From the day Elissa Anne could understand what sex was, she vowed she wouldn’t do it until marriage.
The now 32-year-old grew up in a strict Christian community where the idea of premarital sex was comparable to the work of Voldemort in the series, Harry Potter.
In an essay for news.com.au, Anne admits that from the age of 14 she lectured her friends on the evil sin that sex could be.
“…At the ripe old age of 14 [I was] preaching abstinence and warning other teenagers against these soul-tying Horcruxes that I thought could destroy our ver lives,” she wrote.
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She became so outspoken and obsessed with the shame of premarital sex that she wound up in Girlfriend magazine preaching her hard-core views.
The church Anne attended indoctrinated her with the evils of sex, making you a “slut” if you even had sexual thoughts.
“‘Sexual immorality’ always seemed to be dealt with more harshly than any other moral failing,” Anne wrote, “pastors excommunicated for adultery, pornography burning ceremonies; exorcisms performed on homosexuals; abortions to cover up premarital sex; verbal abuse, gossip and slander about or towards the promiscuous; and a church-wide fear of admitting to any sort of temptation or mistake.”
Despite the preaching of the churching, when Anne reached her early twenties she was developing sexual urges and began masturbating.
“No one had actually told me it was wrong, but I presumed that it was, and the guilt I experienced was horrendous. I bawled my eyes out every time I expressed my sexuality in the privacy of my own room and I begged God to send me a husband as that seemed like the only legitimate solution.
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Another six years went by, and although Anne became more adventurous, she never engaged in sexual intercourse.
“I started to challenge the idea that masturbation was a sin and pushed the boundaries of my own rules. I invited men into my life who kissed me and touched me in ways I’d never experienced before.”
At 30, Anne met the man she was “content” to marry. Like herself, he’d never had sexual intercourse but in the lead up to their marriage, they “pushed all remaining boundaries”.
“[We were] sleeping in the same bed when we visited each other internationally; engaged in oral sex, Skype sex and mutual masturbation; saw each other completely naked and even showered together. But we did in fact wait for intercourse until we were legally married in February 2015.
But when the night came that Anne had so dearly anticipated, she was left bitterly disappointed.
“At age 32 I finally gave my husband the last piece of my virginity. But intercourse wasn’t what I had expected it to be. There were no fireworks or explosions. It all felt quite natural and not as supernatural or spiritual as I’d been lead to believe it would be.
“…But it didn’t feel that way for me initially and I was disappointed. I’d waited 32 years of my life without ever having intercourse only to find out that I was still exactly the same person after I’d had sex as I was before I’d had sex.
“Sex didn’t change me. It didn’t fix me. It didn’t ruin me. It had been blown completely out of proportion in my mind because of the rule I was taught as a child.”
Now as a Christian blogger, Anne says she doesn’t regret the decisions she made about her sexuality but still has resentment for how the Church controlled her.
“I still hold some resentment toward the rules that I was given. I resent how they controlled me and how little I was able to follow my own heart. I believe that the best way for me to heal from this resentment is to share with others my journey and allow them to make their own decisions about how they will express their sexuality and follow their hearts.”
She is now an advocate for the Church to stop preaching abstinence and look at more thorough sex education about contraception, abortion and the LGBTIQ community.
As Anne says so powerfully, “The church is not capable of loving sinners if it simultaneously shames, judges, criticises, condemns, avoids and slanders their sin.”
Featured image is via Facebook.