Yesterday on Feminist Mormon Housewives, an author posted a plea of sorts regarding her rather unfulfilling sex life and if sex is really all that important, anyway.
This is another one of those taboo subjects for various, perhaps more "strict" members of the church. Eric told me that one of his mission presidents confided that he and his wife, when on their honeymoon, tried having sex with their garments on. Since then, I've ran into one or two other comments regarding LDS couples attempting this and all I can do is, first, laugh like a hyena and second, wonder what the hell is wrong with our culture that we feel we can't even take garments off for sex.
I mean, y'all go swimming right?
Then there's the idea of lingerie. At one point even I caught myself saying this (I've changed quite a bit in the past five years), and I've had other friends say it as well:
"I don't see the point of lingerie, clothes are just going to come off anyway."
Sexuality in LDS culture is an interesting thing. One of my best friends back in the day told me a guy - not a friend, not related, not even a friend of a friend - in their ward, upon learning she and her fiance were moving their wedding date up, quipped Can't wait to get into each other's pants, huh?
Creepy, right? Totally uncalled for, right?
But there's a sliver of truth in there, isn't there? Our culture, our God, demands celibacy of its unmarried - in our particular religion, we feel that demand more acutely than perhaps in other Christian denominations. French kissing is discouraged because of its inherent sensuality. Being alone with your girl or guy is discouraged because temptations abound. Spencer W. Kimball even said,
“What is miscalled the 'soul kiss' is an abomination and stirs passions to the eventual loss of virtue. Even if timely courtship justifies the kiss it should be a clean, decent, sexless one like the kiss between mother and son, or father and daughter." (The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, p.281)
For context, he's talking about casual kisses "given out like pretzels," but I imagine he'd extend this counsel to any young couple - like he said "even if timely courtship justifies the kiss." No disrespect to President Kimball, but are you kidding me?
You get two people together who have a tension between them so thick you can cut through it, and this isn't going to be easy. Yes, you can fight the temptations by going on group dates, never being alone, kissing each other on the cheek, but holy hell! This is not only not easy, it's almost unrealistic. I don't care what era of time we're talking about - this was probably just as difficult in the 1850's, 1950's or today, and we've more couples marrying today for love and not because Dad wants to marry his daughters off and get rid of a couple cows in the process.
And so you have couples getting married ASAP.
Some of these couples know (as in, not faith: know) they are meant for each other. Beyond that, like for Eric and I, there's a commitment unmatched and unquestioned. We knew it from the beginning - and we weren't supposed to ever be alone or...anything?
I'm going to refrain from some of my more radical rationalizations, but yes we did marry in the temple and no we didn't have to lie to our stake president or bishop to do it. We knew our boundaries, we knew where we wanted to go, so we went about things according to what would keep us on that path.
The For the Strength of Youth pamphlet is meant for single adults as much as it is meant for the youth. But, when you find "the one" you should be alone with him/her. You should kiss - and no, not like you kiss your mom or dad. That's a little creepy.
Can it get sketchy and tricky? Yeah. Should you flirt with the line? Well, fun as it is, probably not, at least not if you want to marry in the temple.
But what of after marriage? What of those couples who pretty much keep it monotonous and boring and - shudder - scheduled. The couples who keep their garments on. The couple who just doesn't ever try anything new.
That's dangerous. From what I've noticed, LDS tend to react to the staunch (sorry, righteous or not, those're pretty staunch) standards in one of two ways:
They remain staunch.
They go insane from all that pent up frustration.
Get two of these people together and you've got some serious issues. Get two of these people together, and you've probably one reason why pornography is a problem for not just everyone, but for those in our church.
You can only stifle people so much. Sex is not bad. Yes, it is sacred and a divine power (at least in the procreation department) and should be treated as such but that doesn't mean it's...mechanical, you know?
It's passion, it's love, it's security, it's safety, it's connection.
And yes, there are couples, mostly brides, I've learned about who are so indoctrinated into the idea that sex is bad they can't bring themselves to finally let go on the night of their wedding.
Does this sound wrong to anyone else? I hope so.
And yeah, I said bad. No, that's not necessarily the vocabulary our leaders use, but the translation is nevertheless easy enough to make.
Get out the damn lingerie, get some massage oil, etc. Realize these things aren't bad. Realize it's okay to do some things - really. If something weirds you out, then by all means don't do it, but at least give it consideration. Sometimes we think things are weird because we think they're wrong.
Well, not everything is wrong. "Normal" does not always mean wrong. Normal, in the context of a good marriage, can mean some pretty cool things that we might think is icky. It's not. I promise.
Victoria's Secret is your friend.
I mean, there's being uncomfortable with doing something and then there's just not doing it because we think it'll be weird. Get over that. Talk with your friends to realize people are doing stuff, talk with your husband/wife (even your boyfriend/girlfriend), and understand that while we may be LDS and have higher standards, we are still human and God gave us some pretty cool things. Get to know each other. Know yourself and what you like. Experiment a bit. TALK to each other.
As far as the single crowd goes, much as people might need reminders of how to avoid digging themselves into a hole of temptation they can't navigate themselves out of, they need to also know it's amazing and, most of all, okay. There needs to be a respect, but not an abhorrence. We don't need to be prudes to be righteous.
If we think otherwise, our marriages are doomed to become robotic and emotionless. Sure, you may never get a divorce and you may actually love your partner, but if there's no passion...then you may as well be married to your mom or dad.
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