Kink and religion interviews: What were your early experiences regarding religion and sexuality?

Dishevelled Domina, our fearless leader in this endeavor, Tomio, John and I have recently been discussing kink and religion via email in an interview/question/comment format. There were four questions, of which this is the first. I decided to take part in this discussion because religion is definitely something that has had a large impact on my life and hopefully it will open up a larger discussion in the comments both here and on Dishevelled Domina’s page (it is cross-posted).

What were your early experiences regarding religion and sexuality?

Delving into Deviance (a.k.a. Dev):

I was raised Southern Baptist. We weren’t actually affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention though, so it wasn’t as bad as it could have been. It wasn’t quite as strict as DD’s church. We could watch movies and wear pants. I went to church two or three times a week. Sunday service, youth group, and choir. For awhile church was just something I did, but when I was 12 I went on a youth retreat and was ‘saved’. After that I started taking everything much more seriously. I tried to let what I thought God wanted me to do influence every aspect of my life – what I ate, what I read, what I did. I went through a 40-day devotional book where I would spend an hour each day with God, and in order to make time for that and minimize negative influences on my life I gave up television and movies. I tried to convert my friends. I broke up with my boyfriend because I thought God was telling me to.

My religion definitely affected my sexuality growing up as well. I tried very hard not to have impure thoughts. I tried not to discuss sex with my friends. I was taught to avoid wearing provocative clothing in order to avoid inciting lust in men. I would usually just fantasize about kissing someone and nothing more as a preteen and young teenager. I would avoid situations in which I would be tempted to do more. However, sex was still seen as a beautiful thing; just a beautiful thing that was for a husband and wife. So sometimes I would roll around with a pillow imagining it was my future husband. I didn’t know I had a clitoris till I was 16. Around the same age, I started masturbating, but I didn’t want it to be masturbation. I didn’t want to have an orgasm because then it would actually be masturbating rather than ‘exploring my body’. As I grew older I started questioning what I’d been taught more, and started accepting my sexuality a little bit at a time. I was very curious about sex, but didn’t want to engage in it as a teenager, so I educated myself, but wouldn’t permit myself to experience anything too sexual. That education, which question 2 will discuss further, was a very sex-positive one. Kinky sex was presented as a normal part of an adult sexual repertoire, so when I did start experimenting sexually, I started experimenting with BDSM as well.

–Dev

Dishevelled Domina (a.k.a. DD):

I was raised in an Independent Fundamental Baptist (IFB) Church (for the blissfully unaware, here is a taste; women ought not wear pants, tv and movies are always and only bad, and their expected role of women is…somewhat archaic). Between services and the Christian school I was at the church 6 days a week (sometime more) so they had lots of opportunities to tell me, “Yer doin’ it wrong.”

A consistent problem areas for me was being “ladylike.” I wasn’t. EVER. Especially by their definition. As a young tomboy I felt disenfranchised, which stood me in good stead as a teenager dealing with fundamentalist doctrine regarding sexualityand the bizarre tension in how women are regarded (the old Madonna/whore issue).

Thankfully, my parents were a little less crazy than most of the folks at their church. My mom was a bit of a feminist actually, and I am very glad of it. As a nurse she approached sexual education very medically and I was well informed, even about masturbation, and it not discouraged. I did not get any shame messages about sex at home, though they were very clear that sex was reserved for marriage.

When I got engaged my mom gave me a book about sex which was nowhere near as informative as another I received, but was miles ahead of anything her IFB contemporaries would have considered. I largely credit my mother’s open-mindedness for the fact I was able to start sorting out what I liked and wanted as early in life as I did (age 19).

-DD

John:

I was raised with a Mennonite background so sex was basically viewed as a necessary evil and something you only did after you were married and wanted kids… god forbid if you liked it.I think the archaic view of sexuality drove me to experiment early, around 14 yrs old. Turned out I liked sex but had no one to educate me or any support network. Luckily, I had too many other things going on when I was that young to get sucked into lots of sex at that time so I was stuck with a very ripe fantasy life while still attending church. This lead to many attempts to cleanse myself of impure thoughts none of which ever worked.
After many years of struggling I finally realized that the sexual desire is just a part of being human and there is nothing wrong with it.
I would have to say that its not the religion but the peoples interpretation of religion that confused me. Somehow, being a Christian equated to not liking anything sensual. By sensual I mean enjoyment of pleasing sensations. It could be lying in the sun and enjoying the heat the sun brings, or a really good cigar and a glass of port or good single malt. I think that God wants us to enjoy his creation but enjoy it in moderation. Too many cigars, not a good thing, too much alcohol, not a good thing. Once I accepted this, life looked much much better.
–John
DD’s response to John~
Oh man, when I read what you said about cleansing yourself of impure thoughts I recalled a teen service where they separated the boys and girls and boys got told off about having any lustful thought and we girls got lectures about being modest. If they’d had any idea what was in my head they probably would have sent me to hear the boy’s sermon! :p
My response to John~
I can definitely relate to this:

This lead to many attempts to cleanse myself of impure thoughts none of which ever worked.

After many years of struggling I finally realized that the sexual desire is just a part of being human and there is nothing wrong with it.
I believed it was a sin to have impure thoughts, and so would try to keep even those squeaky clean most of the time. I actually succeeded surprisingly often. I think, however, that’s partially because I did not shun the sensual as you did. I fully embraced small bodily pleasures: having a bath, feeling warm sun on your skin, filling your eyes with the beauty of the sun shining through bright green leaves. I thought all of these were gifts from God. I avoided having conversations about sexual subjects with friends; probably one of the reasons I love talking about it now. My sex was a wonderful kiss, the soft caress of someone’s hands against my arms. That was enough at the time. It’s still delightful.
————————

Tomio:
Basically, Fundamentalism views sex as being, at best, a necessary evil. I would note that this is largely due to the writings of St. Paul, and not actually based on anything attributed to Jesus. As far as I’m aware, Jesus said absolutely nothing about sex (okay, he probably SAID a lot, but nothing is recorded).

Against the backdrop 0f the 1970s, Deep Throat ushered in what was called chic porn, followed by utter condemnation by Women’s Libbers, especially Andrea Dworkin. It was the height of the “ME Generation.” Disco music, key parties, cocaine was non-addictive, and not wearing a bra was a political statement (check out how tight the Bee Gees pants were…). Even Phil Donohue had shows about whether or not women could orgasm and exactly how is a man supposed to know if it happens…

NOTE: I was a kid – so I didn’t really DO this stuff, but the times were high-rollin’ and our preacher made sure he condemned each and every new fad – even sideburns. Herpes wasn’t even known, much less HIV.

The good thing about the independent Church of Christ (think Independent Baptist…but not so liberal as to allow musical instruments in the church) is that they are INDEPENDENT. So where one congregation is so tight they squeak, another isn’t. So the congregation I spent most of my childhood in was very strict, but when I was in sixth grade, we moved and found a more liberal one – where the very young pastor talked about sex as a gift of God to let man and woman experience just a tiny bit of Heaven, of spiritual togetherness. I even found a book in the church library that had a drawing of a vagina with arrows and circles pointing out what each “structure” was.

On the other hand, that church also lobbied the city council to pass a law forbidding the sale of pornography (which included Playboy magazine, but not Playgirl…figure that one out). They sat up a camera to take pictures of people going in and out of the one adult bookstore in town, specifically to harass the customers. And while I can’t actually say one of them burned down the only adult theater (which was, oddly, a drive in), I know that they greeted it with glee.

At one point, it crossed my mind that maybe the problem with porn was that the people in the movies were not married…That question caused a lot of nervous laughter and rubbing at the back of men’s necks. But no answer. I was considered a bit “throwed off,” as the saying goes.

There are a ton of further mixed messages about sex in my childhood, but most of them diverge wildly from the topic at hand. I’ll refrain from chasing the rabbit trails and leave it at this.

– tomio

DD’s response to tomio ~

You know why Playgirl was ok? Because all good church folk know that MEN are the ones who look with lust! We women just entice and incite, we don’t actually want to look at naked men! (HAH!)

Posted on August 13, 2011, in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. dishevelleddomina

    I did know before posting these that it was unlikely to attract many commenters, so many people are uncomfortable with the topic and I am sure others are avoiding it because they haven;t anything nice to say so they are being polite.

    I’ve only had one commenter on this post though, it will be interesting to see if the crowd over here feels a little chattier on the topic.

    I’m so glad you were willing to be a part of this project! I love your perspective on the questions. The other three of us are married, have kids, blah, blah, blah so it was good to have your answers in there.

  1. Pingback: Kink and religion (II): What do you see as the pros and cons of your religious background? « Delving into Deviance

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