5 Insane Lessons from My Christian Fundamentalist Childhood

#2. We Don't Date -- We Court

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Here's the rough diagram of Quiverfull's holiness scale for romantic relationships: You've got arranged marriage as obviously the least sinful solution, and then there's betrothal, common among the more firmly devout. If you think you're more "prone to temptation," you might have a brief, chaste "courtship" before getting engaged and married -- three months of courting or less is considered normal.

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"Nice to meet you! Welp, guess it's time we get to that altar."

The parents usually orchestrate romantic relationships, although in a rare case it might be the young man's idea. If that's the case, he'd better be careful to suggest the idea to her father in such a way that the father thinks it's totally his own idea. The best way is to get the mom on your side before approaching the dad. After all, "the woman is the neck."

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"OK, what's a nice way to say 'I wanna do your daughter, but for Jesus'?"

Generally speaking, at no point before the parents propose the courtship does the woman know anything about this boy's interest. It's entirely possible that the couple won't spend a single hour alone together before their wedding night. And then there's supposed to be a transformation from naive, Disney-caliber virgin to smokin' hot wife, despite the girl having never seen an erect penis before in her life. Heck, she's really lucky if she actually knows how to get herself off before the wedding night!

But of course, the genitals of both parties are treated like proximity mines at all times. Dating is considered just barely preferable to prostitution. After all, you're giving away pieces of your heart to each person you date, and you'll never get those back -- and then you won't be able to give your spouse your whole heart on your wedding night. And right about now, you're mentally casting all of these roles with 18th century peasants. But remember, this is not in a walled-off commune somewhere. We're talking about teenagers in the United States in an era with the Internet and smartphones. There are dicks everywhere -- you've probably seen 10 today. There's probably one flopping around somewhere in your peripheral vision right now, and yet the normal-seeming girl across from you (yeah, that one wearing the "purity ring") while you're reading this in class may have absolutely no idea what a dong looks like. Despite the fact that she's about to be engaged.

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... pretty much, right?

#1. Sex Is Worse Than Drug Addiction

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Male masturbation is treated like a D.A.R.E. class treats heroin addiction. If you do it at all, even once, you're considered an "addict." Or you probably think you invented a new sin. So all the little Quiverfull boys essentially grow up and go into marriage believing that they're sex addicts or perverts. It's worse for women, because the slim sex education we girls get never even addresses the concept of female masturbation or orgasm. We just talk about periods and babies. This is the closest to sex-positive most of our educational material ever got:

"Masturbation isn't a filthy habit that makes people dirty. It only reveals the dirt that's already in our hearts."

That reads like something a serial killer would scrawl in blood in a Denzel Washington thriller, but nope -- that's your sex ed.

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And shame is your birth control.

Marital rape is like unicorns and hoverboards: It doesn't exist. Rape is generally the fault of the woman. My friend, the same one who had her novel burned, wound up hiding her online social life out of fear of having that taken away from her, too. Eventually she met some guy in a chat room, things got serious, she met up with him, and he raped her. When she went to her parents, their first reaction was to accuse her of lying. They did eventually take her to the cops, but only so she could sign a statement recanting this whole "rape" claim officially. I wrote up that whole story here, if you'd like to test whether enough impotent rage can make your hair spontaneously combust.

Our sex education isn't even particularly good once you get pregnant, even though that's ostensibly our only reason for existing. Apparently labor pain exists for my spiritual benefit.

Recovering Grace

Thanks, God! Did us all a real solid on that one, buddy. Stretch marks and distended uteri are totally not signs of physical destruction!

For more facts you'll wish you didn't know, check out 16 Shocking Statistics You'll Wish Were Made Up.

Related Reading: Cracked's also taken a look inside the hidden 'troubled teen' industry and spilled it's ugly secrets. We talked to an escaped Scientologist and even a former prostitute. Also; we talked to a prison guard. Got a story to share with Cracked? Message us here.

Hannah Ettinger has a website, and also runs a magazine for survivors of fundamentalist homeschooling, The Swan Children which just launched a new issue and she reviews young adult literature on her Youtube channel.

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