I was thinking about how I was raised. Not just how I was raised but how many young women in my age group and before were raised... For us, sex was the taboo subject. It was a subject that everyone wanted to have a conversation on, NEEDED to have a conversation on...but few actually did. Who would we talk to?
I have a uniquely informed perspective on the Catholic church's point of view on sexuality for several reasons. One, I worked as a pregnancy care caseworker for the local Catholic Charities. I worked there at least twenty years ago but WOW oh WOW was that an eye opener. I remember feeling very confused about my job with the girls. A part of the organization that I worked for was so very shaming for young, sexually-active people and my part of the organization was, supposedly, support for a pregnant girl. But we really didn't have support beyond emotional support. In fact, it took me awhile to realize that we were funneling babies into perspective-adoptive parent homes. No wonder that job messed with my mind so much!
And two, I was a pregnant teen in the Catholic church at one time.
On the whole, Catholics in those days that I was growing up harbored such a truckload of shame regarding one's own body, sexuality in general, and sexual maturation during adolescence. Many religious traditions want to claim sexuality as a divine activity, while maintaining the vulgar, uncleanliness, and filth of the human body. It's no wonder teens have no idea how to handle their own feelings! Personally, I remember feeling very confused about these attitudes and about the messages that there was something fundamentally unsavory about certain parts of me.
It starts with the human body its self. Both boys and girls from religious homes are often raised with wrinkled noses, zero correct terminology, and staunch discomfort with anything related to their body. I realize that parents addressed these issues from their own comfort zone, there is no blame intended here. But if most of the "knowledge" comes from the church, then why didn't I think to ask this question: If God doesn't make bad things, they why is the human form treated with such puritanical discomfort?
Is it possible I am a generation behind on this one?????? Are religious families doing better with this these days? Because this is exactly how I and all of my Catholic friends were brought up with regards to knowledge about sex and our bodies. I would love to know that things are improving vastly with regards to the messages we are passing along to our children.
topic of conversation that is open and honest and educating.
As our children mature, along come normal human sexual longings, feelings, thoughts.
And WOW does the church have a schizophrenic field day with this one. It angers me when I remember the mixed, shameful messages that children and teens got, that I got, with regards to these normal and healthy energy and sensations in their bodies. Girls begin maturing physically between ten and twelve, but don't usually get married until their mid-twenties. That's FIFTEEN YEARS of sexual maturity.
Are we really going to pretend that those years are not happening?
I am determined to be open and honest with my own kids about sexuality, at their level, at their interest. I am just at the beginning of this journey with my teen, but we have been working on this issue since the kids were tiny. Hopefully, my kids will grow up with healthy sexual messages and sexual intelligence.
Addendum, Seth Andrews, The Thinking Atheist of The Thinking Atheist Podcast, spoke with sex therapist Marty Klein. Dr. Klein's book sounded pretty good. Here's a link.
Seth also talked to Dr. Darryl Ray, secular author, who recommended his book God and Sex: How Religion Distorts Sexuality.
Second Addendum: The Thinking Atheist Podcast from this week is "Atheism and Sexuality" and I highly recommend listening all of the way through until you listen to the conversation with Greta Christina. She is BRILLIANT and speaks so wisely.
If you like this post you might enjoy this one:
or this one:Not the LEAST Bit Surprised
or this one:
25 Ways to Pass on "Love" and "Tolerance" to your Children