1. notleia says:

    Welp, then we have guys like East, who we were making fun of yesterday, who start on how seeking chocolate in the first place is suspect and degenerate, and why not this black licorice here? Because that’s totally the same.

  2. Kristin Janz says:

    This is not the first Christian critique I’ve seen of “Jesse’s Girl”. Yours is basically the same as the other one. But I never heard the song that way. For me, the key to interpreting it is the line: “Aren’t I funny, aren’t I cool with the lines? Ain’t that the way love’s supposed to be?” (I’m quoting this from memory, so it may not be word-for-word correct.) Even as a teenager, I recognized that no, of course that’s not the way love’s supposed to be! And the fact that the song’s first-person protagonist (who is not necessarily the same character as the songwriter) believes it is goes a long way toward explaining why the girl is dating Jesse and not him.

    This encapsulates one of my biggest problems with these sorts of culture war discussions. It’s just as bad on the secular left as on the Christian right. “This art is not consistent with my values, therefore it is bad” doesn’t leave much room for irony or artful ambiguity, where a story may appear to have one message but hides a sting in its tail, for those who are paying attention, that calls everything on the surface into question. Or where you can’t actually tell what the author believes about a particular issue from reading the story.

    Of course, the Bible is full of ambiguous stories. One of my favorites is in Acts, where a dispute has arisen over whether Aramaic-speaking needy widows were being favored over Greek-speaking ones in the church in food distribution. The Apostles’ response is basically, “We shouldn’t neglect the preaching of the word to wait on tables. We’ll hand this over to a committee instead.” Many Christians seem to read this as: Committees are good! My reading is: [head>desk]–Were you guys *at* the Last Supper? You know, the one where God strips down to his underwear to wash your feet and then says, “Now go and do the same for each other?” Peter, when Jesus said, “Feed my sheep”, did you really think that was entirely metaphorical, and what he actually meant was, “Give someone else the job of feeding my sheep while you do more prestigious things?”

    Luke could have been more clear about what message we were supposed to take from that incident, to make sure we all “got it”, but I think the story would have lost some of its power that way.

    I don’t think Christians need to engage with pop culture if they don’t want to or believe it would be bad for their spiritual health. (Like people who are not obviously allergic to gluten but still think it’s healthier if they avoid it.) But, I also don’t want to hear a lecture about how no humans can digest wheat properly every time I eat a sandwich in public.

    For me, part of the value of engagement is knowing what the conversations are. Because sometimes I have something to contribute, as a Christian in the general market speculative fiction field. And I’ve been in that field long enough that sometimes people are willing to listen to what I have to say. I was on a panel at Arisia, a very progressive and secular science fiction convention, and the panel was about the apocalyptic in speculative fiction, and I was actually encouraged to talk about what Revelation says about the apocalypse and God’s judgment being good news for the oppressed and marginalized. That wouldn’t have happened if I couldn’t also talk about general market stories I’ve read that many Christians would feel were best avoided.

    And sometimes I encounter really brilliant stories in the general market that get at the heart of some Biblical theme much better than anything I’ve read in the Christian world, if you can get past all the anti-faith sentiment on the surface, and all the profanity.

    On the other hand, I often don’t enjoy my engagement with secular pop culture. At all. Sometimes my heart sinks when I turn on the podcast for another story, because I feel like I am drinking poison (metaphorically). For me, the answer to this is to make sure I’m also dosing myself with the antidote. Which is usually not Christian fiction, but Scripture, and Christian theology, and time spent in prayer.

    Finally, for me, the stumbling blocks that lead me into sinful attitudes are not representations of behavior and beliefs that I don’t share, but things that encourage me to think I’m morally superior to others. I read the Babylon Bee, for instance, and while I think it’s some of the sharpest political satire out there, it’s far more likely to lead me into the sins that I’m most susceptible to (pride and vanity) than a hot sex scene or a story about an unmarried couple living together. Same for reading political commentary on Twitter (which I gave up for Lent, because I was spending too much time on it, and it was encouraging me to feel self-righteous).

    • Excellent commentary, Kristin! And I agree re the character of the narrator in “Jessie’s Girl” — that line is very telling about how we’re supposed to view his level of maturity and his understanding of what love is really about. It’s easy to assume that we’re meant to sympathize and identify with the POV character in a song or story, but “Jessie’s Girl” reminds me of more recent pop songs like Sarah MacLachlan’s “Possession” and Death Cab for Cutie’s “I Will Possess Your Heart”, both of which are written from the perspective of a stalker — and it’s up to the listener to discern that the narrator’s view is warped and destructive even though he clearly doesn’t see it that way.

      None of which is to say that there isn’t real poison out there and that we don’t need to exercise discernment and self-control — but the deadliest poison isn’t always where we think it is, or even what we think it is.

      • Travis Perry says:

        R.J. of course you and Kristin have a great point about whether we should sympathize with the POV character. But in fact, almost everyone does!

        So I think the vast majority who sang Jessie’s Girl empathized with the sentiment. Though of course not all did. (But I did, back in the day, that’s for sure–without even realizing that’s what I was doing.)

    • Travis Perry says:

      Kristin, I think it might be possible that you are focusing a bit overmuch on the examples I used to launch into the notion that not all arts and popular culture are healthy to partake in. I think though the idea stands and I accounted in a generic way for some of the things you mentioned by saying not everyone is equally affected the same way by poison.

      I do appreciate your comments and how they broadened the discussion. Thank you.

  3. Kind of interesting how different sayings/analogies can frame the issue completely different. You mentioned chocolate covered poison pills. Another person I knew during college mentioned the idea of ‘eat the meat, spit out the bones’ when it came to engaging with culture. I think both things are important to keep in mind when deciding how to handle stuff.

    Growing up, I would see a lot of strictness when it came to certain things. Some people would be like ‘oh, that song has a cuss word or drug reference, so don’t listen to it.’ Part of that might have been that I was young and so were my peers. People are stricter with children. But, I dunno, over time I’ve had a more nuanced look at what I listen to and I know some people in my life are less strict than they used to be. Thing is, though, someone might reject a song just because it has a drug reference, but the song could actually be interpreted as being against drugs. I wasn’t avoidant of this song at first, but initially I didn’t listen closely to the lyrics and interpreted it as being more supportive of drugs than it actually was:


    Now I see it more as something that can show people why drugs are undesirable. Maybe drugs will be enjoyable at first, but then they’ll wreck the person’s life, and trying to get off the drugs will be miserable. In the meantime, the whole issue can destroy one’s relationships and leave someone in pain and alone.

    And this next song is basically talking about how drinking too much is like ‘flying too close to the sun’ and will destroy someone eventually(or at least that’s the main thing I get out of it):


    A lot of times, if I listen to or watch something, I interpret it as narrating the life and beliefs of another person. So, basically as a tool for understanding them so I can figure out how to make things better. It’s also a lot of good story fuel for me. Like, this song has some cussing in it, and there’s no way I’d act anything like the person in the song except under the most absolutely extreme circumstances. But, it’s one of the many songs I use to gain inspiration for the main girl char in my Faust themed story (especially since there’s a couple arcs where she’s kind of evil):

    • Travis Perry says:

      Yeah “eat the meat spit out the bones” might sorta work if the analogy was fish bones. Because you might be able to accidentally eat a fish bone–though you will immediately know you did. Eating a bone is thus a self-correcting problem. But ingesting cultural “poison” is not as obvious.

      So the meat/bone analogy seems pretty worthless to me. (Sorry–but who actually eats bones? Nobody. Who consumes cultural attitudes without realizing it? Lots of people.)

      As far as songs are concerned don’t get too caught up in that. I only used a song as an example to illustrate a point that exists independently of that particular song or even songs in general.

      • Hm…well, you’re probably taking that saying too literally. ‘Spit out the bones’ is probably being used as a rhetorical device to emphasize the idea of rejecting something. I always took the saying to mean that when engaging with culture, watching a show, etc, we should take in the good parts and reject the bad parts.

        I think it’s good for illustrating the fact that we often have to engage in(or at least witness) culture to some degree, just like we often have to eat meat in order to be healthy. But we can’t willy nilly eat whatever. We have to use discretion and discard things we can’t digest. In this case, bones/bad cultural trends.

        • Travis Perry says:

          What I’m saying is that “spit out the bones” doesn’t help explain the situation very much. Everyone spits out bones automatically. You don’t have to try too hard because other than fish bones, an ordinary human can’t actually eat bones. (Though eating fish bones is pretty unpleasant, so nobody does that very often, either).

          Telling someone to spit out the bones makes it sound easy, automatic. But it isn’t. Which is why I used a different analogy. And is why I found the bones analogy to be rather unhelpful to get across what is the actual situation.

          Though it does, I grant you, contain the idea that not all is something you want to consume. Yes, it does have that key idea that I agree with.

          But it implies that the hardest thing to consume is the most problematic–which is the part where I object.

          The situation isn’t like that at all. Hope that makes sense.

          • Sometimes I’ve felt an itty bitty shred of bone in a bite I ate, but since I was mid chew I kind of lost track of it before I registered that the bone was there. Then I couldn’t find it again and just had to be content with the fact that I was basically eating a microbit of bone. So there’s that. Also, people boil bones for broth, so in that manner we do eat PART of the bones. Also, eating around a bone or taking all the meat off of it is annoying, so from that standpoint not easy. Even if wanting to reject the bones is easy, separating it from the desirable parts is inconvenient at best.

            I dunno. Technicalities aside, I still think you’re being a little too literal, but oh well, it happens 😛 To be fair, we both heard this saying under different circumstances. It could be a difference in our personalities as well. I think you filter things through logic before rationality. (Logic in this case being linked to Ti, which deals more in boolean true/false statements, what the individual thinks and perceives as true and false, etc) So if something doesn’t add up for you immediately you’re probably more likely to throw it out. If that’s the case, that’s not necessarily a bad thing, it’s just that you’re probably just going to have different interpretations than someone that filters things through rationality first. Again, not really a bad thing, just interesting.

            • Travis Perry says:

              I think you are taking my objection too literally. I’m trying to explain useful and non-useful analogies, while you seem a bit fixated on bones from my point of view… but OK, let’s drop this.

  4. Jill says:

    There are times and places where the entire culture is so corrupt even the food culture must be avoided, as in the story of Daniel. But aside from that extreme scenario, people have different sin proclivities. It never occurred to me that Jesse’s Girl could cause somebody to stumble because it’s not something I struggle with, plus strikes me with its irony: he might have somebody like Jesse’s girl if he weren’t the type to pine after another man’s girlfriend. Sort of a self-fulfilling prophecy. It reminds me of the “do you like pina coladas” song. It’s about adultery, but it’s funny because it has an O’Henry twist and reminds us that people don’t change all that much. Does it make light of adultery? Absolutely, and it could be bad for somebody who just needs a nudge that direction, somebody who misses the point of the song. We tend to miss the point when we’re looking for self-justification.

    The culture of the arts is such a mixed bag of benign for some people and not for others — as well as outright sin that all professing Christians should avoid. Oddly, we even argue about those things. I shouldn’t be surprised by now, but am when other Christians think it’s okay to watch movies where the actors strip naked and do everything but have sex with other actors they aren’t married to. It might not cause those Christians to lust, which seems really abnormal to me, but they are paying to watch real human beings sin (actors are, after all, humans).

    I don’t know where I’m going with this. I only know art culture is both marvelous and difficult. There are stories and songs I avoid because they breed nihilism and misanthropy in my soul. That’s my proclivity, and it’s not cute like those old Grumpy Cat memes. God does not want me to be in that place. Also, have fun at the conference.

    • Travis Perry says:

      I did have fun, Jill, thank you.

      And yes, having people strip down and pretend to have sex for the camera for the enjoyment of others seems as essentially awful to me as people actually having sex in front of a camera for the enjoyment of others.

      But yeah, we all need to apply discernment, so even though we engage, we draw lines…

  5. Kevin Robinson says:

    Very good article. Carefully non-judgmental and yet thoughtfully warning. The fact that so many Christians get so defensive on this subject is because we’ve already developed such a taste for the poison that we no longer want to hear about the poison. The fact that we are not repulsed by so much of what we take in is a testament against us. I thought your smoking analogy at the end was the better analogy. Smokers KNOW how deadly smoking is, but because it doesn’t kill them immediately, they keep making excuses and partaking in it becoming less and less healthy. So many of us are so caught up in culture, we’ve lost something that too few even acknowledge, let alone appreciate: anointing. God intends us to walk in Holy Spirit anointing for the work of his kingdom and the healing and deliverance of others. But we are too sick ourselves to minister to others with power. We are too drunk on culture, often, to be filled with the Spirit. We’ve long departed from Phil. 4:8 and only focus on what’s permissible, not on what’s beneficial. We need revival and deliverance.

    • Travis Perry says:

      Though some people have denied smoking is all that bad for them, Surgeon General Warnings nothwithstanding!

      People are willing to go a LONG way to defend what gives them pleasure.

      Thank you for your comment!

  6. notleia says:

    In random, off-topic news, seems like Josh Harris of “I Kissed Dating Goodbye” fame is getting a divorce.

    PS: Up yours, purity culture

    • I Kissed Dating Goodbye was a blight on the universe.

      • Was that the one that tried to replace dating with courting?

        • Lauren Beauchamp says:

          Yes, he was all about “courting” instead of dating and saving your first kiss for the altar. In his defense, he was an 18 year old kid when he wrote that book, I don’t why so many (my mom included) took his word as almost another gospel.

          That was one of the better purity culture books my mom gave me though. Sarah Mally didn’t even think you should be friends with a guy (or barely speak to) unless he had expression permission from your father to court you.

          Hence, why mother was so devasted when I moved in with my now fiance.

          • Hm, yeah, some aspects of courting concern me. Mainly…how can two people truly get to know each other if they’re under direct supervision of a guardian all the time?(If I recall correctly, that’s one of the main aspects of courting?) People are more likely to be on their best behavior when around their significant other’s parents and whatnot. It probably isn’t necessary for the two people to live together before marriage, but they should be able to have dates by themselves often enough that they can get a better idea of each other’s character.

            Courting could probably be ok for some people. And personally I do think it’s better to avoid sex outside marriage. But people discuss the topic/go about it all wrong. At the very least, people shouldn’t act like courting is the only way to go.

            • Lauren Beauchamp says:

              Oh I agree in principal! Living together first was the right choice for us (so many of the first marriages in my family have ended in divorce, including my mom’s, I really wanted a trial run so to speak) but that doesn’t make it the right choice for everyone.

              What really bothers me about courting is the idea that the couple can’t be trusted to be alone together.

              • What bothers me about the courting idea is the romanticization (it’s a word, I promise–just don’t look at a dictionary) of relationships. It can set up a Disney-land idea of what marriage is. Marriage isn’t about test-driving each other, or being “custom fit to each other.” It’s about growing into each other, compromising your lives to suit each other, honoring and serving each other, and loving each other faithfully despite difficulties (which are bound to be massive). So many guys have this selfish set of ideals because of the culture. Christian guys many times think the woman needs to submit to their wishes no matter what (“I don’t need to change, obviously they’re just not the One for me”), and non-Christian guys tend to think they can still live how they want no matter what (“I don’t need to change, I’m living my Truth and they can get over it”). It’s the same prideful attitude, and both end in divorce because from the outset there’s a sort of poisonous attitude where the person’s consistently dishonoring their partner. Disdain is one of the most destructive expressions in a marriage. I read about a study once that linked it more to divorce than anything else. I should find that to confirm… but it kindof intuitively makes sense to me. Hookup culture and purity culture both look at relationships in a very similar way, with this bizarre, romanticized view of what it’s supposed to be (same dish, only their worldview changes the flavor). When it turns out to be very real and very normal and not-so-rosy-colored all the time, they pull out. OR they use their ideals to justify abuse, which is much worse.

              • Lauren Beauchamp says:

                This is so true and I never thought of it that way before! Thank you!

              • Dating can lead to a lot of romanticization too, though. So I wouldn’t say it’s ‘safe’ in that regard, just a better tool as far as getting to know a potential spouse. Assuming it’s used correctly.

    • Travis Perry says:

      So one guy’s divorce equals = everything about purity culture was a sham? That’s not logical, but ok…

      • notleia says:

        His book lead to misery and divorce for a lot of people, and I’m enjoying a bit of schadenfreude that the pigeons came home to roost for him, too. I shouldn’t, ’cause his wife has probably gone thru a lot of pressure and misery, ’cause word is she’s deconverted (dunno if that just means from evangelicalism, but usually they’re quick to point out another denomination, so I suspect full agnostic/atheist until I hear otherwise).

        Also, everything about purity culture is pretty much trash. Notleia’s Radical Statement of the Day: Virginity is Unimportant. Fidelity is important, but virginity is not.

        Seriously, girls, do not date a dude whose top dealbreaker is a non-virgin. Let that deal break. He believes a lot of stupid, dumb crap about sex, is BAD at sex, and more tellingly, is not interested in getting better at sex.

        • notleia says:

          Additional unsolicited dating pro-tip from notleia: y’know what, just don’t date men who pride themselves on their manliness. Chances are that just means he’s barely housebroken and has the emotional intelligence of a bag of potatoes.

          Sweet nerd boys FTW

          • Travis Perry says:

            I dunno…seems a false dichotomy to me. A man can be manly and also nerdly and sweet.

            • notleia says:

              True, there are also nerd boys who also have absurd, sexist notions.

              But I’m talking about the sort of dude who bases a lot of his identity and sense of self worth on stupid tropes like violence, domination, competition, and being able to lift heavy things. Like the dude i once dated, who while generally okay on feminist topics still had possibly subconscious assumptions about dominance and competition (and emotional labor) which ultimately poisoned our relationship.

        • So if you ever get a divorce, everyone that ever disagreed with you should feel vindicated and spiteful, and take it as proof that you’re a hypocrite and all your advice was bad and useless… Even though you didn’t mean to harm anyone with your advice and your beliefs may not have been directly responsible for your hypothetical divorce? :p

          I agree that people shouldn’t reject each other solely because of virginity or a lack of it (though there is a such thing as virgin shaming, too) But someone’s reaction to losing their virginity can be an indicator of future behavior. Exactly what it indicates depends on the person and why they feel that way, though.

          • notleia says:

            Except I didn’t make piles of money from and launch my career off crappy relationship advice. He’s a public figure.

            At one point i might have been willing to cut him some slack — he was/is backpedaling off his crap, but the way he handled it was still awful. He solicited stories of how his book worsened people’s lives, but he wanted editorial control over how they were presented to the public. Also apparently engaged in some gaslighting and general lack of self-awareness.

            Tho its a good question whether he would have become poster boy of the movement if his dad wasnt already a preacher with clout.

            • A lot of people probably wouldn’t care, honestly. Like, if they took your advice and read enough of your comments to get a sense of who they thought you were as a person and then ended up making bad decisions based on your advice…they could definitely resent you. A lot.

              Now days, it doesn’t even take much to be considered a public figure. A person could have only fifty to a hundred fans, and those fans will treat that person like they would a public figure because to those hundred fans, that person IS a public figure. But, if someone doesn’t even have any fans at all, that doesn’t mean they won’t give advice that has bad results. Especially when even random internet comments can be read by hundreds of people.

              I haven’t followed this guy’s story, (quite frankly, it doesn’t matter to me). During college, I heard enough about his philosophy that I was able to consider it and form a few opinions about it, which made my own personal philosophy stronger, so that’s nice(even if I disagreed with him). But, I dunno. Considering how much backlash he probably gets, being defensive instead of apologetic, along with maybe trying to control how people present the issues, isn’t really a surprising reaction at all(whether or not it’s a good one).

              I agreed with a decent amount of what you said, btw, so this isn’t to discourage you from sharing your opinion or anything. I just see a lot of problems that come from people’s ‘this person is bad/upsetting so I’m going to be happy when their life goes to hell’ attitudes, so when I see that I tend to try and put other perspectives out there.

        • Travis Perry says:

          I was a virgin when I first got married, though exposed to sex in various ways. I wasn’t part of purity culture, because that’s actually after my time (it was a 90s thing and I first got married in 88). But I felt some purity culture ideas matched things I believed.

          Note I was keenly interested in doing what was necessary to please my wife.

          I also believed I never would get divorced but did, but not because I was no good in bed as far as I now. I’m remarried and I think the current “de Perry” is really happy physically, though you’d have to ask her about that if you don’t believe me.

          Yet, I think getting married as a virgin is a good idea–one I practiced myself. Not that I can’t or would not marry someone that isn’t a virgin–but your premise is definitely false in my case. Which implies it could be false in other cases.

          • notleia says:

            Virgin-fetishizing isnt confined to purity culture, unfortunately. A supposed perk of snagging a virgin is that she cant compare you to another lover, but that is an immature and insecure reaction and you (generic you) should work that out with a therapist rather than inflict it on a girlfriend.

            Ive also heard plenty of Twitter jokes about men believing porn to be real and that lady parts should be rubbed like they need sandpapering. Or that his idea of rocking your world is “jackrabbiting for two minutes and then laying on you like a dead fish.”

            The common theme between these is that these clueless effing dudes arent willing to learn anything. You, specifically, are different because you are willing to learn and dont assume that, for example, dominance means everything (lolnope).

            I think theres merit in the idea of having the opportunity to explore sex safely, but I don’t think marriage gets that done, not with the very young ages that people get married in evangelical culture. The second most common stat for divorce behind money issues is getting married at a young age. (Heck, for all I know you’re one of those stats.) And early marriage can impact further education and career development even before kids come around to torch your chances. I would have to look for them, but i think there are stats that a pregnant teenage girl ends up in a worse situation from early marriage than just from keeping the baby.

            I found out on Fbook my mom’s cousin’s kid got married a few weeks ago, and I had to text my sister to ask if he was even 20 yet. I feel like this kid is being set up to fail. I also feel like friending him on Fbook so I can deathwatch his marriage in real time, but I’m suppressing that one. That’s my issue with this whole purity culture thing in a nutshell, that they’re setting kids up to fail and also PROFITING off it.

            • I got married at 20. Been 8 years. We’re doing better every year. Everything gets better with time (and I mean everything) when you actually love each other (behaviorally–not talking about fuzzy feelings, here). My parents got married at 19. Been together forty years. Doing better than ever. Overall, though, I pretty much agree with what you’ve said in your other comments on this blog post. Minus a bit of the bitterness and snark. And I have to admit, I feel similarly to you when I see a lot of people getting married young, but that’s mostly when there’s obvious, visible dysfunction and massive immaturity in their lives.

              • notleia says:

                Congratulations, you are in the statistical minority. So is my mom (Dad’s significantly older than she is). I know very well that it’s not impossible, but before anecdotes can become decent data, you need to do science with them, like gathering a decent sample size. IIRC, the number for young-married divorces is something like 60%. And the rate within a population may be worse depending on economics and culture and junk.

                Not a metaphorical death sentence, but not something you should really advise people to do. Did I even hear of this stat within church culture? Nope. You’d think that’d be something worth mentioning to the youth group, because forewarned is forearmed. Insert tangentially related abstinence-only sex ed joke here.

                So I’m not really disagreeing with you, either, but more ranting about the problems of church culture that we should fix/set on fire.

                What is the effing rush to get married, anyway? Except I know very well what the rush is, because you’re not treated as an adult in Christian subculture until marriage/kids happen. Not to mention if your church teaches dumb things about masturbation and that it’s better to marry than burn.

                And we could have a whole nother tangent about the biblical-ness of onanism (I subscribe to the Slacktivist’s theory that the story of Onan isn’t about sex so much as it is about exploitation). Also I suspect it would be less of a discussion and more just all of us listing our opinions and then not-so-silently judging each other about them, which is less than useful.

              • No idea what onanism is, so I have no opinions. If you want to talk percentages, 60% of second marriages end in divorce, and 73% of third marriages. And that statistic you used is that 60% of divorces happen between the age of 25 and 39 (and 60% of those married before the age of 25 end in divorce, while waiting till after 25 puts it down to 36%). 25-39 is basically the entire swath of years that childbearing can safely happen. So, your only option to avoid the Almighty Statistic would be to get married after 40. As you can see from the above, remarrying is a worse indicator of failure than marrying young. But the divorce rate for farmers is only around 7%, while dancers are up at nearly 50%. So, be a farmer, not a dancer, and all will be good, right? Yeah, I think not. Statistics break down in real lives. Anyways, I agree the church sometimes is not very helpful in giving relationship advice that’s real and actionable. However, the church I went to tried to do pre-marriage counseling with every newly engaged couple. And it was actually very helpful and practical for us and other couples married around the same time (who are still married, and who all married young). But that pastor was really a wonderful person, and was my wife’s pastor all her growing up years. We both still really love and respect him. Not every church or pastor is like that. Still, I wish more people had access to good advice like we had, and to supportive parents like we’ve had. Instability begets instability. I’ve no shame admitting that our stability has been directly attributed in large part to our parents’ faithfulness and support.

              • notleia says:

                So you can google statistics, but you can’t google what onanism is? 😛

                So let’s do some theoretical numbers about my kid cousin-once-removed. He’s already at 60%, and while he has a job, he lives in a poor rural area where there ain’t no jobs. His job at the hospital is probably gonna be the best that he can get in the region, and with no chances of advancement unless someone dies or retires. Money stats kicks his percentage up, let’s guesstimate to 65%. I dunno what kind of job his wife has.

                He’s also in a heavily religious area, so that actually worsens his chances even more, let’s guesstimate to 70%. He’s actually the product of a second marriage after his mom’s divorce, so that bumps us up to around 75%. So that puts him on the level of a second marriage even for his first (starter?) marriage. So if this one crashes and burns, does that up his chances on a second one?

              • I wouldn’t sit there and advocate that people get married young, and I’m not saying it’s going to work out for your cousin. But looking at statistics like that, the solution is probably less about ‘never ever get married at that age’ and more about realizing there is a risk and doing what it takes to prepare for it. Even if the stats are bad (60% divorce rate) that means 40% of those marriages do make it. What are they doing to make it work? What do these stats mean for me as an individual? What kind of life do I want and how do I get it without causing problems? Those are the kinds of questions people should ask themselves.

                Your hometown and church sounds a million times more annoying about relationship stuff than mine was. Like, there were some problematic things, but there was a lot of good as well. Half the issue with stuff like this, though, is that people tend not to do enough of their own research and analyzation about how people around them actually behave. They don’t do enough of discussing potential issues with their fiance or significant other, either.

            • Travis Perry says:

              The actual reason to marry as a virgin is the notion that God made sex to be pleasurable but also made it to be part of a strong emotional connection (not to mention a legal obligation to be responsible for offspring)–which is what marriage is supposed to be (even though it definitely hasn’t always been).

              So you are supposed to wait until marriage to have sex out of sense of commitment to God. Not really because a virgin bride or groom will guarantee happiness.

              Note though that the reason youthful marriages of virgins have problems in the USA during our own lifetime does not relate to universal human issues that are common to all societies. Young, sexually inexperienced people get married in the Third World all the time and generally stay married for life. Generally.

              There are many of what I could call “cultural toxins” in our society that work to make divorce rather too easy…and financial instability is one of the causes of divorce for many Americans…and in our society, young people have a harder time making good wages…hence higher divorce among young people.

              Not a universal human thing. Just a “here-and-now” thing.

              • notleia says:

                Dude, I wouldn’t use the emotional connection argument if I were you. That implies that your second marriage is emotionally tainted and inferior. (Also it’s generally not true.)

                And Third World marriages kinda don’t count for much if they have no opportunity to divorce. Are they staying because they want to, or because they have no way of getting free? There was a spike in the American divorce rate when no-fault was legalized because women could finally leave their crap husbands. They already wanted to leave, but it was only then that they had access to the ability. Otherwise the numbers would have been spread out more evenly over the years.

              • Travis Perry says:

                Fortunately you are not me–and in fact I didn’t say virginity was required for an emotional connection. What I was driving at was that far too often modern people engage in sex without an emotional connection or without much of one. It blows my mind that it is generally considered more serious in a modern relationship to say, “I love you” than to jump into a sexual relationship with someone.

                That our culture could think that I see as a sign of how seriously messed up it is. Purity culture, in spite of flaws I agree are really there, is better than hookup culture. By a long shot.

                And people in the Third World are also generally emotionally healthier than the modern United States and other parts of the First World, judging by the enormous quantities of drugs, both legal and illegal, we wealthy nations consume in order even manage to face any given day… (and in that regard I am speaking of a culture I live in, but not of things I do personally).

              • notleia says:

                So you agree that virginity is unimportant to emotional connection. That doesnt oppose my position that virginity is unimportant in general.

                But theres a lot of space between purity culture and hookup culture. And theres barely anything resembling a slippery slope. Most people sex people they like and trust. I’m willing to bet that most people are not really up for one-night stands with near-strangers.

              • notleia says:

                Also I’d like to quibble about your next Third World claims. Are they mentally healthier because they’re conservatives who push for early marriage, or is it because they’re more connected to their communities?

          • notleia says:

            Also — I don’t know you that well, but I fancy that a virgin wasn’t actually a top priority. You probably rated things like common interests and personality as being more important.

            • Yeah, you’re right. Virginity was out of my mind, as it should be out of everyone’s mind unless there’s some serious baggage in someone’s life that they haven’t dealt with and that you’ll inherit by marrying them (at times that’s legit thing to think through, and a necessary thing to work through). My wife’s my best friend. And vice-a-versa. That’s WAY more important than so much else.

  7. Guys, look:



    Haven’t tried the program, but it looks pretty cool and useful for worldbuilding.

What do you think?