathered together in impromptu basement churches filled with metal folding chairs. Not a pattern of mutual respect and adoration, but of master and slave, lord and liege, creator and creation. I loved J— from afar, too, with the same fervor, longing, and unfulfilled desire.

I made up my own ten commandments for the single Christian girl to explain the rules I lived by:

  • Thou shalt not have premarital sex.
  • Thou shalt save thyself for thine husband.
  • Thou shalt not have a baby out of wedlock.
  • Thou shalt not kiss a boy (or a girl!).
  • Thou shalt be a good girl at parties.
  • Thou shalt be chaste, your body is a temple.
  • Thou shalt not get drunk or stoned.
  • Thou shalt not be a glutton.
  • Thou shalt be a good wife, because it is better to marry than to burn.
  • Thou shalt not have an abortion.

And that’s where sex didn’t come into the picture.

J— and I never had sex, never went on a date, never went “steady.” We should have been making out in the basement, instead we were holding hands in church. We should have been exploring our sexuality, instead we were following outdated rules. We should have been studying for our SATs, instead we were poring over the Bible. We should have been stoned at a rock concert, instead we were singing “Amazing Grace.” I remember sitting next to J— at a quaint old-fashioned church we visited, wanting to hold his hand, but too shy. Did he want to sit closer, put his arm around me, as if we were in a movie theater instead of a sanctuary? I imagined saying “I love you,” but I never did. Neither did he. We sang, “I love you with the love of the Lord,” when they told us to greet one-another in church. I think we both saw in each other’s eyes, that wasn’t what we meant.

Looking back, I see that I used my “personal relationship with Jesus” as a cop out that allowed me to I could hold onto the black-and-white morality that had been comfortable to me when I was 5, 8, and 11 years old. By the time I was 15 I should have been outgrowing that and learning how to emotionally and physically deal with adult issues and moral ambiguity, but I was afraid to. Jesus gave me the perfect excuse to hold onto a juvenile morality. I thought I was being chaste, but I was just being childish.

My own experiences make me wonder how many teens who are making chastity pledges are doing it because they are afraid to grow up. Now, I don’t think teens should have sex before they are ready, and no one should never do anything sexual that makes them uncomfortable. But you can’t avoid puberty and hiding in a cave of piety will not help you mature emotionally or spiritually. This type of behavior simply stunts growth and development. Looking back, I am sad for my younger self–sad that she missed out on so many wonderful experiences and that she was so afraid of everything. I am also sad that so many teens today are falling into the same trap, and that they are being encouraged to do so by their parents, pastors, and peers.

Eventually, I realized that my romantic visions of J— and Jesus were illusions. I had made them up in my head. They didn’t exist in the real world. I wasn’t in love with either of them as much as I was in love with my own imagination. Eventually, I had to say goodbye to both of my imaginary friends and move on with my life. Eventually, I grew up. But it took me a lot longer than it should have.

I’m not sure why Greta’s post made me think about this, but it did. So there you have it.


Cross posted on De-Conversion.

writerdd

Donna Druchunas is a freelance technical writer and editor and a knitwear designer. When she's not working, she blogs, studies Lithuanian, reads science and sci-fi books, mouths off on atheist forums, and checks her email every three minutes. (She does that when she's working, too.) Although she loves to chat, she can't keep an IM program open or she'd never get anything else done.

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35 Comments

  1. my experience was somewhere between yours and greta’s. i also signed a chastity pledge, but i never dated in high school, so it wasn’t an issue. i don’t think i signed it in an effort to hold onto my childhood…it was something i truly believed at the time.
    the winter after i graduated, i met a great guy and fell hard…although i wasn’t catholic anymore, i was still christian, he was as well, and we both wanted to wait until marriage for intercourse. this didn’t stop us from exploring, and what developed was essentially a “lesbian” sexuality.
    when i was growing up, my dad tried to convince me that all men wanted was sex, and that i would have to protect myself in order to maintain my chastity. i don’t know that i ever took him seriously. when i got out into the dating scene, i discovered the opposite. i’ve dated plenty of guys in my time, and i have never once felt pressured or disrespected. maybe i’m just attracted to the nice guys, i don’t know…
    it makes me wonder who these monsters are that my father warned me about. (yeah…frat boys, i know…)
    i think most guys, like greta’s friend, would be relieved to know that sex doesn’t have to be all about their orgasm.
    i know that this approach has helped me to develop a very healthy and fulfilling sexuality.

    ok…novel’s over.
    thanks for the great topic.

  2. I always enjoy your “when I was a Jesus Freak” posts because I can so relate. I had a rather similar experience, although I wasn’t quite so chaste. I didn’t really explore much of my sexuality until college began and even tried to ask Jebus for my “secondary virginity” and to make me pure again (just like in the movie Saved – so good!). It worked for a while and I abstained from sex with men, but once I started realizing my attraction to women, I knew I had to accept some things about myself and find a different direction in life.

    I think my bisexuality really helped me drop the whole childish-christian act and grow up. I just had to be truer to myself and my desires. I really related to the part you wrote about how Christianity stalled your maturation. I definitely feel this way and sometimes feel really bitter about all the sex I could have been having much sooner. I consider myself a late bloomer still, but I think I made up for lost time in my early twenties (and my mid twenties… and late twenties, wait… I’m only 26…). So yeah, I’m still making up for lost time and just about gotten rid of the guilt they brainwashed me with.

    I also have to say, do you find that those who were once devout virginal Christians often end up as kinky-queer-polyamorous-prosex advocates (or some combination of these labels)? Not in every case, obviously, but its true in my case and I’ve met a number of others as well.

  3. The details are strikingly different for me, but I can completely relate to much of the core of this story.

    I grew up in a mainstream, non-fundamentalist denomination, and my biggest regret is all the sexual baggage.

    It all seemed to make so much sense at the time. “We’re not denigrating sex or sexuality. We just want to protect it and make it special.” To an extent, it seems to make sense even now. Even free of religion, I’m in favor of responsible sex. But the problem is the association of sex with sin. No matter what else you say, this is a recipe for sexual guilt.

    The worst part of this self-repressed psychology is that it never really goes away, even after decades have passed and you intellectually know better. I’m now past the point where I think I will ever be free of sexual guilt. I can only see it for what it is and deal with it.

  4. I wholeheartedly agree that abstinence-based sex education is misguided at best. Posts like these make me profoundly grateful for the doctrine-free Unitarian Universalist upbringing my parents gave me. I took sex-ed in church and was well-versed in birth-control and STD’s long before I actually managed to persuade a girl that having sex with me would be a good idea.
    My first serious girlfriend and I met at church too, though even though we held hands at church and sang hymns together. We managed to get stoned at rock concerts and explore our sexuality with one another. Sadly, my relationship with my first love ended poorly and we never managed to get over our angst-filled high-drama teenage break-up to become friends.
    While I regret how it ended, overall it was an enjoyable time in my life and taught me a lot about relationships, loss and how to treat people. (Side note: Should my ex-girlfriend read this — my continued apologies, you were right I was completely wrong and I hope one day we can be friends.)
    As for Jesus, I’d always read the stories from a skeptical hermeneutic — the mythic parts were interesting and I found the sayings of Jesus thought-provoking. It is a shame the direction Christianity has taken, I don’t think Jesus would have approved.

  5. Quite an interesting post. From my point of view it wasn’t my internal conflicts about sex, but other peoples very obvious external conflicts about sex that probably contributed more than anything to me not taking religion as seriously.

    Watching other people sing and worship and (not so much dancing, presbyterian) read the bible every Sunday, and then go on to behave no differently from everyone else is this first thing that really got me thinking about religion.

    The other thing that really got to me was the obsession with sex. I mean, I know when you grow up on the buckle of the bible belt your gonna get the “talk” over and over but damn did they keep going over it. I kept thinking to myself, if this religion stuff is so powerful why in the hell do we have to hear the same crap in Sunday school repeated again and again.

    I really think your book is going to be very interesting when it finally comes out. Best of luck in finishing it, I’m looking forward to reading it.

  6. “do you find that those who were once devout virginal Christians often end up as kinky-queer-polyamorous-prosex advocates (or some combination of these labels)?”

    I can’t speak for other people, but I can say for certain that I was never anything like a devout, virginal Christian… I did just recently have to defend myself from a friend who (this came as a complete surprise to me) turned out to be a devout enough Christian that she insisted on explaining to e in great detail that if I think I love two people, no matter strong the feeling is, I must be wrong about both, because true love only happens between the two people made by God to be together. To me, that’s like saying you can’t love a second child without diminishing the love you have for the first. Ask almost any parent about that and see what they have to say about loving more people. Sadly, I don’t think the friendship is salvageable at this point, because she’s highly unlikely to change her stance, and I just can’t be friends with someone who thinks something so pivotal to my worldview is the hight of wrongness.

  7. “I took sex-ed in church and was well-versed in birth-control and STD’s long before I actually managed to persuade a girl that having sex with me would be a good idea.”

    All these things are true about me too. I had sex ed in school too, which my parent supported. Yet…

  8. Yet…?

    I would love to hear more.

    By the way, my sex-ed in church was by far more comprehensive, pro-sex and unambiguous than the rather lame sex-ed I received in school. It also went much more depth about homosexuality without any prejudice or moral judgment.

  9. “Yet…? I would love to hear more. ”

    Sorry. Yet…everything from my original comment is still true for me. I was avoiding repeating myself at the expense of clarity.

    My message here is that I didn’t have any highly suppressive fundamentalist upbringing. I just went to a garden variety church attended by normal, intelligent people. The very basic standard Christian idea that sex is for marriage is all that it took to give me these issues.

    I blame the very concept of sin, the idea that doing something can be wrong not because of the negative consequences caused, but merely because some authority figure says it is wrong. It’s a toxic guilt machine.

  10. We should have been stoned at a rock concert, instead we were singing “Amazing Grace.”

    I’m not disagreeing with the general message of your post (and congratulations again on finding your way to reality-based thinking), but why the heck do you see illegal drug use as a good thing? I’m appalled that you would advocate it.

    Perhaps this is more of an issue for a separate thread sometime, and I apologize in advance if this results in major derailment, but this really jumped out at me as promoting something a lot less harmless than just “making out in the basement.”

    ~Wordplayer

  11. why the heck do you see illegal drug use as a good thing? I’m appalled that you would advocate it.

    I don’t think drug use is necessarily bad. I still don’t do drugs and actually have never done any, not even smoked a joint. But I don’t think it would have ruined my life if I had. And I am against the war on drugs and think that most illegal drugs should be legalized and regulated just like alcohol and tobacco are.

    I personally think that having unprotected sex is a lot worse than getting stoned.

    And, frankly, I don’t care if you’re appalled. I’m sorry if that sounds rude, but I gave up trying not to offend people years ago.

  12. “because true love only happens between the two people made by God to be together.”

    Can’t you just you hear the minister from Princess Bride saying “WUV, TWOO WUV!” I don’t really know how to approach the subject of love with most religious people. They see it as something spiritual and I just see it as a natural force, like hunger. Or as an emotion. I think if we deromanticize love we can then start having relationships based on common interest, shared life goals, trust, open communication, personal growth etc. (along with love!) (this isn’t to say that some poly folk aren’t spiritual, or christians for that matter, but I can’t speak for them!)

    “To me, that’s like saying you can’t love a second child without diminishing the love you have for the first.”

    I couldn’t agree with this more and is often a defense I hear other polyamorous people using. Although, I think that for some Christians (having been one I can say this confidently) it’s considered a sin to love romantically outside of marriage. The line is drawn pretty clearly there, its just unfortunate your friend could agree to disagree.

  13. I don’t think drug use is necessarily bad. I still don’t do drugs and actually have never done any, not even smoked a joint. But I don’t think it would have ruined my life if I had. And I am against the war on drugs and think that most illegal drugs should be legalized and regulated just like alcohol and tobacco are.

    Actually, we’re much on the same page here, then. I, too, have never used illegal drugs, and I have no interest in doing so, but I support the decriminalization of most of them.

    The problem is that, until or unless such drugs are legalized, getting stoned is ILLEGAL, and you are promoting a criminal act (even going so far as to say that you “should have” done this!).

    Regardless of what you think about the morality of drug use itself, this strikes me as irresponsible, or at least ill-considered. Your comment, “it wouldn’t have ruined my life if I had,” assumes that you would not have been caught. That’s a big assumption, and it’s astounding what effects a criminal record can have on your life, whether you believe the charges to be warranted or not.

    I personally think that having unprotected sex is a lot worse than getting stoned.

    Legality issues aside, I agree completely. Of course, those can get rather tangled with regard to teenage sex, too; a couple of birthdays tend to be rather critical. But that’s another topic, too.

    And, frankly, I don’t care if you’re appalled. I’m sorry if that sounds rude, but I gave up trying not to offend people years ago.

    No problem. I’m not asking to never be offended, nor do I claim any kind of authority here. But I thought you might want to know how this comes across to some people; I doubt I would be the only one to read it this way.

    ~Wordplayer

  14. “Although, I think that for some Christians (having been one I can say this confidently) it’s considered a sin to love romantically outside of marriage”

    Personally, I fail to understand a) why you would marry someone you don’t love and b) why marriage must be limited to two people. Stupid religion forcing itself into laws. It’s annoying how many people have bought into that second libe of crap. Perfectly otherwise rational people constantly talking about the moral horror of polygamy, like it’s a crime against women. Forced marriage is the horror. So long as the people concered want to be married to one another, I think it’s a human rights violation to prevent them, no matter who, how many, or what gender they might be.

  15. “I also have to say, do you find that those who were once devout virginal Christians often end up as kinky-queer-polyamorous-prosex advocates (or some combination of these labels)? Not in every case, obviously, but its true in my case and I’ve met a number of others as well.”

    Praise Jesus!

  16. “Personally, I fail to understand a) why you would marry someone you don’t love”

    Well, actually historically marriage was never meant to be about love, but about a merging of assets and familial ties. People (read: mostly men) just had mistresses. That’s why cheating is more socially acceptable than honest, open non-monogamy (now THAT makes no sense).

    “Perfectly otherwise rational people constantly talking about the moral horror of polygamy, like it’s a crime against women.”

    Polygamy can be ok in some cases, but IMO it’s structure is much different than modern polyamorous relationships. Polygamy tends to take form mostly as polygyny (multiple wives) vs polyandry (multiple husbands). There is an imbalance in power if the wives aren’t permitted to have more than one partner. Plus, polygamy tends to also not be as accepting of LGBT folks as the polyamory community. Now, if thats what those people choose as consenting adults, who am I to say, but from a feminist perspective I see polygamy in its most common form as an unequal distribution of power.

    I fear we’ve gotten too much off topic! Although I’ve often wondered how many skeptics are also non-monogamous.

  17. Hey writerdd, I lived on that planet and I think I sang some of the same songs. However I came to religion from a non religious home and had a fairly free thinking mom. I’ll never forget putting down my student bible to spend some time reading “Every Thing You Wanted To Know About Sex, But Were Afraid To Ask” when I was in high school. Still don’t know if my mom knew I found her copy and read every single word…., some words more than a few times. I’ve defiantly used more of what I learned from that non-religious book than anything the bible offered. Sorta redefines ones notion of “the good book”.

  18. Yes, there is the marriage as a contract and financial obligation thing… Frankly, that’s just a form of human trafficking to me, and I want no truck with it. Polygamy tend to this, and often that, but it’s wrong to paint it with one brush. The problem is still either with forced marriage or restricted marriage, NOT polygamy.

  19. Polygamy is bad because it is limited to one man having many women. If it were equalized where it could be any combination of men and women, then it would be fair. As it is, it’s almost a form of slavery.

  20. I was also completely chaste as a teenager, to the point of not even having my first kiss until I was 19, but it was really more because I was the guy constantly surrounded by women who loved him like a brother than anything else.

    In terms of my upbringing, however, my mother always taught me that sex was a dirty, sinful thing… when done properly.

  21. Mirriam-Webster says:
    Main Entry: po·lyg·a·my
    Pronunciation: \-mē\
    Function: noun
    Date: circa 1591
    1 : marriage in which a spouse of either sex may have more than one mate at the same time — compare polyandry, polygyny
    2 : the state of being polygamous

    Polygamy is NOT one man having many women, that’s polygyny, and even if it were it’s still only akin to slavery if the women in question are forced. What’s the difference between letting a woman pick one husband she wants to be with and letting a woman pick one husband she wants to be with, but letting him pick more than one woman? Sure, it’s unfair, but it’s not slavery by any stretch.

  22. I think you’re assuming writerdd has crossed a line that I don’t believe exists; that, in speaking for herself, she is in effect prescribing for everyone.

    Granted, she didn’t specifically advocate it for others. She said, “I should have….” So, yes, in that sense, she was speaking for herself.

    However, this was said in the context of listing behaviors that would be considered normal and healthy vs. ones that were being held up as emotionally unhealthy, so the implication is still quite clear that “getting stoned” was something supposedly better to be doing than singing a hymn with words written by a slave trader.

    I’m no fan of church brainwashing, but I cannot agree that illegal drug use is a preferable activity to singing hymns, and I still say that the comment comes off as promoting illegal drug use as a harmless activity — which it most certainly is not.

    ~Wordplayer

  23. It’s established that she was speaking for herself, but you still see an element of promotion in her statements. (Also, I will point out, she didn’t say it was harmless.)

    Not to put too fine a point on it, but my reaction would have been different if she had actually explicitly promoted illegal drug use or suggested such use was harmless, in part because I have the same reaction to anyone who’s ever suggested I deliberately chop my ability to think into tadpole-sized chunks. Peer pressure had nothing on me.

  24. Someone once got mad at me because I wrote an essay saying that I like cigarette smoke and I included a lot of happy memories surrounding cigarettes. This person thought I had a responsibility to say that it is bad for your health. I don’t see it that way. I’m not the morality police and I’m not anyone’s mother.

    Really, I don’t care one way or another is someone uses illegal drugs. I am not promoting it, nor will I try to convince anyone that it is bad. Figure it out for yourself. If you’re a kid, ask your parents or another trusted adult for their advice.

  25. It’s established that she was speaking for herself, but you still see an element of promotion in her statements.

    Darned right I do. Take another look:

    We should have been making out in the basement, instead we were holding hands in church. We should have been exploring our sexuality, instead we were following outdated rules. We should have been studying for our SATs, instead we were poring over the Bible. We should have been stoned at a rock concert, instead we were singing “Amazing Grace.”

    What is it about the word “should” that you fail to see as promotional? And are you saying that the first three are not? That’s the whole point of these comparisons! She is saying that she ought to have been physically affectionate, ought to have learned about sex, ought to have studied — and ought to have gotten stoned. As they say on Sesame Street, “One of these things is not like the others; one of these things just doesn’t belong!”

    (Also, I will point out, she didn’t say it was harmless.)

    If it were NOT harmless, why on Earth does she say that they should have been doing it? If she is not implying that it is in fact a worthwhile activity, then why does she say they should have been doing it?

    I’ll leave this alone now, but seriously, am I the ONLY person here who sees this?

    ~Wordplayer

  26. What is it about the word “should” that you fail to see as promotional? And are you saying that the first three are not?

    I said “We should have…” not “You should…”

    Why do you have your panties in a wad over this anyway?

  27. I fail to see it as promotional, Wordplayer, because in context she is talking about herself, not prescribing activities for the rest of the world. It sounds–to me–like these are personal regrets, not “OBEY.” She didn’t say that any of these things would not have had their consequences.

    If she believes that spending her time differently would have been better, how can anyone claim otherwise? We’ll never know if it wouldn’t have screwed her up, or if it would have led her into a different direction than the one she’s taken, or whether she’d have wound up here regardless.

    (Such things are unknowable. I’ve got plenty of regrets myself, but really, if I had to ask myself if I’d be the same person, or if I’d really be better off than I am had I done things differently, I’d batter my forehead with a Rubik’s cube.)

    The post is also not a blanket endorsement of promiscuity–which has its own consequences, some of which are much worse than a few whiffs of a controlled substance. Illegality is not always congruent with immorality.

  28. The it’s “wrong because it’s illegal” argument rests on the same fallacious appeal to authority as it’s “wrong because the Bible tells me it’s wrong.”
    Many of us here live in a country where it used to be legal to own slaves — and where this was often supported by an appeal to the Bible for its legitimacy. During times like these it was illegal to assist a fugitive slave, but it certainly was morally correct do to so.

    I’m inclined to agree with arguments that recreational drug use (legal or otherwise) can be unhealthy, depending on frequency, type and dosage but legality alone does nothing to convince me that one should not use a drug.

    It also seems to me that most people reading this blog have enough common sense and critical thinking skills to make decisions about whether or not they’ll use drugs regardless of what is said here or what is decreed by the legislature.

    So, even if (and that’s a mighty big if) one’s musings on past life experience can be construed as promoting illegal drug use — in this context it hardly matters.

    So, by all means, go do some drugs while singing some hymns — it will enhance the experience of both.

  29. “I, too, have never used illegal drugs”

    “the comment comes off as promoting illegal drug use as a harmless activity — which it most certainly is not.”

    Drugs are bad, mkay?

    Fyi, smoking marijuana (aka ‘the pot’) is, generally, harmless. Some people even consider the occasional dooby toke an adolescent rite of passage. So I’m gonna say, yes writerdd, you totally should have been stoned at a rock concert. Big fucking deal.

  30. “Rystefn, visit Utah or read a couple of books by ex-fundy Mormons and get back to me”

    Wait… so you’re saying that because of the way some people choose to do one thing, you’re justified in condemning across the board? How is it different to paint all of polygamy with the creepy-Mormon-cult brush than it is to pain all of atheism with the horrific-Stalin-murders brush? Or all homosexuals with the pedophile-rapist brush? I want you to think about that for a moment. Don’t answer right away, just think about it. Think about the effect that kind of thing has. Think about how it makes me feel… More than that, think about the beautiful young women I love, that I live and die for. Think about how one of them is marrying another man, and what that decision was like for her. Think about how limited that decision was because we live in a nation where two women can’t be married. Think about the stress having to single out one person like that can put on a relationship. Stop and think for ONE FUCKING MOMENT exactly what it is you’re saying when you goddamned try to tell me that polygamy is inherently wrong…

  31. I said “We should have…” not “You should…”

    Nonetheless, the implication is that drug use is a normal, harmless, healthy activity — as opposed to singing hymns. Granted, you’re not directly exhorting others to get stoned, but it’s clear that you support the idea.

    Why do you have your panties in a wad over this anyway?

    Fair question. Here’s one for you: Why do you support the idea of teenagers casually breaking the law?

    But, to answer yours, a big part of it is that I am a strong proponent of following the rule of law.

    And regarding waltdakind’s comment on this topic:

    The it’s “wrong because it’s illegal” argument rests on the same fallacious appeal to authority as it’s “wrong because the Bible tells me it’s wrong.”
    Many of us here live in a country where it used to be legal to own slaves — and where this was often supported by an appeal to the Bible for its legitimacy. During times like these it was illegal to assist a fugitive slave, but it certainly was morally correct do to so.

    Pffft. Please. You are equating the morality of breaking the law to help a victimized person escape from a life of slavery with the “morality” of getting yourself high? How freaking inappropriate can a comparison get? There’s nothing immoral about recreational drug use; I never said there was. But it certainly has no positive moral value, either, so comparing drug use with freeing slaves is a ridiculous analogy.

    I won’t say that the blanket prohibition on recreational drugs is a good idea, but to advocate breaking the law for something so bloody trivial is simply wrong — not least because of the legal consequences of doing so if you get caught. Advocating changing the law I can agree with, but simply flouting it is dangerous and stupid.

    ~Wordplayer

  32. I never made any moral comparisons, I only offered a counter-example to your rather ridiculous premise that we must “obey the law for the sake of the law” that you put forth in the following sentence:

    “The problem is that, until or unless such drugs are legalized, getting stoned is ILLEGAL, and you are promoting a criminal act (even going so far as to say that you “should have” done this!).”

    When the argument of defending law for the sake of the law is placed in a context where there is far greater agreement that the law itself is wrong, the error in your main premise becomes more obvious —
    “The problem is that, until or unless the abolition of slavery is legalized, helping to free a slave is ILLEGAL, and you are promoting a criminal act (even going so far as to say that you “should have” done this!).”

    You were the one who made the ridiculous initial premise. Illustrating how ridiculous your initial premise is by using a ridiculous analogy is entirely within the realm of reasonable discourse.

    I am not advocating illegal drug use. I only facetiously advocated using drugs at the end of my post as part of my point that regardless of what is said in any post here, the readers of this blog will be making up their own minds as to what they will or will not be doing. This high and and mighty condemnation of writerdd having said she “should have been getting stoned” as advocating or promoting drug use is far more ridiculous than any analogy I offered.

  33. I’ve been thinking a lot about this story overnight, as well as the interesting comments by TheCzech and Anthony.

    I’m a nerd. That’s an adequate explanation for why I never had sex in high school.

    I value my brain and I always have. That’s why I made a deliberate decision when I was young never to use non-medically-indicated drugs (unless you count caffeine).

    I think that we all have a tendency to forget that every teenager has Issues(tm). Many of these Issues(tm) later become Regrets(tm). While not trying to minimise the bad experiences of those who grew up in fundie religions, I do wonder if there’s a tendency to blame all Issues(tm) and Regrets(tm) on the religion, as if everything would have gone smoothly if you weren’t brought up religious.

    It reminds me a lot of Chris Hedges’ stereotype of New Atheist philosophy: that removing religion will result in some kind of science and reason-based utopia. (Although sometimes, Hitchens says things that make me wonder if maybe he (for one) really does believe this. But then, Hitchens says a lot of things, doesn’t he.)

    Don’t get me wrong, Donna is certainly right to point fingers at her upbringing. Someone in her position is likely to have had far fewer hang-ups about sex had she not grown up in a fundie church. I can see the argument that a sensible attitude to sex is a human right (albeit one that only makes sense once you have food, shelter, clean water and sanitation), and this right was denied to her.

    I have to wonder about the getting stoned at rock concerts thing, though. Leaving aside the legality for a moment… yeah, in the 70s, that was a common thing in the US. However, it is a demonstratable fact that the overwhelming majority of teenagers in the world, who don’t get stoned at rock concerts, usually turn out okay. There’s no human right being denied anyone here.

    OK. Because this is my comment, I now get to change the topic, and use this story as an inspiration to talk about other things.

    The story reminds me of a really good British reality TV series (no, don’t laugh; Britian has both the very best and the very worst when it comes to reality TV) called something like Trading Races, where they’d get two people of different ethnicities, and then swap them for a week, using applicance make-up to make them appear to have the other’s ancestry.

    One episode featured a young woman whose parents came to the UK from Bangladesh. She was a door-to-door salesperson or something like that. Maybe she collected for a charity. Details are unimportant, anyway.

    She always used to think that people were rude to her because she was Asian. After doing it for a few days while appearing as a Caucasian, she realised that people were just rude to door-to-door salespeople, and it was nothing racist at all.

    I’m also reminded of Expelled, and the “Darwinism is responsible for everything bad” argument. It’s probably a less extreme form of the cultist “siege mentality” that results in groups like the Branch Davidians, building a fort, arming themselves and not coming out.

    And finally, it reminds me of my favourite Les Murray poem. It’s a haiku, so it’s easy to remember:

    Brutal policy,
    like inferior art, knows
    whose fault it all is.

    Because this is Skepchick: A very important sensor on my bullshit detector kit is a device that beeps every time someone claims that they know whose fault “it” is. It beeps erratically if “it” is a lot of disparate things with very tenuous links between them. Everyone should get one of these.

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