Yesterday, one of my friends celebrated their birthday so we drove up to Birmingham to eat out at a restaurant. It was a fun evening, we had a lot of laughs, and on the drive back down we began talking about why so many young people who are Christians end up having sex before marriage. So apparently, everyone’s singing the Hallelujah chorus in church on Saturday morning’s, and then grabbing their significant others and getting their groove on on Saturday night. Houston, we have a problem. The big deal is that… everyone pretends that they don’t. Or at least I’m not hearing about it from them.
Now, these people aren’t necessarily the dubious church goers who sit at the back playing Temple Run during the sermon, or who take two trips to the front at Communion so that they can get extra bread – nope, they’re people who seem to be generally committed to their faith, engage with church activities and are presumably genuine. Seeing as lots of people are doing it, why is no one really talking about it?
I think it might be because as a church or a faith in general, we’ve put far too high a value on virginity, and people are scared of how much they will be judged.This might sound crazy, but I genuinely feel that if I went out getting drunk every Saturday night, or was a pathological liar, I would probably feel a lot more ‘holy’ than if I lost my virginity once and then never had sex again. Now, my relationship with God would still be damaged by lying, or shoplifting, etc, but I think the rest of Christendom see pathological lying as a fairly minor misdemeanour in comparison to me losing my virginity. That scares me that I even think that could possibly be true, even it’s not the actual reality.
Not only that, but I think if I was a guy, it honestly wouldn’t be that much of a big deal. Many Christian men say they want to marry a virgin, but when I say it, I know deep down in my heart that the chances are pretty slim. It’s just not as important for men to be pure as it is women. Theoretically, we know that God requires it equally of men and women, but practically that’s not what we insinuate to young men and women. We expect men to struggle sexually and eventually give in, and if they hold out till 24 they’ll probably get an extra dollop of stew at church potluck.
I distinctly remember being told somewhere by someone that the most precious gift I can give my husband is my virginity. What? Not my glowing personality or sparkling wit and intelligence? Nope, the fact that I haven’t had penetrative sex. Oh ok, thanks for that. Not only is this deeply sexist, it’s also slightly dehumanising. Not to mention the fact that it’s not biblical. Put it this way – I’m fooling around with a guy, we almost reach the point of no return, but thankfully someone opens the front door and we do the embarrassing scramble for shirts, re arranging sofa cushions etc. Am I still a virgin? Yeh, technically I guess.
Does God place value on virginity? Yes, in the sense that God values obedience to the biblical teaching of abstinence. Is it a beautiful thing to be able to marry someone and both be able to learn together sexually without comparisons of other people invading that space? Certainly. God places a far higher value on purity though. A non-virgin who has a character that seeks to serve others, to be honest, to be kind, to be courageous, to deal with lust that threatens to taint her mind and not just his/her body has more than a virgin who spends the whole day lusting after other people or watching porn, screwing his/her face at the general public, and knocking over little old ladies in Tescos.
The greatest gift I can give to my future husband isn’t my virginity, although that would be ideal and I’m aiming for that. (not sure about the terminology of ‘give’ and ‘take’, but that’s another post). It’s the fact that I’m generally a pretty cool person, with (I hope), a pretty cool personality, and I love God. And I can climb trees, even in a skirt. And I have a secret love for Country and Western music. And I cook a good chickpea curry. And have this little clicky thing I can do with my pinky fingers…. Ok, so I do definitely do value purity over strange party tricks, climbing trees and curry – but you get my point. We value technical virginity too much and don’t value sexual purity enough. I’m trying to get to the point where I’m just as concerned about what goes on inside my mind as in my body.