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Christian Beliefs Ingrained In Thinking/feelings


Guest brookacton
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Guest brookacton

hey guys.

 

i have not been a fundamentalist for about 10 months now. It has been a challenge because Jesus was my life purpose for about 6 years and a big part of my life since i can remember.

I am now 20, have moved from upstate newyork to manhattan, and have made many non-christian friends, many of whom have similar beliefs to myself.

 

despite rationally realizing that some of my christian beliefs are...well, irrational and letting go of them, I struggle with judgements and feelings that I've had ingrained in my head since childhood.

 

An example of this which has probably troubled me the most is in the area of sexuality and "serial monogamy".

I have been dating a 29 year old man for a while now who was a evangelical for a few years in early high school but has been a non-believer for about 13 years now. I really care about him and we spend a lot of time together. He doesn't mind at all that I am a virgin and that I am still taking my time in processing the whole sex issue. However, I guess the thing that bothers me the most is that I can't get over this perfect image i've had in my head since about 12 of marrying a virgin as a virgin and not having a long string of "serial monogamous" relationships that are like pretend-marriage. I guess I still hold marriage on this sacred pedestal and can't move it no matter how hard I try.

I told my christian friend that I had been sleeping over at my boyfrind's apartment and that he bought me a toothbrush to keep there. She freaked out on me and told me to "stop playing wife". she chastized me for committing "emotional intercourse".

no matter how much i realize this is maybe not the best way to think, i can't seem to let go of it. i agree with her.

I judge my boyfriend for losing his virginity at 16, having slept with 6 women over 13 years (which for ny guys is like nothing), and for having herpes. the idea of "serial monogamy" and STDs and multiple sex partners...it all makes me physically naseaus (spelling sorry) no matter what i think or try to convince myself.

i try so hard not to judge my boyfriend or allow him to feel judged but I have told him about my struggle overall, but i can't help but feel like he's wrong and i'm right.

he is so special and i guess i'm worried this will be a big issue at some point. at times i certainly make it a huge issue in my head and i am convinced i have to break up with him. other times i am like "what the hell was i thinking, that stuff doesn't matter".

but then the irrational thoughts return and my disapointment in him returns.

i guess it just feels really unfair to me that I worked so hard in high school not to sleep with my high school boyfriends because i felt like it was something special and worth-while and beautiful, and then suddenly, it's like i put all that effort and thought into something so many see as so trivial for nothing.

sorry if my crazy thinking offends anyone. i still have an incredibly judgemental fundamentalist stuck in part of my mind.

it's not just the sex stuff, probably many things i haven't even yet considered. this one issue is just the one that has been surfacing the most the last few months.

any advice or stories of your personal experience would be greatly appreciated.

 

thank you so much.

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I know how you feel -- I left Christianity a year and a half ago, and I still feel that way. I've dated a few girls who have had sex with lots of different men, and it really hurts me and makes me think of them differently. But I realize it is only me who has the hang-up and these fine women are not losing any joy or sleep over these issues. I ended up breaking up with one of these girls, because I just could not see myself getting more serious with a woman who had had so many previous partners. I think it ends up being more of my loss than it is theirs.

 

Also, I find that I hold some inner prejudices and judgments about homosexuals. In a thoughtful and lucid moment I will agree that they are not immoral and will sympathize with them and the tremendous pain that they experience growing up in our culture. But, my knee-jerk reaction is to think: "that is wierd, unnatural, vicious, disgusting, etc."

 

I think it will take a lot of time to undo certain reactions and emotions that have been taught to you. That said, not everything you learned in your Christian family is wrong. In general chastity is definitely a virtue. And moreover, it is better to not be infected with herpes!!!

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despite rationally realizing that some of my christian beliefs are...well, irrational and letting go of them, I struggle with judgements and feelings that I've had ingrained in my head since childhood.

A general idea that might help is to think about rationality vs. irrationality in a different way. When you fight against your irrational thoughts and feelings and dismiss them, it can be a pseudo-victory where the irrational doesn't go away but goes underground. Try not to see it as a clash where one side wins. Seems like that doesn't work in the long run.

 

Instead, find a way to work through the irrational issues- maybe using art or writing, etc. An internal dialogue instead of an internal battle. With the result that hopefully the irrational becomes acknowledged if not respected (it's not usually "respectable" stuff!). I'm not sure how this works, but when you acknowledge the irrational there's a chance that you can move past it.

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Hi Brooke,

 

As a recent deconvert myself, I've had to deal with the decision of how to treat sex. I must say that looking at both sides, I wouldn't have sex with someone with herpes unless I was married to them. Regardless of how much you like the person I've seen so many people think their boyfriend/girlfriend is amazing and then later regret even knowing them.

 

Honestly I don't want meaningless sex either, at least for the first time. Sex with a connection seems great, but sex that gives with a lifelong uncurable disease without a lifelong committment seems stupid. So maybe it's not the remments of christianity but simply your common sense.

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My advice is to find the book Leaving the Fold by Marlene Winell and to read through it, expecialy if you are having other thoughts about religion, i.e. I'm going to hell, God will punish me, I need to go to church.

 

And on the part of "Emotional Intercourse" what this woman is telling you is that you love this man like he is your husband! Is there anything wrong with this? No! I love my girlfriend like she is my wife, and I hope that one day she will be.

 

Good job on holding off on sex though, expecialy if he has an STD. This is one of the few cases where I would say to wait until marriage because there is a good chance he is going to give you a little something extra.

 

Welcome to the boards and I hope I see you, and your boyfriend, around.

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Even after you've ploughed through all the brainwashing from your fundie life, and boiled things down to what you really think (about sex in this case, but really about anything), you might still find that you have a more conservative position about sex and virginity than most people do.

 

And there isn't really anything wrong with that. It's just one of many ways of looking at the issue. For some folks, virginity *does* matter. For others, it's no big deal.

 

I think what's really a problem or not a good thing is getting all self-righteous about it when someone else doesn't live up to your own moral standards, whatever those might be in the end. Your SO might not be a virgin, he might have slept around more than you, and he might have an STD; but none of that diminishes his humanity in any way. Nor does it make him inferior to you in human value. That, I think, is the bit to watch out for.

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I agree with Gwenmead.

 

It seems like you are judging him for his past and not who he is right now. You are not allowing yourself to enjoy the present by focusing on the past. If he had met you before the other women would they be there? The circumstances of his life led him to you, the good, the bad, and the ugly. Accept that his journey in life that brought him to you is different than yours. Are you thankful that he is in your life? Are you thankful for the person that he is? If you are, than that's all that matters.

 

It's your relationship. No one has the right to tell you what you should and shouldn't do in it. No one has the right to tell you how you should feel about it. The only two people who should be involved in your relationship are you and your boyfriend. Take the time you need to resolve this, it won't happen overnight. If he is the kind of person that you describe, than he will give you the time you need. Talk it out, laugh, play, have fun. Learn how to trust.

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This is the main thing I hate about Christianity.

 

Granted, there is nothing wrong with having standards and choosing to be monogamous. However, it is the whole judging other people thing that former christians have.

 

I think you should appreciate him for being honest. I would be GLAD if someone told me upfront that they had an STD instead of lying, or not knowing...

That counts for something. You don't have to like his past. Judge him for who he is NOW.

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Guest brookacton

Thanks so much for your thoughts.

 

Today my boyfriend and I got into quite a large discussion about it and I think I said some hurtful judgemental things that I deeply regret. I very bad about it because he told me that he spent years struggling with his views on sex and feeling like God was punishing him for having sex by giving him an STD and that finally when he was starting to feel better about himself and not feeling guilty or sinful I come along and throw everything in his face he was finally getting over. So yeah. I feel pretty horrible about it, I wasn't nearly as sensitive as I should have been.

 

Some of things you guys have said

(The circumstances of his life led him to you, the good, the bad, and the ugly. Accept that his journey in life that brought him to you is different than yours. Are you thankful that he is in your life? Are you thankful for the person that he is? If you are, than that's all that matters.)

 

(You don't have to like his past. Judge him for who he is NOW.)

 

( but none of that diminishes his humanity in any way. Nor does it make him inferior to you in human value. That, I think, is the bit to watch out for.)

 

(Instead, find a way to work through the irrational issues- maybe using art or writing, etc. An internal dialogue instead of an internal battle. )

 

All of these thoughts are SO helpful and they all means very much to me. Such great points.

Thank you so much for all of your insights, it means so much.

I will let you know how it goes.

 

Thanks again.

 

Love,

 

Brook

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It seems to me that you are dealing with at least 2 different issues here (maybe more). One is your own views on sex and how you want to conduct this part of your life and the other is when/how to judge other people. Each piece of your life, morals, goals, etc. will need to be worked out over time based on your new world view.

 

As an ex-christian, I have not thrown out everything I was taught as a christian. Just because I no longer believe in the god(s) of the bible doesn't mean there is absolutely no value in some or many of the teachings within the bible.

 

Regarding "judging" someone for their past... why not? Is there really anything wrong with making judgements about others - when it is going to have an effect on your own life? Personally, I think it is a very wise thing to do! The "fittest" do not "survive" by abandoning rational judgements. When a gazelle sees a tiger, he doesn't stop to think "maybe this tiger has changed and no longer eats gazelles"! No... he runs like Hell!

 

The best indicator of how a person is going to act in the future is how he/she acted in the past. That's not a bible thing... it's a sociologically observable fact. Does that mean that people don't make mistakes and change? Of course not... but use "judgement" wisely before sitting around waiting to see if the tiger has become a vegetarian.

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Regarding "judging" someone for their past... why not? Is there really anything wrong with making judgements about others - when it is going to have an effect on your own life? Personally, I think it is a very wise thing to do! The "fittest" do not "survive" by abandoning rational judgements. When a gazelle sees a tiger, he doesn't stop to think "maybe this tiger has changed and no longer eats gazelles"! No... he runs like Hell!

 

I think the point being made isn't that you should never use your own judgement, but that you shouldn't judge people too harshly. Brooke's boyfriend has an STD, but that doesn't make him a bad person. There's a tendency among a lot of people (especially Christians) to assume that anyone who gets an STD is promiscuous. That's not true. It's possible to get herpes without ever even having intercourse. Given what we've been told about him, Brooke's boyfriend probably was just very naive, didn't have reliable information and didn't adequately protect himself out of simple ignorance. That doesn't mean he's not worth loving. It just means he had a lot of learning to do, and if they decide to stay together, they both need to do a lot of research to find out the best way to keep her from getting infected.

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For some reason I don't entirely understand, I'm still slightly judgmental of people who are promiscuous.

I logically accept that it's there choice, so whatever, but I still have this little part of me that thinks I'm somehow better for living life differently.

Maybe that's just cultural indoctrination mixed with a normal, human tendency to assume "my way is the RIGHT way".

 

6 people by the age of 29 is really, really tame, though. Surely many or most of them were people he at least wanted to marry and meant a lot to him.

I think a little pre-marriage serial monogamy might be the by-product of the end of the era when girls marry between the ages of 12 and 16 like they historically have.

And up until recently, even battered wives weren't supposed to divorce.

Unless the first person you date ends up actually being "the one"...or if you only get so close before marrying...or if you marry quickly after only a few months of dating...I think a little "pretend marriage" for a while before actually marrying isn't a bad thing.

Instead of lessening the value of sex to you, it increases the likelihood of a successful marriage, as you are more positively sure this person really is someone you can happily be with till death.

JMO.

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10 months? First, congratulations. It's not easy to break free, glad you did. As for dealing with any sex issues (or any others for that matter), well, it took you time to get where you are, it'll take you time to get you where you want to go (make some sense there?), I wouldn't stress about it too much.

 

Is he really pressuring you for sex? Working towards it would be one thing, but demanding it is quite another, and if the later is the case, I'd probably drop him. Just my thoughts. He should be willing to take what time you need.

 

I'll admit that a STD scares the living hell out of me (some more so than others), and I can understand hesitation about that (if not an outright no-nookie policy). Do what you have to.

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Guest brookacton

thanks for all your support and comments.

despite the vacillating feelings regarding sex/promiscuity/serial monogamy etc. I am fairly optimistic and I feel like I am becoming more secure in my confusion and patience in taking time to figure it out.

My boyfriend got his STD when he was 20 and was in a 3 year relationship with a woman who didn't know she had herpes until after they broke up. (and he discovered he had it too)

 

it's interesting because even though he was only an evangelical christian for about 2 years in high school, he has a strange complex/problem with sex himself, which he partially attributes to the fact that his mom was raped and molested by his grandfather/her father as a kid.

He actually told me last night that he is really happy that I don't want to have sex because there is a part of him that feels like sex always messes his relationships up and that people seem to confuse sex and love. Since I'm a virgin I obviously don't exactly understand what he means but its reassuring that my abstinence doesn't bother him etc. he is definitely not pressuring me at all.

A few nights ago we went to see a play that his ex-girlfriend, who he was with for 2 years but they broke up over a year ago, was in. I thought it was going to be really awkward but it actually wasn't really.

I guess I did have some thoughts in my mind that I didn't particularly want, and I probably was kind of evaluating and judging her in my mind the entire time I saw her, but I guess that's just a normal part of life for serial monogamists. It's hard because in my mind I see her as less of an ex-girlfriend and more of an ex-wife. and i know there is a difference, but I can't seem to really convince myself of it.

 

thank you guys for all of your thoughts and support. it means so much to me. i hope you are all well.

 

love,

 

brook

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