Sunday, March 06, 2011

On Sex and Honor....



Keith Taylor

Folks in Utah are proud to tell us Utah's founder, Brigham Young, had fifty-five wives. They don't brag too much that many of that fifty-five were children, or that history tells us that Brigham was complicit in the killing of 124 men women and children at Mountain Meadows in 1857. Few Mormons like to review history which doesn't reflect favorably on the founder of Salt Lake City.

The largest university in Utah is named for Brigham. Its 30,000 students must sign an honor code which stipulates that, like him, they must be honest, live a chaste and virtuous life, use clean language and abstain from alcohol, tobacco, tea, coffee and drugs. Other prohibitions including cussing and beards have been added and/or deleted from time to time, but premarital chastity has always been on the list.

Despite the prohibition, sex reared its head at BYU and that head had to roll. One of the best players on the high flying Cougar basketball team violated the code by having premarital sex with a co-ed. Brandon Davies was kicked off the team, an act which jeopardized the team's shot at a national championship, and a first place seed in the forthcoming NCAA tournament.

Premarital sex is a common occurrence among students in forty-nine of our states, but not at the university named after a man who routinely married and impregnated teenage girls. Brigham Young University takes a strong stand against lots of things which they choose to believe, and teach, God doesn't allow.

Honor, at least the perception of it, is a big deal with Mormons, and improperly sanctified sex is against their honor code. But all isn't lost for horny young women and men. They can do it a lot if it is sanctified by a proper authority -- one who also teaches that a woman talked to a snake, and native Americans are Israelis who immigrated here from Israel 2800 years ago.

But the thinking at this university with 30 thousand students is that it is decreed that a biological urge followed by two consenting people in the prime of their lives was evil? At BYU, they have more respect for superstitions than they do for science, and the sex act is biological after all.

So far as I can tell science, especially biology and anthropology, aren't strong subjects at BYU? I once talked to a BYU grad and former missionary who told me that a science professor showed a dinosaur fossil to his class. When he told them it was billions of years old, a student asked how that could be when the religion professor told them the earth was no more than 10 thousand years old, he was told "don't ask."

Don't ask! How is a student to learn?

At BYU that seems to be the idea.


//Keith Taylor is a retired navy guy who lives in Chula Vista. He can be reached at


WCG said...

Great post!

I tend to wonder about all religious schools. What happens when reality doesn't match up with church teachings? How do you teach science when your religion doesn't accept it?

Or even when history would embarrass the church, what then? Do Catholic schools teach about the times when there were multiple popes, all fighting to decide which would be considered the "real" one?

But I guess, if we consider Texas, this isn't just a problem with religious schools, is it? But it's the same kind of thing, the refusal to accept reality when dogma says otherwise.

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Keith Taylor said...

Religious schools have a special burdon brought on by their insistance on taking things on faith not facts. BYU more or less straddled the fence according to the guy I talked with. Oral Roberts University and Liberty University simply ignore facts.

Notre Dame, thanks to its general standing in the academic world, has a storng scientific program. I'm sure the scientists are enjoined to avoid directly challenging religion.