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« A Moment of Atheist Sentimentality | Main | Humanist Symposium #14 »


Travis McDermott

I'll repeat something from Penn Jillete:

Amen! Right on! Damn Skippy!

The Ridger

I agree completely. Great post.


I myself feel particularly blessed to have parents who did not act during my childhood as if sex was some Big Freaking Deal. Who made sure that both I and my brother had accurate information and access to birth control reasonably early in our teenage years. And who were open about the fact that they had lived together before they were married.

Actually, it turns out that my mother's parents lived together before marriage as well. And, according to a love letter we found after my father's parents died, it appears that they didn't wait until marriage either.

For some people, it seems that the bad old days weren't as bad as we've been told.

the chaplain

Great post. That young bride's letter was heartbreaking. I agree that we in the west have come a long way sexually within the past 50 years. There's much more progress to be made, but we as a society are generally moving in the right direction in spite of those who wish to hold us back.


Totally agree Greta!

I moved in with the woman who became my wife within three months of meeting her, though of course we were sexually active even before that.

While we were living together but before we became engaged, I was at my brother's house one Sunday. The father of his wife was there that day, he was a Christian fundie. I mentioned casually about living in Queens in my girlfriend's apartment.

The father in-law, Frank, looked up at me from the chair he was sitting in, did that "tut-tut" thing, shook his head, and said with grave seriousness, "Tommy, you're living in sin."

Well, my girlfriend and I got married a year after that and have been married for over 8 years, and Frank had his second divorce.


Hear, hear! Puritanism needs to be eradicated for the good of all. The RRRW and their obsession with running everybody's sex-lives is obscene--and dangerous. Thomas More had it right back when he wrote Utopia. We need to know what we're getting into before we take the plunge if we're to be happy. Imagine how much lower the divorce rate would be.


I am just leaping out of my chair to applaud right now! Yes!


While I was in college, I got acquainted with someone from a Christian university down the road. The two of us had some friendly but ultimately inconclusive debates. More interesting to me was that, at the age of 18 or 19, he had a fiancee. This Bible college was strictly segregated by sex, so being married to someone from the opposite gender was pretty much the only way to interact with them, much less have any sexual contatc. The two of them ended up getting married the summer before their junior year.

A few months after that, I was going food shopping at night (I've always been a night owl) and ran into my friend at the supermarket. It was late, on a weeknight, and he was buying a bouquet of flowers. I didn't ask why, but you could tell there was a story behind it, and I'm willing to bet it wasn't an especially happy one.

It seems ironic that the churches which preach so often about the importance of marriage are essentially setting up their young followers for failure by rushing them into over-romanticized, poorly prepared weddings before they're truly ready - before they're even adults, in fact. Believing that marriage is the only opportunity for sexual contact encourages these poor people to hasten into it, and I doubt a marriage undertaken for that reason is likely to last or be happy.

Buck Fuddy

If people want to abstain from sex before marriage, that's one thing, but where they go wrong is that they also abstain from talking about sex.

I mean, if you've decided--tentatively, I would hope--to spend the rest of your life with somebody, and sex is important to you, wouldn't you think it's a good idea to talk to each other about sex, just to make sure you're on the same page?

It's not like it isn't risky enough already--I know lots of couples that started out totally compatible and, over the years, one of them, gradually or suddenly, lost interest in sex--but if you don't even know each others' preferences at the outset, how can anybody in their right mind commit to a life-long, exclusive relationship?


As one who has suffered from religious sexual oppression, I heartily endorse this wonderful little post. Thanks again, Greta.


I think the guy was using religion to avoid sexual contact until the girl was trapped. I think - based solely on my limited observation, I admit - that one of the malevolent uses of religion is to do just that.

We live in an overtly sexual world, and there is a lot of pressure to be enthusiastic about sex.

I would like to see asexuals or people with low sex drives be as loud and proud as gays or atheists or anyone else standing up for themselves. I suspect if someone could feel just as accepted never having sex as those who have it all the time (as posited by the media) then people wouldn't feel the need to deceive.

I have trouble understanding low sex drives. But I do understand that it's my issue - my lack of understanding, and not some defect. If people would step up and honestly discuss their experiences, it would would become normal.


Great post. It does get discouraging looking at the state of sexuality in this culture. But I agree that it's wayverymuch better than it used to be and getting better all the time. I also think that focusing on all the advances will help the transition even more.

Thanks for this!


I want to express my gratitude that in my world, having sex with someone, lots of times, before you settle down with them for the long haul, is generally considered, not only normal and acceptable, but sensible, obvious, and even self-evident.

I think the only thing one can say to that, and the ones that followed it, is "Amen." I agree with every sentiment you expressed in this piece,


Beautiful post, I linked and copied it. I love your illustrations, god bless Sex Tips for Girls, and isn't it time for Sex Tips for Boys?

I live in Ireland, and when I was a child, condoms were not for sale, divorce was not available, sex before marriage was ... well... officially discouraged, for all the good that did... and so many people got given such issues. And told so little. And ... ugh...


Wisely spoken! found your post on I'm not that old, but i wish back in the days i had the self-conception and freedom of young people in western societies today. fortunately a lot of things changed since i was a teenager.

And thank god i'm an atheist! :)


My 20 yr. Old college student Grandaughter asked if she and her boyfriend could use our camp for a weekend. To the horror of my peers, I said yes.

She is educated, enlightened, had her parent's permission, and simply for me it was no big deal. I pride myself in her freedom to do so.

My friends still cling that the belief that it was so wrong of me to allow it. This blog confirms and validates my decision and I thank you for it.


It seems as though you're almost trying to convince everyone that waiting until marriage for sex is wrong. I don't agree. I am an atheist and have still decided to wait for marriage to have sex. I decided that, not because of anyone telling me it was wrong as a child or anything like that, but because I decided I wanted that to be saved as sort of a final physical step as much as marriage is a final legal step to take in a relationship. I don't see anything wrong with the way I've decided to do that.
What I think you should be talking about, is the stigma attached to discussing sex before marriage. I have sexual deal-breakers for the future, despite my decision. I discuss sex in my relationships despite my decision. The probably is that he didn't tell her, not that they didn't act on it.

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