Wednesday, March 14, 2012

The church and sex

I’m not honestly sure I am ready to write this post, but in honor of trying to over-think things less I’m going to move forward with it. I would love it if this post became a meme or an open thread for discussion… That being said…

Sex is one of the few topics related to the church and to my faith crisis that as of yet has not been explored on this blog. Yet I suspect it is probably something that many of us in the ranks of the apostate and disaffected end up deal with, have questions about, and probably end up a little angry with the church over…

Sex by far is one aspect of human life that the church and its teachings has a strangle hold on. In my opinion it is also one of the things that becomes MOST distorted and vilified by church teachings.

The distortion really comes from what sex is compared to by the church… Sex is only permissible within the bonds of marriage. Marriage is the golden key that morphs sex from evil, vile and sinful into something suddenly good… Any sex outside of the bonds of marriage is a sin next to murder… Let me say that again – MURDER. No wonder we equate sex with dark and evil things… Murder is awful… Therefore guilty by association, sex must be really bad…

When you grow up thinking that… It takes some time to reprogram yourself. I have pretty much embraced sex at this point… The guilt is gone but it took me a long time to get past it. In fact I would say that sex has been one of my final “Mormon hurdles” to jump. That guilt even sans belief in the church was pretty engrained and I have spent a good part of the last year getting over it.

I will spare you the details of my personal life in this post and just say that I was a damn good little Mormon girl for the most part… I felt completely guilt-ridden for any sexual thought at all. Fast-forwarded through any sort of sexy-time in any movie. Changed the channel if something popped up on TV and usually quit reading any book that proved to be explicit. Yep my Celine Dion CD ended up being escorted to the trash can by the garage when I started to feel bad about the lyrics, “When you touch me like this, when you hold me like that...” Trash can… After all touching can lead to sins next to murder therefore better not to think about touching at all…  

In the Alison Bechdal book I mentioned in my last post she talks about sex. She says: 

“Sexual shame is in itself a kind of death.”

I agree with that statement completely but am having a hard time formulating the reasons why I agree. I think a big part of sexual shame = death has to do with the parts of yourself that you label as evil, bad or inappropriate when there is shame attached to sex. In a sense you are not a whole person when you mark such parts of yourself as being “bad”.

I want to write a post or two about this idea over the next week or two but I would love input. I would love others to comment on why they agree or disagree with the idea that “sexual shame is in itself a kind of death”. (If you write a post please let me know. Send me a link or leave a comment here. ) 

This is an idea worth exploring. As you have let go of guilt and shame regarding sex how has your life changed?

17 comments:

  1. oh you will probably open a big discussion here. And good for you. It's needed. I have blogged on this subject several times, I feel like intimacy was absolutely poisoned by the church for me in my own marriage and it took years and years to overcome... I am still overcoming. I will link my blog post(s) in here again if you don't mind. One post that I am still considering regards masturbation... but I need a bit more courage for that one.
    http://notveryusefultruths.blogspot.com/2011/01/poisoning-sexuality.html

    and

    http://notveryusefultruths.blogspot.com/2011/01/spirit-of-law-sexuality.html

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    1. Thank you for posting your links!!!

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  2. This is how I view it, especially after dropping out of the church.

    Sexual reproduction is the main purpose of our biology. All biological species on the earth are allowed the freedom to act on their sexual impulse, in tune with nature, in order to perpetuate the species and to claim status as a reproducing member of the earth.

    Sex is also what makes a "mating pair" which is a fundamental social part of our nature, along with many other mammals. Sex is a bond and a glue that keeps people together.

    If you take the sexual act away, and you deny your body any access to the most basic of biological and social drives, then yes, it is a kind of death. Its death of the basic functions of your body. Its death to the beautiful parts of life. Its a denial of the most fundamental and important social connection you will ever have with a human being. Its a complete denial of self.

    Now, I'm not obsessed with sex. I think sex was a bigger deal when I was an unmarried virgin and everyone in the world seemed to talk about sex. I was a virgin until I was 28, and I regret it horribly now. I regret denying that part of myself, and I regret not being able to share that bond and connection with past lovers.

    If you could see into my mind as a young 20 something, then you would see that sex shaming did make me partly dead and it seeped into other parts of my life, creating deep depression and despair. This is why I view the church's stranglehold on sexuality the most oppressive and harmful thing it can do to its members.

    Sorry my thoughts are jumbled. I have some pretty strong feelings about this and its hard to get it all out in a coherent way.

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    1. I really like what you have said. Very articulate. I echo a lot of the same thoughts and feelings that you are talking about here.

      Regret for past experiences that might have been makes a lot of sense. I have that too sometimes. (I'm glad to be where I am but I do sometimes wonder what might have been...)

      I like how you referred to relationships there. "Fundamental and important social connection" - We do need those emotional and sexual relationships.

      Do you mind if I use your comment in a larger post later on?

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    2. Sure, feel free to use whatever you want. BTW, this is Emily. I just didn't want to use my google account for that comment since its tied into my work. :D

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    3. Ha! The tone and wisdom sounded familiar.

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  3. There's a great article in the new Sunstone sort of related to this topic....

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  4. Thought-provoking as always, Sulli. I will be thinking about this topic and likely blogging about it.

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  5. The church is so screwed up when it comes to views on sex. There are those who would imply that even sex within a marriage could be deemed wrong if it was "done wrong". There's some wackadoo's out there that even would go as far as to say that if you're not procreating that it's wrong. Um, excuse me? And then the Mormons all try to get into your bedroom by saying that you shouldn't nude snuggle to much (because you're supposed to wear your garments at all times other than sports, swimming and as our temple worker said "marriage" hahaha). They'd say that wearing lingerie, oral sex, or anything other than what I consider rather vanilla sex is wrong. again, excuse me? its' about 2 people loving each other and wanting to express that love physically. as long as parties involved are good with it, personally, I think it's fine.

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    1. I heard about a lot of that stuff. Funny that even in marriage the church tries to control intimacy.

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  6. You know, I'd never really thought about sex shame being equal to death, but it certainly makes sense, especially in view of a past roommate who had some very unhealthy self destructive habits related to his sex shame.

    I think I was kinda lucky in that I got over sex shame pretty quickly. Masturbation shame, on the other hand... that one took forever!

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    1. I saw your post but have not read it yet. Do you mind if I link to it later?

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  7. Growing up Christian, the sexual shame instilled in me at an early age is part of the reason why I didn't come out to myself until my early 20s. Even then, it took me a little while to even go to a gay bar.

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    1. Yeah.I hear you. I went to a gay bar for the first time in January?

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  8. I guess I'm glad I didn't grow up in Utah. The Mormon church I grew up in taught that sex is great, but only appropriate in a committed relationship, specifically marriage. There was some discomfort with how much to tell children and young adults and when, but never any question that sex is a fantastic part of a relationship. Except for a few crackpots who where clearly doing it wrong. It being sex or Mormonism, or both.

    People in the church do like to generalize it to all sexual sin, but Alma's comment to his son is about being a john, which I think is pretty bad. I'd be happy to argue that rape is second only to murder in seriousness. And I don't think bought consent is a good kind of consent.

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