Episode 182: Sex 101 for Mormons

46 comments on “Episode 182: Sex 101 for Mormons”

  1. Nate Koch Reply

    Fascinating podcast.  You know you’ve done a great job if even a gay guy was fascinated by your description of the female anatomy.  This should be played in sex ed classes.  It also shows how much you two care about each other and that’s inspiring. 

    • Anonymous Reply

      My friend was on a club soccer team in high school and they called themselves “Team Smegma” which they got away with until one of the fathers finally showed up to a game who was a physician.  He was incensed and made a big deal about it so they had to change their name (this was in Sandy, Utah so everyone involved was LDS and didn’t see the humor in it).

      And great call on the Meaning of Life clip.  “Why don’t you give her a kiss boy before going straight for the clitoris!!”

  2. Nathan R Kennard Reply

    I thought you both did an awesome job on this subject. Definitely a keeper.

    At one point in this podcast you discuss male circumcision. Recently a friend said to me that he had read that something like a foreskin can be regrown but that he also read that the effort in is not worth doing. Do you or any others listening to this podcast have experience related to this topic? Worth the effort? Not worthwhile?

  3. Christopher Allman Reply

    My understanding about the current theory on the evolution of  breast size is that larger breasts are more prone to sagging with age, so they fulfill a similar function as blond hair, as in they become a signal of age (and therefore fertility). Although I did not get that info from this book, I would like to mention it as, what I believe, to be the best book on human evolution http://www.amazon.com/Moral-Animal-Science-Evolutionary-Psychology/dp/0679763996

  4. Carla Reply

    It makes me so sad to know that so many people are in utter ignorance of their bodies, their biology and psychology, that they think that there’s something wrong with them, and in fact that they are evil, if they masturbate or want to have sex without being married to someone.

    What’s really interesting is the double-speak I see in our culture.  We can see people calling sex so beautiful, sacred, a gift from God, etc … but how do you refer to a joke that’s sexual?  It’s a dirty joke.  Our culture is fully immersed in the Puritan/Victorian idea of sex, that it is dirty and wrong, something that women use to get love, etc.

  5. Carla Reply

    “men, you should touch women softer than you usually touch”

    Screw that – please don’t give generalized advice like that; people should ASK their partners what THEY want.

    • Anonymous Reply

      You’re right, Carla. In fact, I would say that I generally enjoy slightly rougher touching than John does. 🙂  But everyone’s different. And every day can be different in how things feel for each person as well. It’s always important to ask.

  6. Nathan R Kennard Reply

    Intact is precise. Other ways of expressing the same might be normal, un-amputated, un-deminished  or lucky. Removal of nerve endings necessarily diminishes sensation. Removal of what is naturally mobile shaft skin/smooth muscle must have impact on both a man and his partner.

  7. Anonymous Reply

    I’m just about finished with reading “The Moral Animal” by Robert Wright, so a lot of what you discussed about evolution has been on my mind lately. The subject of evolutionary psychology is completely fascinating to me. I was familiar with the basic role of sexuality in our evolution, but it’s been mind blowing to see the huge variety of ways that our everyday behavior and social norms revolve around and spring from the evolutionary drive to reproduce. I’m talking about all kinds of things that  would have never connected to natural selection.

    The other thing that has been fascinating to me has been to spot how the unique aspects of Mormonism relate to the framework of Darwinian evolutionary theory. For example, in Darwinian terms the number of mates that a polygynous male is able to acquire is directly connected to his material and physical power, or in other words “status”. In the modern context status is huge when it comes to polygyny. It made me think of how in the early days of the church JS, BY, and the rest would leverage the status of their priesthood to get wives, promising eternal life for the women and their whole extended family, etc. There are other less sensational examples that I noticed too. 

    Anyway, “The Moral Animal, by Robert Wright, I highly recommend it. In the book he also critiques “The Naked Ape” a bit, which is one that you referenced in the podcast. 

  8. Anonymous Reply

    I’m just about finished with reading “The Moral Animal” by Robert Wright, so a lot of what you discussed about evolution has been on my mind lately. The subject of evolutionary psychology is completely fascinating to me. I was familiar with the basic role of sexuality in our evolution, but it’s been mind blowing to see the huge variety of ways that our everyday behavior and social norms revolve around and spring from the evolutionary drive to reproduce. I’m talking about all kinds of things that  would have never connected to natural selection.

    The other thing that has been fascinating to me has been to spot how the unique aspects of Mormonism relate to the framework of Darwinian evolutionary theory. For example, in Darwinian terms the number of mates that a polygynous male is able to acquire is directly connected to his material and physical power, or in other words “status”. In the modern context status is huge when it comes to polygyny. It made me think of how in the early days of the church JS, BY, and the rest would leverage the status of their priesthood to get wives, promising eternal life for the women and their whole extended family, etc. There are other less sensational examples that I noticed too. 

    Anyway, “The Moral Animal, by Robert Wright, I highly recommend it. In the book he also critiques “The Naked Ape” a bit, which is one that you referenced in the podcast. 

  9. Anonymous Reply

    I’m just about finished with reading “The Moral Animal” by Robert Wright, so a lot of what you discussed about evolution has been on my mind lately. The subject of evolutionary psychology is completely fascinating to me. I was familiar with the basic role of sexuality in our evolution, but it’s been mind blowing to see the huge variety of ways that our everyday behavior and social norms revolve around and spring from the evolutionary drive to reproduce. I’m talking about all kinds of things that  would have never connected to natural selection.

    The other thing that has been fascinating to me has been to spot how the unique aspects of Mormonism relate to the framework of Darwinian evolutionary theory. For example, in Darwinian terms the number of mates that a polygynous male is able to acquire is directly connected to his material and physical power, or in other words “status”. In the modern context status is huge when it comes to polygyny. It made me think of how in the early days of the church JS, BY, and the rest would leverage the status of their priesthood to get wives, promising eternal life for the women and their whole extended family, etc. There are other less sensational examples that I noticed too. 

    Anyway, “The Moral Animal, by Robert Wright, I highly recommend it. In the book he also critiques “The Naked Ape” a bit, which is one that you referenced in the podcast. 

  10. Anonymous Reply

    Thanks for this.  I am so angry at the mess created by SWK.  I spent my
    whole adolescence and early adulthood questioning my self worth thanks
    to his comments about masturbation in ‘Miracle of Forgiveness’ .  For
    the first 10 years of marriage my wife couldn’t orgasm.  Guess what
    finally worked?  Oral sex.  Yes, that ‘unholy’ and ‘impure’ practice. 
    Our sex life has been a disaster…and I’m still not allowed to
    masturbate to simply release my own tension.  Mormon women actually
    believe we’re supposed to have wet dreams to release that cyclical
    tension.  Thanks, Packer. 

    When I told my wife I would tell my boys it’s ok to masturbate, the biggest fight of our marriage ensued. 

    For the health and sanity of Mormon couples, could we please get a
    retraction of everything ever said by Kimball, Packer, Peterson, and
    McKonkie on this subject?

    When I leave the church (it’s only a matter of time), it will come down
    to this reason: the church’s perverse teachings around sexuality that
    utterly ruined our prime lovemaking years…and the fact that my
    mother-in-law believes lingerie should cover garments.  No joke.

    I want my 20’s and 30’s back.  John is right…the older you get the longer the recovery period.  Would have loved to have taken advantage of that short recovery period, but we were too busy feeling guilty to even consider more than one session in the same night, especially when it didn’t work for her.

    • Anonymous Reply

      I’m sorry I can’t feel a little more empathetic for you Jean. The truth is you’re not going to get your 20’s and 30’s back. What you need to do is move on somehow, but maybe this time try to live life on your own terms and not what others have “decided” is good for you. Letting a bunch of octogenarians run your sex life is like a firearm class run by the gun control crowd.

    • David Dickson Reply

      I know a Therapist who has a thriving practice where most, if not all, of the clients are LDS. Not being LDS but a lifelong Lutheran it did not take very long to realize that when the couple grew up under a certain LDS “Prophet” they came with a set of baggage that was one of the root causes of their unhappy marriage. Knowing this then it made the task of “fixing” their relationship easier and much quicker.

      Guess who, in the therapists opinion, is the worst? If you guessed SWK you get a big gold star. I am confident that were you to rank the leaders from the worst on down, your list would probably be a mirror of what my friend has put together.

      I hope this is taken as severe criticism of church leaders. They earned it. F***ing up countless peoples lives with their nonsense and controlling guilt.

      Being older than you, I want my teen’s, 20’s, 30’s, 40’s and half my 50’s back.

    • Elder Vader Reply

      Kimball, Packer, Petersen, and McConkie.  The four horsemen of the Mopocalypse.

  11. Anonymous Reply

    Excellent podcast as always.  I will push you on one point though.  You started out by emphasizing the fact that sexuality is at the oldest parts of our brains which is totally true.  I can’t help but to consider how the more recently evolved parts of the human mind play into all of this.  I’m not sure how to define it physiologically but I am talking about the part of our minds that have evolved in a way that for good or bad makes us different than other animals.  Among other things I am talking about the human tendency towards religion which shows up in some form in every written record that we have.  So even though it has emerged in us more recently, religion and all of the suppresions that it tends to apply to our older functions is clearly a component that has evolved naturally in us.  I completely agree that this suppression can be aggrivated in an unhealthy way by some religios world views but I think we have to recognize it as something that is important to us or else why is it there.  I think this is the reason why being human can be so frustrating at times.  We are really comprised of layers of old and new components all consciously and subconsciously driving each other.

    • Megan von Ackermann Reply

      Actually it’s not necessarily accepted that religion is an evolutionary adaptation. There’s a lot of debate on the matter since it doesn’t necessarily produce an obvious advantage. It could be a socially evolved practice rather than a biologically evolved one – ie religion produced advantages for a particular society or even for a privileged group within the society therefore it persisted and spread through cultural exchange. Religion in this case could be viewed as Dawkins’s meme.

      One theory is that religion is simply a manifestation of an interesting evolved ability – that to speculate about the unknown or hold opinions about unverifiable information. These adaptations are not ‘religious’ nor do they necessitate a religious belief or outlook, they are simply useful adaptations that, along with their evolutionary advantage, allow space for superstitious beliefs.

      Personally I find this more general theory more compelling than one that says we specifically evolved religion – something that not only does not give an obvious advantage but can be actually detrimental to the individual.

      In this specific context, of religion and sexuality, I think it’s really difficult to argue that religion is either a positive or a negative in the general history of humanity. After all, many religions celebrate sexuality and encourage it in their followers, incorporating worship of genitalia (the lingum and the yoni for example). This view would, it would seem, mean greater fertility rates among those religious believers. Then there are sects that demonize sexuality and call for absolute celibacy – clearly a lousy way to go from a strictly biological view point. In other words, an urge to religious belief does not inform on sexuality one way or another, it is the specifics of that belief which has the effect and those specifics are NOT biologically driven but entirely man-made (or, if you’re a believer, god-given).

      • Anonymous Reply

        Great thoughts Megan.  I guess I have to change my wording a bit based on your comments.  I am mostly just thinking out loud in all of this anyway.  I think what I am really trying to get out is that our brains have biologically evolved some higher and lower functioning parts of the brain.  The lower if that is the right word for it is the older part that drives us to eat, have sex, poop etc.  Some animals only have this part of the brain or this and little else.  Humans have biologically evolved a very large part of the brain that is of a higher order part of the brain that uses reason and has an influence on the lower functions of the brain to do things like strategically plan when and where to have sex to avoid danger.  I used the term “religion” to describe this part of our brain which was the wrong way to state my point.  It is pretty clear to me though that the design of our brain with the logical parts trying to control the instinctual parts and vice versa creates a serious dichotomy within ourselves which easily latches on to religious ideas.  I think this is the real challenge with being human.  That is to find a world view that is believable that allows the opposing parts of our brain to live in harmony or something like that.

  12. Michael Johnson Reply

    Many higher primates, not just humans, are visually aroused. I saw a documentary about chimpanzees where male chimps were shown video of female chimps who were very obviously ready for sex. One chimp actually mounted the TV. Oh the guilt.

    Dogs are aroused through scent. In the alternative reality where canines are at the point of developing religion, Boyd K Daggit (Battlestar Galactica ref there) says dogs should stop downloading smells and masturbating to the scent of in-heat beeotches.

  13. Anonymous Reply

    Thank you so much for doing this podcast. I’m in my fifties and learned a thing or two.  I think I need to go shopping now. 

  14. Anonymous Reply

    You two are great and you have done a great job with this topic! I often enjoy the discussion of your regular guests but obviously that wouldn’t work. 
    What I liked:
    1. The facts of the sexual mechanics. Nobody does this well because we just don’t talk about it and (in my opinion) assume everybody else knows it already.Jay Leno did a joke about this when he says condoms are advertised with scenes of the ocean or fields of flowers, what does that have to do with birth control.  
    2. Your analysis of the church leaders talks about sex. Its not pleasant to hear their teachings criticized, but you got them about right.  I would have said it this way, the most powerful tool we have been given to help marriage is intimacy so we shouldn’t be so vague about its good effects and so bold and brutal about its negative effects. I think the leaders are trying their best and that’s all I expect out of them. They aren’t perfect, their goal is to get us to find joy in this life. In the real world mistakes are made. 

    What I didn’t like:
    1. This is because I think God created us the way we are so I don’t buy the evolutionary approach to why we are the way we are. As something of an engineer, I believe in evolution rather than revolution in physical things, but people and living things in general are not machines. 
    2. Christians have equally bad dialog about sex. I listened to marriage podcast from different religious leaders and they battle the same bad information. Oral sex is wrong, masturbation wrong, porn bad. 

    So as usual you made me crazy and made me think. 

  15. Oz Poof Reply

    Just a note about circumcision; I’m circumcised, but I can say that if my penis was any more sensitive during sex, particularly during orgasm, I would be in pain and would not enjoy the experience of orgasm at all.

    I’m also gay, and personally if I discover a partner still has his foreskin, I’m kind of grossed out. There’s definitely a taste and it just seems to me personally that circumcised penises are cleaner.Also, there seems to be an air of antagonism towards the idea of circumcision here. I’ll admit that circumcision of infant males is morally problematic, but there are plenty of peer reviewed and cited articles that discuss studies of differing rates of STD transmission in men who are circumcised and men who are “intact”. Weiss et al state that “[m]ale circumcision is associated with a significantly reduced risk of HIV infection among men in sub-Saharan Africa”.(http://circumcisioninformation.com/weiss.html )

    Given that adult men are probably less inclined to choose circumcision due to the fact it is a preventative rather than curative procedure, there needs to be more debate about infant circumcision as a method of disease reduction.

    Catholics claim the high moral high ground with regards to condoms, and their ideology is responsible for the misery of millions who are dying from AIDS. Is moral outrage about infant circumcision also resulting in the spread of AIDS?

    Just saying.

    • Caitlin Sticco Reply

      Cutting off healthy tissue to possibly prevent already preventable disease later is not a supportable medical practice or public health policy, especially not on infants who cannot possibly weigh that decision and give consent. You essentially just said that adults who are able to give consent to such a procedure generally won’t do so, so we should make sure we just don’t give them the chance to exercise that right! I hope you can see what the implication is there! We should force people to do things as children that they wouldn’t choose to do as adults, when they can see the reasons not to?
      Condom use prevents HIV transmission at much higher rates than circumcision. There is a safe, noninvasive, cheap, widely-available alternative to surgically altering children. Moreover, you are not taking into account the risks of the circumcison procedure, itself, which can result in fatal blood loss, loss of the head of the penis, massive tissue loss of the penis, infection, etc. It’s an uncessary, primarily cosmetic surgery. Why would you expose an infact to the certain risk of surgery, instead of the uncertain risk of HIV exposure? In the US, where HIV infection rates are low, it isn’t at all unlikely that a man will go his whole life without even personally meeting an HIV infected person. Adults can decide if they want surgery later. And interesting, in areas of the world with high HIV infection rates and low condom use, adult men do choose it. 
      Prophyllactic mastectomy prevents breast cancer at incredibly high rates, but NO ONE would argue that we should cut off the breasts of infants because they won’t do it themselves later in life. Shouldn’t we also force them to do the right thing, and prevent cancer? There isn’t even an effective alternate means of preventing cancer, like there is for preventing HIV, which actually makes a stronger case for propyllactic mastectomy.

      • Anonymous Reply

        It’s not just HIV.  Circumcision also reduces the risk of transmission of herpes and HPV.  It also reduces the risk of penile cancer.  The risk of infection following circumcision on an infant is offset by the risk of UTI and other infections associated with remaining intact.  Finally, it’s much more conveniently performed on an infant than an adult.  Most adults don’t have the luxury time for recovery from such a procedure–the burden would be much greater than that of an infant who just eats, sleeps, and poops.

    • Kimberly Harper Reply

      I’ve also read that women are more likely to become infected with HIV from a circumcised vs intact male. 

      • Anonymous Reply

        Kimberly where did you read that?  From my basic understanding of how viruses survive (i.e. in warm, moist places), it would make most sense that intact males would harbor infections more often than circumcised males.

  16. Brian Pedersen Reply

    Long time listener, first time commenting. 

    I just wanted to say how hilarious I thought this pod cast was. Listening to John and Zilpha teach sex ed 101 to deprived Mormon couples (no offense) was absolutely hilarious. When Zilpha said “The penis then becomes gorged with blood; this makes the penis bigger and kind of hard” I lost it while walking to class. For the inexperienced, it was an important topic to cover, but for the rest of us, John and Zilpha sounded like they were explaining human sexuality as if we were golden retrievers. I’m really glad they covered this subject, even though at times it felt a bit… tame. I was hoping for some really juicy content, but it was entertaining nonetheless.

    I was also a bit disappointed that they didn’t cover the main reason WHY the church is so against sexual freedom, and why the sin of premarital sex is so grave. It really all comes down to the sexual freedom of women, and the idea that diseases/unwanted pregnancies are God’s punishment to those who dare follow their instinctual inclinations. 

    Anyway, love you guys! great podcast. 

    • Megan von Ackermann Reply

      Brian – and let’s dig further in and point out that a major reason to limit the sexual freedom of women is the importance placed on patrilinear inheritance. By constraining women sexually it’s (theoretically) possible to ensure a particular male has fathered children.

      The difficulty in knowing, really, the paternity of an offspring is why there are stories about the importance of the relationship between a Viking man and his sister’s offspring – the only children he could be absolutely sure he shared a genetic inheritance with (she was born of the same mother; her children came from her).

      In cultures where paternity is less important, female sexuality is far less limited. It comes down to that darn problem mentioned in the podcast of the ‘pair-bonded’ birds where 1/3 of the offspring aren’t actually related to the supporting alpha male partner… those philandering females and their evolutionarily driven desire to find the best of all possible worlds for their offspring…

  17. Anonymous Reply

    This was horrible, horrible, horrible.  To take such a god-given beautiful expression of Charity that should only be expressed between a man and a woman married in the temple of God….and make it just a base, common portrayal of lustful, selfish pleasure is just as despicable the first time I listened to the podcast ……as it was the last several times.  (“hurry honey I am about to start it again”)  she’s in the other room getting our…….toys. 

    • Aaron Lowry Reply

      So people who aren’t married in the temple shouldn’t be having sex?  Really?

        • Aaron Lowry Reply

          Yeah, my bad.  It really goes to show how ridiculous Mormonism’s view on sex is when I can’t tell satire from the real thing. 

  18. Anonymous Reply

    I was disappointed that you discussed a transman with female pronouns and called him a “woman taking testosterone”.  That is disrespectful.  I hope that in the future, you will be clearer, and more polite in your discussion of trans people.

    • Anonymous Reply

      Sorry. I’m never entirely sure what pronoun to use in these cases and when. There is a transition time when perhaps either pronoun would be legitimate? Then there is completely before and completely after a sex change. It would be nice if in our language we could get rid of these kinds of pronouns altogether. People shouldn’t have to be called “he” or “she” and “it” is definitely not a good alternate choice! But as for what we said in the podcast, you’re right. It could have been said more accurately by always referring to him (since that’s what he is currently) as a him/he/his, etc.

      • Anonymous Reply

        No problem.  I know you both try very hard to respectful, and I wasn’t trying to reprimand you.  🙂  But I needed someone to tell me in order for me to know, so I thought I may pass along the favor.  

        The timing of pronouns is very confusing, and definitely can vary from trans person to trans person.  Generally, it’s considered ok to use birth-pronouns when discussing before transition, and gender-pronouns when discussing after transition or after the birth sex and gender have been specified.  I still get it wrong, and when people ask me what pronouns to use when referring to me before my physical/social transition, I still occasionally get confused as to what I want.  🙂

        As a side note, after going through hormone transition, I had a similar experience feeling that my sexual attraction was much more “guttural”, and the urges were very strong.  It was similar and different to how I felt when I went through puberty the first time– a lot of sexual urges, but in a more… erm, focused and visual manner.  It was a pretty fascinating experience.

  19. Anonymous Reply

    Bad advice on performing oral for a man.  What Zilpha described is the same thing that prompts complaints from 90% of men married to Mormon women.  A blow job with too much hand on shaft is not a blow job; it’s a breathy handy, and it does not count.  It’s the equivalent of the fake chow for women.  When will the Relief Society do some real good and invite a fellatio coach to Enrichment?  Does the church really want to help the family and save marriages?  No divorced couple I know ended up that way because the sex was super fantastic. 

  20. Anonymous Reply

    Ooh, I see wonderful splits in the future where the Elders Quorum also invite a cunnilingus expert while the RS are getting their lessons on fellatio.  

  21. Marney Schaumann Reply

    i’m only part way through, but i have to pipe in here about the breast size thing.  it is ridiculous to say that breast size determines ability to successfully breastfeed.  i am seriously one of THE flattest women you have ever seen.  most 12 year olds have larger breasts than i do, i am practically completely flat minus my nipples.  BUT, i breastfed my son successfully until he was 20 months old.  he was a nice chubby baby, and was exclusively breastfed until 6 months old when he started small amounts of solids, i.e. NO formula.  so you can’t tell me that flat women are more likely to be unable to breastfeed.  the milk comes from the mild ducts, not from the fat that makes up the breast tissue.

  22. Anonymous Reply

    http://3dvulva.com/

    This is a fantastic resource for learning about female anatomy. As the url implies, it is a 3D view of the vulva. Helps you to see the outside anatomy and understand the inside anatomy.

    Also, you mentioned at the beginning the comparison of Europe countries vs. the USA on sex education. There is strong reliable and valid research that demonstrates that even though our approaches to sex ed are vastly different, the age of onset of sexual activity is the same in Europe as well as USA, averaging around age 16 (there goes the argument that talking frankly with teens will increase onset of sexual activity). However the USA has painfully high STIs and teen pregnancy whereas Eurpean youth are well educated in how to protect themselves. Although Utah has a low teen pregnancy rate, the rates of Chlamydia (and other STIs) are scary. I assume this is because teens avoid the pregnancy causing activity and thus focus on oral sex. But they have no knowledge of safe oral sex practices. Clamydia is especially dangerous as it may not have noticeable symptoms, but can cause infertility in especially teenage girls. Frank conversations with teens about how to have safe oral sex is drastically needed.

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