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I’m 25, and Jewish but totally secular and non-practicing. I’ve been dating a Catholic guy for about two months. I knew he was Catholic at the outset, but I didn’t know quite how Catholic. Well, he’s pretty damn Catholic. I’m fine with the whole Jesus thing, but this guy doesn’t believe in pre-marital sex! But I really like him and want to be in a relationship with him. But…I don’t want to be in a relationship with someone who doesn’t believe in pre-marital sex! So I have a dilemma. I keep thinking that I can convince him, rationally, that the Catholic ban on pre-marital sex is a stupid, pointless anachronism that is not relevant to today’s world. He’s intelligent and educated and responds to reason; I think I have a shot at changing his mind. I’ve told him very explicitly that I think his beliefs are wrong and I plan to try to change his mind. He seems fine with that.
I mean, in some sense I’m tempted to just try and seduce him. (We haven’t done more than make out, at this point.) But I wouldn’t feel right about that, and I wouldn’t want to sleep with him if he would feel guilty or regret it afterwards.
I guess my question is, do you think it’s possible to talk to him out of it? Is it disrespectful to someone’s religion to set about convincing them that they’re wrong? (I really don’t respect religion very much, but I try to be polite about it.) And, finally, even if I were to convince him and we did have sex, would he be constantly plagued by lingering guilt and fear due to the years of brainwashing he’s experienced? Is there hope for my project, or should I try to find someone whose beliefs are more compatible with mine? He’s really really great aside from the whole religion thing, and I think there’s serious potential here.
Just as background, he had a serious girlfriend for two and a half years. They never had intercourse, but did have oral sex, and he’s said he was “never really comfortable with it”. He’s dated a few other girls but never so much as kissed them. So I take the fact that he’s willing to kiss me as an indication that he must like me…
Implicit in believing your own bullshit is the idea that people who disagree with you are WRONG.
I’m running your letter, Julia, because it’s a nice tie-in to the emails from virgins who are wrestling with their anachronistic worldview. You and me, Julia – we’ll corrupt all of their minds one of these days!
I’m kidding, of course, because, as you know, it is not your job to change anybody’s mind. I give advice for a living and, frankly, I don’t see it as MY job to change anybody’s mind. The difference between us, Julia, is that people come and ask me for advice because something isn’t working in their life. They’re looking for clarity, perspective, a kick in the ass. The Catholic guy isn’t looking for ANY of that with you. He isn’t asking you for spiritual guidance – he’s asking you to enjoy spending time with him and consider a life partnership. Thus, imposing your evolved point of view against his “brainwashing” is somewhat of an exercise in arrogance.
Believe me, I know. I’ve been called arrogant more than once, mostly because I so strongly believe in my views and can ably articulate them. However, implicit in believing your own bullshit is the idea that people who disagree with you are WRONG. And even if you’re a secular atheist Jew like me, it is certainly not your place to tell anyone in the world that they need to come around to your way of thinking. In fact, it sounds like a colossal waste of time and energy….
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