In my youth, I was an incredibly devout Christian. My whole life was consumed by the church, but no part was as deeply affected as my sexuality. I truly believed that sex before marriage was wrong, to the point that I almost tied the knot with the wrong guy because of it. Luckily, I managed to dodge that bullet, but it was a close one.
I was incredibly young and very naive. Sixteen is an excellent age to begin discovering your sexuality; it’s not such an excellent time to get married. Unfortunately, religion condemns one and applauds the other, and as an impressionable young woman, I was very susceptible to the influence of the church and of my relationship, it turned out.
My boyfriend was way too hormonally charged to wait for sex. My boyfriend was in the same boat, the only difference being that he had way stronger urges for sex than I did. While I was willing to wait to have sex “one day,” after I got married, for him, that day should’ve been yesterday. This was a huge topic for him, and with puberty urging him to procreate now, it was a struggle between morals and biology.
The church played a huge role in repressing my sexuality. Sadly, I still struggle with some of the issues developed during this time of my life when it comes to sexuality. The message that sex was only acceptable after marriage was a very clear one and not something to be messed with. Homosexuality was also completely forbidden and it wasn’t until many, many years later that I felt OK about coming out as bi.
Sex was surrounded entirely by guilt and shame. There was no space to safely talk about sexuality at what was a very formative age for us. Any conversations that arose were marked by the kind of abstinence-only rhetoric typical to most religious institutions. This didn’t help us and gave no outlet for exploring the very natural and healthy changes that were happening to us.
Even masturbation was a sin. Not only was sex off the table, masturbation was also seen as dirty and sinful. There was literally no way to explore sexuality without feeling awful about it. During this time of my life, I went several years without touching myself at all, leading to serious disconnection with my body later in life.
He tried to convince me marriage was a good idea. In the midst of this confusion of sexual frustration and moralistic dogma, my boyfriend had the bright idea that we should get married. Why not, right? It would solve a bunch of problems that seemed to have no other solution. He even tried to tell me it was God’s will, and who was I to argue with that?
I didn’t see any other way out so I agreed. Even thinking about it now, I can see the messed-up logic in it. We wanted to have sex but couldn’t without getting married, so the only logical answer was to actually do that, right? I did have a lot of reservations, of course; I knew I was way too young, that (according to my religion) marriage was for life, and that sex was certainly not the best reason to get hitched. Still, I felt a lot of pressure from my boyfriend and so, when push came to shove, I agreed.
I went as far as buying a wedding dress. I came terrifyingly close to getting married for entirely messed-up reasons, even going so far as to start planning the wedding. Buying the dress made it very, very real and the closer it got, the more uneasy I became. I even tried to push it off another couple of years but my boyfriend wouldn’t hear of it. I’d said yes, and that was that.
All my friends and family tried to talk me out of it. Of course, they all knew better, not being blinded by the same fatal mix of hormones and emotional manipulation as I was. And of course, I didn’t listen to them. I felt so trapped in this decision that even hearing of alternatives made me feel sick. I just wanted to close my eyes, go through with it and hope that everything would be okay after the big day.
Eventually, I called off the wedding, and the relationship.
It took a while, but eventually, I came to my senses. I knew I couldn’t go through with getting married, especially for the sake of my boyfriend’s pubescent sex drive. I found enough courage to back out of the engagement and took the same opportunity to break up with my boyfriend who I finally realized had been incredibly coercive and manipulative during our entire relationship. Dodged a bullet there.
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