My dad once told me, “Usually a man spends a few years sowing his wild oats. Then he settles down with one woman.” There was something wistful about the way he said it, but he followed it up with “but that’s not for us.” We were religious, you see.
I wasn’t just religious, I was in a cult. Nothing totally crazy, just a rightish-wing fundamentalist christian church. You know, one of those American protestant churches that believes they’re the only ones going to heaven. I believed heart and soul in the Holy Bible. I gave lots of money to the church. I gave so much time! Every week I went to at least two church events, usually four. Every day I spent about an hour reading and praying. Almost every day I spent time proselytizing. Sometimes I talked with over 100 people in one day.
We believed in abstinence until marriage. More than once I had a girl tell me she wanted to sleep with me, but I never did it. I stayed abstinent. It was hard. I was still a virgin when I finally married in my thirties. In our church people felt that sexual immorality (sex with someone who’s not your spouse) was a really bad sin. You can be excommunicated for sexual immorality. People told me again and again that immorality wasn’t satisfying anyway. “It’s just not worth it”, they said. It’s a “one-second” pleasure, one friend told me.
I had great friends in that church. It’s full of really good, honest, selfless people. I don’t regret all the friendships I had or the time spent reflecting. From my years under the cloud of religion there’s only one thing I regret: All the sex I didn’t have.