Forty Three

This one’s for the purity rhetoric.

You know, that narrative that says if you “save yourself” for marriage, the reward is a deep and meaningful relationship that is so much more worthwhile and better than those others, that you will only ever connect with the first person you have sex with so you better make sure it’s the person you agree to spend the rest of your life with because if not, you’re going to be damaged goods and no one wants that.

It’s bullshit.

I’m 27 now and I can see the fruit of the damage that that rhetoric has caused – in my friends, in me.

Imagine learning and internalising that you have this one ultimate gift, one trump card, for that one person you’re meant to spend the rest of your life with. Now imagine that you think you’ve found that person, and you give them this ultimate gift, but then life happens and you’re on your own again but who are you now, if not an empty shell because you’ve given away the one thing that you had. This is the purity rhetoric.

It is so damaging, so traumatic and so oppressive.

We are human, and we have human needs. There is no shame in acting on these needs. But this is the result of the purity rhetoric – it shames and rejects those who go against it.

Me – I’m in my late twenties and still haven’t had sex. I feel cheated of a more fulfilling life, of a life that feels more lived. I feel like I’ve bought into this rhetoric, that’s promised me so much and delivered nothing. I’m in the same position as I was 10 years ago, and only starting to explore what I like sexually when most people my age already know what works for them.

I have friends who still carry with them the shame they felt for having sex outside of a marriage context, this affects the relationships they’re in today, years later. I know of couples who aren’t able to have sex even after being married because they have so deeply internalised the forbidden nature of it that they can’t bring themselves to actually do it. I know of married couples who aren’t able to shake the feeling of shame from the act of sex.

This is not healthy. This can’t be the way that it was intended.

Who even decided that sex was taboo? That it was only intended for marriage? Marriage as an institution was established hundreds of years after Christ. Relationships, all sorts of different types of relationships have existed in all of history. So why this one thing? This is one of the contentions I have with Christianity and religion in general – some things are so arbitrary.

We Christians need to change the way that we talk about sex. Sure, there are chemical reactions in our brain that help us connect with one another more but this isn’t limited to one person. We can connect with multiple people and we are more than what we give. We need to destroy the purity rhetoric if we want to see healthier relationships and healthier people, people who aren’t damaged by the shame that this narrative generates.

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