Butterfly Cauldron

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Religious sex

I was always taught that sex was sacred, but not in a good way. Sex was sacred, in a Sunday-clothing-Amazing Grace-Thou-Shalt-Not sort of way. In a God deems it good, but not for you way. Sacred and unattainable, if you wanted to remain good and decent and deserving of God's love.

Sex was a subject rarely broached in my home. My parents never had the Birds and Bees talk with me. There was no discussion of safe sex or birth control or the emotional ramifications of being physically intimate with someone else. They ignored a lot. For example:

Masturbation. We never had a conversation about this either, but man was I into it. (Still am, being a celibate girl atm.) As a child, I couldn't get enough and I did it in the most inappropriate places. Like while I was laying on the couch, watching t.v. With the rest of my family around me. Oh, sure, I was laying under a blanket, and in my child's mind I was sure they couldn't see what I was doing, but let's be real here -- it was pretty bloody obvious. Hands moving under the blanket? Lips pressed tight together? Riiiight, no one knows what THAT was. And when I say I did it a lot? We're talking nightly, at least. And don't even get me started about the wonders of the shower! In the car, I would use the pressure from the seatbelts to pull my jeans tight against me, rocking back and forth so my panties massaged my clit. While my family was all around me. Hell, my brother was in the seat right next to me! And maybe, maybe no one really noticed THAT. Maybe. But then I found my parent's heated massager and did some experimenting with it on myself. Ahem. Yeah. And mom found it in my room. And when I told her that my back had been hurting, she didn't blink and accepted the excuse. Told me to ask before I used it next time.

And they never talked about it. Never, when it was clear that I was not having lots and lots of backaches. (Otherwise, why didn't they take me to the doctor? Huh? Girl that young should not be having that many back problems.) Subtly, it re-enforced my belief: sex was dirty. It was secret. We didn't talk about it and we ignored it as much as we could. And, if the feelings I was bringing out in myself were so bad we couldn't talk about them, how bad were the feelings /other/ people could bring out in me?

The only "sex ed" I got from my family was the church sponsored Don't Do It class. In which we were all lead through biblical passages that said (so we were told -- I now know that the Bible doesn't actually say anything about not having pre-marital sex, without referring specifically to the financial/patriarchal implications of it) we were not supposed to be having sex before marriage. But after it, we could. And it would be good. Somehow. Even when we didn't know anything about it. Again, sex is a mystery, a secret we don't talk about.

But even then, I was protesting. They used that same stupid example: Would you rather have a new car or a used car? And I, imputant child that I was, asked "Well, are we talking about a New Yugo versus a Used BMW? Because, ya know, used isn't so bad . . ." Got lots of laughs and made the teacher flustered. What did they expect, comparing my body to a frigging car? As if it were something that could be bought. As if it were something that would wear out and have to be replaced. As if it were always in danger of being replaced by the newest model. How dare they?

And then, of course, the fear was pounded in. The extraordinarly fear of pregnancy. Of being trapped. Of having no more choices. And then I couldn't do it. I wanted to. I loved and I desired and I wanted so badly, but I couldn't, because my religious upbringing had damaged my natural desires so badly they couldn't exist in the same universe. So, I had to give up one. I had to abandon my desires and my needs and my wants or I had to change my faith.

So, I changed my faith.

It wasn't an easy thing to do. Sometimes, I still have tinges of. . .not doubt, exactly. . .but that sharp, electric fear that used to keep me so enslaved. Now I can shake them off. Now I can say, you know this isn't Divine. What did Jesus say? I do not send you a spirit of fear? So even in my old faith, the fear was a lie. Only I couldn't see that until I got out of it.

It took years and years of separation and thought and yes, prayer. It took years and years to quiet the voices of other people so that I could hear the voice inside me. Divine is not evil, not cruel, not denying. Sex is not dirty, or a secret, or a mystery.

My new faith celebrates sex. Yes, sex is sacred. But sacred in the ecstatic, dancing, spinning, freeing, healing way. Sacred in the primal, sweaty flesh stuck to sweaty flesh, animal scent way. Sacred in a break the rules and find yourself way. In all the ways I was taught it wasn't.

That's what I desire. That aching, wanting, reaching, transcending. It's not about the orgasm, not really. (Although, I'm not saying no to a single one, thank ya very much.) It's a connection and primal and animal and divine.

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posted by Zan at 5:20 PM


This was a truly excellent post, Zan. I'm surprised I'm the first to comment on it.

I love your "new Yugo vs. used BMW" statement. I grew up in an Episcopalian household...very Victorian but sort of schizy the same way Victorians were. I was a precocious reader and when I was seven my parents gave me a book set called "The Lifecycle Library". Not another word was said. This apparently took care of it.

I picked up the rest from old issues of Forum at a girlfriend's house.

8:28 PM  

I've discovered that the post I think will get many responses, rarely do. I don't understand. It's a myster ;)

My parents were extraordinarily lucky that I was a brainiac who decided to get all my questions answered by a trip to the library than by picking out a boy or girl and dragging 'em into the closet. On the upside, I was the go-to girl when my friends had questions. Brains. Very Sexy.

We still don't talk about it in my family. Still no talky about the Sex. Nope. Even though I'm 32 and have lived with at least one boyfriend. Nope. We don't, we don't, we don't. Which is just as well, because my parents don't really need to know about my sex life ;)

9:09 PM  

"my religious upbringing had damaged my natural desires so badly they couldn't exist in the same universe"

Oh how I wish I didn't know what you mean, but I do. Still sorting.

Your reply to the used car example is gold. I don't remember if they ever tried that one at my church or not.

9:02 PM  

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