Sex belongs in marriage.
With one person.
Surprisingly, I learned this hard and fast rule in a home that wasn't particularly religious. Not surprisingly, I learned it in a home that fits in with Midwestern US culture quite well. Christian (if you should ask), middle class, dad works, mom runs the family and house.
To me, the logical type-A person that I am, the rule made sense. I didn't want a baby (or an STD) so, what was the problem?
Well, rules about sex aren't a problem... until you realize you want to break them.
Once I hit my later teen years and began dating Adam, my now husband, I realized that saving sex for marriage wasn't as black and white as it seemed. Around this time, I also began developing my own spiritual identity and read oodles of - Christian - books about dating, modesty, and sexuality.
The amount of confusion I felt over my own desires to be kissed and caressed by my boyfriend escalated as my logical ego became more and more entrenched in the idea that I was wrong for not being able to control my sexual attraction.
I berated myself and was haunted by the feeling that I needed to* do more *to safeguard myself from "temptation" and "sin."
The "hard and fast rule" that was so deeply engrained in myself, and Adam, was pushed and tested time and time again as we explored each other and our relationship... only managing to exclude actual genital intercourse from our growing intimacy. What sex was, specifically, became a gray area I didn't want to clarify.
Shame was thick in the air I breathed every time I sharply inhaled as his hand would slip under my shirt.
Guilt seemed to be tarred onto my skin... too thick to even wash off... when I would wake in the morning after being with him the evening before. I spent my days at work yearning to hold him again, and fearing it at the same time.
Over and over again we would promise each other - no more. This time, we'll do better we'll be good. We would confess, pray, beg for forgiveness from God and from each other... and with the same hands we clenched to redemption and opened to the heavens... we committed our moral crimes once more.
It was a vicious cycle that left me feeling empty and raw. Adam would leave my apartment at night and I'd press my body against the door, sobbing, slowly sinking into a heap on the floor. Beseeching the morning to come again so I could either forget my pain or numb it out with more pleasure.
Day after day I felt like I was applying a band aid and ripping it off on the same patch of skin.
I wish I could say that one day I magically woke up to the truth about sexual shame and intimacy, but in reality, it took me years to overcome. Adam and I decided to get married, due, in no small part, to the fact that we would quite surely have ended up having sex before we were married had we not tied the knot. We were certain we'd marry anyways so we thought... why wait?
By some miracle getting married three days past my 19th birthday was the best thing I ever did. Not because it absolved me of my sexual "sin", but because it liberated me from shame... finally allowing me to feel and ask questions about my sexuality with brutal honesty.
I began reading all of the recommended books about sex I could find at the Family Christian Book store. They were vanilla as all fuck and didn't address most of the questions I had like "Why do I want sex more than he does? Why does it feel like he's ashamed to have sex with me? What do we do with the guilt that's left over from our time dating and being 'sexually active' with each other? How do I tell him what I want?"
It wasn't until we had spent years riding down rocky roads of communication and intimate connection... with pornography addiction thrown into the mix... that I realized the truth that would finally unlock the chains of shame I had been carrying with me for so long.
It's okay to like sex.
It's okay to want sex.
It's okay to have sex.
See, the body doesn't actually know the difference between being married or unmarried. That is completely a construct of the egoic mind. Ownership, property, and moral doctrine don't come from a place of embodiment or pleasure, they come from the need to control and achieve impossible innocence. The body only knows what it feels.
Getting married didn't fix me. Getting married didn't make sex un-sinful. Getting married didn't suddenly cast a light on all the shifting shadows of my psyche. Getting married didn't make me automatically good at sex (yet another myth I believed about waiting).
What it did do was give me permission. Permission to bring into consciousness what had only been subconscious before. To allow myself to feel and to be present with my own desires, pleasure, power, and presence.
Sexual shame is told in a million different stories. Some of them look oppressive from the outside, some of them look uneventful, and some of them look downright horrendous. It doesn't really matter what the nuances of how sexual shame happens is, the commonality between all sexual shame is that it always produces a belief that we are innately wrong and by our pure being we are broken.
Whether you've called that a sin nature or not - most of the underlying patriarchal dogma that leads to sexual shame comes from the religious idea of total depravity and sin.
The idea that whatever comes to us intuitively, naturally, in flow... cannot be right.
That life must be picked apart, analyzed, and agreed upon by a group of high-falutin men - this creates the essential belief that holds patriarchal systems together: Somebody must be wrong here so "we" can be right.
Who is we? The patriarchal systems would like us to think it's the people at the top. Authorities. Government. Church Leaders. People in power... but the truth is that the patriarchy can only exist if each one of us holds on to this belief inside of ourselves.
I must be wrong, so that I can be right.
Ask your body how this feels. Drop in to your Divine Self, your pelvic bowl, your soul space, your Holy Spirit, your Godness. When we connect into this place within, we can see that there is no such thing as a broken woman.
Sex belongs here, in you, in your breath and body.
Sex belongs in trust, in love, and in divine communion.
Sex belongs. Pleasure belongs. You belong.
You are not broken.
Sex is not broken.
You are completely, divinely sexy and whole.