Monday, 11 August 2014
I Regret Losing My Vir gi nity On My Wedding Night
“Believing that true love waits, I make a commitment to God, myself, my family, my friends, my future mate and my future children to be s ex ually abstinent from this day until the day I enter a biblical marriage relationship. As well as abstaining from s ex ual thoughts, s ex ual touching, pornography, and actions that are known to lead to s ex ual arousal.”
At the age of 10, I took a pledge at my church alongside a group of other girls to remain a vir gin until marriage. Yes, you read that right — I was 10 years old.
Let’s take a look at who I was as a 10-year-old: I was in fourth grade. I played with Barbie dolls and had tea parties with imaginary friends. I pretended I was a mermaid every time I took a bath. I still thought boys were icky and I had no idea I liked girls, too. I wouldn’t get my period for another four years. And most importantly, I didn’t have a clue about s ex.
The church taught me that s ex was for married people. Extramarital s ex was sinful and dirty and I would go to Hell if I did it. I learned that as a girl, I had a responsibility to my future husband to remain pure for him. It was entirely possible that my future husband wouldn’t remain pure for me, because he didn’t have that same responsibility, according to the Bible. And of course, because I was a Christian, I would forgive him for his past transgressions and fully give myself to him, body and soul.
Once I got married, it would be my duty to fulfill my husband’s s ex ual needs. I was told over and over again, so many times I lost count, that if I remained pure, my marriage would be blessed by God and if I didn’t that it would fall apart and end in tragic divorce.
I believed it. Why wouldn't I? I was young and these were people I trusted. Everyone knew I'd taken the vir gi nity vow, of course. Gossip is the lifeblood of the Baptist Church. My parents were so proud of me for making such a spiritual decision. The church congregation applauded my righteousness.
For more than a decade, I wore my vir gi nity like a badge of honor. My church encouraged me to do so, saying my testimony would inspire other young girls to follow suit. If the topic ever came up in conversation, I was happy to let people know that I had taken a pledge of purity.
It became my entire identity by the time I hit my teen years. When I met my then boyfriend-now husband, I told him right away that I was saving myself for marriage and he was fine with that because it was my body, my choice and he loved me.
We were together for six years before we got married. Any time we did anything remotely s ex ual, guilt overwhelmed me. I wondered where the line was because I was terrified to cross it. Was he allowed to touch my breasts? Could we look at each other naked? I didn't know what was considered s ex ual enough to condemn my future marriage and send me straight to Hell.
An unhealthy mixture of pride, fear, and guilt helped me keep my pledge until we got married. In the weeks before our wedding, I often got congratulated on keeping my vir gi nity for so long. The comments ranged from curious (how in the world did you manage?) to downright disgusting (I bet you're going to have one busy wedding night!). I let them place me on the pedestal as their vir g inal, perfect-Christian-girl mascot.
I lost my vir gi nity on my wedding night, with my husband, just as I had promised that day when I was 10 years old. I stood in the hotel bathroom beforehand, wearing my white lingerie, thinking, "I made it. I'm a good Christian." There was no chorus of angels, no shining light from Heaven. It was just me and my husband in a dark room, fumbling with a condom and a bottle of lube for the first time.
S ex hurt. I knew it would. Everyone told me it would be uncomfortable the first time. What they didn't tell me is that I would be back in the bathroom afterward, crying quietly for reasons I didn't yet comprehend. They didn't tell me that I'd be on my honeymoon, crying again, because s ex felt dirty and wrong and sinful even though I was married and it was supposed to be okay now.
When we got home, I couldn't look anyone in the eye. Everyone knew my vir gi nity was gone. My parents, my church, my friends, my co-workers. They all knew I was soiled and tarnished. I wasn't special anymore. My v irgi nity had become such an essential part of my personality that I didn't know who I was without it.
It didn't get better. I avoided undressing in front of my husband. I tried not to kiss him too often or too amorously so I wouldn't lead him on. I dreaded bedtime. Maybe he'd want to have s ex.
When he did, I obliged. I wanted nothing more than to make him happy because I loved him so much and because I'd been taught it was my duty to fulfill his needs. But I hated s ex. Sometimes I cried myself to sleep because I wanted to like it, because it wasn't fair. I had done everything right. I took the pledge and stayed true to it. Where was the blessed marriage I was promised?
I let it go on this way for almost two years before I broke down. I just couldn't do it anymore. I told my husband everything. My feminist husband was horrified that I'd let him touch me when I didn't want him to. He made me promise I'd never do anything I didn't want to do ever again. We stopped having s ex. He encouraged me to see a therapist and I did. It was the first step on a long journey to healing.
Ten-year-old girls want to believe in fairy tales. Take this pledge and God will love you so much and be so proud of you, they told me. If you wait to have s ex until marriage, God will bring you a wonderful Christian husband and you'll get married and live happily ever after, they said. Waiting didn't give me a happily ever after. Instead, it controlled my identity for over a decade, landed me in therapy, and left me a stranger in my own skin. I was so completely ashamed of my body and my s ex uality that it made having s ex a demoralizing experience.
I don't go to church anymore, nor am I religious. As I started to heal, I realized that I couldn't figure out how to be both religious and s ex ual at the same time. I chose s ex. Every single day is a battle to remember that my body belongs to me and not to the church of my childhood. I have to constantly remind myself that a pledge I took when I was only 10 doesn't define who I am today. When I have s ex with my husband, I make sure it's because I have a s ex ual need and not because I feel I'm required to fulfill his desires.
I'm now thoroughly convinced that the entire concept of vir gi nity is used to control female s ex uality. If I could go back, I would not wait. I would have s ex with my then-boyfriend-now-husband and I wouldn't go to hell for it. We would have gotten married at a more appropriate age and I would have kept my s ex uality to myself.
Unfortunately, I can't go back but I can give you this message as a culmination of my experiences: If you want to wait to have s ex until marriage make sure it's because you want to. It's your body; it belongs to you, not your church. Your s ex uality is nobody's business but yours.