Growing up, I was pretty naïve about matters of sex. The churches I attended were all Independent Fundamentalist Baptist churches and every one of them preached against petting, premarital sex, masturbation, and looking at pornography. Most of the churches forbade physical contact between teen boys and girls, quoting verses like 1 Corinthians 7:1, Now concerning the things whereof ye wrote unto me: It is good for a man not to touch a woman as justification for their no-touching rule.
I dated quite a bit, and though I “made out” with a few girls, things never went too far. When I married my wife in 1978, both of us were virgins. While Independent Fundamentalist Baptist preachers like to think that their harsh preaching and puritanical standards keep teens from having sex, I have found out, by talking to people I was friends with in the various churches I attended, that teens having sex was the norm and my wife and I being virgins was the exception to the rule.
I was married before I ever bought and looked at a pornographic magazine. One day while Polly was at school I bought a pornographic magazine. The magazine was quite an eye-opener! I later bought another magazine and I hid both magazines above the attic access hole in our apartment closet. I wonder if the magazines are still there?
I lived in the Midwestern Baptist College dorm for two years before Polly and I married. Several nights a week I would pick up one of my dorm roommates from work. He worked in downtown Pontiac for the local newspaper. At the time, downtown Pontiac was in steep decline and that decline attracted adult oriented businesses and prostitutes.
One such adult business was an adult theater/strip club. One night I left early to pick up my roommate and I decided to go to the adult theater/strip club. I watched a typical 1970’s era porn movie and after the movie was finished they had a local talent night strip contest. What I saw that night, some 35 years ago, was quite provocative and exciting.
The highlight of the night came as I was leaving the place. Coming out a door near me was one of the deacons of Emmanuel Baptist Church, the church I attended while in college. We both saw each other, put our heads down, and never said a word about it to each other.
The next time I went to a strip club was 17 years later. At the time I was between churches(this means I was looking for a church to pastor) and I was working in Zanesville, Ohio managing a Charley’s Steakery restaurant in the Colony Square Mall. One night I decided to go to a strip club that had recently opened east of Zanesville. Imagine my surprise when on to the stage came an attractive young woman who just so happened to eat at my restaurant.
Fortunately, she did not notice me, but the next time she came to my restaurant I felt a bit guilty thinking, I have seen more of you than you think I have.
While both of these forays into the adult entertainment world were exciting, I had a lot of guilt over what I considered my “secret” sins. I feared being “found out” by my wife. For many years I thought that my going to a strip club or looking at a pornographic magazine was because of some deep moral and spiritual defect in me. It has only been since I left Christianity that I have come to really understand the male sex drive and I now understand that many of the desires the Independent Baptist Church labeled as “lust” or “sin” are really part of being a normal, heterosexual male.
At the time I had a lot of guilt because I was studying for the ministry or I was in the ministry and I knew a pastor shouldn’t be looking at pornographic magazines or going to strip clubs. Now I know that such behavior is actually quite common, not only among men in general, but among pastors.
Once I deconverted I was forced to reexamine what I really believed about human sexuality. I now subscribed to the belief that whatever consenting adults do it is their own business. Even in marriage, it is up to the couple to negotiate what the sexual parameters are.
How about you? Do you have a story to share? Do you think less of me because I have shared this story? What is your sexual ethic?