Love, Sex and Confessions

The evangelical church teaches its members that God created this wonderful tension between the man and the woman. It teaches that sex is a divine gift to be enjoyed only between a husband and a wife. There are books about relationships in the Christian bookstores that have pictures of a man and a woman in soft-focus-filter on the front, and they keep on coming out with more of them. God created the universe because he wanted to paint a story (“history” is “his story”) and perhaps the most important story of all (you guessed it!) is God’s plan for you and your future lover.

Evangelicals are obsessed with sex and relationships. They are absolutely obsessed. Such things have universal sway in the secular world because of our overwhelming desires. Just imagine how much the tension is ramped up by spiritualizing the whole thing! The story of you and your lover becomes a cosmic plan written in the stars. Those sexual desires become the snares and lures of demons! The secular fornicators are the harbingers of destruction, breaking God’s sacred laws. They will be cast out of the Kingdom of God. It makes breaking the rules tremendously exciting, and it makes keeping the rules tremendously exciting.

Nevermind all that. The lesson of the evangelical church is that you reserve yourself for someone, make a commitment to that person, and love that person unconditionally and completely without ever giving up on her (or him) just because you want somebody hotter. I bought this. I bought it hook, line and sinker.

The honest truth (I don’t even know why I’m writing about this) is that this was the only tangible, “earthly” thing I really ever wanted. And it is the only thing that never happened. I “succeeded” at pretty much everything else that the world told me to succeed at, and I got everything they told me to want. I have half-decent degrees, a good job, and a wonderful boss. I can play a bunch of instruments, I can sing, I can write, I can draw, I can run, I can climb, I can speak another language. I’ve read a pile of stuff, I’ve played a pile of games, I’ve seen a big chunk of the planet, I’ve tasted a pile of different cuisines, I’ve watched a pile of movies, I’ve written a pile of stuff, I have money, and my body turned out pretty good and rarely complains (nor does it often get complained about). None of it means anything to me. The only reason I wanted other things in life was to share them all with another living, breathing person who would appreciate them with me.

I’m going to regret writing this publicly.

I saw the state of sex and relationships in the culture. Yes, it made me suspicious from time to time that I was supposed to choose from a pool of 10 girls who were so different from me, while other people had hundreds, if not thousands, of possibilities. It made me suspicious that your body starts demanding sex about 10 years earlier than the church says you’re allowed to have it. It made me suspicious that everyone just went about their romantic affairs with reckless abandon, sometimes with dramatic consequences. It made me suspicious that time kept passing, and people kept dating and breaking up, while I was looking for something that seemed impossible. But this didn’t matter to me. I actually did want to be a rare find, or some kind of a hero, for some girl. I wanted to transcend the world of noncommittal, meaningless relationships and care about someone in a way that people in the world generally don’t care about each other. I wanted to care for some girl when she was feverish, clean her vomit off the floor when she was sick, tell her not to be embarrassed for embarrassing things, forgive her for things that people don’t forgive each other for, promise not to leave her for anyone else, and use all those ideas I came up with over the years for interesting and romantic evenings. I wanted to defy all the terrible influences of natural selection and love a girl for her mind before her body (even though my body tells me to reverse that order), break the trends of insensitive men who can’t communicate and won’t listen, and be that living, breathing person in someone else’s life. But it didn’t happen, and it might never happen. It might even be impossible.

It never happened because the same evangelical Christianity that fed me my desires also made it impossible to realize them. It constrained the options to a tiny little group of people. It gave me rules that people just don’t follow. It told me lies about the reasons behind all these things. It told me that people were actually interested in deep, hidden, honourable qualities, when all of us, really, are superficial and driven by blind forces that we can’t even understand. It told me that these things were bigger than a missed opportunity, a misspoken word, or a bad impression.  But they are no bigger than that at all. People are awful, and relationships appear to be little more than a hopeless game of animals trying to fake transcendence in suits and dresses.

One might expect me to say that in light of my shredded and tattered beliefs, the field is wide open, and that makes things easier. But that isn’t true. It’s even worse. All those secular people mostly lack such values, they mostly do not think about the big questions, they are mostly brainwashed into pointless societal pursuits, they are still mostly not like me, and they have all been in long relationships with other people that I just cannot deal with, given who I am, and the place I am in. I still believe in all those approaches that I believed in before—and now I don’t even have a belief system to ground them in. I cling to them for no reason at all. I can’t even pick from the little cluster of Christians anymore (so long as they follow the rules). I am a living study in isolation and futility. And all the evidence indicates that I believed and did all these things to an extent that many of my fellow Christians did not.

Some people love each other, and some people understand each other. But I fear that people may never really both love and understand each other.

I need my old self back. Who’s going to go back and get it for me? My past is gone. My desires and aspiration grew all my life; then they ripened, and now they’ve begun to spoil inside me.

I held out for a really long time. I was never once in a serious or steady relationship, because I always knew that it wouldn’t work out (or that it would be breaking the rules). In those few rare cases where I thought it would work out, the person burned me to a crisp. I did everything I was supposed to do. I constantly questioned the purity of my motives (even though this is complete lunacy, and it takes evangelicals to come up with such a ludicrous way of thinking). I can’t make it through the rest of this existence alone. Why should I have to be alone? Why should I keep on pretending that I’m not troubled by this? Why should I be saddled with these needs and desires that I didn’t ask for? Who are you to say, over your lover’s shoulder, that “it’s all in God’s timing?” It isn’t in “God’s timing” at all, and if you would look at the rest of the world and stop being so selfish, you would see this.

I think… that an unmet need to be loved, inflames and brings forth those qualities, that make one unlovable. I think it’s a terrible thing.

My despair grips me like a vice. The world is overwhelming, and it has taken everything from me, even my very identity. I was alone before, I was alone when it happened, and I am alone now. I can’t bear to think about it for more than a few minutes at a time.

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8 Responses to “Love, Sex and Confessions”

  1. That was really beautiful. I thought those things were only valuable in Christian men until I realized that most Christian men were no better than any other men. I think there are probably women out there who would cherish and value all of those qualities. And not just Christian women. Because I’ve bought into the lie as well and had it come full circle only to realize that there are some very good men out there who aren’t Christian, who honestly, behave in ways that should make many Christian men ashamed. That’s not me saying, ‘wait on God’s timing”, or “it’s all in God’s timing”. I don’t believe such things anymore either. That’s me saying broaden the horizons. Don’t lower your standards, but don’t rule out a woman who would value all that you are because she’s not a “Christian”. You might just find there’s someone who’s just what you’re looking for. I know what you mean about not wanting to be alone and wondering why you would even have to be. From someone who has had a hard time figuring this out for herself, you don’t have to be.

  2. Go to a party
    meet a nice girl
    hang out
    be romantic
    see what happens
    that’s what I did.

    I never bought the “only one person” thing even when I was an evangelical. Evang dating culture is a joke, lucky I knew this even when I was one.

  3. Oh, how was Ireland by the way?

  4. Oh, what a feckin’ grand idea. I never would have thought of that! (I find your comment borderline insulting, and I would also call it insensitive, except that it’s my fault for posting this stuff in the first place). In any case, good for you. You don’t sound very picky at all.

    Since you don’t buy the “only one person” thing, do you plan to leave the person you’re with? Maybe you should let her know.

    *sigh* sorry. But I don’t see how you could have written that without knowing that it would piss me off.

    Ireland is nice. It’s pretty much how I imagined it.

  5. “Since you don’t buy the “only one person” thing, do you plan to leave the person you’re with? Maybe you should let her know.”
    you miss my point. what if one of us died? should the other never be able to love again? no, of course not. the “one person forever” mentality totally ignroes this reality.

    “You don’t sound very picky at all”
    That could be a compliment or a criticism. but i coulnd’t care either way, you haven’t me my girl.

    “But I don’t see how you could have written that without knowing that it would piss me off”
    sorry for any offence, I was just keeping it loose, light and eminently danceable… shame we couldn’t have the conversation face to face over a coffee, then I’m sure you’d realise I’m not trying to be a twat.

  6. Who said anything about that? There’s even a BIBLE verse about it being OK to marry again if someone dies, so I’m not sure how anyone could think that.

    It was more a backhanded criticism of what I considered to be a very glib suggestion. Truthfully I’m not concerned about whether it netted you a nice girl, whether there’s merit to being very particular, or whether you yourself are particular.

    Obviously you’re not trying to be a twat. Unfortunately, this just happens not to be a loose or light thing for me at all. Whatever my attitude towards the future, there is no changing my past, and there is no changing the world. And even in spite of all this, I am not sure that I can really be fixed.

  7. “Whatever my attitude towards the future, there is no changing my past, and there is no changing the world. And even in spite of all this, I am not sure that I can really be fixed.”

    In what way do you mean you aren’t sure you can really be fixed?

  8. I’m just not sure I’m going to be the same person again. Anyway I don’t really think I should be talking about this in a comment thread.

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