What you are about to read is a true story.
A twelve year old girl with an active imagination sees a movie scene in which a couple sleeps together. She sees another. Her parents had standards of what was appropriate but Dad thought “it’s not that bad, they don’t show anything graphic.” So he doesn’t fast forward. But this girl is already beginning to experience the inevitable changes and growth that puberty brings. Her hormones rage and the scenes leave large impressions on her creative mind.
On her own time, she imagines stories of grand adventures and great heroes. They will someday be written down into famous novels, she thinks. But soon her stories take new turns. The princess falls for the knight and they find themselves alone. Reality and imagination begin to intertwine and our twelve year old girl finds that she can finish the story on her own. Over and over again.
One scene from a movie, I don’t even remember which one now, was all it took. The images were burned into my twelve year old brain. For over ten years I have struggled with the beast that youth pastors and purity conferences imply belongs to men. I didn’t need to return to the images; watching films like “A Walk to Remember” or “Titanic” at girlish sleepovers and talk of the latest crush was enough.
It didn’t matter how many sex, dating and relationship series’ I heard in junior high and high school youth groups. It didn’t matter how many times I heard clichés like “guard your heart.” How could I guard my heart from the pervasive infection that had already taken hold? Not one of my leaders, women of wonderful faith, ever suggested that my sin was something that women struggle with. In truth, I loathed our annual dating discussions at youth group because I felt the overwhelming shame of being freak. “Normal” girls dealt with self-image, knowing her boundaries if/when she started dating, and attributes of good, Christian men worth dating. The Boys (I assumed) covered issues of sexual urges and porn. I actually longed to be a part of their conversation, believing that they addressed ways to not objectify the opposite gender. They were learning how to fight the beast.
They all knew that they were affected visually and they could keep each other accountable. I was alone. I continued the façade that I was committed to purity. I wasn’t like “those girls” who slept with their boyfriends even after they’d made the “true love waits” promise. I had never even had a boyfriend or been on a date. But the thick and putrid tar of impurity still covered my heart. I may have blushed at innuendo or been shocked by public high school exploits, but I turned an even deeper shade of red when I heard verses like Romans 1:24, I Corinthians 6:12-20, or Ephesians 5:3. In the presence of many Christians, I felt the burning shame of the woman caught in the act of adultery and I wasn’t even exposed.
I saw more movies, more images burned into my brain that I could not escape. Still cannot. Friends got older and silly little crushes turned into deeper infatuations that only fed the disease, no porn required. I hated myself when friends got together for pool parties or games of ultimate Frisbee and all I could see were the shirtless men. I dressed as modestly as I could, knowing that I did not dare wish upon my guy friends the same impurity that I possessed in spades.
I wish I could tell you that at some point, I have had an incredible encounter with the Lord and experienced complete freedom from the bondage in my body and soul. I can’t. I do have an amazing relationship with my Savior but it is tainted. I give up and give up and give up my sin again and again. But like a dog returns to its vomit, I return to the dark crevice wherein my beast resides. I pray hard and long about freedom, earnestly desiring to surrender to my God, and am then distracted by the impeccably dressed, attractive man playing guitar with the worship band. But I don’t confess it to anyone. I suffer in silence.
You know me. I am your roommate, your sister, or your best friend. I might even be you. I agree that some actor is attractive. But I don’t tell you that the conversation or the poster on your wall, or the movie you want to watch is feeding my beast. I don’t admit that I avoid eye-contact with my guy friends because I don’t want to objectify them or that I fear having ruined myself for any potential relationship in the future. I doubt that you will remain with me if you learn the extent of my depravity. I know that my beast, my sin, will only be eradicated when it is brought into the light. But I feel like there is no one to flip the switch. Will anyone let this harlot confess?