I went forward at a youth gathering, a pregnant, single, new believer who was lead more by emotion and pressure (looking back) to give her sexuality to Christ.
I signed that card saying that I would remain faithful to the Lord until my wedding night. A week later the house mom of the home I was living in bought me a purity ring. It was a big deal that I gave my sex life over to God because according to the youth pastors I was damaged goods and a sinner.
Sex before marriage, a child out of wedlock, extreme promiscuity and WOAH if they knew what else. Even though now I know that my sexual choices prior to Christ were not and never were sin, they were coping skills that I learned out of abuse and how I was taught to seek love and self worth.
Accepting purity at that moment seemed right and good and fitting. I wanted to live honorable before the Lord, do the right things and make Him love me. I wanted to follow the list of rules, check the things off I was supposed to be doing every day and keep the fear at bay that if I messed up He would leave me.
I was taught that arousal is wrong, that even thinking about sex is wrong and that you must FLEEEEEE or you will surely cave and die. Like Eve in the garden with that damn apple.
I was living daily in a fight or flight state and believed everything that I was told because going back to drugs and Jeffrey was not an option so I soaked it up and did what I was told.
I’ve had one relationship (five years ago) with a guy I met at work, whom I knew from church and he had these really strict rules and steps we had to follow. According to his accountability partner (who struggled with his own sexuality) we were not to pray, talk about things that were too Godly and most assuredly we were not to do devotions together until a two month “probation period” had passed.
We started going through this ancient book (read 1973) called “Choices in Relationships” that was so outdated and misogynistic that I cannot even believe it still exists. We were mentored RIGHT AWAY by an older couple who had gotten married in their 40’s.
Obviously we both had the intention, deeply; actually built more of an idol to staying pure. When we strayed it was automatic shame and I was usually the one, in a passive aggressive way that was blamed because I was the “experienced one”
It was a maddening experience because I was still stuck in needing self worth and love in sex and men and knowing that my beauty is defined by how much a man wants me. So when we would fool around he would blame me. When it finally ended he had gone to the pastor of our church and told him everything we had done. Right down to the fact that we had both had an orgasm (even though we technically did not have sex)
I was angry and mortified and ashamed. How dare he go behind my back and share the personal details of what we had done. This was also the same pastor who had told us that we didn’t really need accountability, and that the bible doesn’t speak to having people hold us accountable to our actions. He only said that we needed to have better boundaries.
I left that church.
I beat myself up both in the metaphorical sense of self loathing and inward shame where I condemned myself for messing around with him and letting God down. Obviously how could I stack my “Make God love me list up” now that I had fallen short in the purity department.
I would also go to the gym and work out like crazy. Then I would sit in the sauna or the steam room and sweat, hoping that the sin would come out of my pores. I wanted it gone. I felt like a whore again. Like the whore my mother called me when I remarked that I boy was cute at my 21st birthday party.
After that passed I held my purity at an even higher standard. My legalistic ideas and thoughts were driven even deeper into my core. I would not allow that to happen again. I would not be the cause of some other guy to stumble. I refused to let God down. I also became extremely judgmental of others and their sexual choices. I thought that what I knew and did was the only way.
My lists of how to make Him love me more became longer and I became more rigid.
Then life happened and I began to re-evaluate God and my faith and what I believe to be true. I let go of believing what other people were telling me about God and started to seek Him out for myself. I broke down those barriers to Him, burnt those lists and threw that purity ring in the trash (literally)
I have read blog post after blog post on sex and still have not come to a conclusion on what it means to have sex outside of the marriage bed (not talking about infidelity)
I still don’t know. What I do know is that I cannot have sex and leave it at sex.
Fast forward to now. I met this guy. Our daughters are best friends and I knew for awhile before he admitted it that he was attracted to me and it felt nice to know. He was pretty obvious in his attraction but waited a long time before he came right out and started flirting with me. I reciprocated but was unsure because I had not really been in any type of male/female situation (I don’t even know what to call it) since the last guy and that was 2009.
We had sex right away, after so long of not being needed or wanted it felt nice to know that he wanted me, that his attraction to me was intense and that as an adult I could make the choice to have sex. Those binding ropes of purity were gone and I was free.
Except I did not feel free; I felt let down, alone and like I had hurt those within me that have been wounded by sex in the past.
Sex had always been a commodity; used to get something I needed ie: drugs, attention, worth or to feel needed and beautiful.
This time it wasn’t a commodity but there was no intimacy. It was just sex but not just sex.
Because I couldn’t hide the fact that there was no intimacy and that is what I had truly been looking for. Intimacy is a word that I have always struggled with and never known what it looks like. Over the last couple of years as I have grown and processed I have built intimacy in different relationships but not in a sexual, interpersonal relationship way.
This is where the lines in my head got crossed and my confusion set in. I really wanted this to be different. I have longed for intimacy in the bedroom since I first realized that was a real thing. Not like sex in the movies but that deep, soul connection that you have with someone you know that builds and burns like a fire when your bodies meet.
I thought we could have that.
But I did not know him and he did not know me.
I think that what I have learned is that if I separate the actual act of sex from what intimacy in the bedroom looks like I can get a clearer picture of what I desire. I have to be careful of not leading myself up to making sex like something in the movies because it’s not.
No slow moving, glistening bodies, no Top Gun like experience, no slow motion camera pan.
I think that what I realized as I wrote this out in my journal that it starts with looking into your partners eyes and seeing their soul; in knowing them to their very core. In the knowledge that they love you, that they know you deeply on an emotional, spiritual and physical level.
Separate from the two bodies coming together.
I do believe there has to be intimacy for sex to mean something. Not for it to just be an act that happens to excite, arouse and fill a void.
Being that Jeffrey was extremely sexually abusive to me I wanted the next man to be the exact opposite. I had long ago thought that it would be my husband but after eight years of being single I think I gave up and let my standards down and went for the first man that was genuinely attracted to me and wanted me.
I wanted to use my sex super powers to have control and be the sex goddess so that he couldn’t hurt me and I could in fact get that void filled and deep in my heart I wanted it to mean something intimate but it didn’t.
Half of the time my mind wasn’t even there.
I knew it had to end because I was only hurting the one that wanted the void filled. As I write this now and I know it’s over, that it was nothing but a booty call I ache.
Because without a man I do not feel seen, heard, loved or understood.
I was groomed to believe that my body is how I receive love and my worth lies in how much someone wants me.
I no longer want to believe that and the sweet little Bethany inside me that bears those wound feels alone today and longing for someone to wrap their arms around her and hold her, tell her she’s worth more than cheap sex at midnight.
I know I AM NOT cheap. I have worth, a God who sees me and loves me, loves her who needs sex to make her feel better.
She doesn’t know that though. She’s young and scared and still lives in fear that she will remain unloved for the rest of her life.
This man, he never had any intention of being someone more than filling the other side of my bed when I called.
I don’t want that. I want intimacy. What I know in my core that intimacy is. I want someone to look deep into my core and know every single piece of me, every scar, wound and healed ache and combine that with what sex is.
I don’t want to be a booty call.
I am worth more than that.
But I need someone to keep telling me that…………
February 10, 2014 at 12:03 pm
You ARE worth more than a booty call. What’s so crazy confusing about this (from my perspective) and I have some promiscuity in my past as well as some legalism, is that sex is really a God thing. It really is a portal to the divine. That’s why it is so powerful, and people pay for it and “need” it and do anything for it. I hate the legalism, and the shaming that comes from legalism. I use the phrase “it’s just sex” to say that virginity does not equal holiness. When I say, “it’s just sex” I mean God doesn’t have a camp for the ones who have exchanged bodily fluids and a different camp for the ones who haven’t. But I don’t use “just sex” to mean not a big deal. Or that it isn’t worth hoping/expecting more. I support you in your journey of seeking intimacy that upholds and champions your self-respect. You ARE worth it.
February 10, 2014 at 12:16 pm
Dear Bethany, please stop living in my head!
I KNOW what you are talking about, when you talk of using sex as currency; I have done that.
I do not have the thing that says “without a man, I am nothing”; more like, “A woman without a man is like a fish without a bicycle”.
I do not feel heard, seen, understood or loved, in this marriage. I am honest – I stay because I have no money to leave. I know this is not fair to my husband, but I feel no push to pray to love him.
I have a lot of “rules and regulations” in my head from the toxic churches we’ve left. Right now, I just cling to the fact that He loves me, He will never leave me or forsake me, and there is NOTHING that I can do to make Him love me any more, OR any less.
February 10, 2014 at 12:18 pm
You are worth being loved by Him. He is there with you, right now in your marriage. You are precious.
February 10, 2014 at 12:42 pm
Bless you, dear heart. And He is also with you, as He is in you, and in me. (((((HUGS)))))
February 10, 2014 at 11:59 pm
Your eyes are wide open now, knowing what you really want. It’s like this experience helped to clarify what you really want. You’ve penned it in words and published it into the universe. We have heard your beautiful words and seen your scarred heart and we enter into this void with you, agreeing that you are worthy of someone great enough to look into his eyes and know that he sees you and cherishes you, not for mutual benefits, but for an adoring love – a love that will listen to your heart and carry the burdens that are too heavy for you – a love that will protect you, even from yourself, when needed – a love that will remind you that you are enough. I believe with you, Bethany, that this Love is already on his way, sent by grace and mercy in the form of a beautiful man. And he’s a lucky man 🙂