Religious Fundamentalism and Sexuality Project
If you are interested in participating in a blog series on religious fundamentalism and sexuality, read on! Below are the questions and the guidelines for the project. Borrowing the format of Libby Anne’s Raised Quiverfull project, I’ll be posting each question and its set of answers multiple times a week, starting June 25. This project is ongoing, and will post answers in groups of six on a rolling basis. Feel free to submit your answers or share the project with a friend!
This project is not limited to the adult children of fundamentalist families. Adults who entered fundamentalism after growing up are also welcome. Those who have grown up in more mainstream evangelical Christianity, or another religion, are also welcome to contribute. If you feel that this project applies to you and you’re interested in taking part, you are more than welcome!
I really look forward to reading your responses and sharing them in a few weeks. Thank you all again, and I hope this project will be useful to you in your own thinking about religion and sexuality. Please don’t hesitate to email me if anything below is unclear.
- First, thank you for participating! I think this is going to be a really interesting project. I look forward to reading (and posting) your answers.
- Please feel free to go “off script” and talk about what matters most to you. I’ve tried to make the questions as open-ended as possible. If you feel that a question doesn’t apply to you, please feel free to modify it or simply talk about an issue that you would rather bring up instead.
- Feel free to skip questions if any of them make you uncomfortable. (Just make a note so I don’t think I’m going crazy and know you are skipping that question!)
- Please number your responses so I can more easily keep the project organized.
- Please refrain from “yes” or “no” answers; I’m hoping for a range of 2 sentences to 2 paragraphs per question (depending on how much you have to say).
- There is no longer a deadline for this project. You are welcome to submit answers any time. I will collect and post them in groups of six on a rolling basis.
- Please send your answers to me in a Word document by email attachment: email@example.com.
- If you’re a blogger and you’ve already written about some of these issues, feel free to cut/paste and link your own writing. I’m happy to send some traffic your way.
- Please introduce yourself, sharing as much or little as you like. What is your preferred name (to be published)? Are you married/in a relationship? Do you have children? If you are comfortable sharing, what is your sexual identity and/or orientation?
- Please describe the basic beliefs of your family and/or church: Did you belong to a particular denomination? Did you home church? If you followed any major religious figures (Gothard, Campbell, Branham, Wilson, Driscoll, etc.), which ones? Were you raised in fundamentalism or did you come to it later?
- If you blog, let me know the name of your blog and I will link to you on the project page.
Sex Education and the Body
- How familiar and comfortable were you in your own body? Did beliefs about purity, modesty, abstinence, etc. affect your attitude toward your body? Did those beliefs either reinforce or conflict with the messages you received from society in general?
- How did your parents and/or church respond to your questions (if any)? How did they (and you) understand and react to puberty?
- What kind of sex education did you receive, if any? How did your parents/church talk about sex and sex education? How did your parents model their beliefs about sexuality?
- How was your approach to the Bible shaped by beliefs about sexuality, and vice versa? (Did you, for instance, read Song of Solomon?) What Bible verses were most important to your understanding of sexuality?
- What books or other materials did your parents and/or church use to teach you about sexuality? Were you given books about marriage and courtship, for instance?
- When and how did you first hear about LGBTQ identities? How old were you, and how much did you understand? How did the messages you heard make you feel?
- What were you taught about LGBTQ issues? Looking back, what sound bites did you hear the most, and what did you think about them? Did you ever hear the term “homophobia,” and if so, what did it mean to you?
- (If you came to fundamentalism as an adult) Were fundamentalist beliefs about sexuality familiar or unfamiliar to you? How did you react to what you were hearing? (If you had children) Did you apply your new beliefs to your children, or did you modify them/disagree with certain ideas and teach your kids your own way?
- Growing up, did you (a) identify as gay, lesbian, bi or trans, or (b) know someone who did? How did you feel about that knowledge (about yourself or other person)?
- To what extent did “purity culture” affect your beliefs about sexuality (in any sense of the word)?
- What did you believe about non-fundamentalists and their attitudes towards sex? Where did your impressions come from?
- Did you experience peer pressure regarding sexuality and/or purity? How did you respond to it? Did you ever see yourself as a role model or example for others in the purity movement?
Romantic Relationships (if applicable)
- What were you taught to expect in a romantic relationship and/or marriage? How have you found reality to match or differ from your expectations?
- Did your beliefs about sexuality change after marriage or beginning a relationship? If applicable, did break-ups and/or divorce impact your beliefs?
- How did your fundamentalist upbringing or training impact your own sexual identity and/or experience of sex? (See, for example, Libby Anne’s post about her beliefs about sexual compatibility changing after marriage.)
- (If you have never been in a relationship) How do you think about relationships and sexuality now, and what prompted changes (if any) in your views?
- Do you still hold any of the beliefs about relationships that you were taught in fundamentalism? If yes, which ones?
- When did you start to question what you were told about sexuality? What prompted you to rethink your beliefs?
- How did your friends, family or church respond to your questioning? Did you talk to people or keep your doubts secret?
- What media (if any) did you read or watch that made you rethink your assumptions about sexuality?
- (If you are gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender) Have you “come out” to your family? How did they respond? How long have you been “out,” and has anyone you knew changed their mind about sexuality after talking with you?
- (If you are straight) Have you discussed sexuality with your family or friends since leaving fundamentalism? (If you told them about changed beliefs) How did they respond? Have any of your family members/friends changed their minds since you left?
Life Outside the Bubble
- What is your relationship with your family and/or fundamentalist friends like now?
- What strategies have you found for coping with friends or family who believe in purity, modesty, “traditional marriage,” etc.?
- Where have you found support? (New friends online, at school, at work, etc.?)
- What (and how) do you plan to teach your children (if applicable) about sexuality?
- What, if anything, would you tell your younger self about sexuality and life outside fundamentalism?