Virgin: Mormon Sexuality
A devout believer raised in Mormon culture struggles with moral questions of Mormon sexuality, pseudo-romantic relationships, and an isolated life outside Utah.
“This is how I grew up, with God and sexuality and family and sin and goodness all tied up together. I don’t think I’m even capable of pulling those things apart into individual strands.”
I’m 25 years old and a virgin. I’ll remain one until I get married, and if I never marry, I’ll die one. It goes with the Mormon territory. We’re taught from the time we’re small that that’s the way it’s going to be, but we’re also encouraged to think it through and decide for ourselves. We just know how we’re supposed to decide.
I realize it’s not a popular approach to sexuality.
I’m in an emotionally intimate, pseudo-romantic relationship with Oscar, a man who’s not a member of the Mormon Church. We want different things. I’d like to scrub my babies in the kitchen sink and raise them to be good upstanding Mormons; he’d like a writing career in New York City and maybe to cohabit with a nice lady and have a few kids—his words. We’re PhD students in southern Mississippi, nothing interesting for miles around but each other, and we’re in love, but complicatedly so.
One night he tells me, “Look, Deja. I know what I’m sacrificing. I know if I were with you, I’d always have clean clothes and you’d always pack my lunch. Before I could even think something could be done around the house, you’d have done it. Because you’d want to.”
“Are you complimenting me?” My feet are tucked up under me on Oscar’s red couch, and I’m trying really hard (for the hundredth time) to wrap my brain around why he doesn’t want me. I mean, why he loves me, but why he doesn’t fight to keep me.
I can’t look at him. I’m staring at the treadmill, the blinds, the cat, anything but him. Some part of me is ashamed that I can’t understand it. I know he’s not going to beg me to run away to New York with him; I know that if he did, I couldn’t do it. And still I find myself fantasizing about being there with him, telling him about my day, going to museums on Saturdays, even having his stupid dinner on the table when he gets back. It’s pathetic.
Part of the problem is that we’ve got different theories of love. He’s told me on several occasions that for him, love means letting someone go. For me, love means making a decision to be with someone and adjusting your life to make it work, even if that means clamping down on the jugular. But he’s probably right. My way has already led me through a world of hurt, and I assume I’ll have a world more before I’m done.
“I could have gotten you to sleep with me?” He asks as he crosses the room to the couch.
I laugh, embarrassed. I had told him that earlier in the conversation, and he was still ruminating. “I think so. There was a while when I was pretty weak-willed. Sometimes I felt ready to chuck it all, take off my shirt, and climb on your lap. If you had applied some pressure, I think I would have caved.”
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