I’ll never forget my first sex talk.
One day in kindergarten I was blissfully hanging upside down on the monkey bars on the playground. All of a sudden, my innocence was stolen from me as one of my classmates raced up to me with some interesting news.
“Lindsay!” She shouted. “Do you know where babies come from?”
“Duh,” I replied quickly. “The stork brings them. Everyone knows that.”
“No! That’s not true!”
She then proceeded to lean over and whisper into my ear the bare-boned mechanics of sex: “A boy’s peepee goes into the girl’s peepee!”
I was appalled. “EW. Oh. Wow. Ew. Why would ANYONE ever do that?!”
[Ironic side note: This particular classmate went on to have sex on the school bus in eighth grade in front of all of us fellow travelers. She also got pregnant the following year.]
I didn’t hear much about sex after that. A lot of my friends would tell me how their parents sat them down to talk about sex; they’d also relay horror stories of walking in on their parents “swapping peepees” but, because my dad left when I was three and my mom remained single thereafter, I didn’t have any experiences like that. I had nothing. All I knew was that sex was really freaking weird and gross.
When sixth grade rolled around, I went on the compulsory (and dreaded) “discover your body” field trip. I’m not sure whose genius idea it was, but every sixth grade class at my school was required to take a trip to a local hospital to get a mandated sex talk. (I suppose the school board assumed our parents weren’t going to do it, so they had to. In my case, this was true, but still. It sucked.) The boys and girls sat in the same room (separated by an aisle) and were forced to watch videos about what happens to our bodies during puberty. In theory, I guess the videos were supposed to make puberty less painfully awkward and more normal. But, because we were between 11 and 12 years old, that didn’t happen. It just reaffirmed our paradigm that yes, members of the opposite sex were disgusting and awful. (And whoa, our bodies were bizarre and gross, too.) The takeaway we were supposed to have was that puberty was normal because it prepared our bodies for sex and sex was normal. But nothing seemed normal to me about erections and periods and pubic hair. And there definitely didn’t seem to be anything normal surrounding the glaring fact that once you did have sex you would ABSOLUTELY walk away from it with a fertilized egg and your genitals would be covered in sores via some ungodly disease. Yes. Every time. You WOULD get pregnant and you WOULD get an STD if you had sex. Guaranteed!
Five-year-old Lindsay echoed in my head. “GROSS. Oh, why would ANYONE ever do that?!”
When I wasn’t learning about the physical and biological fears of sex, I was learning about the spiritual consequences of sex because I grew up in the church. (Don’t get me wrong. I love Jesus and all. But I really think the church has gotten sex all wrong ever since I can remember.) The only things ever spoken about sex in the church were that sex was completely and utterly evil and if you ever even THOUGHT about sex or were CURIOUS about sex or had a CRUSH on a member of the opposite sex you were subject to eternal damnation. Sex was only for married people and it seemed like even married people only did so to procreate (and most likely hated every minute of it.)
Because of these experiences, I wanted nothing to do with sex. Ever. If I had my way, I would have never gotten my first period or had to buy a bra or shave my armpits. I would have enrolled in an all-girls’ catholic school and locked myself in my dorm away from boys and their weird penises and all the scary and evil things about sex. But, of course, I had friends with older brothers who had access to all kinds of pornographic magazines, channels, videos, etc. I couldn’t escape it. I think my earliest recollection of exposure to pornography was around age seven. So the first sexual act I ever witnessed was angry, violent, taboo, wrong, and not at all God’s vision for sex.
In high school, my first boyfriend pursued me relentlessly. He wasn’t the type of guy I wanted to date at all. He was kind of unattractive, with braces and pimples. He played guitar and was kind of a bad boy, and was obsessed with me. Since he was so desperately in love with me, I dated him. He was the first guy to give me any sort of positive attention and so I fell for it. Two years later, after he’d quite literally robbed me of my virginity and my innocence, I found out from his friends that he’d only dated me in order to “corrupt the church girl.” And you know how high schoolers are. Since my ex-boyfriend was a guy, and he nailed me, he was “the man.” I, however, was just a slut. A dirty, filthy, worthless, slut. A church girl used and corrupted, unable to experience grace or forgiveness because she was nothing. Just a slut.
In 2008 I started dating the man I’d eventually marry. He was (and still is) a leader at our church. Since so many years had passed and I’d changed into some sort of “new creation” I thought my past was just left where it is. In the past. I felt peace. I felt forgiven. Until another church leader pulled my (then) boyfriend aside and said,
“Guard your heart from Lindsay. Her past relationships have been… kind of a mess.”
Slut. Dirty. Worthless. Slut. Forever.
Fast forward to August 1, 2009. My wedding night.
All of a sudden, after 23 years of hearing nothing but negative things about sex, BAM! I’m married! Now I’m supposed to have sex all the time. After 23 years! Just like that?
We’ve been married a year and a half now and I’m happy to report that my relationship with sex has done a complete 180. Some days it’s still hard to wrestle with, but for the most part, I think I’m finally getting it.
If you’re reading this and thinking to yourself, “Wow. What a weirdo. Why would she post all of this stuff on the Internet?” know that I have no problem posting this because this is exactly who I am. It is a legitimate struggle for me. However, I post this NOT to make anyone feel bad. This is not your invitation to a pity party for me. I just want to take action in the only way I know how. I’m sick of the sexual brokenness in this world, and if I can open the door to communication about it then maybe — JUST MAYBE — we can start to change the world.
Parents need to be more open and honest about sex with their children, first and foremost. Parents are the most prevalent role models for kids, and if the parents don’t speak up, someone on the playground or a naked girl spread eagle across a magazine centerfold will.
And dear GOD, Church. Yes, Church. Big C church. I’m talking to you.
Stop demonizing sex on a daily basis. Sex is the best gift God ever gave man apart from salvation. You’re doing nothing but contributing to the problem. Not only are you ruining the image of sex, but you are taking precious lives affected by sexual sin and turning them INTO their sins. I am not a slut. I am a precious daughter of God who was the victim of some pretty crappy circumstances.
And, on top of that, I know that I am not alone. If I had a penny for every girl (or guy) I talked to who was a victim of sexual abuse, I could quit my job and write this blog full time.