true love glances impatiently at its watch

February 5, 2009
On the dating site OKCupid I've been e-mailing with one gal who probably runs a bit more conservative than I do. She brought up some of the sex lessons that had been brought up in a youth group she went to: how blue clay and pink clay is inseparable once mixed, and if it mixes with too much just turns brown, the construction paper glued together that can't come apart without ripping. This is some of my response, it's been a while since I've monologued here, and also I wouldn't mind to know where other people are coming from with this.

Object lessons can be powerful, but ultimately they are just similes. I mean, lesbian pink clay would never get brown, no matter how much other pink clay it rolled around with! And I had heard about the glued construction paper bit. But people are - obviously - not pieces of paper, and once you get past simplified and visceral lessons for teens, I think it's worthwhile to think clearly about the underlying message -- and I'm not taking the stance that it's an incorrect message, just one that people don't necessarily think of deeply enough.

I've encountered two main themes in "true love waits" kind of messages; one is fundamentally Theological: sex and our bodies are sacred, marriage is an institution established by God. The other aims at being more pragmatic (and sometimes uses its pragmatism as support for the idea that it is Divinely mandated by a caring God); there are nasty viruses and unplanned pregnancies; youth in particular may not able to make mature decisions about who they do and don't sleep with; in the case of the clay and paper metaphors, that it is fundamentally wrong to achieve that kind of connection in a relationship that in all likelihood is not permanent.

(There's a great Garrison Keillor quote I couldn't quite find, but paraphrased it's "when I was young there was a fearsome raging river between us and the promise land of sex and only the church had the keys to the ferry boats; these days the river runs smooth and narrow and there are all kinds of rowboats and what not and at some places you can even wade across")

Historically, the Church had established a principle that only sex that was aimed at-- or at least not hostile to-- making babies was acceptable, that the pleasure that accompanies the act was a bit suspect, but maybe a gift from a God who urged us to be fruitful and multiply. This view is now only generally made explicit these days in certain Catholic quarters, so it's not necessarily fair to let it be used as a strawman for the views of pro-Abstinence type people, but I think it is fair to note that this kind of thinking still informs the "Pro-Traditional-Family"/"Anti-Gay-Marriage" and "Gayness is a Fixable Condition" groups.

So what are the arguments on the other side, for a more relaxed outlook? I see two main branches: the Hedonistic and the Hippy. The Hedonistic view points out the obvious; sex (can) feel really really good, and if we're creatures on this Earth only for a while, other factors aside more pleasure is better than less pleasure. (Though it's also reasonable to expect one to take a reasonably mature view of pleasure as a goal, and strive for a balance in that as in most things.) The Hippy view says that the traditionalists are right, that a strong connection IS made during sex, but the arguments for restricting that strong connection to a once-in-lifetime partnership are weak, that we should embrace the chance to connect to other people on such a fundamental and important level, and that that's part of the human experience.

So, that's where I'm at. I guess I'm at risk of becoming one of those "the way it happened to me is how it should happen to everyone!" - high school romances with fooling around but no sex, sex for the first time during a fairly important college relationship, and then as part of future relationships once they start getting "serious". I'll be frank, the last few intimate relationships I've been in, I think I've tended to be a bit of a slowing force in terms of how soon sex was part of the connection; between concerns about diseases and birth control and then even a bit of recognition of the fundamental connection-ness of sex (as probably being of greater import than the relationship might be having in its early days.) What I've found though is a woman who likes me enough to want for us to share our bodies like that is a bit impatient with my neurotic and post-Sunday School/"Hippy" yammering (and is possibly concerned it is cover for a rejection of her in toto) and my willpower ends up yielding to the moment. But I'd be reluctant to go the chaste "'kissing, hugging, holding hands' - all ok; anything else, not ok" point of view; I do think high school /college set my vision of the ideal; a ramp up to increasing levels of intimate contact, but sex still on more of a pedestal.

The impulse items next to the Microcenter check out lines is a geek wonderland... - f*** my life, twitter meets a raunchier "curb your enthusiasm". Amazing reading-there's a french version,
"We're going to have to try to apply some flinty Chicago toughness to this town." --Obama on D.C.'s wimpy snow reactions. Great phrase!
Getting a strong visceral negative reaction to unknown phone #s calling me. I'm busy looking into personal contact leads; hate more pressure
Ugh, one of those "it's almost 2 alreday?" kind of days. Exercised, finished laundry... phonecalls w/ recruiter types are so draining.
AHA! The stupid scrolling widget that shows up when I mean to center click is Firefox specific: "autoscrolling" under Advanced Props- b'bye!
(Seriously, for me reading is jumpy, not gliding along at steady (if adjustable) rate - that firefox scroll widget was just annoying.)
Using my tablet PC's handwriting recognition. It's surprising how good it is. Weird to be handwriting a twitter.