Fundamentalists on Fornication

This post on Slacktivist addresses some of the issues concerning the Duggars’ warped sense of morality, and that of fundamentalists in general. As another blogger puts it, fundamentalist sexual ethics can largely be summed up with two boxes, one for sex within marriage and one for everything else. This “everything else” includes molesting your sister, but it also includes consensual sex outside marriage, as well as any gay sex. It also doesn’t allow for the possibility that someone can rape their spouse. My wife was recently reading something from this site about how it’s a wife’s duty to provide her husband with sex whenever he wants it. Is it possible to get any sleazier than saying, “God wants you to have sex with me”? This dualistic approach seems to be a basic building block of fundamentalist thinking, and it also ties in with the idea that all sins are equal to God. I think that, as well as simple denial, is part of why the Duggar parents insisted that Josh just made mistakes, like everyone does. If he had masturbated or looked at a Playboy, that would also be a mistake by the Duggars’ standards. Similarly, they argued that people pointing out the Duggars’ hypocrisy think Christians have to be perfect, which is certainly not an argument I’ve ever heard from anyone BUT conservatives who say it’s not true.

Whereas non-Christians are going to Hell because they once spat on the sidewalk, apparently.
Also, whatever happened to conservatives being tough on crime? Anyway, it appears that people within the conservative evangelical subculture can’t understand ethical systems that AREN’T as simple as the two boxes. According to Fred Clark’s posts, people with such beliefs will claim that liberals divide everything into consensual or non-consensual sex, and hence are way too permissive in many respects. The problem is that consent isn’t the endpoint for liberal sexual ethics, but rather the beginning. There are consensual acts that liberals aren’t cool with, but there aren’t any NON-consensual acts they ARE cool with.

That’s why the posts from fundamentalists that Libby Anne talks about don’t make sense to anyone who isn’t part of that culture. A teenage couple going to Disney World unchaperoned is just as bad as molesting relatives? How does anyone arrive at that? There also seems to be a hint there of the thinking that this couple would be so unable to control their hormones that there’s no way they WON’T have sex.

I’ve probably written before about how I’ve never understood the view of marriage as a line in the sand, but I guess it makes sense when you have a totally dualistic viewpoint. What does marriage really change? Well, your tax status, but what does that have to do with whether sex should be acceptable? And if the important part is the covenant with God, can’t you just as easily make that in private without a minister telling you it’s okay?

Some people are determined to make God into a bureaucrat, in which case they might have more luck being devotees of Nabu. Fundamentalists are devoted to the idea that marriage changes everything, but can’t really explain HOW. And that’s not even getting into how the rule of no sex outside marriage probably leads a lot of people to rush into getting married. By the way, my wife and I have a marriage license, but it’s from a civil authority rather than a church. Does that mean that, in the eyes of the fundamentalists, we’re still single? What about non-Christian religious marriages? Aren’t those pledges to a false god, and hence not binding? Then again, they also tend to be opposed to gay marriage despite the fact that same-sex couples aren’t getting married in THEIR churches.

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4 Responses to Fundamentalists on Fornication

  1. It’s all part of a very strong “Us vs. Them” mentality. “They” are horrible and evil, while “Us” is good and pure. When it looks like one of Them is doing something pure and good, there’s clearly something horrible and evil underneath it (ACA and death panels, for example). Conversely, when one of Us does something that looks horrible and evil, or something that we accuse Them of doing, it’s really not what it looks like.

    • Nathan says:

      I try to avoid thinking in that manner, and give people credit for what they actually say and do regardless of what side they’re on, but I’ll admit it can be difficult. It’s harder to accept someone you like of doing something wrong or someone you hate of doing something good without an ulterior motive. I don’t necessarily feel like I’m part of an Us, though; I mean, I’m a secularist Democrat, but that doesn’t mean I don’t think secularists and Democrats are capable of terrible things. It’s been well documented that they are. That’s what I kind of don’t understand on the fundamentalist side, in that they seem to automatically idolize anyone who has similar values. It’s not like the Duggars were great theologians or conservative political thinkers, or for that matter particularly charismatic, just people who happened to share the same prejudices.

  2. The purpose of marriage, from a scriptural perspective, was to protect the most vulnerable in a patriarchal society, women and children. It really boils down to that, and marriage is still a form of protection for wives and kids, as it prevents them from being left destitute.

    • Nathan says:

      Yes, but couldn’t that theoretically be done without the necessity of the ceremony? It kind of seems like, under the present system, the government and the religious authorities are both saying, “If you lose someone who was helping you support yourself, we’ll only help you out if you had a romantic relationship with them.” It more or less ignores the many other sorts of households that exist nowadays. I’m not saying we shouldn’t have marriage, just that I don’t think it should be the only way to protect the vulnerable.

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