not in Primary anymore

the sexually mature young mormon single adult

Image Here’s a question you might want to bring up at the next ward Linger Longer: do any of us young single adults feel like sexually mature human beings? It’s certainly something to chew on, along with the cheesy casseroles, Costco rolls, and freshly baked cookies, amidst the flirting and fellowshipping taking place all around you. In fact, if you’re serious about getting the conversation going, I recommend screaming the question as loudly as you can. I, for one, will readily contribute my answer: It is, with all the confusion and frustration I can muster in my 26-year-old human body, a resounding, nope. Actually it’s more like this: And this troubles me. I feel like, as an adult, I should understand myself and how my body works. I’m pretty afraid of my body, to be totally honest. Alright now that we’ve gotten things going, and you’ve gone over to put another handful of Doritos on your paper plate, let me illustrate my feelings with a seemingly unrelated story:

When I was a teenager, I first discovered what I would have labeled at the time “anti-Mormon websites.” Then as a freshman in college, I started to realize that the Church’s history and doctrine are riddled with legitimately concerning complications. And so I began to study the more difficult questions and historical blips in the traditional narrative for things. I felt God guiding me through my studies, and certainly approving of my desire to understand the whole picture instead of the simplified one I learned at church all my life.

But one topic was off-limits: temples.

I personally decided that, until I had the experience of going through the temple myself, I would not read about, think about, analyze, or study claims about the temple or its origins. Then, after I went through, I would be free to study everything I could find. I don’t believe everyone needs to take this approach to the temple, but I am glad I did. My first experience with the endowment ceremony was one of the highest points of my young spiritual life to that point (I feel very fortunate about that.)

After I went through, I almost immediately returned to my saved podcast episodes and online articles about the origins of the temple. And I found that study immensely enriching and helpful in my understanding of the temple. I was glad that I was now totally open and free to learn about the temple, but I was also glad that I had waited until I had that first experience for myself.

You surely can see the connection to our Linger Longer conversation: I have essentially applied this same principle to sex. I have been operating under the mindset that learning about sex (including my own sexual feelings) will enrich my life and make me a more whole individual, but that until I am married, I should bookmark and mark as save-for-later every sexual thought and feeling I have.

Weeelllll I really do not feel that way anymore. I still want to be chaste — I love chastity and believe in it as a principle, and not as a way of escaping sex. I do not believe that chastity and sexual maturity are mutually exclusive. But there are some seriously significant differences between waiting for the temple to learn about the temple and waiting for marriage to learn about sex.

First, the temple has nothing to do with my bodily functions, so one really can deal with that at a greater leisure than one can with sex. And second, my experience with the temple is entirely my thing. Waiting to understand sex until I get married entirely depends on another person. In one of the most enlightening BYU devotionals I have ever read, Elder Oaks spoke about timing. And he gave this amazingly under-appreciated advice to missionaries:

Some of our most important plans cannot be brought to pass without the agency and actions of others. A missionary cannot baptize five persons this month without the agency and action of five other persons. A missionary can plan and work and do all within his or her power, but the desired result will depend upon the additional agency and action of others. Consequently a missionary’s goals ought to be based upon the missionary’s personal agency and action, not upon the agency or action of others.

And at another point in the talk, more to the point:

The timing of marriage is perhaps the best example of an extremely important event in our lives that is almost impossible to plan. Like other important mortal events that depend on the agency of others or the will and timing of the Lord, marriage cannot be anticipated or planned with certainty. We can and should work for and pray for our righteous desires, but, despite this, many will remain single well beyond their desired time for marriage.

So with all this in my mind, I kind of don’t think that I should continue to think of sex as an off-limits subject until I get married. Although, I don’t really know how to become sexually mature without having sex. But I believe it it’s possible. So in that spirit let me offer this definition of sexual maturity and hereby claim that I find it desirable as a young single chaste virgin adult: A sexually mature adult neither suppresses nor gives into all sexual feelings, but makes choices based on an understanding of and commitment to oneself.

But that’s just me: I’d really love to know what you think, and what everybody at your Linger Longer thinks, too. And as for that guy in the shirt and tie telling you this is hardly the thing single people should be thinking about, feel free to throw this in his face: CS Lewis wrote all about sex in Mere Christianity and he wrote that before he was married. So we aren’t the first unmarried Christians wondering what in the world we are supposed to do with our bodies.

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13 Responses to “the sexually mature young mormon single adult”

  1. Berta Marquez

    I think its possible to be sexually literate, educated, and self-aware while still following the law of chastity as articulated in the LDS faith tradition. There are experiential limitations to what one can understand the intricacies, complications and beauties of human sexual intimacy without actually being fully immersed in the experience ad processes thereof of course. But I think it is healthy & ok to know how one’s body works and to study and learn about the vicissitudes of human sexuality and intimacy before marriage and still follow the edicts of the law of chastity.

    Reply
  2. Victoria

    I think that many people see sex as a sort of club…once you’ve had it you are IN the club. But I think that in reality sex is a part of life that is always in development. In a sexual relationship with another person there is always an element of learning about yourself or the other person. And that’s true for everyone, no one just KNOWS how to have sex perfectly with every possible person in every possible situation.

    For people who have not yet had sex, I think it is possible to reach a certain level of sexual maturity, but by virtue of not having a partner there will always be more
    progress to be made. But I think that single people can learn to become comfortable with their own bodies and sexuality, meaning that they are in touch with their own sexual feelings and desires and knowledgeable about their bodies. I think that it is, in a sense, immature to enter into a sexual relationship having not done so.

    Reply
  3. Andy

    If/when you get married, your wife will REALLY appreciate it if you have at least read a thing or two about sex already. There are several common mistakes uninformed LDS guys make their wedding nights that are easily avoidable.

    Reply
  4. Lynette Thompson Nicolas

    Going to the temple is a learning experience. You go to be taught and instructed, especially the first time. Even then, you have classes and things like that to prepare you for your first time. When you have sex for the first time especially if your partner is a first-timer, you are not getting a whole lot of instruction. It would be like going to the temple and doing it all yourself, without any temple workers to help you and show you around. You have to educate yourself first! There are all kinds of church books on the topic. My favorite is called “Between husband and wife.” I made my husband read it before we got married. If you are not educated, things will suck big time. You need to be sexually mature before you can have sex, in the same way you need to be spiritually mature before you should go to the temple. And believe me, even after reading and learning all you can, it will be a learning experience when you do it.

    Reply
  5. jwtroemner

    I definitely agree– there are a lot of things to know about sex, sexuality and your own body that people simply don’t talk about. Like whether you’re going to use birth control, what kind, what sort of things you’re comfortable with, etc. That requires research– and if you don’t feel inclined to do the hands-on variety of research, then the best way is to actually look it up and get perspectives from other people who have.

    Reply
  6. Taylor Clarke

    This post is brave. Being a young single adult in the church sometimes includes infantilism (needing “chaperones” for an adult activity?) and certainly the typical young single adult experience at church does not include lots of discussion on becoming sexually mature, other than, ya know, don’t do it and don’t think about it cause then you’ll do it. From what I’ve seen, the better chastity lessons include the sex-positive message that sex is (can be) great, just wait until you’re married. Unfortunately, damaging messages occur way too often that suggest that sex is bad or dirty and consequently you are bad and dirty for having sexual feelings which leads to licked cupcake object lessons, the “good girl” syndrome, modesty rhetoric run amok, victim-blaming and the resulting trauma, etc.

    I see a wide chasm between “knowing a thing or two about sex” and “sexually mature.” What I understand Derrick addressing is how he is building the bridge to be sexually mature in the context of being lds and single and on his own terms.

    Reply
  7. S. M.

    Phew. Just getting over a particularly frustrating Relief Society lesson and this blog and these level-headed, intelligent posts make me feel a lot of relief in my society. I’d add that I certainly have several close, non-member friends who are more sexually mature and literate than I am and who have not experienced sex that I would really feel comfortable learning some basics from. Maybe we could learn something from others, rather than always expecting people to learn from us.

    Reply
    • S. M.

      Dude. just realized I should have read the comment policies and been a little more respectful. I totally recant my derogatory intro! Wish I could delete and rewrite. Feel free to delete that for me.

      Reply
  8. vickzorz

    Speaking as an inactive member who has recently engaged in premarital sex for the first time, I mostly noticed how underwhelming the act itself was, nothing like fireworks or whatever like how I imagined. “Traditional” intercourse does not need to be the end-all of sexuality. If anything, I learned a lot more about my own sexuality while kissing, cuddling, self-pleasure, all things that don’t necessarily violate the Law of chastity (at least, not in my eyes). I understand my own body now more than before, but I think that waiting till marriage is still admirable, so long as both partners can see that there is some sort of sexual chemistry (which should be evident during a nice make-out session methinks 😉 ). One issue I see with abstinence until marriage though is that it is really hard to go from 0-100 on a wedding night, and I have definitely have had my share of Good Girl Syndrome, even when I had already made my decision.

    but yeah, sexual maturity is a bit of an awkward topic to bring up at a church potluck I’spose. too bad 😦

    Reply
  9. Luthien

    I am a member who has returned to church after a few years of inactivity. While away from the church I experimented sexually (although never going “all the way” as kids in movies say). However, because of the knowledge I gained from those experiences I have been available to all of my friends with questions and uncomfortable fears as sort of an anonymous spirit guide through the world of sexuality. I think just finding a buddy that you trust to discuss things that are uncomfortable for you is a good resource. It doesn’t have to be a solo mission :]

    Reply

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