Sex and Delusion

There’s some sobering information in a story in today’s local paper about the rise of sexually transmitted diseases in the state.  The incidence of syphilis and gonorrhea, two diseases that are both perfectly treatable and preventable, are increasing, especially among the young. Seems like, statistically, people are getting stupider. I know this is the 21st century, but one would think that we would be better at this by now, given the advanced state of our knowledge primarily in the areas of science and medicine. The appearance of AIDS and HIV in our medical experience seemed to have had an early dampening effect on the population, but that’s wearing off. The apparent answer to this, for some Christians, is to stop having sex outside of marriage.

Coincidentally, a recent comment on another blog I was participating in seems right on point:

So then we need to ask does sex outside of marriage cause harm to other people?

Let’s count the ways:
1. Increase in STDs
2. Unwanted babies leading to increased abortions destroying lives
3. Children who don’t have fathers taking an interest in them are more likely to be detrimental to society – stealing and maiming instead of constructively benefiting society
4. The emotional pain of giving yourself to another sexually only to be rejected later
5. Selfishness
6. Cheating
7. And there are others that would simply be avoided if everyone just stuck to their own spouses.

My first, and final, reaction to this was – sex out side of marriage doesn’t cause any of these things. STD’s can happen in or outside of marriage, so the lie there is obvious. The same can be said for unwanted babies, fatherless children, rejection, selfishness, cheating and whatever the fuck # 7 means.

The Christian argument for monogamous marriage as a panacea for all these things goes something like this: Follow God’s law by marrying and staying in a monogamous relationship, and the incidence of STDs would be greatly diminished, if not eradicated. Presumably the married couple would have no STDs before marriage, and therefore would be unable to transmit them to anyone else, in effect maintaining a closed cycle of sexual relations. The fact that the rise in STDs is predominately in the 15 to 24 year old age group, where the incidence of multiple partnerships is higher, is a fact that militates in favor of a policy like this.

But creating an arbitrary social system based on a fiction, indeed a number of fictions, does not seem to be the best way to minimize STDs. In fact, it seems counter-productive, and history and experience have shown that it doesn’t work. If it did, there would be no STDs, yet there are.

The fictions at work here are multiple.

  • There is a god
  • God is actively concerned about our sex lives
  • God demands monogamy.
  • Failure to maintain a monogamous marriage is a sin.
  • Sin exists
  • Monogamy is a natural human characteristic

Admittedly, there is something comforting to some people about assuming the truth of these fictions and basing one’s life around them. It’s all quite simple, and easy, to assume that someone else is watching out for our well being, and that by simply following some well chosen rules, all will be right in the world. If we all just assume god wants us to screw our spouses, and only our spouses, STDs (not to mention unwanted pregnancies, abortion, single parent families, crime, misery and poverty) would be eradicated.

But for this to work one has to delude oneself into believing something that’s not true, or at best, cannot be substantiated by anything approaching evidence. None of the fictions I listed are remotely verifiable, existing in the minds of believers, substantiated through faith, and only faith.

Doesn’t it make more sense to admit facts, not fiction, and base human nature on them? Facts such as:

  • STDs are well known diseases that will be passed on to sexual partners regardless of their religious beliefs.
  • There are accepted therapies to both prevent and counter the diseases.
  • Sexual activity is not always something that can be voluntarily controlled, given the evolutionary prerogative of the sex drive.
  • Marriage is an artificial social construct imposed on our biology, easily and often circumvented.

When you boil down the religiously based incentive program set forth above to its essentials you get: “Don’t have sex with multiple partners. Stick with one sex partner for life.” Marriage and monogamy were the artificial institutions set up by a knowledge-deprived society to accomplish this objective. But we no longer live in a knowledge-deprived society, so we don’t need such incentives. We just need the knowledge, and we have that.

Knowledge is power. Belief  – faith – makes us dependent on something outside our control, which can be quite problematic when that something most likely doesn’t exist. To use the knowledge we’ve gained from history, sociology, biology and medicine to control a disease makes us far less delusional in dealing with STDs than the belief we have in monogamous marriage. Penicillin and condoms, coupled with education, will have a far more reaching impact on eradicating STDs than will faith and prayer. Burying our heads in the sand and pretending that sex is only for procreation, will just continue to add to the problem.

For emphasis, the original article indicates that,

African-Americans and Latinos have much higher rates of STDs than the population as a whole, the CDC said.

and African Americans and Latinos as a population, tend to be more religious than the population as a whole. Coincidence? Correlation? You tell me. If the most religious people in the country have the highest incidence of STDs, what does that say about their commitment to marriage and monogamy? Personally, I’ll go with tried and true reality-based solutions to any problem, any day, rather than those concocted by the religiously delusional.

I’m not advocating the end of marriage, nor am I suggesting that those who find marriage to be a comfortable institution to help check their biological impulses should abandon it. I’m merely suggesting that the idea of monogamy and marriage to control sex and its side effects, including pregnancy and abortion, is misplaced, outdated, and stupid.

Religion has had thousands of years to eradicate STDs. I’d say it has failed.

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11 thoughts on “Sex and Delusion

  1. From the story in the paper, a line written by the reporter and unattributed to a source:
    Young people and gay men especially engage in risky behavior, having sex with multiple partners and not using condoms.

    That’s the kind of detail, buried in a so-called news article, that helps spread disease — when the idiot who reads that says to himself (or herself):
    Well, since I’m neither young nor gay, nor do I have sex with multiple partners, I must be immune.

  2. There was a Lewis Black joke about this that I loved.

    “Or… if you actually waited until you were married to lose your virginity, because you are so much a better person than the sniveling snots that we are, you were able to do that, because you were able to wait through everything, through all those feelings, all those hormones, all of that, you could wait, until that night to make love to (for the first time) to the person that you are gonna make love to for the rest of your life, because you are a gambler on a level that I have never fuckin’ imagined! My hat is off to you! Wow! What courage!”

    But it’s true. People can be sexually compatible or incompatible, from what I’ve heard, and if you’re not compatible, it’s best to find out BEFORE you get married, before the angst and dissatisfaction set in.

  3. Jesus is apparently so mad at you for having sex, that he will even give an STD to your unborn child. What a jerk.

    In the group of things that make one irrational, sexuality and religion top the list, surpassing even drugs and alcohol. As such, the church sees sexuality as a competitor.

  4. the church sees sexuality as a competitor

    There’s a lot of truth in that. Church lags a long way behind sex (which has intrinsic rewards, including temporally proximate satisfaction) as a source of pleasure. That’s why religions have emphasized delayed gratification as a virtue and developed the ultimate carrot & stick – heaven and hell.

  5. Larry: What about the detail asserted that gay men engage in risky behavior? That’s an assertion which causes things like the Red Cross refusing blood donations from gay men without even bothering to test them first. They’ll test the young people though, as long as they’re straight.

    The religious don’t want to do anything to curb STDs because STDs are probably their best scare tactic for abiding by their rules. You get an STD, and clearly you’re being punished by their god.

    Doug Stanhope does a bit about monogamy, and during it he mentions how the greatest happiness is in those early days of a relationship when it’s new and you’re savoring the conquest. He says monogamy is two people promising each other they’ll never be that happy ever again.

  6. Larry

    Yes. This is a subject with numerous angles, aside from my natural v. supernatural take on it. One could write a book on it. So not only do Christians have a delusional take on it, their take lulls us into believing it’s not really a problem, if one is a “True Christian ™” and follows their delusion. Sadly, it actually works … if you strictly follow the path. But at what price? And what about those with less than perfect human frailties? They’re simply condemned.


    And as my wife is fond of saying: “You try on a pair of shoes before buying them, doncha?”

    I love Lewis Black. Have you read “Me of Little Faith”? Hilarious. In parts.

    DS and Chappie

    It’s a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma. Just exactly what is it about sex that gets the religious frothing at the mouth? I don’t think even they know.

    For me, sex is just…fun. My harem thinks so too.


    You mean this one? Oy vey!


    There’s nothing, and everything, inherently risky about sex. It’s spread across the board. The only way sex becomes risky is if you have multiple partners, (thereby increasing the odds of getting an STD) or you don’t use birth control.

    Gay sex, on the other hand, doesn’t result in unwanted pregnancies and abortions. You’d think the Christians would get behind that. No pun intended.

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