I found myself falling into some old conditioning the other day.   There is a lovely young woman ( early 30’s) in my ward who is so sweet, so pure, so righteous, so spiritual, so talented, so pretty, so…everything…and the thought came to me that she seems soooooo good that she must not be sexual.  WHOA!  Where’d that come from?!?

I had to remind myself that being sexual is not sinful.  And it doesn’t disqualify anyone from being all the things she is–pure, sweet, righteous, spiritual, etc.

That bears repeating:  We are not sinning when we are sexual.    We are following a big part of God’s plan for happiness in marriage when we are sexual.  We are sexual beings.  We were created that way–not to torment us and make us feel bad, but to give us great pleasure and make us feel good and help our marriage!

Some people agree with me in theory.  Meaning, “oh, yes, it is right for me to have sex and have a family.”  But that’s not the same as enjoying and loving and having frequent sex. As in, “It’s probably not right for me to enjoy it.  I mean, I kind of feel guilty when I enjoy it and don’t they say that if you feel guilty about it you should discontinue it?”

News flash:  Not all guilt is productive or good or warranted.  Some is plain and simple conditioning.  Inaccurate, uninformed, passed down from generation to generation, wrong.

So while I don’t know if she’s embraced her sexuality and she and her husband have a rockin’ sex life (and I”m not about to ask, either, haha!), I do know that her sweetness and purity doesn’t automatically mean she’s turned off that part of herself.

It’s not either or.  We can and should embrace the sexual part of ourselves, just like we embrace the mother in us, the crafter or homemaker in us (if it’s in us…I didn’t get any crafter genes AT ALL.), the friend in us.  We can be many things and still be righteous, virtuous women.

Let’s all remember that when that old conditioning kicks in, shall we?

12 thoughts on “Purity

  1. “Where’d that come from?!?”
    Ummmm, maybe growing up in an incredibly patriarchal society that demonizes all sexuality for all of adolescence?

    Just a guess. 🙂

  2. I am grateful that my wife grew up or at least has now evolved into a woman who refuses to allow any patriarch to dominate her.

  3. I think this is an interesting observation. It does seem to me that we have a real tendency to see righteousness as asexual and purity as asexual. Sexuality is part of the “carnal” and “sensual” which is “devilish” and part of the “natural man” which is “an enemy to God.”

    I should say that I don’t believe this is really what the scriptures teach, but it is a perception that floats just beneath our consciousness. As Amy says, maybe it is an extrapolation from our single years. I think one of the real values of blogs like this one is that we can challenge this almost subconscious idea and really figure out how sexuality is supposed to fit into a Godly person’s life and marriage.

  4. Ideally, our stereotype *should* be that while a young woman who is pure and righteous might have a strong desire for sex, she would control that desire and never do anything to put herself in a position where she might succumb to temptation.

    Unfortunately the typical LDS stereotype seems to be that a young woman who is pure and righteous has no desire whatsoever for sex and experiences no temptation. She eventually becomes the young wife who is pure and righteous, and who would never have or show any desire for sex, and would certainly never be so shameless as to act in a seductive, or even flirtatious, manner toward her husband.

    Her young husband then becomes the man who is much less able to withstand the attraction of the first sexy woman who *does* treat him flirtatiously or seductively.

  5. It also concerns me that this asexual perception of a spiritual self negates the idea of a spiritual journey through our sexuality. Frankly the process of becoming ‘one flesh’ has been my greatest spiritual and emotional challenge, and my most fulfilling. Without the challenge posed by this concept I would never have confronted parts of myself that have been unloving, and I am sure there is much more for me to learn. I know there are those who believe that sexuality will not be part of an eternal self, but it really has been my greatest and most demanding spiritual journey. I understand that this is an acknowledged aspect of both Hinduism and Buddhism, I’d love it to be an acknowledged aspect of our religion since for me it would ennoble the art of a loving marriage. It is also a way of ennobling our perception of our bodies as sacred temples of our spirits consecrated to the love and service of another, and joining together the physical and spiritual. It might also help us to have a keener perception of the wickedness of abusive behaviour both in and out of marriage. I never feel closer to being a goddess than in those moments.

  6. Good thought. And thanks for your honesty here.

    This nervousness about purity may even be worse among LDS boys feeling guilty for the good and healthy sexual arousal they feel many times each day (“do not arouse those feelings in your own bodies”–“it’s a sin next to murder.”)

    My first kiss was after my 1st year of college, and I never petted or had sex before marriage. But, I had a VERY active drive and imagination–and still do. I can assure you–seeming “pure” and righteous has NOTHING to do with actual desires and practices. I’ll bet many of the general authorities know how to make the bed squeak! (Does that make you cringe?–It shouldn’t.)

    Many a man knows the frustration of dating or marrying a woman who always dresses seductively–only to discover a bait-and-switch woman who doesn’t actually want intimacy. Maybe the “pure” ones are actually better in bed!? I certainly don’t plan a survey in my ward–but it would be interesting 😉

    Concerns about guilt and purity can extend to married couples nervous about “unholy and impure practices” even in the marital bedroom. My feeling is the Lord and HIs servants are thinking homosexuality and bestiality, but many couples are thinking oral sex and mutual masturbation.

  7. Question–sort of on this topic of purity and guilt:

    I met yet another LDS woman this past week who divorced her husband because he had viewed porn. I know almost none of the details except she has at least one of the kids–pretty young, like under 8– and apparently many of their friends sided with the husband and don’t talk to her anymore. He had a stable job and did okay with the kids. She looks somewhat attractive, but not a knockout.

    I suspect more than just that issue is going on–no one every really knows what is going on in the intimate relationship of a marriage.

    But this idea that porn ruins marriages–usually only after the wife discovers it and reacts harshly–seems prevalent in LDS culture, and it seems to be commonly acceptable to divorce if a woman discovers her husband has a porn habit–even if there are kids involved and even if she depends on him for her support.

    For the record, I believe porn can be harmful to relationships and is a hollow substitute for reality–so I would never advocate its’ use.

    I’m asking you about this because in your other blog section you mentioned going to a lingerie football league game and having fun there with your husband. Some wives would consider this porn, or at least porn-like, and many would be shocked and disgusted at the idea of watching an LFL game if proposed by their husbands.

    How do you feel about your husband looking at those women? Any thoughts about a wife’s reaction to the porn issue would be interesting, as it seems to be a very common issue.

    You’re welcome to e-mail me at goodstrongman@gmail.com if you’d rather not publish your reaction.

    • Oh, Strong Man,
      Don’t get me started on this subject. While I’m not going to advocate watching porn, I’m not going to cry “Porn Addict!” or “Divorce!” at any man who happens to view some. I think the term “addict” is frequently misused. This is a very, very complicated, emotional issue for many people, so I think i’ll leave it at that for now.

      About the Lingerie Football, well, when I was younger I would have freaked out. I HATED it when I saw Conan looking at other women. He would do more than just look, he would comment on them, too. He had NO idea how fragile my self esteem was or how damaging that was to me. And if I told him, he didn’t hear me. Now, *shrugs*, whatever. As long as my husband/boyfriend is lavishing plenty of attention on me, he can look if he wants.

  8. Thanks for the reply. Sounds like a pretty healthy attitude.

    Sometime in the future, if you think it’s worthwhile and you are in a place personally to share, it might be helpful if you expanded on this idea: “He had NO idea how fragile my self esteem was or how damaging that was to me.”

    Why it was damaging, etc. And how a husband can help with those issues.

    My view is that a wife that is nervous about comparisons should generally not worry very much if she’s available for him. He finds her attractive or he wouldn’t have married her, and what a husband wants most is a woman who is available and enjoyable to have sex with–that’s a huge attraction advantage his wife has over any porn model.

  9. Thank you for this. Even after 6 years of marriage and a baby it can be so hard for me to submit myself to my husband in a sexual way. I really like what you said about us being “conditioned” our whole lives to feel and think one way, which is that sex and everything related to it is bad! And then get married and suddenly you have to forget everything that was engrained in you and be ok with and willing to have and wanting sex. Recently I’ve fallen into the pitfall and reverted back to feeling guilty about having sex with my husband. Though I know it helps keep a marriage strong and I know it is ok for us to do, the feeling of guilt and impurity remains. So thank you for this post. I came across it in my search for help and it really has helped me.

  10. Natalie – if you don’t have Laura Brotherson’s book “And they were not ashamed” you should get it. It’s one of the best books out there IMO. Also, take a look at her website. Lots of really good stuff.

    The fact that you recognize the issue is more than half the battle. You can overcome this and learn to embrace your God- given and approved sexuality if you work at it. Get Brotherson’s book and work through it, chapter by chapter WITH your husband. It will open up important communication between the two of you and put sex back in the framework it belongs – a divine gift from God that is given to us for pleasure and to help strengthen our marriages! Embrace sex, let yourself feel the pleasure, relax and enjoy it, and practice it frequently with your husband. You will be amazed at the difference in your marriage! Trust me – I have been where you are at. I just wish that I had recognized the problem years earlier and avoided so many wasted years. Good Luck!


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