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Is society rediscovering its virginity?

Lolo Jones ... Olympian and 29-year-old virgin.

Lolo Jones ... Olympian and 29-year-old virgin. Photo: Getty Images

No sex before marriage, the new normal?

I won’t be a virgin if or when I get hitched. This isn’t a problem for me. But it’s a huge problem for some other people. But lately I’ve been wondering when ‘some’ may be ‘most’. It has been before – for most of Western history in fact – will it be again?

Yesterday, news of America’s latest celebrity virgin hit Australia. Hurdler Lolo Jones revealed keeping chaste had been harder than keeping on top of her Olympic training schedule. But her Christian belief demanded ‘no sex before marriage’, or ad undas.

And what of it, you may think. Think America, think freedom of choice and religion. Especially religion, for even a casual consumer of global news has observed theology in their politics. Keener readers, or Presidential pundits, will have noted the trends that result in headlines such as this: The Future Will Be More Religious and Conservative Than You Think (a good read).

But that is America. Those Americans are crazy. In Australia, we are secular, and smaller, and more sensible. We have a non-believer in the top job for chrissake. Not that it matters; the Roman Catholic waiting in the wings wouldn’t let religion interfere with policy...

Yet a string of academics disagree. Australian schools are being “Christianised”, or “desecularised” depending on whom you ask. The latter link points to an article published last year in the British Journal of Politics and International Relations through which feminist Sheila Jeffries runs with the current ‘ballooning religion’ theme and fears loudly for gender equality. In this new climate, she argues, old values are promoted - chastity, presumably, included.

How accurate is this? How true? Are we becoming more religious – more conservative – in Australia? It is true focused purpose makes religious voice more audible over the din of general apathy. The really religious are always characterised as the small group with big noise. Are they really that small? The wait is on for census revelation due later this year.

It is, of course, important to note not all religions are the same. Nor do all religions pose the kind of problems some scholars would have you worry about. Christianity, for example, is nothing if not diverse, and it is wrong to assume all who admitted membership in the church of the Messiah takes their spirituality seriously. Not every Christian would subscribe to these principles of chaste dating for example.

We do seem to be serious about values though. And we do seem to associate values with faith. And when it comes to relationships, I have long supported the notion two people will be most happy when they share beliefs about the most basic things in life – sex, very definitely, included.

That’s where things get interesting, because there’s a thread running through contemporary debate that balls into this big, finger-pointing conclusion - we don’t value sex enough. Physical intimacy has been debased, reduced, made common, less special, and ruined by a free-for-all society of characterised by permissiveness, indulgence and excess. Just like every other precious aspect of the human experience, like parenthood or death, sex has been devalued by the loss of what is ‘right’ and the rise of ‘whatever’. Is more religion the answer?

While I don’t think it’s as simple as that (what does religion mean anyway?), I don’t believe a world where sharp, non-negotiable lines are drawn around good and bad is the answer. I prefer spectrums and shades of grey. And I prefer to have sex with whom, and how, I please when and wherever is reasonable.

But how about you, when it comes to sex and values, where do you stand? Would you prefer things went back to a simpler time when sex was ‘special’ and reserved for marriage? Do you think the ‘sexualisation’ of our society should, and can, be fixed? And is more religion the right way to go about it?

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213 comments so far

  • Each to there own.
    Religion was.is used to control the population, form the ancient Greeks "giving into fate' thru to the fear of a vengeful God and hell.
    People's superstitions have been (and will continue to be) exploited by groups that seek to control the way people act, or think. (normally for financial gain)
    But for those that choose to believe in a mythical bearded man, living in the sky, judging our every move, all i can say is that the less opportunity these people get to breed the better it is.

    I will take enlightenment over faith, education over doctrine and fact over dogma every day of the week

    Commenter
    corey s
    Date and time
    May 25, 2012, 5:52AM
    • You already have your own religion. You just wrap it up as being non-religious. It is the non-religious religion. It is no more or less academically sustainable than many other belief systems / religions.

      While the "each to (sic) there own" argument is compelling, there are two problems. Most people long for sex with someone else. So inherently it isn't "to his own". Also the problem is sex is bundled to a whole lot of other things including relationships, marriage and children. If you want a truely intimate relationship, your past will matter. Your past is part of who you are now. So your sexual choices as a teenager are likely to influence your relationship and marriage later.

      It is never as simple as "each to their own" when talking about something that involves more than one person.

      Commenter
      Paul T
      Date and time
      May 25, 2012, 11:19AM
    • Don't be so sure about the not breeding bit, remember every sperm is sacred!

      Commenter
      Monty Python
      Date and time
      May 25, 2012, 11:32AM
    • I'm with you Corey, seriously, imagine you are in a relationship with someone at 29 things are going great, you are both in love, kind and caring towards each other etc. But no, the boogie man will strike our genitals with lightning if they dare touch before we write our names on a piece of paper!

      And PaulT, atheism is not a religion, we don't have to share common beliefs (except that there is no god) and those beliefs are flexible and allowed to change. Unlike in religion where you mostly have to follow things because god says so. Or more to the truth of it, because the male priests of the day decided god says so.

      Commenter
      Cap'n crunch
      Location
      Melbourne
      Date and time
      May 25, 2012, 12:02PM
    • @ PaulT:

      If the fact that you are not a virgin matters to a prospective marriage partner, then they are obviously the wrong person for you. There are plenty of people out there to whom it won't matter, so marry one of those and let the virgins marry each other.

      Commenter
      mum of four
      Date and time
      May 25, 2012, 12:32PM
    • @Cap'n crunch: If you feel passionately enough about religion that you need to label yourself an atheist, then you have a religion: atheism.

      Commenter
      Direct
      Date and time
      May 25, 2012, 12:57PM
    • @ Cap'nCrunch
      You say "atheism is not a religion, we don't have to share common beliefs (except that there is no god)" Contradiction, believing that there is no God is a belief. Dictionary.com "Religion: the body of persons adhering to a particular set of beliefs and practices:" Atheists believe there is no God and they practice whatever they want to.
      You say "and those beliefs are flexible and allowed to change" all religions have their strict side of believers and their lax side of believers, it depends on how seriously people take what they believe.
      You say "Unlike in religion where you mostly have to follow things because god says so", God tells us these things because he loves us and doesn't want us to give in to what our body naturally wants i.e. sex, drinking, lieing, jealousy and even murdering. He wants us to live with him forever, not in heaven because heaven is not what most religions put it as the pearly gates, but in his Kingdom that he will make on earth when he decides it is the right time.
      (Continued on my next comment)

      Commenter
      Kate
      Date and time
      May 25, 2012, 3:01PM
    • You say "Or more to the truth of it, because the male priests of the day decided god says so" Yes this is true, people believe what priests say because they are supposed to "know" what God is saying, the problem is preists of the majority of religions don't promote people actually reading their bibles and studying it to see what it actually says. It is brain washing and people don't even realise. I'm 20, and will not have sex until i am married because i respect myself but most of all i respect God and what he says is good for me.

      Commenter
      Kate
      Date and time
      May 25, 2012, 3:08PM
    • So...having sex before marriage means you don't respect yourself?

      "God said so"

      Which God? There's a lot of them, and with many conflicting expectations. A lot of people tend to write down what they think God said, but we're really not quite sure if God said it or if someone's using God (or Gods) to perpetrate their own agendas.

      Whether atheism is or isn't a religion depends on what your definition of religion is - if you define religion as a system of belief et al + deity then no, atheism is not a religion. If you define religion as a system of belief et al regardless of if there is a deity, then atheism would constitute as a ~religion~.

      Commenter
      Jill
      Location
      psychedelia
      Date and time
      May 25, 2012, 3:53PM
    • Actually atheism can't be a religion in itself. Trace it back and an atheist is not a non believer. It is a person who doesn't know.
      And many religions do have their own god. And their own preferred name for.

      Commenter
      Dave
      Date and time
      May 25, 2012, 4:39PM

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