The Poophole Loophole: Exploring the paradox of having anal sex to preserve purity
Isaac was an altar boy at his Catholic church. He went to Sunday school every week throughout his childhood. As a ritual to purify his soul, he confessed his wrongdoings to a priest and was absolved of his sins.
One day, Isaac fearfully stepped into a confessional and whispered through the screen to the priest on the other side, “Forgive me father for I have sinned. It’s been one month since my last confession. I convinced my girlfriend to have butt sex…”
Isaac didn’t want to disclose the dirty details of his slip through the back door. But the way he saw it, if he didn’t confess to his offenses before a messenger of God, he’d be cursed to an afterlife in Satan’s fiery inferno.
“I thought that I could still go to heaven and remain a good Catholic if I penetrated my girlfriend in the butthole as opposed to her vagina,” Isaac now tells me over the phone.
Isaac is certainly not the first teenager to draw this misled conclusion. Over the years, the paradox of maintaining chastity through butt fucking has become so prevalent that a term was developed to describe it: Saddlebacking, as defined by Urban Dictionary, is “the phenomenon of Christian teens engaging in unprotected anal sex in order to preserve their virginities.”
So at the age of 17, Isaac and his girlfriend were exclusively having anal sex to uphold their purity in the eyes of God. “I was very much in love with her, but I had all these sexual hangups that were a byproduct of my religious dogmas. I had convinced myself that my carnal urges could be directed into things that could maintain me as a virgin,” he says.
Virginity vows aren’t uncommon among the young and naive. For centuries, abstinence pledges have offered horny kids a means of suppressing their devilish desires and saving their virtue for marriage.
In fact, as many as one in eight teenagers in the US has taken a vow of virginity at some point. But studies indicate that these pledges are almost entirely ineffective at delaying sexual activity. What’s worse, teens who made vows of virginity were much less likely to use condoms or birth control when they inevitably started having sex.
The research collection, The Forbidden Fruit: Sex and Religion in the Lives of American Teenagers, verifies that even the super-rare teens who are “successful” in their virginity pledges share a loose definition of abstinence. The research found that one in three adolescents who reported being virgins had genital contact with a partner in the past year.
These lustful little heathens will simply find some other way to sexually experiment while technically maintaining their pledge. They look for ways around the rule -- a loophole, if you will. So many start thinking outside the box and come to the conclusion, “the poophole must be God’s loophole.”
“The Catholic faith focuses a lot on very specific technicalities in the scripture,” Isaac explains. “I thought if I kept to the same sorts of technicalities, I would be able to save myself from eternal damnation. If I only had anal, I could tell my friends, family, and the church that I was still a virgin, and I wouldn’t be lying because it was technically true.”
A 2005 research study in The Journal of Adolescent Health linking virginity vows with “alternative sex” acts indicates that “technically true” is good enough for many religious teens. The study validated that abstinence pledgers were much more likely to substitute vaginal sex for oral and/or anal sex in order to sustain their virginity. Specifically, male virginity pledgers (like Isaac) are four times more likely to have anal sex than those who have not pledged.
But who are we to say that these teens have a mistaken understanding of sex? From a biological standpoint, sex is an essential reproductive act: a penis, a vagina, and the potential to produce babies. But from a personal standpoint, sex can mean any number of things to any number of people. Whether it’s scissoring, sexting, or a Cleveland Steamer, sex can be anything that increases intimacy between partners, no matter how short term or long lasting. So it’s not for us to say that these teens are no longer virgins because they’re putting it in the poop chute. Sex is personal, and only they can decide what makes them “pure.”
And horny Christian children aren’t deviating from the norm in searching for spiritual workarounds. Many religious followers ascribe to all types of loopholes in the law of God. Jews who strictly observe Shabbat aren’t allowed to turn electricity on or off on the day of the Sabbath, so they’ll simply have non-Jewish friends do all their electrical bidding. Islamic scripture explicitly forbids drinking alcohol, so many modern Muslim youths will just smoke weed, instead. Catholics hold “Last Rites,” where they bring a priest to their death bed to have one last confession before the lights go out. The Catholic could have raped, pillaged, murdered, and committed countless other sins, but after their final confession, their transgressions are absolved and their soul goes straight to heaven.
When religious upbringing is pitted against teenage hormones, it’s no surprise that horniness almost always overcomes. The only reason that religion can even compete is because it instills a profound sense of fear.
The way Isaac sees it, most of the teachings of the Catholic faith are rooted in fear. A large part of his religious lessons fixated on sin, satan, and eternal punishment in Hell. The man in the sky can see everything you do. And you have to make him happy. If you sin and are not absolved for your offenses before your time of judgement, you’ll be condemned to the worst possible fate.
But eventually, Isaac put it in his girlfriend’s pussy. “It was the most awful, guilt-ridden thing I’d ever done. I swore I’d never do it again,” he says. “Of course, I did it again the next day.” And once Isaac moved out of his parents’ Catholic home, he renounced all of his religious beliefs. He and the girl who opened her backdoor for him eventually got married. Now they have three children.
“I’m not a member of the Catholic church anymore. I just don’t believe in it like I used to. But you know what I do believe?” Isaac asks me. “I believe Jesus probably did it in the butt a few times with Mary Magdalen. And I don’t think his parents, Mary and Joseph, really kept it in their pants, either. The Virgin Mary probably falls under the same technicality that I did.”