Guilt, Religion, and Sex Before Marriage
Q: “I was raised in a very traditionally Christian home. I learned that sex was for marriage without exception. However, as a twenty-two-year-old woman, I have decided to explore my sexuality outside of marriage. I believe this is important but I’m riddled with guilt.”
A: How you feel about sex is likely very influenced with where in the world you were born, and in what year. Only a few hundred years ago was the Catholic church condemning women to die for having become pregnant outside of marriage, and “honor killings” still happen in other religions today. In modern times there is still a real fear among faith-based folks: the far of ostracization from their family and community. This fear is what forces these folks to live within the confines of those expectations, regardless of their faith. This is why people will live their lives closeting their sexuality, or their gender, or their desire to date before marriage or to not marry at all.
I encourage people to seek other methods of keeping themselves right with the world and with their sense of soul or spirituality, even if that means moving away from the groups or venues that challenge your developing beliefs. Let’s acknowledge that Judeo-Christian religions (and all patriarchal religions) lead to direct violence and harm against many people.
I give you permission to seek out health information and to dispel some of the harmful myths that are presented to many children in Christian environments. No, healthy regular sex will not stretch out your vagina or transfer someone’s DNA onto yours. Yes, you deserve to have a good working knowledge of how your body experiences pleasure in this lifetime. Yes, there are some aspects of human sexuality that are deeply negative and have harmful consequences, and it is important to acknowledge that having partnered sex requires communication and mindfulness. These efforts are rewarding in the fact that people with healthy attitudes about sex are more likely to use contraception properly, to talk about sex with their partners comfortably, and to report better experiences.
The Old and New Testament were not kind to women; we were sold by our fathers, raped by our husbands, and even Mary was impregnated by God without consent. Female choice or pleasure is never been rewarded or even considered in the Bible(s). I encourage you to read as much as you can about sexual function, about sex history, and about anatomy. And consider that you don’t necessarily become an atheist, but you might want to find a different church and spend some time away from the people who raised you to feel the guilt that you’re currently trying to deconstruct. Namaste.
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