I'm curious as to what conservative atheists believe about sex. As a culturally liberal secular atheist, I believe sex should be reserved for marriage, not as the basis of a relationship but as a privilege of a marriage that should be used for its unitive and procreational purposes.

I can't put my finger on it, and this could be because I'm a heterosexual, but I do not think same-sex sex is appreciable. In fact, I find most forms of sex, both between members of the opposite sex and of the same sex to be quite disgusting. I do not much like oral or anal sex. Actually, I don't really know what I like. It's mostly fantasy to me because I'm a virgin.

Anyway, what do you guys think is the purpose of sex? Is it just an animal instinct that must be fulfilled or is there something meaningful to it?

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1. I believe that sex should be reserved for marriage.

  a. Albeit small, there is a risk of pregnancy even with the use of condoms (which are 100% effective).

  b. The pill has not been shown to work absolutely without destruction of zygotes.

  c. Even if there were 0% risk of pregnancy through intercourse, intercourse brings with it an incredibly intimate (it brings with it chemical and compulsory bonds) connection between partners.  If one is not reasonably confident that they would marry a person without having had sex yet, and the person decides to involve their self in premarital sex, he/she commits his/herself to an unnecessary risk of pain and anguish should the relationship not work out.  This pain and anguish incurred from a break-up of this type (with its extra dimension of sexual intimacy, more chemically-satiating/compulsory bonds) is much more undesirable than a breakup of a relationship which had forgone premarital-sex.

  d. The same rational as used in the previous point can be used against premarital masturbation performed by one partner on the other.  Note: I find no reasons against self-pleasure, including during a relationship so long as it's kept as separate from the relationship as possible (for reasons stated in the previous point).

  e.  A relationship with sexual intimacy, but not genuine marriage intended intimacy leads to relationships which are unsatisfactory in comparison to a wholesome intimacy gained from a life-long commitment, pledge, and bond (marriage) with someone you truly love.


2. The purpose of sex from a physicists perspective:

"Physics is like sex: sure, it may give some practical results, but that's not why we do it."
  --  Richard P. Feynman

These days, it's hard to say what is conservative and what is liberal.  My conservative friends and associates say I'm a flaming liberal; my liberal friends & associates maintain that I'm a staunch conservative.  Some of the views I hold are typically associated with one group, some with the other. Some are alien to both.  So I can't say whether I am a "conservative" these days or not, politically speaking.  What I can say is that, philosophically, I consistently follow a conservative bent.


Now; as to sex:


Sex is a natural desire and function which is universal to most humans. Attempts, both moral and legislative, to regulate sex, seem, based on history, to be both futile and counterproductive to our society.  Therefore I feel that we should cease and desist in any attempts to dictate sexual behavior.


That said, some sexual behaviors tend to be more beneficial than others, and I would tend to STRONGLY encourage young people (teens, young adults) to abstain from casual sex and sex at a young age.


On the basis of all the evidence that I have seen (which is a lot), I feel that essentially all sexual behaviors are based on choice and voluntary decision.   We are not "born" with any inborn behaviors; we learn or develop them. At a young age, but nonetheless post-birth. Thus arguments such as "I was born this way" are null and void. We all need to take responsibility for our behaviors.


Some behaviors, such a homosexuality, can definitely be considered to be "abnormal", in the sense of being outside the norm.  That said, like all other behaviors, I feel that they should also not be subject to legislation.  That said, the majority is conversely under no obligation to extend special privileges to people for the purpose of accommodating particular behaviors. This rules out so-called "gay marriage".


I likewise feel that other sexual behaviors which are not currently approved of in our society, such as incest, "statutory rape", and prostitution, should also not be subject to legislation.  Prosecuting people for personal behavior that harms no one is stupid and pointless.


So in general, I favor a mostly "hands-off" approach to the whole subject.  I feel that sex is nobody's business except for the people involved. It most especially is no business of the government, and they should stop trying to impose arbitrary moral codes on free people. But in a similar way, we as a society are also not obliged to specifically make efforts to accommodate any and all variations in sexual behavior. 

Re statutory rape.

Some years ago in California, an adult woman raped an underage boy (yes, it sometimes happens). The boy's parents wanted the woman charged with statutory rape. The case went to the state supreme court, which held that the statutory rape law did not apply because the boy could not get pregnant. The law, the Court held, was intended to minimize the number of children on welfare.

Oh dear, the "the law was intended to minimize the number of children on welfare", not protect a child from predatory adults! That needs to be clarified.  

The story said the boy's parents had insisted on a statutory rape charge.

Their motive? Before I venture a guess, I would want to know the penalties of the various applicable laws.

The story didn't say whether the DA had wanted to charge the woman with a different applicable law.

The Supreme Court did clarify the statutory rape law; they said it doesn't protect boys.

Thanks for the suggestion; I can search the California Penal(?)/Juvenile(?) Code and find what the law says.

Joan, I checked CA's Penal Code. Among provisions on a variety of things, such as consent, I saw provisions on age differences but nothing on whether pregnancy results.

With a bit more enthusiasm I would find the date of the SC case, the dates of changes in the laws, and the text of older laws.

In my next life I might study law. I will definitely use more care in my choice of parents.

I was once told "Its only a problem, if it causes problems." 

The purpose of sex is to create progeny so the species continues. 

It is also extremely pleasurable. I'm not sure what you find disturbing about your body or the processes that allow you live or procreate. Just remember that everyone else has the same processes, some to lesser or greater extents. 

I don't see why you would require that we pair off in order to have sex. If I can provided for multiple partners, and the subsequent possible offspring that should be my choice. You could say that I should not because eventually the environment will not be able to sustain the population. I would hold that we could not do that now without our technology. I see no moral or logical reason to restrict myself to one person. If I were to enter into a relationship where monogamy was required by the other party then yes I would abide. 


There isn't meaning in anything unless you attribute meaning to it. 


I would like sources for this assertion Michael. "We are not "born" with any inborn behaviors; we learn or develop them. At a young age, but nonetheless post-birth. Thus arguments such as "I was born this way" are null and void."

I believe that if two people of whatever sex wish to legally married that is there business. They can hardly do any worse than the heterosexual marriages. This in no way erodes the "sanctity" of marriage as there isn't any to begin with. 



"Homosexuality has existed in most societies for as long as recorded descriptions of sexual beliefs and practices have been available.4 Societal attitudes toward homosexuality have had a decisive effect on the extent to which individuals have hidden or made known their sexual orientation.

Human sexual orientation most likely exists as a continuum fromsolely heterosexual to solely homosexual. In 1973, the AmericanPsychiatric Association reclassified homosexuality as a sexualorientation or expression and not a mental disorder.12 The mechanisms for the development of a particular sexual orientation remain unclear, but the current literature and most scholars in the field state that one’s sexual orientation is not a choice; that is, individuals do not choose to be homosexual or heterosexual"



"There is no consensus among scientists about the exact reasons that an individual develops a heterosexual, bisexual, gay, or lesbian orientation. Although much research has examined the possible genetic, hormonal, developmental, social, and cultural influences on sexual orientation, no findings have emerged that permit scientists to conclude that sexual orientation is determined by any particular factor or factors. Many think that nature and nurture both play complex roles; most people experience little or no sense of choice about their sexual orientation."



So saying that we have a choice is not true either. We may not be "born" that way but it appears we have little "choice" in the matter.

"Is it just an animal instinct that must be fulfilled or is there something meaningful to it?"

What is more meaningful than an instinct?  I can't think of anything more meaningful than satisfying my instincts.  And that includes my moral instincts.

The purpose of sex is reproduction.  Evolution has made this our primary directive/instinct.  Monogamy equitably distributes women among men, so I strongly support monogamy.  Monogamy also prevents men from competing (too much) for women and so allows men to cooperate.  When a society becomes promiscuous, cooperation among men breaks down and society decays.  This has happened repeatedly throughout history.  It is standard that in rising cultures, female premarital sex is prohibited and adultery (sex with another man's wife) is harshly punished.  And it is equally standard that in decaying cultures, these rules are loosened on society becomes promiscuous until it collapses.

The purpose of sex is procreation.  Isn't it great that it doesn't have to be only for that?  It can be for pleasure or for profit, for bonding or for experimenting.  To each his or her own...as long as there is agreement. 

Good discussion - I'm enjoying reading the viewpoints here.

Heh, heh. The purpose of sex is to get what you want. Just kidding. Without reading the replies, I think it's animal instinct so we can reproduce. Now, it may be for bonding, and well, pleasure. 

Across the animal kingdom, the ultimate purpose of sex is procreation. But it evolved to be pleasurable (or a compulsion) at least for one party involved, in order to motivate the behavior. The pleasure aspect applies to established mating partners as well as outside that, the latter which I frown upon, as uncommitted sex tends to be socially and emotionally destructive. I have been reading a book that makes a case for casual or group sex helping social cohesion in some environments, but the modern world doesn't seem to be that environment. I don't know if I can call sex "meaningful" in and of itself, but it can help bolster emotional intimacy, which is meaningful. Some of that is via effects on hormones, I suppose. Sex can have health benefits, too, though the health risks seem much higher to me. Extended periods of celibacy probably are not healthy physiologically and psychologically. Maybe that falls under the category of religion-encouraged behaviors that in a way make (or made) sense on a social level, like by preoccupying genetically unfit people with extreme religious devotion instead of having them reproduce.



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