Here’s the part of the story that I wish was different. I wish that I could say Ben and I stayed chaste throughout our relationship. I wish I could say I didn’t follow the same stupid pattern with this one that I had with all the others before him. I wish so many things that I shouldn’t even bother wishing because it’s pointless. We dated for a few months and then, one night, we had a moment of weakness. It was mutual and it was memorable but it was wrong. It was wrong because this one was supposed to be different. This relationship was supposed to be the one that lasted. It was supposed to be the one that turned the tide, changed the game, stayed the course. But he was human and I was human, so it happened.
The reason that sex before marriage can be so destructive, and why it was so for me, was because it took something that was created for our pleasure and our good and turned it into something shameful. I partially blame my experience with the church and their treatment of sexuality, their entire approach to sexuality, for this particular area of disillusion in my life. I mean, what a confusing picture you paint by saying “how amazing sex is when you wait until you’re married” but refuse to talk about it otherwise with any sort of normalcy. What a confusing picture you paint by allowing your children to read the Bible at any young age, which contains, may I remind you, stories of polygamy, incest, rape, adultery, blatant nudity and sexuality, sodomy, cleanliness of a woman on her period, prostitution and men who spill their semen on the ground to keep from providing their brother with offspring (seriously, Genesis 38:9 you guys). Sure, read the Word of God but let’s just avoid discussion of those passages! That is some pretty pornographic stuff for a young, prepubescent and curious child to come across at such a tender young age. I felt as if it wasn’t even being addressed even though it was in SCRIPTURE.
I realize not everyone in the church adheres to this strict moral clause of “don’t ask and certainly don’t tell” (but definitely don’t ask either). In fact, the only time I remember a Christian culture allowing me to openly ask questions about sex was in high school. In fact, it was Ben’s mom, as one of my truly memorable high school teachers, who held an only-girls meeting once at school in which she dressed up as an old lady whose name was “Phyllis Inn” (please don’t miss the brilliance of that name pun) and we were allowed to ask her any questions we had about sex. Total open forum and of course, being sheltered private Christian school girls, we went buck wild. Everything from “does it hurt” to “are you still a virgin if you use a tampon?” to “I don’t get how it fits in that tiny little hole” and so much more. This was an anomaly, in my experience, with the Christian world of sexuality.
So, to bring this all back in, my unhealthy relationship with sex bled over into my relationship with Ben and thus began the emotional and spiritual cancer that is the fear of true intimacy. With Ben, I felt that for the first time ever, I was actually the one who held the control. I wasn’t simply a victim of unwanted sexual encounters. But I knew in my heart that this was poison for our sweet, new relationship and true to my pattern, I blamed myself completely.
Over the course of our first year of dating, one of his roommates got sick of me staying overnight all the time and some tension began to seep into our lives. This began the discussion of our future, which led to the discussion of marriage. I was only 23.
Ben wanted to propose soon and so, we went to look at engagement rings.