When I was in college I remember staying the night with this one guy and at about six or seven in the morning I said I was going to head back to my dorm. He asked if I was really okay doing the walk of shame. I was kind of taken aback. Shame? You guys have shame? Huh.
I went through this period where I was pissed at the church and Christianity in general, so I gave up everything that I worked to build in myself: my personal shame at sexual encounters, dancing, having doubts about my faith, and drinking. I thought that’s how the “world” worked. I thought they were shameless because they didn’t have to justify their actions to a perfect supreme being. I thought that’s what being like the world was all about.
“No,’ is what I said. “I don’t mind at all. I mean we didn’t even have sex.” And while I was walking back with my heels in my hand and looking a hot mess, I was thinking about morality. What would make you feel shame for sleeping with someone if you hurt no one and it wasn’t a sin to you? Is it just the social pressure that if we have sex, we girls are sluts?
He’d also asked me where I drew the line for sex. What is required for a relationship to include sex? “I don’t know.” I was thinking about how I would’ve said that I wanted to wait for marriage until I lost my virginity. But after that, I’d never thought it mattered much. I wasn’t a virgin, so what requirements should there be? What requirements do people in the “world” have?
Later on, I met a girl who was waiting until she was deeply in love, the kind that you would get married from, to have sex. I wondered why in the world would she would think to do that? Is it because sex is a big deal? Is it because she wanted to be sure that if all birth control failed she could raise a child with that man? Then, I started thinking about my kids. How should I talk to them about it? Should I base sexual ethics solely on God or should I base it solely on the possibility of having children or perhaps on the very real possibility that having sex could break him/her emotionally later? Maybe I should combine them.
Here’s the thing. Would I have been so completely emotionally broken had my religion not made me feel as though I lost the best thing about me when I lost my virginity? I know vicariously that I may still have been ashamed, but emotionally broken? Not so sure. I think what I’ll do is just have this conversation with them someday. Explain this all to them and just be honest. At least that’s my goal.
The real dilemma here is that I had no idea that morals could exist outside of religion. I know it seems absolutely crazy to say, but that’s what I was taught all my life to believe. That all morality and goodness came from God, and without God we were worms, scum, and completely incapable of doing good. It’s weird now that I take that thought and realize that there are Many non-religious and other religious people who are doing good things. If they aren’t capable of doing good things on their own, it must be evidence of God in their lives right? You will know them by their fruits. It’s amazing how these barriers to my faith, when used more consistently, tether me to it.