Monday, March 10, 2014

Thoughts on Religion, Weed, and Sex

by Brig Bagley

10 March 2014

This weekend, a friend of mine and I argued a few points concerning the legitimacy of certain religious beliefs, vs. what science has proven. Although I can understand the point of view of a religious person (having been a close-minded prudish Mormon myself), I can no longer tolerate certain aspects of religion that are still hugely believed today.

One topic was that of marijuana. Two states have already legalized pot for recreational use, although it is still federally considered an illegal drug. But besides that, science has explained that the effects THC has on the brain and the body can be of great benefit to people that experience depression, those who are suffering from high amounts of pain, and people diagnosed with cancer. Weed is known to be addictive because of its tendency to provide temporary elation, but its addictive nature isn't too far off from the happiness things like ice cream or roller coasters provide. The withdrawals from the addiction aren't anywhere near those of heroine or cocaine. Marijuana can't really be overdosed (you'll fall asleep before you get anywhere near toxic levels) and doesn't ever lead to violent behavior. I believe that it should be legal for recreational purposes. Alcohol is known to increase violence in many people, and it CAN kill someone with overuse in one sitting, yet it is legal. Long-term affects of weed haven't been thoroughly studied, but the known benefits and lack of danger in the short term make it a candidate for legalization. My friend argued that smoking (regardless of the drug) was a terrible, addictive habit. His father died of complications due to smoking, which fuels his fire against it. BUT, tobacco in cigarettes, and it's constant usage over the day, is much different than the occasional (or even nightly) joint of weed. It is also a huge topic of discussion in religion, where it is condemned as an evil substance, only associated with sin and other "evil" acts. 

Another topic that we discussed was that of virginity and sexual "purity". My friend said there was a religion that believed a woman could not be taken to wife if her hymen (or "cherry") was destroyed from a previous sexual encounter, rape or not. To overcome this technical problem in the belief, some women surgically have the tissue replaced/repaired so they may be able to marry. This is completely ridiculous to me. That kind of belief is absolutely ludicrous. Especially in the case of rape, it is utterly shallow and sexist to hold a woman to a piece of bodily tissue in order to consider her a candidate to marriage. My friend, although he doesn't believe this, thinks that it is totally legitimate for this group to believe and practice this suppression. Although it is true that someone can believe as they wish, I believe this practice is harmful, especially to women. 

To generalize this topic, sexual purity is a silly concept to me, especially the details that are proclaimed by the Mormon Religion. It is taught that sexual sin is the worst of sin, short of murder. It is disciplined without mercy, stripping privileges, rights, and opportunities from members until a leader arbitrarily proclaims full "repentance", and in many cases, enough time has passed to lift the discipline. This type of dis-fellowship does not help anyone. It pushes the member away, instills guilt and shame, and often causes depression, self doubt, and self loathing. Sex is a normal, natural, and healthy practice for all living things. Having the ability to abstain from it does not make someone a better person than another. 

It is also encouraged to avoid dating and marrying someone with a history of sexual sin. This keeps people single (the opposite of the goal of singles wards) and perpetuates the negativity I mentioned above. This ends up getting people hitched that have NO experience with sex. They have nothing to base it on, and if they end up having sexual difficulties and incompatibilities, there is nothing they can do. They are stuck together for "eternity", since divorce is hugely discouraged. It should be acceptable to "test-drive" people you date to really see if you are going to be happy with them in EVERY way. You never know until you try. I wouldn't be surprised if a huge number of Mormons that get divorced is because of sexual oppression and boredom with their one and only partner FOREVER. Just like you date someone to get to know how they are, their likes and dislikes, their personality and such, you need to be happy with their sexuality as well. Some people need more sex, some less. Some prefer to be more dominant, some more dominated. Some like to experiment with new sexual things, some like to keep it vanilla. Men tend to need sex more than women as well. If a highly sexual man ends up with a woman with little sex drive, it could drive him mad. The inverse situation is also possible. 

To wrap up, I believe these beliefs that stem from religion can often be more harmful than helpful. They may have good intentions, but sometimes the best intentions can lead to disaster. Just like telling a gay child that being gay is wrong and evil can lead to that child's suicide. People may believe as they wish. But ignoring and turning away facts that contradict those beliefs is close-minded, idiotic, and down-right dangerous. 

Please leave thoughts and comments. I am very opinionated, and I love to hear solid arguments, whatever side they may be on.

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