Tag Archive: sex before marriage


southafrica

[a guest post by Sindile Mlingo Vabaza]

I will not pretend to have grasped the inherent difficulties in running a country but I think I can confidently assert that if we want not only a free and fair and just South Africa, but one that has clearly engaged it’s past and moved into a post-colonial and post apartheid state, we are going to have to be both honest and have intellectual integrity no matter what viewpoint we espouse.

This is important for a number of reasons.

1. South Africa is a secular and constitutional democracy and implied in that is the freedom for people to bring multiple perspectives to the table as to what will constitute a ‘thriving, just, economically sound, racially and socially cohesive country that is built on being non-racial and non-sexist’.

That is the baseline agreement.

How we get there is up for debate. Vigorous debate.

In entering these debates there must be some sort of binding social agreement which holds us to intellectual integrity(meaning we do our homework and we are able to properly convey our ideas in the marketplace of ideas) and also that we rightly justify the opinions we hold.

Although, a difficult balance we also need to be open to changing our ideas while remaining in a position of conviction of the ideas we already hold.

2. The powerful social influences of religion and culture/tradition can easily overpower reason and due diligence.

Religious people need to be careful when quoting verses from their holy books to justify their opinions. Firstly holy books were written within vastly different contexts to our own and at a time when scientific knowledge was quite non-existent and to apply glibly these verses is to do both religious and non-religious communities a massive disservice.

For example, the difference between the secular and religious view of sexuality can be summed up in that sexuality for secularists is a health issue(physical, psychological, emotional etc), whereas it is a fundamentally moral one for religious people.

The problem with making ‘societal’ sexuality a fundamentally moral one(as religious people are given to doing) is that people and indeed cultures and worldviews can differ vastly but people with those differences can be equally sexually healthy or unhealthy.

This is borne out by many studies including those done by the Barna research Group(a Christian one) which seems to show that young Christians in America are just as sexually active as their non-Christian counterparts, but less likely to use contraceptives(they don’t want to make it seem like they planned it) and more likely to engage in oral and anal sex(often without the requisite knowledge to do it safetly). Other studies seem to bear this out as well and in fact have discredited the whole ‘Abstinence only’ movement.

Now my point is this; I understand for example that waiting until marriage is important for a lot of religious people and an important tenet of faith(the mystery of marriage is that of Christ and his church in the case of Christianity), but a call for real honesty needs to be made to religious leaders and communities when addressing this issue (and many others of course).

The often not-always-well-thought ideas on which teaching in religious communities rests on, particularly pertaining to general sexual behaviour is at times troubling.

The idea that people who have sex before marriage are ‘damaged goods’ is a pervasive and in my view a nefarious one. While holding abstinence from sex until marriage as a key value to strive for, issuing judgement and condemnation when it is not maintained seems to strongly contradict the concepts of love and grace that are at the heart of Christianity.

This does not call into question the wisdom of Christian teaching but it does call into question how it is TAUGHT and APPLIED and in WHAT CONTEXT.

In South Africa in particular, this lack of real thought by religious people combined with cultural/traditional mores and a fundamentally more conservative outlook mean that when young women who are sexually active want to seek contraceptives(especially in rural and poor township areas) they are often shamed(from a moral point of view) and because of that many do not always seek preventative health measures which further compounds our HIV and STI woes and also in a lot of cases simply helps the CONFIRMATION BIAS of religious leaders and communities.

Also because we live in a deeply patriarchal and misogynistic society the shame and guilt(again very moral terms) is shifted to women mostly and having personally noted this, I as a man, am shocked at how deeply the lived experience of women, especially young women in this country is marked by pervasive feelings of guilt and shame and how popular ‘slut shaming’ is amongst both men and women.

Is it any wonder women are so reluctant to report incidences of sexual violence and what about all the young women in universities and colleges around the country, women who are this nation’s next leaders, who have to live in shame and pain because they are afraid their sexual histories and habits will be open to public scrutiny if they come forward about being coerced or drugged(then raped).

There is a price to pay for a lack of intellectual integrity and due diligence in everything but more insidiously the price is higher in this regard.

The dream that undergirds the New South Africa is one of both Non-racialism and Non-sexism. We absolutely hammer non-racialism home but hardly seem to be concerned about the non-sexism part.

We need to be.

In my own honest opinion I don’t think there is anything fundamentally wrong with religious teaching on sexuality because there are young people who want to remain virgins(and not all of them are religious) and faith can often give them the tools to navigate the world and preserve their convictions.

The sexual health of young people especially young women cannot become an ideological war between those who are conservatively minded and those who are liberally minded.

Young people deserve better than that and quite frankly they need mature, live and healthy examples of the Christian sexual ethic(that to me seems to be the best tool to persuade others of the religious sexual ethic).

[For some thoughts Sindile has on First Steps towards a genuine New South Africa, click here]

[For some challenging thoughts by Sindile on Employment Equity, click here] 

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For this final part of my series on lies I believed about sex I want to talk about the false expectation many people are given that because sex is intended for marriage, as soon as you get married you will be able to fully express yourself sexually without experiencing guilt or shame. Of the four things I touched on in my Relevant article, this was the one people seemed to resonate with the most.

Many of us who were raised in Christian communities heard some version of this line in an attempt to convince us that sex before marriage wasn’t worth the potential baggage. We were told stories of people who had sex before marriage and how this negatively affected their sexual relationship with their spouses. The message was clear. If you don’t wait, you are setting yourself up for heartache in your future sex life. If you wait, you will enter marriage guilt and shame-free and be able to enjoy sex the way God intended.

I’m not saying that this isn’t true to some extent. I’m incredibly grateful that my husband and I haven’t had any sexual experiences apart from one another. I think it’s a sweet and sacred part of our relationship and I love knowing that it is something we two have uniquely shared only with each other. But in many cases, our hyper-vigilant attitude towards pre-marital sex is very hard to shake once we’re married and it can take a great deal of time to get over the emotional barriers we put in place before marriage.

My struggle with guilt and shame wasn’t because I went into marriage believing that sex was dirty. I had been told since I was a teenager that sex was intended to be a beautiful thing. But when you spend so much time and energy trying to avoid it or being afraid of it, it’s hard not to let those experiences override simple statements like, “Sex is intended as a beautiful thing.”

If you think about it from a basic psychological standpoint, it makes no sense for us to expect people to be able to make such a huge change all in one instant. Many Christians have spent years – from the day they hit puberty until their wedding day- focusing their energy on keeping their sex drives in check. Then suddenly, in the space of just a few hours, they expect to be able to stop feeling like their sexuality is something they must carefully control and instead be able to express it freely. And not only that –but express it freely with another person.

Many of us have programmedourselves to feel guilt towards sexual feelings – this is how we keep ourselves in check throughout our dating relationships. But that “red light” feeling we train ourselves to obey doesn’t always go away just because we’ve spoken some vows and signed some papers. I have always enjoyed having sex with my husband, but it still took me several months to stop having that sick-to-my-stomach guilty feeling every time we were together.

As bizarre as it seems, I was actually embarrassed that I was no longer a virgin. Even though the whole reason for being a virgin was to enter marriage as a virgin, it had become such a crucial part of my identity that it was hard for me to give up. I had to tell myself over and over, “It’s ok. You aren’t supposed to be a virgin anymore.” But there was a part of me that was sure people were looking at me differently. If losing my virginity before marriage would have made me “like a piece of chewed up gum”, unsuitable for my future husband, how was losing my virginity to my husband supposed to feel different? Wasn’t I just my husband’s chewed up gum? (This is one of many disturbing and objectifying analogies I’ve heard before about why it’s important to save yourself for your spouse.)

Not everyone experiences these feelings,but for the many people who do, it is terribly isolating. Because, once again, we are experiencing something our churches and communities never acknowledged as a possibility. And we feel alone and broken and filled with a profound sense that this isn’t the way it’s meant to be.

Several people commented on my original article to say, “This is why you shouldn’t wait. Why would anyone want to live that way? It sounds like this totally ruined your ability to enjoy sex.”

I would say to those people that the problem isn’t with the waiting. Waiting, in and of itself doesn’t cause any of this. The problem is this huge gap between how we talk to teenagers and young adults about sex, purity, and abstinence and the expectations we put on marital sex. My husband’s and my difficulties in our sexual relationship stemmed largely from taking what we’d been taught about sex as teenagers and trying to apply it to a marriage.

The problem is two-fold. First, I think our churches need to re-examine how they communicate with teenagers and young adults about this (which I touched on in Part 2) and secondly, churches need to find a way to address the gap between “Don’t do that,” as a young single person and “Sex is the greatest” as a married person. In many churches, there is no mature discussion of sex directed at adults and no conversation whatsoever about how we move from the way we treat sex as singles to the way we’re meant to treat sex as married adults. By not addressing it, we act like this transition will happen naturally, leaving a lot of people isolated, hurt and confused when it doesn’t.

We need to start doing the hard work of addressing these issues instead of ignoring them.

[Lily Dunn is an ice cream connoisseur, a Disney fanatic, and a fellow raiSIN hater trying to live an authentic, grace-filled life. She lives and teaches with her husband in Daegu, South Korea and blogs at https://lilyellyn.wordpress.com. Follow her on Twitter @LilyEllyn]  

 [To catch up on the rest of this series, click here]

So i now have a few great things written about this topic and was struggling to find the best place to put them so i thought i would create this space over here:

Let’s Talk about Sex – my friend Lily Dunn exposes ‘4 Lies the Church Taught her about Sex’ 

Sex Before Marriage – one of those topics that keeps coming up that there are a variety of opinions on – with input from Jamie the Very Worst Missionary

Sex During Marriage – this is a topic we hear a lot less about and some friends of mine graciously share their stories with us.

How Much Sex in Marriage – cos, you know, we like numbers

Let’s Talk About Sex [To Our Children] – a shared blog from Anne Marie Miller that went viral because this is something parents want to know!

 

There is a woman whose name is Jamie Wright and who has a blog called ‘Jamie, the Very Worst Missionary’ which I generally enjoy reading as she is honest and sometimes in-your-face and completely real in terms of addressing different aspects of Jesus-following life… She let me use her Sex Before Marriage posts here [which are phenomenal, by the way] and has now just come back from a trip to Asia where she got to witness some of the human trafficking war [cos it really is a war – more slavery exists today than ever before in human history, a tough statistic to really take in for reals] face-on and she wrote about it here which is a great first post to read if you have the time, and then wrote this follow-up post which is a call to action [and opportunity to do so] which she has allowed me to repost here in the hopes that a few more people will see it. Please read and like and share and do whatever you have to d to get this in front of more eyes, and definitely consider getting involved in some way:

The Big Ask: How can I help fight human trafficking and slavery?

I sat across a table from a man I can tell you almost nothing about.

He’s an undercover investigator working with The Exodus Road, and I was truly impressed by him. I don’t want to get all gushy, so I’ll only say that he was a total effing badass. (Like if Chuck Norris and William Wallace had a baby and the baby grew up and married John Wayne and they had a baby,that baby would be this guy.) So, anyway, he spends time doing surveillance and gathering evidence against pedophiles and traffickers. His nights go to looking for underage sex workers in brothels, taking covert video and detailed notes, he and his teammates carefully follow the trails that lead to the traffickers of children, and assist the government (when needed) in sting operations to bust them.Bad. Ass.

He took us for a drive in a car with dark tinted windows, and it didn’t take long to get to a little karaoke bar on the side of a dirt road surrounded by a high wall, its big metal doors open for business. He and El Chupacabra went in for a bit, then texted Matt and I to join them. We found them at a small table with a bench on each side. A few teenage girls were seated around them, while a pretty girl with braces and chipped nail polish was pouring them drinks. And, there, pressed in against my hulking husband was a girl no bigger than my 13 year old. A tiny delicate thing.

The girl didn’t speak, didn’t smile, scarcely made eye contact, unless prodded by the obviously more seasoned girl next to her. After a little conversation and a few seemingly casual questions, our tour guide learned that she didn’t speak the local language. “Maile” was her name, and she’d only been there for three days.

Now. Everything in me wanted to jump up and scream, “THIS IS TOTALLY A VICTIM OF TRAFFICKING!!! QUICK! LET’S GRAB HER!!!” – But I kept up appearances, as instructed to “just party”. Because that’s what the beginning of rescue looks like — it looks like average, every day dudes going to strip clubs and gay bars and brothels looking for a good time, when, in actuality, they’re super badass mofo’s looking for underage sex workers and victims of trafficking.

As we finished our drinks, a couple of the girls took their leave, disappearing into a back room, but not until she was waved in by an older girl did the little one make her hurried (and clearly relieved) escape. We got up, paying our tab and leaving a tip, and headed for the car. But I watched that hardened investigator linger. He pulled a bill out of his wallet and put it in the pretty girl’s hand, pointing toward the door the other girls left through, he said, “This is for Maile.”, and she nodded understanding.

I was completely undone – but wanting to sound like I, too, was a stone cold badass (and not some shuddering, traumatized suburbanite), I tried to say something aloof and appropriate, like, “So, you’ll go back and investigate that, right?”

Jamie1

“I could tell you, but then I’d have to kill you.”

First he said something about not jumping to conclusions (the mark of a good investigator). Then he said, “Yes, I’ll go back.” and “It’s hard to walk away when you have an idea of what could happen to them, but you could pull boys and girls out of brothels all day long and there will be 10 more to take their place.” And then he talked about the importance of getting to the root of the problem and the need to prosecute the pedophiles who create the demand for children and the traffickers who supply them.

Ugh! For real, I wanted to stand and clap.

There are millions (MILLIONS, you guys!) of men, women and children around the world, who, are hopelessly enslaved. They’re in dark places; in brothels and bars, brick factories, fishing boats and slums. They live and breath in places the American Church is afraid to go. They’re hidden in the shadows of a world that doesn’t care for them or about them.

But rescue is coming

I was invited to SE Asia by an organization called The Exodus Road, a non-profit coalition that empowers freedom from sex slavery through investigation and rescue. Just “come and see”, they said. “no strings attached.”, they promised. I felt it brave for a group who knows my penchant for harsh scrutiny of overseas NGO’s to invite me in to have a close look around. If I’m being honest, I was prepared to be disappointed. I was expecting “Look at us, we’re the Saviors of South East Asia!”. I was expecting a short-sighted plan to do irrelevant work led by unqualified people. Because I’m a jerk.

I know, I know. I’m an ass! A cynical, pessimistic, hyper-critical ass.

Which is why I’m pretty excited to say that I fell in love with The Exodus Road and the work they are doing around the world. Smitten. Seriously.

Jamie2

2 investigators and the national
leader of a group home for victims
of sexual abuse (33 boys & 8 girls),
looking over a pedophile’s case.

Over the course of a few days, a few beers, and more than a few bowls of spicy papaya salad, Matt Parker, CEO of The Exodus Road, answered every question El Chupacabra and I could come up with, even the weird, dumb, and awkward ones. The perception I walked away with is one of a young but healthy organization, with a big picture mentality. They honor the local government, and value partnership with sister organizations (including those working in outreach and aftercare) who agree to high standards of practice. Pushing the long-standing but broken Christian model of “good intention” aside, they’ve carefully chosen trained investigators with unique skill sets to do the best work on the ground, contracting men and women with a wide range of ethnic, religious, and professional backgrounds.

It was terrible and wonderful to see and hear about Rescue in SE Asia. I was deeply moved, and I was certain I wanted to help. Having just heard from those specializing in aftercare about the difficulties getting victims rescued in order to help them move forward, I knew this is where I wanted to join the fight.

Now, I know some of you want to tell me that I didn’t need to fly to SE Asia to find sex for sale, pedophiles, ping pong shows, and trafficking. I totally get that. But the U.S. economy doesn’t rely on tourism generated by selling our sons and daughters. Our children’s bodies aren’t counted as part of our Gross Domestic Product. Our government (while super flawed) has the will and the means necessary to investigate, arrest, and prosecute criminals who sell, enslave, or traffic human beings. So, yes, the problem exists in the U.S., but, no, it’s not the same. Regardless, we, the Church, must take both to task—not choosing one as more important than the other, but by realizing that we have the financial and human resources to address both, wisely and fully.

So, this is the part where I ask you to get involved. (Oh c’mon, you knew it was coming.)

My approach will be to invest financially in global rescue, and physically in local anti-trafficking efforts.

Locally, I’m meeting with several organizations who are working in rescue and restoration of victims of sex trafficking in my region. I’ll fill you in as those details emerge, but it wasn’t hard to find interesting groups to consider volunteering with – I just googled it and invited some friends to check it out with me.  I challenge you to do the same.

Globally, I’m pledging $35 a month to sponsor an investigative team in SE Asia, through the Exodus Road.

But my gift, alone, is pretty insignificant — that’s why I’m asking you to join me in the full financial support of an entire investigative team focused in one SE Asian city, notorious for sex crimes against underage boys and girls.

My gift is small, but if 200 people come together at $35 a month each, we can fund a whole damn team! And that’s HUGE. If we pool our resources, we can make a significant contribution that puts pedophiles and traffickers behind bars, rescuing current victims and helping to prevent future victims.

We CAN help. We can empower rescue and prevention. We can RESCUE A CHILD.

To protect the investigators, I can’t publicly name the country or city of the team we will be sponsoring. (Though, I will say, it’s a city I visited on my recent trip and the investigators I met.) So to make this fun, I’m creating a private Facebook Group where up to 200 donors can join me in a safe place to talk about, celebrate, and pray for the work we’re conspiring to fund. The Exodus Road will provide us with covert footage and other super-duper-top-secret info from investigations and arrests as it comes. And we’ll even have an occasional awesome give-away. (The first one will be next week!)

Jamie3Over 100,000 people will likely see this post, more if you share it *wink wink*, I only need 200 of you to join me, please be one of them! I honestly believe we can make a difference.

To join the team, click here and put “DELTA TEAM – JAMIE” in the comments section, along with the email address you use for Facebook so I can welcome you to the private group.

I wrote this in my notes, sweating in bed after that hard night out with the investigator:

What if a little band of merry men gathered their resources to empower the rescue of trafficked and enslaved women and children? What if we supported and encouraged the men and women on the ground in just one city in SE Asia? What would happen if they had everything they needed to investigate and prosecute those who prey on the weak?…Word would get out if more bad guys went to jail, and traffickers disappeared, and brothel doors closed… What would happen if we came together from all over the world to shine a bright and focused light in the dark? ….Perhaps it would create a ripple of Hope where once there was none, as rumors of escape spread and one child turns to comfort another, whispering with assurance, “Rescue is coming.”

$35 a month (or $5 or $15 or whatever!). Will you join me?  

[You can find this particular post here, but you should probably just make a point of bookmarking Jamie’s blog which is here, because she writes from the heart and more often than not provides some much needed challenge and invitation to live this Jesus-following thing for real] 

Jamie Wright: the Very Worst Missionary

Sex, part 2: Why Wait?

I pretty much hate having teenage boys. 

I hate the looks they give. I hate the smells they make. I hate the skeezy little ‘stache that creeps up, slow and sparse, on their upper lip. But most of all, I hate the autonomy they have.

I hate that my baby boys have grown beyond arms reach and can now wander freely in this little corner of the world. I hate that they get to choose what they’re going to do and say, and that I don’t get to hover over them, correcting them and coddling them and giving them the WTF-are-you-thinking-?!-eyebrow every so often to keep them in line. Hate it.

Ugh! They’re independent. They are young men, responsible for their own actions. That is so scary it makes me want to barf.

And, perhaps it’s because I got knocked up at 17, but, of all the choices my kids are faced with and all the opportunities in front of them, I feel especially preoccupied with their choices regarding sex. Naturally, they love this. I mean, what teenager doesn’t want their Mom constantly reminding them that it’s gross and creepy to engage in sexual activity in public parks, behind strip malls, or in the recessed corner of the movie theatre?! What high schooler would hate it if their Mom sang, “Please do not have sex todaaaaay!” every time they walked out the door?! Surely not mine.

…Yeah. The eye rolling gets pretty intense around here…

But I want my kids to be armed with the truth (and maybe with condoms, but mostly with the truth), and the truth is that they should wait to have sex.

There are obvious reasons why:

1. You could accidentally create another human being (like I did, oops).

2. You could cause yourself or someone else emotional harm by sharing intimate behavior in an irresponsibly casual way.

3. Most compelling, you could contract a horrible, painful, itchy, burning, smelly STD, and your penis could fall right off.

But I believe there’s another really good reason to put sex on hold. 

It’s that when you wait to have sex, you are creating an important connection between the very powerful urges to do things that feel really good and the ability to control those urges. Otherwise known as self-control. This practice of self-denial and delayed gratification makes you a healthier, more poised, and better moderated person (who definitely still has a penis, phew!). Ultimately, self- control is a character trait ~or *ahem*, fruit of the spirit, for the Christian folk~ that will help you be a better long-term partner in your ’til-death-do-we-part relationship.

Listen. I don’t want to kill anyone’s romantic ideas about marriage, I really don’t – but it’s not like you get married and then you’re unfailingly super stoked to have sex with the same person three times a week for the rest of your God given life. I mean, married sex can be amazing – the longer I’ve been married, the better it gets (19 years, Suckas!!). But it really shouldn’t shock anyone to hear that married, monogamous people still have sexual thoughts, desires, and impulses which do not include their spouses. Porn happens. Crushes happen. (Seriously, everybody has crushes. Even Christian bodies have crushes.) The problem is that, in a culture that demands instant gratification and consumes sex like a drug, a quick brush with porn or a simple crush on a coworker can quickly spiral into something devastating.

To top it off, we’ve done a really bad job of teaching about sex in the Church. Our approach has been to shame girls for having it, and shame boys for wanting it. And when the smart kids ask, “Why wait?”, we shrug our shoulders like a hillbilly and say, “Because the Bible says.” Then we give the girls a purity ring and we give the boys nothing and we cross our fingers and hope they’ll cross their legs. So dumb.

ringWe’ve made virginity the goal, when it is purity that we should be aiming for; They’re not the same thing. Sexual purity is a life long spiritual practice that doesn’t begin or end with a single sex act, just as it doesn’t begin or end on a wedding night. So when we are asked, “Why wait?”, we should have an answer that empowers and prepares people to choose wisely for a lifetime. We should be teaching people something they can carry with them beyond their first roll in the hay.

Why wait? Um. Because you need to learn some freaking self-control. That’s why.

No kidding, the person who is a slave to their sexual desires will have a difficult road to hoe. ←Heh. See what I did there? 😉 But the man or woman who has a sense of mastery over their own sexual appetite will be far less likely to fall into the easy traps of addiction and infidelity that plague marriages today. I don’t mean to imply that postponing sex guarantees fidelity – it certainly doesn’t. And I don’t think this is a fail safe for a long and happy marriage, but I think delaying sex is a pretty solid beginning.

So I tell my kids, much to their horrified chagrin;

“I know it’s hard to be near the person you’re aching to touch and kiss and do… um… other… likenaked things with. I know! I get it. We all get it. But the person you’re with right now? That person isnot the last person you will have those feelings toward, and you need to know what it feels like to not act on those feelings, because a day will come when you will have to exercise self-control for the sake of the relationship you’ve given your life to – and, trust me, you will want to know how to do that. Do not relinquish that power without a fight. So, really, consider the wait. There’s value in waiting. (But if you don’t wait? Condom. Please. Because babies. And emotional wounds. And your penis will rot off…)

Waiting is an act of maturity and discipline that can help refine your humanity, and that of your mate. And while I still don’t think sex before marriage is the biggest deal of all the deals ever, I do think waiting is a good start toward a long and healthy life with the person you’ve chosen to love. Plus, statistically, married people have WAY more sex than single people. So exercise self-control while you’re waiting to get married, then use that well honed skill to help you stay married and – BOOM – buckets of sex for a lifetime! …That’s bad math, but still.

So, Why wait? 

Wait because self-control is a virtue necessary to living a life of purity, and waiting is just good practice. 

That’s it. That’s all.

[This is a reblog of a post that Jamie originally posted on her own blog which you should read and follow and subscribe to and tell all your friends about, or at least the less conservative ones, which you can find over here]

[If you missed part I of the series simply titles ‘Sex’ you can catch up to it by clicking here]

Jamie Wright: the Very Worst Missionary

aka Jamie the very worst missionary’s position on sex [part I]

My youngest son is about to turn 13, so for the next 9 months, until my oldest turns 20 (holy ape balls!), I will be Mom to three teenage boys.

That means our dinner table feels like a locker room… if locker rooms were full of nerds. The conversation tumbles easily from Xbox to music to girls to MineCraft to push ups to girls to movies to farts to money to girls to YouTube, and then back again, in an endless loop, so that over the course of one meal we come around to the subject of “girls” at least 9 times.

At least

Girl talk inevitably leads to sex talk. And, let me tell you, if there is one thing these guys like to talk about more than girls? It’s sex. So we talk about sex. Kind of a lot. And since (as far as I know) none of my children have gone and gotten married, we’re mostly talking about sex of the pre-marital sort; y’know, Virginity and stuff. The Big “V”. The Sacred Gift. The Golden Ticket…. These chats are exactly as awkward as you imagine.

Obviously, my children know that I had sex before marriage because I had a kid before marriage, so there’s really no getting around it. That same kid towers over me now; a full two years older than I was when his own fluttering heartbeat wound itself into mine. These days, I look at him and I think, “He can’t even keep his own room clean – how the hell did I manage an infant and a full time job at that age?!”

So, yeah, I was an unwed teenage mother. Classy, I know.

But oh, it gets worse, because before I invented MTV’s Teen Mom, I was a little bit of a ho-bag. Yup. I willingly did regretful things with my body, and I allowed myself to be used in regretful ways by some regretfully sleazy douchebags, perverts, and (in retrospect) probably pedophiles. Gross, I know.

I believed that sex was the best thing I had to offer the world. It was the only thing about me worth loving. And I learned, too young, that I could leverage sex to get what I wanted. My female parts had become my greatest asset.

glassThen I found my way into the Church, 19 with a baby on my hip, and while I lingered on the outskirts of the Christian bubble, guess what I learned… I learned I was right! Apparently, even God was super concerned with my vagina, and where it had been, and what it had touched. Apparently, my genitals were like a portal that led straight to my soul. I had been muddied – and everybody knows that once you muck up clean water, you can’t unmuck it.

It took me a lot of years and a lot of conversations with God (and with people who know more about God than me) to understand that everything I believed about my own sexuality was built on two huge lies.

The first comes from our culture, and it tells us that sex outside of marriage isn’t a big deal.

The second is from the Church, and it tells us that sex outside of marriage is the biggest deal of all the deals ever.

One allowed me to give it away freely, convinced I would carry no burden. The other forced me to carry a spirit crushing load.

Both are complete crap.

Sex matters. It’s the most vulnerable thing you’ll ever do with another human being. Commitment breeds intimacy, and intimacy is what makes sex freaking amazing. I’m not gonna lie, you can have hot sex outside of a committed relationship – but mostly it’s gonna be like… clumsy… and goopy… and ew. The better you know your partner, the better your sex will be. So basically what I’m saying is that wedding night sex is kinda “Meh.”, and five years sex is all “Yes!”, but 18 years sex is like “WOAH!!!” So go ahead and wait. Wait and enjoy the waiting, and then bask in all those learning experiences with your most trusted friend.

But.

If you’ve already gone down that path, you knocked boots, you got ‘er done, you did the nasty…. and now you’re not sure, or maybe you feel dirty and you’re rocking the walk-of-shame-face day in and day out, you need to hear this — I mean it, you really need to hear this…

You’ve had sex outside of marriage? *gasp* So what! You are so much more than your sexuality. And the God of the Universe, the one who turns whores into heroes, and drunks into prophets, and liars and murderers into leaders and kings – that God? He made peace with you and me and our promiscuous, pathetic attempts at love a long, long time ago. He gave you a Redeemer. Shame is no longer your burden…

Do I want my boys to wait? Absolutely. And they know it! But I refuse to tie their value as a human being to their junk like a shiny red balloon.

I want them to know that sex is sacred. And I want them to believe that it matters. I hope they will esteem the bodies of the girls in their lives, as they hold their own bodies to the same high standard.

But I also want them to understand that the kind of sexual purity the Bible calls us to doesn’t begin or end with Virginity – It’s way bigger than that. It’s way more significant. And it’s way harder to hold on to.

… ….. ….

To wait, or not to wait? That is the question…

[This is a reblog of a post that Jamie originally posted on her own blog which you should read and follow and subscribe to and tell all your friends about, or at least the less conservative ones, which you can find over here]

However, this particular blog post has a sequel to it, which Jamie has just recently written and which you can find right over here…

belgiumI remember the first article I was invited to write for Truth magazine back in the day had the title, “How far is too far?” so I wrote, “Belgium. Belgium is too far!” and then proceeded to write the rest of my article [for some reason, they let me stay.]

And the main point of the article was that if we are asking ‘How far is too far?’ then we are already in trouble because we are asking the wrong question. From the Christian perspective, basically knowing that ‘Sex before marriage is the greatest evil’ [it’s not, but you’d think so from the trailer!] the ‘HFITF’ questions is pretty much asking, ‘How much can I do with my girl/boy-friend before I have to feel bad?’ ‘How close to the cliff can I get without falling off?‘ [where falling off was a metaphor for ‘having a baby’ or something] or else quite simply ‘How close to evil can I sneak without being called it?’

In essence, the question we were all taught to ask was ‘How much can I get away with?’

And it’s the wrong question!

But we never knew that, because sex was such a dirty topic. It was a dirty topic at home as our parents were from the ‘Children should be seen and not heard’ generation [who must have all had sex by accident one day when they tripped on top of each other and their clothes burnt up in the friction as they fell, or something] and it was definitely a dirty topic at church [Sex was pretty much the ‘Voldemort’ of church. Voldemort being the ‘Saying Macbeth before theatre productions’ of the Harry Potter world. And so on.]

And so, because we couldn’t learn about sex from our parents or our church leaders, all that left was our friends and their illicitly-smuggled-from-deviant-older-brother ‘smuggled in brown paper bag’ magazines [which in my day had these little white stars posted over the n_p_l_s! Who, by the way were not always the best of teachers. [Our friends and magazines, I mean, not n_p_l_s. Although they weren’t much help either]

Oh parents. Oh church leaders. How you might have saved us much trouble and confusion and who knows what other kinds of traumas and complications had we just been able to sit around and have an open and adult conversation about S-E-X. We don’t blame you for it, because you had your own story passed on from your parents and society, and I really think you did the best you could. But it would have helped.

Today all of that is history as we have our good friend Uncle Google who has all measure of wikipedia entries, how-to videos and image galleries to walk us through it. [But it would probably still go a lot smoother if you just gave us the chance of a decent potentially-awkward-but-we’ll-get-over-it conversation before we turn 30 and without merely tossing a pamphlet, book or website URL on our pillows when we are out]

Let’s talk about sex.

This is a relevant conversation for Christ-following people for sure, but I believe it extends way beyond that. I think that healthy sexuality, purity, intimacy and self-control and other aspects  linked to relationships and sex are relevant for everyone because I believe that getting a healthy grasp on them [hee hee] is more about living well than merely living christian. So I hope you will find these posts useful:

First up I have two posts by the incredible Jamie Wright who blogs as ‘The Very Worst Missionary’ and has written two extremely helpful blog posts, in her own very unique style, which I think really captures the heart of at least some of what this topic is all about:

Meet Jamie Wright, aka The Very Worst Missionary

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