The Contemporary Church Undervalues Celibacy / Virginity
I am put off and annoyed by common comments and advice I see by Christians regarding sexual sin.
First, it is assumed by most Christians, including preachers, that other Christians over the age of 25 are having sex, and having lots of it, possibly with many different partners.
This assumption annoys me. I’m in my early 40s, and my virginity is still intact. The fact that someone can remain a virgin past 25 years old seems inconceivable to most Christians. I expect that shoddy, short-sighted attitude from secular culture, but other Christians? What a let down.
Secondly, for all conservative Christianity’s supposed upholding of sexual purity and virginity, I see the opposite in practice and in living these teachings out in real life.
As I addressed in my previous post, many American Christians pay mere lip service to sexual abstinence for all unmarried people, and lay it on extra thick for teens and those up to age 25.
But past age 25, especially past the age of 30, Christians who have still refrained from sex are either ignored (we get no material or sermons encouraging us, no practical help or tips on how to stave off loneliness and so forth, or no ‘patting us on the back’ for a job well done), or we get subjected to odd looks, insults, or put downs from the Christian culture. (One reason for this is that it is assumed we failed because we did not marry and have kids.)
In light of all that, it cannot be said that American Christians are truly committed to virginity or sexual purity. They claim they are, but in practicality, where the rubber meets the road, they are not.
If you cannot support those Christians who are over 35 years old who are celibate, you are not genuinely in favor of the belief that ‘sex is only for marriage,’ because if you were, you’d put your money, time, and effort where your mouth was.
One of my biggest pet peeves revolves around how Christians, especially pastors, address sexual sin. (Click the “more” link to read the rest of this post.)
Any time I watch a pastor address the topic of sexual sin on a television show, magazine article, or in a blog, especially if it’s in response to someone who engaged in sexual sin and wants to know what to do about it, the person is always quite easily absolved of his or her sexual sin.
The preacher or Christian lay person will counsel the one who drifted into sexual sin not to beat him or herself up about it, and to remember that God can and does forgive sexual sin.
Then I hear some Christians talk about “spiritual virginity” or “secondary virginity,” which is to say, if you are a Christian but are not physically a virgin any longer because you already had sex outside of marriage, you can renew your body to the Lord and hence forth pledge to refrain from sex until marriage, so in that sense, you are a “spiritual virgin,” and all is forgiven and fine and dandy.
I understand God forgives sins, including sexual ones. I further understand that God grants second, third, and fourth chances. I think all of that is great stuff.
But what kind of message do you suppose this sends to someone such as myself who is TECHNICALLY still a virgin? I’m in my early 40s and was waiting until marriage to have sex, but marriage never happened, so here I am, still celibate, still waiting. The message I am getting from all this easy-forgivism stuff, or sexual sin is to be expected stuff, is that I might as well be having sex outside of marriage.
A few years ago, I read a letter to a famous Christian who maintained a weekly advice column; I believe it is Russell Moore.
I may be getting some of the details of the letter wrong, but it was something having to do with a young Christian woman who was a virgin. She was waiting until marriage to have sex and was upset that her long term boyfriend had already had sex with someone else.
She wrote to the Christian advice columnist (who I think was named Moore) about this, who had the audacity to “chew her out” over this matter, to criticize her. He told her she was elevating virginity too much, making an idol out of virginity, and said she needed to stop being concerned about this.
If I remember right, the rest of the letter consisted of the usual nauseating platitudes one reads in these matters, such as God has forgiven the man of his sexual sin, so she needs to do so as well, she needs to stop making sexual sin greater than other sorts of sin, and so on.
(Given the rampant sexism and double standards concerning the genders running amok in contemporary Christian circles these days, particularly in the Southern Baptist church, Christian gender complementarians, and the Neo Calvinists (Reformed), I bet you anything had a young Christian MALE virgin wrote in to express concern his FEMALE sweetie was not a virgin, the advice-giver would have sided with the male and said how awful it was a female had already had sex outside of marriage – I could be wrong about that, though. But I digress.)
Anyway, I was astounded – no, infuriated, by this advice giver’s response. It’s infuriating to me that this Moore idiot would so blithely dismiss virginity, as though it’s not a big deal, or even that it is wrong, to hold to high, biblical standards of sexual purity, and to want and expect those same standards from other Christians.
The Bible instructs us to “keep the marriage bed undefiled” – that means no nooky outside of marriage.
The problem is not that the young woman who wrote in was making an “idol out of virginity” but that the advice giver, like most Christians today, don’t uphold virginity nearly as much as they should, and they brush off sexual sins far too easily, as though sexual sins are nothing and are to be expected, because supposedly, nobody can resist sexual urges.
I don’t blame the young woman who wrote the letter for feeling CHEATED, wronged, saddened, let down, and disappointed that if they married, her husband would be getting a virgin on their wedding night – but not her. That is most certainly NOT FAIR to her. Moore was wrong to chastise her for being upset.
Edit, update. I believe you can read that column here:
On a similar note, I get tired and annoyed by Christians and secular feminists who complain and whine in their books and blogs about how Christian culture makes too much out of female purity, or virginity in general.
I do agree that the “purity balls” orchestrated for little girls by their weirdo patriarchal families are distasteful, tacky, and possibly psychologically and developmentally damaging to the little girls forced to participate, and that it may send the wrong message about a girl’s worth and value, but I’m talking about older females (and males) concerning the topic of sexual purity.
These Christian and secular feminists have fits that so much emphasis is placed upon sexual purity. They view this emphasis as sexist.
They complain that females are valued only for having intact hymens. Most often, such opinions are written by women, who I note, began having sex outside of marriage in their teens or 20s (and they’re not apologetic or ashamed about it), or they married young (or at least by the time they were 35), so they are getting their sexual needs met.
These sorts of feminists, both secular and Christian, definitely feel there should be no shame, penalty, “slut shaming,” or stigma what-so-ever, for women engaging in sex outside of marriage (I would guess they would extend these views to fornicating males as well).
I am not letting these women off the hook with any of this.
Again, early 40s here, still a virgin -the real deal, I’m not a “secondary virgin” or a “spiritual virgin,” I’m an honest- to- goodness, real- deal virgin. If I could wait this long to have sex – and I have – what is your excuse? You don’t have one.
Why are you defending the hordes of women who did not wait, who did not maintain virginity until they married? If I could do it -and I have- there is no reason they could not wait either.
This is also a reason I have a difficult time having sympathy for homosexuals who complain that the church, or Christian teachings, expects them to remain celibate. I’m a hetero-sexual, and I’m in the same position as the homosexuals are in this matter, as long as I remain unmarried.
I’ve seen many testimonies on Christian television programs by Christians who were sexually promiscuous, and they later repented of this, and they went on to marry great Christian spouses and have great, comfortable middle class lives.
Some of these were women who accepted Christ at a young age, or as teens, and drifted away from the Lord. I’ve heard plenty of them say they KNEW having sex outside of marriage was wrong and against biblical teachings but they did so anyhow.
I also saw testimonies by women who lived a sexually promiscuous life and didn’t “get saved” (become Christians) until a bit later in life.
So there was a mix of testimonies. There were Christians and Non Christians admitting to engaging in lots of sex outside of marriage. Some of them acted in ignorance, but lots of them said they knew God did not approve of fornication and sexual sin, yet they slept around, worked as strippers, appeared in raunchy magazines anyway.
One woman slept around a lot in her teens and into her 20s, and repented by her mid 20s, but by then, she contracted some kind of sexually transmitted disease for which there was no cure, it damaged her internal organs. But, she said, she prayed about the matter, and God healed her completely.
Many women like her went on to marry great, stable Christian men, as I was saying previously.
Taking all this into consideration – that God sends great Christian husbands to these women who did not remain virgins until marriage, and some engaged in very depraved sexual acts on a regular basis, and that pastors and most Christians today so easily dismiss virginity (they chide you for believing in purity until marriage), and that many lay Christians and preachers assume that ALL Christians are having sex outside of marriage, and they frequently remind listeners and readers that God is quick and willing to forgive sexual sin, and that there appears to be no penalty from God or church (and as a matter of fact, fornication gets REWARDED – God sends these fornicating women wonderful husbands and posh homes), why should I, who am 40+ years old and never married, bother to remain celibate?
I see no incentives from God, church, or culture (secular or Christian), to remain chaste. Simply telling me “because God says so,” or “to be obedient to God” or “the Bible forbids fornication” no longer holds much water with me on this issue.
It looks to me like most Christians around me, married and not, are having sex whenever and where ever they want, they’re not being punished by God in any way for it (and God is even rewarding and granting blessings on those who sleep around), and the church does nothing to shame or reprimand fornicators, or does not forcefully speak out against fornication itself as being a sin, most preachers over-emphasize an “easy-forgivism” attitude (e.g. “So you have had sex outside of marriage? Hey, no problem, don’t feel ashamed or guilty, God still loves you and will forgive you!”), nor does Christian culture at large do anything to encourage the celibate to keep on.
Jan 2013, A Response To A Critic Of This Page:
I received a post by a liberal woman who disagreed with some of my points in this blog entry, and her post was on this page, but I deleted it. I responded to her points in a (Link): separate blog page here.
I discuss this subject a little bit more in my previous post, (Link): “Those Times When You’re Glad to be a Celibate, Single Christian”, as well as another post from about two months ago.
Related post by someone else that I mostly agree with:
(Link): Feminism and Abstinence
Related post on this blog:
Related Posts, Other Blogs:
This, I think, is more for unmarried Christians who are happy and content in being single/ celibate, but if you’re like me and still want marriage and are NOT thrilled to still be unmarried, you might find this interesting:
(Link): The Gift of Celibacy – Its Meaning Today, by John Morgan III.
Related posts this blog: