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» Scarleteen Boards: 2000 - 2014 (Archive) » SCARLETEEN CENTRAL » Sexual Ethics and Politics » When religious beleifs/practices about sex are iffy

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Author Topic: When religious beleifs/practices about sex are iffy
Heather
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This comes up here a lot, but I was reminded of this from a question in the advice queue today on the main site:

quote:
The guy I'm sleeping with really wants to have PIV sex with me, but he won't wear a condom because he's Roman Catholic. Everything else we've done has been amazing and I really want to do it, but I'm terrified of getting pregnant and I've already had a scare that I haven't told him about. I'm on the pill now, but I know that it isn't 100% effective - is there anything else that I could do that would make it safer? And would it be really wrong to try and get him to change his mind about condoms? I'm religious too and I'd hate to make him do anything that would go against his faith, but the idea of getting pregnant scares me so much that I have nightmares about it, and since we're not really together I don't know what he'd do.
Using this as an example, this guy says he won't use condoms because he's a Roman catholic. On the other hand, he still WILL engage in sex outside marriage, for purposes besides procreation, both things that are just as important when it comes to Catholic doctrine, and just as not-okay.

So, what do you do when someone's sexual religious beliefs....well, don't mash up, or even seem to be about that given religion's sexual doctrine and rules? What about when and if this is about you: where one part of a religion in terms of sex is something you want to follow, but not the other parts?

Is that then really about doctrine, or is it about personal beliefs? And how do/will you navigate that?

What about when and if people are using parts of a religion disingenously (which I'd say happens often enough) in order to kind of make something they want seem untouchable or more important than someone's wants or limits that aren't religious? In other words, when something one person wants is apparently about g-d, but something someone else does isn't? Is the part apparently about g-d automatically bigger or more important? If so, why?

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me • Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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CSandSourpatch
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I've never been in this much of this kind of sexual quandry, but, were I to encounter it, sexual activity would automatically be off the table for me until further notice. Not as a punishment, but because, especially if these religious beliefs are news to me, I'd wonder why it hasn't been an issue before.

From how I understand it, for a lot of religions that have such limitations, pre-marital activity even remotely sexual in nature beyond holding hands and (for the most part) kissing is a big no-no. (I grew up in the Roman Catholic church, though, so, as I said, my understanding may be limited.) I get that a lot of people pick and choose which parts of their religion they want to follow, but for me, that would make the religious argument even more specious. I'd have to understand why my partner feels that breaking some rules is okay, but not others. Honestly, reading that letter to me smacked of "I don't want to use a condom because I don't like them, but if I say it's because of religion, that carries more weight." If I got that sense from anyone I was in a relationship with, I'd probably suspect that they were trying to guilt me into doing things their way, and that wouldn't be okay with me. But, again, that would be after sitting down and actually having a discussion about what's going on.

After that, it's really up to listening to my gut about what I'm okay with, and how I feel about this person's expression of their beliefs and how they mesh with mine.

I have, however, been the partner with the stricter religious background in terms of sex, but by the point that I'd started that relationship (actually, a few years prior), I'd decided that Catholicism wasn't something I was okay with participating in anymore, especially in terms of my sexual choices. I did have a little bit of guilt the first couple times we did anything that would've been off-limits, but, for me, I knew the sky wasn't going to fall, and that I really was okay with what was going on.

In terms of conflicting values, I feel like all involved definitely deserve respect for their beliefs and feelings--they're all valid. So, if neither partner feels that they can acquiesce to the other's desires while maintaining a clear conscience, the sexual activities in question (and maybe all sexual activities) should cease until such a time that that is a possibility, or decide that the activity in question (and, if applicable, the pressure to go against one's own beliefs) is a deal breaker.

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Jill2000Plus
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I'm not going to tell someone they're awesome when they essentially just told me "I hold it as an article of faith that you are inferior to me and morally obligated to risk going through a life-threatening, agonizing experience that I will never have to go through every time we have sex because you're a woman, but hey, we're cool right?"

[ 05-10-2013, 03:41 PM: Message edited by: Jill2000Plus ]

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Always knock before entering my room when I am in there alone, as I may be doing all sorts of wonderfully thrilling things that I'd rather you didn't see.

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Heather
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What if -- just curious -- the shoe were on the other foot?

In other words, what if the person in this kind of situation was a woman themselves?

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me • Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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Jill2000Plus
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So we're clear, I'm not saying it's ok to pressure someone into having sex they don't want to have, even if that sex is sex with condoms/birth control that they don't want to have for religious reasons.

If they were a person capable of becoming pregnant themselves (regardless of gender), I'd still think it messed up if they wanted to have sex but not sex with condoms for religious reasons because they could give their partner an STI, birth control I'm not cool with them believing that it's immoral for their partner to not want to be a parent yet, but my level of appalled-ness is slightly lessened by the fact that at least they aren't someone who won't have to go through a pregnancy who believes that that is the moral obligation of their partner who would have to go through it. If this is a point about my messing up on trans* inclusion, I agree with it and I apologise for that and would like to note that I recognize that trans men can face unwanted pregnancies too (and that gender isn't a binary thing for everyone while respecting people who do identify their gender as binary or however you'd put it). Sorry, I'm quite tired today as I have a close friend going through some really hard stuff around their mental health and their body dysmorphia (they're a trans woman) and I might be about to move and I'm just kind of worn out from worrying and finding it difficult to write well. If they were somebody who could get pregnant partnered with somebody who also could I'd be slightly less immediately worried for their partner but really when it comes down to it I'm not cool with people using their religion to justify misogyny at all, but especially when they can't get pregnant and believe that it's immoral for someone who can get pregnant to choose to have sex while taking precautions to avoid pregnancy/having an abortion if they get pregnant.

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Always knock before entering my room when I am in there alone, as I may be doing all sorts of wonderfully thrilling things that I'd rather you didn't see.

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Jill2000Plus
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And yes, I wouldn't tell a woman I thought she was awesome if she wanted to have sex with me but thought that I was obligated to go through unwanted pregnancies (for any reason) or wouldn't use any form of STI prevention because of her religion.

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Always knock before entering my room when I am in there alone, as I may be doing all sorts of wonderfully thrilling things that I'd rather you didn't see.

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Heather
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Let me try this again. [Smile]

quote:
So, what do you do when someone's sexual religious beliefs....well, don't mash up, or even seem to be about that given religion's sexual doctrine and rules? What about when and if this is about you: where one part of a religion in terms of sex is something you want to follow, but not the other parts?

Is that then really about doctrine, or is it about personal beliefs? And how do/will you navigate that?

What about when and if people are using parts of a religion disingenously (which I'd say happens often enough) in order to kind of make something they want seem untouchable or more important than someone's wants or limits that aren't religious? In other words, when something one person wants is apparently about g-d, but something someone else does isn't? Is the part apparently about g-d automatically bigger or more important? If so, why?

And perhaps we can talk about this in a way that doesn't assume things about gender, or isn't only about the possible outcomes for one gender? In other words, I'd say that with this issue in general, it's highly problematic in a lot of ways, and challenging to navigate, no matter what the gender sitch.

Certainly, when sexism or misogyny are ALSO in the mix, that compounds what's problematic, but I think even without sexism or misogyny, there are problems here.

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me • Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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MusicNerd
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Well, excluding sexism or misogyny here, if I was the partner of the religious person I guess my issue would be that my partner is okay with doing sexual activities with me, but not with the necessary precautions to protect the both of us. I mean, if it's already against their faith to have pre-marital sex, then how is it going to really make a difference faith-wise if they're using protection, too? I mean, for real?

I just think that if a person I was in a relationship with told me this, I would feel really uncomfortable, like they were thinking irresponsibly and like they were selecting bits and pieces of their religion because they didn't want to use a condom while also having sex (of any kind); though that would seem like jumping to conclusions on my part, I just don't see what the big deal would be in using protection if both of us already want to partake in sexual activity together. And what better way to have sex (of any kind) than responsibly? Sounds cheesy, but whatever man. [Razz]

TL;DR: I just think that sexual activity + protection = a package deal (unless the couple is trying to get pregnant/has already been tested negative for STIs and chooses to not use protection). If my partner disagreed with that, then I guess we would be incompatible in that respect because I wouldn't want to risk the health of either of us.

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"Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind." ~Dr. Seuss

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Dovissary
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I would be hesitant to continue a relationship because it would sound to me as if my partner was using parts of doctrine to justify what he thought, while not thinking about consequences of what could happen to either of us. Pregnancy or STI's are serious things and I would feel they weren't willing to shoulder the responsibility of acting to prevent that. I would feel as though when he knew I was unwilling to get pregnant, and decided that it didn't matter in terms of his willingness to use protection that a readjustment of our relationship would have to happen.

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“I forgot my purse of laughter when I dressed this mornin'," she told me. "Have you not bought anythin' the last few days? Prices have gone up. Pay or starve, it's all one to me.”
― Tamora Pierce, Bloodhound

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