Occasionally I thought about my last post and whether it had been totally responsible and whether anyone would be as mad as a snake that I didn't open the combox to cheers and rebuttals. However, there is always my email and I came back to many emails. If I haven't answered yours already, send it again. I deleted a lot of stuff--accidental bank drafts worth half a million pounds and all that sort of thing.
Someone wrote a very intelligent email about my parting remarks about not publicizing your sexual sins. To sum up, she suggested A) that you can use them to warn fellow women and B) that telling a suitor about some murky action or episode in your past was a good way of testing whether or not he is an angry, judgmental type. If he ditches you for your all-too-human sexual peccadilloes--"Begone, Scarlet Woman, fallen spawn of Satan!"--that just goes to show you're better off without him.
Well, maybe. I think there are safer and faster ways of determining if a man is an angry, judgmental type than telling him your deepest, darkest secrets. And also there are some very good people, very good and gentle people, who just cannot handle your deepest, darkest secrets and so it is best that you not burden them with them unless or until you absolutely have to, e.g. your dearest friend come weeping to you about something terrible she or he did that you have done, too. Oh, and to foil the machinations of blackmailers.
This is a nasty world, and even (or especially) religious enemies will try to take you down via your sex life, real or imagined. I will not dignify (or endanger) him with a link, but one of our brothers in Christ, who condemned me as a feminist heretic in trad's clothing, salivated over my blog, looking for clues that Auntie S is not as pure as the driven snow. He published his excited suspicions on his soi-disant Catholic blog. I was pretty mad, but I would have been a lot madder had I not a husband and at least one brother who now wants to go to his house and thump him.
Here is my response to your fellow reader:
Your past is your past. You own it, and you can tell people about it or not as you choose. Many women, however, think they owe the world--or men they date--complete access to their past in a spirit of "keeping it real." So first of all, I am trying to encourage young women to keep what is theirs, theirs.
Second, people do judge us on our past sins, even sincere Christians who know they shouldn't judge. (The world judges mercilessly.) We have no control over what people choose to do with the information we give them, or how they feel about us once they have it. [So we really do have to be careful.]
Third, men are extremely visual, and many (most?) of them have a hair-trigger sexual imagination. They simply do not like to imagine their sweethearts with other men, but they almost can't help it, if they are told about it. This is too bad, and I hope they can get over this without at the same time losing their instinctual protectiveness for women they admire. I think "getting over it" most probable in a man who has discovered himself head-over-heels in love with a woman and couldn't care less what she has done in the past, as long as she loves him back.
Fourth, this tendency of being disturbed by the idea of women-one-knows as sexual sinner is going to be most likely among religiously conservative men, especially if they grow up fearing and resenting sexual sin. Pro-lifer activists I have met have been like that, probably because sexual sin leads so often to ab*rti*n. I have never forgotten an otherwise very sweet pro-life teenage colleague, who adored both his mother and his sister, saying to me, "There's a difference between a slut and a Sunday School teacher."
Fifth, I firmly believe men take their cues about a woman from other men. Men who hear Sally-Sue say "Men use me and dump me" are most likely to conclude (if only subconsciously) "Sally-Sue is the kind of woman we use and dump." But men who hear Sally-Sue say "Men treat me like a princess; they're so nice to me!" are most likely to conclude, "Sally-Sue is the kind of woman we compete for."
For all these reasons, I think it is dangerous for a Single woman--and possibly a married woman, too--to use episodes of sexual sin from her life as a teaching method. It strikes me that it would be much safer if she were to write a novel about it. My guess is that many a truth-embracing novel has inspired women not to make the same mistakes as the heroine. Heck, I have never touched cocaine because of a character who died the first time she tried it in the Sweet Valley High stories.
There are safer ways to test whether or not a man is a judgmental son-of-a-gun. [Just listen to how he talks about others, particularly women.] And, of course, the longer you know a man, the more likely he is to see you as you and not as his image of you-- angel, feminist, devil, or whomever--so the longer a woman can hold off sharing the darker spots of her past the better.
And this might indeed take discipline because for whatever reason, many women seem to want to confess to the men they love, either to test the bounds of their unconditional love (which I am not sure men have for their wives, anyway--their mothers, yes), or to feel "forgiven." However, only God can give that kind of all-healing forgiveness; we cannot find it in men.
I hope this is a helpful explanation of my "don't tell" policy!
Grace and peace,Seraphic