Ravished for life post – see usual disclaimers.
Separate disclaimer: This is going to be a long one – I am building a case, sort of, for monogamy and since I gave this a lot of thought I am sure this will span several thousands of words. Of course if you are not interest – I am not really trying to convince you. The purpose here is for people who want to be monogamous but feel it is ‘against their nature’ to do so.
One of the things that stuck with me about J Ribs reply from my post “a well mannered atheist” is the notion that:
Christian morality counters the idea that sex is perfectly healthy, that children should be terrified by the threat of eternal sacrifice, and that bathing in blood is a glorifying image. Christian morality is not compatibleu with secular morality on issues that conflict with well-being like these, and the rest are just secular moral values.
Now I actually don’t want to write this post as a Christian because ravished for life is not inherently a religious affiliation. Yes some of the ideas are Biblically inspired (credit where credit is due?) but the idea is much bigger than smuggling a Bible in through the back door and bashing people over the head.
Anyway I find the whole idea that all of Christianity’s ideas about sex can be swept under one single rug rather narrow minded. With just a little bit of effort, on the internet, I should be able to find a gay Muslim quite easily. Granted these views are still marginalized within Islam but I suspect that anybody who keenly observes these issues, with me, from the side-line will notice that there is a ‘cultural revolution’ (I am choosing the word revolution on purpose) going on in Islam not very much unlike the ‘sexual revolution’ in Christianity that started at the protestant reformation and was surely influence by the cultural ‘reformation’ of the sixties?
The problem is that inside the ‘Christian moral system’ there are two major opposing view points that oppose each other and is by no means marginalized. Anybody who makes a statement about Christian morals should specify to which of they two they are referring. And of course it can even get more complicated that these two but because other views are arguably marginalized it can be forgiven if one ‘slip over them’. The two major views are:
- The view of the Catholic church that procreation is an essential part of any sexual expression and that it is a sin to interfere with it by means of contraception.
- The major Protestant view that sex is as much for recreation in a secure intimate relationship as it is for procreation and that there is no sin in using contraception.
Now I am by no means Catholic but I do accept truth wherever I see it. In fact one of my favourite quotes comes from an atheist/skeptic Voltaire:
“I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it,” (interesting side note – apparently these words were not Voltaire’s own words but attributed to him by Evelyn Beatrice Hall following an interpretation of his “Essay on Tolerance” – I did not know that until today when I looked around for the quote :-). Naturally I will not blame somebody if they quote Voltaire as saying this because the words are widely attributed to him – this brings up another interesting discussion on ‘the principles of true inerrancy?’ One for another day unfortunately).
Back to the Catholic vs Protestant position:
As much as I think the Catholic position is ‘a little extreme’ in its application I, at the same time, think that the Protestant position is a little too loose in its possible interpretation.
Firstly we need to recognise that the first add for a condom only appeared in the New York Times as late as 1861 and the pill only arrived during the 1950’s.
So the first point to consider – and yes it sounds rather Catholic:
Since just more that 50 years ago the ‘main stream’ individual’s sexual encounters would almost always be followed by pregnancy sooner or later. So whatever you say about sex being “perfectly healthy” (looking at you J Rib) you need to keep into account first and foremost that as a naturalist you are committed to arguing for evolution. So you would have to acknowledge that we (that is our bodies) ‘probably’ adapted with the idea in mind that having sex will lead to babies. Let’s go through the logical motions one step at a time:
- The average hunter-gatherer would, in my mind, probably have initiated sexual activity at the age of 16 or slightly higher at the point where the sexual organs (as noted by the size of the breasts 🙂 ) were fully developed. I am open to the idea that experimentation with sex took place earlier (puberty turns on at around 12 after all) but I foresee a situation where actual intercourse before full maturation would probably have ended in a lot of cephalo-pelvic disproportions resulting in a high number of maternal deaths.
- Shortly after initiating sex (probably within 6 months) the average hunter-gather female would fall pregnant. This would in all likelihood last around 9 months after which she would give birth.
- Now here follows an interesting side thought. I have an idea that if the ‘modern’ lifestyle were more protective of pregnant women and if breast feeding were exclusive and on demand (in other words every time the child cries for it – yes feminist I am looking at you who refuses to be a pacifier) then the contraceptive effect of the oxytocinon and prolactin would be much stronger. I actually foresee that on average a women would continue breastfeeding for a number of years into the child’s life and as such the frequency of breast feeding would ensure that there would only be a risk of pregnancy from round about two years into the child’s life. This is highly speculative but when added up the number do coincide with what we see – sort off :-).
- Add to this the notion that the average hunter-gatherer male is unlikely to be able to protect more than 3 females at the same time and is highly unlikely to be able to provide for more than 20 children – again I am no anthropologist so the conversation remains open. I at least envision a scenario in which everyone who is not a sultan or a king would have to be content with 2 wives (3 at maximum).
- Add to this the notion that the average hunter-gatherer male is unlikely to be able to protect said wives/women from the age of forty onwards against younger competing males. A situation now occurs that highly depends upon bonding. If we take that most men reach their physical peak in the early twenties we are in a scenario where the average hunter-gatherer male would ‘court’ a female that is between five and ten years younger than himself if we assume that ‘the younger the better’ but this is highly speculative. I reckon at the age of 30 she may very well still be appealing when he is around forty so there is a need for bonding because we want a scenario in which ‘if he is beaten up’ by a younger competing male she would still prefer him for social reasons. This explains at least in part why women have evolved with a more secure relationship in mind – I think.
- Naturally I don’t think having more than one wife is against the law and on this very blog space I have voiced my strong opinions on the hypocrisy of letting anybody who wants to get married be married no matter what sex they are yet we do not allow more than one person to be married be cause that is suddenly ‘EVIL!’. My reasons for advocating lifelong monogamy has to do with spiritual reasons. I believe that the level of intimacy required to satisfy my soul is impossible to achieve with multiple sexual partners but I will get to this point later. For now let it be said that sex is definitely healthy as long as children is part of the equation. So whatever measures are placed upon sex should have procreation as at least one factor in mind. I will discuss contraception later – please just allow for this notion to be true until about a hundred years ago. I am building a case here slowly. Not rapid firing a few points.
Now this is where it gets tricky. If we allow that the offspring will die on an average of at least one or two per life cycle of the above relationships and if we allow that the above premises are true (of course I am open to debating them one by one) we still get to an average of 8 to 12 children per couple. No matter how I bend the numbers I cannot get to a situation where every man just bangs every woman that crosses his path and then moves on to the next one while leaving the previous pregnant women to the lions and wolves. Even if you allow that society kicked in fairly early in the life of Homo Sapiens you have to agree that once a man and women found in each other ‘favorable DNA for procreation’ some form of protection against ‘the outside world’ would have been preferable at least for a season which had be to until the child was able to sustain itself in remedial tasks.
But I have to balance this notion with the reality that men are sexually turned on by novelty. Most men will gladly have sex with any women that crosses their path. In fact the only thing that will stop a man from having sex with any possible women that crosses his path, and is willing, is the fear of possible negative consequences…
….wait a minute….
….did I just say that the fear of negative consequences will stop a man from having sex with any women that crosses his path?
….I must make sure because once on this path I will not be able to turn back!
Oh who am kidding? 🙂
I was building up to this point for the last 1700 words.
So let’s carry on.
You see the advocate of monogamy under these circumstances don’t have to claim that the act of having sex, in and of itself, is either wrong, immoral or unhealthy. Al that is necessary to start a case like this is to claim that ‘under certain circumstances – sexual restraint is in order’. The rest of the discussion then can be about what said circumstances should be.
It is extremely difficult to build a casd that the pleasure from having sex evolved that way simply for the purpose of having fun. When you add to this the Oxytocinon and other ‘bonding factors’ that come into play during times of having intercourse then a case of ‘having sex’ simply as a means of pleasure is impossible to prove from an evolutionary point of view.
But I do realize this is not what the atheist/naturalist is saying. The naturalist is simply saying that although sex is also for procreation we should recognize that sex can also be a ‘healthy’ form of recreation. I definitely recognize that in nature a lot of species exists who are frequently monogamous but will occasionally or sometimes often, in times of abundance, engage sexually with multiple partners and even partners of the same sex. I confess I was a bit sad to find out that dolphins are mong these :-). I also acknowledge that in other mammal societies such as dolphins ‘midwives’ help with the birthing process and not the male but this, I feel, does not negate my view that in hunter-gatherer Homo Sapiens the male is at least indirectly involved in the early raising of the child. Survival skills have to be taught after all.
But the point remains that there do exist species out there who just want to settle down and raise a family together. Granted most of them are not mammals but that is hardly the point. These animals act instinctively and I will say something about this when I talk more about intimacy but for now we just need to agree that these animals are not being ‘unhealthy’ when they ‘restrain’ their sexual activity to one individual. The more I think about this the more upset I get about the idea that advocates of monogamy are against the idea that sex is healthy. People such as myself who advocate for monogamy from a secular perspective think there are extremely good reasons to believe that monogamy has been the way to go for most of our history and that whatever restraints ‘have to’ be associated with it can and probably is extremely healthy in the long run. But as the article emphasizes – if nothing else it remains controversial.
So let me back track for a moment and talk about the methods that we have been using to prevent pregnancy.
Enter ‘the contraceptive pill’.
Naturally I am not speaking against the responsible use of the pill. I am speaking against the idea that ‘sex is perfectly healthy’. The contraceptive pill that is generally recognized as the ‘safest’ is Yaz (South Africa brand). This is all theoretical because the assumption here is that lesser amounts of side effects necessarily follows from smaller concentrations of hormones. Now I use the web site drugwatch.com when referring to controversial side effects. Although the side effects of use are well known and undisputed (just read the packet insert) it is the legal information that we are interested in. Remember the point that we are disputing is that casual sex with no inclusion of the possibility of pregnancy is perfectly healthy. What makes Yaz interesting is the fact that this is a prime example of how ‘their is a way that seems right unto a man….but….’ According to the drug watch site there has been about 10 000 cases involving negative side effects of Yaz with up to 8 200 being settled by Bayer a total of 1.7 billion. What really scares me is that Yaz is still considered lucrative despite those numbers. Now don’t get me wrong. As a medical practitioner I have prescribed Yaz more times than I can count. I have actually bought into the idea that Yaz is the safest one out there. I don’t buy the idea that ‘lesser doses over slightly greater periods is worse than larger doses over slightly shorter periods’. I do think there might be something to be said for products striving for bio-equivalence like Angeliq but even so the levels of hormones that are needed for ovulatory suppression is still several times higher than what would be considered normal.
I personally know about two people whose lives were completely altered after taking the pill. The first one was a medical student who was a few years older than me. She went for a knee operation but at the time she was on the pill because she recently got married. A few weeks after the operation she was pushing another patient in a wheel chair when she collapsed – and died. The second case is a young married women who, granted, was also a smoker. She went about her business quietly while one day, out of the blue… she had a stroke. Thankfully she survived it but she was permanently disabled. Of course Bayer would say that these cases are anecdotal and I am fine with that. I think the scientific method is completely messed up anyway. However Bayer would have to explain why they have been willing up to this point to spend 1.7 billion on settlements if the product is completely harmless. When I got married I gave the list of side effects associated with all the contraceptives one look and told my wife “you are not getting on this – I would rather have you pregnant”. So we used condoms and naturally she fell pregnant fairly quickly :-). Afterwards we sterilized and I have been ‘home free’ since that time :-). And yes I talk to my patients about the side effects but the reality is that most people today will ‘stomach’ the risk of side effects because they simply cannot tolerate the idea of falling pregnant ‘at this particular time’. And that’s okay but we shouldn’t go as far as saying that ‘casual sex is perfectly healthy’. This kind of sex always comes at a price. The question is not is it perfectly healthy?. It isn’t perfectly healthy – no question about that – the only question is whether you are willing to pay the price associated with it. A lot of people are and power to them. But as Bayer will be the first to admit. The price of true casual sex can be up to 1.7 billion.
Then we aren’t even talking about STD’s. And I am not going to waste time talking about STD’s because I want to uphold the sanctity of sex. I might say that the high incidence of STD’s says something about the world’s willingness to use condoms. Mark Gungor once humorously commented that “having sex with a condom is like eating an ice cream through a sock. I agree. I once read a female atheist blogger who said that there is no shame in two consenting adults. Who in the complete civilized world with any credibility ever disputed that?! Of course there is no shame in it but it is bloody damn dangerous!! This article cites a projection from the chambers of mines that treating a person with HIV over an average period of 10 years costs around 70 000 – 80 000 South Africa Rands. This article from AVERT claims that it sites the UN Gap report of 2014 on how many people are living with HIV. I don’t even want to quote the number – it is so staggering. Of course what hurts the most is that all these deaths and all these costs can be overcome in one generation if we only stop preaching the lie that ‘casual sex is completely healthy’.
All right now onto the issues of intimacy.
As everybody would agree – human beings have a highly developed pre-frontal cortex. This rises our ability of self awareness and abstract reasoning to a level where probably no animal can possibly compete with us.
- In order to ‘really commit suicide’ you have to be able to plan a set of circumstances that will result in your death.
- Also you have to have the emotional self awareness that let’s you realize that ‘things are bad and they are not going to get any better’.
Or at least so we thought. It is well known that certain animals will self destruct – like bees protecting their nest. Is it possible that suicide is a form of ‘instinctive protection’ from further suffering?
If you have time consider reading this article on the rise and fall of prefrontal lobotomies. Many people think that lobotomies have simply been displaced by electro-convulsive therapy. The point is that when our prefrontal cortex is ‘reduced’ through whatever means then our ‘discontentment’ with our emotions are also reduced. This is important because nobody comes close to the hypothalamus, the basal ganglia and the caudate nuclues as far as I can make out so the basic processing of these emotions are still very much intact. It’s only the emotional awareness that is altered. For better or for worse depending on what you believe about the physical ‘destructive’ methods of treating mental illness.
My position in short is that animals do not suffer emotionally like humans do because they lack the prefrontal cortex capacity to do so – I’m sorry for offending all the ‘animal rights activists’ out there. Yes they suffer and no we should not treat them ill but frankly our reasons for doing so are better justified by spiritual reasons than naturalistic ones. We have a mandate from our creator to fill and till the earth and to take care of it. Let’s leave it at that because any other naturalistic explanation for needing to do so becomes very tricky very quickly. According to the second law of thermodynamics the world is going south after all.
The question here is:
How deeply do humans bond with each other if they abstain from sex until they have bonded on a personal level with their sexual partner?
From this point on I will merely speculate so pass right over if you don’t agree with me.
For starters I will refer you to a quote from one of my favorite books”
Mal 2:16 “For the man who does not love his wife but divorces her, says the LORD, the God of Israel, covers his garment with violence, says the LORD of hosts. So guard yourselves in your spirit, and do not be faithless.” (ESV)
Also I want to at least point you towards the idea expressed in this article. This article suites my purposes because the writer wants to empower women to actually be able to have casual sex more ‘easily’. And that’s okay but she (?) mentions in the article that women are programmed to attach while men are programmed to detach. Personally I cannot think of any reason (it is of course open for discussion) on an evolutionary basis why men would be ‘programmed to detach’. Unless we assume that evolution has not yet reached ‘perfection’ I would imagine that programming has anything to do with it. To me this is more indicative of the fact that ‘something went wrong along the line’.
Gen 3:16″ Your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you.”
I am sorry for going all spiritual here – all of this is open for debate. We start the conversation around the notion of positive effects towards the ‘propagating of DNA’ and we discuss how the attachment of the majority of women ties in with the ‘detachment’ of the majority of men and how this ‘benefits the system’.
I am struggling to find good research on how casual sex interferes with the ‘normal secretion of oxytocinon’.
Since I can’t find any I will refrain from going dogmatic.
My position is simply that human beings form intense emotional bonds. When they abstain from sex until they are emotionally secure in the relationships the bonds that they form are so strong that they cannot be broken without severe psychological trauma. For this reason it is very dangerous to me to compare the sexual behavior of humans with that of animals although certain minor correlations can be drawn. As it is the American institute of stress (can be found at stress.org) cites the two major causes of stress and reactive depression to be the death of a loved one which is shortly followed by divorce. While loosing all your money (and hence physical security) is an important contributor people do not throw themselves off of a bridge because their favorite team did not win.
It’s all about what you really want out of life.
Because if I am right then you can’t have your bread – and have it buttered.
If my position is true then oxytocinon and its brothers diminish every time you have casual sex. Also since oxytocinon depends on ‘strong memories’ it makes sense that have ‘this level of intimacy’ with multiple partners is simply confusing to your hypothalamus.
The question is whether your previous sexual encounters have any impact on your current ones.
And whether you can be ravished by more than one person.
I don’t believe you can. Every time I have watched pornography it has interfered with my marriage and not just from my wives perspective. The amount of men who are willing to claim that they have had their sexual desires significantly altered simply by stopping with pornography is absolutely staggering. Of course most of these guys were not looking for novelty. They were wanting to invest in their ‘monogamous’ relationship.
To the men out there:
If you want novelty – which I grant most of us do at some level – then go right ahead and bang every girl who is willing to bang you.
But if there is any part of you that is taking this thing of being married and raising a family seriously then I have something here that might motivate you.
I believe that if you wait for one girl and then stick with her and actually ‘work’ on you relationship you will achieve a level of intimacy that you did not know you even wanted – but I promise you it is absolutely fucking perfect.
That feeling of having somebody in your corner at all times and under all circumstances who is always willing to share life and bed with you and will let you do whatever you want with her whenever you want to do it and all she asks is that you take some time to listen to her and have a little fun outside of the bedroom and every now and then do something really fucking stupid like going to the theater and ‘help out around the house – you know’ and if you do that there won’t be debate on whose making the food because ‘your thanks is all she needs 🙂 ‘ – all right I am getting ahead of myself. Nothing is that perfect.
But I do believe it is worth it.
Again – this is not for the guy who is happy to take beauty and use for his own selfish needs.
And yes that’s all of us to a degree but it is a very, very, very, very, very sad day when we start saying that
CASUAL SEX IS PERFECTLY HEALTHY
Who are you kidding J Rib?
P.S. I actually have more to say on this topic but this is getting ridiculous :-).
If you stayed until the end I sincerely thank you