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Let's Talk About Sex & Shame: Part II.

Friends. Strangers. Fellow humans. I am blown away by your responses. The honesty you've shown and the fact that this has resonated in different ways with so many people makes me so glad I asked for your stories. I mean it quite sincerely when I say that I'm honoured to host this conversation. I'm going to share a couple of stories every day until I run out of stories or thoughts or responses. Which seems like it might be a while...

(if you missed the original post, here it is.)

Let's start with my friend who shared these thoughts (and more) in the comments on this morning's post (emphases added by me!):
I grew up with an incredible fear of sexuality. I was so afraid to be sexually 'impure' before marriage that I was largely afraid of relationships, in general. Afraid to slip up, afraid of intimacy, afraid. The only pervasive message I ever read about or heard was "stay pure" and simultaneously, with no examples of what 'pure' sexuality looked like, I was over-exposed to sexual promiscuity in media... I cannot believe that after 8 years of marriage there is still a sense of shame, or fear around sexuality, but years of building up walls of fear and shame take some time to break down. This was the area that my husband and I had the biggest questions about and the least support in (both having grown up in the 'stay pure' Christian era).
But here's the thing: there is absolutely no conversations about sex in the Church. I have had maybe 2 friends who I could be open enough with to talk about intimacy in marriage, but there is simply very few places for people to talk about Sex in the church. I wonder how many people in the Church are struggling in their marriages in this area, or just need new ideas, or need permission to be sexual creatures, but have no one to talk to about it. I think that's my main issue- not with the movement of sexual abstinence but with the Church culture in general. NOT that I think everything should be expressed and discussed during hormonal teenage years, but really, as a Christian, who are you supposed to look to for help? Pop culture? I just simply find it very confusing that something that is part of marriage gets such a little voice...All of this to say, there needs to be more room for conversations about sex in our churches and I believe in absence of conversation space, there IS a sense of fear and shame. 
However, I don't agree with this article's main supposition that the only outcome of an abstinence movement in teenagers only reaps negative consequences. I think there could be better ways to promote it, within more open conversations and godly examples. BUT in absence of an abstinence movement, teenagers are left dealing with lifelong consequences of decisions and choices that might have been prevented had someone explained the benefits and rewards of staying pure other than "just don't do it."
And because it is somewhat similar, another friend's story (again, I'm adding the emphases):
My husband and I were both virgins when we got married. A year and a half into our marriage our sex life is pretty bad. The wedding night was terrible. Lol. My issues seems to be that I had SO MUCH of my identity wrapped up in being a virgin part of me still feels like I am? I pretty much had a panic attack in the hotel room the night of the wedding.
I still feel a lot of shame when it comes to sex, but it stems more from my parents upbringing than the church I think... although I place blame on both. My parents would change the channel whenever there was so much as kissing on television and almost never showed affection outside of cuddling around us.
It is sad. And it's hurting our marriage. We're getting ready to go to a counselor, we need to get this sorted before it starts creeping into every aspect of our relationship.
It's not just shame... I think there's a lot of disappointment there too. Like I waited 25 years for this?? It's awkward, it's smelly, it's weird, and so far not at all pleasurable.
Doubt comes next I guess.. was waiting a mistake? Maybe if I had sex earlier when I was younger and actually had desire, I would be more comfortable now and maybe actually have a healthy sex life with my husband?
My husband and I openly talk about this issue with Christian friends. We have no shame, we want to figure out a way for the church to move forward and teach healthy sexuality. The only way to do that is to start talking! I think people are aching to talk about it. A lot of people have no one to talk to within the church. It's stressful smiling and worshiping on Sunday's but harboring this secret of a bad sex life.
Christians should be the ones teaching the world how to do sexuality. We should be the free ones, instead we're the trapped ones. The church gave away our sexual freedom. They had good intentions, they just went about everything all wrong, no one was thinking about the consequences.
As long as we made it into marriage still a virgin they were "successful." What about AFTER the wedding, then what? They left us with nothing, so in our curiosity we turn to our secular friends, we turn to the internet.

Thank you ladies, for your honesty. For reals.

So. What do the rest of you think? 
Here are a few questions that I have after reading these two stories:
  • what are the "benefits" of "sexual purity," if not a healthy/easy sex life in marriage?
  • why is church culture afraid of conversations about sex, even within its sanctioned parameters?
  • are any of my readers people who lived within "purity culture" who are now married and have a healthy, shame-free sex life? Because that is one story I haven't heard yet, and I'd love to be able to share about that!
More thoughts & stories to come tomorrow...

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