Q: In what ways do your faith and sexuality intersect?
A: This question, as originally conceived, was a question that our Hopeful Abstainer did not wish to answer. I wanted to know what she wanted the church to understand about her sexuality, and her peaceful resistance to this form of the question revealed a bias of my own lurking in the subtext. While I imagined most of our Hopeful Abstainers as eager critics of the church’s sexual ethics, I was pleasantly surprised by her refreshing and gentle refusal. Her answer helped me refine this question, and I think we boiled down the meandering conversation to something like this: Her life has been an opportunity to live the countercultural message of the Bible—that our bodies are sacred by virtue of their created-ness. She ultimately decided to have sex with her husband before the wedding and never found herself wrecked with guilt or with a sense that she had dishonored the image of God in each of their respective bodies. She entered into their physical relationship with respect for herself and her lover—with a commitment to their shared love and humanity. When asked if she would be comfortable if her minister knew about their jumping the proverbial gun, she shot me an easily interpreted stare and volunteered that in her premarital counseling, they weren’t even asked about their sex life. So yes, faith and sex are inextricably bound together in her mind, but the ethical specificity of that is altogether of unclear.
With that, we conclude our first interview. I am grateful to my friend for letting me pry into this uncharted conversation. It seems that we didn’t develop 5 key points to remember when making sexual decisions as a single, 30-something Christian. Though I’m no closer to a definitive answer to this question of mine, I am reassured by the community that is formed when we speak without shame and with a sincere commitment to honesty and a sense of humor. This Hopeful Abstainer challenged the reshaping of my interview questions. Maybe she’s challenging us to ask a different meta question….
A Hopeful Abstainer