This article originally appeared on September 4, 2020 at Baptist News Global.
The year was 1993. I was a sweaty junior high kid who had recently gotten my first stick of deodorant and had begun experiencing sensations in my body that felt both good and confusing. But one night, as my brothers and I were laying on our sleeping bags in the middle of the living room, our dad asked us, “Have I ever told you about the worst sin ever?”
Sure enough, the sin turned out to be sex.
I grew up in a disembodied fundamental Baptist Christianity that fed on fear. We were warned about the dangers of getting caught masturbating when the Rapture happened. And it was certain to happen by Y2K. So we knew we weren’t going to be able to get married. Because the Bible says that the things that are done in secret will be shouted from the rooftops, we were convinced that God had piles of VCR tapes of us masturbating that he would kick off the first hundred thousand years of heaven at the Bema Seat publicly shaming us with.
Fear of our sexuality was everything to us. Don’t hold hands or it’ll lead to having sex. Don’t watch PG movies or it’ll lead to watching R-rated movies of people having sex and then you’ll end up having sex. The girls at our Christian high school had to wear culottes over their wind suit pants for P.E. outside during the winter or else we might end up having sex.