My generation has been blogging a lot about twisted concepts of marriage, romance, love, and sex. Some really good stuff has been put up. Good discussions are happening at the Good Women Project, Rachel Held Evans, Elizabeth Esther, Deeper Story, and Prodigal.
I even recently posted a few choice excerpts from a similarly-themed article.
I get excited by people questioning assumptions with which they were brought up. I get excited by conversation, real thoughts, people being real and not allowing themselves to be stifled.
But life hurts either way – you know?
Yes, people have been hurt by ultra-conservative, fundamental teachings about sex. Women have been ashamed of their bodies. Men have been told so often that they have a lust issue, that they have developed an unhealthy fixation with “getting rid of lust.” Boys and girls weren’t taught how to appreciate beauty, they were scolded to cover up, look away, not be friends with members of the opposite sex.
But that wasn’t really my life. That was fringe, observed, occasionally a part of my world. Usually through other people. I was allowed to wear tight pants and be best friends with boys.
Sex has hurt me, though. Sex too early, too young, with the wrong person. Not me personally, i.e. I’ve never actually had sex. But I’ve had friends so hurt and scarred and changed because of it. People who abandoned their friends because they wanted to chase after physical satisfaction. Friends betraying each other. Secret abortions. Members of my family (I won’t say how extended, or on which side) are still grieving, mourning over scars left by abortion. Abortion that happened because of selfishness, recklessness, carelessness. And abortion was just a consequence, a symptom of the problem.
You want to know something I think is a problem?
How somehow we’re so animalistic, flesh-driven, self-focused that even when we think sex is foolish, wrong, or even just not the best idea, we think we can’t help it. We think we can’t control it, stifle it, or just make smarter decisions.
Sex is not food.
You will not die if you don’t have sex.
My fiance says that making “good” choices comes easily for me; that I hold myself to a very high standard. One thing that’s difficult for him is that I instinctively hold everyone else around me to the same standard.
[We all do, don’t we though? Don’t we all hold each other to high standards? Usually even higher than the ones we hold ourselves to]
And I don’t know; maybe all of that’s true.
Listen, I have learned to understand and be OK with people who interpret life and the Bible differently than I do. It’s true, what so many people are saying: Scripture is not as black and white about premarital sex as we like to think. There are arguments as to what “fornication” means – and “adultery” means having sex with someone else once you’re already married to someone.
So I get that.
As it so happens, when I look at the broad brush-strokes of Scripture, I see sex as a covenant thing. Something that symbolizes what God describes marriage (and nothing else) as being.
Something that goes with marriage and doesn’t work properly outside of marriage, else what on earth is Paul even talking about in 1 Corinthians 7?
That’s one corner of my quadrilateral. (two corners, really, because tradition agrees with me)
But my other corners match up, too. I won’t bore you with my logic. Doctors, psychologists, scientists have talked about statistics and all kinds of reasons why sex works better inside marriage. Some of the logic is so infantile, you wonder why anyone questions it.
Experience is the part that hurts, in my life anyway.
The raw, removed fact that my husband has had sexual experiences before marriage doesn’t hurt me. In fact, when I found out about it, hurt or anger was the farthest from my mind. But every action has consequences. And some of those consequences hurt me.
He was tortured for months with shame and guilt over many things he got himself into before knowing me. That shame and guilt hurt me, because it was hurting him. He is going to have a harder time dealing with certain preferences and apprehensions I have about certain sexual things, specifically because he’s been in sexual situations where he didn’t have to deal with them. That hurts me. He has preferences which were formed before and outside of our relationship, specifically because of (or affected by) prior experiences. That hurts me. That excludes me. That puts pressure and expectations on me in a way he cannot possibly understand.
Sometimes, on bad days, I hate every girl who ever said, “sure” to a man who wasn’t her husband.
Because he’s MY husband. And now I have to deal with the hurt, the fear, the expectations.
And our relationship is beautiful, and he has healed amazingly. I worry neither for our marriage nor our sexuality as a couple. These words I write don’t come out of constant fear, wringing of hands, uncontrollable emotions. Just…life.
Intellectually, I understand it when people come to different Scriptural, logical, or experiential conclusions from myself.
But I wince when I hear people say that virginity means nothing. It’s true, obviously. Virginity, a woman’s hymen, mean’s essentially nothing.
But God alone knows what kind of emotional, spiritual, relational baggage that gets attached to one’s virginity. I know that to be true in my own life, and I feel that I have a very, very mild case of the hurt compared to so many people I know.
Virginity can be attached to abortion baggage. Infertility baggage. “I-know-I-like-this-thing, and-it’s-going-to-be-really-hard-for-me-if-you-can’t-fulfill-that” baggage. Pregnancy, or child baggage. Disease baggage. Cancer baggage.
I have seen, experienced those things. That kind of baggage.
And it hurts.
And I’m ok with saying that, although I hope I won’t be lumped with the negative buzzwords of “purity culture” “courtship teachings” or “fundamentalist” for doing so.