Chapter 1: Two Stories and the Greatest Regret of My Life

The first story starts at an eight-grade birthday party for a close friend of mine. She was one of those girls who everyone knew and loved so we expected a massive turn out but we all underestimated exactly how massive. I thought it was going to be a night to remember but it turned out to be a night I would never forget.

The week before the party almost every conversation in school revolved around some aspect of that Saturday night. It was one of those weird transitional times before high-school where some people were thinking clowns, cakes, and presents while others were thinking loud music, alcohol and no parental units.  As all teenage gossip goes, the conversations started off in reasonable reality but after several days of circulation, there was some absolutely mind blowing rumors going around. My favorite and the one I’ve held on too all these years was that Nelly (the rapper) had been hired to come in and do a private concert. It kind of seemed realistic because her family’s massive amount of wealth was no secret but sadly, Nelly didn’t have time to come off his ‘Country Grammar’ tour and grace us with his presence.

Everyone spent the week strategizing how to get to the party with the primary goal of eliminating as much parental involvement as possible. My friend’s older brother was in high-school and was going to the party so seven of us crammed into his car. We all told our parents we were spending the night with someone else to eliminate any curfew accountability and acquire as much freedom as possible. To our surprise, our planned worked great.

I remember pulling up to the driveway and seeing a huge sign and what looked like a thousand balloons attached to it, pointing us towards the house. The driveway seemed like it was miles long although I know it wasn’t. To this day, I don’t remember having more anticipation or expectation of an event. It seems dramatic now but then it was the real deal. We finally pulled up to the house and that was one rumor that turned out to be true. The house was epic.

We were a little late but there were already hundreds of people there. Basically, the entire school showed up. There seemed to be some presence of adults but we all quickly realized there weren’t enough to handle the crowd and it was obvious they really didn’t care what was going on.

The thought of clowns and cake instantly disappeared into what seemed like our distant childhood. I can’t really explain it but when we walked into that house the expectation of that night quickly became about ‘crossing lines’. Tons of people brought alcohol but not knowing how the party was going to go they hid it outside so we spent the whole night walking in and out. Despite being no adult supervision at all we still operated like secret agents trying to accomplish a secret mission. For many of us, that was the first “real” party we had ever been to and we were loving every second of it. As the night, progressed people became more and more relaxed. What little supervision was there, in the beginning, was nowhere to be found an hour or two in. Even though Nelly didn’t make it, it slowly started living up to the expectation created the week before.

Eventually, the group of guys I came with started hanging out with a group of girls from school who pulled off the same game-plan we did with their parents. At some point, we decided to explore the giant house so we quietly made an exit.

One of the girls was an ex-girlfriend I ‘dated’ in seventh-grade. Dating then meant making out in the halls at school when no one was looking, talking on the phone WAY too much and the occasional date night with her mom as our escort. Even though we ended things we still talked a lot, flirted most of the time and occasionally made out if the opportunity presented itself.

We naturally paired up together as did others in our little exploration group. At some point, we decided to sneak away from everyone else. The house was huge so it was an easy task. We found ourselves in an area of the house so far away from the party we could barely hear the music anymore. We walked into this room covered in paintings and it looked like it was an office of some sort but there was a bed to the right of the room against the wall. When we walked in she said she was tired of walking so she went to the bed. I was looking at the paintings, pretending to still be interested in our exploration and tried not to let on to the fact that I was very much aware there was a hot girl laying down on the bed behind me. After a few minutes of acting like I actually knew something about art, I joined her on the bed.

I don’t remember how long we laid there or the conversation we had leading up to the moment that changed my life forever but at some point, she asked, “Is the door locked?” I responded with, “No, but I’ll lock it.”

Those were the last words we said to each other that night. I got up, locked the door, turned off the lights and returned to the bed.

I don’t think either one of us planned on having sex with each other that night. Even at the moment, I think we both knew we were about to cross some lines but weren’t expecting to go all the way.

Afterward, we laid there for a few minutes together. She didn’t say anything and neither did I. I’m not sure we knew what to say. She didn’t cry at the moment but I could tell she wanted to. If I’m honest with myself, my emotions were similar. I didn’t want to cry but the emotional aftermath wasn’t a positive one. There was a level of guilt there that I couldn’t explain. I don’t really know if I could put into words how I felt but I did know one thing immediately; it just felt like a mistake. Although at the time I didn’t realize how big of a mistake it really was.

An hour before we were laughing, cracking jokes, flirting with each other, and having fun. Now in what seemed like an instant I really didn’t want to be near her. It was awkward and the atmosphere was weird. Then I couldn’t tell you what it was, but now looking back, the best word I could use to describe the way I felt was, ‘emptiness’.

We laid there for a while but never spoke. Eventually, we heard people out in the hall so we quickly and quietly got dressed and made our way back to the party. Once we were back around people we both tried to get back to normal but we just couldn’t. Within a few minutes, she hugged me and left the party. I found out later she called her mom to come pick her up.

It was about a week before we talked about it. We both highly regretted it. Our friendship was never the same and eventually, we just avoided each other.

It took several months but slowly I sort of forgot how empty I felt that night and the days that followed. I eventually had sex again. The aftermath following the second time wasn’t as bad as the first. The third time was even easier. Over time sex became a common and even expected part of my high school relationships.

That reality led to one of my life’s greatest regrets.

The second story begins, on a Saturday night, with me and my buddy picking up two girls for what turned out to be one of the best nights of my entire life.

Well, it actually started the week before. It was sophomore year of college and I was sitting in the student union eating a late dinner with some friends when two girls walked in.

I sat next to one of the girls in my Ethics class and we paired up together several times to debate other people on ‘hot topics’. Through that process, we sort of started tossing around the idea of ‘seeing’ each other outside of class.  So, when they walked in I took the opportunity to ask her out on a double date. She accepted the invitation and the other girl who was with her got pulled into going.

So, the next Saturday night we were pulling in to pick them up and I noticed a beautiful girl with long brown hair walking in front of us. I wish I could tell you the first thing I noticed was her personality or beautiful smile but “unfortunately” she was walking away from us so it was something else that caught my attention. I was so impressed with her ‘walk’ I made the joke to my friend, “I’m thinking about ditching this date and asking her out.”

We parked and got out of the car. I kept my eyes on the brown headed girl and was pleasantly surprised when she turned around, made eye contact with me, smiled and started walking in our direction. Fortunately, I was just as attracted to the front of her as I was to the back of her. But there was something different about her. To this day, I remember the smell of her perfume when she came closer but what stuck out to me the most was her big brown eyes and beautiful smile. I couldn’t help myself; I was instantly attracted to her.

But her first sentence sort of ruined my night.

“Hey! I’m Courtney. So, what are we doing tonight?”

My heart sank a little when I came to the realization this beautiful girl I was instantly infatuated with was my friend’s date.

A few minutes later we were all in the car headed to the restaurant and despite me really trying, I couldn’t keep my focus off of Courtney. No matter how hard I tried, I kept asking her questions and talking way more with her than my date. By the time, we were eating it had become awkward for the other two because of the connection we had with one another. At some point, my friend text me and asked, “Did you just steal my date?” I nodded with a smile.

After dinner, we were on the way back to drop them off. I drove slow, not wanting the night to end and started talking them into doing something else. The Appalachian Mountains were close and there was one mountain with a huge flat rock face at the top you could build fires on and hang out, so we decided to make it an adventure.

Once we were up there Courtney and I laid on top of the mountain, watched the stars and talked until the sun started coming up. If I’m honest with myself, I fell in love with her that night although it was a long time before I acknowledged it.

Long story, short.

I started dating her.

I fell in love with her.

I married her.

But at some point, between, “I fell in love with her” and “I married her”, I had to have one of the hardest conversations of my life. I had to tell her she wasn’t going to be my first.

The greatest regret in my life is that the girl in the first story and the girl in the second story isn’t the same girl. My greatest regret is I had to look the love of my life in the eyes and tell her I didn’t wait on her even though she waited on me. My regret is I didn’t get to experience ‘making love’ for the first time with the woman I truly loved for the first time.

I would give anything in the world to go back and do things differently.

But I can’t.

I wish I knew then what I know now.

But I didn’t.

I wish I knew when I was younger that God had such an amazing design for our lives, for love, for sex, for dating and marriage. I wish someone had communicated to me the absolutely, out of this world blessing that exists inside God’s perfect design for sex.

But no one ever did.

And here is why.

The Problem with the Culture and The Even Bigger Problem with the Church

I didn’t really grow up in the church. I was almost seventeen when I started following Jesus. My mom raised my sister and me to the best of her ability but for the most part, I learned about life daily from the surrounding culture.

My normal became what culture said was normal.

For millennials, our sex education in school felt like we were watching a Disney movie. We are truly the “American Pie” generation who learned about sexuality from R-rated movies, MTV, and the internet.

Growing up we all watched movies our parents couldn’t believe was legal. We spent our afternoons with Carson Daily, watching rappers, rockers, and pop stars push the limits of sexuality every day. Remember the “Thong Song”? Absolutely amazing and almost poetic lyrics,

“I like it when the beat goes da na da na / Baby make your booty go da na da na / Girl, I know you wanna show da na da na / That thong thong thong thong thong”

We found the shelves near every cash register in America filled with semi-nude magazine covers of our favorite famous people. Our jaws dropped as we watched pop-stars’ strip on live TV during halftime shows and award shows.

Sex and the City pretty much redefined sex on T.V. and taught the female half of our generation a lot about real life

Guys, Remember the whipped cream from the original ‘Varsity Blues’? Or the ‘foreign’ girl from American Pie? Don’t act like you don’t.

Hollywood always found a way to blow our extremely formative minds with the next ‘sexiest thing’ and we ate it up and loved every second of it. They were always pushing the boundaries eventually leaving us desensitized and almost un-shockable.

The end result was sex became just sex. There are no rules for it. As long as it’s consensual and ‘safe’ you should be having sex. It’s normal. It’s just a thing. It’s no big deal. There are no boundaries. We should all start having sex as soon as possible so we can get good at it, so we can all experience one of those, ‘Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams passionate making love against a wall after we made out it in the rain moments.’ Sex just became sex. Nothing more. Nothing less.

But sex was created for a much higher place in our hearts then where culture has placed it.

Our modern American society has two distinct perspectives on values and products; top-shelf and bottom-shelf. Top-shelf describes a product of the highest quality. There are certain brand names across the board that just scream, “top-shelf”, so we pay more for it, value it more, respect it more and are proud of it.

For years, ‘Cadillac’, was the premiere top-shelf vehicle. Everyone knew what a Cadillac was and it almost became a symbol of success in the eyes of many. It was top-shelf. Something to be valued. Something to be respected.  Top-shelf products just cost more money than everything else because, in our minds, they are more valuable.

But in recent years, many industries have started taking top-shelf products and eliminating what makes them so valuable. Then they repackage them to look similar to the original, cut the price in half and position them on the bottom shelf.

Culture has done this to sex. It has taken something it didn’t create, eliminated what made it so amazing, repackaged it to fit their world-view and presented it to society. Over the past few decades’ sex has been removed from the top-shelf of our minds where God created it to be, to the lowest possible place in our culture.

But what’s the problem?

The problem is the culture only shows us an illusion of what sex really is. It has made sex common but sex isn’t common. It has portrayed sex as almost a hobby with no consequences but that isn’t the case. Sex is so much more than an activity two people engage in to pass the time.

Sex is a great thing but it is an emotionally powerful thing which is something the culture chooses not to acknowledge.

Let me explain it like this:

One of the most relaxing things in my life is sitting in front of a good fire in the fireplace at my house. The smell of the wood burning, the heat and even just the way a fire looks is mesmerizing. Throw in a good glass of red wine and the stress of even the worst day simply fades away. It adds warmth to our house and to our lives. It just feels good.

But if I took that same fire and moved it from the fireplace to the middle of my living room the entire situation dramatically changes. It is no longer a great experience bringing joy, peace, and relaxation but is now bringing devastation, destruction and pain.

Sex is the same way. Sex was created by God and when sex is experienced in the context God intended it to be, then the experience brings intimacy, love, passion, excitement, joy, peace, relaxation and satisfaction. But like a fire burning outside the fireplace, when sex is experienced outside the intentions of God, it brings guilt, anxiety, emotional wounds, and many times utter chaos.

This is the part of sex, the culture continually chooses to ignore and hardly ever portrays in it’s sex ed. plan.

But the culture screaming its views on sex isn’t actually the issue.

The greatest problem isn’t the volume of the culture but rather the silence of the Church.

It is obvious the culture has highly influenced the last few generations in a negative way concerning sex but the culture can’t be blamed. The culture just reflects the views of the day. The culture is not doing anything wrong or breaking any rules when it communicates ideas. People can argue if they like but for the most part ‘culture’ is simply a reflection of what the majority of one generation thinks about a subject. To an extent, it’s a reflection of what is natural and desired. No, culture isn’t to blame.

But the Church is.

I don’t know why and I don’t know when but at some point the majority of the organized ‘Big C’ Church decided the best course of action concerning sex was to remain silent about it. Or if forced to discuss it, the Church would simply treat it as if sex in itself is wrong, scary or dangerous.

The Church sort of took the same approach to communicating sex as the great philosopher Coach Carr from the movie, ‘Mean Girls’…

“Don’t have sex, because you will get pregnant and die! Don’t have sex in the missionary position, don’t have sex standing up, just don’t do it, OK, promise? OK, now everybody takes some rubbers…At your age, you’re going to have a lot of urges. You’re going to want to take off your clothes and touch each other. But if you do touch each other, you WILL get chlamydia…and die.”

OK, maybe it wasn’t that dramatic but it wasn’t far off. The Church’s stance on sex was, “Don’t do it and don’t talk about it.” But when they did talk about it, it was always so negative. I guess I can’t speak for everyone but this is basically the only message communicated to me from the religious section of modern America;

“Sex is dirty, filthy, evil, and wrong so save it for marriage!”

The way the majority of modern churches treat sex is just one example, exposing one of the greatest problems in the American Church; it highly over-communicates what its against and grossly under-communicates what its for.

The reality is, what little lines of communication the church did have, none of them ever communicated the amazing purpose of sex, the great gift from God it really is, or how awesome He designed sex to be in his perfect plan. For clarity, there is a perfect plan and no matter who you are or what your past is you can still experience it. I promise. But we will come back to that later.

The truth is the majority of people didn’t have a shot to even hear an alternate view on sex than the one the culture portrayed so loudly for us.

The church had the secret recipe for an amazing sex life that truly supersedes anything the culture has ever thrown out there but no one heard it.

My heart behind this book is to start the process of righting that wrong. Sex is a beautiful thing designed for our enjoyment and pleasure in mind. The goal is to take sex off the bottom shelf of culture and place it back on the top-shelf of our minds where God intended it to be.

It doesn’t matter if you go to church or not. It doesn’t matter if you consider yourself a Christian or label yourself as non-religious or even call yourself an atheist, I promise, you will want to read the rest of this book. Because it’s an uncensored look at the perfect plan God created for sex, the hidden consequences we have all faced from sex outside of God’s design and a detailed look into the amazing, unlimited benefits of sex God’s way.