Science and Other Drugs

….maybe a little less wrong….

God’s Standard for Victims, Part 2

It was a darkened dorm room at my college in the deep south in the mid-2000s. The rest of my life had just been decided for me in the space of around 25 seconds.

I wasn’t a virgin anymore.

Historically, the big ugly hangup about virginity was specifically limited to women. After all, women were the only ones with any sort of physical sign indicating whether they’d ever had sex (although this was a tenuous distinction to begin with). A woman’s value was directly determined by her sexual history.

Then came the fundamentalist purity culture of the late 20th century. Clearly, the whole virginity thing was wrong; women shouldn’t be vilified for their sexual history. Instead, they decided, let’s vilify EVERYONE for their sexual history! Equal-opportunity discrimination….that’s feminist, right?

It was more fair, I guess. Of course, guys were still expected to “protect and care for” women, particularly when it came to avoiding all things sexual. But, as with girls, my value as a guy depended not only on how I treated the other gender, but on whether I had ever done the deed.

My virginity was to be “the greatest gift I could give my future wife.”

All this, particularly the obsession with physical virginity, was intended to ensure the continued purity of homeschooled teenagers for as long as possible. And setting up a standard of perfection—virginity—seemed to be the perfect way to do this. If we had sex before marriage, we were “giving up” the most valuable part of ourselves. No self-respecting Christian girl would want to marry someone like that. I literally believed that not-having-had-sex-yet was the only thing of value I had to offer to anyone. Obviously, NO ONE would ever have sex if they realized it was THAT serious.

Which brings us back to that dark dorm room, where I realized just how narrow my options had become. I had “given myself away” for no good reason at all, and that was all I had to give. I couldn’t take it back; couldn’t undo it. There were no second chances. In the space of half a minute, my life would never be the same.

From where I saw it, I had three options:

1. Stay with the girl for the rest of my life. Get married. Dispense with the fact that we had wildly divergent religious views and life goals. Forget ever having kids, ’cause she didn’t like them. Suck it up and deal with it.

2. Never get married. No good Christian could ever want to be with me, and I couldn’t marry a heathen. I could sleep with them, of course—after all, I had already lost any hope I had at being pure—but any permanent relationship was out of the question.

3. Go through my life with this deep, dark secret, never telling anyone. Live a lie to everyone for the rest of my life. Tell some good pure Christian girl that I was a virgin, plan to get married, and hope she never found out….all while dutifully hating myself every day.

(Of course, Option 1 was supposed to be my duty, since I was the guy and everything. If you sleep with a girl, you have to marry her; everyone knew that. It was a thing.)

I tried all three options in sequence. That went really well.

What never crossed my mind was the forth option:

4. Accept that people do stupid things. Reject the idea that you’re defined by one moment of your life, and move on.

As I later came to discover, virginity was a myth. Was it wrong for me to sleep with that girl in that darkened dorm room? Well, yes; it was stupid, we weren’t ready, it was based on false promises, and it left us both so emotionally unstable that we maintained that caustic relationship for WAY longer than we ever should have. But did virginity have anything to do with that? Absolutely not. It was a useless distinction, an anachronism left over from the days when women were treated like property. I was no more or less valuable the day after than I had been the day before. I didn’t give her anything I couldn’t get back. I hadn’t left anything of myself in that dorm room.

And that was a pretty exciting discovery.

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45 responses to “God’s Standard for Victims, Part 2

  1. Arkenaten 2013/04/29 at 13:56

    Heavy…while most blokes would have laid in bed in a blissful stupor you lay thinking …well, god knows what..only ‘he’ didn’t think anything at all did he?
    How to damage your children.

    The damage religion does is incredible, and half the stuff I have learned in the past six months is mind blowing.
    Reading a few posts on Johnnyscaramangas blog on ACE schooling. And I learned from him that there is ACE here in my country South Africa.
    I shake my head in utter bafflement how someone as seemingly savvy as you could even consider being any sort of christian. It is beyond me. Truly.
    As comedian, Lewis Black noted..”….stone cold F^^^ nuts.”
    He is so right……

    • physicsandwhiskey 2013/04/29 at 16:52

      I don’t know how much blissful stupor was involved. First time and all.

      I shake my head in utter bafflement how someone as seemingly savvy as you could even consider being any sort of christian. It is beyond me. Truly.

      Thanks. That’s heartening.

      • Arkenaten 2013/04/29 at 17:01

        Its the insanity thing. I imagine it is like subjecting oneself to Justin Bieber 24/7 when you could listen to Bill Evans or Mozart or Led Zeppelin.

        I mean, you’ve been through it, have supposedly freed yourself from the evil clutches of the Ken Ham fan club and yet…you choose to remain a christian. Bonkers…

      • physicsandwhiskey 2013/04/29 at 19:24

        Is it possible that there’s a syllogism buried in here somewhere?

        Postulate: The more fundamentalist you are, the more difficult it is to see the essential error of that fundamentalism.
        Corollary: It is easier for a mild fundamentalist to change than for an extreme fundamentalist to change.
        Conjecture: Someone who leaves extreme fundamentalism should be able to leave mild fundamentalism more easily.

        Your thoughts?

  2. john zande 2013/04/29 at 15:53

    It’s patently sick that children are even put through this torture.

    Sin = an imaginary illness invented to sell an imaginary cure.

    • Mark Hamilton 2013/04/29 at 16:13

      Do you believe that all actions are equally good?

      • john zande 2013/04/29 at 16:16

        What an enormously silly question.

      • physicsandwhiskey 2013/04/29 at 16:21

        Oh, come now; answer the man. Surely you can indulge this once.

      • john zande 2013/04/29 at 16:38

        Because it’s ludicrous. All actions are just that: actions.

      • physicsandwhiskey 2013/04/29 at 16:41

        Or you could have answered the original question with “No, I don’t believe ‘good’ is an attribute which can be used to describe actions; doing so is silly.” Saves time, and avoids petty insults.

      • john zande 2013/04/29 at 16:44

        I’ve had experience with Mark before. Saw the dangling hook from a mile away. What is it with you theist? Now, yes, i could have answered that way, but since you have you might want to now converse with Mark

      • physicsandwhiskey 2013/04/29 at 16:45

        If you’ve had so much experience with Mark, you ought to be able to address his questions with relative ease. 🙂

      • john zande 2013/04/29 at 16:46

        Why should i entertain the daft?

      • physicsandwhiskey 2013/04/29 at 16:47

        For the amusement of the general populace, of course. =P

        Seriously, though — the more experience you have with someone, the easier it ought to be to address them quickly.

      • john zande 2013/04/29 at 16:50

        Well, where is he?

      • physicsandwhiskey 2013/04/29 at 16:53

        I think he replied below.

      • john zande 2013/04/29 at 16:45

        Hey, Whisky, did you ban Ark from commenting? He seems to think you have…. or is he in your spam bin?

      • physicsandwhiskey 2013/04/29 at 16:46

        No, I certainly didn’t. **checks spam bin**

        Well, look at that. **unspammifies**

      • john zande 2013/04/29 at 16:49

        You just made an aging demigod very happy

      • physicsandwhiskey 2013/04/29 at 16:53

        That’s the name of the game!

      • Mark Hamilton 2013/04/29 at 16:43

        Alright. That seems consistant. So teaching children creationsism is no better or worse than teaching them anything else. Or raping a women is no better or worse than having consensual sex with them. Like that?

      • john zande 2013/04/29 at 16:54

        And there’s the stupid, right there!

      • physicsandwhiskey 2013/04/29 at 16:57

        You must understand…quite a few people simply don’t recognize the possibility of a compelling personal ethic without reference to the existence of an objective good. Who knows — you could be the one to explain it once and for all!

      • john zande 2013/04/29 at 17:02

        I generally don’t argue with willfully ignorant people. If Mark is seriously that deluded and incapable of thinking for himself then I’ll pay for all of Vienna to come to assist his mental retardation…. or else you can have a stab at educating him.

      • Mark Hamilton 2013/04/29 at 17:04

        Where’s the stupid? Do you or do you not agree with those statements? If you don’t, please explain how I’m wrong.

      • john zande 2013/04/29 at 17:35

        Mark, it’s quite clear you’re aiming at a morality statement. Your argument will try to establish that Objective judgements are good and subjective judgments are arbitrary. Objective standards are good; subjective standards are corrupt. Sorry, but reality (where adults live) isn’t so clean.

        As I know precisely where you’re going let me jump ahead and simply ask you: is the only thing stopping you from raping your mother your fear of a god?

      • Mark Hamilton 2013/04/29 at 17:43

        No. I wasn’t going to bring God, or objective morality into this at all. I was just ready to talk plain old morality with you, regardless of how well it’s backed up philisophically. So tell me: are some actions good and some actions evil? I don’t care what source you get your morality from, or whether its objective or subjective or what. Just let me know whether you believe some actions are evil. Like, for example, rape.

        The reason I’m asking is that in the orginal comment you define sin as “an imaginary illness”. If you don’t believe in good or evil, that’s fine. But your given your posts you strike me as someone who does believe that some actions (or thoughts) are wrong. Sin is just a catch all word for the idea that “People do things that are wrong.” If you don’t believe people do things that are wrong then fine, you are totally justified in calling it an imaginary illness. If you do believe that people do things that are wrong then I don’t see how you can argue that sin doesn’t exist.

      • john zande 2013/04/29 at 17:56

        Answer the question. Is the only thing stopping you from raping your mother your fear of a god?

      • physicsandwhiskey 2013/04/29 at 17:57

        A fair rejoinder. Interested to see Mark’s response.

      • Mark Hamilton 2013/04/29 at 18:00

        No. There are a lot of things stopping me from raping my mom. I love her, for one thing. I’m not sexually attracted to her, for another. But lets say I hated my mom, and had some distrubed Oedipal complex that made me attracted to her. Even if that was the case, I still wouldn’t want to rape my mom because it’s wrong to rape people. Not because I’m afraid God will punish me if I do. But because it is morally wrong to do so. Maybe I would succeed at resisting temptation. Maybe I wouldn’t. Either way, such an action would still be wrong.

        There, I answered your question. Now answer mine: Do you believe that people do things that are wrong?

      • john zande 2013/04/29 at 18:04

        So you admit morality is innate, naturally occurring, and in no way dependent on, or issued by, an invisible sky being.

        End of morality discussion.

      • Mark Hamilton 2013/04/29 at 18:05

        I’m glad we finally agree! It’s what I’ve been trying to tell you the whole time. Who knew you were a fellow believer in objective morality!

        So yes, lets end the morality discussion and get back to the main point: does sin exist or not?

      • john zande 2013/04/29 at 18:55

        Is English your first language? ‘Naturally occurring’ would mean subjective, not objective. Nature is in flux, as are our moral codes. Honestly, it’s like talking to a 5 year old.

        Now here’s some advice: instead of circling whatever it is you’re circling, using thinly veiled leading questions, just cut to the chase and make your point. State clearly what’s on your mind. Are you capable of that, or do you just enjoy wasting people’s time?

      • Mark Hamilton 2013/04/29 at 19:14

        I’ve stated whats on my mind! I want to know whether you think people do things that are wrong, because sin is, essentially, the idea that everybody does things that are wrong. You stated that sin was an invention. So do you believe that nobody ever does anything that’s wrong, or do you have a different definition of sin? To paraphrase G.K. Chesterton, some people see men taking pleasure in torturing cats and say it is proof that there is no God, and some people see the same thing and say it is proof that man is seperated from God: but you seem to be denying the existance of the cat!

        I see that we are using different definitions of “natural.” I believe tha morality is “natural” just as the laws of nature are “natural.” They are objective. They are the norm. A tree is natural, and a styrofoam tree is not because styrofoam is an invention, something that doesn’t come about without human intervention. Morality is natural because it is not the product of humanity. I can see how I got confused there.

    • physicsandwhiskey 2013/04/29 at 16:20

      Sincere intentions combined with incredibly dangerous beliefs rarely produce good outcomes.

  3. Persto 2013/04/29 at 23:37

    I think a secular ethic is entirely reasonable and justifiable. In my mind, one can be moral without God and, within the limits of thoughtful stoic resignation, even happy. The world of Darwin may be ultimately absurd and vicious, but this does not mean that a person cannot live their lives in search of meaning and goodness within that Darwinian world of blind striving, as Russell observed.

    Of course, as I have said a hundred times, a secular morality suffers from a certain inadequacy. It cannot answer satisfactorily, as John couldn’t–still, love you mate–nor could I, the question: why should one be moral?, I mean, the common goods–the ultimates, if you will, of the secular ethic, are precisely the things we sacrifice in carrying out our moral duty. Why should I sacrifice my self-interest for my moral duty? Furthermore, secular morality lacks a strong metaphysical support system. Values and obligations are superficial. These are the areas secular morality loses, and, in all probability, will continue to lose.

    But if morality seeks the good, as I believe, then secular morality based on a notion of the good life is inspiring in itself, for it promotes human flourishing and can be shown to be in all of our interests, whether or not a God exists. A Platonic metaphysical association may be irrelevant to a secular morality. Of course, there will be distinctions in the precise nature of the ethical codes–religions advocate strong altruism, secular codes advocate a reciprocal altruism, to use Dawkin’s phrase–but the fundamental morality will be identical.

    I should also add that I believe religion has the advantage of enhancing the moral life in specific ways. And diminishing it in other ways, as Physics points out in his post, but I don’t believe, contrary to Weinberg and Rachels, for one minute that religious morality is an inferior brand of morality.

    Regards

    • physicsandwhiskey 2013/04/29 at 23:53

      Damn, you’re prolific.

      Where have you been? We need more of this.

      • Persto 2013/04/30 at 08:27

        Thank you. I am limited in my commenting and posting because of class and work.

        Btw, I really enjoy your blog.

        Oh, and, yeah, don’t let Ark get you too down–his intentions are noble, although one might recall their T.S. Eliot. I know he can be direct and indelicate but we are rational as well as emotional creatures. Ark is simply more emotional than most, but I am convinced he thinks these issues are inordinately consequential to fuck around about them.

        Regards

  4. Arkenaten 2013/04/30 at 05:01

    Is it possible that there’s a syllogism buried in here somewhere?

    Postulate: The more fundamentalist you are, the more difficult it is to see the essential error of that fundamentalism.
    Corollary: It is easier for a mild fundamentalist to change than for an extreme fundamentalist to change.
    Conjecture: Someone who leaves extreme fundamentalism should be able to leave mild fundamentalism more easily.

    Your thoughts?”

    Your reply button disappeared or the thread ran out..

    The fact that you are able to rationalize this suggests there is no reason not to be able to walk away from all of it.
    If you can dismiss Noah’s ark and a 6000 year creation story then you should be able to dismiss someone walking on water or resurrecting from the dead.
    There is no scientific reason to hold on to such beliefs, especially in light of the literary source, so the only reason you are not letting go is fear based on long-time inculcation.

  5. Arkenaten 2013/04/30 at 08:32

    ”What other ones do you think are possible?”

    Nothing immediately comes to mind and if it takes that much effort to find another reason then, unless one is forthcoming, refer to reason 1.

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