Mormons, Sex, and Basketball

There has been so much press lately about this “sex scandal” involving Brandon Davies, a basketball player for BYU. I’m not going to rehash the entire story or even provide links to the story simply because I think most of you have read enough and know enough of what’s going on. I just want to give a few of my own thoughts on the subject. Am I an expert? Nope. I am a Mormon, but that doesn’t mean I speak for all Mormons. I speak for myself. I enjoy watching basketball, but I don’t follow it closely. I just enjoy the game. So everything I say here should be taken with a grain of salt.

I am not a fan of BYU. I don’t hate the school or anything, but I’m just not a fan. Through all of this “controversy” I have become a huge fan of Brandon Davies, however. And yes, I will be cheering BYU on as they play through the championships. I hope they go far.

I attended a Church-run school myself. I wish given a copy of the Honor Code with all the information about the school, so I had a chance to read it and agree to it before I ever even applied to the school. BYU and all the LDS church run schools are private schools. They have every right to have an extremely strict Honor Code. Every applicant knowingly signs the Honor Code. They all agree to it. It is never a surprise to find out that rules are being broken because as a student, you are made fully aware of what you are signing on to. If you don’t like the rules, you either don’t attend the school (thereby giving the spot to one of many students who would gladly follow the rules and attend the school) or you obey the rules but get on a committee that helps review things and change things. You try to change things in a positive manner. When I was at Ricks College (now BYU-Idaho) I was in amazement at the many people who had blatant Honor Code violations because they simply didn’t like it. I may not have agreed with everything,either (seriously… a curfew for college students??),  but I did my best to adhere to what I had signed on for. I signed my name stating that I would follow the Honor Code and I tried to be honorable and live by my word.

I have made the mistake of reading comments on other news articles and blog posts about this whole thing with Brandon Davies. Wow, there are a lot of negative, degrading people out there! I couldn’t believe how many people used the words “medeival”, “archaic”, and “antiquated” when describing the part of the honor code the says to live a chaste life. Most people didn’t even have the verbal skills to use those words, however, and pretty much just called it stupid. Many commenters said it is unrealistic to expect a 19 year old to not have sex with his girlfriend. And even more said that the Mormon church is making sex out to be dirty and shameful.

Again, I don’t speak for the Church and I don’t speak for every Mormon, but I do have my own experiences and opinions on this. So this is what I believe.

Sex is not dirty. It is not shameful. I have never, ever been taught that in church or by my church leaders or even by my parents. Not once. I was taught that sex is very special, sacred, intimate, and private. My parents didn’t talk a lot about it to me, and it would have been nice to have some more information, yes. It was drilled into me that premarital sex is not okay, but I knew there was a difference between being told not to have sex until marriage and not to have sex ever. Mormons obviously have sex (look at the number of children we have!), and we don’t have to constantly talk about it or advertise our sex lives to know that we actually have very healthy, enjoyable sex lives. The thing is, we hold it so close to our hearts… make it into such a special and intimate act… that it really is that important to only have sex with our spouse, and only after we’re married. Ches and I did not have sex of any kind until after we were married. Why? Because we wanted it to be that special. We wanted to wait and to save it for that time. Did I want to be intimate with Ches while we were engaged? Absolutely! But it was more important for both of us to wait. I cannot express how important it is to members of my church that we really do hold off until marriage for sex. It is not something that everyone else believes and I don’t think I’ll be changing anyone’s mind, either. I would just like people who are not of our faith to understand and respect that this is extremely important and leave it at that.

I also do not believe it is unrealistic to expect teenagers or young adults to abstain from sex. Yes, there are plenty out there that are going to have sex. I get that. I do not deny it. I feel like society has turned teenagers into walking hormones with no self-control that are ready to rip each other’s clothes off at a moment’s notice. We have made sex so prevalent in our movies, music, advertisements, books, speech, etc., that it’s no wonder that’s all we think about. Just because it’s so out there doesn’t mean that it’s that normal, however. There are so many things going on for teenagers and young adults. They are figuring out who they are and what kind of adults they want to be. Why do just expect that sleeping around is part of it? It’s not! It’s okay to teach kids to abstain from sex until they are older and more ready for it. Because of my believe that it is such an intimate and special act, I believe that it is a highly emotional thing that is being shoved down our throats as something commonplace. It’s not special if you’re experimenting with different partners or whatever. It’s not special if you never hold off or hold back. I’m not saying that it is shameful to ever have sex and we shouldn’t have it at all. I’m just saying to hold off… and don’t have such a low opinion of young adults that they “can’t”. Sex isn’t everything. There are so many more things… far more important things… than having sex. And there is so much more to it than having sex because your 19 and that’s what 19 year olds do.

I feel awful for Brandon Davies. He has been thrust into this spotlight for a seemingly small mistake. As important as chastity is to us as members of the LDS church, in comparison to the kinds of things athletes at other schools do, this is nothing. I find Davies to be extremely brave. He broke the Honor Code. He committed a serious sin. He did not wait until the end of the basketball season to confess. It seems to me he went to his bishop right away. He could have waited, you know. It doesn’t sound like anyone caught him doing anything. He made the choice to confess. He wasn’t coerced into confessing. There is no actual scandal involved. The girl isn’t pregnant. Again, he could have waited until April and stayed on the team, but he didn’t. He knew what he did was wrong and he decided to take care of it right away. That takes guts. That takes honor. Sadly, the entire nation knows what he did and he is unable to take care of this privately, as he should be. Can you imagine the pressure he must be under? Let’s not forget his girlfriend in all this. She is also a BYU student. Everyone knows what they did. That’s just never fun to have your private life broadcast. I wish we could just let them take care of this privately. (And yes, I realize that by writing on my blog I am also making this much more of a public display that I should. I have thought long and hard about writing this, believe me.)

I read comments that Davies will be shunned because of having sex. Interestingly enough, that seems to be the opposite of what has happened. Davies has the support of his teammates and coaches and the entire student body. Guess what, general public? Most Mormons do very little shunning. I’m sorry for that one random person you know that was disowned by their family, but in most cases, we are a very accepting group of people. We know that we are all human and we all make mistakes and we are all just doing the best we can. None of us are perfect, and we don’t ostracize others for not being perfect.

I am glad he didn’t get any kind of preferential treatment. It says a lot for the university. Basketball is extremely important to Mormons. We have basketball leagues in our congregations across the world. “Church ball” is crazy! But it’s part of our culture. We love playing as much as we love cheering it on. And BYU fans are pretty rabid (I know some of you reading this “bleed blue” and can attest to this) about their sports. So yes, it is disappointing to have such a great player get suspended from the team. I am absolutely amazed at the love and support Davies is getting. No one is going to blame him if the team doesn’t win the whole sh-bang. If they do blame him… well, we need to re-teach the concept of team sports, then. One person does not make the team. And honestly, before he was suspended, how many non-BYU fans had heard of Davies? It was all about “Jimmers”, wasn’t it? Not saying he’s not an important member of the team, but there are all those other guys on the team that also play and can pick up the slack.

So Davies confessed to violating the Honor Code and was suspended from the team. He had to know he was going to be suspended from the team. He had to know that by not waiting until the end of the season that he was putting himself in jeopardy of suspension simply because BYU has suspended football players for the same thing. It’s well publicized. You break the Honor Code, you face the consequences. Hey, Amare Stoudemire… he’s still in school. No one is denying him an education. Before you start spouting off ugly, hateful things you should understand what you’re talking about. We have this great concept that we believe in as Christians. It’s called the Atonement. We believe in repentance and forgiveness. By confessing what he did, Davies is seeking repentance and forgiveness. There are consequences for our actions, and being suspended from the team is the consequence. However, because he isn’t repeatedly breaking the rules he gets to stay in school and everyone says they are sure he’ll be on the team again next year. I can completely see that happening. We believe in forgiveness, and Davies is absolutely going to get it.

So, I’ve rambled on far too long. Most of my readers are also LDS, went to Church-run schools, and probably having the same thoughts as I. I just wanted to throw it out there. Not to beat a dead horse, as my friend Katie has said, but I find the entire issue fascinating because of the reactions of both Mormons and non Mormons.

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8 responses to “Mormons, Sex, and Basketball

  1. I LOVE that you wrote this post! You have said everything perfectly! I am one of the Bleeding Blue people and I think that the way Davies and BYU handled the whole situation is absolutely admirable. I even think that a lot of the media (ESPN, etc.) have been very supportive as well. But there are those people out there that don’t understand, and frankly, probably never will because it’s easier to ridicule. I too feel awful for Davies and his girlfriend because of how ‘public’ this whole thing is. I do kind of think that maybe there is an extra blessing in store for them, once the repentance process is complete, because of the publicity of it all. In the end, they will be even better for this whole mistake, you know?
    Anyway, as a sex-having and loving Mormon who also loves BYU basketball, I thank you for this post!

  2. Well, I clearly live in a black hole of some sort, because I had never even heard of Brandon Davies until I read this post. I can’t even use not living in Utah as an excuse, since you’re in Arizona. Oh, well.

    I agree wholeheartedly with you on everything except for the fact that I think the topic of sex is not handled all that well in the Church. I was never taught outright that it was dirty or wrong, but I was certainly given that impression. I think we get so hung up on making it clear that sex outside of marriage is WRONG that we forget to make it clear that sex in and of itself is very right. It just needs to be under the right circumstances. Figuring out how to teach that to my children is scary, but if they don’t hear it from me, I’m afraid they’ll get mixed or confusing messages elsewhere.

    But that’s not what this post was about. From what I’ve read here, I would have to stand alongside you and applaud Davies for stepping up and doing the right thing, knowing what the consequences would be, and knowing how public his private life would become.

    • Man, Allison, you really ARE out of it! Don’t you have any BYU fans that have been posting articles on Facebook?? Even ESPN covered it. 😉

      I don’t think we, as members of the Church, talk enough about sex for our youth to truly understand it. And you certainly get the very prudish that do make it out to be dirty and shameful. However, I can look up general authority quotes (since I don’t have them just hanging about) that makes it very clear that sex is beautiful, special, and sacred. I just hate that so many people are writing negative things about the Church or BYU for punishing Davies for having sex and saying that by punishing him then sex is made out to be as something wrong. I don’t think that’s the case at all. Premarital and extramarital sex is wrong, but sex is not. I wish my parents had talked to me more about it (my mom literally started trying to give me some advice the night before my wedding. Too little, too late!), but I was never led to believe that sex itself is a bad thing. Does that make sense?

      I applaud Davies, and yeah, I’m cheering for BYU right now.

  3. I hadn’t heard anything either. Not that I pay attention to sports at all.

    Ooooo, we need college jousting. I’d tune in. Then they’ll be right saying that Mormon’s are medieval and archaic. 😉

  4. I was a non-LDS (Mormon) teenager, brought up in NO religion or affiliation at all. I didn’t get “the talk” or “any” talk. But I did have a very PERSONAL deep down belief that I wanted to wait to have sex until I got married. Did people think that was weird? Sure. Did I ever feel pressured by boyfriends. Absolutely. Did I wait until my wedding night? OH YES I DID.

    Bringing all teenagers down to the lowest common denominator is degrading, ridiculous and very insulting to these young people. Parents who can’t talk to their kids about sex are putting their children at great risk for STD’s, pregnancies, and very mixed up feelings about their bodies, their relationships and their self worth. Say PENIS out loud. Get used to saying it. Same goes for VAGINA. Give it up people, they are body parts…they’re really not any more special than EARS or BELLY BUTTON.

    That all being said, I am glad Mr. Davies is honest, brave and has a conscience that told him what he did was against his own personal, moral and religious beliefs. He OWNED it. Well done. THAT is the kid I want running this country one day.

    Does it matter he went to BYU? Not really.

    K.

  5. I had to laugh at you last post because my hubby has been trying to lose a few pounds and he woke up the other day with a stomach virus. That is thankfully over but he still has not appetite and hasn’t eaten much in 3 or 4 days . . . but he’s lost about 5 lbs. He was like, really??
    I agree with you about the sex before marriage thing but I do feel bad for that guy to have his private life all over the media. You expect the media to be all over “celebraties” about issues like this, but they could’ve left this kid alone!

  6. Sariah,

    Great post! I mostly agree with your take of the situation. Davies agreed to follow the honor code and also chose to break it. Being excluded from playing basketball is a natural consequence of his actions. However, I really think that BYU dropped the ball with allowing the situation to get so much publicity. The confession of sins and repentance is something that should be private and personal – between the repentant and his/her church leader. By notifying national media that he had been removed from the team for a Honor Code violation, and then making his transgressions known to the world, his church leaders failed him. In my opinion, they violated his confidence. Nobody deserves to have their personal business aired by their religious leaders.

    I applaud the integrity of Davies but do not think that he deserved to have his private transgression made public record.

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