April 28, 2008

Sex and the single Mormon

The conservative sexual mores depicted in The Path of Dreams might strike people—who didn't grown up in a conservative religious community—as an odd offshoot of one of those weird chastity movements.

Two recent threads on Mormon blogs do a good job of encapusating the moral themes in the novel. This autobiographical post (and the accompanying comments) on The Exponent nicely sums up the primary point of conflict in the first half of the novel:

Had I made my marriage decision based on practicalities—financial and otherwise—the wedding would have been held years later. But . . . I wanted very much to sleep with this man I loved and I knew [sex] would happen soon rather than later.

This thread on the By Common Consent blog proves the old writer's adage that the sure way to create drama about something is to place obstacles around it (Buffy providing the all-time classic example: sleep with your boyfriend and he literally turns into the devil).

When it comes to fiction, difficult is good. Not so much in real life, as Harvey Mansfield observes in his review of Sex and the Soul by Donna Freitas, where students at conservative religious schools (such as Connor and Elly)

often suffer deep anxiety in their search for a mate. The boys find it troublingly difficult to put off sex, and the girls are fearful that they will have failed in college if they do not get a "ring by spring" (of their senior year).

Still, the license of Sex and the City is dullsville in comparison. Though as illustrated here, these two extremes might share something in common. Quips Jeremy Lott, "Not having sex means talking about it constantly."

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