Job: Health teacher (including Sex Ed.)
Up to this point you’ve probably seen interviews with a lot of sex positive, polyamorous, queer folks on this site. This story is totally different. And I’m really happy about that, because I want all voices to have a space here. If you were raised Christian, this might sound familiar to you. As someone who was raised Catholic and is not anymore, I found it fascinating.
Sara is a bawdy, unapologetic woman — the kind who seems incredibly honest because she doesn’t even consider another option and who doesn’t take herself too seriously. She can’t. She teaches health to high school kids. She’s also Christian.
After a wild and saturnalian sex life in her early 20s, she’s limited herself to sleeping with two men in the last decade, despite her urges to sleep with many many more.
“Am I still horny all the time? Hell yes,” she told me.
Lucky for me, Sara isn’t shy about talking about sex. She does it as part of her job.
“I’ve been asked everything under the sun (in Sex Ed). Sometimes I have to tell the girls, “No, honey, it’s not true that all girls ‘do’ anal.’”
Sara was raised in a very small, very conservative Christian town, where she felt pretty alone. She just never really found her people there.
“People were always having barn parties. But I hate country music and I hate beer. So I was just like, ‘What am I doing here?’”
Sara said she has always been sexual. She couldn’t remember the first time she masturbated or had an orgasm, but the former was probably some time around 12 or 13. No one talked to her about masturbation, she just figured it out.
“I’ve always been horny. I remember listening to Janet Jackson singing “If I was your girl” in middle school. Oh boy,” she said.
She dated boys in high school, but it wasn’t until age 19 that Sara had sex for the first time. It wasn’t great. She didn’t feel ready. Back then, she says, she was pretty insecure. Part of it came from growing up in a very “white” town where she felt like men didn’t value her thick frame. She’s also always been attracted to black men. So when she got to college, she began to meet more black and Latino men who liked her body and who she found hot.
35 men in 2 years
Things took a sharp left turn when Sara went to grad school. She was in a sports training program and surrounded by a lot of hot people with nice bodies. She was also suffering low self esteem and depression. Sex was a way to feel beautiful, to feel loved and cared for. She and her friends would go out clubbing five nights a week. More than half the time, Sara would take someone home. She didn’t want to date these guys. She just wanted to fuck.
“I began to use men for sex the way that men use women for sex. I remember this one guy who got so offended when he found out that we weren’t dating. I had given him no indication that we were, he just assumed it because we had been having sex. And I was like, ‘No, man, you’re just my backup. You’re the one I call when other people fall through.’”
But some of the encounters were memorable, like the first guy who Sara said, “totally blew me away.”
“This guy was an olympic sprinter. I mean, he had legs like Hercules. He picked me up off of the floor and took me to the bedroom (pregnant pause) and then he went for hours. He made sure I had more than one (orgasm) before he came.”
“That was fun,” Sara said. Damn fun. Except, because of her beliefs, Sara always felt conflicted about having sex with people she wasn’t married to.
Sidenote: What I love about Sara is that even though she said it was wrong to sleep with all those men, I didn’t get the feeling that she was judging herself. That was really refreshing. I’m sure it’s that same lack of judgement that allows her to be a trusted confidant for the teens she teaches and the young girls who are in her church youth group.
Some girls come to her after they’ve “given into temptation” and had sex with their boyfriends.
“I tell them. Hey. It’s ok. This isn’t the end of the world. Everyone else is like, ‘You’re a sinner. Get out of here.’”
Hard pause on the sex
Then when she was 26, Sara was at an Easter Sunday church service when something hit her. She wanted to change her life, she decided, and start living by what she believed in. That included waiting to have sex until she was married — or at least trying.
What followed was a long period of abstinence. It was hard, Sara said, and emphasized that she has no self control in general, which I thought was a bit of a harsh overstatement.
But it was also very healing. Before, she said, she felt like she was “pouring herself out,” in some essential way, and giving up something important by banging anyone who gave her a second glance.
I challenged her on that a little, because I feel like that wording makes it sound like women can be “used up” or only have a certain amount of sexual energy to expend in their life.
But I also heard what Sara was saying. We all do only have a certain amount of physical, emotional and psychological energy, just like we only have so much time in the day.
She also said that using her faith as a reason to abstain helped her look for character in men.
“Before I was looking for the guy I wanted to lay that night. Now I look for the guy I want to lay over and over again,” she told me.
Sidenote: I’d like to interject that I’ve also seen people who sleep with many people do the same thing. You can be sex positive, having a lot of short-term sexual relationships and still be on the lookout for character in a long-term partner. I think the key thing is that Sara’s faith and her community gave her the strength to set some healthy boundaries for herself, boundaries that made her life happier in a lot of ways. On her own, she wasn’t really setting those boundaries for herself.
She’s had sex with two long term boyfriends over the last ten years and said it’s been more emotionally and spiritually satisfying than the sex she was having before. She’s been having sex with people she really loves now.
Here’s the rub though, Sara told me that she also believes it’s wrong for her to sleep with her current boyfriend, even though she still does it and doesn’t really believe she’ll stop. People can judge her, she said. But she isn’t perfect and neither are they.
“Sex is not a part of my ideal dating relationship. Because I believe in a God who tells us to save ourselves for marriage,” she said. “… Even though finding people online to date when you’re not givin’ it up is tough.”
Then she used the duct tape analogy.
“If the purpose is to bind two people together, it stands to reason that you’re going to be more bonded to the first person you have sex with,” Sara started telling me. “Like me, I’m always going to be comparing the man I eventually marry to all the other people I’ve had sex with. Sex is like duct tape. It’s really sticky the first time you stick it on to someone else. But then as you keep pulling it off and sticking it back on to new people, it gets less sticky. At this point, sex doesn’t bind people like me in the same way because I’ve had so much of it. My duct tape doesn’t really work anymore. It won’t bind me to my future husband the same way it bonded my sisters, who were virgins when they got married, to their husbands.”
Here it got very Adam and Eve for me. I was like, wait, so you’re saying that knowledge is a bad thing? How can that be true? Knowledge is power!
Here’s what Sara said to me, which I thought was interesting.
“Imagine that you had only ever had Hershey’s chocolate in your whole life. And you’re like, ‘This is the best chocolate ever’ and then you go to France and you taste the chocolate there and now you’re like, ‘Wow, Hershey’s is shit!’ Well, that did nothing for your enjoyment of chocolate.”
In other words. If you get married and the sex is so-so, but you never know anything better, it might seem great to you. Knowing you can have better sex won’t make you happier if you are firmly committed and intend to stay with the person you married.
It reminds me of the way the Buddhists talk about desire as the root of suffering. That religion leads people on a path where they can relinquish desire. To follow this teaching, it seemed like you avoid desire by not knowing what you’re missing.
To illustrate more, Sara told me about her ex boyfriend. He had a small penis.
“I would never have known that if I had not slept with so many other people. And because of that, I was expecting him to be like some of the other guys I’d slept with,” she said. “He still got me off — really well. It was just in a different way. But I was comparing so he seemed like ‘less’ to me.”
I might counter that if you have sex before marriage, and sex is really important to you, you could find someone who meets your needs, including the kind of sex you want. You’ll likely make the decision based at least in part on physical attraction, which boils down to sexual attraction, anyway.
But the Christian teachings that Sara believes in say, find your partner first based on all the other criteria like character, then have sex as a great add-on. And without agreeing, I respect that.
“I feel like in this culture we live such public lives. It feels like it makes sex more special to keep it for just one person. I believe that sexuality is something with a lot of value.”
I asked Sara to explain what she meant that it had a lot of “value.”
“Like, I have this very close friend,” she said. “We’ve been close for years but she just told me something really important and personal about her past last week. So I’d say she’s someone who places a high value on sharing her past, she only shares with people she really trusts. So we also believe in placing a high value on sharing sex.”
The takeaway for me was that Sara’s faith helps her make healthy boundaries for herself. It’s also helped her reaffirm her innate value. Also, Sara doesn’t judge, which is one of the most important, often overlooked teachings of Jesus, in my opinion. I got the feeling that she genuinely wants other people to be happy, to enjoy life, to enjoy sex. And she wants the same for herself. And she’s honest. Thanks, Sara.
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