Sex and Sins: What’s a Catholic girl to do?
“Come out Virginia, don’t make me wait, Catholic girls…”
You know the rest. It’s probably true in a gross generalization kind of way. My data-collecting self could probably scour the internet for stats. Is it true that Catholic girls start much too late? Are we less likely to give it up? More likely to make a purchase on chastitybelt.com? Religion and sexuality are such personal ventures, how can the link between them be generalized to a simple statistic?
I identify as Catholic. Baptized. Confirmed. The whole enchilada. I agree with many of the Catholic Church teachings. Most of them, actually, with a few heavy-duty exceptions: that thing about homosexuality, and contraception, and “fornication.” For those with no Catholic-school past or dictionary close by, fornication means no sex before marriage, à la Virginia. A name not so randomly chosen when considering the origin of the name, “virgin,” but I digress. There is another meaningful cultural piece that all Catholics share (maybe more so for women than for men): GUILT. Like with the song, all Catholics know what I mean. If you break a commandment, one of those sacred rules, your punishment is eternal and life-lasting. Guilt, whether I agree with it or not, has been really hard to shake.
It might be more accurate to describe myself as a cafeteria Catholic, one of those who picks and chooses from various offerings. In the past few years, the healthy serving of “fornication” I have been heaping on my plate has me thinking about my religious identity and what it means to be single, recently-divorced, and highly (God help me!) sexual. It has helped that one of my early post-marriage sexcapades was with a liberated Jewish boy. Though he and I are now “friends with special circumstances,” we still joke about his encouraging my sexy sexy, occasionally serving as a protagonist for a post. Another fine gentleman, with whom I had incredibly hot let’s go again sex, when I asked “please say you’re not Catholic, because that might make you just too perfect” revealed that he was an altar boy. I’ll tell you, Virginia, John and his altar-boy self didn’t make me wait. Geezus (or Jesus?), he made me come all night long. Damn. Is it ironic, or literal, that we use that word to describe good sex?
Last Thursday evening I met a tall, James-Bond-handsome, Irish boy. I suppose his international business experience and healthy endowment make him more of a man. The piercing blue eyes, however, were all “baby baby baby.” Hot. Really hot. I was passing a Northern California evening with friends at a local hotel bar, the one written up in Vanity Fair as a “Cougar” hang out where men can find an easy lay. Certainly not by independent, educated, pious women like me, right? Oh wait. Soon after glimpsing those deep baby blues, Mr. Bond and I were naked in his hotel room.
Pressed against the bar amid the Cougar pack (an identity with which I share, ahem, zero affiliation), I turned to find Mr. Bond. Squeezing around him, I touched his shoulder to get his attention.
“I have a question. Are you Irish?” I asked.
“Why, yes. You?” Oh my god (or God?): tall, handsome, eyes the color of the Caribbean, and an accent. Had I died and gone to heaven?
“Half-Irish and half-Polish.” Northern European heritage nearly mandated Catholic school attendance for us both. “I’m Lynne.”
“I’m Brendan. You know, Polish girls have a reputation of being great in bed. Are you great in bed?” (Is that a pickup line? or based in the data?)
“Well… I am an erotica author.” I could almost see the fallen angel sitting on his shoulders eyeing the fallen angel on mine. Those religious icons are tenacious, if anything.
Within an hour, I moaned with ecstasy on crisp white sheets as his tongue lapped that sensitive spot between my thighs. His hands pulled my soft pussy lips to his mouth. The movements he made, so desirous and so unstoppable. Suffice to say, his pickup line worked. That particular interlude ended in enormous pleasure for both angels.
Not surprisingly considering I was married and monogamous for half my life, I have bedded fewer men than have most women my age. Nearly all of those men (well, except one or maybe two) were dreamlike in their lovemaking. Truly. Lucky girl, right? Seriously, many women would consider that a blessing from above. So, how can lovemaking be so wrong?? When I woke the next morning, not in Brendan’s bed because I am loyal to my friends, I got those familiar little pangs of Catholic guilt.
What part of two adults sharing immense amounts of pleasure is not Christian? I mean, really. I am not trying to be sacrilegious or cute. I am asking a serious question. The greatest commandment, the one all Catholic girls learn in second grade, is “love one another.” What about showing someone a tremendous amount of grace and compassion (well, sometimes we just call it passion) is so wicked?
If another of God’s greatest commandments is “do onto others as you would have them do unto you,” I’m all in. I can do unto him. Yes. I can do that.
I get that one goal of sex, amongst others, is procreation. I can see the point of the holy church wanting to generate future followers to sustain religious teachings, not to mention property around the globe. What I don’t get is the inconsistent application of what it means to “love one another.” Therein is one of my core grievances with the Catholic Church. What’s so wrong about two men loving each other and establishing a household? Two women making a family? That IS “loving one another…” Why does sex with a specific partner, specifically of the opposite sex, wearing a wedding ring protect us from eternal damnation? My ex-husband cheated emotionally and sexually during our marriage. His wedding ring didn’t proscribe holiness. If anything, it made him flee into the arms of the devil (or Dragon Lady, as I referred to his mistress).
Last summer I talked with one of my deeply-religious Catholic childhood friends. The conversation turned to dating. “Are you seeing anyone?” she asked in a way that seemed genuine and open. I explained that I had been pseudo-dating a guy for a few months and while I liked him, he wasn’t a permanent fixture. “Well, you’re not kissing him, are you? That would be leading him on if you’re not planning on staying with him.” Images of her teen daughters getting the same speech flashed through my head. Imagine what she would have said if I mentioned amazing hotel sex overlooking San Francisco Bay. It seems to me another one of those Catholic rules (maybe that’s the real problem, a religion based on rules and not values) is to “judge not, lest you be judged.”
Now I find myself a fairly-solid-in-her-faith Catholic woman, often struggling to embrace my inner-erotica author. Or since my recent single status, the erotica author working to embrace her inner-Catholic. It is a persistent dilemma. I don’t want to feel the guilt. I love being held by a man. I want others to be embraced by whoever makes them feel good. Consenting adults. Giving. Sharing. Pleasing. Caring. Not using. Really, how can that be bad? My logical, educated brain looks to find the rationale for evil and can’t find it. The primal part of me, neurons firing when Brendan pulled my capris to my strappy heels, can’t find it. Yet, the cultural part of me bathed in religious piety throughout my upbringing, and the part of me that still embraces God as all-knowing, fights to maintain equilibrium flanked by competing worldviews.
Along with that particular Catholic friend, I see that I share in the judgment game. But the person that I am judging is ME! I can’t help thinking there are other Catholics out there who have these same conversations in their heads. Please… tell me what you think. The verdict is still out for me; some cultural beliefs are at the cellular level. The sheer joy of pleasing Brendan won’t stop me from fornication follies. Neither will I bed men solely for the sake of bedding them, because that is certainly not me either. Somewhere there is a balance.
Soon I will be heading out to a first-communion party (‘tis the season), which I hope to follow up by sexting with Brendan. Writing this post has helped me reconsider creating my own perspective. It may come down to choosing which particular commandment to break. I feel compelled to “love others” and “not judge.” That includes embracing my sexy side, NOT judging my erotica-author self, and “doing unto others.”
Come out, Virginia, what are we waiting for?