Starting at about the same time as the sex ed video, I started hearing about "Worth the Wait" and "True Love Waits" and various other abstinence encouraging programs. I signed yearly commitment cards to "stay pure", "value my virginity" and various other wordings, and on my parents' 25th wedding anniversary (I was 14) they gave me a "promise ring" - a promise to myself, my parents, and to God that I would not have sex until I was married, and then, only to the person I married.
Now, perhaps this seems like so much Conservative Christian hogwash to you - yet another example of how a large part of the Christian community in this country seems obsessed with sex and sexual "sins" - and maybe it is - but here's the thing... I've believed it.
By the definition that s-e-x was explained to me, I am a virgin. In the 13 years since my parents gave me that ring, it has very rarely left my finger. It has become a part of my identity. It has become part of my hope that I will find someone to spend my life with, and don't I want to keep myself clean and pure and whole so that on my wedding night, after I have found that person that I want to spend the rest of my life with, that I can give them my virginity like some kind of one-time-only present - the other option apparently sheepishly shrugging and offering oneself as a kind of used up kleenex.
The problem, or at least my current problem with this is that according to the definition I had gathered from these various abstinence programs, I could have wild lesbian orgies for the rest of my life and still consider myself a virgin, because until a man's *thing* has penetrated my *thing* that's what I'll be.
So, my current dilemma - as a moral, Christian lesbian where do I draw the line? (nothing below the waist, perhaps?) Do I draw a line? Do I just throw out this "true love waits" stuff as so much junk pressed on my by a patriarchal society bent on limiting female sexual freedom? And if I do decide to leave this behind with my heterosexuality - what do I do with my promise ring? If I did leave behind the ideas represented by that ring, I would feel horribly hypocritical still wearing it - and more than enough people I know also know what it means and would question its absence - drawing the wrong conclusions as they did so. While I am not ready to come out to my current church, my church of origin, or my parents, all of them would be concerned if I removed my promise ring, and would want to know why.
I know that with at least two of the three in those categories, and some would argue with all three, it's not really their business, I would feel rude and hurtful telling them so.
The easiest thing would be to just continue wearing the ring, regardless of what I decide it means.
But is is the right thing?