On the Perversity of Evangelicals and Premarital Sex

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Writing my previous post about homosexuality and conservatism got me thinking more about my sexual development raised in an evangelical household. I’ll spare you the details, but I would like to focus on the absurdity of premarital sexual behavior and evangelicalism. Evangelical high schoolers have hormones like everyone else. However, the difficulty lies in trying to maximize sexual pleasure while minimizing superegoic guilt. This is a very subtle task. I remember when I was younger my parents had a book on teenage dating and Christianity. I recall a page with a table that had a line drawn down the middle to divide acceptable and unacceptable sexual behaviors. I believe the only sexual acts that were tolerable were hugging and tongue-free kissing. Sorry kids, God hates when you make out. It’s in the Bible, English Standard Version only. I also recall having a Sunday school teacher map out the geography of a woman’s body to inform us what body parts were off-limits. Surprisingly, the ears were prohibited.

Anyway, I mostly want to explore the relationship between pleasure and guilt that every good evangelical must come to terms with. How do I release all of my suppressed sexual tension while ensuring God will still love me? Honestly, these are perverse questions! Can I go under the bra? Does oral sex count? Anal sex? I remember the classic divide back in the day was no fondling of the genitals or breasts. If you were especially licentious you might go under the bra. The calculus is so strange. I remember being in accountability groups back in high school dedicated to talking about sexuality and purity. I wish we would have kept each other accountable on being good people, you know like loving our neighbor.

Of course, all of the discourse and obsession about sex was the very thing that only served to heighten the temptation. Paul knew that the Law generates its own transgression. I’ve mostly gotten past these questions intellectually, but what bothers me most is that I still feel as if God’s obsessed with my sexuality. The God I claim to believe in is not the God I experience subjectively. This God is a puritanical, authoritarian, voyeuristic freak who hates me. It’s sad that I still unconsciously measure my spiritual development based on amount of sexual temptation I engage in. How do I get out of this bind? I cannot even begin to count the number of false resolutions and promises I’ve made to God to control my sexuality. It never worked. I’m tired of the guilt, shame, and anger. Why do you care so much, God? Am I even talking to you God? Is that your name?

I’ll let the great Thomas Altizer have the last word, “Already we have seen that faith can name this movement as the metamorphosis of God into Satan, as God empties himself of his original power and glory and progressively becomes manifest as an alien but oppressive nothingness. We must understand this whole movement as an atoning process, a forward-moving process wherein a vacuous and nameless power of evil becomes increasingly manifest as the dead body of God or Satan; but it is precisely this epiphany of God as Satan which numbs the power of evil, and unveils every alien and oppressive other as a backward-moving regression into the now lifeless and hence ultimately powerless emptiness of the primordial sacrality of God” (Gospel of Christian Atheism).

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10 Responses to “On the Perversity of Evangelicals and Premarital Sex”

  1. Halden Says:

    Allow me to reveal more than is probably appropriate. When I was in that whole evangelical high school arena my perspective on the mater was so warped that I wouldn’t kiss my girlfriend even though I rather rampantly fondled, well, everything.

    This is the kind of absurdity that is fostered in these sorts of contexts.

    Ironically its only as I have become more and more convinced of the triviality of romantic sexual expression that they have come to be less compulsive in my life and relationships.

  2. Jeremy Says:

    I won’t lie that’s really fucked up. That reminds me of some of my friends who were saving their lips for marriage.

    Yeah, I’m starting to see things more and more that way. I’m pretty sure that the Bible’s scant references to sexuality suggests its unimportance in general. My main objection is the amount of time people waste obsessing over sex. It reminds me of CS Lewis’ struggle trying to quit smoking his pipe. He came to realize it was just better to smoke and be done. That way he could get down to doing some actual work.

    Also, I think it fosters a really unhealthy perspective of women for young men. Basically, if you save yourself for marriage God will grant you a virgin. That, and even though it attempts to promote not treating women as sexual objects, i feel as if by overemphasizing sexuality it ends up encouraging guys to view women as frightful, over-sexed objects.

  3. Emily Says:

  4. Halden Says:

    Also just to be clear, I’m not a libertine at all. Its just become more and more clear to me that healthy sexual behavior is best fostered when we realize that a lot of this stuff doesn’t really matter that much/define the meaning of humanity.

  5. Jeremy Says:

    I understand Halden, that what’s I assumed you were saying. Also, Emily thanks for uploading this. I thought about uploading this, but I ended up forgetting to post. My position is simply this radically distorts how evangelical kids see the opposite sex. It oversexualizes all interactions, something as simple and affectionate as a hug has been deformed into some sort of secretive way to touch women’s breasts. So absurd!

  6. cmoody91 Says:

    Hahaha, that video is terrible and hilarious at the same time.

    Also its good to know the psychotic behavior evangelicalism causes is not specific to just myself and people i know.

  7. Jeremy Says:

    Since apparently we’re all recovering evangelicals, this blog could function as some sort of group psychotherapy session. I needed some patients anyway.

  8. A.J. Smith Says:

    Freud had way comfier couches for his sessions though. I imagine he had to something a furniture connoisseur.

    Your quote:

    “God I claim to believe in is not the God I experience subjectively. This God is a puritanical, authoritarian, voyeuristic freak who hates me. . . . Why do you care so much, God? Am I even talking to you God? Is that your name?”

    That reminded me very much of the sentiments of Martin Luther, who said, among other things, ‘Love God? Sometimes I hate him” and “Sometimes Christ seems to me to be nothing more than an angry judge who comes to me with a sword in his hands.” And in the movie, at least, Luther poses the question whether or not it would be better for God not to exist.

  9. Jeremy Says:

    The interesting thing is there are more and more people doing online therapy because they feel that they can be more honest. Unfortunately, that sort of the defeats the entire purpose since fostering a healthy working relationship is of the utmost importance.

    Yes, I can very much identify with Luther’s sentiment. That was why I included the quote at the very end by Atlizer. The moments in life when the very thing we thought we were addressing might in fact be its exact opposite. That is to say when Blake talked about the convergence of identity of God and Satan located in the dead body of Christ.

  10. A.J. Smith Says:

    Have you ever read Herbert McCabe? I ran across this quotation of Herbert McCabe by Kim at F&T that I though applied well to your third paragraph http://faith-theology.blogspot.com/2007/03/herbert-mccabe-faith-within-reason.html :

    “‘It is very odd that people should think that when we do good God will reward us and when we do evil he will punish us. I mean it is very odd that Christians should think this, that God deals out to us what we deserve…. You could say that the main theme of the preaching of Jesus is that God isn’t like this at all.’ In fact this image of a punitive God is ‘the view of God as seen from hell,’ such that damnation ‘must be just being fixed in this illusion.’ This is the illusion that defines the sinner. To see that this illusion is an illusion is to recognise that one is a sinner, and in this very self-knowledge one ceases to be a sinner.”

    “This, in short, is McCabe’s take on the prodigal son as he comes to his senses. ‘The rest of the story is not about the father forgiving his son, it is about the father celebrating…. This is all the real God does, because God, the real God, is just helplessly and hopelessly in love with us. He is unconditionally in love with us.’ So it is not that if we are contrite, God will forgive us our sin. On the contrary, ‘You confess your sin, recognise yourself for what you are, because you are forgiven.’ Thus confession becomes a celebration, where you ‘come to put on the best robe and the ring on your finger and the sandals on your feet, and to get drunk out of your mind.’ Could Barth himself have put the case for grace more vividly?”

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