Twenty, Married, and Still a Virgin

Growing up an evangelical kept me chaste well into my marriage

Shannon Ashley
Human Parts
Published in
12 min readJul 16, 2018

--

Photo by Matthew Henry on Unsplash

MMany, many years ago, I was a married woman. It’s been more than 15 years since my wedding day and, in hindsight, yes, I really should have called the whole thing off. But let’s get real — 20-year-olds aren’t exactly known for their wealth of wisdom.

I met my now ex-husband when I was 19, through some college acquaintances. When I first saw J, he was playing bass on stage at a Christian cafe in Southwestern Illinois. He was in a band that was slowly gaining traction in the St. Louis punk scene, and most of the members were my classmates at a Christian liberal arts college.

As I watched him play, the very first thought I had was, “I wonder what kind of girl he’s going to marry.” I felt a spark, rare for me, and it turns out I’m a sucker for those.

When I arrived at college, I was a fish out of water. The year before, I had been working in Texas, in an internship for a pseudo Christian cult called the Honor Academy. It’s not as if I knew it was a cult when I signed up, or even while I was there. I thought I was a part of a Christian ministry that was changing the world. And that’s all I wanted to do.

During my time in the cult, we had to turn in weekly “accountability cards” on which we answered whether we had obeyed the rules — exercised, adhered to curfew, had our quiet times, acted in all the ways a good Christian is supposed to. Any movies we wanted to watch or outings we wanted to take had to be pre-approved. We were not allowed to see the first X-Men movie when it came out on DVD because of Mystique’s body-paint costume. Secular music was forbidden. Dating was prohibited. The most common reason interns got expelled from the Honor Academy was for conducting inappropriate relationships, either on campus or off (if we happened to visit family at home and kiss someone, for example).

After a full year in that extremely restrained environment, I was pretty damn brainwashed. So you might be able to imagine my mixed feelings when, on my very first night at my new college, I was invited to watch Moulin Rouge. At the time, even watching that film felt very inappropriate. Seriously.

--

--

Shannon Ashley
Human Parts

It's not about being flawless, it's about being honest. Calling out vipers since 2018 🍵 https://ko-fi.com/shannonashley 📧 truthurts.substack.com