Broken Daughters

Picking up the shattered glass of fundamentalism

Guest-post: A man’s words on sexual attraction and failed courtship


One of my (male) readers recently left this comment on one of my posts on sexual attraction. I wrote about the fact that men are taught to fear sexual attraction – how the different notions of beauty and sexual attraction are taught in a way that causes men to flee from what is sexually attractive to them, and instead go for what (their environment tells them) is ‘beautiful’.

After asking for his permission, I wish to share this as a single post with the rest of you. I think his words are very important and very precious – they need to be heard. It is unfortunate that we have so few men among us when it’s a known fact that they suffer just as much from growing up in these destructive teachings, so I did not want to miss the chance to share that men are just as much devastated by the purity and courtship culture as women are.

“This was difficult for me to read, only because it hits me so close to home. I don’t even know where to begin. How about the “self blaming and guilt”?

But first, I appreciated reading a woman describing how we men learn to avoid attractive women like the plague… We’re taught to feel so guilty about sexual attraction that we really do avoid being around you… I was touched somehow by even reading that bit.

The Courtship movement, fundamentalism, submission to pastoral authority, allowing other people with the “right answer” tell me what God’s will is, as if they knew… well… I allowed myself to go with other people’s ideas of God’s will for my life in the choice of a wife.

Long story short, I married a woman 13 years ago to whom I’m not sexually attracted, and I’ve never lusted after.
I knew it before I married her. I knew it the day I married her. I’ve known it for 13 long years in a passionless marriage.

She’s a really nice girl, and I’m devesatingly ashamed that I’ve ruined the woman she could have turned out to be… I see her as the true victim in it all… lack of passion has done that to both of us.

Warped by church teachings, I literally convinced myself that God was going to bless me with sexual attraction for her, by being obedient to marry her… like some magic wand of his would tap me on the head and “poof” …. Happily Ever After.

And, no, I’m not gay… I can sense you all wondering.

I had cold feet right up until the wedding, but had convinced myself that it was “just lack of faith.” … so I suppressed it.

The night before the wedding, I got no sleep. I had no peace of mind. I don’t remember too much about that day…. and we left the reception early during the festivities… I was too tired to continue. But the full force of what I’d done hit me during the week… like a cold chill of death running down my spine… I was married… marriage is forever, and I’m unhappy…. forever … the exact opposite of what i’m supposed to be… I can’t get a divorce… divorced people go to hell in the express lane or the handbasket, or something. There may even be a reserved section in hell for divorced people, I thought… like maybe even a VIP entrance.

I felt so ashamed of myself. In a foreign country… surrounded by my new fundamentalist in-laws (still my neighbors today after all these years)… I vowed to just stuff it… all of it… just repress it and forget and go through the motions, and to never say a word to anyone. Too ashamed to admit what I’d done. Just put on a happy face… smile…. go to Church… and pray like hell.

Within two weeks I was being confronted by the father in law… something was wrong, since i was obviously not happy, not sleeping with his daughter…. emails were being sent back home to the pastors in the states… who also flew over eventually to meet me and my wife… I was ashamed, alone, and scared … I still believed that I needed to believe in the “right answer” … so I lied to them, and told them that my marriage was God’s will (besides, who wants to go to hell for divorce.) so I tried really hard to “do the right thing…” … and just stuff the negativity and the lack I was feeling….

My married life became one of fear, obligation and guilt.

Well, I don’t have to tell you, that women aren’t stupid. It’s been hard on both of us… and I didn’t become honest until several years and several children later.

I wish I’d never stepped foot in a Church.
I wish I’d never been so easily guided by other people. As a man, there’s nothing more debilitating than that.
I wish i’d never made my wife a victim. She doesn’t deserve this kind of a non-marriage.
I wish I’d stood up for myself, and just spoke the truth to the people pressuring me … Fear, Obligation, and guilt are no way to live.
I wish I’d known that I’m not “evil” or “damned.”
I wish I’d learned to be myself, rather than another cookie-cutter religious dude, prideful of beliefs that aren’t even my own.
I wish I’d learned to have a personal Relationship with MYSELF early in life, before it was too late… to really know myself such that other people’s opinions mattered less to me.
It wasn’t a personal Relationship with Jesus i needed. I needed to know myself… intimately.
I wish I’d learned to trust my intuition rather than to doubt it or repress it… as if it were sinful somehow.

My blood boils sometime with the desire blame others for their influence over me… but I know that I can only blame myself.
Wanting to “please God” led me to not trust my own heart… I allowed myself to believe the Bible literally when it says :”The heart is desperately wicked. Who can trust it.”…

I think that must make me the ultimate people pleaser, or passive aggressive, or something horrible like that.

So I threw my heart away a long time ago. Tragic that it should be the necessary ingredient to the rest of my life… to make me a “Real Boy.”

Your post just reinforces the feeling that everything you said with regards to sex… all these points you brought up about sexual attraction… is entirely beautiful. And entirely right.

I think deep down, I just wish that I had someone in my life that I was attracted to… someone I can’t stop thinking about, someone I would like to do things with, who I get along with, someone I can mutually fantasize with, … someone who is a safe haven for my ever-expanding imagination… not to mention sexual attraction at any age.

I only hope there’s another man actually lurking on the site who reads this, and can learn something from it for his own life.”


21 thoughts on “Guest-post: A man’s words on sexual attraction and failed courtship

  1. Wow. Thank you for being so honest. I am heartbroken for all of you: you, your wife, your children. That is such a hard, hard place to be.

    Pretty sure then that your wife is not able to provide for herself, if you are following the fundie ideal. Any chance you could help her believe in herself, get an education, get a career (not a job)? If you are not practicing family planning, then please start doing so immediately, so she can have a chance at acquiring these things.

    Are you two discussing divorce? If so, please assure her that she is attractive, and deserves to be loved and desired, and that it can still happen for her if she is free to pursue such. I mean, if that’s even possible. You know your relationship, I don’t.

    There is also always the option of an open marriage, though I have no idea if she is open to such a discussion. The Victorian ideal was chock full of such arrangements- only back then they were only open to the man. I don’t see why an open relationship in which both parties are free to date as long as they don’t publicly embarrass the union wouldn’t work. You could even agree ahead of time on how you will handle it if one of you decides they’d rather be out of the marriage.

    So, so hard of a situation to be in. Every once in a while, when I hear more news about my fundamentalist superstar nieces and nephews, I feel guilty and wonder if I just didn’t try hard enough. Your post helps me to resist that guilt.

    My daughter is happy living with her boyfriend, but any relatives on either side who know automatically condemn her and show disgust for her decision. My son is a young adult, pursuing life. He recently told me about a girl he never wants to speak to again, and I bit my tongue before rushing into the “you must forgive” rant I would have preached to his sister.

    Your story helps me to know that my problem is not that I wasn’t demanding enough. Nope, I was too demanding. If my kids want nothing to do with religion or the evangelical ideal, it’s because there are problems with the ideal. It is not a problem with me or with my kids.

    I may have my son read this….

  2. Shadowspring has good thoughts, so I’ll just add my sympathy. Your story is very sad. I hope you both can rebuild your lives into something wonderful – it’s never too late to find more happiness.

  3. This is heartbreaking to read. My ex husband was the cult leader of an IFB congregation. When one of my daughters was sexually molested by a pedophile in the church, her father was going to force a marriage between them both. Turned out later, the PASTOR was also a pervert. Organized religion iys no longer’ Godly’… it’s become sick and twisted.

  4. I’ve been an evangelical/pentecostal all of my life, and I thought that I’d heard a lot of ‘purity’ stuff in my life, but when I read stuff like this it turns out that it is completely alien to me… WTF???
    (see my post )

  5. This was very poignant and sad. The section about being taught not to trust intuition (or yourself) jumped out at me. Goddess spirituality is sometimes critiqued for being too “reflexive” or open to interpretation/personal experience, but I read once and I paraphrase now that acting based on how you *feel* may sometimes get you in trouble, but suppressing the urge and doing only what you’re *told* has gotten a lot more people into a lot more trouble over the years.

  6. My heart breaks for you and your situation. I think I should tell you that you have sufficient grounds for an annulment. Legally, annulment means that the marriage never happened and doesn’t carry the stigma of divorce. While these are often performed within a few weeks/months of a marriage, they can take place years later and provisions can be made for your children and assets (though the laws on annulment vary from state to state). Being forced into a marriage against your will or under a misunderstanding are valid grounds for annulment.

    • Depends on jurisdiction. I don’t know about American family law, but in Canada, you need more than a misunderstanding to get an annulment. In fact, Canadian case law strongly suggests that as long as you understood you were entering into a marriage and that a marriage is a formal relationship that is intended to be permanent, there are no grounds for an annulment. You can analogize this situation to an arranged marriage (without sexual attraction), which Canadian case law has consistently uniformly denied annulments.

      If he is in Britain, on the other hand, I’m not sure. The Brits have taken a very strong stand on forced marriages, and so their threshold for granting an annulment are substantially lower. For example, in Hirani v. Hirani, a 19 year old Hindu girl received an annulment because her parents arranged a marriage with her with a Hindu man to prevent her from associating with a Muslim man, and she married him because they threatened to turn her out of the house if she didn’t. It was recognized at at 19 years old, she would have been terrified, and therefore the marriage was coerced and annulled. Note that similar cases in Canada have resulted in the opposite, because as long as they understand what marriage entails, well, tough luck.

      It would turn very strongly on the facts in either case.

  7. Pingback: More Real World Damage of the Purity Culture

  8. Thank you for sharing. I know this is painful for you. I wish you and your wife a way out of it, a way to find happiness. I can relate to all that you say as I’ve just left a similar 20 year marriage. Please know that the only thing worse than wasting 13 years struggling this way is wasting 14 or 15 or 20 years. The kids will be OK. Do what needs to be done and move forward.

  9. This is a really good post. As much as I talk about women hurt by the system, I realize men have also been deeply hurt as well.

  10. I am so confused. I have been a christian for over twenty years and I have made more than my share of mistakes. I came to this blog almost accidentally but I have read several posts here. I honestly do not understand how so many people could really believe that something as simple as divorcing (which is to be avoided if possible but should be understandable when people make mistakes) would lead them to hell.
    It seems so absolutely counter to the New Testament. If one truly believes in Jesus and that he died for your sins and you confess that you are a sinner, then you are not going to hell.
    A bad marriage choice will cause you pain but it cannot damn you to hell. Neither can so many other things people seem to have been threatened with. This makes me really sad. I originaly thought, when I heard people saying that they had been told that a myriad of sins would sin them to hell, they were lying or exagerating. Now I truly wonder.

    I don’t know much about fundamentalists, other than I respect their desire to homeschool and give their children positive, nurturing upbringings and the fact that they tend to dress modestly (which I also respect).

    • I honestly wish I could pin down exact reasons why it’s not ok to get divorced, but I’m afraid I have to tell you that it’s actually not really based on biblical principles (because getting a divorce when one of the spouses is cheating isn’t ok either). It has a lot to do with the “cultural war”, the counter-culture they are trying to develop. and several biblical quotes which are somewhat taken out of context, e.g. do your husband good all your life = no divorce. It’s really a whole net of reasons.

  11. Pingback: On the sex-life of aliens and sexism here on Earth… | Brambonius' blog in english

  12. i am Mrs mercy i am hear to give testimony of how i got back my husband, we got married for more than 2 years and have gotten two kids. thing were going well with us and we are always happy. until one day my husband started to behave in a way i could not understand, i was very confused by the way he treat me and the kids. later that month he did not come again and he called me that he want a divorce, I asked him what have i done wrong to deserve this from him, all he was saying that he want a divorce and that he hates me and do not want to see me again in his life, i was mad and also frustrated do not know what to do,i was sick for more than 2 weeks because of the divorce. i love him so much he was everything to me without him my life is incomplete. i told my sister and she told me to contact a spell caster, i never believe in all this spell casting of a thing. i just
    want to try if something will come out of it. I contacted DR. omoba for the return of my husband to me, they told me that my husband have been taken by another woman that she cast a spell on him that is why he hates me and also want us to divorce. then they told me that they have to cast a spell on him that will make him return to me and the kids, they cast the spell and after 3 days my husband called me
    and he told me that i should forgive him, he settled to apologize on phone and said that he still love me that he did not know what happen to him that he left me. it was the spell that the Dr omoba shrine casted on him that made him comeback to me today,me and my family are now happy again today. thank you DR. omoba for what you have done for me i would have been nothing today if not for your great spell. i want
    you my friends who are passing through this kind of love problem of getting back their husband, wife , or ex boyfriend and girlfriend to contact and you will see that your problem will be solved.


    • As an example of a horrifying, unpalatable product of evangelical Christianity?

    • The “Wild at Heart” movement has made a mockery of men and what they are supposed to be and how to act. Not to mention that we as women should let them go into the wilderness and be what the author considers manly. I have a friend whose marriage was torn apart because of this book. It has done more damage than good. My sister is a pastor and has seen so many people in her church and community be crippled by the teachings within.
      There is no cure all for people’s problems within their marriages. Men come in all shapes, sizes and temperaments and not all of them will act like Grizzly Adams. Women also do not need to let men go off and do whatever they want in the name of manliness. I know many men that hate camping, can’t fix their own car, and like to dress nicely. This does not make them sissies or gay or metrosexual. It makes them an individual.
      Suggesting that one book will fix everything is just as bad as what the people did to this man by telling him what to do and feel. I live by following God’s word and not others and that I try to do my best and then let God do the rest – insofar as He will make His will be done and in His timing without any backseat driving from anyone else. If more people in the church would just shut up and mind their own business until asked, then this man as well as many others will live much more fulfilling lives.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s