As concerns the issue of non-marital sex, this argument con and this argument pro both strike me as almost completely silly. Dipnut* pretty much lays waste to the "conservative" argument; a rambling, turgid (and only part one, oy) paean to wishful thinking about human nature by Jennifer Morse. It is interesting how god-'n'-family conservatives have co-opted the liberal spiel about human nature being essentially good (and that's why it's "against nature" to fornicate like a rabbit in heat). The basis for Ms. (Mrs.? Miss?) Morse's ideas about marriage is the extremely progressive idea that human beings are naturally monogamous. Well, Here is a true conservative of the old school who was under no illusions about the realities of the human animal. Of men and women this rather famous, pre-Vatican II, Roman Catholic Dead White Male said:
"...[Women] are instinctively, when uncorrupt, monogamous. Men are not..... No good pretending. Men just ain't, not by their animal nature. Monogamy (though it has long been fundamental to our inherited ideas) is for us men a piece of 'revealed' ethic, according to faith and not to the flesh."
The writer is J.R.R. Tolkien, the source is a letter he wrote to his son -- letter number 43 in The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien, and despite the fact that I'm not Catholic I really haven't been able to find anything in his observations that doesn't dovetail with life as it seems to be for the majority of human beings. He also knew in 1941 what many popular magazines, with great labor, release as a blockbuster "New Study Finds!" story every couple of years or so.
But coming at us from the other side of the ring is studly William Baude. William knows your name, and he knows your star sign, and he knows just the right words to say this night to set you at ease and make you feel special all at once (not too slick, not too icky-sweet, with just the right combination of compliments and witty side observations on the other people standing around the bar), and he really wants to, you know, get to know you. That way, see, you and he won't be afraid of each other or sex or of having that bad dream where Father Coughlin and your first grade teacher (scary old Mrs. Phelps) and your weeping mother and the cute boy from next door that you had a crush on in high school and Shaun Cassidy all burst in on you while you were having sex with Mr. Roper from Three's Company.
Baude's theory (a theory I haven't heard bounced around since Elvis was alive, but then I don't get out much) is that having sex before marriage is not only not bad, it's not even just plain okay, it's more moral than what he charmingly describes as "presexual marriage." In other words, it's a duty. Observe:
I think it's generally unwise for people (particularly people who view monogamy as generally desirable and divorce as generally undesirable) to get married before they've begun having some sort of sexual relations. Sex is important to marital compatibility (even Ms. Morse says so), and it would be bad to be stuck married to somebody whose views about the purpose and details of sex were drastically different from one's own.
Furthermore, sex is a very important way of gaining knowledge about somebody ("Carnal knowledge," as we call it. "Not of the flesh, but through the flesh.") Sex (at least good sex) is a form of reading, and when something resembling eternal commitment is at stake, it's hardly wise to leave this chapter unperused.
I wonder if he is the kind of reader who reads the ends of books first just to see if he wants to read them all the way through. (Link to this one via Instapundit. Fill in your own pun.)
*Forgot to change this.Posted by Andrea Harris at December 23, 2003 09:53 PM