I realize I am not alone in my situation. Take just about any single, active Mormon male and the odds are pretty high that the only one that has seen him naked recently is his reflection. True, it’s not unheard of for people to abstain from below-the-belt activities for religious, artistic, or moral reasons. Mahatma Ghandi took a vow of celibacy at 37 and stuck by it (as far as we know) until he died. Weezer front man Rivers Cuomo took a vow of celibacy for several years to focus on returning to college and getting his degree from Harvard. Hans Christian Anderson likely never had sex during his life (although in his case, it probably wasn’t for lack of trying). And I took a Vow of Chastity when my dad baptized me when I was eight years old.
Since I had little comprehension of what sex actually was, living the law that said no sexy stuff before marriage (whenever that happens) at eight didn’t seem to be all that insurmountable. Fast forward nineteen years and I occasionally want to go back and have a frank conversation with my eight year old self to let him know what he is getting into.
To be fair, the Law of Chastity is not that hard to obey, 99%….95%….a solid 90% of the time. There is work, hanging out with friends, reading, writing, music to lead the mind to other, less naked, things. The fact that you aren’t having sex isn’t all that bad; what makes the situation maddening is the realization that you won’t have any intimate physical contact with anyone…for…a…long…time.
That 10% of the time does strange things to a man.
You find yourself flipping through the channels and lingering on Ultimate Fighting on SpikeTV. (“Well that hold should be barred.”) You realize you are completely ignoring what the male model is saying in the casting session. (“How interesting that he is wearing a sleeveless shirt in 30 degree weather.”) You creep yourself out a little bit by how much you enjoy getting your hair washed after a cut. (“Why yes, Sean, I would like conditioner.”) You lay awake, unable to sleep for several hours in the middle of the night. (Censored.) There are times when the world is one big Abercrombie and Fitch catalog and you’re stuck with the Wal-Mart circular.
Stupid unflattering Wal-Mart jeans.
Even when I’m heading into work with only four hours of sleep. Even when I sit staring at a blinking cursor because other influences have taken my concentration hostage. Even when I have to angrily sing “He is a Child of God…,” to keep my thoughts about the guy who works in the building across the parking lot from getting out of hand. Even then, I believe in the Law of Chastity, although a hormonal surge can cloud my judgment. (“Why, who knew there would be so many shirtless joggers in the park?”) I still believe sex is sacred and I still believe that the physical is only a part of life (and not the most important part at that). I know that even after the frank conversation, my eight-year-old self would still decide to get baptized and take the Vow (although he’ll likely develop a phobia of time-traveling future versions of himself with age-inappropriate conversation topics). It seems, Rivers, Mahatma, and Hans, that I’m in your incredibly unsexy club.
Now, if we could just get Diesel models to cater our meetings….