Saturday, September 12, 2009

The Liberty Way

Liberty University students are held to a moral code spelled out in "The Liberty Way", a booklet that explains the rules and expectations of the college, and punishments for breaking them. These include: reprimands, fines (some quite hefty - up to $500 for having sexual intercourse), and community service. Roose, in his effort to fit in, abstains from sex and alcohol while he is there. Giving up drinking allows him to join the choir at the Thomas Road Baptist Church. He finds it is quite a different feeling for him to wake up on Sunday and not have a hangover. He also loses weight. All in all he doesn't seem to mind giving up the bottle. In giving up sex, though, he finds an interesting challenge. He first manages his self-imposed celibacy the way most people would, with "sex for one". But Liberty frowns upon this type of self love and actually has a self help group for chronic masturbators called "Every Man's Battle". He attends one meeting out of curiosity, and finds the pastor leader very concerned about him, so he attempts to give up masturbation as well. (Roose doesn't mention if they have a comparable group for women on campus). Even as Roose attempts to give this up, and appreciates everyone's concern for him, he questions the motivation behind it. How does his giving up masturbation make world a better place? Will the hungry eat tonight if he denies himself this pleasure?

My question to those who, for religious reasons, want to give up masturbation is this: If your God didn't want us to masturbate, wouldn't He have made our arms shorter?

Like many things on campus, Roose is surprised to discover a range of attitudes about sex. The party line, of course, is no premarital sex. But even among those who have taken a "purity pledge" there is no telling who is having sex and who isn't. Roose cites the same figures I have heard about those who take the "True Love Waits" vow - that 85% of them don't keep it. This really doesn't surprise me. What I find offensive, though, about the way figures are thrown around by those who organize the purity pledges, is that I've often heard them give statistics that would have some believe that condoms are only 80% effective in preventing pregnancy and STDs. This number is misleading, in that the 20% failure rate includes those times when condoms are not used at all. If we are to apply the same logic to abstinence we have to say it fails 85% of the time.

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