I do have to give my church a lot of credit in this area. In our youth fellowship group, which met on Sunday evenings, each session was devoted to a topic according to a schedule we had all agreed on at the beginning of the school year. One evening it would be "capital punishment", another would be "hunting", some other time it would be "drinking", "parents", or whatever. And every year we would of course include sex.

I think I was 13 when the youth leader decided to really do it right. He gave a talk on sex, then we were separated into boys' and girls' groups to ask questions, then back together for a general discussion. I don't think I will ever forget what happened in the boys group that night. One kid asked, "What's fellatio?", so the youth leader told us. I had never heard the word so I was curious too. But when he described it and all the boys were disgusted and said "Ewwwwwwwwwwwwww, gross", and other such things, I felt totally humiliated, rejected and shamed. I had been doing that for years, of course, and I knew that after fellowship I would be doing it again, like I did every Sunday after fellowship. It was part of my routine, and now I get reminded how different and alone I was.

I know this is veering off topic, but I think it's useful to notice that how we feel about such things can get real complicated if we try to view the religious, sexual and abuse aspects all at once. Maybe we will get a better perspective is we keep them separate.

For instance, it helps me as a spiritual guy to see, and accept, that my church - as the church - was actually very progressive for that time and in touch with my concerns as a teenager. It was abuse and the abuser who messed things up and created all the distortions and confusion I still feel in this area.

I know, however, that this would not apply in your own case. It's dismaying to see such an important force in people's lives insist on being the source of such unnecessary harm.

Much love,

Nobody living can ever stop me
As I go walking my freedom highway.
Nobody living can make me turn back:
This land was made for you and me.
(Woody Guthrie)