Considering my first time going to second base took place in the costume closet of a local church, I am not exactly an authority on balancing sexuality and religion.
However, personal vendettas aside, I am aware of the moral struggle plaguing college students: keeping faith while not becoming a prude.
And yet, as everyone can surely attest to, there continues to be a flood of young adults who manage to maintain the ethics of their Bible and the urges of their hormones.
Here I present three models, based on friends and students, who have sufficiently found (or attempted to find) a middle ground in the war between sex and religion.
1. Well, we weren’t married, but…
One of my oldest friends, Tess, grew up in a Christian family. She has been a serial long-term dater for the past five years. In that time she has had three boyfriends, two of whom I adamantly approved.
Of course Tess, a product of a Christian upbringing, once preached the doctrines of abstinence to all of her sexually active, deviant friends (aka me). Yet, as we’ve gotten older, Tess has shied away from vocalizing these lessons of no sex before marriage.
It wasn’t until recently that I found out she had eventually caved into the persistence of her last boyfriend (ironically, an atheist), and cashed in her v-card. Since that time, she has had sex with both her past and current partners (totaling her out at too many to be considered a Christian saint).
When I asked Tess why she ended up losing her virginity, she confessed, “Well, we weren’t married, but we were seriously in love.” This raised the question of what counts as “serious love?”
This question plagues Tess’s justification for why she lost her virginity, but there is one lesson regarding Tess that every reader should take heed of: modesty. It took me, an extremely close friend, over a year to discover Tess had lost her virginity.
While this is a concept that seems outdated in the 21st century, keeping private information personal is important. This is especially prudent when it comes to maintaining sexuality and religious beliefs.
2. Technically, I’m a virgin…
While Tess is all sorts of modest, my friends Ryan and Mary are both deeply confused individuals when it comes to balancing sex and religion. However, they both represent a model that has gained a substantial amount of popularity: the reshaping of the meaning behind virginity.
Mary is a Catholic who strongly believes that abstinence is the key to salvation. She also is a strong believer in anal and oral sex. I classify Mary as having lost her virginity when she was 14 to a guy she had been dating for two weeks (he was 16 and drove a Camry; we thought he was so cool) due to anal sex.
However, when I make passive jokes about her lack of Virgin Mary status, she’s always quick to rebut with, “Technically, I’m still a virgin.”
Ryan is a nutcase of another nature. While he also defines himself as a virgin, he has partaken in several relationships with men. Since he too has only had oral and anal intercourse, he believes that his slate is clean. Although I always point out the fact that the Church seems to be more critical of gay men then Bristol Palin getting knocked-up, he assures me, “God understands.”
From my perspective, neither Mary nor Ryan is a virgin. However, they have found personal solace by clinging to the “technical” definition of sex, which is between a penis and a vagina. My major concern with this model is that when engaging in both anal and oral sex, one must still take protective measures.
3. Heavenly Father, I have a confession…
And alas here is the final, and possibly the most ridiculous model for a shared love of God and sex. Ellie is two years older than I am and with her worldly experience she has passed down her life lessons, including that of Sunday repentance.
Ellie is possibly one of the sluttiest girls I have ever met. She also enjoys the full stereotype of a “Catholic School Girl.”
Ellie attended a private Catholic high school, which meant she had to wear the full uniform. She continues to wear this uniform when meeting the needs of adolescent males.
While Ellie has taught me many lessons in the art of role playing, she was also a true teacher in the art of balancing sex and religion. Every weekend Ellie would go out, party and have rampant sexual relations. Never using condoms or contraception (her parents wouldn’t approve), Ellie would wake up early Sunday morning, have a friend buy her Plan B (emergency contraception), and meet for Catholic mass.
I haven’t talked to Ellie about her habits in some time, but I can assure that her practices were highly unsafe and morally questionable. Overall, Ellie was able to mesh her two worldviews quite seamlessly, and if she ever felt any sort of “Catholic guilt” on the matter, she was never willing to confess it.
Sex and religious morals are often held in great contrast, and balancing these two practices is a difficult battle.
Finding a balance between the two is a private matter, one to be dealtwith modestly and discussed only between close friends and (if it helps) religious authorities.