Saturday, July 7, 2012

Christians and Sex


I'm not entirely comfortable blogging about this, but I've wanted to since before I got married and my hope is that it will help anyone trying to work through similar issues. I'm sorry if my somewhat candid opinion offends you. I don't really have answers, but I feel some of this needs to be said.

Christians in general are a little paranoid about sex. As soon as you become a teenager, you start getting it ground into your head that having sex before marriage is one of the worst things you could do in life. I got married in May, and my husband and I were both virgins. I am 100% for waiting. But the way Christians go about grinding this into people can be harmful. It's said over and over, "Sex before marriage is bad, sex before marriage is bad, sex before marriage is bad." When that's all or most of what you hear about it, it gets into your subconscious and "Sex before marriage is bad," becomes "Sex is bad."And it's not just sex. It's any form of touching that might conceivably lead to sex (ah, you front-hugged, you heathen!), as if having sex isn't a completely conscious choice you have to make before you do it (maybe I'm just naive and more self-controlled than most, but seriously, give people a little credit. We all have the ability to stick to our true convictions!).

As a result, some people have problems with touch when they do get into relationships or marry. We may know in our heads that physical touch (to varying extents of appropriateness at varying points in a relationship) is a form of communication and important, but the damage is done. I've heard of numerous cases, but I'll draw from my own experience.

In my teenage years, I thought any form of desire for the opposite sex was wrong and so I suppressed it. I trained myself to think physical intimacy was undesirable. Because that would magically go away if I ever got married, right? But it doesn't. I've had to work very hard at it. I was surprised by how hard.

Two examples: when Alex and I started dating, I was, on a conscious level, perfectly fine with holding hands. But the first time we did, I felt so afraid I could only stand it for a matter of seconds. Our relationship was long-distance so we only saw each other for a few days every month, which didn't leave that much time to work on it, but it was months before I was comfortable even holding hands in front of my family. It sounds ridiculous, but it's true. I'd decided before he came along that, despite the hype some Christians build up about saving your first kiss for your wedding day, I wanted to kiss after I got engaged because I seriously doubted I would be able to in front of a crowd of people if it was the first time (also, you don't have to go further on your wedding night, but first kiss to that in the same day would be a big leap). So we kissed for the first time shortly after we got engaged. And I freaked out and started hyper-ventilating. Yup. (Don't worry, I like it plenty now. ;-))

We're told that sex before marriage leaves you with emotional baggage, but the other side of the coin is completely ignored: being (however unintentionally) taught to associate sex with shame, fear, or negativity in general does the same thing. The baggage is just a different kind. They tell you sex before marriage will hurt your future spouse, but they leave out how much not wanting to touch them will. Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying I think sex out of wedlock is a good idea. But some Christians seem to be so afraid that if they say anything good about sex, we'll all go out and do it with the first person we have a chance with, so they overcompensate and we still end up hurt. There needs to be a much more balanced approach. Someone pointed out that for every book Christians write on the goodness of touch or sex, there are another ten warning us about it. We need to teach about healthy touch in healthy circumstances alongside the reverse.

6 comments:

  1. Thank you for posting this. Seriously. This is something I've struggled with personally and have felt like anything I'd post of this sort would be blasphemous.

    The first-kiss on your wedding day concept is cute, but honestly, I couldn't do it. I personally would want to kiss my boyfriend/fiance before I got married for many different reasons. A main thing for me, is that it would be just plain awkward kissing someone for the first time in front of a bunch of people. We kiss parents on the lips as little kids, we kiss people on the cheek. So really, it technically isn't your first kiss. A kiss is a kiss, a kiss doesn't mean I'm going to go jump into bed with that person.(Pardon my crass, but it's true.) That's like punishing everyone else who didn't shoot a person by taking their guns away.

    I have issue with a lot of the "purity" curriculum or lessons/sermons I've heard and read because I feel like they go overboard. I am honestly afraid that if God ever has it in His plan for me to marry someone, that I would actually associate sex with shame. Sex isn't shameful. It is beautiful. God created it to be something beautiful. Unfortunately, *some* people pervert it.

    (Sorry if I sound like an annoying broken record.)

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  2. Thank you so much for your insight. That fear of touching and being touched is something that made my first (and only) relationship very very tough. I felt uncomfortable even hugging him for a long time, and it hurt him a lot--and we were only dating! I'm single now and have come a long way but because of the "physical ANYTHING with the opposite gender will cause them to stumble unless it's a side hug and it's all bad bad bad" and some experiences outside of church with people overstepping their boundaries I'm still scared. But at least I have the knowledge now, coming from some really strong, great Christians, that I shouldn't be afraid and now I'm working on conquering that fear for whenever (if ever) I'm in another relationship/get married. I agree with all of your points here.

    It's one thing to know in your head that that fear is something that needs to be conquered; it's very comforting to read it from someone else who knows that and agrees and has been there. Thank you for sharing.

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  3. This was an awesome post! So insightful (and I even chuckled now and then). You make good points. I totally think that I'd be in the "sex is bad" mentality box, unintentionally, but that's where my brain would probably be. Thanks for make me think.

    ~Books

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  4. I really appreciate you being brave enough to post this. :-) I've had similar thoughts for a while, but had no idea how to say it. And it comes better from someone who is now married, I think.

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  5. Well said, Kate! I've watched many a young girl struggle with this, and I know marriages that have broken up because of it. I'm so glad you are okay with kissing now :P You keep being the brave, amazing woman I know you are and keep challenging the status quo that doesn't go with what God says :)

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  6. Well said! I've come to adopt this philosophy as well. I used to be all for the 'no touching or kissing until marriage' before I grew up. x) I think it is a cute idea for those who do want to wait for their first kiss on their wedding day, but that certainly would not be for me. I can't imagine kissing for the first time in front of a crowd of people -- especially with my family front-row center! Talk about awkward. That said, I don't think kissing should be done until at least engagement, personally.

    Also, as females, it is harder for us to all of a sudden be completely okay with kissing, passion, and the like all in a matter of a day. If I were to adopt the 'absolutely under no circumstances will we touch' philosophy, I can't imagine how awkward and embarrassing the wedding night would be!

    All in all, very good thoughts. I've been thinking the same thing for a little while now. :)

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