Question 4: Doin’ the Dirty

Q: Have you decided to wait until marriage to have sex? How did you come to that decision?

A: “I’m too old for this shit.” This was the advice that pushed her into preparations for her first time to sleep with her now husband. At the time, they had been dating over a year, and as a woman in her mid-30s, she was struggling to understand why she was still adhering to the abstinence education of her teen years. While she still felt the Bible had something to say about sex, she worried that she was wasting her prime years and stubbornly clinging to old ideals that no longer felt like her own. And so it was with a simple cliché, “I’m too old for this shit,” she set out to make her preparations. You may know from Hump Day, she had already embarrassingly told her boyfriend that they would not be having sex. However, she planned ahead, began taking birth control and waited until she felt ready. When I asked her for more details about how and why she made her decision, she giggled as she told me about wearing her favorite dress, the sushi restaurant she chose for dinner, and the extraordinary way that everything and nothing changed at the same time. In listening to her story, it was striking that this was a responsible decision made over the course of at least 15 years. And even still, when probed about condoms and birth control, she emphatically shared, “I could not get pregnant before the wedding. I would have died of shame.”

Question 3: Happy Hump Day, Y’all!

I’m thrilled to introduce you to a day that’s really just for fun. It may come as a shock to you that I’ve been occasionally accused of overthinking. So….enjoy a little whimsy.

Q: Tell us about an embarrassing sexual encounter that you can laugh about now.

A: As is often the case for Hopeful Abstainers, the not having of sex often causes more embarrassment than the act itself. When I asked her to tell me a story, she sort of guffawed reminiscing about the moment that she told her now husband that she had never had sex before and wasn’t ready to with him. For those unfamiliar with this horror, she set the stage for us. They were making out on her couch a few months into their relationship. It became clear to her that this particular night required a conversation about her abstinence….Empowered sexual decisions? Virginity? From her account, it went something like this.

“I have to tell you something.” (Sighs heavily and covers face desperately).

Awkward and unbearably long pause.

“Are you ok? I mean? Are we okay? Are you not enjoying something I’m doing?”

(Reluctantly) “No, no. It’s not that.”

“Ok…”

Awkward and unbearably long pause.

“What’s wrong? Did something happen?”

And so the conversation went for another 10 minutes—he, frantically asking questions, and her, slipping deeper and deeper into the panicked, wordless coma of her 30 year old virginal mind. She knew he wasn’t from the subculture of her True Love Waits world, and she liked him. She really liked him. What if he doesn’t understand? What if he thinks I’m crazy or broken?

By some inspired miracle, he finally connected the dots. “Oh. Oh. Ooooooh. I see. You haven’t. I mean. You aren’t. I mean, we aren’t.” With her nod, he went on, “DONT SCARE ME LIKE THAT. DONT EVER DO THAT AGAIN. It’s fine. It doesn’t matter. We’ll wait. I thought you were dying or weren’t happy with my (gulp) performance.”

Her advice to others after this experience: Don’t be afraid to put off the conversation (even several months!) until he really likes you. If he’s already hooked, it goes down easier.

We hoped you enjoyed this adorable story!

Joyfully yours,

Two Hopeful Abstainers

Question 2: Oops.

Only 3 days in, and I’m already getting forgetful. This is one of those questions that encouraged me to be self-reflective in my own critiques of religious sex education. Her simple, but thoughtful and sincere answer is worth a ponder. Much has been said about the larger state of affairs in church sex ed, but this is a reminder that each person experiences and interprets their experiences differently.

Q: Tell us about your adolescent sex education.

A: “I learned the mechanics from Dr. James Dobson’s cassette tape. I later learned that my sister cried when she heard the tragic news, but when my parents asked if I had any questions, I was too horrified for tears or questions. After that, we didn’t discuss it much at home. I was enrolled in the True Love Waits class at church, and my parents left the conversation to the Youth Pastor.  I definitely took seriously the idea of saving yourself as a gift to your husband.” When I pressed for more on this topic, she was straightforward and sincere, “I could tell you everything that is messed up about that kind of sex education, but I wouldn’t be saying anything new.” The truth, for her, is simple and optimistic. There are any number of reasons to gratuitously mock abstinence only sex ed, but she doesn’t feel damaged by the general lack of clarity on the subject that persisted through her early 20s. In fact, she is grateful to have inherited a sense of the sacredness of her sexuality, and she’s having good sex now so it couldn’t have been that bad, right?

Sincerely,

Two Hopeful Abstainers

Question 1: Gettin’ Rowdy in College

Please welcome our second guest and first participant in the Sex Quiz! This Hopeful Abstainer’s story patiently refined my original questions over the course of the entire month, and she has a seriously contagious enthusiasm for laughing, biking and adventure. If you have no idea what I’m doing. Check out the introduction to this series here, and consider adding your story.

Q: Tell us about your first (or an early) sexual encounter. Define sexual encounter however you will. What (if any) meaning did you make of it then? What meaning do you make of it in retrospect.

A: “My college roommates were waiting by the door after every one of the 5 dates it took before my college boyfriend kissed me. I would come in and throw myself on the couch in semi-faux desperation.” 5 dates is a respectable waiting period, but for this Hopeful Abstainer, the dates represented 21 years of waiting for that first kiss. When it finally happened, it was a 2 hour affair, and the relief of discovering she could hold her own on the dance floor felt more important than the kissing act itself. That first kiss turned into a boyfriend of 2 years, and she only got up the courage to tell him he was her first kiss a month later. After all of the embarrassment and anxiety over when it would finally happen for her, she was pleased to hear he wouldn’t have supposed her naivety. As with many late bloomers, friends and family told her that college would be her time. Our well-meaning confidants know our discouragement over the dates never enjoyed by the high school version of ourselves, and they regale us with tales of the mature university man who will truly see us. While she believes that her college first kiss was a matter of circumstance not a holy high school decision, she entered that first physical relationship with the training of her True Love Waits curriculum. He was also a Christian so they stuck to strict rules–no sleep overs, no bed time. As far as meaning is concerned, she was honestly just relieved to discover that her mouth seemed to know what to do.

Tomorrow, you’ll hear more about that accompanying sex ed that formed her first encounter.

Gratefully Yours,

Two Hopeful Abstainers

Sex Quiz, Bi$@&es!!

It turns out that my friends and family have more important things to do than create 500-700 word essays about their sex lives for my blogging hobby. This was a sad realization, but quite an understandable one. And so I’ve been on a meandering path to figure out how to elicit the confessions of my venerable Hopeful Abstainers. With the help of a few close friends, I’ve settled on 5 basic questions that get to the core of my quest to tackle this single obsession—how should I live in this body of mine? The interviews thus far have challenged my cynicism, given me reason to laugh with knowing sincerity and deepened my friendships with companions who I’ve known for years but with whom I’ve not breached this topic in such depth.

If you are a stranger who happened upon this blog, I have a few recommendations for you:

  • Consider grabbing a friend and asking each other these questions. If you have time to write it up, please do submit it HERE to share with this community. If you don’t have time for the writing, I think you’ll still enjoy the glass of wine/beer/hard liquor/hot tea and conversation. Community for those Anonymous Abstainers who embrace the complexity and beauty of faith and sex is, after all, the essence of the blog. For more on my purpose and dreams for the conversation, read HERE or HERE.
  • If you aren’t quite ready to share your stories with a person you have to see on the regular, write up your own answers. Read over them; refine them. Discover your own story, and if you feel compelled, share them HERE. I’m still hopeful you’ll find some companions along the journey through the telling of your own story.
  • Lastly, if you read more HERE you’ll find that I define abstinence quite broadly, and I hope that regardless of your gender and sexual identity, marital status, faith/spiritual leanings or sexual ethic you will find that your voice is welcome here. If it ever starts to feel like it isn’t, you should let me know ASAP. I’ll want to rectify that situation pronto.

With gratitude and overwhelming conviction, I invite you to sign up for the blog updates by subscribing to my blog with your email on the right hand side of the screen. I’ll never send you emails directly or share your information ever. You’ll only receive updates from WordPress when a new story is submitted. With all this said, you’ll just have to wait until tomorrow morning to begin the unveiling of the 5 questions….

With Anticipation,

A Hopeful Abstainer