'There is no room in heaven for fornicators. There are sins that are forgivable and those that aren’t, and sexual impurity is one of the big bad ones.' The speaker made eye contact with all of us gathered in seats arranged in a circle. I was hanging on her every word.
We were at a youth church camp in the middle of nowhere for ten days. The whole thing was a mixture of talks that were geared towards making us young Christians and various wilderness challenges. It was just like the scouts, but for Jesus.
That afternoon, we had been broken up into a couple of groups based off of age and gender. I was seventeen and sitting together with other girls in their late teenage years. Abstaining from pre-marital sex seemed doable enough for me at the time. It had been drummed in me enough that I would need to save myself for my future husband. But then came the bombshell.
'Sex is one thing, but there are also unnatural sexual behaviours that you should never engage in, and one of them is masturbation. It goes against what God intended for sex between two people, it’s addictive, and is the gateway to other sexual immoralities.' She looked at us in a way that made it clear that she suspected that most of us had already begun exploring our bodies in this ‘ungodly’ way.
Masturbation was unnatural. Masturbation was worse than sex outside of marriage.
That was the main lesson I took home from that whole camp. And with it came the shame that I would associate with pleasuring myself, into my adult life.
I went through the five following years curious about learning my way around my clitoris and vagina, but anytime I would consider touching myself, the face of the speaker and her disapproving eyes would appear in my head and it was impossible to stay aroused after.
Here’s the thing though: I had mostly gotten over my hang-ups about pre-marital sex having grown up and learnt that sex between two consenting adults was really nobody’s business but their own. I understood my childhood churches fear of having young teenagers engage in sexual activity when they weren’t ready and therefore try to make sure we didn’t get pregnant out of wedlock or get an STI.
In as much as I was now engaging in safe sex, I was extremely aware of the fact that if I didn’t know how to pleasure myself or what it was I liked, it would be impossible for a partner to do the same for me.
Getting to know yourself
What was unnatural about exploring your body and the various buttons that make you feel good? The one sure sexual experience that ensured you could not contract any STI or experience an unwanted pregnancy. Besides, I figure that the human form was ‘created’ with so many pleasure points in our genitals alone our creator, whatever your belief, intended for us to enjoy them. No? So go ahead, let your fingers do the walking. After all, self-love is the best love.