This is an installment of the Religious Fundamentalism and Sexuality Project. You can read the full list of questions here and the posting plan here. The first six participants whose stories I’ll be posting are Melissa and Haley, Lina and V, Latebloomer and Katy-Anne.
3. What did you believe about non-fundamentalists and their attitudes towards sex? Where did your impressions come from?
Melissa and Haley
I believed that secular single women were just giving away sex to any guy who wanted it. That guys would do anything to take advantage of a woman. That women who used birth control were selfish and that men who didn’t want children or more children than they already had were lazy and worthless. I think many of those impressions came from the Christian reading I did, as well as pronouncements from my parents on the choices of the people in our lives who did not believe exactly as we did.
Non-fundamentalists were promiscuous and didn’t care for their God given bodies. They were dangerous to be around because they might tempt you and they had no self control. I gained these impressions from church and family.
Lina and V
I never bought that secular people were out having casual sex all the time, but I did think they had it way more than they should. I knew I couldn’t go to public high school because I would get pregnant. I couldn’t understand why people having sex before marriage would even bother to get married. While writing this, I’ve been trying to think of a non-fundamentalist I knew, to see what I thought about them, and I can’t come up with any names. I’m sure I knew some of my brother’s friends, though; my stepbrothers all went to public high school after homeschooling. My main recollection is thinking that secular people thought about sex ALL the time, and acted on those thoughts; ironically, it was definitely us church folk who were doing all the obsessing.
Going to a public high school, I heard a lot of stories. Unlike my wife, who believed that all public high schoolers were having orgies in the hallway, most stories were completely benign (I can really only think of one goat-fucking story).
It was not my place to be judgmental. I was friends with many people who were having sex (or at least oral), and they knew I didn’t. I fully believed in hate in the sin, not the sinner. While I couldn’t fathom having sex before marriage, I had no reason not to associate with these people. Jesus hung out with prostitutes, right? So I decided that I was their light to Christianity, and that I would stick around and be as welcoming as possible. I had also just discovered, “Preach Jesus, and if necessary use words,” and that adage changed my later high school years.
I believed that non-Christians did not have God’s help in controlling their impulses, so they were living their lives as slaves to their own whims. Therefore, their lives were all about self-gratification and using other people selfishly. I felt bad for them that they were so emotionally calloused and selfish that they couldn’t appreciate the delicate beauty of purity and true love.
When I first arrived at my non-fundamentalist Christian college at age 23, I assumed that every girl except me had had a boyfriend and probably most had been sexually active. Based on everything I had heard about middle/high school, it was supposedly nearly impossible to get through it without being sexually compromised. It was quite shocking to discover that my assumptions were completely wrong.
We were taught that non-fundamentalists were wrong at best and that even those that were Christian but not fundamentalists didn’t care about God and his plan because if they did, they would become a fundamentalist. These were my impressions because that is what was taught so loud and long from the pulpit, as well as in all the fundamentalist approved literature.