My Struggle with Virginal Guilt

Every time I see someone that I have slept with, it feels as though I have been punched in the stomach. I avoid conversations with them, I avoid eye contact with them, I avoid seeing them from across campus. Every hook up comes with a steaming hot plate of guilt. I try to tell myself  “maybe it won’t happen this time”; “it’s a different time period, the rules of no sex before marriage don’t apply anymore”. But, this state of denial only holds off my subconscious for so long.

I was raised a devout Christian—like not allowed to eat breakfast before communion, absolutely have to wear a modest dress to church, Christian. And, with this came the concept that any and all sex before marriage is a sin, and since all sin is equal, it is practically on par with murder. For years, I accepted it and vowed to myself that I wouldn’t even become intimate with my future fiance, and then it was going to be so special and absolutely a profoundly spiritual and special moment.

And, then it wasn’t. It wasn’t meaningful, or intimate or even good.  My junior year of high school, I began to lose touch with my faith. I began questioning the traditions and teachings and everything that was truly put in place for my spiritual and emotional well-being. And then, it happened, and it wasn’t meaningful, it wasn’t romantic, and I didn’t even feel accomplished as if I had just ticked another thing off of my list of things to do. But, I hoped that the empty feeling I had was simply because it was bad. So, I tried a few more times, each experience leaving me feeling like less and less of myself until I was nothing but the dirtier, depressed version of my former self.

I tried to convince myself that God still loved me no matter what and I continued to repeat my mantra of “it’s a different time, there are different rules” and I asked adults that I trusted that if God knows that you’re sorry does he forgive you? I had gotten to a point that I couldn’t even stand in church without feeling like there was a spotlight on me as if somehow everyone knew that I had broken the rules and that I didn’t deserve to be standing there with everyone. I was reminded of the story of St. Mary of Egypt, a former prostitute, and how she wasn’t even physically able to enter a church and I was horrified that I would somehow be spiritually obstructed from even entering the building.

I finally had to come to terms with my inability to exist without constant feelings of crushing guilt and so I had the issue spiritually resolved and have since been forgiven. I know that the values and ideals of my church are not the popular opinion of secular America, which makes it difficult to explain my sudden change in sexual opinions to people who had previously known me, but I’m not vying for anyone’s approval. People will also say that I shouldn’t just blindly do whatever my church tells me, and I understand that line of thought. It is exactly how I felt before I had this experience, and now I know that this is taught for a reason. Maybe I was just too emotionally immature, but, whatever the reason, there is no denying the honest and true daily pain I felt just trying to exist as myself.

I have found it difficult to continue speaking with certain people from last year because while I would like to continue a friendship, I know that they will expect something more that I can’t give them and so I have distanced myself to resist the temptation. Some days I feel like a nun and others I am completely liberated by my sexual freedom. I am no constrained by the expectation to have sex and me able to be my unabashed self without seeking sexual and romantic approval as well as knowing that I’m doing what is right for my emotional well-being.


Image Credit: Feature