Sex and Christianity
I was born and raised a Christian. From the time I came out of the womb, I was immersed in a highly religious family, and I lived most of my life with blinders on. I never really questioned anything and just accepted whatever was said to me. As I got older, I got more curious and began questioning the beliefs I was raised with more. I still believe in God and consider myself a Christian, but there are many aspects of my religion that I don’t agree with.
At church one Sunday, I went to the teen service and the topic that week was virginity and sex before marriage. I personally don’t plan on waiting until marriage, but I was interested in what was going to be said. There were two couples (one married, the other pair still dating) and one single person sitting up in the front of the large room speaking to us and giving us their personal experiences with waiting until marriage.
There were things said that irked me. For example, the girl that was in the dating relationship said that having sex before marriage was selfish because you were causing yourself, and the other person in the relationship, to sin. They also said that you shouldn’t do anything in a relationship if you wouldn’t be comfortable telling your future husband or a pastor about it. “Can you imagine telling your husband that you’ve had sex with other people? Could you imagine how that would make him feel?” one woman said.
Several things like this were said, but even though I didn’t agree with them, I just brushed them off. But near the end of the forum, something was said that I couldn’t ignore. One of the pastors said, “One more reason to wait until marriage- you are a gift to your partner. Imagine being really excited and running downstairs on Christmas morning and your gift is already unwrapped. How would you feel if your gift was unwrapped or tainted?” This comment angered me. Why are they telling people that they are worthless, that they are spoiled goods, if they have sex before marriage? Why are they commodifying sex? This has a major effect on the way young people, especially women, view sex. They begin to believe that sex is something bad that you don’t talk about.
About a year or two ago at my church teen service, they separated the boys from the girls to talk to us about sex. The woman that was speaking to us had waited until marriage to have sex, and I still remember when she told us that sex is not a great experience for her. She told us that she cried after her first time and that it doesn’t get any better. I don’t think she feels this way about sex because she waited to have sex, but because she didn’t seem comfortable with the idea of sexuality at all. I feel like she saw it as something dirty. And she wouldn't be the only one -- there is a lot of shame placed on sex in the church. If you’re a girl and you like sex and you have sex before marriage you’re seen as a slut, and I feel like religion, while it’s not the only factor, contributes to slut-shaming. A quote from Kerry Howley helps explain my view on this whole situation:
It’s deplorable that sexually adventurous young women are constantly told they are “degrading themselves” by seeking out various experiences, that every bit of enjoyment eats away at some secret store of purity. This whole tradition–the idea that women need be preserved in glass so as not to “ruin” themselves, lest they diminish their sexual value by “giving it away”–restricts the lived autonomy of women in ways I can’t even begin to articulate. None of the slut-shaming makes sense unless you assume women live to give themselves to men in their purest possible form.Your worth is not based on how many people you have had sex with. Instead of basing a person’s worth on sex, how about we base it on how you treat people or your personal qualities. And also, if a partner can’t deal with the fact that you’ve had sex with people before them, they're not worth your time.
If you want to wait to have sex, that’s great. But do it for yourself. Don’t do it because someone tells you that you should. And if you aren’t waiting/didn’t wait, you shouldn’t be ashamed for your choice.
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