A year ago, I moved to Johannesburg as a 27 year old woman who’d never had penetrative sex with a man.
A decision that was first prompted by being brought up in a Christian home.
However, as I grew older, the decision to wait for marriage eventually became my own, a personal decision that defined how I chose to navigate the intimacy aspect of my life.
I abstained because sex with any other man besides my husband was considered sinful, against God’s principles and those of my church doctrine, and I agreed.
I willfully obliged…
Until of course I started dating in my early twenties, and that new chapter quickly served as an introduction to a side of myself I never knew existed.
It was all unfamiliar and I was quite unprepared for the sudden eruption of the sexual desires that come with falling in love with a man.
I expected to feel impure for most of it but instead I was excited and enjoyed exploring this advanced phase of kissing first and unbuttoning zips to touch and suck.
With my first boyfriend, the intense lust for each others bodies quickly became stronger than that of spending the rest of our lives together.
We were going against everything we were taught and believed in.
So at 22 & 23, marriage became a heart desire we were both incapable of fully realizing, we eventually had to let go of our love.
We couldn’t take the chance of losing ourselves to the unknown perils of premarital sex if we continued seeing each other.
Then there were other men after him. Even with them, I kept walking out whenever things got too risque.
I always made sure to hold back the parts I believed still kept me pure enough in God’s eyes.
After each relationship ended, I’d find myself grieving out loud on the one social media platform that kept urging me to share what was on my mind.
In the posts I reiterated my repentance for straying away from what I believed was right, I grieved dwarfing my spiritual growth and delaying God’s purpose with my life.
Mostly I used the posts to loudly declare that I didn’t believe falling in love was ever the devil’s plan to devour my faith. All the moments that I shared with the men were special and beautiful and I still had days I mourned the loss of our companionship.
Writing and sharing my testimony was my way of owning my truth.
By speaking publicly about my own in-disciplines against my beliefs, I hoped to denounce the expectation that we don’t struggle with our convictions in the great pursuit of perfectionism as Christians.
In those first few months of my status updates, my inbox almost drowned from confessions of other young women who had similar experiences as me.
From all those conversations, I realized that men don’t carry the same burden as women do when it comes to premarital sex.
For church women, abstaining has always been overemphasized and more blame allocated to them as the Delilahs (provocateurs and instigators of sex). With how we dress and how we behaved always cautioned to influence and impact the weaknesses of men as sexual beings. This seemed to excuse them of any real responsibility as co-sinners.
Even preserving their abstinence was a responsibility that we had to bear. Regardless of which bible verse that involved two adults consenting in sex or the woman being raped, it seemed the woman was always at fault.
I found it ridiculous that women had to forgive themselves for being alluring, for exploring their sexuality and for enjoying every minute of it.
In all those conversations, I finally saw women finding a place to question and challenge the status quo. To transform their thoughts about themselves, to clearly introspect and reallocate some of the blame.
It made me happy to know that they’d found a space to heal and speak out, and to not hide in shame.
I still cringe at some of the things church women believe about themselves where men and sex are concerned but I do hope we keep creating healthy spaces for us to talk openly and without judgement.
Photo By: Lonwabo Zimela