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Aval Penworth
05-25-2010, 09:42 AM
Well my pc has a serious virus and may have to be put down. So I am not able to do any mapping at the moment. I am therefore doing some writing.

I am considering including a culture where children can only be conceived if the parents pray for the child. This means the physical liasons would have no chance of preganancy unless both partners prayed for it. Also the gods would not grant a child to a couple who where unready parents.

I am interested what others think this culture might be like. What would their attitude towords sex be? What might their values be?

Of course there are many ways this could turn out, and I already have my own ideas. I thought I would open the topic for discussion to discover other opinions and ideas.

Ps i'm typing this on my phone so sorry if it is a little disjointed. I can only see one line at a time 

ravells
05-25-2010, 09:56 AM
I like the irony. Most teenages pray that sex won't get them pregnant.

Extrapoliting from the original idea, what you have is effectively a form of contraception which might mean recreational sex would be the norm (no unwanted pregnancies) so you might want to build in a brake (e.g. too much of it makes the gods think you're not worthy of having children) so if you want children eventually, you need to control the amount of non-procreative sex you have).

Midgardsormr
05-25-2010, 01:06 PM
If conception can only happen as a result of an answered prayer, then it is entirely possible that the perceived link between sex and babies will be broken. These people might not even realize that sex causes pregnancy, as casual sexual relationships will probably be the norm. Study up on the Trobriand Islanders for a culture where sex is not directly associated with pregnancy.

On the other hand, if the association remains, it is possible that sex will be even more taboo, since it will now have a certain degree of ritual about it. If you know you have to do two things in order to have a baby, and one of those two things is religious, then the other will take on religious significance as well. How that might be expressed in the culture could vary greatly. I could even see a society in which only priestesses are considered holy enough to give birth, and all children are raised by the church until they are old enough to apprentice with their fathers. This could give rise to a matriarchal theocracy. You would then need to sort out how to deal with women who are not selected for the priesthood.

Jaxilon
05-25-2010, 01:31 PM
Sort of along the idea that Ravells had - I think it would depend on how the "god's" viewed it and the relationship the people had with them. If sex did not matter then yes, it would probably be an orgy filled society. However, if it meant something to the god's then it might be frowned upon and thus only done after prayer and with the purpose to conceive a child. There might well be heavy penalties for individuals who indulged in recreational sex. They might even develop a reputation and end up an outcast which would create anther culture for your world.

This might not be all that far from our own world either. Some feel that sexual relations are meant only for marriage. This was common for a long time. Remember "The Scarlet Letter"? It used to be that sex outside of marriage was taboo, big time! Today that's not the case.

[This next part is not a sermon - it's just some conjecture on what our own society might be like if certain things are true and other things took place]
This got me wondering what a perfect person might be able to control within their own bodies. If you believe in creation as the Bible describes it then you would also believe that when Adam & Eve lost paradise and were thrown out of Eden they likewise became imperfect. The only other perfect person according to the Bible was Jesus. Now, he walked on water and all sorts of things but some of that was power beyond what a typical human would have but still, bottom line, we don't really know how much a perfect person can do. It may well be that if we were perfect we could control conception...well, at least I guess the woman could.

That would make another interesting twist if the women determined whether or not conception took place. Then they would control who's line continued and who's died out. Of course, finding a willing partner probably would not be that difficult, especially if there was a big enough bribe involved. It would put an end to unwanted pregnancies.

Also, sex worship is a part of Man's history so if you dig a little you can read about how those societies were.

Alternatively it could be that sex isn't that big of a deal. It really is overblown in our world today. So it depends on how much you want that to be a part of the world you are creating.

tilt
05-25-2010, 02:42 PM
Concidering a culture like ancient Rome, where sex was normal and definitly not frowned opon, also nakedness was concidered quite normal, not that people didn't wear clothes, but a naked woman standing in her doorway shouting after her husband was normal, and public bath were usual as well.
I can see a society where you have to pray to have several possible outcomes - all of them likely and probably all or some of them co-existing.

1. Casual sex is normal and people have it when they want. The non-conception doesn't mean there is no STD's however.
2. There is only sex within religious settings. This could be different depending on the gods view, some gods may disparage casual sex, some might encourage it.
3. People might be grouped in more or less devout beings, a woman might turn out a man if she doesnt' get pregnant on base that he wasn't devout enough
4. Maybe a group of people who doesn't believe in the gods teaching springs forth - and perhaps they find a way to concieve anyway (probably in a secluded society)
5. Since children are a show of being devout to god, many children could show people that you are a holy person, blessed by god
6. Holy men might travel the world impregnating women
7. Prostitution might been seen as anything from evil (by some gods) and in other religions you might acutally have brothels sanctioned by god.

well - that was my 2 cents for now, cause this devout gentleman have to go get my god given children out of the bath :)

Ascension
05-25-2010, 06:27 PM
I'm with Mid and Tilt mostly. I think a society like this would run amok for a while until an std plague broke out then they'd go the other way and get all devout on everyone. I can see a split society there, sort of like in America where one side does what they like for fun and the other side shouts at them from the rooftops only to do the same things behind closed doors...until they get caught for being hypocrites. I'm almost positive that this would be a theocracy if it were run by men, more wiccan if run by women. Of course that's all been done before so twist it up and have a bunch of self-righteous women run things while earthy men conspire in the forest to bring down "the woman". Religion and politics would be synonymous and I would rather live in a cave :)

Aval Penworth
05-25-2010, 11:16 PM
Great ideas. In my scenario the people know that it is the act of sex combined with prayer that brings about conception, rather than being unaware of the connection. I don't want to go down a puritist road. So I was thinking that this was a society where there was no shame in sex( but not orgiastic and debauched.)

But how about the psychological impact that every citizen knows that they were wanted by their parents and granted life by their god?

Jaxilon
05-25-2010, 11:28 PM
That is cool because it ensures that every person knows they are wanted and that they have a purpose in life to fulfill whatever it may be.

Ascension
05-26-2010, 09:26 AM
Very utopian and nice but not too much fun to base a story around...where's the intrigue and deceit and injustice and hypocrisy? Milquetoast is fine for a campaign but not so much for a book.

Gandwarf
05-26-2010, 05:26 PM
So will each prayer result in a child or does the God have some guidelines and decide who can have a child? What if a couple is very devout, but infertile? Would the God still have the option to "grant" them a child? If it's a true God the answer would be yes I guess. It might be more interesting though for the setting to have something like infertility. In a society like this having no children as a couple would be a huge social stigma I think, as it could be interpreted that the couple is not devout enough. This opens the door to all kinds of stuff to spice up the setting. Think intolerance and jealousy.

Like the others I think there would probably be a lot of healthy sex going on :) There would probably still be many rules governing it though. Even in ancient Rome there were a lot of rules concerning sex. Certainly not everything was acceptable.

Knowing you have been granted life by a God would certainly make for a devout people. The society might be fully organised around the religion. There will probably still be non-believers though, unless there are other, more visible miracles.

Rythal
05-26-2010, 06:23 PM
So will each prayer result in a child or does the God have some guidelines and decide who can have a child? What if a couple is very devout, but infertile? Would the God still have the option to "grant" them a child? If it's a true God the answer would be yes I guess. It might be more interesting though for the setting to have something like infertility. In a society like this having no children as a couple would be a huge social stigma I think, as it could be interpreted that the couple is not devout enough. This opens the door to all kinds of stuff to spice up the setting. Think intolerance and jealousy.



I was under the impression that everyone was infertile until the God said/granted otherwise. My concern, and this was already "touched on" by tilt, would be the case of STD's/STI's/ Whatever they're calling them these days.

rdanhenry
05-26-2010, 06:26 PM
So, do children still get born with birth defects? If so, I think this would be seen as a very bad sign of punishment from the gods, like the most extreme cases in our own world. It would split couples apart with mutual accusations, or the whole family might be sent into exile. If not, it makes it even more utopian of a setting. Which isn't a bad thing, as long as there's an outside threat. Far more fiction goes too far the other way, where I don't care if the "heroes" win or lose, because the world they're fighting for is arguably better off dead.

Gandwarf
05-26-2010, 08:38 PM
I was under the impression that everyone was infertile until the God said/granted otherwise. My concern, and this was already "touched on" by tilt, would be the case of STD's/STI's/ Whatever they're calling them these days.

Yeah, I understand what you say.
I was thinking more like this: most women are biologically capable of getting with child, but the God needs to kickstart it with a spark of life or something. If a man or woman is biologically incapable of having babies (infertile), maybe not even the God can help with that? But as I said, if it's true God he/she could even fix infertility. Making my point mute :)

waldronate
05-26-2010, 11:58 PM
I would think that a critical point is whether it is prayer alone that allows fertility or whether it's prayer in an appropriate venue/with appropriate priestly ritual that allows fertility. It is often pointed out in our modern world that the sole purpose of marriage is to provide a socially acceptable framework for the rearing of children. In the proposed context it might be that it is more than a socially acceptable situation but is a physiological requirement.

Another possibility is not that divine intervention is required to bring a baby to term, but that things conceived in an improper frame of mind / without proper prayer will rarely result in something akin to a soulless abomination (we call them managers where I work).

A similar idea in a modern context is universal application of birth control before puberty with specific requirements for short-term reversal to allow conception and birth.

Alvary
05-27-2010, 01:34 AM
Neat idea and a heap of neat ideas in reply!

What if there were no god(s) at all and something physical or mental were triggered when praying to allow pregnancy...sort of like praying brought them into cycle.
Also, if there are god(s) has this always been the way or has some event brought that they must pray in order to reproduce. Perhaps the god(s) was feeling neglected.

Anyway, a few notes :)
Jessica

Aval Penworth
05-27-2010, 03:15 AM
Thanks everyone for your ideas and opinions. I'll get to it.

I think the story will get interesting when a handsome incubus >:) enters the scene. I'm not sure who yet, but someones daughter (king? priest? noble?) will get an unexpected visitor.:shock:

ShadowBB
06-01-2010, 12:33 PM
You could (if you want, just brainstorming out loud here) make it extra nasty instead of utopian. What if pregnancy occurs normal but for actual life to occur the baby needs a soul, granted by the god. So if two people have sex without consent or without some sort of sign from their god after prayer, the woman might still get pregnant but the child will be born soulless and thus dead (or maybe undead, or whatever other effect not having a soul has in your metaphysics).

I like the general idea. It's original. Good job.

tilt
06-01-2010, 02:26 PM
now that is a truly evil idea ShadowBB - kudos ;)

Ascension
06-01-2010, 05:35 PM
Birthing undead is downright evil to the max. I love that idea. I guess baby zombies need goat brains or cow brains instead of milk? :)

tilt
06-01-2010, 05:40 PM
If anyone has read the "Assasins Quest" trilogy by Robin Hobb - you'll know a bit about what impact soulless creatures can have on society - of course in those books its your friends and family that turns "undead" so people you've lived amongst for years and years. And no, its not a zombie book, so don't go buy it for that - but its well worth the read, some of the best fantasy I've ever read. :)

Ascension
06-01-2010, 06:15 PM
Just had an interesting thought, maybe, shrug. What if our hero found out that he is undead and wanted to quest to get a soul or if other people had to perform some sort of service to their god to get a soul. Also, what kind of soul would they get - a mortal one or an immortal one? Or maybe they could become like angels (they don't have souls).

NeonKnight
06-01-2010, 08:52 PM
LAte to the party here, but here are some thoughts.

Is Pregnancy till the result of Sex? If two people both pray to the gods for a child, is the act of Sex still required?

Currently sex is by and large for most species (as near as I know) a pleasurable act (other than humans, Dolphins engage in sex without procreation, as does the Bonobo Monkey (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bonobo#Sexual_social_behavior)), and is made to be so to encourage reproduction.

So, that said, if pregnancy is only the result of the gods granting a wish,would their even be sex? Just a thought.

Juggernaut1981
06-02-2010, 12:41 AM
Great ideas. In my scenario the people know that it is the act of sex combined with prayer that brings about conception, rather than being unaware of the connection. I don't want to go down a puritist road. So I was thinking that this was a society where there was no shame in sex( but not orgiastic and debauched.)

But how about the psychological impact that every citizen knows that they were wanted by their parents and granted life by their god?
Psychology 101: If there's no shame, there's no taboo, there's no reason NOT to do it (in the present)... so "Go. For. Gold"


I'd be getting the feeling that there would be a massive religious impact to childbirth. Those without Children have angered/are out of favour/are unholy in the eyes of the God/s. There could be a couple of 'industries' such as: Pray Me a Baby Mr Priest, Can I Buy A Baby from God X By Donations?, I'm Holy but my Wife/Husband Isn't... Can you give me one Holy Person?, etc.

The Psychology of "belonging" and "wantedness" and "inside the group-ness" basically requires CONSTANT and FREQUENT top-ups. If you want someone to feel a sense of belonging or being wanted, then they need to be shown examples of that regularly. "God X's Priest said Mummy and Daddy love me very much and so does God X cause s/he/it made me" doesn't work for very long before people grow skeptical about the "bad things in life". (Just go check out those nice disillusioned Catholics/Christians out there... and those from other mono-theistic religions)

Greason Wolfe
06-04-2010, 10:35 AM
Just another thought here . . .

Is it the couple from which the proper prayers are required, or must the prayers be conducted by a priest/priestess? If it is the couple that has to pray, what if one is found worthy while the other isn't? If, on the other hand, it is a priest/priestess that must conduct the prayers, does the gender of the priest/priestess play a role in the gender of the child, and, for that matter, does the couple have to do the deed in a holy place or be witnessed by the priest/priestess? All of this could have some rather interesting effects on the society as well. Another effect the "prayer" approach might have would be designed marriages (as has often been the case in the real world) both for political and religious power.

GW

LonewandererD
06-04-2010, 11:10 AM
I think they did a book with a very similiar practice like this, the characters could not bear children the normal way, sex of a religious thing and only those proven to be faithful to the gods were deemed fit to raise a child, the conflict in the sotry occured when some of the characters began to question this and tried to do things without the guidance of the gods and bear naturally.

I know I doesn't add much to the conversation but once I remember the name of this series of books who may want to read it as it seems very similiar to the discussion going on here.

-D-

wisemoon
06-04-2010, 11:33 AM
Interesting discussion!

Not sure if this is the series that LonewandererD was referring to, but there is a series that has this kind of cultural idea in it. The "Kushiel's Dart" series, and its follow up series "Kushiel's Legacy", is about a culture where a couple must "light a candle to Eisheth" in order to bear children.

The books are based on an alternate history, with some minor elements of magic included. The books start out in what we call France...but the people in this country are descended from angels. The cosmology is based on a couple of things...that the blood of Yeshua/Jesus and Mary Magdalene sunk into the Earth (Gaia) and that Gaia created a new being from that blood--Elua. There are several myths about Elua gradually revealed in the series, which I won't go into, but basically some of God's angels become aware of Elua and decide to abandon Heaven and follow him. Elua's basic precept is "Love who you will", that love of any kind is sacred.

Eisheth is one of the angels who followed Elua. I can't recall why pregnancy was her domain, but essentially all "D'Angelines" could not get pregnant until they had petitioned Eisheth to "open the gates of their womb".

Given Elua's precept, sex as an expression of love was very common in D'Angeline society. Of course, as they encountered other cultures, this caused an enormous amount of conflict. Also, even though sex and love were valued, it didn't reduce the conflict in the society overall. There were still plenty of other vices, plenty of intrigue, plenty of people maneuvering for power, etc. The books are fascinating, particularly since Christianity as we know it does not exist! The speculation by the author of how Medieval/Rennaissance Europe and surrounding countries would look if the Jews had actually embraced Jesus is pretty inventive. In these books, most European countries are still "pagan" and worship their native gods/goddesses.

As to the question of STDs, that is avoided by D'Anglines mostly because in addition to their possession of angelic blood and automatic contraception, one of the other angels' domains is medical knowledge, yet another's is engineering/scientific knowledge, etc. The D'Angelines are probably the most advanced culture in the world of this book. Again, it doesn't make them perfect--they are still quite flawed. It gives them advantages, but that sets them up on the world stage to be envied, resented, feared, mocked, etc.

I highly recommend the books to anyone, though I must warn you that the culture's attitudes toward sex/love in all its forms and permutations means that many of the characters engage in things that some people would find offensive or morally wrong. Just as a caveat. Nothing is really that graphically described...not any more than a steamy romance novel, anyway. But some people have found it to be hard to stomach, depending on their personal beliefs regarding sex.