www.ethanwiner.com - since 1997

Why Do Conservatives Hate Sex?

by Ethan Winer

I'm surprised by all the conservative opposition to providing birth control as part of health insurance. The last thing we need is more unwanted babies, which cost taxpayers literally hundreds of times more per baby than birth control. The price of unwanted babies is not only in dollars for welfare and foster care, but in a higher crime rate and increased unemployment. Birth control also reduces the number of abortions which conservatives claim to oppose. Most of us gladly pay for many things that benefit society, such as public education, a police force to keep the peace, highways and street lights, public parks, and food stamps that reduce hunger. So why not pay a relatively tiny amount to prevent babies born to people who don't want them and can't afford them? Surely that benefits all of society. In my opinion, people who want birth control should be able to have it for prices they can afford.

Catholic institutions are employers and must obey federal and state laws just like every other employer. Requiring them to provide the same benefits is not restricting their freedom of religion. There's a big difference between telling people what to believe, and allowing people to do literally anything in the name of their religious freedom. Is it religious restriction to not allow a Mormon to have five wives? How about requiring churches to have fire extinguishers and lighted emergency exit signs? These are both legal restrictions, but I don't see conservatives claiming those laws violate their religious freedom.

The problem with conservatives and sex goes beyond birth control. The same conservatives who say they favor smaller government that intrudes less into our personal lives want government to regulate who can have sex with whom, and which orifices are proper receptacles. What could be more intrusive than that? If Rick Santorum had his way, birth control would be illegal, and sodomy would be a crime as in the past. I see little difference between religious conservatives and the Taliban or Sharia law. The severity of the restrictions and punishment may be different (only slightly), but the underlying mindset is the same. Some people prefer letting others tell them what to do because they can't figure it out for themselves. The problem is when they expect everyone else to accept being told what to do too.

What exactly is wrong with sex anyway? Why shouldn't people have as much sex as they want, whenever they want, and with whomever they want? As long as both parties are consenting adults, and unwanted pregnancy is avoided, where's the harm? I see a relation between discouraging sex for pleasure and discouraging other pleasurable activities. This seems based on a Puritan ethic, where anything that's fun and feels good is somehow morally wrong. This makes no sense to me, and the result is laws against prostitution and laws against recreational drugs. The same conservatives who claim to champion personal freedom with minimal government intervention are the most vocal opponents of legalizing drugs and prostitution.

There's also arrogance in these conservative positions. How dare religious people claim to speak for god? They can't even prove there is a god, let alone know how a god would want us to behave if he actually existed. It's impossible for anyone to know god's intent, and claiming otherwise is misguided at best, and dishonest at worst.

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