In middle school, I learned more: cover your body so boys don't lust after you, and guard your virginity until marriage. Because, above all, God wants sex for marriage.
As for what sex was ... well, sex involved touching someone else's genitals. People stacked on top of each other for something called intercourse, which made babies, and oral sex involved...well, ew.
That's all I knew.
But...what if I, in my perpetually clumsy state, kicked someone in, you know, the wrong place by accident? Was that sex?
And, more importantly, did the fact that I'd apparently masturbated whilst only knowing that it was something that felt good, disqualify my virginity? Would no guy want me now? Was it better not to get married?
And why were all these questions and "inappropriate" thoughts popping into my mind? Was I lusting, when I didn't want to think such thoughts? Did lusting mean I wasn't the all-important virgin?
Clearly, I wasn't pure. So, in my sullied state, marriage and kids were unattainable, because they required a level of honesty I didn't have.
All of these questions spiraled in my brain and sunk me into what was probably my first depressive episode, which lasted over two months. January through March.
I was thirteen.
Eventually the depression passed, and high school commenced, but with a class of eleven kids, no health class was offered, and so "sex" remained a huge question mark.
Then, when I was seventeen, I read the not-terribly-explicit Twilight series. And based on a couple lines in the fourth book, I was like... o.O.
What? Oh. That meant - ? Ohhhh.
Yes, really. I learned about sex from Twilight.
But, really, why was this such a big secret? Why all this shame associated with a physical activity?
It's sex. Not murder, okay?
Much has been made of the negative effects from our shame-based sex culture. Whether you're sexually active or not, there's shame dumped on all of us for anything remotely related to sex.
Shame on you for saying anatomical words like "vagina" or "penis." Don't you know we can't talk about sex, lest everyone obsess over it and do it and spread diseases, and morality collapse.
Shame on you for talking about your sexual abuse.
Shame on you for willingly having sex. Now you're the equivalent of used chewing gum. No one will want you for marriage.
Shame on you for not having sex. Technically, yeah, it's your decision, but don't you know you're setting yourself up for future problems by naively limiting yourself to marriage?
Congratulations, you're married! Now you're deflowered (if that's not shame, I don't know what is).
In short, to quote Allison in The Breakfast Club, "If you say you haven't, you're a prude. If you say you have you're a slut. It's a trap."
Seriously. Christian culture and popular culture use the exact same guidelines regarding sex: shame. Heaps of shame, trapping you no matter which way you turn.
You know what?
My worth comes solely from the fact that I am a human being, made in the image of God.
I am human. I bear God's image, and that can't be taken away, sex or no sex, bad sex or good sex, stigmas or freedom.
I'm a little bit scared to publish this, because, well, sex is something we don't like to talk about. And that's exactly why I am publishing this.
This cycle of shame has to stop. Shame breeds in secrecy, like the secrecy that surrounded sex when I was growing up.
So, no, I don't have any new insight into stopping this cycle, but I do believe openness and facts will play a prominent role. Facts are facts are facts - it should not be shameful to use correct terminology and teach people about a basic act most of us are going to do at some point or another. Furthermore, perhaps teaching people to respect - to truly respect - others as fellow images of God just might help people make healthy sexual choices, free of shame and fear-mongering.
I mean, seriously: openness and a good health class could have saved me a heck of a lot of agony.
Because teenagers should not be learning about sex from Twilight.