Drawing lines. Deciding who is in and who is out. Or to put it in spiritual language, prayerfully discerning the truth. These are the scars of my faith. I come from a long line of folks who circulate carefully curated tracts with tightly argued proof texts–each tract desperately searching for the truth about who is outside of the community. I have spent much of my early adulthood trying to shake this insistence on these categories of in and out. So it is with trepidation that I define this community with whom I write.
The Anonymous and Hopeful Abstainers who join me here represent as many stories of faith and sex as there are followers of Jesus. We are those who have adhered to the orthodox doctrines of celibacy outside of marriage. We are those who strove for our ideals, but fell short. We are those who have prayed for second chances and fumbled through awkward uncertainties. We are those who waited for marriage and have a distinct sense of God’s blessing in it. We are those who waited and wished we hadn’t because suddenly having sex when you’ve been training yourself to abstain is difficult. We are those who have decided that the shame inducing culture of purity is neither biblical nor God-ordained. We are LGBTQ folks whose only admissible inquiries about faith and sex have been relegated to fights about whether not our bodies are allowed around the table. We are people of color grasping for autonomy who find our bodies sexualized and oppressed. We are married. We are single. We are the body, the flesh and incarnation of Jesus, the Christ.
The thing we, the Hopeful and Anonymous Abstainers, share in common is that we know and viscerally understand the relevance of sex to our practice of faith. We write to be heard and known. We write to navigate this intensely theological question. How should we live in these bodies of ours? If you would like to add your voice to the narrative, please Add Your Hopeful Story.