What did Rolling Stone say about “Mormons” and sex? | Opinion


In the novel “Wilhelm Meister’s Apprenticeship”, the great German intellectual Johann Goethe recounts the protagonist’s descent into a German culture full of hypocrisy. Throughout the novel, Meister grapples with both the pervasiveness of societal hypocrisy and the ease with which humans point out hypocrisy in others but rarely in themselves.

Everyone loves to hate a hypocrite, but not the one in the mirror.

Perhaps it is for this reason that the search for hypocrisy in the sexual lives of religious people has become something of a sport among a subset of American writers.

Rolling Stone magazine, for example, ran an article last week indulging in the bizarre and totally unfounded rumor, first aired on TikTok, that Brigham Young University students — you know, those who are famous for their drinking of chocolate milk and their reputation for frigid sobriety – had an outbreak of a sexually transmitted disease while engaging in, wait for it, sexual touching involving the armpits.

Because, you know, religious hypocrites always resort to the weirdest and most twisted ways of committing sin to ensure that they caustically avoid breaking the “rules”. Even though the Rolling Stone author couldn’t substantiate any of the rumors (isn’t that a journalist’s job?), surprisingly, the article was given the green light and was published anyway. .

Earlier this year, other publications from Yahoo! The New York Post also published articles claiming that Latter-day Saint college students were not truly heeding their religion’s admonition to be chaste—abstaining from premarital relationships and practicing faithfulness in traditional marriage—because that they were engaging in other sexual pursuits that didn’t match the description on paper.

Again, none of these rumors have been backed up by credible sources.

These articles probably say more about those who publish them than about Latter-day Saint students. Making fun of religious people, Latter-day Saints or otherwise, is a personal choice. And, to quote Goethe, “Nothing shows a man’s character better than what he laughs at.” Latter-day Saints aren’t the only ones being made fun of; Anabaptists and Orthodox Jews, among others, have long been subject to such tropes.

So why do tropes like these fester?

By accusing religious practitioners of sexual behavior inconsistent with their stated values, the accusers imply that religious people do not or cannot follow their own principles, subtly suggesting that the principles are impractical or otherwise flawed.

It turns out, however, that the principles actually work.

Highly religious people are on the whole much more likely than the general population to abstain from sexual contact before marriage. A 2022 study found that religions with teachings regarding sexual morality were consistently correlated with lower rates of premarital sex.

Analyzing the 2021 General Social Survey, Lyman Stone showed that adults under 35 who attended church for more than a month reported significantly lower levels of non-marital sex than the general population. Research by Professor Samuel Perry of the University of Oklahoma also found that highly religious men are more likely to have an aversion to pornography.

Now, specifically regarding Latter-day Saints, some have pointed to a 2009 study that found Utah to have the highest number of porn subscriptions per capita, but that study appears to be an outlier. A 2015 review that included the 2009 study and more recent analyzes found that Utah, which has one of the youngest populations in the country, generally ranks considerably lower: even 50th in the United States.

Of course, not all Latter-day Saints follow the sexual ethics of their faith. But Dean Busby, a family life professor at Brigham Young University, said Latter-day Saints will likely remain chaste because of the Church’s marital teachings. “The fundamental difference is that Latter-day Saints have a type of marriage that is only available to very religious couples. This type of marriage requires a couple to grow both spiritually and sexually. This is part of the high demand. You have to elevate your spiritual life to a specific level.

Busby and his BYU colleague, David Dollahite, cited research that shows how Latter-day Saint youth have some of the lowest rates of premarital sex compared to non-religious youth and youth of different religious affiliations. They described how Latter-day Saint emphasis on family formation leads young people to expect marriage and to higher marriage rates with relatively lower divorce rates.

There are undoubtedly many religious hypocrites, but on average principles seem to impact behavioral outcomes.

Members of the Church hold intimacy sacred; most active members consider abstaining from sex before marriage to be beneficial. The assumption that religious people secretly don’t like their religious teachings and don’t want to practice them is a tired assumption.

The Rolling Stone article quotes a therapist as saying that everyone experiences sexual desire and that it would make sense for religious people who may feel guilty about sex to find loopholes to satisfy their sexual desires without breaking the “rules”. “.

It is a major religious misunderstanding to assume that one would not feel guilty for engaging in a strange sexual “loophole”. While it’s important not to feel stuck in shame about sex or sexual desire, there are also rational reasons why someone might choose to abstain from sex before marriage.

For starters, for many people, there are negative emotional and psychological consequences to engaging in a culture of connection, according to the American Psychological Association. Daniel Frost, assistant professor of family life at BYU, said, “It seems like some people want to say that sex isn’t a big deal, but our conversations about gender identity and other issues suggest that sex is extremely important.

Although it is easy to “realize” how “upright” religious people are, it might be more interesting to try to understand why I and other people can come to the conclusion that it there is value in waiting for marriage. As a young woman in 21st century America, I found it not only empowering, but also vital to wait for marriage – no matter how dunkable my decision is for Rolling Stone or others.

To me, our countercultural stance on abstaining from sex before marriage is actually quite humanizing. Frost put it this way: “Some say religious people should just relax about sex, but other thinkers like Louise Perry and Christine Emba show that sex is inherently meaningful.”

The reality is that religious people who believe sex is inherently important see it as meaningful and valuable, so not something to be taken lightly. And the data shows that the sex lives of highly religious people are much more fulfilling. This is especially true for women. According to a study described in a New York Post article, highly religious couples “are three times more likely than their less religious peers to report a sexually satisfying relationship.”

Even the occasional breach of this standard does not make religious people legalistic hypocrites in matters of sexual morality; it makes them imperfect people who try to stick to their principles. Which is true for almost all human beings. Even those who write for Rolling Stone.


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