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. 


The Singlutionary said...

I was forwarded that article by my good LDS friend. It spoke to me. I am not LDS but I am 30 and for the past 2.5 years, I was intentionally abstinent (this is a long time for a non-religious woman in her late 20s). Sex can be hurtful but the lack of sex can be hurtful too. I think it is a difficult choice to make. It is different for me, because I am not LDS and have different beliefs in regards to sex and marriage. But in many ways, my reasons for being abstinent were the same: Sex is sacred and should be viewed that way. I also agree that it is a good gatekeeper in terms of finding out what a guy is really after.

But what I have come to accept -- for myself -- is that sex (and all physical affection and intimacy) is a way to communicate. It is a way to explore and learn and experience. This is not wrong. But would I spend an hour conversing with someone I didn't know/like/trust/care about? NO. Life is too short to waste time on idiots. But now, I am interested in engaging intimately with men who are worthy of my time and affection -- that I can learn from and communicate with in bed and out of bed as well.

I also honestly think that there are non-LDS men who would be willing to wait for marriage or, at least, engagement. But, yes they are rare. And yes, they would have to learn a new way of courtship. It is a pretty unique man who is willing to learn an entirely new way of falling in love when he is over 35.

But hey. He would be worth waiting for.

SavvyD said...

It's frustrating to have to play "catch up" with everyone else who has been having sex with people early while you try and figure out if someone is even a good fit for you.

Waiting for the right (kind of) person has mostly spared me from seeing that someone is most likely not interested in me as a person and in meeting my emotional needs of reassurance before entering into a physical relationship. How do I adjust to the speed at which most people take a physical relationship if I am not outrageously attracted to the person to the point that I can't wait to take my clothes off, abandoning every caution and care. There just aren't that many people who have made me feel that way, and the ones who offer are attractive enough without the patience to overcome my reservations.

Why can't I have the time to adjust to having someone in my life? Can't we go kinda slow so I can fall in love too? Can't I at least have that if I can't ever be married before having sex as so many of my friends did?

No, fraid not. You see, it seems that nowadays a man wants to have sex before considering making a commitment.

It's a test drive before they sign a lease. And after they drive it for awhile, they move on to a better model. But as we know, in relationships, there is no two-year lease. The danger involves risking YOUR HEALTH, a pregnancy with someone who you discover is a complete and total shit, someone who you can't stand mothering your child. I have such friends. Their lives are just as pained and lonely. One friend has a child in Ireland while he lives in the US.

I deserve better. So do you. So does anyone.

SavvyD said...

There just aren't that many people who have made me feel that way, and the ones who offer are ___NOT___ attractive enough without the patience to overcome my reservations.

SavvyD said...

I had more to say about Anon's comments but didn't want to hijack your blogspace.

Drop on by...www.SavvySingleChristian.blogspot.com

micblogger said...

From my experience, the best lessons I learn are associated with the worst challenges. I wasn't feeling good about being at church but I kept it going, and unbelievably I came to realize something that I never considered before. That realization was worth a lot more than the adversity, and I would not have been able to get to that understanding in any other way.

SilverRain said...

The man I married was baptized after I met him, and he WAS willing to wait for sex, sort of. An entire year of engagement, waiting for the temple. But it turned out to be part of the play he put on to get what he wanted. Unfortunately, it took me five years and two children to realize it. Now I'm celibate after being sexually active, and that was really hard at first, even though the bulk of my sexual experience was . . . frightening. (Though it has gotten better, being celibate I mean.)

I think sex is one of those things that can make good better and bad worse in romantic relationships. It doesn't make bad into good or good into bad. It just lets us pretend for awhile.

And don't mistake duration of a relationship for quality of a relationship. Unfortunately, so many people make sex so important that it's hard to find someone willing to see otherwise. But that problem exists within LDS relationships as well as non-LDS ones. Sex is one of those heavy bags almost everyone carries.