On Thursdays, I have opened my space to feature short essays by women about what they want from the Church. The guidelines are wide, purposefully, inviting either an answer to the question itself or to argue for a better question altogether. These essays have been curated for quality, not for content, and not all views expressed are necessarily my own. It is my hope that these posts are beginning places, that you will be sent on to spend time with the words of these women in their own spaces and houses of expression, and they have been asked to interact with you in the comments. (I'll be less active there, accordingly.) If you would like to submit to the series, please note that it has moved on submissions to my good friend Elora. You can still submit by seeing this post.
What Women Want from the Church: To Have (and Enjoy) Sex
You promised me I would never regret this.
I thought I did everything right. After all, I did the things you told me to do.
I prayed for my future husband. I made a list of non-negotiables. I kissed dating goodbye. I was a lady in waiting. I let God write my love story.
I sat on the front row of the ‘damaged goods’ sermon with my head held high. I knew who the girls were in the room our youth pastor was talking to. I wasn't one of those girls.
I was sexless and shameless. And proud.
Sexual purity became my idol.
Sexual purity fueled my pride.
Whenever I was asked about my life calling, my life purpose, my answer was rehearsed and ready: "My mission is to inspire others to have an appreciation for the anticipation of sacred waiting." (I'm 99% sure I stole that straight from an Eric and Leslie Ludy book.)
Somewhere along the way I bought into the lie that my worth as a Christian, that my identity in Christ, was directly connected to my sexual purity.
that "somewhere" was church.
But I regret this.
I regret buying into the things you told me about sex, about my body, about my sexuality.
But mostly I regret saving sex for marriage.
I got married about five months ago...
Is there a sexuality switch that you forgot to tell me about?
Perhaps my switch disabled when my Sunday school teacher described to me the excruciating pain of sexual intercourse as the worse pain she had ever experienced.
So I am married. And I am still sexless.
But I am not shameless. Not anymore.
Let me tell you how it feels to be a woman whose singleness was spent in "sacred waiting" and whose marriage is spent in secret shame.
Let me tell you, church, about my anxiety and panic attacks and fear and tears and disappointment and anger that I experience every time we get somewhat close to intercourse. I feel shame because NO I HAVE NEVER BEEN SEXUALLY ASSAULTED. I feel shame because there is no reason that I can make sense of as to why I would have such severe sexual anxiety, besides the reality that I have spent most of my life clinching tight to my sexual purity and have found my worth in this very virtue.
Let me tell you, church, about my husband who is so gracious and patient and understanding, even five months into this sexless marriage. I feel shame that because of my sexual anxiety, this sweet and perfect and gentle man of valor whom I love so much has not yet had the amazingly blessed married sex that he, too, had been promised after waiting so long.
Let me tell you, church, about lying through my artificial smile when my friends ask me about "married life" as they fish for details about married sex. I feel shame because I am certain that no one else would understand. I feel shame because I am certain that my Christian community would be quick to judge. I feel shame because a sexless marriage is not what a good "Christian" marriage looks like. I feel shame because I lie about it again and again.
Let me tell you, church, about your "experts" in marriage counseling who insist that if I don't buck up and let my husband penetrate me, that he will find someone else to meet his needs. I feel shame to know that these Christian "experts" can justify my husband's hypothetical extramarital affair, and insist that my withholding of and my resistance to sex would be to blame
I’m drowning in this shame. I’m so lonely in this shame.
I thought I did everything right, but I’m not so sure anymore that I did.
What do I, a woman, want from you, the church?
I want the church to be gentle with the hearts and minds of the young girls and recognize that many of these same young girls will soon be young, married women.
I want the church to stop equating virginity with purity so that girls, like me, aren’t put on a purity pedestal.
I want the church to stop taking the easy, lazy way out by teaching a fear-based, shame-based view of sexuality and to stop shying away from a healthy and honest conversation about sexuality.
I want the church to give me, and those like me, a chance to be vulnerable without judgment, without correction, without shame.
Finally, I want the church to stop reducing me to a failed wife because it was the church who failed me.
This post was offered anonymously. The author will be tentatively replying to comments anonymously. I will be strictly monitoring the comment section accordingly.