Another discussion of 'Where's my Op-Ed piece'-- or harmful sex

Savvy Single Christian continues our discussion on her quality blog HERE

By the way-- the woman who wrote the Op-Ed got a book deal about finally giving it up. Ahem . . . so I am not having sex AND have no book deal. There is no justice.


The missionaries stopped by . . .

After writing my last post. I decided it was time for me to pray to see if I should or could leave the church --Maybe it just isn't for me anymore. I felt good about that, it felt like the right thing to do. But that is not a casual prayer, I wanted to wait. I would wait for Sunday and fast, if I still had the guts to do it by then.

Saturday morning I woke up feeling a bit forlorn. (Not uncommon.) I did nothing about my decision the night before. I went about my Saturday business of cleaning, making lunch, ignoring my stinky laundry, watching a Netflix DVD (It was Wire in Blood from the BBC -- way too icky, I do not recommend it), and dreading a party I had to go to later. When I got off the phone with my friend in Texas, my mother called. We chatted and then my door unexpectedly buzzed.

"Who is it?"
"It's the missionaries."
That was not unusual. I'm always on the missionaries radar because of my semi-active state (spotty church attendance). The missionaries have played a large part in keeping me active in the church (attending). Two sisters re-activated me in the summer of 2007 by visiting me once a week.

The summer of 09, when I was in the depths of extreme despair, the sisters came by to share a scripture. It was something about surviving our trials, how the Lord will get us through. It made me cry. Then a few days later, the boy missionaries stopped by to share a message with me. They read the exact same scripture. I assumed it was something they were assigned to do that week, or what they had been studying together with the other missionaries. So I asked, and they said 'No'. That was just the one they picked to do that day. That made me cry again.

This summer when I found myself unemployed, getting food from the church storehouse, and stir crazy from being home all day, I volunteered to go on splits with the sister missionaries. ('Splits' means that you go out with them to appointments, because two women missionaries are not allowed to visit a single man without a third.)

I went out with the sisters once or twice a week. It was difficult for me because I felt weird about trying to convert people. My own belief was wavering and I knew that the single people were not likely to find the joy they were seeking. So I didn't speak. I mostly just enjoyed the girls' company. The majority of their appointments were no shows, so we just rode around in the car. That ended when the sisters were replaced by men a few months ago. I haven't had a missionary visit since they left.

So, yesterday the cute elders rang my door. They brought me a Christmas present from the ward (congregation). They apologized for forgetting to bring it on time. Then they shared a message about how all of our trials are for our own good, that we are blessed to have difficulties that will make us grow and the atonement will get us through. Then one of the elders threw in D&C 122, when Joseph Smith was in jail and pleading with the Lord to rescue him. He was told to have patience because he was not yet like Job, he still had friends. I teared up, but did not cry.

I took that as a sign that my prayer was unnecessary. The Lord knew the thoughts of my heart. What I am suffering will benefit me in the long run. --It takes a lot of faith to believe that. The verse that says, "Ye are not yet like Job . . ." has been in my mind often this year. It humbles me and I try to remember how blessed I really am. I have good friends who love me. And my family has been eager to help. My mother especially. I don't have any serious physical problems. I've been able to keep my apartment and my car. I have two awesome cats. The Lord came through with a job for me at the last minute. I'm surviving without having to take a hideous job that drives me insane. I've been able to get back on my medication and I'm stabilizing. I need to be more grateful.

Life is hard, church is hard, but that's the way it is supposed to be. I don't get a free pass from church just because I don't like it.


Where's my Op-Ed piece?!

Read this, if you can stomach it. I just found it while checking my traffic stats. Although, it says nothing new. It's also 2 weeks old, ancient in blogosphere time.

A woman wrote an Op-Ed piece for the NY Times about being 35, and a single, celibate Mormon. Then she explains why she is giving up the law of chastity. I didn't read the article. I don't need to. I know exactly what she said, because I am living it. (Hey! Where's my Op-Ed piece? I wrote about this stuff before anyone else.)  I actually got through most of the 120 or so comments. Skimming through the inane. People said exactly what you'd expect them to say. What they have said on here, what I have said, etc.  Some marrieds criticized the woman for being too whiny. Singles sympathized. People discussed the disenfranchisement of singles in the church, blah, blah, blah. 

I was quoted. I'd like to respond to a responder to my quote. 

danithew Says:

CitC had a 7/22/2009 post titled “My Little Corner of the World” in which she wrote some pretty profound things, I think:

“I do need to say that I am still fully committed to living the gospel and the law of chastity. I do not resent it anymore. I do not feel like it has caused me any suffering. Quite the opposite. I see how much suffering it prevented. It’s an instant jerk-not-worth-your-time-man revealer. Tell the man you won’t sleep with him and see what happens. His character shines through, like a light or a stain. When he runs, thank the Lord you escaped a hideous relationship with that one. Really. How many bad relationships go on and on because the two are entangled in a physical affair? Masking the problems in their relationships with sex. How many people married the wrong person because they were so enamored with the sex, only to pay the price later? Not me. Thank you Jesus. I’m lonely and bruised, but…. so much better than I would have been. It has blessed me. I can’t speak for others. I see now how fragile I was. How devastating sexual affairs with abusive men would have been. The non-sexual ones were bad enough. My injured soul attracted vultures. That couldn’t have been otherwise. What I was spared certainly could have been.”

Here was the comment in response:

Anon (from #10) Says:

17 – thanks for pointing out the CitC is accessible again. I’ve always liked her writing and her life experiences. The paragraph quoted makes some really good points – the law of chastity can and does protect us from harmful and unhealthy relationships. However, it does so in the same way that abstaining from eating food will protect us from food poisoning, or abstaining from ever leaving our houses will protect us from drive-by shootings. Obviously she is happy with her decision to remain celibate, and I congratulate her, Ardis and others who find joy therein. Ms. Hardy description of her celibate lifestyle includes the words “spiraling further into a disconnected life, feeling abandoned, being discounted.” I felt the same.

Sure the law of chastity prevented me from some bad relationships in my teens and 20s, but it did so by preventing me from having relationships at all. Common sense and taking great care with one’s dating choices can also prevent bad relationships and heartbreak.

I mostly agree with Anon. Except when she states that I am happy in my decision to remain celibate.  That was and is not the case.  I resigned myself to it and gave up the anger.  That's a far cry from happiness.  I wrote that post in 2009 after having just escaped what could have been the most disastrous relationship of my life.  When I finally cut off all contact with him, I was relieved.  I was in the process of learning to be content with my life and myself and my choices. And that post is where the process led.  I haven't lost that bit of growth, I'm not angry.  But the resignation is difficult.  Things aren't so simple.

Anon makes a good point that celibacy can exclude good relationships as well as the bad.  Shortly after writing that post, I met a wonderful non-Mormon, the best man I've ever dated, who was willing to date me sans sex.  It didn't last very long.  We probably would have lasted a lot longer if we were having sex.  Because of his romantic and sexual history, our lack of sex hurt him.  Things are not simple when it comes to sex and relationships for people over 30. Anyone who is single past that age has been damaged and has emotional baggage.

Add to that the fact that for the majority of non-religious men, asking them to date you without sex is ridiculous.  They spent their entire adult lives having romantic sexual relationships, and loving someone without sex is unimaginable to them.  They don't even know how to do it.  After I told one man about the chastity thing, he said we couldn't date because sex was too much a part of the way he fell in love.  I think that is true for most men.  Of course it's not necessary, but why would someone want to bother with that when they can go out and find someone else who puts out?  It doesn't make much sense for them, so they don't get involved with the "nice" LDS girl. 

Losing my last relationship over chastity seriously hurt my testimony.  I've had a very rough year.  I've been closer to giving up the church than I have ever been in my life.  More and more, it feels like the church and the gospel are separate things.  I have problems with the church's politics, culture, and some of the GAs.  And then there is going to church, it feels like an alternate universe filled with strange people who have strange lives that I cannot relate to; and they are running an organization that feels like it has nothing to do with me.  It's kind of like visiting a new school and sitting in on a class for one day, you can't really follow what's going on because you haven't been there-- and all the other kids are looking at the weird new kid. 

It's hard to remember why I'm doing this to myself, living by these rules and dragging myself to the torture of church.  But I do remember. I made a covenant and I love my God.  Yet, I don't believe I will ever be truly happy while single and alone.  Under my current circumstances, I am not likely to ever marry, either LDS or non-LDS.  So, am I willing to condemn myself to a single life of solitude and sadness for my faith?  That's a hard thing to ask of someone, and it seems unfair.  So, yeah, I get why the sister who wrote the essay gave it up after she turned 35.  I'm not sure she should have announced that to the whole world, but I blog so I'm one to talk.  I'm also turning 35 soon.  I don't know where my life is going, but it needs to go some place else. 


Dear Celibate: Advice for a 24 y.o.

Dear Celibate:
I am 24 years old, almost 25, and am a recent convert to the Church.  I live in the NE, where there aren't many members.  This summer though, I am moving to Arizona where there are lots of singles (hopefully my age?).  I recently had a very hard break up to a guy that I was supposed to marry.  It has been very tough for me, but I am starting to move on and realize that there has to be something better out there for me.  I know I shouldn't say this, but I feel old (according to Mormon standards) and I am worried about meeting a guy in Arizona my age or older.  My question to you is, what would you tell your 25-year-old self if you could go back and do it again?

Dear 24 year old,

 Congratulations on joining the church. The best way to get over a lost love is to find a new one. So, good for you for getting out there.
First, YOU ARE NOT OLD!!!!!  Snap out of it. I know it seems that way at church. But that is a warped perception of reality.
Second:  There are tons of Mormons in Arizona. You should be fine out there. However, coming from the east coast and being a convert, you will find dating Mo'men tricky.  Honestly, I still don't know how to date them.  They do not behave the way east coast non-LDS men do.  In my experience GENERALLY, I've found that they don't ask women out, they have no assertiveness and they prefer to date/marry below themselves, and they fear accomplished independent women.  Also, they like cheesy home-crafted gifts from women-- at least, the women seem to think so.  I wish I could tell you more about them, but it's outside my expertise.  The best thing to do is find some good girlfriends in the church who aren't jealous of you.  (That means that have to be as pretty as you are or prettier and have healthy self-esteems.)   Sadly, you can't trust some of the other single women because some of them can be vicious when it comes to dating.  That's what happens when you raise women to be desperate for marriage.  Try to find a nice western LDS friend who could explain how to date Mormon men.   ***MOST IMPORTANTLY: Don't feel bad about yourself if they are not asking you out.  It's not you, it's them. ****

What would I do differently if I could go back?  If only I could have the last five years of my life back!  But I've got ten years on you so here's what I've learned.

  • NEVER sell yourself short. Don't think that because you are old (which you are NOT) or a convert or whatever that you have to date/marry someone below yourself.  Demand equality in your partner.  Equal intellect, equal education, equal values. Otherwise, you are wasting your time.  I wasted a lot of time on losers because I thought that was the best I could do.  My standards get higher as I get older.
  • Don't date someone just because he is there. I did a lot of this in my 20s. The guy was okay, he asked me out so I said yes because there was no one else around. You are wasting your time. Don't. 
  • Learn how to say 'No'.  Just say no if you are not interested in seeing someone.  Say No when he wants to go further physically than you do. I had a boyfriend I never liked for 6 months because I didn't know how to say 'No' the first time he asked me out and then I didn't know how to dump him after I kept saying 'yes'. 
  • Don't make excuses for him.  If he is treating you badly, there is NO EXCUSE.  We have a tendency to explain away men's bad behavior so we can make them seem better than they are, so we can see them the way we want them to be.  If he is treating you badly in the beginning, it will only get worse later on.  RUN--Do not walk. 
  • Take control.   Take control of the relationship and make him come to you. Do not call first, do not always answer, do not try to advance the relationship in any way.  Always try to keep your hand.  When you give him too much, they have a tendency to run away.  I learned this the hard way because I don't like playing games. But you have to do it. Do not be too available, always leave them wanting more. Always be the one to end the dates.  You say when it's time to go home, not him. You be the one to end phone conversations, etc. Your life will be much better this way, I promise. 
  • Don't be a pleaser.  It is not your job to please any man. You should NOT try to make him like you. He either does or he doesn't.  If you try to win him over, you will lose.  He will think you are throwing yourself at him and be repulsed. 
  • Your friends are ALWAYS right.   If your family and friends don't like your boyfriend, then there is a reason.  He probably isn't good enough for you.  They have your best interests at heart and they can see the dude objectively. I've never heard of a case where the friends were wrong.  Save yourself some heartache and listen to them.
  • If chastity with him is easy, move on.  That means you don't have the right chemistry, and you will wish things were different after the honeymoon.  (I learned this from two married friends.) 
  • Make sure he likes you enough.  A man who likes you enough, or likes you the right way, will feel privileged to be with  you.  He will feel the need to be worthy of you and behave accordingly.  He will court you and make you feel like the most special woman on earth.  If you get the feeling that he thinks you're privileged to be with him, dump him immediately. It will only get worse.

I hope this is helpful.  Good luck.  My sister got married in Phoenix at age 28 or 27. You really have nothing to worry about.

P.S. I'm sorry this took so long, I was busy for the holidays and have internet issues again.