"The homicidal lunatics—rehearsing to be genocidal lunatics—of 9/11 were perhaps tempted by virgins, but it is far more revolting to contemplate that, like so many of their fellow jihadists, they were virgins."
--Christopher Hitchens, god Is Not Great.
While on my Mormon mission to Bulgaria I met a fascinating older gentleman. Let's call him Evgenni. He was a retired local sports reporter of moderate fame. Small-framed, cultured, polite and charismatic, we missionaries sometimes wondered why he was so interested in Mormons, yet never was baptized. He came to church weekly and attended other church functions often. He especially loved talking to us in English. After all, speaking with native English speakers from America is a rare privilege in Bulgaria, even for well-connected men like Evgenni.
From time to time, missionaries would attempt to "convert" Evgenni to Mormonism. His reply was always the same, "I love being with you boys. I enjoy your church and most of what you teach. But I do not believe in the church the same way you do. I could be baptized, but I would not really mean it. I would be a hypocrite."
At the time this seemed like a poor excuse. Why would he risk going to hell just to stand by his principles? I now understand that intellectual integrity is valuable in its own way and a god that would punish someone eternally because they feel that it would be immoral and hypocritical to go through the motions in order to save face, should not be worshipped, but despised.
In my conversations with Evgenni, I recall a very interesting, yet at the time very controversial point he made dealing with premarital sex. According to him, although respectable and to some extent admirable, waiting until marriage to have sex for the first time is impractical. He advised us to wait until just before our wedding night and have sex with our fiancé to see if we are sexually compatible. If so, then great! Get married and be happy together. If not, then the wedding can be avoided with minimal losses.
To such morally sterile young Mormon boys, this concept seemed outlandish. God has explicitly told us not to engage in premarital sex. If we find a soul mate (whatever that means), which has been inspired and orchestrated by god--predestined before birth, even--surely we would be sexually compatible with our girlfriends. Right?
We had no idea. How could we? Most of us had never had sex, and therefore, had no context for the idea of sexual compatibility. How many different sexual preferences and tastes and kinks could there be? Ten?
The fact is, Evgenni, although falling on deaf and ignorant ears, was right. There is no shame in premarital sexual activity. It seems that the only advocates for abstinence before marriage are those who wish to control young people by locking them into a theology for life.
Religions have used sexuality to control the masses for centuries. In Mormon culture, so much emphasis is placed on abstinence (including masturbation), that many Mormons marry at a young age just so they can have sex. Add to this a nearly ubiquitous condemnation of contraception (although, to be fair, younger Mormons tend to look down less on family planning than older generations) and passive bad-mouthing of couples who wait a few years to have kids--or worse, couples who decide they don't want kids at all--and you get a recipe for young couples marrying into a religion and raising lots of kids in Mormonism.
This method, also exploited by the Catholic Church and Islam, is so effective that despite Mormonism's excessive and much talked about door-to-door missionary efforts, children born into the church and baptized at the age of eight is the primary source for increasing church membership. They call it "multiplying and replenishing the earth" (a reference to that one time in "history" when god drowned everyone on earth except for 8 people and two of every animal because the humans god created did exactly what he designed them to do...). God wants his people to take over the world through sheer breeding force.
To some extent, I realized this viscous trend of "get 'em while they're young" marriages and the pernicious cycle of perpetual pregnancies while still in college. Many of my fellow Mormon friends and family have slipped effortlessly into this lifestyle-snare. After all, if they base their decision to marry young and have lots of Mormon babies for Jesus upon the same feelings they base their belief in Mormonism, how could they go wrong? Surely god is inspiring them on both counts.
The fact is, I know people who have gone down this road of hasty matrimony (one couple got engaged after four days of courtship...) and found themselves divorced, jaded and in messy custody battles in less than a few years. One young woman admitted to me that her first marriage was built in large part on her desire to experience sex for the first time. Marriage is the only church-approved sexual outlet for sexually repressed (and sexually ignorant) young Mormons.
Furthermore, statistics show a clear trend that those who marry a little older tend to have more successful marriages. Of course, such marriages are not guaranteed to succeed. But, it seems ill advised to marry young and have so many kids that you are too distracted by the busyness of life to even begin to formulate doubts about your faith-based worldview. Could this be by design?
On a more practical note, sex before marriage builds trust and an emotional connection unmatched by other aspects of dating--even more than laser tag or sharing an ice cream sundae. Not to mention it is great fun.
Religious troops often tout the scary aspects of sex in an effort discourage young people from premarital sex. I suppose the tenuous threat that "fornicators will go to hell" only gets you so far among the current decreasingly religious younger generation. If teen pregnancy doesn't scare you, maybe a detailed description of chlamydia and genital warts will to the trick.
But contraception, such as a cheap latex condom, removes most of the risk of most STDs, including the scariest of all: AIDS. This leaves theocrats still seeking control over the genitals of young people stranded with a baseless (i.e. Faith-based) notion that god hates contraception just as much as unwed pregnant teens and porn.
Add to all of this the promise to Mormons that should they make it to the highest kingdom in heaven (the Celestial Kingdom), not only will they be reunited with their families (assuming, of course, that other family members also make it to the highest kingdom), they will also get to create their own universes with trillions of "spirit children." This in turn means lots and lots of spirit sex. No joke. Mormons teach their sexually repressed children that they can have sex forever and ever if they remain abstinent until marriage. If they succumb to this most basic bodily function, then no eternal family and no heavenly sex.
The fact that religions, such as Mormonism, continue to exploit the libidos of young men and women so unabashedly, so blatantly, with such coercion, manipulation and guilt-inducing rhetoric in the name of a god they have yet to demonstrate even exists, to me is deplorable and unforgivable. You can keep your snake oil.