15 Comments

Mormon Misconceptions about Sex

After highlighting a Muslim couple dealing with sexual problems, the TLC channel showed a Mormon couple with their own sexual problems.  I was frankly astonished at how the couple portrayed Mormon beliefs, because it seems quite outdated.  In the show (available on Netflix), Nate and Monique state that are members of the LDS Church, and that premarital sex is wrong.  I can’t disagree with that, but what Nate said at the beginning of the show, I do not agree with.  Nate said (talking over a shot of the Salt Lake Temple),

In the Mormon Church, sex is for the purpose of procreation.  I’ve been taught all along that sexual pleasure is of the devil.” Later on in the show, he stated, “After 15 years of marriage, I seldom gave myself to even think about what my ideal sex life would be like, because that would be wrong.  In the Mormon Church that’s not something that should be done for any reason other than procreation.

Excuse me???  Let’s see what the LDS Handbook states:

Married couples should also understand that sexual relations within marriage are divinely approved not only for the purpose of procreation, but also as a way of expressing love and strengthening emotional and spiritual bonds between husband and wife.

I’ve never heard that sexual pleasure is of the devil, and I have no idea why this man (who appears to be about 40) felt that way.  (Perhaps Nate is conflating premarital sex with married sex being of the devil?)  Having been married for about 15 years with 3 children, the couple turned to a sex surrogate for help. It was at this point I learned that the wife had been sexually abused as a child, so it makes a bit of sense why she had issues, but it appears that her husband’s issues were much stronger.

They turned to Mare Simone, a sex surrogate to help their sex life.  Unlike the Muslim couple in my previous post, Mare visited their home instead of having them come into a clinic.  Mare said, “I am a certified sex surrogate  and personal love coach.”   TLC defined a sex surrogate as “a member of a sex therapy team who engages in intimate physical relations or sex with a patient.

Monique and Nate meet with Mare in their home.

Nate stated what he first thought when Monique brought up the idea of using a sex surrogate.  “When Monique first told me about wanting to meet with Mare, I was confused.  Honestly my opinion would have been not that much different than a hooker.

Mare indicated that was a common perception.  “I know a lot of people feel that a sex surrogate is a prostitute, but really nothing could be further from the truth.”  They worked first on Monique’s previous sexual trauma, helping her to feel that pleasure was safe.  But Nate seemed to have even more difficulty. He indicated that “Sex for me is scary.”  At one point in the show (there was no nudity), Monique, Mare, and Nate participated in a touching session on their bed.  Nate exclaimed “I feel shame.”   Mare indicated, “I thought Nate was gonna run away.

Mare indicated that “I prepared to help them recognize the spiritual quality of sexuality.  It’s not an easy process.  It’s a matter of overlaying a positive thought with a negative thought.”   I guess it is just surprising to me that they could have 3 children and yet have so many sexual problems after 15 years of marriage, though I am sure that every couple experiences problems at some point.

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15 comments on “Mormon Misconceptions about Sex

  1. [...] interesting to see if such a person ever gets a hold of the microphone. (For example, it looks like this correction is right, whereas I think this complaint is another example of missing the forest for the trees [...]

  2. Shouldn’t there be a <25% option?

  3. Sorry about that. I fixed it, and I hope that is what most people meant when they selected that option.

  4. How in blazes would I know what Mormons think?

  5. I am about that couple’s age, and I distinctly remember several youth lessons where excerpts from President Kimball’s talk were read and discussed at length, giving the distinct impression that it was not righteous to desire sex for pleasure.

    An excerpt from Preisent Kimball’s talk–where he quotes other leaders–is below. This talk can still be found on lds.org.

    “After marriage young wives should be occupied in bearing and rearing children. I know of no scriptures or authorities which authorize young wives to delay their families or to go to work to put their husbands through college. Young married couples can make their way and reach their educational heights, if they are determined.

    Our young people should realize, as quoted from President J. Reuben Clark, Jr.:

    “There is some belief, too much I fear, that sex desire is planted in us solely for the pleasures of full gratification; that the begetting of children is only an unfortunate incident. The direct opposite is the fact. Sex desire was planted in us in order to be sure that bodies would be begotten to house the spirits; the pleasures of gratification of the desire is an incident, not the primary purpose of the desire.” And then he says further:

    “As to sex in marriage, the necessary treatise on that for Latter-day Saints can be written in two sentences: Remember the prime purpose of sex desire is to beget children. Sex gratification must be had at that hazard. You husbands: be kind and considerate of your wives. They are not your property; they are not mere conveniences; they are your partners for time and eternity.” (Conference Report, General Priesthood Conference, Oct. 1949, pp. 194–95.)”

  6. JordanaPR, I appreciate the quote, and it does bring something to the conversation. I’m around the same age as Nate, and I do remember President Kimball. Do you know what year this talk was? Because 1949 is pretty dated by now (which is my point of the post.)

    I just think that Kimball’s ideas of sex (or J Reuben Clark) are pretty far out from current, 2012 ideas about sexual relations for married couples.

  7. The talk was given in the mid-to late 1970s. The 1949 quote was used in this talk, just as early quotes and wven acripture are used in GA talks today. norhing weird about that.

    I remember hearing these quotes over and over in the 1980s.

    There weren’t as many talks and books about sex from an LDS perspective in the 1980s and earlier, so we all trusted what the current prophets said and who they quoted.

  8. I got married over a decade ago, and we received a book “Between Husband & Wife: Gospel Perspectives on Marital Intimacy”. Such quotes were not in that book, and I think it would have been available about the same time as Nate got married.

    I consider myself as pretty up to date on Mormon beliefs, though in the 1980s I wasn’t an adult. I recall being preached to over and over about the evils of premarital sex, and my parents did tell me that we shouldn’t delay children, but many other Mormons told me that they recommended to delay children at least a year. Maybe I’m just more progressive than most (but I don’t really think so) in regards to sex, but I have always been of the opinion that sex was more than just procreation.

  9. I find it somewhat unbelievable that there would still be some in our generation (late 30′s)who are Mormon who honestly believe in the old school train of thought that sex was just for procreation. Pretty much everyone I know in our religion who is of my generation view sex as a twofold blessing. First and foremost it is the means of expression of love between “two” members of the opposite sex. Second, it is also the process by which we bring children into the earth. What could be any more beautiful than to bring children into the world through the most intimate expression of joy and love between two people!

    It bothers me tremendously to think it is somehow justifiable for anyone, let alone LDS, to believe it is acceptable to allow a sex surrogate in such situations!Its a direct violation of the covenants we make in the temple not to mention it is also breaking some of the most basic of the holy commandments

    Are Mormons in general a little behind in the level and amount of intimacy compared with the rest of the world? That depends on how one defines it. yes, I do honestlybelieve that we still place procreation above sex and the feelings that should be expressed properly. I also think that parents use “procreation” as a basic excuse for satisfying their own sexual desires which can lead to problems later on in their relationships.

    It all comes down to looking at it all backwards. The first aknowledgmentthat must be made is that sexual desires and feelings between two healthypeople in a relationship is the most climatic and pleasing process that happens chemically in our bodies. Upon that foundation alone we build a healthy relationship with our spouse. It is that power that we learn to bridle that truly bonds a couple chemically together.It is no wonder then that the covenants we make in the temple for time and eternitycenter around the relationship we have with our spouse and the strict command that sexual relations for time and eternityare to be had “ONLY” betweenthe legally married couple. Too often in our culture sex takes a back seat to childbearing. Not saying that childbearing is bad- of course not in a million years! I am just saying that sexual feelings between two legally married people of the opposite sexis completely and wholly sanctioned by God- it is a gift to us. As we look at it in this manner it thus makes it easier to then realize that I exist because two people shared their most inner intimate feelings with each other- I am the product of the greatest and most wonderful feelings our senses could possibly enjoy! What could be more beautiful than that?

  10. wow. It certainly seems that ol’ Nate is not a representative sample.

    I was married in 1980. Before we married, my wife and I attended a seminary put on by my BYU stake presidency in which we were clearly taught that sex had the two-fold purpose that is now very clear in the handbook. Further were were counseled to make prayerful use of birth control (and not to feel obligated to avoid it).

    Use of a sex surrogate surprises me. Nate seems to swing from one extreme to the other which makes for great television, if not great truth.

  11. 1 Corinthians 7:2 Nevertheless, to avoid fornication, let every man have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband.

    3 Let the husband render unto the wife due benevolence: and likewise also the wife unto the husband.

    4 The wife hath not power of her own body, but the husband: and likewise also the husband hath not power of his own body, but the wife.

    5 Defraud ye not one the other, except it be with consent for a time, that ye may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again, that Satan tempt you not for your incontinency. Shounds clear to me that sex ok and not just to have children. It seems that President J. Reuben Clark, Jr is wrong on the subject.

  12. Back in the mid-1970s, while at BYU, the bishop of our student ward announced during a sacrament meeting sermon, that since his wife had undergone a hysterectomy and was therefore out of the procreation business, that they had now foresworn future activity. There were a lot of bewildered looks around the room, but his wife had an expression of contentment and relief.

  13. Roger, I’m shocked to hear that.

  14. MH–I’m telling you, it happened. The ward covered the old Reams apartments on 7th East and met in an elementary school east of the apartments. It was pretty bizarre as student wards went. You didn’t let your mind wander during talks, because you might miss some different kind of light and knowledge.

  15. Yes there is still problems of what sex is for in the church membership. My husband had some problems when we first married that I wish I had known about. And we still have problems that he won’t deal with. My husband’s Mormon cousin married a Mormon woman who was raised that sex is only for procreation. I thought I could change things with my husband. After 26 years of marriage I am contemplating a separation(yes we had a Temple marriage) I stayed for the children, which was stupid. I should have left after the first time I realized he was not going to deal with the problems. Then I could have found someone else while young. Sometimes I wish I was not LDS then I could have found out the problems before marriage – yes, premarital relations, then at least I would have found out about his issues. Plus there are other things that have added to the frustrations. How naive I was! This Nate and his wife are sooooo wrong for using a sex surrogate. I would hope there is some action by their Bishop. There are other ways of dealing with this issue.

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