I’ve never met Molly Wizenberg, but I know when she lost her virginity.
Does that seem odd to anyone else?
I told you on Monday that I’ve really been enjoying reading A Homemade Life, which is basically Molly’s memoirs, penned at the ripe old age of thirty. She is such a gifted writer and a natural cook that one can’t help but be delighted by her tales and caught up in the magic of the recipes woven seamlessly into her life. There was just one little issue that made me uncomfortable, and also got me thinking.
Truly, the fact that a New York Times bestselling book of memoirs includes love life scenes means that millions of people beyond myself know about Molly’s first time “doing it,” how many partners she had, and that she had sex before marriage with her husband. It begs the question: Do bloggers share too much?
In our culture, it has become commonplace to share stories with the world that, fifty years ago, would have been scandalous to share even with your best friend. (Just to be clear, Molly does not write explicitly about experiences, but that they happened would have been scandal enough in past decades.) The Internet has allowed us windows into one another’s lives, and so many of us who write in this medium forget, or don’t care, that it is up to us just how wide those windows are thrown open. When it comes to matters of the bedroom, whether under the covers or a quarrel between husband and wife, both intimate situations in different ways, I think we need to hang thicker curtains.
Women certainly have a need to share our stories, and I do believe that we were created with a need for friendship, camaraderie, for others with whom we can discuss the emotional side of life and gain support. Our time in history is like no other in that our support group ranges in the thousands and includes people with whom we don’t actually have a relationship.
Sometimes I find myself wondering if I’ve shared too much online to the exclusion of my friends in real life. My recipe making friend is a good example, as she learned from my blog that my husband got a new job and has been experiencing Crohn’s symptoms lately. It is all too tempting to think of blog readers as a group of friends, and Facebook friends as the inner circle. But when is the inner circle too large?
In A Homemade Life, one chapter in particular gave me food for thought. It’s called “Special Game” and gives insight into Molly Wizenberg’s relationship with her husband, who was her boyfriend at the time:
“Every now and then, Brandon and I like to play a special game. It has no real name, but if I were to give it one, it might be called the “Your Partner Has No Past” game. It goes something like this: whenever one of us mentions a previous boyfriend or girlfriend, the other feigns complete incomprehension.
Molly (breathily): You’re such a good kisser. It’s really amazing, since I was your first kiss.
Brandon: Isn’t it? And you, I have to say, are so good at spooning. It’s kind of crazy how good you are, especially when you’re never done this before.
Quite fun, as you can see. You should really try it, so long as both players are in on the plan. Otherwise, it could get messy.”
I think more than anything else, this story shows how much we all desire to be “the only,” that in some deep place in our soul, it is indelibly written that love should be whole, exclusive, not divided among many lovers over the years. If only more in our culture had the foresight for that before giving heart, soul and body away in premarital sexual relationships. I maintain that it is odd and disordered that so many are so unguarded with their sexual lives, that it is common to share sexual exploits not only with a few close friends, but with anyone. We ought to be surprised and appalled to be brought into someone else’s bedroom. Sadly, all this has lost its shock factor.
Another trouble with sharing so much with the millions is that one really puts themselves out there for criticism. It is as shocking that I would dare to critique Molly’s sexual past as it is that she would so easily share it.
I feel the need to tread lightly here. I cannot and would not say Molly is a sinner, because to commit a sin one needs full knowledge of wrongdoing and full consent. I don’t claim to know either, and even if I did, I am not called to judge. That, thankfully, is not one of the hats for a mother to wear but is reserved for God Himself.
I do believe I can say that she committed a sinful act by having marital relations outside of marriage, whether she realized it or not, and then shared it without remorse with the world. She’s not the first, nor will she be the last. Her story mirrors many, and I use it only to prove a point or two.
I hate to pick on Molly, because she’s a sweet girl, a fabulous writer and a darn good cook. I feel like I’m friends with her after experiencing so many parts of her life through her autobiographical cookbook (and there’s the rub precisely; why do I feel that way about someone I really know very little about, yet so much at the same time?).
However, she’s also giving us all a window into her bedroom without lowering the blinds or bothering with any more than sheer curtains. Like so many, Molly is a product of a culture that teaches children that it’s okay to seek love through physical intercourse, that relationships are semi-permanent at best, and that what God says is archaic and of little consequence in their lives.
Voracious readers like myself often give themselves over to story, and when I read of two people with as much lovely personality as Molly and Brandon, I can’t help but yearn for what they experience. Dangerous, since what they have is based on cultural images of the truth instead of on the Truth Himself. I consider again the boundaries I must draw in what I allow to enter my life: can reading about sin give the devil a foothold in my own life and dull my spiritual senses to the reality of sin, thus bringing me closer to it myself?
Coincidentally, the Special Game chapter ended with that wonderful fennel and Asian pear salad that everyone at my house loves, which Molly and Brandon share from one plate with another little game consisting of “forks, stealth, and the last bite of salad.” My husband and also romantically shared a plate when I served Molly’s recipe…but the 5-year-old had the last bite.
Is it dangerous to share so much personal information with the masses, or has our culture changed the rules? How do you decide when something is sinful for you to read or watch?
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Entered in Theology Thursday.