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MBlume comments on Traditional Capitalist Values - Less Wrong

38 Post author: Eliezer_Yudkowsky 17 October 2008 01:07AM

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Comment author: MBlume 26 November 2010 04:45:31AM 4 points [-]

It worries me that I am not at all sure how to write the analogue of this list from the perspective of a devout mormon without something along the lines of "premarital sex is bad because I despise all that is good and joyful in life, bwahaha"

I mean, I think it might have something to do with the solidity of families, but there's still some steps I'm not seeing (ie fully sex-positive families in scandinavia seem to do just fine)

Comment author: Alicorn 26 November 2010 05:04:48AM 11 points [-]

I have had the privilege of seeing a healthy, functional, devout Mormon extended family in joyful motion. There is something thrillingly aesthetic about the pattern they all fit into together, and it's so pretty that I can see how someone would understand it to be a moral rather than an aesthetic pleasure to enact or observe the script. They match, they fit.

All the other Mormon families I know (including those related to this one by marriage) have flaws in their execution or are hampered from the get-go by intrusive circumstance, and the one I'm talking about might be imperfect too, beneath the surface - but insofar as they perform their dance happily and in sync, it has a loveliness to it.

Comment author: MBlume 26 November 2010 05:13:10AM 5 points [-]

I want to point back to the "it works fine if everyone's sex-positive" part, but I suppose that's like saying "gosh, that's a beautiful oil painting, but why didn't you do it in charcoal?" -- you may well get a thing of beauty, but it's a wholly different thing.

Which makes me wonder how much inter-cultural conflict can be reified in terms of individual cultures optimizing into local maxima and incremental movement in the direction of another culture looking like a destructive slide into a valley.

Comment author: Alicorn 26 November 2010 05:32:33AM 9 points [-]

I think at least a chunk of this can be explained away by different levels of focus on sex as a Major Life Thing, a sine qua non for excellent living. There are all kinds of folks, and some of them aren't going to share your opinion on the importance of sex positivity, just like some of them aren't going to share my opinion on the importance of eschewing cake mix.

Comment author: Kevin 26 November 2010 05:23:01AM *  0 points [-]

I knew a reasonably devout Mormon who had one of those "everything but" attitudes with regards to pre-marital sex.

Comment author: Desrtopa 26 November 2010 05:28:33AM *  2 points [-]

Remember that the values that sound like a standard to rally around to them are not necessarily ones that you would find compelling. I suspect that some tenets would rest on appeals to the value of purity.

Comment author: HonoreDB 26 November 2010 06:38:20AM *  10 points [-]

Orson Scott Card, from whose works my username sort of comes, is a devout Mormon who seems to work a non-religious explanation of why premarital sex is bad into a lot of his stories (often phrased as "like all intelligent people, XX and XY understood that..."). The explanation is completely different each time, and it's never where the conclusion really comes from, of course. Card can speculate as to why God commanded something, but he doesn't need the rationalization in order to believe in the commandment.

Orson Scott Card's arguments (the ones I remember) include:

  • Breaking taboos means you're either a "wolf," who disregards social conventions whenever it suits you, or a "sheep" who can't restrain your own impulses. Both of these are bad.

  • Your parents are probably lying to you about sex in some way, which means you might have some dangerous misconceptions. Don't do it until you can be sure of the consequences.

  • Unless you've had a long courtship and are now married, there's probably an undetected power imbalance in your relationship, which means any premarital sex is actually rape.

  • Unless you've had a long courtship and are now married, how do you know your significant other isn't violently insane?

  • Who'd buy the cow when you're giving away the milk for free?

I got into an argument recently with an evangelical Christian who was trying to do the same thing, but I don't think he came up with anything sophisticated enough to be worth repeating.

I recommend Amanda Marcotte for discussions of why these ideas are not only wrong, but actively harmful.

Comment author: Alicorn 26 November 2010 03:31:52PM *  7 points [-]

Oh, and don't forget:

  • If you don't have the social publicity of your relationship that extended courtship and marriage provides, how will anyone know to warn you that your childhood caretakers drugged you with substances that make orgasm torturous?

That one doubled as an "argument" against homosexuality.

Comment author: Nornagest 01 December 2010 06:23:22PM 3 points [-]

What story was that?

In any case, that's rather remarkably bizarre. I'm trying to think of a real-life condition for which it'd work as an allegory, and coming up with absolutely nothing -- at least without involving some of the more extreme forms of genital mutilation, and I doubt Card's trying to defend those.

Comment author: Alicorn 01 December 2010 06:29:16PM 3 points [-]

That was "Songmaster".

Comment author: TheOtherDave 01 December 2010 07:28:12PM 2 points [-]


The idea that part of a guardian's responsibility is to prepare their charge for the painfulness and unpleasantness of sex on their wedding night was relatively pervasive in the social media I grew up around, and I can imagine what Alicorn describes being an allegory for this (though I read "Songmaster" too many years and too many perspective-changes ago to remember it usefully, so I have no idea whether Card had anything like this in mind).

Comment author: Nornagest 02 December 2010 01:26:38AM *  0 points [-]

I suppose that makes a twisted kind of sense. I'd been exposed to the idea before (though I wouldn't have called it pervasive in the cultural milieu I grew up in), but didn't make the connection -- possibly because Card's setup doesn't seem to work if sex/loss of virginity is ordinarily painful or unpleasant.

It's odd to write an allegory which implicitly rejects the real-life idea it's supposed to point to (ETA: as opposed to tactfully ignoring it). I suppose Card might be trying to write for an audience that he assumes to have already rejected it, but now I feel like I'm making too many speculative leaps to be confident of my predictions.

Comment author: [deleted] 26 November 2010 02:33:38PM 4 points [-]

For several years my best friends were religious and socially conservative. In general I think that poses a challenge for relationships, but I did know one happy, successful couple.

I can understand the mindset a little bit; they tend to see premarital sex as random, chaotic, loveless, and brutal, which does sound bad. One way of thinking about it is that premarital sex is sex that's not in a family and therefore doesn't involve the same kind of security and loyalty. Sex with someone you don't trust to be your family is more uncertain, more guarded.