Purity culture and real life: “have sex already”

During my drift from faith, I encountered this post by Hannah Ettinger that helped me shake off whatever ghosts of “purity culture” still lurked in my closet:

Here is my best advice for good Christian kids looking to get married: have sex already.

I’m watching too many couples play Russian roulette with their lives because they aren’t listening to their gut instincts about who they want or need to spend their lives with because they happened to have found one person somewhat enchanting and willing to play the Christian marriage game and the stakes are: your whole future on this decision, made in the worst possible state of mind, horny celibacy.

[…] Within Christian purity culture, sex, as an unknown and desirable thing (known to be powerful and good, but forbidden), necessarily becomes the bullet that we imagine blowing our brains out with if we pull the trigger at the wrong time, and we trick ourselves into believing that marriage will somehow protect us from spiritual suicide by pre-marital sex. We can’t know better if we’re still treating sex as a huge scary-and-wonderful unknown entity, but you’d think that our elders/wisers/more-experienced influencers would bother to let us in on the game before we sign on the dotted line.

[…] Thus, when we good [read: virgin] Christian kids decide to accept this system, trusting our parents and pastors’ terms and wisdom, and denying ourselves basic understanding of ourselves as sexual beings (which we are, but they help us overlook this by telling us that perpetual fear and denial of sexuality is a form of healthy [and therefore godly] sexuality), sex as an unknown other becomes a non-factor in our choices for who we date and who and when we marry, or it becomes the secret but driving factor for who and when we marry. It must remain secret as a motive, because everyone knows that marrying just to have sex is a bad idea, but there is no other alternative for healthy, safe, and consensual sexual experience when we have bought into this system.

And if we are unlucky enough to be just a little too horny to effectively deny the existence of our sexuality until the approved time and place (the wedding night), we are caught in an impossible place where in order to keep being Good Christian Kids, we have to not question what our parents and pastors have told us—which is, essentially, that everything I just laid out in layman’s hermeneutics about biblical sexual ethics is lies and that God’s best plan for sexuality is total ignorance and total commitment to one person and one form of sexual experience forever and ever, amen—and to jump through all the Christian social hoops to land in bed with someone and not get ostracized or shamed for wanting to have sex in the first place.

I’m awake for about 17 hours a day. For the sake of simplicity, let’s say I have sexual activity every day (ha!) for an hour (let’s pretend this is pre-children, before foreplay’s thrown out the window). That would mean I spend just under 6% of my time awake having sex. Now in real life, I (along with nearly everybody else) don’t have sexual activity every day for an hour, so it’s actually closer to about 1-2%. That means that I spend 98-99% of my time awake doing non-sexual things. And, yet, during my time as a conservative Christian, the vast majority of moral imperatives had to do with sex. Continue reading

Reflection on the commandment to honor your parents

Libby Anne over at Love, Joy, Feminism has two new posts up about adult relationships with parents. The first post describes how her relationship with her father evolved (or devolved):

My father simply didn’t know how to let me grow up. He didn’t know how to switch from interacting with me as his golden daughter to interacting with me as an adult making my own way in the world. He couldn’t handle me disagreeing with him, because in his mind that meant he had failed me. Perhaps he was so afraid of seeing me hurt and so sure that his way was the only way for me not to be hurt that he simply couldn’t handle it when I saw things differently. Perhaps he simply wanted to protect me, but in doing so he forgot that he couldn’t protect me forever, and that at some point he had to let go and let me grow up.

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When my faith clashed with my reality (Gay Edition Part II)

I’m sorry this post is rambling and fragmented, but I’m trying to connect the dots in my shift in religious mindset.

Life occasionally brings those Oprah-style “aha moments.” I remember watching an episode of Rules of Engagement with my wife about two years and one child into our marriage. I never found the show that entertaining or funny, but it was one of the few shows at the time that we both liked to watch. Right after the episode was over, my wife initiated sex, something that didn’t happen a ton at the time. After the sex, I recognized a pattern – she initiated sex after every episode we watched as far back as I could recall. The insecure person I was at the time, I just had to know if it was Patrick Warburton or Oliver Hudson who was getting her all hot and bothered – and of course I couldn’t converse with her directly about this. So, the next time we watched the show, I was tuned in to her reactions to the show. But, I noticed something different, she was more focused on the show when Bianca Kajlich’s character was on the screen. I found Kajlich’s character, while attractive, to be the least funny on the show, but I noticed that my wife found all of Kajlich’s character’s jokes to be hilarious. And then, as usual, we had sex after watching the show. Continue reading

The “pro-life” movement is about sex, not life

Today, I came across this post on Salon‘s website, discussing a video by Cosmo in which they interviews so-called “side-walk counselors.” There were gems such as this:

“Men and women are made different,” Father Andrew Beauregard explains on camera while protesting at a clinic, “in that women, as the church teaches, reach their full potential in motherhood.” There’s a tight if inhumane logic to this thinking: Women exist to give birth. Thus, if a woman is choosing not to give birth, she is not working as she is supposed to. Which means she must be broken and needs fixing. Ergo, “counseling.”

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When my faith clashed with my reality (Gay Edition Part I)

In addition to exploring intellectual issues I have with Christianity – whether Jesus claimed to be God, reliability of biblical sources, etc., I want to explore the events in my life that made me question my faith. Among these are LGBTQ people in my life, marriage and parenthood, sex and purity culture, and feelings/emotions in regards to religious experiences. This post is in regards to a couple of my gay friends – I’ll post more in the future about how LGBTQ people deeply impacted my faith given how big of a role it played.

James Davison Hunter, in his now classic Culture Wars,  notes of the American cultural conflicts:

The divisions of political consequence today are not theological and ecclesiastical in character but the result of differing worldviews. That is to say, they no longer revolve around specific doctrinal issues or style of practice and organization but around our most fundamental and cherished assumptions about how to order our lives–our own lives and our lives together in this society.

[…] It is the commitment to different and opposing bases of moral authority and the world views that derive from them that creates the deep cleavages between antagonists in the contemporary culture war. As we will see, this cleavage is so deep that it cuts across the old lines of conflict, making the distinctions that long divided Americans–those between Protestants, Catholics, and Jews–virtually irrelevant.

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The questions that got me thinking (Part II)

Below is the second (slightly edited) email I sent to a few friends about what got me questioning Catholicism and Christianity in general. Like the previous one, my thoughts have developed since this email, but I think it illustrates some of the bigger questions that got me doubting. I hope to flesh out some personal circumstances that influenced my doubts and delve deeper into individual questions in the near future. Continue reading