Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Standards for Celestial Dating, 1-6

What I'm about to type is an abridgement, perhaps the beginning of a series, regarding a pamphlet my husband was given back in his teens, probably sometime after turning sixteen. I don't know. But it was produced and handed out by our then Stake Presidency. So this is circa 1995-1999.

It says we cannot control ourselves sexually. And I understand that once things get going, wants become needs. I understand that control becomes an issue. I've a stepsister with three kids from three different daddies. I've known some teen pregnancies. I remember how unbelievably attracted I was to my husband while we were dating (still am, don't get snarky :). I get it.

But come on.

President Kimball and those who worship his words and works are very much focused on sex, sex by itself and sex as a sin.

They say these things understanding that our sexuality is a fundamental part of who we are. Like porn, it becomes so saturated in our church media that we wonder if its not attracting us. I wonder if aggressive campaigns of this nature are in part self-fulfilling prophecies.

I mean, if french kissing is suggestive of "the sex act" doesn't that make your inner antennae perk up a bit? Sounds good, right? I hadn't even thought of that until I read this, after all.

Personally, I'd rather be spoken to as an adult--not just the spiritual reasons for abstaining from such things, but the secular reasons as well. Appeal to me as an intelligent person and then leave me to govern myself. I like to think most people are pretty intelligent and will act accordingly if treated as such.

But that's just me.

What you're about to read (and there's more) makes me think: my God, with all that can go wrong--why bother at all? My own thoughts are in blue.

1. NO DATING UNTIL AGE 16; NO SINGLE DATING UNTIL 18. "...President Kimball went on to counsel us that beginning the dating process too soon almost always brings on young immature marriages or immorality and sin."

Funny. I think all the sexual repression does this. This also assumes there are no immature marriages if a person follows the Church's prescribed formula. I can say from personal experience this is patently untrue: a young couple will marry ASAP because they've been told to and they want to have sex. Many marriages still surivive, but this doesn't mean marrying quickly is always the answer. They also become parents before they are truly ready regarding finances and maturity levels. Do they survive despite? Sure. But this isn't always the right answer.

"Remember, NO STEADY dating until after missions. It is an excellent idea to always double or group date until at least the age of 18."

Anyone else finding some inconsistency there? What of that year between 18-19? I mean, if a young boy is readying to go on his mission, wouldn't Satan be extra vigilant in getting that young man to give into sexual desires? Or wouldn't Satan, as he did in the Garden, tempt young Eve to get Adam to do something that would keep him from his mission?

Be on your haunches, young men!

2. MISSIONS BEFORE SERIOUS DATING. I know plenty of couples who have ignored this bit of counsel. They're the ones who get married two weeks after he returns home.

3. DO NOT DATE NON-MEMBERS OR UNWORTHY MEMBERS. "I do not believe that the Lord would expect the choice young people of His church to find their eternal mates among non-members! He would not ask us to go against both His counsel throughout the ages or against the counsel of His prophets. President Kimball told us "Clearly, right marriage begins with right dating...therefore, this warning comes with great emphasis. DO NOT take the chance of dating non-members, or members who are untrained and faithless." Now, do not rationalize by saying that you are doing missionary work. The Lord does not instruct us to do missionary work one-on-one with members of the opposite sex"

well, hell, I had an fresh RM teaching me about the gospel before i dared speak with the missionaries. i had a huge crush on him too.

4. DO NOT PARTICIPATE IN "KISSING-HUGGING" SESSIONS. (making out, or necking, as it is sometimes called). I am not talking about the serious sin of "petting" but the lengthy make-out sessions that many feel are "okay" as long as you do not let it get too far. President Kimball taught us, "Among the most common sexual sins our young people commit are necking and petting. Not only do these improper relations often lead to fornication, pregnancy, and abortions -, all ugly sins - but in and of themselves they are pernicious evils..." Necking or making out, the kissing-hugging sessions, is wrong IN AND OF ITSELF, not just because it may lead to something worse. I'm not saying there isn't a proper time in a dating relationship to kiss. There IS a proper time and place. President Kimball advised us, '"Kissing would be saved at last until these later hallowed courtship days when they could be free from sex and have holy meaning--'

i can only assume "these later hallowed courtship days" means after one returns from a mission and is "steady dating"

"--In an address delivered to returned missionaries (not high school age people), President Kimball say '"A kiss is an evidence of affection. A kiss is an evidence of love, not an evidence of lust--but it can be. Don't ever let a kiss in your courship [sic] spell lust. Necking and petting are lustful; they are NOT love...I don't mind your kissing each other after you have had several dates; but not the "Hollywood kiss," not the kiss of passion, but the kiss of affection and there won't be any trouble.'

(it gets better)

5. "NO FRENCH KISSING. This type of conduct is far too intimate and is suggestive of the sex act itself. A French kiss does not meet the standards President Kimball described above. President Kimball stated that '...The "soul kiss" is an abomination and stirs passions to the eventual loss of virtue. Even if timely courtship justifies the kiss, it should be a clean, sexless one, like the kiss between mother and son, or father and daughter.--"

(the bolded part is one of my favorite LDS quotes of all time)

"--In Isaiah we read: 'But draw near hither, ye sons of the sorceress, the seed of the adulterer and the whore. Against whom do ye sport yourselves? against whom make ye a wide mouth, and draw out the tongue? are ye not children of transgression, a seed of falsehood?" (QUOTES from Spencer W. Kimball, Chastity: Isaiah 57:3-4)


6. DO NOT PARK. Especially in the high school years, parking in an automobile has been the downfall of many choice young people. President Kimball told us that, "In interviewing repenting young folks, as well as some older ones, I am frequently told that the couple met their defeat in the dark, late hours, in secluded areas...the car was most often the confessed seat of the difficulty. It became their brothel." BEWARE! Often I have found that a couple originally parked to discuss a problem or work out an argument--not to make out. However, after the problem was resolved, they kissed to make up and things developed from there. It does not matter the reason: DO NOT PARK. After a date, GO HOME! Once you are there, go into the house, ALONE!

And just in case I'm accused of blanket hyperbole again, here is number 17:

17. DO NOT THINK THAT YOU ARE THE EXCEPTION TO THESE RULES. Don't say to yourself, "Boy, do I know so-and-so who needs these rules." The rules are for you! To think that it could never happen to you is an error. It CAN happen to you. You are not so in control that you can afford to say to yourself, "oh, I would NEVER do that, therefore, I can go into an apartment alone with my date, or park, or whatever." This is an open invitation to Satan to prove you wrong! And, he will! The biggest error of all is to think that you are an exception to one of these rules.

And yet, somehow, my husband and I made it.


Amanda said...

I love that highlighted part. Ack!

Pamphlets like that don't make any sense to me. And I don't believe in group dates. I mean, a group of mixed-gender friends going out to a movie together is considered a group date. Sorry, but to me, that's not a date. I still get together with groups of friends of mixed genders and go out to movies and such. Does that mean I'm on a group date? No! Date implies that people are involved with each other romantically, or that they want to be. A group of friends hanging out does not imply romance. Sheesh.

Crystalee said...

I always find your blog so fascinating, since I know little about the Mormon faith. This handbook is interesting food for thought. It makes NO SENSE at all. . . I can't even imagine trying to follow all of those rules. Kudos for you for following your own path.

Urban Koda said...

My wife and I were just talking about this the other night... Ironically it was after watching a comedy central special on Russell Brand. During his show he referenced a little altercation between him and the Jonas Brothers, and then later on he referred back to it, and explained why. I tried to find the person he references, but I don't think I got her name right... Anyway his comments are here, but be warned the language gets a little bad. 6:18 is where the quote is at.

Basically the person he references theorized that by repressing sexuality you in fact accomplish the task of bringing it to the forefront of everyone's minds.

I personally disagree with Church's stand on morality and dating, but I do find it curious how much it get brought up.

I think any relationship has a natural course it needs to follow, and with that course comes natural stages of intimacy. When you take two people who have only ever shared an affectionate kiss on the cheek, encourage them to get married as quickly as is humanly possible, and then as soon as they are send them off to "Do It" as soon as possible, it's going to be a crappy time for all involved. Most Mormon girls I know generally dislike sex (although they generally don't admit it openly), and I think it's because the natural course of intimacy has being tampered with. Of course on the other side of the coin, I think most good Mormon boys get turned into mindless sex machines, and it becomes all they think about - probably because every single lesson in then young men touches on sex!

I could go on and on... Ultimately I think this pamphlet causes more problems that it solves. But it does still provide some comedic relief as well.

Kengo Biddles said...

"I know plenty of couples who have ignored this bit of counsel. They're the ones who get married two weeks after he returns home."

It's that sort of craziness that makes my skin crawl. I don't get it. I mean, you don't even know who you ARE at that point -- how can you choose an eternal mate, let alone a mate for this life, alone.

jessicabeck said...

it's so weird to me that premarital sex is considered such a huge sin. i understand why the church proper would consider it a sin--i get it. BUT--geez, why is it SUCH a huge deal? why is it a bigger deal than the other physical and emotional crimes people commit? it is such a CULTURAL thing that we demonize sex so much, and it annoys me to no end that we take this cultural hang-up and attribute it to a faith. i mean, really--can you imagine the rule of parking applying to modern-day tribes in sub-saharan africa?

other things: i understand why it's nice to be involved with someone of the same faith, even though even the bible doesn't get dogmatic about the equally yoked thing. but i'm curious when these rules were even relevant. isn't there a way to adhere to a set of beliefs without chomping on some bubble gum and spinning around in a poodle skirt? it seems like the ultimate rule is to be middle class & white from the united states.

T.J. Shelby said...

Ah yes, good ole' Spencer W Kimball...

What I most remember from my teen years was reading The Miracle of Forgiveness and learning that gospel truth about masturbation leading to homosexuality...

How about "The Holy Ghost goes to bed after 11:00 pm." Which I always thought was funny because our Saturday night dances got out at 11.

Or how about (on a more crude note), I remember when the waiting period for a young man who broke the law of chastity was one year before he could go and serve a mission. Somewhere in my years of 14-18, I remember the church making a big hoopla about now including oral and anal sex in with the regular old pre-marriage debauchery. I vaguely remember hearing the "Oral is Moral" argument up until they laid down the law.

T.J. Shelby said...

Heard that from older teens...not church leaders, just to clarify.

The Faithful Dissident said...

"Oral is Moral." LOL, haven't heard that one.

Yeah, the sexless kiss is classic. I thought about it when I watched the movie Legacy and the main character (was her name Eliza) finally comes to her senses and decides to marry the guy she really loves, instead of the old boring guy that was after her, and then they have a big smooching scene. Not exactly a brother-sister peck on the cheek. So I thought it was interesting to see a church-produced film with a bit of sexual tension and "making out." :)

Hypatia said...

I love the slippery slope fallacy used in 4.

Making Out = Abortions


Hypatia said...

lol. Nice quote. I wonder though... If the Holy Ghost does go to bed at 11 p.m., is that Utah Time? So if you're LDS on the other side of the globe, then the HG is unavailable due to his bedtime which would be in the middle of the day where you live?

Very interesting.

Matt Brinton said...

Lisa, may I refer to you as Rachel? As in Rachel Maddow. I enjoy your posts, quite honestly they remind me of Rachel's show, all about semantics, which isn't a bad thing, as I enjoy hearing others opinions.
Specner is an old guy. Of course he and other Church leaders (just a side note, it really bugs me when I hear "brethren" used to refer to the prophet and apostles.) have that view on dating.

To me, the overall theme is, it's better to be safe while in the teen years.

I had a girlfriend in high school, and we kissed quite lustfully. It almost led to "other" stuff as boys are very easily enticed. Looking back, I am quite grateful I didn't "mess up" with her.

Yes kissing passionately is fun, but it does need to have limits with immature youth.

I think parents need to take a bold approach to this issue and related issues so that sexual feelings aren't suppressed in a marriage relationship.

I'll liken this issue to wearing a bike helmet. For our safety we are encouraged to wear bike helmets. I usually don't wear one, but in the case of an accident, I'll wish I had.

Now, I could argue that a helmet is not going to save my life every time , or the Rachel Maddow approach, that wearing a helmet might cause one to sweat more profusely, thus creating a potential hazard if sweat gets in the eyes (but of course, only if helmet wearing is suggested by a republican). The point being, generally one is better off taking precautions rather that dealing with the consequences.

Hypatia said...


What I took away from Lisa's post was more about self fulfilling prophecies.
For example, I've heard of boys who didn't know what *cough* masturbation was until they were asked if they did the act by their bishop, who then had to explain what it was, and how afterwords the boys tried to tell themselves over and over about not to think about it, when the act of trying to avoid it, only instigated more occurrences of it.

One time, my bishop came into Sunday School of my college ward, and told us about "gazing." He explained it was where people of both sexes stand in a room and take all their clothes off and just "gaze" at each other. Granted, to me this activity just sounds stupid, but honestly, why did that have to be brought up in Sunday School of a COLLEGE ward? I don't think ANY of us had really heard of that term and activity before, but here it was being explained IN DETAIL in Sunday School. I felt like we were being treated like little kids with the whole, "now don't let others see your private parts" spiel we got.
Not to mention, I'm pretty sure that no one appreciated leaving SUNDAY SCHOOL imagining every one butt naked staring at each other.

It's this unhealthy focus on sex that's horrible, and this focus on saying how often you should kiss, where, when, with whom, and at what hour of the day or if you kiss too much then your on your way to hell -yadda-yadda-yadda garbage that really doesn't speak to people, and if it does only in an intense GUILT trip way. I had an old college roommate who SOBBED tears because she had kissed her boyfriend on the couch more than once every five minutes, because the bishop got up in SACRAMENT and had a fire and brimstone speech about how if you kiss more than once in five minutes and you're not married, then you are engaging in sin.

Don't you think that's a bit much?!

Anonymous said...

>> I remember the church making a big hoopla about now including oral and anal sex in with the regular old pre-marriage debauchery.

Actually, if I'm not mistaken, there was a brief period of time when recommends were denied to those that admitted they participated in such activities with their spouses. If they asked me that question, I'd be tempted to say, "Oral Sex? Haven't heard of that, before. Sounds like fun!"

Lisa said...

Amanda: I think that's what they're trying to dissuade young people from: romance. Eh.

I get the "no dating until 16" bit. I never thought I would, but I do. My issue is more with the lack of logic here, the fear mongering, the slippery slopes. The lack of faith in our youth, teaching them to have little to no faith in themselves. This just bugs the crap out of me.

Crystal: What's sad is that there is logic to this (no kiss--no sex--no babies out of wedlock) and people follow it. Blindly. Because they are convinced they cannot control themselves. Where is agency if there is no choice?

Urban: "I think any relationship has a natural course it needs to follow, and with that course comes natural stages of intimacy."

Yes, I completely agree. Though it may seem stupid, I do wish my relationship with my husband could have taken its natural course. Instead, our first night was riddled with "Oh man, they know what we're doing! Right now!" It kind of ruined the moment. I would've preferred for the moment to happen the few times it tried to before we married. I knew I was marrying him. And I agree with everything you said. When you cannot get through a talk or article without hearing about sex, what are you to think or talk about? Sex. And the girls don't get these talks, trust me. But they want it too, or they should (sex, not the talks).

Let the flaming begin.

Kengo: I knew right away Eric was for me, but I hardly want to make my experience the rule. We're absolutely the exception. But generally speaking, yes yes yes.

jess: It's a big deal because it's seen in the church as a spiritual sin, second only to murder according to our Book of Mormon because it deals with unauthorized creation of souls as murder deals with unauthorized destruction of souls. it's big--ah you get it. i'm preaching to the choir, here.

TJ: roflmao. Oral Is Moral. I'll have to use that one. That's fantastic.

And I had no idea the Holy Ghost had a bedtime. We had a few dances that got out midnight Saturday night--letter of the law or spirit of the law? tsk tsk. You should've heard me and my friends criticizing those who organized such events.

FD: Ah I know! So what are we to think? I doubt President Kimball would've accepted such a kiss ;)

Hypatia: Yeah, it's as good as "Masturbation --> Homosexuality" in The Miracle of Forgiveness.

Watch out!!

(so hard to refrain, here!)

Matt: Awww, I love Rachel Maddow.

Spencer IS an old guy--I'm rather surprised you would use such terms. But he was a prophet, and his words have yet to be overruled by our current prophet, no? The Miracle of Forgiveness is STILL handed out in Stake centers all over the place (at least around here it is), and his words used in lessons, giving at least the air that they are still authoritative and true.

Anyway, fun aside: it is a question of maturity and it is a question of a relationship by relationship basis. I don't want to get into my previous relationships, but I'm grateful I didn't sleep with any of my ex's but I have to say: I do wish my husband and I would've felt more free while we were dating. The repression just isn't good.

I hate the term "brethren" too :)

David: Yeah, actually they did. Look it up. It was around 1980-1985 I think. On letterhead. Sent to the bishops. From what I understand, the backlash was so great the leadership backed down and said it was between each couple.

Gee, thanks.

Anonymous said...

I think we have to look at the intent, rather than mocking the choice of words or what we may perceive as 'outdated thinking'.

I think Spencer Kimball wanted to stop some people from getting hurt or making choices that could have long term negative consequences.

If you want to understand the LDS perspective you have to understand that LDS ideology believes that the 'natural man' is an enemy to God.

The 'natural man' equates pleasure with happiness.

The natural man says "if it feels good, and no one is getting hurt in the moment, why not?"

Anyway, parents should be a filter between any organization/ group (church, school, friends) and their kids. If your child gets a pamphlet you don't like, explain to them your perspective and why you believe what you do.

Jodi Jean said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jodi Jean said...

lisa ... i found you via tj's site. interesting read. and i have to STONGLY AGREE with...

"And the girls don't get these talks, trust me. But they want it too, or they should (sex, not the talks)."

SERIOUSLY ... when i was in the yw organization (after being married and making really dumb choices as a teenager) i wanted to SCREAM information to the yw. and then later after i move i hear about one of the girls getting pregnant. it broke my heart.

it's all geared towards the guys, but aren't girls the "keeper" ... give them some info. or at least tell them if they are gonna sin to use a condom!!

jessicabeck said...

that's interesting, lisa. actually, i had no idea it was second to murder; that's a new concept for me. so, authorized creation of souls because sex --> babies --> only authorized in marriage (condoned by the church).

Anonymous said...

This was a humorous/sad/pathetic/enlightening and all around necessary post. I only wish more people talked about this in the church, as surely there are more adults who feel this way than are speaking out.

You know what I remember about young woman's and my later youth with the Church? All this crap. And when kissing my boyfriends did get outta hand, I dealt with it as I was "taught" to. Looking back, I wish I wasn't so fearful of God's wrath back then. I wish I would have had more honest discussion about this stuff instead of all the fearmongering.

Now that I have a 13 yr. old son, I am befuddled as to what to do. I don't want to confuse him with The Church vs. His Parents rules. But I so desperately want him to not feel like a "bad" person if he "messes up" (in one Church way or another). I'm gonna start grillin' him though...Ask him what is being taught and "correct" things as needed.

sydni said...

Hey, so I was taking a look at this and kind of freaking out -- I'm dating somebody and he has given me back rubs haha..

But looking at this, it's by a Bishop..who is important in the church, but if it's not from a prophet or apostle, don't take it seriously.

Some are good tips, I agree, but they aren't directly from Heavenly Father.