In a Christian home, you can challenge the menu but not the morals. The need for holiness as required by Jesus Christ is the holy grail of all moral teachings. Purity is passport – a pass needed for heaven.
Personally, my mother wasted no time in reminding me of this need. She got me a study Bible when I turned 13 and told me to consider my virginity just as important as my salvation.
I was to treat it as my most precious possession, guard it Secret Service-style. Losing my chastity before marriage, I was told, is a shameful betrayal and as incredibly shocking as a hen breaks its own eggs before they hatch.
I didn’t take these warnings lightly – not at all. People who didn’t grow up like me wouldn’t understand, but I did.
So, of course, I’ll wait until Mr Right comes around. The thought of not being a virgin on my wedding day frightened me and oh I couldn’t bear the shame that came with it, so I just wanted to wait.
When I was 15, I signed the pledge to put sex on the backburner. I was to wait until marriage in church. Yes, there was a physical piece of paper that I with a fresh stream of my virgin peers, walked into the church to sign. You signed it after a year-long teaching about the Bible. The church gave each of us a purity ring – physical seal for a mental conviction to keep an anatomical tissue under lock and key.
Fear was encapsulated in stories like “you can get pregnant if you kiss”, “boys are wicked people”, “boys always dump girls after using them”, even “you can die if you have sex in school”.
The ring reinforced my pride and determination, it fired me up like an athlete yearns for the tracks. So I decided, in response to all the warnings about the negative effects of premarital sex and fornication from church and home to take on an extreme attitude.
My dating life was seriously restricted. In fact, we did nothing – no kissing and no touching of any form. I stayed away from anything that would compromise the vow I’d taken and the promise I made to myself.
My husband and I dated for two years, got engaged in the third year and married in the fourth. We shared our first kiss at the altar, a tale my friends find incredible. They cannot fathom how I was able to date a guy for three years without kissing him even once.
“How did you do it? How will you know if you’re compatible or not if you’ve never kissed him or touched in any way,” they’ll ask?
Sincerely, kisses, touches or being compatible with my husband was the last thing I worried about. I never did, because I was assured that sex is amazing, perfect, mind-blowing, when it’s done in marriage.
The thought of it now, at how naïve I was, makes me squirm.
It wasn’t all rosy, though. The decision to stay chaste was one enormous task. There were times when we almost gave up because the tension seemed so unbearable but we thought the sacrifice was worth it since we wanted to honour each other and our God.
Innocently, I assumed that all the wait will pay off with a hot, passionate breath -taking sex life after we finally said: “I do.”
Neither of us had had any personal experiences. I think the only discussion we had about sex was staying away from it, aside that nothing else. We had no conversation with our friends regarding sex and of course, schools in Ghana don’t really offer any proper sex education.
The only time I asked my mother what she thought will happen since we were all novices, she responded with a very nice “oh don’t worry everything will fall into place when you get there. You’ll figure it out. Just know that it’ll be great.”
That was not true, it was never great. Things fell apart after the marriage. Sex was always painful, extremely painful. Sometimes I couldn’t even walk after it all. My private part would swell for days and passing urine…oh goodness! Just so unbearable. Sex was like a medical treatment of severe burns in the hospital. Painful screams forcefully muffled to keep neighbours out of the business.
I visited a doctor when I just couldn’t take the pain and frustration anymore and there I was diagnosed with Vaginismus. A condition which meant I had involuntary contractions of my pelvic muscles, making sex extremely painful or sometimes impossible.
I was yet to experience the worst days of my life.
I realised after several therapy sessions that the decades of staying away from sex and anything related to it subconsciously turned my mind into thinking sex was bad. A sin, an evil deed that should be avoided and not thought about. But now that it is good, my body is unable to come to terms with it. It does not know what to do or how to react because it has not known the opposite sex and couldn’t fathom an appropriate response to a touch.
Doctors are not really certain what cause Vaginismus. But it is generally linked to anxiety. And oh, did I say that vaginismus is caused by overly rigid and unbalanced religious teaching and inadequate sex education? Yeah, that’s what it is. By the time virgins get married, they’ve been conditioned to rebel against intimacy.
As I came to a more realistic understanding of the difficult road ahead if I wanted to overcome my problems, I fell deeper and deeper into depression, ever more convinced of my utter failure as a woman and as a wife.
My friends were not any helpful after the wedding than they were before the wedding. But they can’t be blamed for my decisions. What could they have possibly said to someone who decided to lock ‘themselves up’ for years? They can’t be blamed for not finding the right words to console or support me with.
As I fought to get my body in the right shape, I found myself becoming increasingly infuriated with everyone around me — my husband, my family, my friends, and most of all, God.
Why was I the one paying this price, this harsh form of injustice, why me? I gave up all the fun I could have had to remain a virgin to please God and my husband, only to be rewarded with a stressful and frustrating life full of uncertainty.
Sadly, I’m not alone. I know there are many women with this, but no one is ready to talk about it. The fear is that the church values will be lost and teenagers will become promiscuous. All the church spends time doing is teaching teenagers to avoid intimate interactions. It is not a bad thing. It is the right thing.
But over-zealous teachings can go overboard. From that point, what you put in the teenager is not faith. It is fear. Isn’t it about time we started talking about sex and not feel shy about it?
Parents should be able to talk about sex with their children. Often times they try to put fear in children to stay away from sex. The more they try, the more curious the children get. And we all know how far children can go to satisfy their curiosity. Many have grown up with this culture and feel uncomfortable talking about sex even as adults. It isn’t the best, is it?
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