Jazz from Australia
At the age of fourteen I discovered masturbation and became a born again Christian, so I had a lot of conflicting ideas. My very formative experiences of sexuality were framed in sex is sinful and dirty and there are intense, life long consequences.
The first time I discovered masturbation I was reading a teen girls magazine. They used to advertise screen savers for your phone in the back of the magazine. At this point, phones were 10 pixels or whatever so you could pick something for a dollar and they would send you this image for your background. There was one image, a silhouette of a naked woman like the stickers that truckers have, and somehow that mad turned me on. I started masturbating to this silhouette and from then on, I would sneak around and look at my dad’s biker magazines because they had pictures of naked women. It was a very sneaky experience because I shared a room with my younger sister and I was trying to be stealth about it.
I totally wasn’t in hindsight. I wasn’t very discrete about anything.
This was also the time of chat rooms. One time, I started talking with a boy and we started flirting in a private chat. In the same conversation with this stranger from the internet, I tried to proselytize about Jesus and masturbate while we were having cyber sex.
That moment basically sums up my teenage years. Of course as a teenager, hormones are just happening and sexuality is something that is very sudden. At the same time though, I was in an environment that demonized sexuality. I got the whole “masturbation is wrong” and “gays go to hell” and all that. It was a very conflicted time in my life. Over the next couple of years I was masturbating every day. It was this newly discovered thrill but every time I would feel guilty about it.
When I was sixteen I had a serious boyfriend who was also Christian. This is the first time I, let’s say voluntarily explored sexuality with someone else. It was such a weird and messed up experience because we were both Christians and clearly we were not allowed to have sex because we were not married. We were still dealing with teenage hormones though and really wanted to engage sexually. This is really silly and embarrassing but at some point, he told me that he talked to God and God talked back. God said that we were allowed to fool around as long as we didn’t have sex. We were special somehow and free from this rule. Then later apparently God changed his mind because he said that it was ok for us to have sex after all. We were an exception again.
I thought hmm it sounds a bit iffy but ok.
It was really exciting, everything in my body was like yes this feels great but the second half to that experience was oppressive guilt and shame. These two things somehow coexisted for many years. We only had sex once and in a way, I was oddly indifferent to it. I though ok, cool we did that, I lost my virginity along with the thought, what in the fuck am I doing? We almost had sex twice more but both times I felt weird and I decided I didn’t want to do it anymore so we stopped.
I think a lot of it was denial, God being ok with it was a way to justify what I was doing. Though there was always this underlying feeling of this isn’t right. It was just waiting to crush me. I didn’t have anybody I could talk to about it because everyone I knew was also Christian and I assumed they would judge me. I didn’t have any friends that were outside the church.
The whole time I knew in the back of my mind, this is not legit. This is wrong. It feels wrong, it feels bad. The church I was in and the environment I was in was clearly teaching against sex and masturbation.
When we were eighteen, my boyfriend said that if I didn’t want to have sex until I was married, that we should just get married. I didn’t feel ready to get married. My boyfriend tried to convince me, saying that since masturbating was also against God’s will, if I was going to masturbate, I might as well marry him. Then we could have sexual contact that wasn’t sinful. I thought he made a good point so I just didn’t masturbate. I stopped all sexual exploration for two years. It basically killed my sex drive. I thought if I masturbated, I would have to marry him.
Eventually one day I broke down and masturbated and thought ok, I guess that’s that, I have to marry him. I nearly got married at eighteen to this guy, partially because of all of the intense sexual pressure and guilt and shame.
I didn’t have sex again until was twenty-one. No sexual contact, nothing from sixteen until twenty-one, it was a dead zone. At twenty-one I had a long and drawn out existential crisis where I realized, how do I even know there is a God and that shook my whole world. It was starting from scratch. Rewriting my own moral code rather than having a book to reference. I finally started to realize it was my decision whether I has sex or not, it wasn’t up to God.