YMIN400 - Christian Values in Human Sexuality
Dr. Steve Gerali
February 3, 2005
Please note that this is a very open essay about my sexual development. The class assignment was to write about how sexuality developed in our lives. Some details might seem pointless or strange but I assure you they were part of the assignment (I got an A).
This paper is not designed to apply any morality statements to the development process and what is written within should not be implied to be condoned or condemned.
The style of this paper was suppose to be casual and some of the terms used are not scientific, nor academic.
I have tried my best to ensure the privacy of others apart of my development as I recognize just because I am open does not mean everyone else is.
Lastly, this essay was written in 2005 and it should not be assumed that positions at the end of the essay have not changed.
It is hard for me to pinpoint
the genesis of my sexual awareness, as since I can remember, the topic was
freely discussed within my home. As I have aged I have realized what a
blessing it has been, as not every child was lucky enough to have parents that
were not afraid of the subject. Through out my development, questions about
sex were brought to my parents, and it was answered. When sexual themes were
on TV, the channel was not changed, but if needed, discussed. In the midst of
the conversations about sexuality, it was often explained that sex should be
something that is shared with someone you love, and sometimes that was
clarified by marriage.
There were two events in the
4th grade that serve in my memory as the beginning of my sexual development (this of course is not a scientific statement, as my "sexual development" began long before the 4th grade). At the time, I was a
subscriber to Sports Illustrated. The magazines came in my name, and I paid
for the subscription. Around February of my 4th grade year I
received my first edition of the Swimsuit Issue. I can remember thinking how
enjoyable it was just to look at these women in the magazine. I did not feel
ashamed, or guilty, as I did not see anything wrong with it. I was so open to
it; I brought the magazine to school and showed my friends. We were caught
looking at the magazine by my teacher, where he proceeded to inform me that
this type of material should not be brought to school, and probably should not
be looked at by a young man of my age. So I took the magazine home, and did
not really think much more about it.
The second event that year was when they divided the girls and the boys up and had separate talks about "changes that were coming." I know now that what they were trying to tell the boys was they would potentially be experiencing wet dreams in the near future, and to not freak out, there is nothing wrong with it. They tried to explain a little of the science behind it, but I can remember leaving having absolutely no clue what they were talking about. Nevertheless, that was my first dose of "sex education" from a public school.
As I moved up and out of the
4th grade, so did my awareness of sexuality. I can remember noticing around this time that if I stay up late enough on Friday and Saturday nights, that there were some "pretty good movies" on Cinemax and HBO. I would watch these mainly out of curiosity, but also with a little sense of enticement. Lunch time in 5th grade would consist of myself and about four or five other boys sitting around a table talking about what we would "do" if certain models would show up at our homes unexpectedly. It was here that I tried out certain vocabulary I had heard, and learned new vocabulary from others. When there were would be a dispute or confusion on a certain term, I would ask my mother.
It was sometimes in-between
my 5th and 7th grade year when I learned from my mother about the concept of anal sex, masturbation, as well as her attempt to describe what an orgasm was (and when you think about it, it is kind of hard to explain that). At the time I did not recognize it, but looking back I truly appreciated that openness and honesty surrounding both genders' sexual development.
It was 6th grade when the world of Internet pornography opened a huge door that has yet to be fully closed. At the young age of 12, I was quite a computer savvy individual, which made me quite popular due to the fact I could find pornography for other students at my school. I can remember understanding for the first time feelings of guilt associated with my sexual behavior. I am not sure if it is because I saw how students reacted to the pornography, and the mixed emotion of enjoyment and fear of getting caught, but for the first time I recognized that maybe this wasn't an acceptable thing. But that did not stop me from continuing my excursion into the world of pornography.
It was later on my 6th grade year that when I was down in the basement looking at some internet pornography, that I began to notice if I touched my penis at the same time, it brought a very pleasureful experience. I had finished by coming to a climax and having an orgasm and I realized very quickly that this felt great. Through out the next couple of years I continued to masturbate in private, as even though I did not think it was wrong, I recognized that it was not a "public event."
At this time, the messages I
had received from home that sexuality is a good thing, and it that can be
talked about and discussed. It had light moral overtones, but no definite
terms or boundaries were set in place. The schools continued to educate us on
the science of sexuality and inform us on the continual changes are bodies were
going through, but by no means made any moral statements about the topic. It
would be wrong as well to ignore the media, but other than ways already
discussed, it is just in passing that I can observe that subconsciously the media
instilled more justification that sexuality was a good, and enjoyable element
to life. At this point, I had not been in church, and had received no moral
guidance from any Christian source.
By the time I had hit 8th
grade, I began to assert myself as an available bachelor on the 8th grade scene and began dating. It was here that I had taken my knowledge and ideas about sexuality and brought them into a relationship. By the second week of my relationship with ##### we decided to take our relationship to the next level by participating in the act of "fingering" (sorry can't remember the technical term for it). ##### was not intimidated to be relatively nude around me, and we continued this for a couple of weeks. I initiated and enjoyed this act mainly due to my own curiosity, as appose to external pressures from peers. I was one of the first boys in my grade to experience this, and I can remember the questions that came from everyone after they had found out that ##### and I were doing this. Although I did not feel comfortable discussing this with my mother, I did talk to my sister about this event. ##### and I broke up a couple months into it after I asked if we could have sex (meaning intercourse). She got a little scared at this point and decided to end the relationship, for good reaon.
It was also in 8th grade that I had started to go to church, and it was here that God was moving people into my life to be a good influence. Initially I noticed that "pre-marital sex" was wrong according to the church, and it was defined as anything that was not kissing. Just like all elements of my faith, I did not "buy" this message right away. I was open to my youth pastor and youth leaders about my sexual experience, and we had conversations about the topic. By the fall of my freshman year I realized that I did believe in Christ, and therefore accepted that His guidance was best for my life. At this point, I too, took on the stance that pre-marital sex acts were wrong before marriage (now whether I obeyed that or not will continue to be discussed).
One throbbing question I had
during my spiritual development within my church, was, I knew sexual
intercourse was alright and acceptable for marriage, but were other sex acts
appropriate? For example, if I were to marry a Christian woman, would she be
comfortable with giving me a blowjob? Although it may seem trivial, it was
very important to me, yet, for some reason, I did not feel comfortable asking
that specific question in the church.
For the next four years of my
life I continued to struggle with pornography and masturbation. Although never
specifically brought up at this point, I assumed masturbation was wrong due to
it involved lusting. I struggled immensely with these during high school, and
really tried my hardest to get this issue under control (more on that later).
It was my sophomore year (16 years old) and I had started dating a young woman named #####. ##### and I were good friends before we dated, so it was easy to transfer into an intimate relationship. About three months into the relationship, I returned to the ways of my previous relationship and we participated in the act of fingering. I would always ask if she would give me a "hand job," but she always declined (which I think had more to do with that she did not understand how to). We did this for about six months, until the relationship escalated further by me performing cunnilingus on her (finally I got a technical term in there). Again, I asked her if she would give me a blowjob, but she declined. What was apparent to me was that, although I too wanted sex acts performed on me, I enjoyed pleasing and performing sex acts on her. By this time I had gotten quite active in the youth group, but I never discussed what ##### and I were doing with anyone, as I knew it was wrong. I also dropped talking to my mother about these types of things because she had become disapproving of me becoming a Christian, and would throw it in my face when, "as a new Christian, I wasn't acting like a Christian." So I learned to keep this between ##### and myself.
##### and I broke up and I
began to realize God was calling me to pursue Him further. I spent a good
amount of time working on my sexual lusting (not just masturbating), and truly
wanted to overcome all of my sexual lusting. I entered into a relationship
with another Christian-girl named Laura (by now it is my junior year of high
school), and I set some ground rules to the relationship very early on (I think it was the first date). We did much better than ##### and I had. Sexuality was something that Laura and I were very open about and discussed freely. I talked with her about my struggle with masturbating and pornography, she talked to me about her issue of self-image and her own sexual desire. We were together for seven months and started to face the struggle of "dry sex." Amongst other reason, I left the relationship, as I did not want to compromise my relationship with God.
It was also during my junior
year that I started to have an accountability partner named #####. It was here that masturbation got brought up for the first time between the two of us, and we were both relieved that we struggled with the issue. From there we decided that the church was silent enough on the topic and it was going to be our personal mission to bring this topic to the forefront. Within a short amount of time, we had a lot of the guys and even some of the girls coming and talking to us about the issue of masturbation. It became a more open topic, and our youth leader, realizing we were talking about it anyway, began to discuss the topic with the guys (although not the girls).
Overall, my church was fairly healthy, although not perfect, when it came to talking about sexuality. They didn't use scare tactics, and when questions arose, they would be answered maturely. We had a female youth leader named Nancy (she was a mom of a girl in the group) that was quite open to all of us about the topic of sexuality, and provided a lot of insight. It was actually ##### that made me realize how "fun" sexuality can be in a Christian marriage, as you could tell she liked it when all of her kids were away for the weekend for obvious reasons. Although answers did not come as quickly or in as much detail as I would have liked, my church did provide us with a healthy viewpoint of sexuality.
As I entered into college, I was very proud of myself. I had not masturbated in over a year and internet pornography was a thing of the past. I had used the motivation of "my [future] wife deserves my sexual purity" to overcome a lot of my struggle. I enjoyed APU because it was evident that sexuality was a topic that could be discussed openly from both the men and the women. I continued to have accountability and discuss the issue of pornography and masturbation, as well as our perspective of sexual theology.
In the past 18 months I have
had a resurgence in my sexual struggle due to the fact that I am no longer
convinced I will be married. There are many aspects of my singleness I love,
and although I due appreciate the value of relationships, I am starting to recognize the value
of being able to live without the responsibility to another person. While I am
still convinced that I eventually will marry, the though of life-long
singleness has been wrestled with. The reason I bring this up, is because
although there have been times in my life when I conquered my sexual struggle,
it is at 22 where I am having to re-learn it all over again. My values were
shaped around my [future] wife. My motivation was shaped around my [future]
wife. Now, with that [future] wife in question, I am finding I have to
re-process my values and motivation in order to control my desire for
pornography and masturbating. While I hate the struggle, I do not run
from it. I realize that these deep-seated issues take time to process and that
despite my inequity and sin in the matter, God still loves and forgives me as I
work this out.
I know this paper focused a
lot more on experience than on external influences (i.e. the media). I do not
mean to downplay these subconscious influences, but it seemed in my life that I
was always exploring the topic out of my own curiosity, as apposed to external
influences, thus leading me to talk more about my experience at each stage of
development. These events are what I feel have had the largest impact on my
value-awareness of sexuality during my physical and spiritual development.