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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I'm late to this party, but I think sex for humans is like food. There is a primary purpose to each, being procreation or sustenance, but having higher brain functions and creativity than other animals allows us to also derive pleasure from it as well.

Just as having gourmet restaurants that serve only enough food to feed a gnat but the food is supposedly devine, sex and sexual pleasure have purpose but can also be extremely entertaining.

I don't think sex should be reserved for marriage. I'm glad both myself and my wife had experience with others and each other before getting married. I can only imagine the frustration of building up sex to be this special thing between married partners and then one or both of them suck at it, parden the pun.

Sex is definitely meaningful as a physical bond between partners.  There is no other way to be as close to each other than when literally physically joined. It does mean alot more and feel different when you are married however.  I get greater satisfaction with sex during marriage than I did outside of marriage, but it was still good before. 

I have no problem with sex outside of marriage. Yes, it evolved for the purpose of procreation but that doesn't mean it can't be used for pleasure between consenting partners. Of course the partners have a responsibility to be, well, responsible and make sure they are free from disease and use whatever needed protection to prevent unplanned pregnancy.

In the real world, it often doesn't work like that, and it probably would be more effective to discourage casual sex than to encourage "responsible" forms thereof.

The problem is the leftists have made it our business.

We have to pay for the offspring of other people's sex because of the welfare/entitlement state.

We have to pay to take care of other people's Veneral diseases thanks to socialized medicine.

I can't stand the pro-life left that tells me hands off my body, but then I should pay for whatever happens because of what you do with your body.

Sam, if you are still checking responses to your seven-month-old post....

First, some context. I see many "leftist" policies as soft-headed and many "rightist" policies as hard-hearted.

Your analyses above are incomplete enough to qualify as hard-hearted.

For instance, with your We have to pay for the offspring of other people's sex because of the welfare/entitlement state, you are remarking on a soft-headed leftist policy.

What is your rightist remedy?

Many rightists insist that abstinence-only sex education works (It doesn't reduce teen pregnancy.) and oppose comprehensive sex education (It does reduce teen pregnancy.)

And so, without reducing teen pregnancy, you want to replace a soft-headed leftist policy with a hard-hearted rightist poliicy:

Your policy: don't pay for the offspring of other peoples sex. Do as the ancients did, put newborns out where they will die of exposure and be eaten by animals. Or do as less ancient people did: make unmarried mothers homeless.

Your second statement above. Will you ignore sexually transmitted diseases and let infections spread? Will you imprison infected folk until they die? Or, like my very angry kid brother, execute them?

Your third statement above. I've never heard anyone on the left tell people to keep their hands off their bodies.

Awesome topic James, I agree with much of what is already written here, but here's my perspective:

- Sex is the most important act we perform; creating and raising the next generation of those who are like us is the most important thing we can do in life; it is, obviously, the preservation of the species, but most important, it is the preservation of those who are most like us...and that matters.

- In my mind, performing sex with someone only for pleasure with no intention of a long-term relationship is like treating that person like trash; if you're willing to have sex with someone you should be willing to raise children with them, and that means you should be in it for the long haul and ready to start a family.

- I am neutral on homosexuality and agree with those who say it is a choice; however, I am strongly against same-sex marriage for two reasons:

  -- First, marriage is subsidised by taxpayers.  Marriage and the taxes that subsidize it are an investment in the next generation; understanding that not all investments actually pay off (some are unable or unwilling to procreate).  Love and sanctity are bonuses (for us sanctity means synergism; being greater than ourselves; being part of the long line of humanity), but we support traditional marriage not for love and sanctity, but as an investment in the next generation.  Marriage is the best environment in which to create and raise children, even if the marriage does not last.  Same-sex marriage is not an investment in the future.  When same-sex marriage is allowed, logically, all government and private subsidies toward marriage should end.

  -- Second, it is simple math.  Widespread same-sex marriage is a quick path to declining populations.  That may sound good to some, but the problem is it will decrease the wrong populations.  Those who are comfortable, and educated, and have the potential to bend space and time to save humanity will be the most likely to enter into same-sex marriages...and those are exactly the people who should be procreating.  Additionally, those of Northern European descent seem to be the most likely to enter into same-sex marriages.  So, just as the abortion atrocity has impacted primarily those of African descent and lower-income people, the same-sex marriage atrocity would impact primarily those of Northern European descent and higher-income people.  Ever notice that you don't see demographics for the same-sex marriages.  Who is trying to kindly wipe us out so they can keep all the wealth to themselves?  They've got theirs, why would they want competition?  But that is another topic for debate.

Thank you for following, and I am eager to study other perspectives.  :)

Sex has the potential to remedy the aloneness each of us knows.

Why do we have eyes? To see, of course. There is no value statement in this, it is just fact. 

Why do we have ears? To hear. 

Why do we have noses? To breathe and smell. 

Why do we have mouths? To eat, drink, and breathe. 

Why do we have sex organs? To procreate and for pleasure. 

What part of seeing, hearing, breathing, eating and sexuality is bad or evil, or dirty? The notion of such things is a construct, created in the minds of human beings and always implies power over or submission to. The fact of sexuality has no valance, no hierarchy, and no coercion involved, unless placed there by some notion learned. Rape is a violation of sexuality and represents power over, not power with. 

Each of us has these attributes for a reason or reasons. The purpose of pleasurable sex is that it enables procreation, whether that is the purpose of the act or not. It is up to the mentally healthy, mature adult to know the difference between power over and participation with another in mutually pleasing ways. 

Hetero- or homo-sexual activity exists as part of nature and has no valance assigned to it, except as the human mind creates notions of good or bad, right or wrong, decent or indecent. 

Human sexuality is a personal or shared experience intended to bring pleasure to both; if it does not, it is coercion and harmful.

Uh-oh, Joan, are you saying "our reason for having eyes is to see"? That eyes have a purpose?

I would have said, "I see because I have eyes", I hear because I have ears; I breathe and smell because I have a nose, etc.

I'll take the "see/eyes" item apart and check it more closely:

1) A random mutation produced a nerve cell that was sensitive to light,

2) This sensitivity conferred an evolutionary advantage, and

3) Very slowly, an ability to see evolved.

More later, I have to run. What say you?

Tom, in a very young Richard Dawkins video, "The Royal Institution Lectures for Children: Growing up in the Universe", he explained to children how the nerve cell evolved that was sensitive to light and how it changed over time within and between animal groups. This was an evolutionary advantage. I agree with what you say. I am not sure how "I see because I have eyes" is different than what I said, but I do understand what you say. My point is, each organ evolved over eons of time and produced natural effects that give an advantage to species. I meant to imply that seeing is not dirty, nor is sexuality. 

Thanks, Joan, I don't remember where I first heard of a one-cell mutation that evolved to eyes. It might have been in a comment about Dawkins' explanation.

I don't know who once said, evolution is wasteful. It is; for every mutation that benefited an organism, there had to have been maybe hundreds that fatally harmed organisms.

While I'm dealing with exacting uses of language, many academic folk refer to influential ideas as "seminal". That seems like a good place for a word developed from female processes, maybe "fallopian". Any thoughts?

More. Warning! Metaphors Ahead!

I'm not picking on you, Joan. During twelve years in Catholic schools, nuns and priests had poured so much "concrete" around what they'd planted that the first fractures required a traumatic event. The big pieces fell of their own weight; with broom and dustpan I'm still sweeping away sand-grain-size pieces.

I don't recall hearing anything opposed to evolution, but when I got to the University of Florida I visited the museum and for the first time saw the skeletal structure similarities. Forelimbs, even wings, having the same number of bones and similar connections to nearby bones, etc. "How can humans and animals not be related?" I asked myself.

Catholicism itself went next; agnosticism replaced it. Its bizarre teachings about sex took a marriage to a never-was-a-Catholic woman to sweep away the big pieces. I was still clearing away pebble-sized pieces when I joined the SF Sex Information community (www.sfsi.org). Many there had also quit Catholicism and I saw SFSI as a wonderful remedy for my twelve years in C. schools.

I don't have a particle of belief in a life after death but I joke about a next life in which I'm a part-time lawyer, part-time massage therapist.

I read every SCOTUS ruling about church and state and many are about attempts to put the genesis delusion into public schools. I'm wary of words that suggest design, and so I did as you do: I spoke my truth.

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