We know D.C. Get our free newsletter to stay in the know.
The Stranger’s Dan Savage didn’t like that Barack Obama asked Rick Warren to speak at his Inauguration, so, in the same subversive tradition that gave us Santorum, Savage commissioned readers of his column in Washington City Paper and other outlets to assign “Saddlebacking” (coined after Warren’s Saddleback Church) to a sex act. Here’s what Savage’s readers came up with to describe Saddlebacking: “the phenomenon of Christian teens engaging in unprotected anal sex in order to preserve their virginities.”
While I agree that the “phenomenon” of abstinent teens finding ways to get each other off without sticking the P in the V deserves a name, I’d like to point out that oral not (anal) sex is the go-to act for nice, Protestant youthgroupers.
I only wish that I could have had Dan Savage with me during winter break 2003, when I and hundreds of other pubescent Jesus Freaks met at Grace Episcopal Church in Ocala, Fla., to listen to our ministers explain why pre-marital oral sex, pre-marital hand jobs, and pre-marital heavy petting were all just as bad as pre-marital “real” sex. Savage might have found it interesting that our pastors never said anything about pre-marital anal sex until a curious camper raised his hand and asked if that meant anal sex was ok. The answer was “No.” Turns out it’s never ok for Christians to do anything with their asses besides shit and sit. Not even when they’re married. Because “sodomy is always a sin.”
Using anal sex to get off without compromising a woman’s virginity is contrary to what the average evangelical or fundamentalist Protestant, looking to skirt rules about sex, would do. In or outside of marriage, anal sex (especially in the eyes of Warren and his contemporaries) is far worse than any other objectionable sex act. And that means teenage congregants are more likely to see oral sex and hand jobs, (not anal sex) as the less sinful alternatives to vaginal intercourse.
I’ve heard that Catholic teens are big on the anal alternative, but when have Catholic teenagers—the A.D. equivalent to secular Jews—ever come under the categorical umbrella of “Christian teenagers”? Saddlebacking, insofar as it describes anal sex and the type of teens in Warren’s sphere of theological influence, describes a phenomenon that doesn’t exist.