A Formula for Trouble: Sex and Religion

Ed Raymond

Humankind has had two major vexations for thousands of years: sex and religion. Sex has caused wars between individuals and among groups since Lucy decided to go to the back of the cave with another relative of Homo Erectus. Religion has caused more wars between tribes and among countries more than any other vexation, including economics. If there is a problem in River City, it’s probably sex or religion. Ever since Leviticus declared that fornicators and adulterers should be stoned to death and the Roman Catholic Church declared that priests and popes should be celibate, that homosexuality is “intrinsically evil,” that any form of contraceptive is against God and church rules, that unbaptized babies should float endlessly in Purgatory forever, men dominating major religions have been passing” stoopid woomin” rules and laws. Several major religions, particularly the Vatican and Muslim,  pay attention only to half of the human race. How else do men control women if it isn’t through sex? Women are as smart as men and are more intuitive and empathetic. But the times “they are a’changin’.”

The Roman Catholic Church in Europe with its medieval catechism is slowly dying and is presently decomposing in some kind of Vatican hospice. Thousands of churches have closed, hundreds have been sold to become warehouses, condos, or fast-food joints because membership and attendance is declining precipitously. Voltaire, my favorite 18th Century wit, cynic, and atheist, believed ridicule was a powerful weapon: “I have never made but one prayer to God, a very short one: ‘O Lord, make my enemy ridiculous.’ And God granted it.” Pope Francis, the hope of many liberal Catholics in reforming the church from the 13th Century thinking of Popes John Paul II and Benedict, seems to have given up trying to reform the Vatican, saying two weeks ago: “Western society seems like a journey ending in a shipwreck, with the survivors trying to build a raft.” Let’s look at the results of a religious survey in 12 European countries.

Results of the Survey of European 16 to 29 Year-Olds

Harriet Sherwood in her article “Christianity as Default Is Gone: The Rise of a Non-Christian Europe” reveals that the majority of young adults (16-29) have no religious affiliation, led by the Czech Republic young with 91% saying they have no religious affiliation. In Estonia, Sweden, and the Netherlands between 70% and 80% say they are non-religious.  Poland, the home of John Paul II, is the most religious where 17% of young adults say they are non-religious, Lithuania follows with 25%. (The two most religious countries and the two least religious are post-communist countries. Strange!)

In the United Kingdom only 7% of young adults say they are Anglican (the state church) and only 10% say they are Roman Catholic. Many Muslims have settled in the UK but only 6% of their young say they are active Muslims. Only in Poland, Portugal, and Ireland did more than 10% of the young say they attended church services at least once a week. In the Czech Republic 70% of the young say they never went to church, while the young in the UK, France, Belgium, Spain, and the Netherlands, between 56% and 60% said they never go to church—and between 63% and 66% said they never pray. Although 80% of young Poles say they are Catholic, only about half go to Mass once a week. In Lithuania, where 70% say they are Catholic, only 5% go to mass weekly. 

A Gallup Poll of American Catholics of all ages after the revelation of over 1,000 child and adult sexual abuse cases by 300 priests in Pennsylvania reveals that fewer than one in three American Catholics believe priests are honest and ethical. That’s a record drop of 18 points in just one year. (We have to remember that the largest religious group in the U.S. is ex-members of the Roman Catholic Church.)  Fewer than half of Catholics say they have confidence in organized religion, a drop of 8 points from the last survey. Just in the last decade the honesty and integrity of priests has fallen from 61% to 31%. That’s an “Ouch!” Attendance has also dropped “precipitously.” In 1975 75% of Catholics attended Mass once a week. That has fallen to 36% in 2018. Poll takers made this observation after the poll: “The church’s handling of these cases undoubtedly weighs heavily on Catholics’ minds and likely plays a part in shaping their more increasingly negative views of the church and organized religion as a whole.”

What We Should Teach Kids About Sex Is Getting Very Complicated

I see North Dakota school districts are contemplating the content of sex education curriculums again. Sex is getting more important in the lives of people ages 6 to 100 than at any time in history. The average marrying age for men now is 30, for women it is 28.  The average age for puberty for females is 9 to 14, for males 10 to 14. So as children start to have breasts, wet dreams, add hair in certain places, and have strange urges, they are entering new stages of an exhilarating but vexing life that will be with them as they age through the sexual decades. Learning about sex never ends until we die. As societies change so do attitudes about sex. When our young people are marrying at 30 and 28, is pre-marital sex still considered a religious sin? Good luck with that one. (I suggest reading Aldous Huxley’s “Brave New World” published in 1937 to get an idea of what happens to sex when all children are “hatched” in decanters. To spur you on, there’s lots of sex in it.)

Just a few facts about premarital sex in the U.S. according to several polls. Most polls indicate that 75 to 80% have had sexual intercourse before marriage. One poll called 4 Cool Statistics About Abstinence in the USA claims only 3% of the population did not have sex before marriage. Good Heavens! Do you think anyone would lie about sex? Well. how about another fact. Births outside marriage number about 40% of all births. Maybe some are virgin births. Over half of children are no longer raised in households headed by a heterosexual couple in their first marriage. H.L. Mencken, my favorite modern cynic about religion and sex, has this to say about Roman Catholic women: “It is lawful for a Catholic woman to avoid pregnancy by resorting to mathematics (counting days for participating in Vatican Roulette), though she is still forbidden to resort to physics and chemistry.”

Medieval and Modern Methods of Contraception

Evidently most people enjoy sexual intercourse because even Boobus Americanus has used some of the following modern methods of preventing pregnancies:

(1) Sterilization (male and female),

(2) Intrauterine devices and systems,

(3) Subdermal implants,

(4) Oral contraceptives,

(5) Condoms (both male and female),

(6) Various injectables,

(7) Emergency contraceptive pills,

(8) contraceptive patches,

(9) Diaphragms and cervical caps,

(10) Spermicidal agents, (gels, foams creams, suppositories, and many other inventions,

(11) Vaginal rings, and

(12)  Large sponges.

This may be a short list.

The list of the medieval methods is shorter but requires math abilities, accurate  timekeeping devices, steady nerves, and intestinal fortitude:

(1) Abstinence,

(2) Fertility awareness programs such as the following: Standard Days Method, Calendar Rhythm method, Two-Day method, Billings Ovulation mMethod, Symptothermal Method (all Vatican Roulette methods), and other devices that help to predict fertility periods,

(3) Withdrawal, and

(4) Lactational amenorrhea.

I had to Google this last one called LAM. (Even at 86 one learns something about sex almost every day,) The definition according to Planned Parenthood: “When you exclusively breastfeed—meaning you nurse at least every four hours during the day and every six hours during the night, and feed your baby only breast milk—your body naturally stops ovulating. You can’t get pregnant if you don’t ovulate. The problem  is you have to do it perfectly—to the minute.” You can’t use a breast pump, as an example. And it “might” work for six months after birth.  OK, here it comes. What should we teach about sex in pre-school through Grade 12?

What Are Some Of The Considerations Of Teaching About Sex?

Let’s look at a few more facts first. Over 90% of the women of child-bearing age , including members of the Roman Catholic Church, have used contraceptives to prevent pregnancies. Polls and evidence supports this fact.  U.S. Catholic women, who normally could have 40 children during their fertility, have about the same number as the rest of the female population. Sometimes I ask close Catholic friends with two children if they really enjoyed having sexual intercourse twice. All in jest, of course.  Polls indicate that at least 93% of Americans want their children to be taught accurate and comprehensive information about all the aspects of sex and sexual intercourse. That information must include both abstinence and contraception. What they learn about sex will have a terrific impact about their health and future lives. The average age for initiating sex is still about 17 and close to 80% have had sexual intercourse before graduating from high school. That means it can be more than a decade before they marry. They cannot afford to be lied to. 

As a high school teacher and an elementary and high school principal I have seen thousands of children  endure puberty and the raging hormones tormenting high schoolers. Let’s tell them the truth at appropriate ages. I have seen the changes in Grade Six girls in the spring of the school year. They seem to fall in love quickly. Grade Six boys are always about a year behind the development of girls and don’t seem to understand what’s happening at all.

I see our Great Leader, perhaps the leading pussy-grabber and  porn star adulterer in the country, has appointed a long-time abstinence-only activist and founder of the National abstinence Educators Association to lead the Trump administration’s sex education programs. This is the same outfit that often teaches that students can be arrested for having premarital sex, that birth control pills will make them infertile, that condoms will give them cancer, that AIDS can be transmitted through skin-to-skin contact, and that girls don’t like sex and have to be the ones to “put the brakes on” to stop any kind of sexual activity. This is why evangelical Christians want their children involved in abstinence-only programs. But scientific studies prove that these Christian children eventually marry earlier, lead the country in divorces, get pregnant more often, and get more sexually transmitted diseases because they don’t have comprehensive information.  

Like “Just Say No!” drug chants didn’t work, “Just Don’t Do It!” programs won’t do it either for the vast majority of our young people. Our society is changing. In a Tinder survey 72% 0f millennials ages 18 to 25 say they “have made a conscious decision “not to marry for a period of time. On average they are working for relatively low wages, have a $36,000 student loan to pay, live in their parent’s basement, and can’t afford a car or apartment. Welcome to the real world. But we know they will still have sex.