Let’s talk about sex. More specifically, let’s talk about virginity. In all 26 years of my life,I have come to realise people have a very weird obsession with virginity….and I’ve seen this in my life as well.
Here’s my problem…..my first problem.
Upon making the admission that l am still a virgin, I’m more often then not met with the “but you’re so pretty,” in a sweet, comforting tone and I’m always left thinking,“what’s with the ‘but’? Who was arguing with you?.” However, there is always someone jumping in to assure me that I am not one of those “ugly” virgins and that it was better than the thinly veiled variations of, “So what’s wrong with you?”. If I wasn’t already thinking of sexual experience as a litmus test for attractiveness, I certainly was any time someone rushed in to let my hymen and I know we were still pretty. Because that’s what it seems having sex is all about for us; either a means to validate our physical attractiveness, a means of taking the relationship to the next level, being in love or a simple recreational activity. This school of thought always leaves me with a sour taste in my mouth only because people will judge you and assume there is something wrong with you based on whether you are a virgin or not.
Let’s move in to my second problem.
Within the Christian community virginity is an ever hot topic, also a very emotional talking point for many and the advice is different depending if you are a guy or girl. A guy told me that from the age of 16, the church gave him advice on choosing a women to marry, the advice was something like this,”whatever you do Josh, make sure you marry a virgin.” This was something that I’ve heard a lot of church leaders tell guys when it comes to choosing a wife. I also remember in a church setting when I was young, we were all told that if we gave away our virginity, the best we could hope for was God’s forgiveness and a type of secondhand, “restored virginity.” No doubt, we all knew that “restored virginity” was just a cheap imitation of the real thing. We saw the pastor get up and glue two construction paper hearts together, let them dry, and then tear them apart.”Once you become one with another person,” the pastor gravely said, “it can’t be undone. There will always be a deep, physical and spiritual bond between those two hearts.” Its like that rose illustration that I’m sure we’ve all heard! Its where a flower is passed around a room, going from hand to hand, until the speaker can’t hold it up, all bent and twisted, and ask with a knowing grin, “Who would want a rose like this?” The teens look and say, “I would never want a rose like that.” But then there are the few who silently look away and weep because they are that rose. They learn they have been spoiled, that their beauty has been given away.
Forgetting that Jesus wants the rose!
Let’s stop here and discuss.
For the virgins, messages like these naturally engendered a type of spiritual pride (I admit,I’ve been guilty of this). We could sport our promise rings and inwardly boast that we had successfully resisted having intercourse (though, let’s face it, oftentimes it was due to fear or the lack of opportunity). I guess what I’m saying is that the choice is generated by fear of doing something wrong, rather than conviction by the Word of God.
But for the non-virgins, it tended to invoke shame, leaving them with one of two options: hide their sexual sins; or share their sins as part of their salvation/rededication story. For the female non-virgins in particular, hiding was usually the best option. The problem with female non-virgins going public with their sexual sins was that they ran the risk of being seen as damaged goods — I mean, if true love really did wait, then it was impossible for them to truly love the man who would be their husband. Apparently, they had already given away the truest expression of their love. So the best they could hope for was an understanding non-virgin or a “sexually pure” man who was very, very forgiving. For these women, the message was clear: God can forgive you, but you will be sexually disfigured for the rest of your life. Too bad. You shouldn’t have had sex with someone who wasn’t your husband.
Now, the message for the male non-virgins is not the same. They didn’t seem to have to be quite as ashamed of themselves. They often talked quite frankly and openly about their sexual histories when giving their “testimonies” —especially if they were talking with other guys. In fact, if you didn’t know better, you might get the impression that they were even bragging about what they had done. But for some reason, these guys weren’t disqualified as marriage material — no way. It was actually endearing that these worldly men had made such a brave decision to walk away from the lusts of their flesh. You. Go. Boys.
Both these schools of thought are very upsetting.
Putting aside the sexual inequalities that infected our approach to virginity, the most troubling aspect was the fact that it perpetuated a lie: that is, you can achieve sexual purity by completely external behaviour; you can increase your worth by what you do. This is the biggest lie ever. This is why we have Christians asking the age old question of “how much can I get away with and still be saved”. Because as long as there is no penetration it’s ok, as long as its kept ‘clean’ its not that bad,forgetting that we are admonished to purity. Purity in actions,in thought life, not just whether there is penetration or not. So much self righteousness!
This is not the Gospel.
As Tim Keller says when teaching on the self-righteous older brother from the Prodigal Son story,”Jesus did not only come to save us from our sin; He came to save us from our righteousness.” And anytime we think we can do something (or abstain from doing something) and increase our righteousness, we have put our deeds on par with the saving blood of Jesus.
The same is true anytime we think our righteousness decreases because of our deeds. Remember, Jesus “saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to His own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit” (Titus 3:5, ESV). And therefore, “you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9, ESV).
If you’re a Christian virgin, you are no more righteous than anyone else (regardless of how long you’ve been wearing that promise ring). And if you’re not a virgin, you are no less righteous than anyone else — the only thing that makes you righteous is faith in the perfect blood of Jesus. Whatever you did (or didn’t do) in the past simply isn’t part of the Christian equation when it comes to your worth, so you can go ahead and stop obsessing over your virginity now.
I think the church should be teaching sex and purity in this way…..its a way that’s made sense to me as a 26 year old. Firstly, because as believers, we are to obey what God tells us to do. First Corinthians 6: 18-20 states, “Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a person commits are outside the body, but whoever sins sexually, sins against their own body. Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honour God with your bodies.”
The second reason is similar. First Thessalonians 4:3-7 says, “It is God’s will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; that each of you should learn to control your own body in a way that is holy and honorable, not in passionate lust like the pagans, who do not know God; and that in this matter no one should wrong or take advantage of a brother or sister. The Lord will punish all those who commit such sins, as we told you and warned you before. For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life.”
The final reason is somewhat more practical. Paul talked of the “mystery” of marriage (Ephesians 5:31). When God spoke of two people being joined as one, He was referring to something we’re only beginning to understand in a real, physiological way. When two people are intimate, the hypothalamus releases chemicals that induce feelings of attachment and trust. Having sex outside of marriage means allowing your body to attach to and trust someone whom you do not have a committed relationship with. The definition of trust in the mind deteriorates. To have that kind of link with someone without the security of being in the state of working together toward God is dangerous. Two individuals who are—even mildly—physiologically obsessed with each other but not committed to growing in God as a couple can be torn apart from God and His plans for them. Conversely, if two people make a conscious,deliberate choice to commit, and then allow the intimacy that releases these chemicals, the body can reaffirm the connection the mind has made. The physiological feelings of trust and attachment are reinforced by the reality of the relationship. In this way, two people become one in a physical way that reflects what God has done spiritually.
I’m not saying that good choices are valueless, nor am I saying that sinful choices have no effect. What I’m saying is that when we allow our choices, good or bad, to become a barometer for our righteousness, we sinfully worship at the throne of our own goodness. But when we worship at the throne of grace, we understand that it is God and God alone who makes us worthy of anything,including a spouse. So basically, ladies our worth is not in whether you are still a virgin or not. Our worth is found in the righteousness of Christ. You can be a virgin but if you are not following the commandments of God then what’s the good in that?