Growing up as a Christian in the South my sexual conversations went something along the lines of: “Sex is a sin. Keep your marriage bed pure. Sign this purity pact. Don’t have sex; you will get pregnant and die.”

Okay, that last part might be from Mean Girls, but you get the point.

Needless to say, I had very little, if any, sexual frame of reference. All I knew was the topic of sex, and anything remotely related to it were to be completely avoided at all costs. No one even actually answered the question of “how far is too far?”

I got vague answers like, “don’t do anything you wouldn’t do in front of grandma.”

But honestly, I was fascinated by the idea of sex. After having heard how completely wonderful it was, within the context of marriage, but repeatedly told not to do it I was curious. The more I was told “no,” the more I wanted to say “yes.” I felt guilty and ashamed for wanting to have sex and then I felt guilty and ashamed for feeling guilty and ashamed of something completely natural.

A classic shame spiral.

The unwillingness to have open, honest conversations about sexuality and boundaries left me wanting more. Everything seemed so mysterious and forbidden. Yet the hesitant and vague answers made me feel oddly humiliated for seeming so interested. It was as though because I was female and Christian that I should have absolutely no sexual desires. I should not only be abstinent, but also nonsexual until suddenly I would put on a white dress and magically experience some sort of sexual awakening.

And then I went to college.

Armed only with my weak but shame-inducing naivety I entered one’s most formative years concerning sexuality. I wanted answers, and unfortunately, I sought them in all the wrong places. There are people and places I’ll never remember. There are memories forever burned into my brain that unfortunately, I’ll never forget. All of this in the name of exploration and curiosity, seeking answers to questions I was afraid and embarrassed to ask.

I thought being a virgin meant I wouldn’t have sexual baggage.

It seemed as though if I didn’t have sex, if I just remained a virgin, if I didn’t ask questions, then everything would be perfect. But it wasn’t, and it’s not and it never will be. Sex, sexual ethics, and sexual identity are so complex. Simply ignoring them will not guarantee their “success” or whatever that even means.

Being a virgin doesn’t mean I’m not still broken.

Even if I’m not a virgin, I can still be redeemed.

Either way, it’s time for me to talk about sex. I am a woman. I am a Christian. I am broken. I am on the way to being healed. People have projected their brokenness onto me and asked me to pick up the pieces. I have looked at men and asked them to be my God. I have failed, and I have been failed.

But we have to start talking about it.

If there’s any hope for redemption and renewal, we’ve got to bring our sexual brokenness out in the open. It doesn’t mean we need to wave our dirty laundry for everyone to see- that’s just asking for more brokenness. But in the context of safe, affirming relationships we must have honest conversations about sex. As girls, we need to know it’s okay to desire sex and talk about where those desires come from. We need to know that marriage won’t solve everything or answer all our questions. We need to know it will open some doors and close others.

Sex is meant to be enjoyed, not worshiped. 

Christians, whether we want to admit it or not, worship sex just as much as anyone else. Instead of glorifying sex outside of marriage like the culture around us we’ve glorified it within marriage. We have to take sex and marriage off of their pedestals. They’re going to let us down just like the anything else that we chase too hard and too fast. So many of my married friends are too ashamed to admit they don’t enjoy sex as much as they thought they would. It was glorified too much for too long and gave them false expectations and now they’re wondering what’s wrong with them.

If we continue to put our heads down and hope that the answers to our questions about our sexual identities will simply go away, then we are failing the curious and brilliant people who come after us.

We can’t not talk about sex. There are scared and ashamed girls in youth groups and high schools and dorm rooms and church pews who need someone to be brave.

Let’s talk about sex.