Category Archives: Sex

Soliloquy: Another Alumni Recollects

I asked my friend John to share a memory for this week. What he sent me follows…

It was the pinnacle of a preacher boy’s training. No, not New Testament Greek, or even the bizarrely garish spectacle of the yearly “preaching contest.” It was Marriage and Family class – where we finally got to learn how to hold a family together amidst the constant drain of The Ministry. And also, we all secretly hoped, talk a little about sex. So far we had learned that “Men are like microwaves and women are like conventional ovens.” I finished the last scratches of my doodle. It was a three dimensional picture of a slightly rumpled box, its flaps open, with the word “Think” sitting outside of it, also rendered in three dimensions. A few minutes earlier a female student had asked a question that the teacher had apparently considered very stupid. He must have, because his response was, “No, you bimbo…” before launching off into an Approved Narrative regarding the topic. And in that moment, I caught a glimpse of a spirit that infected the entire campus like a spiritual canker, a spirit so contradictory to Galatians five that it shook me to the core. I had seen a ghost – an evil spirit that wore khakis and a blazer and a saccharine smile and called
women created in the image of God bimbos.

My mind drifted back to all the pain and suffering I had seen women go through. There were little things – like dates tearing up after being told to return to their room and change. Not because changing was so difficult, but because of the shame associated and the opportunity for gossip and to be labeled a slut. Or a bimbo. There were the separate elevators, as if two young adults couldn’t possibly ride together in an elevator in the library without spontaneously copulating. I thought about the girls who were forced to surrender their friendship because they were caught sleeping in the same bed – surely a sign of being lesbian, because even two women can’t sleep in the same bed without being filled with irrepressible sexual urge.

But there were bigger things that belied a seriously sick approach to gender and sexuality. I remembered the girl who gave birth in a stairwell at school. I hadn’t known her very well, but my heart ached for a young woman who was so afraid of admitting that she had pre-marital sex that she would risk the health of herself and her baby. I wondered how many times she had been called a bimbo. I wondered how this same fundamentalist culture could scream so loudly about the evils of abortion and then put a girl in a position where the precious gift in her womb would be better off hidden, better off delivered in a dusty, hot stairwell. Maybe better off aborted. I wondered where the love was in a system that called itself Christian and called its women bimbos. And I thought about the double standard.

When I first arrived on campus, I had a secret fear. I feared going to a “Christian” college. I feared that I would be around people who were good. I was afraid that such people would reveal the lie of my superficial morality and polished dress- code. When I met my roommates, I was filled with almost instant relief. They were upper classmen, and while they suffered from the same superiority complex as I did, they were unabashedly pagan. They joked about going out of state to purchase pornography. They joked about clogging the shower drain through frequent masturbation, and argued over whether it was polite to masturbate in the shower or not. We had a newer dorm and didn’t have to share a bathroom with anyone, so it brought a new dynamic to the conversation.

As the teacher droned on about how women were the downfall of many a minister, I thought about how so many of the men I knew in school were just as psychologically screwed up as the women – just as hurt, just as confused, just as sexually stunted and repressed. But, they weren’t called names. I thought about the serial daters on campus being humorously – and a bit adoringly – referred to as “man whores”, usually with a wistful sigh and hint of jealousy. I thought about a double standard that allowed men to think of women as sexual objects and sources of damnation and ruin. I thought about a culture that thought it was ok to call a female student bimbo, or a classmate a slut because she wore a fitted top, but would never use such shaming on men.

I sighed a little too loudly, drawing an irritated glance from the teacher and causing the dozing fellow in front of me to stir and wipe the spittle from his mouth. Then I hastily scratched four words beneath my drawing that would because the mantra for my short time left. “Not in this place.”

Having Sex Before The Rapture (Or Death Whichever Comes First)

Those of you who have been reading here for a while know that I don’t often shill for products or projects on this site unless they are of my own creation. But once in a while, a book or film comes along that speaks to some core experience of fundyland so well that I can’t help sharing it with all of you.

Unsurprisingly, Fundy Sex Week remains one of the most popular set of posts on SFL for the simple reason that people love to read and write about sex — especially if they were never allowed to talk about it growing up. Given the morbid fascination that surrounds sexuality in fundamentalism, I was intrigued when a few weeks ago I became aware of a filmmaker named Matt Barber who has teamed up with producers Chris Pack and Brittany Machado to raise money for a documentary entitled “Jesus, Don’t Let Me Die Before I’ve Had Sex.” It’s intended to be a conversation surrounding the attitudes and experiences of people in evangelical Christianity towards sexuality and all of the special awkwardness that goes with it.

As Matt explains:

I occasionally dated throughout college, often struggling with the clash between my desire for physical contact and my pledge to stay pure until marriage. Like many young adults, the one question I kept asking was, “How far is too far?” Growing up I was taught to preserve my virginity at all costs—for me, sexual purity equaled salvation; yet, I couldn’t bear the idea of going through life devoid of the experience of sexual pleasure. But the only path available to me was marriage and that seemed like an eternity away. It felt so distant that my evangelical soul was certain Jesus would whisk me away to heaven before I was able to even begin courting a female. And so, with this burning tension I would often turn my eyes and heart towards God and earnestly pray: “Jesus, don’t let me die before I’ve had sex!”

I escaped singlehood relatively unscathed having only stumbled my way to second base (I fled any opportunity to go further). Right before my 22ND birthday, when I thought my life as a celibate monk was surely sealed, I met a beautiful woman who rocked me to my core; I had met my soulmate. We dated for about 6 months, at which point I brought up marriage. She was hesitant to rush in—and she wanted nothing more than to spend her life with me. She made me promise that I would wait to propose until after our one-year anniversary. I complied by asking for her hand on the 366th day of our courtship. Once her surprise and amusement subsided, she said “Yes!” and we were engaged. And, unless the rapture happened within the coming year, I would soon be having sex. Real, live sex.

Imagine the surprise on my wedding night—after I had finally obtained the prize—when I realized I hadn’t changed.

“Where were the fireworks?”

“Why didn’t anything click inside me?”

“When does the ‘two become one flesh’ feeling happen?”

“Why, Jesus, didn’t I feel complete?”

Don’t get me wrong, many aspects of my wedding experience were great—but the reality of twenty-three years of false expectations hit me like a ton of bricks. Now, I’m still married to the same woman. We’ve struggled from time to time, built a wonderful home together, and the sex has gotten much better (for your information, it takes practice). But I couldn’t forget the feeling that I was misled in some way.

A few years ago, I told my story to some friends who had also grown up in the Evangelical Church. They, in turn, told me their stories. I was struck by how similar the sexual message from our churches were, how closely our expectations lined up and how we prayed the exact same prayer as teenagers.

Exactly. The. Same. Prayer.

Can you relate? I know I can. Although in fundyland the prayer didn’t actually contain the word “sex” but everybody knew that’s what was meant by prayers about “getting married” before the Rapture.

Now no matter what your beliefs are on sexuality, I can pretty much guarantee that you’ll find something about this film to disagree with — and that’s ok! But the larger conversation that this project will help start is one that I believe is long, long overdue both in fundyland and in the larger circles of evangelical Christianity where many of us have landed. I had the chance for a brief dialog with Matt Barber recently and I believe that he will treat this subject with both honesty and respect.

Given how difficult it can be to raise money for something like this I’d imagine that right now Matt is praying a new prayer: “Jesus don’t let my project die before I’ve had enough sex interviews.” The first phase of the “Jesus, Don’t Let Me Die Before I’ve Had Sex” project is over 60% funded via Kickstarter but there are only a few days left to raise the money needed to get it off the ground. I’d ask you to contemplate investing, even if it’s only a dollar or two. Even if you can’t contribute, it’s worth checking out the interviews so far, reading some of the comments, and spreading the word to others who might want to take part in this conversation.

Fundy Sex Week Day 6: Afterglow

I’m fully aware that it would be impossible for me to sum up the entirety of human sexuality in fundamentalism in half a dozen posts. On the other hand, some of you are probably relieved that I’m going to shut up about sex and go back to our regularly scheduled insanity on SFL. Believe me, I understand.

However, for those of you who would like to cover something I missed or share a story, a puppet show, or an Etch A Sketch® drawing, please feel free to do so below. Or you can avail yourself of the forum if that’s what you’re into.

Also, be aware that I’m going to schedule some posts this weekend but I won’t be around much next week as I’ll be taking some much needed R&R from the interwebs and SFL in general. In reality this means I’ll probably only spend 4 hours a day online instead of my customary 16, but it’s the thought that counts.

I may manage to coerce a few guest posters to contribute but that remains to be seen.

Now, the floor is yours…