My boyfriend said, “Not having sex regularly is probably very detrimental to anyone's physical well-being.” And knowing how he suffers from the long-distance and not-having-sex part of our relationship, I think that is how he truly feels.
Knowing that his mind is occupied with sexy thoughts for most parts of a normal day (and trying not to judge him for that, coz that is considered a sin in the big book of my faith), I can't help wondering what males growing up in conservative Christian culture feel like. Is it that they are just conditioned to not think about sex in the same way that “normal” guys do? (And I don't even use the quotes sarcastically, as much of the Christian doctrine circles around a sense of being “set apart” and not like the other “normal” people.) But if men (or women) become Christians later in life, does the sex-conditioning also kick in? Or are Christian boys growing up much like any of the other boys, just with a much bigger sense of guilt?
In any case, I have to say – I don't envy them! It must be really, really hard growing up as a hormone-driven male in conservative Christian circles. (And as a woman, too, of course. It just seems more of a male focus.) How difficult to reconcile the images of a God who loves you just the way you are with a God who tells you that how you feel “naturally” is not good and pleasing to him, unless you go through the very rare and time-consuming act of a wedding. Real pickle if you ask me. The Christian man that I used to imagine myself marrying one day was a solid provider, handsome, smart, funny, caring and wanted sex at the exact same frequency that I did. He liked to watch my kinds of movies with me, while giving me a foot rub and wanting to know ALL about how my day was. Basically, an emotionally super mature man, with the heart of a girl and a dick once a week or so. These day dreams were supported by Christian housewife novels, where it takes the timid lovers 300 pages to kiss for the first time, and the same Christian self-help books, that had already taught me not to dress too provocatively. You'd think this idea of an emasculated man was the product of a weird conservative-feminist secret society that tried to brainwash the mental blueprint of man-kind into their liking. But no – this strange mix of an archaic and pure ideal man was actually the product of sermons, books and posters done by men!?! Why, I ask myself, did and do men propagate a manly ideal that actually seems really far removed from how they really feel? I find it so so hard to imagine how to have a lot of self-love, if you have to constantly deny or feel guilt about your urge for love and sexuality, which seems to be one of our most basic instincts. It all seems really exhausting and counter-intuitive. I know my father, a pastor, would now say that it's a wrong and unhelpful assumption that everyone just gets to have sex whenever they want. A lot of people have to go without sex and be okay with that – for example disabled people, or Christian gays and lesbians (his words not mine), and even within a relationship if the appetite for sex isn't equally high. Of course, I agree with that to a certain extent because not all of our intuitive desires are always constructive and healthy (especially if they constrict someone else's freedom). And I myself went without dating, kissing or even holding hands for 11 full years (!) and was still a pretty content person. I was way more desperate and sad once I started dating again (but that's a story for another time).
I am so confused by evangelical Christianity. Why do we Christians choose to make things so much more difficult and harder than maybe God ever intended it to be for us? I just wonder how there can be a way to talk about sex in church. How to have a conversation that is more detailed and more helpful than just when to have it and when not to have it. And even if people choose to wait with sex until marriage (which is obviously totally legit), how can – until then – still see themselves as spiritual and sexual beings and talk about it?
I would love to ask evangelical Christian men about how their experience was, dealing with sexual desires. Was it as hard as I imagine? What changed after you got married or changed your beliefs about it? If you want, drop me a line and tell me about it. All absolutely confidential, of course. I am thinking about designing an anonymous questionnaire with questions of that matter that would broaden the conversation considerably.
"The religious and the sexual are the two most powerful life forces. Whoever thinks of them as opponents, teaches the endless ambivalence of the soul. Whoever makes them into irreconcilable enemies, tears apart the human heart. And it has been torn indeed! (…) if we can't enter religion and eroticism into a new, close and happy relationship und reconcile human dignity with sexuality, there won't be the kind of rebirth of religion that many are hoping for and expect everything of today. However, if we succeed, eros would receive a sacred dignity and religion a vital power..."
- Walter Schubart (translated from “Religion und Eros”, 1989)