The First Step of Abstinence Is Believing It’s Possible

For some reason, the irresistible nature of sex has come up in various forums and offline conversations. Frankly, my own youth stands as evidence, but placing my experiences in review, I’m not so sure that it had to be so. Had I met anybody like Sarah Hinlicky, writing here in 1998, I’d have likely scoffed, but that would clearly have been my loss:

Okay, I’ll admit it: I am twenty-two years old and still a virgin. Not for lack of opportunity, my vanity hastens to add. Had I ever felt unduly burdened by my unfashionable innocence, I could have found someone to attend to the problem. But I never did. Our mainstream culture tells me that some oppressive force must be the cause of my late-in-life virginity, maybe an inordinate fear of men or God or getting caught. Perhaps it’s right, since I can pinpoint a number of influences that have persuaded me to remain a virgin. My mother taught me that self-respect requires self-control, and my father taught me to demand the same from men. I’m enough of a country bumpkin to suspect that contraceptives might not be enough to prevent an unwanted pregnancy or disease, and I think that abortion is killing a baby. I buy into all that Christian doctrine of law and promise, which means that the stuffy old commandments are still binding on my conscience. And I’m even naive enough to believe in permanent, exclusive, divinely ordained love between a man and a woman, a love so valuable that it motivates me to keep my legs tightly crossed in the most tempting of situations.

Sex is the sort of subject on which folks feel a need to sound worldly when it comes up, which skews the way we talk about it. But I’ll tell you this: It simply isn’t the case that everybody’s secretly full of lust and deception.

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Patrick
Patrick
11 years ago

I can attest that the older you get, the easier that abstinence becomes. Even if it isn’t my choice. 🙂

Stuart
Stuart
11 years ago

>>>It simply isn’t the case that everybody’s secretly full of lust and deception.
Well, a clearer way of thinking about what you are expressing might be “It simply is not the case that we are driven by our instincts, our brains and our genetics and millions of years of history”
To that I would say BUNK.
You can certainly suppress or redirect these instincts, but to deny them would be foolish.
There are few things as enjoyable in life as sex and food…..to deny either is to deny much of what makes us alive and human.
As I said, you can fool yourself and others acting like it is not there, but at a certain point suppression can become perversion too!
As the Buddha said, “moderation in all things, take the middle way”. You’d do well to add that to your favorite parables.

Patrick
Patrick
11 years ago

“There are few things as enjoyable in life as sex and food…”
Then why not combine them? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LHchl4AxsE0
“As the Buddha said, “moderation in all things…”
Not all things. Moderation shouldn’t be taken in moderation.

Stuart
Stuart
11 years ago

Chocolate and sex?
Here I come…..uh…….
Hey, c’mon, you’ve seen some nice pics of the opposite sex with chocolate or milk running down their bodies, haven’t you?
If not, I suggest checking it out.

steadman
steadman
11 years ago

Wow stuart is not only creepy, but hes open about it in public. Its funny how you quote a line about “lust and deception” and touch on neither. You instead post a jumbled up mess about instinct. People could have an instinct to murder or to harm anyone, that doesn’t mean we should accept all impulses and instincts. What makes us human is controlling our own desire and instinct. That is not to say ignore it or repress, its about control.

Stuart
Stuart
11 years ago

Stead…..
Lust=wanting to have sex……
Deception=lies and falsehoods.
I did not address the deception as much, because I think that is obvious. Deception is, in our culture, part of having sex before wedlock…and after (cheating).
It is also suggested by many that deceit is responsible for survival and growth of mankind. From the hunter who could deceive the game to the warrior who could deceive his enemy, the deceitful usually survive and thrive. Today we have the Trumps and the Madoff who got far with Deceit, as well as the millions of lesser fortunes, made by salespeople and madison avenue as well as the successful football player who can “fake” a pass or a run.
Bottom line – both deceit and lust are part and parcel of our beings and our success. However, stating that truth does not mean I give up the Golden Rule…which instructs me when it is OK to deceive or lust and when it is not.
In terms of using religion or other dogmas to suppress the “basics”, I think the abusive priests and the gurus who all get caught with their pants down….shows us a lot. Try as you might, you can’t fool Mother Nature!

John
John
11 years ago

“In terms of using religion or other dogmas to suppress the “basics”, I think the abusive priests and the gurus who all get caught with their pants down….shows us a lot.”
Stewie, you naughty boy. No religion I know of attempts to “suppress the basics.” Without exception, they teach us to honor and respect ourselves and others. That teaching covers all of our relationships, sexual or otherwise.
As for the “success” of Madoff, Trump, or any others of their kind, I guess it comes down to how you measure success. I think it likely that most people who hold true to a faith and its teachings, measure success to a different standard than you.
Good luck on your journey.

Stuart
Stuart
11 years ago

Oh, John, holier than the rest of us mortal beings….
Please understand context-given the choice, a LOT of people would switch places with Trump. Not me – I intensely dislike the guy and all he stands for!
But acting like lies and deception are not “good” tools of business “success” is foolish. It may not be your way, it may not be my way, it may not even be Warren Buffets way, but it IS the way of Wall Street – and if you don’t understand that, you have never spent time on the floor of a stock exchange. It’s all about fear and deception – outflanking the other guy, forcing him to sell – really not much different than a poker game or even chess match. Now, next thing, you are going to tell me that deception and lies don’t help with Poker!
As to suppression in religion, yes – I suppose the celibacy is suppression as is telling people they should not enjoy orgasm as much because the afterlife is even better, etc. etc.
Even Ghandhi, an almost “perfected” person of religion, could not escape guilt of sex his entire life.
I suppose you’ll tell us there is no relationship between priest child abuse and suppressed sexuality? Don’t me silly, my friend….think!

David S
David S
11 years ago

OK I’ll bite- so to speak.
1. “Frankly, my own youth stands as evidence” C’mon Justin you never heard the bad joke about being Frank and Ernest?
2. Too bad for Sarah- what a regrettable last name.
3. I think is is fine and normal for people to choose abstinence. I think many more people should choose it.
4. I agree with Patrick.
5. The older one gets the easier it is to get religion. Just the thought of all that sweaty, unclean, slobbering activity makes one want instead to choose absinthe.

Warrington Faust
Warrington Faust
11 years ago

Posted by Patrick at April 6, 2010 11:36 AM\
I can attest that the older you get, the easier that abstinence becomes. Even if it isn’t my choice. 🙂
I know, a female cashier called me “sir” the other day.
Previous to that, it was one of those days when “Cougars” say they want to “smack a twenty”.

John
John
11 years ago

Stuart:
You can’t even hear yourself saying it, I’ll bet!
“As to suppression in religion, yes – I suppose the celibacy is suppression as is telling people they should not enjoy orgasm as much because the afterlife is even better, etc. etc.”
In religion, or not, celibacy, like playing the Wall Street game, is a personal choice! And like poker, if you don’t want to play the game by the rules set, then leave the table and move on to your own game. Either way, it is your choice, not some obligation imposed on you as you seem to be suggesting.

Stuart
Stuart
11 years ago

>>>>Either way, it is your choice, not some obligation imposed on you as you seem to be suggesting.
So, you are saying that a child raised up and told that sex is the original sin and they they might go to hell for having it as an unmarried teen – they are making a free will choice?
Hah Hah.
I will agree that Priest in the Catholic church agree to make that choice – problem is, they can’t keep the promise very well.

joe bernstein
joe bernstein
11 years ago

Stuart-not so much relating to this thread,as I have little interest in it,but in general,you seem to have a bigger chip on your shoulder than I do;you seem bitter and angry at this country.You obviously didn’t have it too bad seeing as you own property,a boat,have savings,etc.You always want to see the other guy’s grass as greener.
You claim to be a freethinker,yet the socialist,or social democrat models you admire so have quite authoritarian government.Not necessarily in the form of paramilitary police,etc but more in the utter intrusiveness into personal lives by the government.
You get beguiled by the openess of sex,lax drug laws,etc into thinking people in a place like Denmark have more free choice.Do they?I wonder.

Monique
Editor
11 years ago

“In religion, or not, celibacy, like playing the Wall Street game, is a personal choice! And like poker, if you don’t want to play the game by the rules set, then leave the table and move on to your own game.”
Exactly. Unlike government mandates (including, most starkly, health care “reform”), this is voluntary.

SWAZOOL
SWAZOOL
11 years ago

It is a waste of time and money to try to teach teens abstinence, just ask Bristol Palin.
I would think the Republicans would support teaching safe sex and birth control so we would have lower birth rates, and lower abortion rates. An ounce of prevention is worth MORE than a pound of cure.

joe bernstein
joe bernstein
11 years ago

SWAZOOL-well said!!

Stuart
Stuart
11 years ago

Joe, my man, I don’t walk around angry or mad at this country or…for that matter any institution. What pisses me off is when folks don’t accept reality and then try to impose their lack of such on all of us.
Check out the threads where these fools are pushing fictional characters as who we should look to for saving us!
Ridiculous.
Yes, ignorance is far and wide, and the abstinence “debate”, often tied hand in hand with those other brilliant debates like “intelligent design” are taking this country backwards at a time when much of the world is going forward.
One day we will wake up – and think “why are we always 40 years behind on this stuff”…..
Of course anyone can choose not to have sex. But did you (monique) and did you (Justin) and did the rest of you?
Fine if you did and it worked for you. I chose otherwise and am very happy with that decision. My kids chose otherwise and are very happy with their decisions. My father and mother chose differently and never said they regretted it. In fact, the vast majority of people chose differently and do not regret it.
So why even discuss it or write about it? Unless one has a hang-up????

Warrington Faust
Warrington Faust
11 years ago

It has been about 20 years, but at the time I associated with a number of psychiatrists.
I remember a conversation on people and sex, I was informed that there were far more 22 year old virgins than I would expect.
Granted the intervening 20 years has seen some changes.
As Monique points out, it is a “choice”. While not one I would make, I suppose it is entitled to respect. I once knew a young woman who was always making a point of her virginity in public, that was tiresome.

Stuart
Stuart
11 years ago

>>>there were far more 22 year old virgins
Ah, but are they ugly?
or, in other words, is it by choice?
Abstinence is very easy if one is smelly and acts funny!
The question would more accurately be, how many are abstinent by choice. Of course, another question is how the shrinks know this?
A little searching shows the average age for first sexual intercourse to be 16.9 years old. You can do your own math on that, but considering the average age of first marriage is now about 27 – well, let’s just say……we can draw some guesses from those two figures.
It might even be possible to breath underwater. It might be possible to live on rice and raisins. It is definitely possible to live in a room 6 feet square.
But there is absolutely no reason for me to try.

Warrington Faust
Warrington Faust
11 years ago

Stuart writes:
“A little searching shows the average age for first sexual intercourse to be 16.9 years old. You can do your own math on that,”
No, I can’t do the math on that, and neither can you. It presupposes that the women included have had sex. Virgins are excluded from that number.
From the relatively small number of women (probably about adozen)I have the conversation with, 16.9 sounds about right. Most thought they should have waited a bit. What did surprise me was that the “average” first partner was a girlfiend’s brother who just happened to be around at the time his services were required.

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