Devoted Mormons adhere to strict teachings that inform choices about everything from one's diet to humanitarian service. And as with most religions, those teachings follow them through the most personal aspects of their lives, including into the bedroom.
As part of HuffPost Live's series on sex and religion, Brigham Young University professor Brian Willoghby weighed in on the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints' stance on premarital sex. Although the church discourages "any kind of sexual behavior" before marriage, sex is considered a "bonding experience" once the couple has entered a committed union.
"Within marriage we have a really positive message, and it's really that dichotomy, sometimes, that a lot of Mormons struggle with. Before marriage it's this bad thing, this negative thing, this thing you avoid. Then all of a sudden you get married and it's this very positive thing," Willoghby told host Nancy Redd.
Mormon psychologist Jennifer Finlayson-Fife, who studied this complicated phenomenon for her dissertation, discussed her research on the issue and explained that not all Mormon women deal with that transition easily.
"The ones that had a hard time really internalized this idea that sex is bad … as opposed to sex is good, but the context of marriage really matters. Those who saw it as unfeminine, that pleasure is a problem, that sexuality is an inherent problem, they had a really difficult time making it now okay, except for an accommodation of their husband's desire, which, of course, doesn't work long, if at all," Finlayson-Fife said.
Others in her study, on the other hand, viewed sexuality in a positive light but chose to remain celibate for another reason.
"The women who did well in my research saw sexuality as a good thing, but something that was worth waiting for, for a context of commitment that was going to be safer for them both health-wise and perhaps in terms of emotional vulnerability," she said.
Watch HuffPost Live discussion complicated questions about about sex and religious teachings here.
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