An unhappy fourteen year old. I had long since decided that Christianity was not The Truth for me as it was for my elder sister. I didn't know what, if anything, "god" was. I found The Bible to be great stories, but no real spiritual significance to me. The rules and laws detailed within meant nothing to me.

For years I'd known that the wait until marriage concept was not one I would follow. I simply did not see the point. My body was mine to do with as I pleased, and no one was going to condemn me for it. My mother had always raised me to think for myself, in all things. Including my sexuality. Granted, she hoped I would wait until I was more emotionally mature before having sex with anyone, but she wasn't going to try to forbid me from doing what I wished.

Eighth grade, my best friend Erica introduced me to one of her childhood friends - the only real friend she had from her Catholic grade school days. Chris. He was beautiful and strong. I first met him on the phone - talking for 12 hours at a stretch - his voice was completely captivating. Plans were made for an in-person date - going to the movies with Erica and her new boyfriend. Things started moving faster than I now think they should have - into overdrive, it seems, as less than a week later I had sex for the first time.

I felt so guilty. Chris did nothing to make me feel worse - only tried to make me feel better. But I felt so guilty for having sex that I took a razor blade and slashed the palm of my hand 13 times. (I would surmise that my guilt was more for the fact we did not use protection when we had sex, than for the sex itself.) Nonetheless, we continued having sex. After the first 3 times, I no longer felt guilty - I realized that this was enjoyable, and I had no reason to feel ashamed because of it. Chris did not treat me like a slut, like I was worthless, or anything else.

I was not anywhere close to be emotionally mature enough to deal with the upheavals that having sex causes, and - looking back - probably should have waited another couple of years.

I did not have sex again until I was 16, and then it was with female. My emotions had grown, and I was much more able to deal with the ramifications of sexual activity.

Since then, I have had several partners - and I have never again felt shame at my sexual actions. I discovered what The Truth is for me when I was 15 years old, and part of it was that I should never feel shame at my body, or at my sexual nature. Sex is a celebration of life, love, and joy when it is between consenting partners.

I am married now - and my husband knows my entire past sexual history. He in no way condemns me for it, nor will he ever. I know his history, and while it is smaller than mine, it matters not at all to me. He and I did not wait until marriage, and neither of us regret that. Each time we were together - both before marriage and now - we were giving each other the gift of our bodies and the most profound expression of our love that we could.

And when we have children, they will be taught that sex is a wonderful thing, but that they need to be sure they are emotionally, mentally, and physically ready before they begin to explore a sexual relationship with another. If they wish to wait until marriage, fine. If not, fine. My children will grow up with the knowledge that they are free to explore their sexuality, with no condemnation from their parents.