Sexuality

The Mormon concept of true love closely resembles that prevalent in 19 th century Victorian England. In practice, however, sexual love in fundamentalist Mormon society is often highly eroticized, as it was in Victorian society. Sexual pleasure is an appropriate desire provided that it is the by-product of spousal affection and marital love. Most fundamentalists, while disapproving of premarital sex, firmly believe that sexual pleasure should be an enjoyable aspect of every marriage. This attitude is stronger among the younger generation than among their grandparents.

Ideally, women should never use birth control. Rather, they should use self-control or abstinence. In the Montana community it is forbidden to have "sexual activity during lactation, pregnancy or menstruation" (Bennion, 1998, p. 81). In Colorado City and Centennial Park some women continue to have sex long after they are pregnant or lactating. Many women and men engage in sexuality as a communicative and pleasure-seeking activity. However, there are examples of women who found that their husbands were no longer interested in sleeping with them after they had a hysterectomy.

Neither sex should engage in extramarital sex. If a man sleeps with his fiancée before the marriage ceremony it is considered an adulterous act. There are cases of wives leaving their husband upon discovering this act. Given the value placed on reproductive vitality, it is not surprising that, as a woman grows older, she loses some of her esthetic value. This does not necessarily mean that she loses her influence over her husband. In fact, in Centennial Park I never found a single family where the favorite wife was the youngest wife. A wife's aging does not appear to undermine either the love bond (provided that she has already developed one) or her position within the family. It only affects her desirability as a sex partner.

There is a fear of sexual abuse in the community. Adults often suspect that children over the age of 7 years will play with the sex organs of the opposite sex. In Colorado City and Centennial Park this is referred to as "doing the nasties." This behavior is considered to be unnatural and something that must be prevented. In these two communities it is common for teenagers to sneak out of the house and engage in midnight drinking parties and dancing. A few of the youths have been known to engage in heavy petting and sexual intercourse.

Homosexuality is regarded as a terrible sin against the laws of God. Given this judgment, no one would openly admit to having these inclinations. Bennion (1998) found lesbianism to be rare, but not unknown, among women in the Montana community. In the Colorado City-Centennial Park communities I found only one instance in which a man was thought to be a homosexual. In every fundamentalist community homosexual behavior between males is considered more threatening to the community than that between females.

Pregnancy And Childbirth

Pregnancy And Childbirth

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