Can a woman find her sexual self?

Jack Vettriano In Thoughts Of You

“Women who have dissociated their sexual identity are both deaf and mute with respect to physical intimacy, and worse, don’t even realize it. Instead, they congratulate themselves on being so ‘spiritual’ while inwardly condemning their husband’s base and carnal nature.”   quote from (bold mine)

As youth, we are counseled, wisely, rightly and frequently, that sex is for marriage.  Stay away from the edge of the proverbial “cliff”.  Don’t take chances.  Don’t awaken your sexual feelings.     Don’t make out, don’t cop a feel,  stay away from the swimsuit zone.  “Never get horizontal with a boy,” I say to my young women, who laugh and blush.   Pres. Kimball made the soul kiss “famous” by warning us against it.  Couples at a Stake dance,  slow dancing, had to be a “Triple combination apart”.    Mosiah 13:3  Touch me not, for God shall smite you if ye lay your hands upon me.   (Taken entirely out of context, but that was a popular joke when I was a youth.)   I laugh at some of this now, and I certainly mocked it when I was a teen, but this is all good counsel.   Hind sight is 20/20, right?

Then there’s the really bad counsel.  I had a religion professor at Ricks (I’m old, I know.  How old do you have to be to even know what Ricks is?) .  He was a GREAT religion professor.  I loved his classes.  They were well done, interesting and spiritual.  He was a great man and teacher, I liked and respected him a lot.  Plus he was a temple worker.  Even to me, a regular visitor of the Student Life Department, that was impressive.  But sadly, I don’t remember any of his actual lessons.  I don’t remember anything he taught about the scriptures.  Or the gospel.  The thing that is most clearly ingrained in my memory about his class was this.  In one of his lessons, he was discussing, for forgotten reasons, a young married woman who was very, very righteous.  She did everything right.   She was pure and loving and selfless and served God and others.   Right now I’m thinking in a VERY sarcastic tone, “Yeah, she was probably two weeks shy of being translated.”   I would never belittle people who are diligently striving to live the gospel.  We should all strive to be like our Savior, loving, serving others, living the gospel.  It’s just the way he was painting her to be perfect  that amuses me now.  Especially when he got to the next part–what I understood to be THE MOST IMPORTANT part.  Here is where the story goes horribly wrong.    She was so righteous, in fact, that she only had ” sexual relations” with her husband for the purpose of procreation.  It was very clear that sex for any other reason was just not pure, holy or righteous.  Oh, if we could all be just like her.

That story rang completely false with me that day.  It went against most of what I’d learned about sex in marriage.  BUT it planted a little nagging doubt in my head.  Here is this great man, great religion professor, telling us we’re not righteous enough and just might even be sinning in some way if we have sex for pleasure.   Although logically I knew there was no way that was a correct principle, that lie twisted my thoughts about sex a bit, making me wonder if maybe I was sinning for having good sex, or even bad sex for that matter, since I wasn’t trying to get pregnant.

If that one experience affected me so much, I can imagine that it did the same to many other young women in his class.  And likely some young men, too.   How many other well meaning individuals have scared us away from our God given sexuality?   I wonder.

When trying our best to choose the right and live the gospel, some women are a just a  little too good at keeping their sexuality from “awakening” so to speak.  We want to do what’s right, and we want to feel worthy of all the blessings of the gospel.  Then we just might feel more spiritual because we’ve  supposedly conquered the natural man.  We might just feel that our husbands are “carnal and devilish”.   We just might convince ourselves that we are becoming more pure and holy.  We just want to do what’s right, don’t we?  Yep.

In light of all this, it is possible for a woman to find her sexual self.  In my next post I’ll talk about how I did it and give some possible solutions.

11 thoughts on “Can a woman find her sexual self?

  1. Honestly, that attitude right there has almost ruined my testimony of the church. Women are all these “spiritual giants” and get closer to God by abstaining from sex and men are carnal for desiring to have sex and to be close with their wives. I just get so frustrated of feeling like I am evil for wanting that. My wife has had huge improvements in that arena, but she is still affected by it, which in turn means I am affected by it…

  2. Master TJ,
    Your comment sobers me. It is at least partly for this reason that I started writing this blog. I hope and pray that your testimony is thriving and growing despite your past/present struggles with your wife and am glad to hear that things are improving.

  3. I think that today’s generation of students, with the openness of the internet, would challenge a professor if he made that statement today. Someone would ask him to back up his statement with scriptures or statements by our current leaders. Or, they would email someone in the administration and tell them he was teaching false doctrine. He would then be told buy the administration that he needed to withdraw his statement and teach correct doctrine. I am sure that this instructor was well meaning, but he was probably a product of the false teachings of those before him – parents or a leader. I have seen this type of thing before. Religion instructors feel that they need to share stories, and they are well read, and many may come across statements that my have been made by a GA 100 years ago, who may have had an OPINION that was not doctrinal, and certainly not doctrinal today. The instructor may then make the erroneous assumption that anything a GA says is equal to scripture, then pass along erroneous information. We need to always realize that we have the right to personal revelation for us and our marriages. Just because Brother so-and-s0 says something, doesn’t mean that all members should blindly follow suit. We should let the Spirit guide…

  4. I experienced the “sex is for procreation not recreation” philosophy back in the day at BYU, so it wasn’t limited just to to a rogue instructor at Ricks. Thinking about it, though, it didn’t seem to be connected with the Church education system, because I also ran into this later among middle-aged members with very little formal education.

  5. My wife was told at Education Week about 20 years ago that oral sex was absolutely forbidden by all of the Church presidents – it was a major sin. It took her a long time to get past that. Fortunately, I think we are less likely to accept those kinds of unsubstantiated teachings anymore.

  6. I could be wrong, but I would bet that the Ed Week person that was preaching against oral sex was probably Brother Brinley, one of the authors of Between Husband and Wife. This was a lot closer in time to the 1982 letter, and which was still in the memory of some that might have been serving as Bishops or Stake Presidents (the letter was directed to them, but not intended for general publication). In his first edition of his book there was a reference in the index for oral sex. When you went to the page it referenced it was a chapter on unholy and impure practices (or something like that), but there was no mention of oral sex!

    Now, current editions of his book have that reference removed. Our leaders have been instructed to teach the members that these things are up to the couple to decide. There has been no further direction regarding oral sex since that 1982 letter, or the one that followed about 6 months letter, which basically recinded the 1st letter.

    Some people will struggle that the letter was even sent out in the 1st place, thinking that it came from our leaders, it has to be doctrine. I admit, it is hard to discredit something like this. But, when one looks back over the many teachings/opinions over the years, coming from well meaning leaders, there have been many deviations from those teachings – i.e. the ” Better dead clean, than alive unclean” slogans (which, to me, discounts the power of the atonement – I would rather have my child alive, with the gift and power of the atonement); no birth control, we are obligated to bring as many spirit children into the world as Heavenly Father will send us, women should not work outside the home, etc…

    Some of these teachings may have been directed for the members of that specific time, and some may have been the strong opinions of a particular leader. But, we have found the Church’s stance change over the years on these issues.

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