Junior Ganymede
We endeavor to give satisfaction

Alcohol and Mormons

May 09th, 2017 by Bruce Charlton

One obvious and uncontroversial fact about Mormons is that they are one of very few groups in the modern world who have, by and large, wholesome and sustainable aspirations relating to marriage and family. And a high proportion of Mormons live by these aspirations.

How does this work, how do they manage it?

Here are some speculations (and they are speculations).

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The root of it seems to be religious – and relating to the distinctive religious doctrines and emphases of Mormonism (in other words, Mormon exceptionalism is not attributable to something like genetic inheritance or pure culture).

But many mainstream Christians have similar aspirations to Mormons, yet utterly fail to live by them – and most Christian denominations have long since given-up trying to resist the sexual revolution.

My guess is that Mormonism has certain interlinked features which enable it, uniquely among Christian denominations to achieve what they believe.

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For young men the fact that Mormonism is a Patriarchal religion is a guarantee of significant status for all men: this is enhanced by the fact that a married man is normally expected to be the priest for his wife and family – a divinely-ordained and honoured position.

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Why would a man, qua man – and not specifically as a Mormon – want to remain chaste, marry early, and stay faithful to a Mormon woman?

(Bearing in mind that a high status Mormon man would usually be surrounded by non-Mormon opportunities for extra-marital sex, and for marriage.)

Perhaps because – assuming he does indeed want to marry, and stay married, and raise a family; then Mormon women are more likely than average to be chaste and faithful and orientated to motherhood (in so far as upbringing can influence a person’s behaviour).

Mormon women are also expecting to marry while young, while non-Mormon women often delay marriage.

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But what of Mormon women?

As a rule, women control the sexual marketplace: they are the gate-keepers. This especially applies to young women (nowadays by their own choice, but throughout history and still in much of the world by very strict the familial control of young women’s sexual behaviour).

If you control the sexual behaviour of women, then – indirectly but effectively – you pretty much also control the sexual behaviour of men.

So, it is probably the behaviour of Mormon women that underpins the success of the Mormon system of marriage and family (combined with the above-mentioned preference of high status Mormon men to marry Mormon women).

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The difficulty most religions (or cultures) have is retaining young, attractive women within the faith, when young attractive women are in demand with men of any and every faith.

For example, an exceptionally attractive woman from almost any background or group can and (unless there are enforced social prohibitions) will often marry almost any man, no matter high status. So a beautiful slave, chorus girl, or gypsy girl can (and did) sometimes marry a Lord, King or Emperor.

What stops the most beautiful Mormon women marrying high status men outside the faith (and undermining the whole system)?

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Usually, this problem is dealt with by extreme coercive and perhaps violent sanctions against those women who look outside the faith for partners or husbands: but this is emphatically not the case among Latter Day Saints.

So, if there are not strong sanctions against marrying-out; then there must (it seems) be strong incentives for the most beautiful Mormon women to marry – in – to marry only Mormon men, and indeed only the most devout of Mormon men.

So why do Mormon women so often choose to remain chaste until marriage, and then marry a Mormon man, and then stick with him, and (usually) have as large a family as they can afford to raise decently?

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Part of the answer, I suggest, involves the Mormon prohibition on alcohol; because alcohol is a thing which – even in moderation, but especially in excess (which is ever more common) – enables or promotes female promiscuity.

This is my tentative explanation:

Most women are naturally chaste in the sense of being highly-selective and care-full in their choice of sexual partners; and generally requiring commitment before allowing sex. This is an expected product of evolution because throughout much of history, women who were not selective about sexual partners would not have raised many children to adulthood.

In modern Western society, this has been continually attacked for many decades by unprecedented levels of propaganda from the mass media; but one neglected factor in the increased promiscuity of non-Mormon women is alcohol.

Alcohol removes inhibition; indeed alcohol is strategically used for this purpose. Getting the woman drunk is a strategy used by seducing men; but more recently it is also used by on women themselves – to remove their own spontaneous (biologically bred) inhibitions.

Without alcohol, most women find it very difficult (psychologically difficult) to be promiscuous – even when they consciously ‘want’ to be.

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Therefore, I think a necessary (not sufficient) factor in the chastity of Mormon women, is the prohibition on alcohol; and therefore prohibition is a necessary factor in the success of the Mormon system of marriage and family (but specifically for women).

It is the absolute prohibition on alcohol – in the context of the Mormon religion, and the social system – that enables most Mormon women to live-up to the high Christian ideals of their society.

 

Note: The above comes from my online mini-book Speculations of a Theoretical Mormon – theoreticalmormon.blogspot.co.uk – which was ‘published’ about three years ago and before I began blogging here. I am interested to know how this argument strikes Junior Ganymede readers.

Comments (9)
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No Tag
May 09th, 2017 06:34:55
9 comments

Vader
May 9, 2017

Synergy seems a generally important aspect of Mormon belief and practice, and this particular synergy seems plausible.

I note that “cafeteria Mormonism”, while it exists, seems less important than its counterparts in different faiths. Furthermore, Mormon leaders have warned against “gospel hobbies”, emphasizing one aspect and neglecting others.


Bookslinger
May 9, 2017

I heard someone, a convert, say they could pay their entire tithing out of what they saved by givng up alcohol and cigarettes.

I don’t know the exact percentage, but assuming that at least 2% of people who even try alcohol become alcoholics (even more than that become heavy/problem drinkers), and assuming 6 million Mormons world-wide are abstaining, that’s 120,000 people who otherwise would have been full-fledged alcohlics. That translates into a lot of alcohol-related traffic deaths and injuries and other social and medical costs avoided.

To at least some degree, alcohol is also a gateway-drug. Therefore, an alcohol ban prevents alcohol’s cascade effect of producing other types of addicts. So that would translate into tens of thousands of other people avoiding addiction to hard drugs.

As Mormonism is a generational religion, “saving” one individual from a destroyed life “saves” their descendents, both in terms of having children who otherwise would not have been born, and “saving” children who would have been born to addict/alcoholic parents and carrying on the tradition of alcoholism/addiction.

The reported high per-capita use of psych meds in Utah may be an artifact of Mormons not self-medicating with alcohol.


Agellius
May 9, 2017

Not to argue, but if I were convinced intellectually that Mormonism was true, in all seriousness, having to give up wine would be a major stumbling block for me.


Andrew
May 9, 2017

I assumed Mormons may use more medications because of higher diligence and trust (actually following through in Doctor’s advice and the high correlation to those seeking professional careers among Mormons.

Both my wife and I have been prescribed antidepressants but refused to buy or take them. The conversations with a physicians assistant literally go “have you ever felt depressed or sad?” “Once in a while” “You should try X”


Gq
May 9, 2017

Alcohol does more harm than good to societies. Reason enough to want to give it up.

I can imagine a world where God is ok with a drink every now and then to lighten the mood or take the edge off.

But we have a few thousand years of sad experience showing us that individuals, families, friends, all of society suffers when drinking alcohol is commonplace.

Saying, I’m different is not helpful, societally speaking. The number of lives ruined by alcohol is astounding so it’s no wonder God said, if you want to learn to be a celestial society, first learn to control yourselves; and for the last few thousand years your societal ability to handle alcohol responsibly has ended in far too many disasters.


G.
May 9, 2017

I agree.

When I first came across the idea (probably on your blog) it struck me as immediately convincing. In support of your notion, it has also struck almost all Mormons I’ve shared it with as immediately convincing.

However, I think the link between “no alcohol” and “not marrying high status gentiles” needs more elaboration. Three mechanisms are at work. First, current dating mores seem to be that high status men don’t marry girls they haven’t had casual sex with first. Second, there are a couple of different status mechanisms. Long-term, sober status involves weighing traits that Mormon men already tend to be high status in–accomplishment, dedication, capability, etc. Short term, immediate status is flashier stuff, Mormon men don’t score as high in that arena–and alcohol blanks out the long term status calculations. Finally, a lot of people find it difficult to fully throw themselves into socializing, Mormons probably more than most (being a Mormon makes you slightly weird) and while most can use alcohol to overcome that, Mormons don’t, which means a slight social barrier and awkwardness remains.


Bruce Charlton
May 10, 2017

Many thanks for the comments. Interesting and useful.


bobdaduck
May 10, 2017

Alcohol-abstinence as a chastity-enforcer makes sense, but I’ve always figured that the main reason Mormon women are chaste is that they have a testimony of temple marriage and want that. “I want a marriage sealed by the priesthood and covenants” leads fairly naturally to dating within the Mormon sphere.


Lucinda
May 12, 2017

I always find it a little hard to believe the idea that women are sexually high-selective. Lots of guys (maybe even most?) get a girl by being somewhat childish, which gets her feeling nurturing towards him (I’m convinced this is part of the gay man strategy. Many women I know think of them as harmless, fragile, and sweet). As I’ve observed women over time (admittedly, always in the modern culture) they are distressingly not selective in their youth, at the time when their reproductive value is at its highest. Parents, on the other hand, who have historically asserted themselves more effectively, seem to me to be the key to selectivity in the reproductive behavior of their children.

So my opinion is that the Mormon admonition, “No other success can compensate for failure in the home” is part of the key to their relative resistance to the sexual revolution. Fathers especially are counseled to be deliberate and involved fathers, which is a key factor in the sexual prudence of their daughters and the aspiration to respectable fatherhood of their sons.

I would say that rather than affecting the daughters directly, the non-use of alcohol makes it more likely for fathers to be successful as fathers, which then makes it easier for the daughters to resist the social pressure to be sexually imprudent.

In other words, for a woman, being sexually-resistant/prudent doesn’t lead to reproductive success nearly as well as being less sexually-resistant, but having an effectively protective, selective, and trusted father. And it’s all the better when supported by a whole congregation.

Most Mormon women won’t marry a man until he’s served a successful mission because they’ve been taught that by their most trusted guardians. The women themselves don’t really see it as a proving ground, as men do. Its just necessary because it’s part of what’s expected.

Anyway, I could be all wrong, because I can only observe women as a woman. I believe that women are biologically selected for their malleability rather than their selectivity, and that their fate is less individually determined, more tied to the fate of those who control her social framework.

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