Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Rants of a Happy, Grumpy Woman: the Part 2 I didn't know I needed

Growing up in American Fundamentalism and Evangelicalism, the one thing that was drilled into my brain to be acceptable was this: sex. Once I reached that golden age of 16, everything in the youth group was geared toward preparation for spouse, marriage, and the resulting children. If an adult was prolonging single status, all they needed to "be right with God" was a regular sex life in holy matrimony. If an adult was in a legal marriage, all they needed to "be right with God" was for that regular sex life to produce children. If an adult had a spouse and one child, all they needed to "be right with God" was to tally up the numbers in the child-bearing department.

Off course, the churches were never that crass to say it bluntly like that. Often it would be questions to older teens and adults like "Are you seeing anyone?", "Are you married yet?", "When are you going to have a baby?", and "When are you going to have another one?" From the pulpit, fiery messages on finding mates, roles in family, and keeping pure until marriage would happen at least once a week in the three-a-week service routine.

For sex to constantly be on the brain as a church-going young person was not unusual, but when I would ask questions of the adults in my life, many acted as if it was unusual that a post-pubescent youth would ask about THAT topic. But in a culture that spent more time preparing it's young people for potential sexual relationships than for working in the kingdom of God what could be more usual than asking questions about sex? "The most important day of your life second only to salvation is the day you marry"...okay, so it's unusual that I'm thinking about sex when a sexually active relationship is at the top of your list for my purpose as an adult?

About six years ago, I started prayerfully studying and researching the concept of sexual orientation. As a celibate young woman, I often felt ostracized in the churches I attended because I was reaching that 30 year milestone without a husband. Highly suspect in most congregations, and highly outsider when every social event and Sunday School class for female adults focused on who I was sleeping with or what my womb had produced: women's classes were labeled wive's classes or mother's classes. Yes, there was an occasional college class but those consisted of young adults age 18-22. I had aged out of traditional college Sunday School classes.

I did have a fiance once upon a time. But we had never had sex. This is abnormal, even among Bible-believing Christians, as practicing heterosexuality is a virtue. The excuses so-called Biblical counselors handed me were "you were sexually abused as a child; this is why sexual activity is a problem for you" and "you will have to get that right in your life before God will even bring you a husband because that's a duty of a wife: sex". The excuses peers gave me were "it's because you're religious" and "you were abused as a kid".

People were telling me who I was and how I felt from all sides of the human sexuality debate. So I went to see a licensed Christian counselor about the matter of the sex abuse I endured as a child and sexual harassment I endured at age 20. While there were mental and emotional matters I needed to sort through, after 5 years, I can tell you my being a Christian nor my survivorship from sexual abuse is to blame for my aversion to sex.

There is a thing called sexual orientation. The Scriptures don't deal with it because this concept only began emerging in the 19th century. What the Scriptures deal with is sexual acts. This is why the Bible addresses the following as sexual sins: fornication, adultery, concupiscence (lust), lasciviousness (wanton behavior).

What about Sodom? Sodom? Yes, Sodom. The Bible never tells us what orientation these men are; it only tells us their actions of wanting to gang rape Lot's visitors. Gang rape is reprehensible by any humans whatever their orientation may be.

What about Romans chapter 1? Yes, Paul's conclusions. Paul addresses the behavior of temple prostitutes. Some of them seem to be described as today's homosexuals and I'm sure those prostitutes also included heterosexual persons as the Bible is well-versed in today's heterosexual sins. It is most reprehensible, spiritually, to worship unknown gods in group sexual activity.

When I researched and learned sexual orientation, I talked to my Christian counselor as well as read books by Christians: Rosaria Champagne Butterfield and Wesley Hill. I discovered I happen to be on the asexual side of life. Asexual is a term for people who are predisposed to finding sex unappealing.

This made so much sense to me: why I could kiss my former fiance and that act not leading to intercourse because my body didn't crave it. Definitely different from what many of my peers experienced and talked about when kissing a member of the opposite sex and different from what I heard preachers preach about the opposite sex: "Holding hands and kissing only leads to sex".

But it didn't strike me to wear this label "asexual", because I did and do experience attraction mentally and emotionally. Which is when I found the term demisexual. This is probably why celibacy isn't a difficult part of my life while for many adults it can be a challenge and for Christian adults, a challenge they often take to God.

As a demisexual oriented person, I can feel love and satisfaction just being in the platonic company of friends. This still doesn't mean I wouldn't want to get married someday. If I found another person who had a similar orientation, who's to say what the future holds?

I truly wish more Christians would research sexual orientation and sexual acts. I fear that because many in society have a label for their attractions, many Christians will dismiss at best and harass at worst those people who don't come across as straight. The church should be a place that doesn't discriminate on identity.

To preach a human is going to hell because of their sexuality is simply not true. Humans are beings. Straight is neither right nor wrong. Gay is neither right nor wrong. Anything in between like bisexual or pan-sexual is neither right nor wrong. The rightness and wrongness comes in the actions: do they serve self or the loved one? Preaching should be condemning rape, molestation, and sins against the partner. How can a state of being be a condition for heaven or condition for love? If there is a state of being condemned to hell, do babies that die go to Hell?

Do some people who feel same-sex attraction or aversion-to-sex attractions want to change? Do they feel that these attractions are unwanted? Yes, some do, and it is their right to seek counseling. But what is not appropriate is suggesting these people go to conversion therapy (a form of shame using violent recourse on those who do not have straight attractions).

On Monday, September 18, 2017, my prideful, Christian heart was able to speak to my peers, faculty at Stout, and community members about my ignorance and pride in once considering straight to be a prerequisite to the kingdom of God. I was even able to correct my use of the word "Sodomite" in my first book. (I have since updated A Letter to My Friend on my Goodreads author page under my author review-note *my updated views are not necessarily the views of the publisher or the preachers that forwarded that particular book*)

I regret the hurt caused to the Stout community by an advertisement recommending Conversion Therapy, yet I am experience healing since this issue has come to light: Sexual Orientation and Religion:

https://storify.com/Olliebrown/street-level-ministries-stout-homophobic-controver


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