True Love Waits

by Betty Crux

 

If there is anything I have very, very vivid memories of, it’s youth group at either church we attended.

 

I was a loser, no getting around it.  I wasn’t good looking, and my parents weren’t helping that fact.  I had big ears, gapped teeth, and a gangly frame.  Being Italian, I also was rocking a pretty serious uni-brow and some hairy legs and arms, not to mention more manly sideburns than my dad. I wasn’t allowed to shave, so that compounded with my already goofy face and ultra conservative dress code, I was an easy target for the Abercrombie wearing “cool kids” at my public school…some the same kids who attended my youth group.  I never really wanted to go; it was like school all over again.  If I did want to go, it was only to escape the unrest at my house or babysitting my siblings.  But, no matter my attitude about it that day, off to youth group I went.

At both churches, it was held in the basement, decked out almost like a hip teen underworld beneath the stuffy adult church above.  Jars of Clay and other Christian music posters papered the walls, in addition to ones bearing bible verses in bright colors and crazy fonts.  The sofas were big and plush, facing a stage where the praise band played.

I’d like to preface the rest of this story by saying that the youth leader was a nice younger man, who to this day I still feel to be very well-intentioned and kind hearted.  He was a good friend of my family and was very compassionate to me. I feel the things we were taught (and he probably still teaches) are, in his mind and heart, the will of God and in the best interest of the kids in his charge.

It was a night not unlike every other night.  All the kids had arrived early to mingle with each other, having snacks and listening to music before the lessons began.  I opted to stand in a corner and eat my Cheetos by myself as to avoid any stares or snickers.  Occasionally I’d try striking up a conversation with someone (usually an adult) but would typically decide isolating myself was a better choice.  After sitting down, we opened with prayer and a praise song or two.  We then began a talk on modesty and “waiting until marriage.”

In my house, the “sex talk” consisted of my dad telling me if he ever caught me having sex he’d kill me where I stood, so while I didn’t know the exact mechanics, I knew it was best avoided.  The youth pastor went on to tell us about how every time we had sex with, kissed, or even had impure thoughts about someone of the opposite sex, we were committing adultery in the eyes of God and were giving away pieces of our heart we could never get back.  He went on to say that if you were to commit such indiscretion, you would be setting your marriage up for failure in the future, as God had intended your virginity for your spouse and that if you waited your wedding night would be blessed by God and be pretty much magical and perfect.

I looked skeptically at the kids around me all nodding along angelically.  I may not have had any friends, but in our small school I was pretty aware of who was doing what (or whom) and I knew there were many regular offenders sitting around me.  His words must have “touched” some of them, as I noticed a few heads start to look to their laps.  I figured I was free and clear, seeing as how no one spoke to me, much less sought me out for sin.

The pastor, continuing his lesson, then went on to tell us how it was our (the girls) job was sisters in Christ to keep our brothers from stumbling.  Flirting or dressing impurely would cause the boys to sin and we would have to answer to that before God. My 14-year old head immediately called “bullshit”, but I continued to listen intently, as I wanted to avoid God’s wrath at all costs.

At the end of his lesson, we were told a woman would be coming to speak to us about impurity the next week.  “Great,” I thought, “Because this round has been such a joy.”  He also mentioned something about a silver ring, but I had mentally checked out around the warning about leading boys astray, so I missed it.

Fast-forward one week and I was back on the same couch (this time arranged in a circle) with a good-looking, middle aged woman seated in the middle.  She introduced herself and told us she was there to give her “testimony”.  It was all downhill from there: pretty much from the onset, she was getting emotional.  She had sex with a few guys in high school and college, one instance resulting in a pregnancy that she had an abortion to terminate.  Crying heavily, she told us how she went on to become a model and struggled with some addiction issues before finding God and a wonderful, compassionate husband who could love her despite her past sexual encounters.  By the time she was done, many of the girls were sobbing right along with her and wanting to be prayed for.  The entire thing was thoroughly disturbing and I wondered why it wasn’t having the same effect on me, I just wanted to get the hell out of there.  Before we left, we were told we would be attending Silver Ring Thing in the coming weeks.  Something about “purity” and “Christian bands” and “making a pledge.”

We took the church vans to Silver Ring Thing, a caravan of exuberant Jesus Freaks.  The event was held in a large arena setting, complete with lights and pyrotechnics.  The hip speakers did skits and the Christian bands had the teens on their feet, hands in the air, praising Jesus.  The lessons from the previous weeks youth group meetings were re-iterated, this time hitting on the subject of abortion and adding that if we broke the purity pledge we would be making that night, we might as well “flush it down the toilet” because that’s what we had done with our promise to God.  After taking the public pledge to essentially be asexual until Yahweh plopped a spouse in our laps, the unsaved were offered a chance to accept Jesus into their hearts, as was standard anytime 2 or more evangelicals are gathered in one place.  I had done this a million times before, but did it once more just to be safe.  On our way out, we signed away our sexuality at a folding table and were handed a dinky, sterling silver ring with a bible verse on it.

I was kind of ready to flush it already.

 

Comments open below

After being baptized Roman Catholic and growing up with a Spiritualist mother,  Betty Crux spent 10 years in the world of “evangelical/born-again” Christianity.  Several years removed, Betty uses writing as tool, both therapeutic and informational, to sort through the experiences as well as call into question the potential long-term effects of such a belief system.

Currently without religious affiliation, Betty is working on compiling her experiences and observations into a book and blog.  She also enjoys baking, painting, photography, tattoos and other “worldly” endeavors.

The Spiritual Abuse Survivor Blogs Network

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

 

About Suzanne Calulu
  • http://baronessblack-baronessblack.blogspot.com/ Baroness Black

    This whole “purity ring” thing is very strange to me and my European/African upbringing. Why is my sexual status of interest to anybody else, and why would anybody else’s sexual state be of interest to me? I genuinely don’t get it!

  • Nightshade

    I remember hearing that whole ‘love waits’ thing when I was growing up, and there is a grain of truth to it, as long as the following words are ‘until you’re ready,’ not ‘so keep pure as the driven snow until your wedding day, because no man wants used goods.’ Bleh. If a man can’t love a woman because she’s had prior experience he doesn’t really love her, he just loves virginity.

  • Persephone

    It’s just another way some people try to prove how godly they are. Most of them do it because it’s expected of them.

    As a point of interest, teenagers who sign up for these purity pledges are more likely to not use condoms when they do have sex; they have sex at pretty much the same rate as teenagers who don’t take the pledge; they are more likely to engage in risky sex to avoid pregnancy.

    Teenagers who have had thorough sex education and have contraception easily available are less likely to have sex.

  • Persephone

    Every time I read a story about abstinence, I swear that the adults who push hardest for it are the ones who engaged in a lot of casual sex when young. I can understand some of them looking back and thinking, “Whew, I was lucky to not get [some STD/STI] when I was young and crazy.” But, most of the time, it seems more like they feel guilty about what they did, and instead of teaching teenagers how to make smart decisions about sex, and using precautions when they do, they just want to stamp it out. They totally seem to forget what the teenage sex drive is like; it’s like that skinny silver ring is going to close down Vesuvius.

  • Anita

    Purity rings really set me on edge. If you think your children should save sex for marriage, by all means have that conversation with them, but in the end it is their body and their choice and if you pressure them into making a pledge that they might regret later, it will close down communication.
    I was reading a blog by someone fairly conservative who has quite a few children and I guess they take each daughter out for dinner on her 15th or 16th birthday and give her a purity ring and she makes it sound all special and like it’s a really big deal for them. But rather than a loving act, it just comes across as controlling. It’s like a conditional gift… ‘we love who you are becoming as an adult…. but only if you keep going in this one direction’.
    Far better I think to say something like, “we feel that sex is beautiful and should be reserved only for marriage for xyz reasons. But ultimately it is your body and your decision and we hope that in any case, you will save it for someone you love and trust.”

  • Tori

    PLEASE write more on this! Your writing is brilliant, vivid and descriptive. I was there with you on the couch watching the crazy blond lady, holding out my hand to have the little silver ring placed in my palm, and closing my fingers over it, feeling it’s unyielding hardness. I loved this, you have a rare talent!

  • http://www.facebook.com/lucrezaborgia Lucreza Borgia

    “After taking the public pledge to essentially be asexual until Yahweh plopped a spouse in our laps, the unsaved were offered a chance to accept Jesus into their hearts, as was standard anytime 2 or more evangelicals are gathered in one place.”

    LOL

  • Petticoat Philosopher

    haha, yeah that was my favorite line too. I definitely giggled alone here in my room. Well-done!

  • SAO

    Yes, this was great. Write more!

    What’s interesting is that the presenter’s experience contradicted her words. She had sex, an abortion, did drugs and found a loving husband and, from what I could tell, confidence in God’s love — exactly what she was saying wouldn’t happen if her listeners made the same mistakes she did. Perhaps the silver ring symbolized hypocrisy?

  • Kimberly

    Wonderful writing, and great point, SAO! It’s this kind of contradictory speech and circular logic, or lack of, that drove my son away from church and caused him to really question what they were teaching.

  • Betty Crux

    Thank you everyone for your kind comments!
    I’m humbled 10 people *read* it, much less took the time to give feedback :)
    Plenty more where that came from!

  • Lolly

    ‘After taking the public pledge to essentially be asexual until Yahweh plopped a spouse in our laps, the unsaved were offered a chance to accept Jesus into their hearts, as was standard anytime 2 or more evangelicals are gathered in one place.’

    That was excellent (writing, not pledge). I hope this is a series because I really, really loathe purity ring culture. Any favourable mention of the pieces of your heart/bite of a cookie/lick of a doughnut skit is enough to get me flipping over tables and screaming about comparing a human to a comestible.

  • http://calulu.blogspot.com Calulu

    True love might wait but lust is less patient..

  • madame

    I loved this, Betty!
    I agree with Anita:” If you think your children should save sex for marriage, by all means have that conversation with them, but in the end it is their body and their choice and if you pressure them into making a pledge that they might regret later, it will close down communication.”
    As parents who want the best for our children, it’s only natural to give them the advice we think is best for their lives, but it’s so important to keep the communication open!
    If they do want to make a pledge, it should be something that comes from them, not at our suggestion, and if they decide that the pledge is not such a good idea after all, they should have the freedom to break it!


CLOSE | X

HIDE | X