Sex Confessions and the Single Fundy: Adventures in Recovery

by Calulu

(or be careful who you tell your secrets to..)

Bless me Father for I have sinned… told you I’d been raised Catholic. One of the big rituals from my days in Catholic school was the time of confession. At first I found it frightening, going into that big wooden closet-like structure, sitting down with only a metal grill separating you from a priest. You usually couldn’t make out exactly which Father was hearing your confession.

It was always awkward, trying to scare up a list of all the bad stuff you’d done that week. I was a shy bookish young girl and nervously squirmed in the confessional trying to come up with my wrong doings, only to sometimes whisper out stuff I didn’t even do just to have something to say. I’d blurt out that I’d thrown a rock at a bird or told a lie because I just froze, my brain going into some sort of crazy lock up. The priest would tell me something like it was important to recognize your wrong doings, that the Lord forgave us, give me a simple penitence such as saying the Rosary a number of times before dismissing me with the words to go and sin no more.

Like that was going to happen. None of us is perfect, me least of all. So the next week I’d find myself back in the box confessing again in a haze of guilt and shame. Shampoo, rinse, repeat ad infinitum.

When I was a teenager it became a game among some of my friends and I to try and invent the most outrageous of tales to shock the priest during confession. If you could get him to react in surprise, like drop his Bible or sigh it was bonus points.

When I started going back to church, in my early fundigelical days, our pastor took us through the study of the power of confession and breaking through barriers that hold us back. We went through a few months of studying Neil T Anderson’s “The Bondage Breakers” The crux of the book and study was that you had to recognize, confront and confess those things that were holding you back. As we finished up the series we were all issued companion workbooklets titled “The Steps to Freedom in Christ”

Recently I found this booklet in our storage room, among the things I’m sorting to either throw away or give to Goodwill. It was Jim’s book and I idly leafed through it. It had things in it such as the ‘Non-Christian Spiritual Experience Inventory’ and tons of formulaic prayers to renounce such things as past abortions, homosexuality, pornography, eating disorders. There were even special sections dealing with past sins such as being baptized in urine as Satan’s own and any wedding ceremony to Satan.

We were issued these booklets with the strict instructions to take them home, pray for a long time to have the Lord open our minds and then work through the materials. On the next Sunday we were supposed to bring the booklets back, all filled in, talk about the experience before the Pastor collected them all and locked them away in a file cabinet. He explained the reasoning for locking them away as so that we would be accountable in the long term, knowing our spiritual inventory sheets were saved.

Oh I well remember the weekend Jim and I each did ours. I remember weeping, on my knees, begging Jim to forgive me for many of the things I’d done wrong in our marriage. I also remember that against my own best judgment I brought my booklet back to church to turn in. Jim wisely refused to turn his in.

As we talked about the experience in our study the pastor encouraged people to stand up, tell their confessions and how they would be changing.

At first people got up and told their stories, small things like learning to be more patient and they repented from read horoscopes in the past. But as the teaching hour rolled on the confessions got more bizarre, much more awkward to sit through, people started to squirm. One member stood up to say he repented from his bad temper, that sometimes he felt like killing others as a result of their actions and he knew that was wrong. Later he did kill someone and I wonder now if perhaps his uncomfortable confession was a warning sign we all missed.

But one poor sixteen year old boy named Danny broke my heart. He stood up and started to rant in great graphic detail his daily struggles with masturbation. He shouted out that he’d had a bonfire to burn all his porno magazines and he’d smashed his computer so he couldn’t look at porn there either. He went on and on and on to the point where you could feel how embarrassed most of us were for this kid. I remember shrinking back into my chair wishing that the floor would open and swallow me just so I wouldn’t have to listen to this child proclaim his mastery over a ‘sin’ that was more biological normal drive than any amount of evil.

I know I had to be beet red listening to Danny’s words. More than anything I longed to tell him that his desire to masturbate was no sin, it was part of the development of his body, his awakening sexual drive. That he was blessedly NORMAL! But I didn’t dare because I knew there were too many at my church that viewed anything that wasn’t one man and one women having sex in the dark in missionary position to try to have a baby as the blackest of sins. Slippery slope to hell.

Finally, mercifully it was over after a few more sexual confessions from others. We’d veered from simple confession to complete too much information time. Pastor collected the work booklets to lock away. In the years to come the information on the sins confessed were used by the church leadership to sort of bully those that had confessed into behaving.

How so? When I joined worship team during the interview I was asked specifically about some of the sins I’d listed. Particularly if I still practiced that demon-inspired exercise Yoga. The only reference I’d ever made to anyone at church about Yoga was in my spiritual inventory booklet. It could only have come from there. Found out later that I wasn’t the only one asked about things they’d repented from in that booklet the pastor now possessed.

I didn’t think then and I sure don’t think now that Yoga is ‘sinful’ but then again the spiritual inventory listed such things as Magic eight ball, Martial arts and Dungeons & Dragons as hideous sins. Have a incubi or succis visit you in the night? Going to hell. Drink someone’s blood? Going to hell. Do the downward facing dog position in Yoga? Going to hell (according to their standards)

So what is my point, I bet you’re saying. My point is that confession for the purposes of unburdening yourself isn’t necessarily a bad thing. But confession as a means of gaining information about you to be used against you later is something a cult would do. A cult seeking to control you, wanting to know all your little dirty secrets.

It all boils down to control, not attempting to help you recover from some self harm. If the faith community you are a part of seeks to control what you think, your sexual life, your relationship with your spouse, what type of exercise you do then you can be pretty sure they’ve slipped into cult territory.

Confession has it’s time and place, the middle of a church wide Bible study is not that place usually. I like that the Catholics had confession as something between you and God with a priest intermediary, not checkmarks in a book filed away or shocking the pants off everyone in the congregation.

Discuss this post on the NLQ forum. Comments are also open below.

Read all Adventures in Recovery - Sex Confessions ~ Cult of Personality ~Cereal Killers ~ Thirty One ~ The Piano ~ Barbie’s Head ~ Scaredy Cats ~ The Help ~ The Kids ~ Service Somebody ~ Circus ~ Fish ~ Boo! ~ Hi Ho TriggerSurfing ~ SOS ~ The Big Truth ~ Pearl Clutching ~ Rolling ~ Can’t Dance ~

Calulu lives near Washington DC , was raised Catholic in South Louisiana before falling in with a bunch of fallen Catholics whom had formed their own part Fundamentalist, part Evangelical church. After fifteen uncomfortable years drinking that Koolaid she left nearly 6 years ago. Her blog is Calulu – Roadkill on the Internet Superhighway

NLQ Recommended Reading …

Breaking Their Will: Shedding Light on Religious Child Maltreatment‘ by Janet Heimlich

Quivering Daughters‘ by Hillary McFarland

Quiverfull: Inside the Christian Patriarchy Movement‘ by Kathryn Joyce

  • abba12

    You know what disturbs me more than the actual point of this article? The facsination they seemed to have with the occult and satanic church, and the amount of knowlege you have on the topic. A general church bible study really shouldn’t have any reason whatsoever to go into the details of satanic ‘church’ ritual. A simple ‘satanic practices’ would be more than enough for any ex satanist now part of the christian church to recognise and be convicted by. There’s no need for everyday christians not called to that ministry to really even think about or learn about those things beyond the basics.

    It’s one thing to know some people distort christian ceremony into satanic ritual. It’s another to know a satanic baptism can involve urine, and it sounds like they went into some detail about satanic weddings. I don’t know how much detail it went into but it seems like it might have been a fair bit.

    I was involved in satanic practice at one point, and it’s just something christians don’t need to meddle with unless called to ministry with those leaving the ‘church’.

    It is definitly disturbing to me that it seemed to be so well explored.

  • abba12

    I’m sorry I should clarify, the reason it disturbs me is it makes me wonder how the pastor knows so much and whether he is messed up in that sort of thing. I know it all sounds very unrealistic, but I did know of a case once when the pastor was found to be involved in the satanic church.

    It all sounds very medieval and spiritual, a man who worships satan involved in a christian church to provide a damaging influence to christianity because that’s what he believes satan is calling him to do, but when you start getting involved in satanic worship it’s like a whole different world, and the idea becomes nowhere near as farfetched. You think fundies are scary? You find out about some of the serious underground satanic churches and movements. It’s insane, like something out of a movie.

  • jason55

    Reading Calulu’s story makes you wonder what ever became of that young man. How did that experience damage him later in life and his relationships with women? Sadly these are the types that end up bombing abortion clinics.

  • Powerfuldot

    I think a lot of his “knowledge” of “details” of Satanic rituals came from people like Mike Warnke who wrote a book and made millions touring around the country telling people about his past as a Satan worshipper. There have been a few such things in the public eye, like the child abuse ring in Wenatchee, WA, so there are enough accounts of certain practices and ritual that people can find them.

    The problem is, none of that stuff has ever happened. No Satanic cults that do anything like the stuff described in any of the fictional accounts have ever been found to exist. Warnke later was dosgraced after investigaion proved was all made up, after someone discovered he had spent his entire life as an evangelical. The Wenatchee thing was found to be an elaborate imagination-fueled hallucination/lie partly brought on by the false recovered memories and cueing of the children to certain answers. Quite a messy situation.

    tl;dr Accounts of rituals pastors can draw from are widespread, and all fake.

  • Calulu

    Abba12, the list of supposedly satanic practices was in the workbook by Neil T. Anderson. The title is The Steps To Freedom In Christ. On page 5 there was an entire page of explainations as to why you had to pray that good reveal to you any involvement with satanic or occult activity followed by this list of “Special Renunciations for Satanic Ritual Involvement”

    Yes, there was a full section of “Special Renunciations For Satanic Ritual Involvement” I’m going to list them straight from the booklet.

    I renounce ever signing my name over to Satan or having had my name signed over to Satan.

    I renounce any ceremony where I may have been wed to Satan.

    I renounce any and all covenants that I made with Satan.

    I renounce all satanic assignments for my life, including duties, marriage and children.

    I renounce all spirit guides assigned to me.

    I renounce ever giving of my blood in the service of Satan.

    I renounce ever eating of flesh or drinking of blood for satanic worship.

    I renounce any and all guardians and Satanist parents who were assigned to me.

    I renounce any baptism in blood or urine whereby I am identified with Satan.

    I renounce any and all sacrifices that were made on my behalf by which Satan was glorified or may claim ownership of me.

    At the time I don’t remember even thinking one way or another about this list. Now, with the perspective of years and time away from that church the list seems, I don’t know exactly, sensationalism, like something off the Jerry Springer show, something used to whip up the masses into fear. Pure propaganda.

  • Calulu

    D’oh! “GOD” reveal to you, not “GOOD” Damn typos.

  • abba12

    That was triggering enough that I had to skip through the list heh, but It’ll be interesting to show my husband.

    The things I did read, yes they have a legitimate place, but it’s not in that sort of book or study in my opinion. And you’re right, there’s a good chance it was meant to sound big and scary and sensationalist, a lot of christians begin to get feelings of great self importance when they delve into this. A big problem the youth in very liberal charismatic churches seem to have is a preoccupation with spiritual warfare, but no actual context, so it all sounds big and scary and, for lack of a better word, fun. It makes them feel important. They get caught up in a novelty with no idea what they’re actually doing. That’s why I believe it’s not infomation that should be pushed to the mainstream. Available yes, absolutely, but not mainstream.

  • abba12

    I’m well aware of the disproving of a few big ‘satanic abuse’ cases. I’m also all too well aware of the side of the psychological community that believes all cases of satanic ritual abuse are cases of false memories and memory manipulation.

    I’m also aware of the power such an underground community can have, the concept of plausable deniability, and the natural preference of our human brains to not believe such excessivly cruel and demented acts such as the torture ritual abuse survivors describe can happen. Given the choice, most people rationalise that it just can’t happen, it’s too bad, it can’t be real, and they meet it with denial and the immediate need to disprove it to make it a managable thought in their minds, much like a mother who cannot cope with the idea her husband is sexually abusing their children, and proceeds to deny it, seeing proof as to why the child is lying, because the reality is too much to bear.

    I’m not going to try and convince you it’s real or not, but there is a worldwide community online of people who claim to have suffered from ritual abuse, a number actually in europe. Can you say with certainty every one of them is a victim of false memories? I’ll admit I’m skeptical about the ones who never remember anything until they see a psych, but what about the ones who never saw psychs or saw them as a result of the memories, i.e. the psych did not place the memories there.

    I never saw a psych until I was married and I’ve still never seen one for more than 8 appointments. But I believe I was a victim of ritual abuse, and I had no idea about the controversy of it, or false memories, until long after I was married.

    If you still believe every single one of us has false memories that in many cases were self induced, I think you’re in denial, but ok, fine, but recognise that those memories are very real to those experiencing them. And the statment ‘no satanic cults exist’ is an awfully authorative statment that I personally would be very careful using, because you’re speaking against testimony of thousands of people, mostly based off two or three proven frauds in the US and a few very immoral psychologist.

  • Calulu

    I agree with you totally. Youth in those liberal charismatic churches are being taught to fool with things that they have no idea what the long term repercussions can be. Evil is as real as good.

    While I’m sure there are those that might need to deal with some of the issues on that list. I seriously doubt the percentage is enough to justify inclusion in the booklet. Seems like overkill. But what do I know, I’m just a yoga-fying sinner doing that downward dog.

  • http://krwordgazer.blogspot.com KR Wordgazer

    I wouldn’t be at all surprised if after books like Warnke’s came out, imitative groups sprang up here and there. Since I know that the official Satanist church was actually formed as a joke by a group of atheists, I don’t believe there is any centralized “church” of Satan.

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