Christian Men & First Dates
I remember my first kiss. I was 24 and in my first semester of grad school. This was after I had moved to NYC and was still figuring out the whole faith in a new city outside of conservative evangelical bible college. I met him at a Christmas market. He was on his way home from bible study and he recognized a friend from my bible study. They had gone to another bible study together so we all decided to hang out later, as a group. Group dates were the standards for young adult Christian men and women. It helped keep the temptation away. When he asked for my number at the end of the night, I remember him smiling when I dialed my number into his phone.
We went on the best first date I ever had the next week. We met at a Mexican restaurant on the east side, which was kind of a stretch for me coming from the west side, but he had suggested the location and then ice skating at Bryant Park. I hadn’t been ice skating in years and was terrified that I might fall and embarrass myself. But he was kind and respectful and after we were done skating we went to a board game cafe, and then finally a dessert bar. In the end, we were out until 3 a.m. talking and getting to know one another. As I left, I had a really good feeling. He gave me a hug as I got in the cab on the way home–a side hug–the most appropriate hug for Christian men to give on a first date It was two more weeks before we went out again. This time he was cooking dinner for me at his apartment.
The Second Date
We decided to cook dinner and a movie that night, we had spent a fortune on our first date and it was nice just to spend time together outside of our busy lives in grad school. We watched his favorite movie, promising to watch mine on the next date (we never did by the way), and at one point, he leaned over to kiss me. We’re sitting on his bed. I would like to point out here that he was living in student housing and he was literally sharing a studio apartment with a roommate. Something I didn’t even do, but his roommate was out of town that night and we had the place to ourselves.
That night I discovered I really like kissing. Later I’d discover that I really like sex. But this was my first time…well… doing anything.
He kissed me and I panicked. I didn’t know what to do. We were on his bed. We were alone. We were Christians. We both believed in abstinence, so what the hell was I doing?
There are some Christians who don’t believe in kissing or even holding hands until you’re wed. I, of course, did not come from such a rigorous background but I had friends that did growing up so I understood. And I understood what kind of things we were dealing with: the yearnings, the touching, the saving room for Jesus talks.
But this was just kissing. We were fine. We weren’t going to fall into the trap of temptation like that. Both of us were lifelong Christians. I had confidence in us and that he was a perfect gentleman. And he was. Until he wasn’t.
Christian Men & The Perfect Gentlemen Act
We kissed on the second date. On the third date, we didn’t even make it to the restaurant. We liked kissing each other. I liked kissing him.
We continued to go to church on Sundays after Saturdays filled with exploration. I began to feel like a hypocrite.
A month into seeing each other, he was comfortable enough to start touching my breasts. This was fine, but then he started going under the clothes. This was definitely getting into the sinful territory, never mind the positions I found myself kissing him in. But I wanted more. I was embarrassed to admit it, but I wanted more. I don’t know how long I continued like this but I let him get away with far more than I was comfortable with on the account that I had never heard of anyone doing this. I had never had Sex Ed–or at least not real sex ed. I had Christian sex ed and damn purity culture talks.
We continued on. Always with our clothes on. But my boyfriend got bolder each time. And I went with it. He began to put his mouth on me. It shocked me how much I liked it. How much I enjoyed the sensation of my boobs in his mouth and him on top of me. Until one night, we were at my apartment for once. I didn’t have a TV so my laptop had to suffice, and it was soon forgotten anyway as we were on my bed with a whole apartment between us and my roommate.
Looking back now, I really should have known what was going to happen. No, we didn’t have sex, but it was the first time I had ever seen or felt an erection. I noticed it as we were kissing again on my bed, but we continued. I moved to try to ignore it, but then my boyfriend decided to grab my hand and place it on his erection. I was both shocked and curious, so I rubbed him there until he came.
Afterward, he went to the bathroom to clean himself up, but I remained in my room on my bed staring at the wall. What had we just done? Was this a sin? What was even happening? There were so many thoughts racing through my head that I didn’t even notice him come back to my room to tell me he was leaving.
He broke up with me a week later.
The Bible as a Bullshit Guide to Dating
The Bible never mentions dating. It does mention sex, incest, rape, and genocide though. It mentions marriage. All sermons I remember had always emphasized the woman’s role in the marriage: bear children and submit to her husband. It says that first, and then adds that in return husbands will treat them well and be willing to die for them.
What utter bullshit. It’s added in there as if it’s an afterthought. What do women get from this arrangement? What the fuck does “treat well” even mean?
Pastors always tried to use and justify the bible as a guide to dating. But the Christian men I’ve encountered have been entitled and judgemental, dismissive and hypocritical. While my ex-boyfriend got encouraged to be a leader, I was told to submit and be submissive to my future husband. I was told that my choice to not have children was not my decision but my future husband’s.
I haven’t spoken to my ex since that night. He left my apartment and I never saw him again. I did see that he found a new girlfriend that he went on vacation with. Maybe he decided cohabitation was fine as long as they weren’t sleeping together. We never spent the night. Maybe they were having sex?
Looking back, I let him get away with so much. Not just with my body, but I overlooked behaviors that should have been major red flags. I noticed how he treated others, how he tried to make himself big by making others seem small or crazy. I did this because I wanted someone who would continue to want me (or my body at least). I was still convinced I could only date Christian men, so finding another one would be hard for a myriad of reasons that I won’t go into right now.
I should hate him for the innocence he took advantage of. How I imagine that he didn’t truly care about me or how our actions would affect me. How I only understood consent in the context of what I then perceived to be sex. But it’s not beneficial in any way. This was a lesson learned. He was a lesson learned. Just like every man and encounter I write about here. I learned boundaries, things I was comfortable with, what I like, and that consent is necessary for EVERY act.