Broken Daughters

Picking up the shattered glass of fundamentalism


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Meet Mr Smith – The Wiry Little Guy

Today is the day we finally meet the first member of the League. Chapter 4 describes Eric’s meeting with “the wiry little guy”.

So, Eric’s sitting at his favorite café waiting to meet the first member of the League (after getting an anonymous note with the date). He has no idea who he’s waiting for, but at some point, the waiter whom he seems to know well tells Eric that a man is waiting for him at another table – a ‘geeky dude’:

I looked over toward the bookcase and saw a large, muscular man sitting snugly in a tall, wingback, leather chair only ten feet from where I sat. “You mean the big guy?” I asked Deuce [the waiter]. “No, the wiry little guy with big glasses and high water pants, sitting right there. And beware, my friend, he’s toting around a most awful smell.” (p. 33)

It turns out they are talking about the exact same man, and Eric walks over to find out what’s going on. The man tells Eric that he was the one who sent the note. Eric is puzzled – he has no clue who this guy could be. But:

The more I studied this man, the more familiar he seemed. His manner was reminiscent of something, but I just couldn’t put my finger on it. He was hulking. His clothing covered it well, but as you looked at him more closely, it was obvious that this man was not just big; he seemed to be cut from marble with a Greek chisel. He was beyond Hollywood handsome, and his presence was truly statuesque and awesome. He smelled of Tide laundry detergent with a hint of peppermint. His jaw was square, his silvery-blue eyes were intense, and his grip, when he shook my hand, squashed my fingers. (p. 34)

Wow, talk about admiration! On a side note, am I the only one who is reminded of Christian Grey? Either way, this guy doesn’t sound like a wiry little guy. He sounds downright awesome, the kind of guy the other men want to be like, the kind of guy women want to date. Right?

Have you guessed who this guy is? I’ll tell you right now, it is (drumroll) Mr Purity.

Now, what we see here is a stark contrast between Eric’s perception of this guy and Deuce the waiter’s perception of that guy. Eric’s (supposed) authority in matters of faith functions here as an expression of the fact that worldly culture’s view is distorted. The reader is faced with an image of ‘purity’ that they have probably encountered before – after all, people might have pointed out their ‘nerdiness’ or at least ‘weirdness’ before. Eric’s authority allows him to say “It’s not you who’s wrong – it’s society failing to see the beauty and strength in you.” In this way, Eric tries to lift the doubts young people encounter if they try to follow purity teachings. While I agree that some people might see some things differently, I find that this stark contrast – especially in this context – is something very dangerous. After all, there aren’t just different ways to look at things, there are wrong ways and right ways, Eric’s way obviously being the right way because it is the (supposedly) biblical way. This right-wrong distinction makes it very difficult for any person to reevaluate personal convictions – the fact that Eric’s tale here mentions that Mr Purity is a messenger of the actual, real God of the Bible, and that Eric, as a believer, sees what he really looks like makes it almost impossible to reevaluate anything without being blamed of some sort of ‘sin’ causing a change of mind. That is, anyone who sees something that differs from Eric’s perception is by necessity mislead and suffers from a distorted view of ‘truth’.

Also, I want to add this one fragment of thought to this: Eric’s description here is very reminiscent of ‘secret knowledge’ type of groups and societies. Eric implies that certain things can only be seen if you follow XY or Z. That is, followers of his teachings can see things the average person cannot see, or only in a very distorted version. Apart from the fact that in this way, Eric excludes a large number of people from his group, it also creates a feeling of community and superiority. ‘Seeing truth’, in its most literal sense, becomes an ability that is exclusively given out to a chosen group of people, a sort of supernatural ability.

This also ties in with a statement that can be found at the very bottom of Leslie’s girl magazine homepage (Set Apart Girl): “In Every Generation There Are a Few” is what this little, sneaky line reads. Again, this is along the same lines of a selected group of people who share knowledge that is inaccessible to others. But back to Eric.

The two of them chat some more about Mr Purity’s appearance, but it’s just more of the same old, until we get to the point where Mr Purity gives the following remark:

“I know you contacted Great Sex. That was a bold and brash move on your part. I realize you and Leslie have a special relationship with him in regard to your marriage; however, Great Sex is very private, and God has very strict authority over his public presentation. He called me into his office last week and told me you are writing a book that aims to prove his existence. I don’t need to tell you how delicately this must be handled, Mr Ludy!” (p. 35, emphasis mine)

Note the bolded parts. Why would God be concerned over people knowing that Great Sex exists? Why does it need to be handled delicately? Again, is this some sort of secret knowledge? Secret society? Is knowing about the existence of Great Sex something that unbelievers must be barred from? If so, why? So they don’t… become believers? I mean, if you knew that you would have Great Sex if you were a conservative Christian… wouldn’t you convert or something? Become a Christian? Isn’t this completely illogical and weird? I honestly have no clue what to say about this other than the fact that I believe Eric is trying to imply that this is a very secret knowledge, and that even believers have to (secretly) work to get it. Of course, I realize the God of the Bible wouldn’t be too hyped if you presented great sex in public – the act, that is. But in Eric’s tale, it wouldn’t be an act that is being presented – hence there wouldn’t be a display of, say, naked bodies or defrauding images. It would be an actual, living person, waving at the crowd saying “Hi guys, I’m great sex, look at how awesome I am!” I really can’t see why this must remain so secret, and why Great Sex would be so concerned that his existence stays a secret.

Also, why would Eric want to prove the existence of Great Sex in the first place? Has anybody ever doubted that he exists? It’s not like unbelievers think sex sucks – in fact, most people would probably say that they’d had great sex at least once. The distinction between what unbelievers think of as great sex (that ugly, mean guy, the Imposter) and what believers think of as great sex (Great Sex) has already been made earlier in the book. I thought Eric wanted to expose the Imposter, who, by the way, was admired by all unbelievers in the café in the first chapter. So, obviously, it’s totally unnecessary to prove that it exists. But again, I can’t help but think of this as a tool to form a secret society/community type of feeling.

Continuing with the conversation Eric has with Mr Purity, Eric learns that Mr Purity is the bodyguard of the League:

You see, Mr Ludy, I am the official bodyguard of the inner life. My responsibility is to protect the ever-maturing Christ-life within the hearts of God’s children. (p.39)

Now here, purity is about more than just sex. It’s about the whole inner life of a believer. That, in turn, implies that sexual purity (which is not present in unbelievers) ties in with the entire inner life (of an unbeliever). So… a lack of sexual purity weakens your entire inner life to attacks from evil forces. Sounds a bit far out? Well, this is actually what I believed in. There is no real difference between sexual purity and a purity of the entire being. It’s pretty much the same mechanism. This is one of the reasons why sexual impurity is such a big deal: It opens you up to all kinds of attacks on your spiritual life.

Now, Mr Purity doesn’t want to let Eric meet the rest of the League until he taught him a lesson or two (what what, Eric needs lessons in purity? no way!). Next up: The Deal!

 

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Meet Mr Smith – The League

Sorry for the delay – I had a family emergency (nothing bad though!) and was needed to keep the show running at my aunt’s house. It’s over now, so I’ll get back on track asap!

Chapter 3 is called “The League”, and, to be honest, not very interesting. It’s just 5 pages long, and all Eric does is describing that ‘Great Sex’ has agreed to be interviewed, but not after letting Eric wait for 12 weeks. Eric describes being lead into the middle of nowhere by a blue Pontiac. After arriving at the final destination, a muscular guy tells him

“Mr Ludy, you’ve got your wish. You’ve earned yourself an interview with Mr Smith.” (p. 29)

Eric explains that this 12 week wait seemed rather long, and because he absolutely needed something to publish, he interviewed others during that time. This turned out to be a good thing, he says, because:

“Great Sex, contrary to popular myth, is not a singular force as is Imposter Sex. In a manner of speaking, Great Sex is part of a team. […] Great Sex is the leader of an entire band of superheroes. […]

Those interminable twelve weeks forced me to investigate this oft-overlooked band of superheroic cohorts.” (p. 29-30)

This band of ‘heroes’ is what Eric calls “the league”. What stands out to me in this passage is that it’s actually not that bad of a passage in some ways. For most people, good sex doesn’t come through a singular force (the physical aspect), but please note that it can, and that’s alright too. For most, there’s more attached to it. For some, this might be love, trust, respect, for some it will include commitment, for others it will include being spontaneous, and others again don’t need love and trust, but rather adventure or the unknown. So yes, for each and every person, great sex doesn’t consist of the bare physical aspect, most will find that a number of aspects will add up to what one considers “great”.

What Eric fails to acknowledge is that there isn’t a fixed band of superheroes for each and every person. Sex is as individual as the people who have it. Eric tries to sell this as a “one size fits all” kind of deal when it really isn’t. He also fails to acknowledge that some people are simply not compatible. You can’t expect to invite all those “superheroes” Eric will interview in the following chapters into your bedroom and everything will be fine. That’s not how humans work! Because, I have to say it again, different superheroes for different people.

Additionally, Imposter Sex is described as a singular person, whereas great sex is not. This is a very clear description of what Eric believes of ‘worldly’ relationships: There is only one singular aspect, the physical aspect, which corresponds to the “root of evil” – Jimmy the Shrimp aka selfishness. Eric doesn’t even acknowledge the possibility that non-christians can experience what he supposedly experiences. And this leads me to one of the major problems of this book (sex books of any type, to be honest): If you choose one of these binary options, you can’t possibly experience the other. If you experience ‘biblical’ sex, that necessarily means that you haven’t experienced ‘worldly’ sex. If you did, in fact, experience ‘worldly’ sex, then you can’t experience the ‘biblical’ version because you have lost too much. It’s impossible to objectively contrast these two, but then again, can you ever compare and contrast sexual experiences, especially those of different people?

So, you probably guessed what’s next: Before Eric lets us in on his interview with Mr Smith (aka Great Sex), he’ll tell us more about his interviews with the other members of the League. Next up: The little Wiry Guy!


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Meet Mr Smith: The Imposter

As I mentioned in the introduction post, the first part of the book is exclusively Eric’s tale. After Leslie’s short preface, he starts his section with a chapter called “Imposter Sex”. Now, I wasn’t sure if I should dedicate an entire post to this chapter because it is both very short and very rambly, but I couldn’t think of a way to incorporate it with the following chapter, so I finally decided on an individual post.

The major reason for this is because this first chapter sets the stage for the entire tale, yet is somewhat unconnected to it.

In this first chapter, Eric described the ‘process’ and ‘reason’ for writing this book:

“Just yesterday I sat down at a Starbucks in downtown Manhatten and had a very uncomfortable three-and-a-half minute conversation with Sex.” (p. 3)

As you can see, this is very much a narrative – as the entire construction of Eric’s tale is. What strikes me in this first sentence of the book is the way he manages to incorporate and enforce common stereotypes about sex with his choice of words: “very uncomfortable” and “three-and-a-half minute”. Why is this relevant to him you ask? Well, because he doesn’t express this as a stereotype about sex in general, but about imposter sex. What follows is a several pages long (fictional) story of how Eric wrote a letter to “Sex” (an actual, living person in this narrative), asking for an interview and some rambly thoughts about the word itself. I’ll spare you the details, because he really doesn’t say much. Let’s jump to the day Eric is sitting in that Starbucks, the day of the meeting:

“Although the environment wasn’t much to sex’s liking, seeing as how I had threatened to expose his impostership, he arrived, nevertheless, with two bodyguards and a haughty smirk splattered all over his face, as if he had left the lid off the blender that morning when mixing up his daily dose of self-importance.” (p. 6)

Sex doesn’t seem so nice now, does it? Note how Eric connects Sex to self-importance here: This is a very frequent image (or connection) in the purity culture. Sex, or better, having sex, is not an expression of love, emotion, physical connection – it is merely an act of glorifying the self above anything else. This focus on self-importance vs denial of the self is a central theme in all of the Ludy’s writings, and we didn’t have to read more than 10 pages to arrive at the point where Eric points out just that – the very first thing that strikes him about “imposter-sex” is self-importance.

“I was quite surprised at his appearance. Seeing as how this guy is all about glitz and glam, I’d expect a handsome, well-formed leading man sort of fellow – you know, Tom Cruise meets Russell Crowe. However, this guy was more like a smarmy Elvis impersonator. He was almost cartoonish in his form – tall and lean, but with a blubbery beer bulge up front. Although he had a rather attractive face, his hair was greasy black and he even had a set of long sideburns a la “the King”.” (p. 6)

Bet you didn’t see that one coming! So, what I get from this description is that Sex really can’t be as hot as you would think it is. I find it fascinating that a book targeting young women for the most part would work with such descriptions. I don’t know about you, but after reading this, I can’t help but imagine a guy like this in my bedroom – and it’s not a very nice image. Clearly, the major idea is building negative associations. So, how would you react if you saw a guy like that? Stay away from him? Let’s see what the people sitting at Starbucks do:

“As Sex entered, it seemed the entire room stopped and looked. You would have thought a Greek god was humbling himself and dining among mere mortals. “He’s gorgeous!” I heard a woman whisper from somewhere behind my right shoulder. “That dude is a dude!” said a male voice near the coffee pickup counter. I thought it odd that someone so unimpressive to me was receiving such accolades from these coffee trinkers.” (p.8)

Ok, so it seems Eric is the only one in there who can see Sex for what it really is – that greasy, disgusting figure. The rest of the world – or at least a large portion of it – sees this Sex guy as someone impressive, sexy, desirable. This small section has something very patronizing about it. Eric implying that he can see the Truth (something he states a few lines later), but most others don’t. Eric has the authority to speak because he can see the world for what it really is. In what follows he has a conversation with Sex, telling him that he met his “nemesis” and experienced “his work firsthand”. This makes Sex very angry, and he leaves, telling Eric that he will never go away.

“Sex. Strangely, these three letters weren’t always smarmy, conniving, and falsely debonair. I know this may be difficult to believe, but Sex wasn’t originally coupled with strip clubs, nudie magazines, adulterous antics, and sipping rum punch in a penthouse apartment near Hollywood and Vine. In fact, there was a time when Sex was a clean-shaven gentleman, mature, dignified, bearing roses, and speaking in poetic rhymes with a hint of a British accent. There was a time when Sex worked humbly and selflessly to bring about something good, pleasurable, fun, noble, and pleasing to God.” (p. 11)

Alright, where do I start? I hate to say this, but I have a feeling that Eric hasn’t really read the bible. When was that supposed age where Sex still was the way Eric describes here? In genesis, with Noah? With Tamar? With Sodom and Gomorrah? Or maybe after Jesus died, and Christianity started to form? We have plenty historical proof that this is not true. Prostitution is one of the eldest businesses on earth. “Strip clubs” have always existed in some form.

Also note that “real sex” speaks “poetic rhymes”. I find this interesting in the light of the warrior-poet-construct. There’s another similar line, right after Eric explaining that he knows true sex because he has experienced his work:

“He doesn’t have an Elvis-like flop of hair and long side-burns, he doesn’t have a jiggling bulge around his middle, and he doesn’t swivel his hips – I’d say he’s more William Wallace meet Lord Alfred Tennyson, with a dash of Jimmy Stewart and a dripping dollop of Sidney Poitier.” (p. 12)

What’d I tell you? This is an even clearer rendition of the warrior-poet image, clearly linked to good sex (also note the twisted Braveheart-reference!). As I mentioned in the introduction post, Eric has a very specific image of what this warrior-poet is and uses the term consistently. I will go into details in another post, but I just want to point out very clearly how important he feels this image is in connection to good sex.

After some more rambling about the word sex, Eric concludes this little chapter:

“Imposter Sex thrives off ignorance. But he shrivels up and fades away when we expose him for what he really is – a shameless wannabe.” (p. 14)

So, what can I say to conclude this chapter? Honestly, I find it very difficult to sum up anything other than Eric obviously believing he knows the truth, and that “imposter sex” is gross while “real sex” is super-awesome, warrior-poet style. As I mentioned earlier, this chapter is more an introduction than anything else, but since it stands quite isolated and really doesn’t contain anything, I had to post this separately. What I can promise you is that in what follows, we will finally find out more about that warrior-poet-sex guy, and it’s going to be good. Next up: Selfishness! That’s always a good one.


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Meet Mr Smith: Introduction/Preface

Ludy, Leslie & Eric (2007). Meet Mr Smith. Revolutionize the way you think about sex, purity, and romance. Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

Available e.g. via amazon, around $13. I purchased my book with my own money some years ago. I am not being payed to review. I have no affiliations with the authors, editors or companies. All opinions and views are my own.

For the sake of completeness, here the text on the back:

Meet Mr. Smith offers a radical alternative to the over-romanced, casual-sex lifestyle popular in today’s world.  Reawakening the ancient ideas of sacred sex, purity, and holy love, relationship experts Eric and Leslie Ludy introduce a new language and framework for our sex-in-the-city culture. Meet Mr. Smith exposes and tackles hot topics like:

  • What does God think about pre-marital sex?
  • What about oral sex and self sex?
  • Why would God give me a sex drive if He didn’t plan on me using it?
  • How far is too far?

Meet Mr. Smith is a funny, fresh, romantic conversation about the true nature of love and sex. So go ahead. Open the pages of this book and prepare to meet the companion of your dreams. You’re about to enjoy an encounter that could transform your relationships – and life.

The book is written by both Eric and Leslie, however it is structured into two major sections: The first is Eric’s tale – this is simply called “Eric” in the book, but since it is a very particular writing style (it is more a narrative than anything else), and because referring to it as “Eric” is confusing, I chose to call this first section Eric’s tale from here on out. Eric’s tale makes up a large portion of the book. Leslie’s section follows Eric’s tale, and consist largely of a question and answer section. About half of Leslie’s section consist of appendices without authorial reference to either Eric or Leslie. I chose to include them in Leslie’s section for two reasons: The structure of the contents page indicates somewhat that this section was written by Leslie, and the topics of the appendices are very clearly aimed at a female readership – this is characteristic of Leslie, not Eric.

The book starts out with a short preface written by Leslie. She shortly describes her hesitation about writing (and co-authoring) this book in the first place. Luckily, Eric convinced her to write this book in the end. Finally, she reassures us that the following section (Eric’s tale) is a true story – with minor tweaks for dramatic effect. I know you can’t see right now why she would say that, and why it’s supposed to be funny, but once we are through the first chapter of Eric’s tale, you will understand this reference. So, after this short technical instruction on the book, let’s get started!

 


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In which we get a mention

We got a mention in one of the fanciest magazines in the world of purity cults: Leslie Ludy’s Set Apart Girl (July/August issue, Article on page 27ff). Well, it’s not actually Leslie writing about this. It’s an “Anonymous Warrior Poet”, which is a Ludy term for a man who resembles King David, I believe.

The fact that this is written by an “anonymous” person is problematic to me. Now, I do not want to point fingers here, but… I read the set apart girl magazine every time a new issue comes out. I read all of Leslie’s articles. I read all of the “Warrior Poet” articles. The styles resemble each other strongly. I do not believe that this series of articles is written by a different person each time. I also think that Leslie’s writing and the Warrior Poet’s articles resemble each other in respect to style. Just throwing that out there.

Anyway. This months’ warrior poet (following “WP”) is concerned, very concerned. Why? Blogs. Let me quote him:

“And now – I have observed – many of my peers, who were once zealous advocates for purity, restraint, holiness, and waiting on God for their future spouse are now throwing in the towel on the whole idea. Numerous blogs have been written by young men and women who “believed the lie” of the whole “purity thing.” They rant to high heaven that all the purity rings and courtship lectures ruined their ability to interact with the opposite sex. They cross their arms in a teenage huff when they hear certain relationship books or authors mentioned. They write blogs expounding their angst and how they “removed their ring” because it was just a fuddy-duddy way of dealing with sexuality, and, with rolling eyes say, “it doesn’t work anyhow.”

What WP is doing here is far from an objective description of the ex-purity cult blogging scene. He uses several ways to label these bloggers as teenagers at mind. Now I don’t know about you, but that’s not a very “loving” thing to do for a christian. Labeling us teenagers is the equivalent of calling us unreasonable and immature – he blames the way we feel on the fact that our hormones are raging and we don’t know what’s good for us anyway. Teenagers! *eyeroll*

I don’t know how well-read you are when it comes to ex-purity cult blogs. Most bloggers are well past their 20s. Many are married and have children. Calling grown adults teenagers degrades us into a position in which we are considered to be unreliable, blabbling out of pure spite. Actually, the quote above denies us that our negative emotions towards the purity cult are reasonable.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t like being called unreasonable in such a flowery way when I complain about serious and real hurt. I don’t think my feelings about this issue come from one single experience.

By the way: Certain books and authors? Who could that be? But let’s move on:

“They make viral youtube videos that accentuate all the ridicoulousness our parents told us about these matters.”

He did it! He’s talking about the parents! What he’s basically doing here is telling all those good, pure girls “Look! These guys are making fun of YOUR parents and the values THEY believe in! You have to honor your parents! If you believe anything they say, you are one of these people who makes fun of YOUR parents!”.

“They say that it ruined their ability to have healthy guy/girl interaction.”

Here, he actually mentions an important aspect: Many feel that the purity teachings ruined their ability to interact with men/women. So far so good. But where is his argument against this? I read the article four times now, and I cannot find a single sentence in which he explains why this isn’t true. Please, go read it yourself and comment if you find it. It kind of feels like WP wants to make sure that his readers know this isn’t so, but he can’t go into detail. Why? Maybe because he himself has very little experience with women. Maybe because he doesn’t know how to relate to them. Maybe because the definition of “healthy” is very subjective – what is normal to me may be weird to you.

“I have a hunch that what is behind all this angst, and all this disgruntled blogging, and all this huffiness is an attitude of self-justification.”

The worst sin of all: Selfishness! Of course that’s what it is. We are selfish. We failed, and because we are selfish, we need a good reason for our selfishness. Everything we say is to justify our failures. Especially in Ludy-ism, selfishness is high up on the sin scale. Basically every sin is in some way based on a person’s selfishness (including, for example, homosexuality, masturbation, physical contact before marriage – I read the books and listened to the sermons).

“My concern, as a Warrior Poet in the making, is that a whole generation of young women will be led into a compromised and self-justifying lifestyle that is based wholly upon the sarcastic cynicism and bad experience of those around them.”

WP is in fact concerned that this pattern of relationships, which can be so convenient for men, will collapse due to women starting to think for themselves. The counter-culture the christian fundamentalists develop stands and falls with the participation of women. Ultimately, it is women who have to give up their entire identity in this pattern. If a woman refuses to become a mere extension of the man’s existence, none of the beliefs and patterns would fall into place anymore. The obsession to fix the problems people have, always have had, by following a certain pattern is very clear in this article.

In the end, I think the fact that our blogs got a mention in such a popular magazine among young conservatives is telling. There obviously has been some effect, some change, just something going on. Are they scared of us? No, probably not, but they feel they need to address the issue in some way, so I guess there is some progress.

Whatever it is, it seems as if the blogging scene is opening up to them as a new battleground for their “war of cultures”. Maybe we will see and hear some interesting articles and speeches about the blogging scene in the future. Let’s wait and see.


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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.”


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Relationships after the purity cult

There are so many thoughts on the damage of the purity culture out there that I decided to evaluate some of my behaviour.

I think one of the major problems with purity culture is not necessarily that it suppressed sexual feelings in general but rather how these sexual feelings are ignored, and how that leads to devastating results.

Feeling sexual attraction toward someone is actually pretty bad in the purity culture. Of course they’d never admit that – they don’t tire of stressing how important physical attraction is, but what they actually mean by that is not necessarily sexual desire but beauty. Men are encouraged to look for someone they find beautiful. Women are encouraged to make sure their match is handsome, physically and characterwise. And that is exactly the problem. Beautiful and sexually attractive are not synonyms.

I don’t know about you, but there’s plenty of people I find beautiful, but not all of them are sexually attractive to me. And it works the other way around too; people whom I find sexually attractive aren’t necessarily beautiful to me.

Hence, while it may work out for some, marrying someone whom you deem beautiful does not tell you whether you will find him/her sexually attractive in the long run. As a matter of fact, I feel that sexual attractiveness is something that is systematically labelled a ‘bad thing’ in courtships.

As both men and women are encouraged to flee from sexual immorality, they actually flee from those people whom they find sexually attractive. A woman will do her best to kill all her desires for a man they sexually desire and end up rejecting them on a regular basis. This goes as far as interpreting advances by those men as attempts of the devil to succumb to sexual immorality. Likewise, a man will try to keep his ‘lust’ out of the picture, systemically avoiding women who cause him to lust – which is nothing more than a clear sign of sexual attractiveness. Instead they will seek for a woman whom they might find beautiful, but who also draws them closer to Jesus – a popular euphemism to avoid those women who are actually sexually attractive to them.

Of course, a sexual desire may be present in all of these people initially, considering that those are their first chances to gain sexual experience, the feeling of new and unknown, of absolute intimacy and, not to forget, the promise that everything will work out heavenly because they waited and fled from all sorts of sexual immorality. But initial attraction needn’t always last for years to come. When, after a few months of marriage, this promise of perfect sex is not fulfilled and the spouse loses the initial sexual attractiveness of the opposite gender in general, they may end up hitting rock bottom with the realisation that while their partner is beautiful, he or she could not keep the promise of ultimate sexual attraction.

Back to myself – I do not think that I would have ended up with a man like my boyfriend if I still followed the purity culture. He causes me to do things which are generally only permissible if you are a man. Fantasies, undressing him in my thoughts, looking at him and not seeing the (obvious) beauty of his face, his eyes, his expression, but instead lusting for whatever lingers a few inches lower, which is a body which many people might not consider objectively “beautiful” but rather as an average man. A body which I would not have permitted myself to find beautiful because it is tightly packed with tattoos. No, he might not have that objective perfect beauty of a six-pack and a flawless body, but neither have I and that’s something I can totally live with. Because I know that this person is extremely sexually attractive to me, and so am I for him despite my obvious flaws of a small chest and a body so skinny you might just mistake it for a boy’s. And fyi, I don’t even feel bad about it because I know that when he looks at me, he doesn’t see those flaws, neither does he think “well she has a beautiful face” like a good courtship boy should. No, I know that he lusts, and to be quite honest with you, I like it. I like seeing in his eyes that he can look at me and lust despite what I consider imperfect. I learned to appreciate the difference between being told “You’re beautiful” and “You’re hot”.

That doesn’t mean that you always feel this way, and it is by no means a guarantee that it will always stay this way. Of course I can still see all the other great things about him, and likewise he can see whatever makes me special to him. But I feel a good deal safer knowing that I am not with someone who has to kill all sexual desires for me in order to even deal with my presence.

I guess that the moral of this story is that if you put a ‘sin’ label on sexual attractiveness, don’t be surprised if you end up with a spouse you do not desire. I feel a lot of anger towards those in the purity movement who withhold this information from young couples, setting them up for a lifetime of self blaming and guilt.