Up Front by Emma Hart

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Up Front: It's Not Sex, and It's Not Education

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  • Amy Gale, in reply to Moz,

    So, what do you do when one kid says “condoms are not allowed by my religion, so my parents use the rhythm method. How does that work?”

    I sit on my hands to stop them gesturing, and I bite the inside of my cheek really really hard in the hope that I manage to not say "well, here you are".

    [blah blah disclaimer planned child blah]

    That question can actually be a springboard to all kinds of interesting discussion. For example:

    - What is the difference between "the rhythm method" and "Natural Family Planning"?

    - There is a stereotype that some religious affiliations come with particularly large families. Is there a relationship between this and the rhythm method?

    - Religions that prohibit condom use tend to also prohibit sex outside of marriage. If someone decides to do the latter anyway, why wouldn't they do the former? Is this standpoint reasonable? Responsible?

    tha Ith • Since May 2007 • 471 posts Report Reply

  • Lucy Stewart, in reply to Amy Gale,

    Religions that prohibit condom use tend to also prohibit sex outside of marriage.

    Serious question I'd like an answer to: is there any religion whose prohibitions on contraception aren't based around a view that the only legitimate type of sexual activity is procreative, within-marriage sex? Like, once you're married you should get down to the baby-making thing but outside marriage you should practice caution? I can conceive of a coherent philosophy there, but I can't think of any group that would use it.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 2105 posts Report Reply

  • chris,

    is there any religion whose prohibitions on contraception aren’t based around a view that the only legitimate type of sexual activity is procreative, within-marriage sex?

    Sorry it's not really an answer Lucy but interestingly prohibition on contraception is not such a common feature of religion. Catholics and the Amish and until recently the dreaded LDS. If in doubt consult Rabbi. Hare Krishna's go without.

    Mawkland • Since Jan 2010 • 1302 posts Report Reply

  • Tom Beard, in reply to Lucy Stewart,

    Like, once you're married you should get down to the baby-making thing but outside marriage you should practice caution?

    I think it's more "once you're married you should get down to the baby-making thing but outside marriage you will BURN IN HELL, SINNERS!!!!"

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 1040 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel,

    Crossword puzzler...
    As a push for a secular world gathers pace, the letter 't' may be banned in case it gives offence...
    ...which may have a consequence when describing
    "Ca'holics as breeding like Rabbis..."

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 7943 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Lucy Stewart,

    Serious question I'd like an answer to: is there any religion whose prohibitions on contraception aren't based around a view that the only legitimate type of sexual activity is procreative, within-marriage sex?

    I'm given to understand that the Anglican church allows condom use. Also, it's clergy can have sex and have children, and can be gay. They also don't require the clergy to actually believe in God. I guess that happens in a church that is born from a King wanting to use his penis for the good of the nation rather than the Church.

    Which is not to say there aren't intolerant arseholes who are Anglicans, right the way to the top.

    From what I can tell, various kinds of protestant churches are contraception tolerant. Some are as bitter as can be about it - Amish forbid even the rhythm method.

    Hinduism, as an example of a very ancient religion, would seem to be quite liberal in some ways, but to me it's more a case of ambiguity playing into the hands of the powerful, and conservative Hindus are very bitter on pre-marital sex.

    Buddhist don't seem to think that sex is a subject for their religion to stipulate about, although monks are traditionally chaste. Again, I expect this ambiguity means that the decisions about these things fall into the hands of the powerful.

    Satanism. LOL. Go for it, but don't hurt anyone. Is this a real religion?

    The hardcore Abrahamic religions, Judaism, Catholicism, and Islam, are down on any kind of sexual fun. Which in practice means much of their flock ignore them on the matter.

    Confucians and Taoists seem to have a balanced view on the matter, that birth control makes sense for family and social harmony. Taoists are into sexual fun, it would seem.

    Scientologists seem to think it's their business in a big way, that gays are sick, that promiscuity is symptomatic of unaudited thoughts, and that it's all about kids. They have an extremely powerful method of sexual repression, the auditing process, which can be used afterward to ruin people's lives if they attempt to break away.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10650 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart, in reply to Tom Beard,

    outside marriage you will BURN IN HELL, SINNERS!!!!"

    Thing is, once you've done something that will, apparently, induce the Hell-burning, and it's not something you feel you could ever repent (like, same-sex attraction or the adultery that gained you your life partner) that ship has sailed, and you may as well go nuts.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4651 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Emma Hart,

    Yes, hence Satanism. My only problem with it is that, like Atheism, it's forming itself in the shadow of Christianity, rather than just ignoring it.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10650 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart, in reply to BenWilson,

    Buddhist don't seem to think that sex is a subject for their religion to stipulate about, although monks are traditionally chaste. Again, I expect this ambiguity means that the decisions about these things fall into the hands of the powerful.

    Um...

    Yes, hence Satanism. My only problem with it is that, like Atheism, it's forming itself in the shadow of Christianity, rather than just ignoring it.

    There is nothing that makes Satanism not a religion. Also, atheism is what now?

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4651 posts Report Reply

  • Sofie Bribiesca, in reply to Emma Hart,

    Thing is, once you’ve done something that will, apparently, induce the Hell-burning, and it’s not something you feel you could ever repent

    And... that is when my MA and Pa stopped going to church. Contraception was their favoured view of which the church did not agree with. Then we all lived happily ever after, like hippies ;)

    here and there. • Since Nov 2007 • 6796 posts Report Reply

  • Rich Lock,

    "A woman is beautiful to look upon, contaminating to the touch, and deadly to keep."

    "All witchcraft comes from carnal lust, which is in women insatiable."

    "Woman was created from a bent rib and is therefore defective: And since through this defect she is an imperfect animal, she always deceives."

    From the Malleus Maleficarum

    back in the mother countr… • Since Feb 2007 • 2728 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Emma Hart,

    There is nothing that makes Satanism not a religion.

    Yes, it walks and quacks like one.*

    Also, atheism is what now?

    IMHO, a view that might be true, but causes a whole lot of unnecessary reading of the Bible in proving that.

    *ETA: I'd also say there's little for me to be bitter on in there, except that I'm not into any kind of worship that places their deity above Richie McCaw.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10650 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Emma Hart,

    Yes, hence Satanism. My only problem with it is that, like Atheism, it's forming itself in the shadow of Christianity, rather than just ignoring it.

    There is nothing that makes Satanism not a religion. Also, atheism is what now?

    Satanism is a Christian heresy. It doesn't exist independent of the Christian myths.

    Atheism simply sees no evidence for the existence of any of it. Hardly the same thing.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22830 posts Report Reply

  • Tom Beard, in reply to Emma Hart,

    Thing is, once you've done something that will, apparently, induce the Hell-burning, and it's not something you feel you could ever repent (like, same-sex attraction or the adultery that gained you your life partner) that ship has sailed, and you may as well go nuts.

    May as well be hung for a sheep as for a lamb, you mean?

    (Not literally. At least not in the North Island.)

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 1040 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Campbell,

    well one could argue that christianity is equally a satanic heresy - but yeah satanism needs christianity (or maybe rather an arbrahamic alta-ego of some sort)

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2006 • 2622 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart, in reply to Tom Beard,

    May as well be hung for a sheep as for a lamb, you mean?

    Pretty much, yeah.

    (Not literally. At least not in the North Island.)

    And you can bite me.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4651 posts Report Reply

  • James Butler, in reply to Russell Brown,

    Satanism is a Christian heresy. It doesn't exist independent of the Christian myths.

    Atheism simply sees no evidence for the existence of any of it. Hardly the same thing.

    Well I think modern LaVey-esque Satanism is more like Objectivism-with-rituals-and-costumes, much like Anglicanism is just Englishness-with-rituals-and-costumes.

    The old "Atheism only defines itself in opposition to Christianity!!" meme is an unfortunate side-effect of living in a culture which draws so many referents from a Christian, erm, heritage. Statistically, any move suggested by Atheists towards secularism in western society is likely to be a move away from a Christian tradition, giving the haters a chance to say "Oooh, look who's defining themselves against Christianity again". Screw 'em.

    Auckland • Since Jan 2009 • 856 posts Report Reply

  • Lilith __, in reply to BenWilson,

    The hardcore Abrahamic religions, Judaism, Catholicism, and Islam, are down on any kind of sexual fun.

    Apparently Islam considers celibacy to be bad and sex to be beneficial, provided it's within a heterosexual marriage. And sex doesn't have to be for procreation; it's a good thing in itself.

    This is quite a contrast with Christian tradition.

    Dunedin • Since Jul 2010 • 3891 posts Report Reply

  • Lucy Stewart, in reply to James Butler,

    The old "Atheism only defines itself in opposition to Christianity!!" meme is an unfortunate side-effect of living in a culture which draws so many referents from a Christian, erm, heritage. Statistically, any move suggested by Atheists towards secularism in western society is likely to be a move away from a Christian tradition, giving the haters a chance to say "Oooh, look who's defining themselves against Christianity again". Screw 'em.

    There are definitely some atheists who define themselves primarily by not being Christian, but they are usually ex-Christians who live in communities where Christianity is the majority and widely considered to be the only valid religion, much as I imagine a lot of atheists in the Middle East define themselves as Not Islamic. When the question is always "Why aren't you [x religion]?" you're going to have to spend a lot of time talking about it, and this is especially true for the vocal American atheist contingent, who are only ever expected to explain why they're not Christian. OTOH, most New Zealand atheists don't even think about the whole thing very much, and certainly don't feel the need to explain why they aren't going to church.

    The best response to this sort of argument is usually the "taking it one god further" logical construction (i.e. "you're an atheist when it comes to the existence of Thor, Mithras, and Demeter, and you don't have to explain why - why do I have to explain my atheism in relation to your god?")

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 2105 posts Report Reply

  • James Butler,

    All I’ll say is that Saint Fucking Paul has a lot to answer for.

    ETA perhaps that should be Saint "No Fucking" Paul.

    Auckland • Since Jan 2009 • 856 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to James Butler,

    "Oooh, look who's defining themselves against Christianity again". Screw 'em.

    Yes, it's something Atheists are stuck with. They have extremely powerful arguments against the existence of one formulation of the Christian deity, which I find compelling. But they get weaker and weaker the wider they cast the net - most kinds of gods can't be disproved, and the worship forms and practices aren't always bad. So the belief flutters around Christianity like a moth around a lightbulb. Further away you just don't see them so much - they fall into a darker backdrop of general scepticism and unbelief, the place I've been fluttering most of my life.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10650 posts Report Reply

  • Lilith __, in reply to James Butler,

    The old "Atheism only defines itself in opposition to Christianity!!" meme

    Of course atheism is in opposition to any theism, not just Christianity.

    And most atheists I know, far from not having a positive belief system of their own, believe in the scientific method as the basis for knowledge of the world. And liberal humanism as the basis for ethics. It's a pity we don't have a good word for this package.

    Dunedin • Since Jul 2010 • 3891 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to James Butler,

    All I’ll say is that Saint Fucking Paul has a lot to answer for.

    ETA perhaps that should be Saint "No Fucking" Paul.

    We had a genuine Pauline Christian commenting here for a while. He was quite a critter.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22830 posts Report Reply

  • James Butler, in reply to BenWilson,

    Yes, it's something Atheists are stuck with. They have extremely powerful arguments against the existence of one formulation of the Christian deity, which I find compelling. But they get weaker and weaker the wider they cast the net - most kinds of gods can't be disproved, and the worship forms and practices aren't always bad. So the belief flutters around Christianity like a moth around a lightbulb. Further away you just don't see them so much - they fall into a darker backdrop of general scepticism and unbelief, the place I've been fluttering most of my life.

    Hang on. You seem to be arguing about a different kind of Atheist than the ones I'm familiar with. It's not a matter of having "powerful arguments against the existence of one formulation of the Christian deity", but of no-one else having testable arguments for their particular deity. I don't see exactly how this differs from your "general scepticism and unbelief".

    Auckland • Since Jan 2009 • 856 posts Report Reply

  • James Butler, in reply to Lucy Stewart,

    There are definitely some atheists who define themselves primarily by not being Christian, but they are usually ex-Christians

    I have to admit to suffering a bit from this. Doesn't help that I still participate in church services more often than you might expect an atheist to (although I know I'm not the only one in my choir).

    Auckland • Since Jan 2009 • 856 posts Report Reply

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