Anti Virginity Editorial by Christian Blogger Tim Challies – Do Hurt / Shame Feelings or Sexual Abuse Mean Christians Should Cease Supporting Virginity or Teaching About Sexual Purity
With virginity and celibacy under regular attack from much of Non Christian culture, such as with recent books such as ‘The Purity Myth,’ by Jessica Valenti (I assume she is a Non Christian, though I may be wrong; but certainly, and by one method of several, by using most Hollywood movies as a barometer to judge Non Christian feelings about the topics, as most films do not depict flattering portrayals of virgins or virginity, so I take it the average Non Christian may think virginity is strange or bad), one would expect Christians would want to jump to defend the concepts, but, in the last few years, they’ve been among the very first in line to say, and to cave in and join the Non Christian anti-virginity chorus saying, such teachings are “dangerous” to women, while some say they are “hurtful.”
While I agree with Valenti’s presmise that culture (and this would include Christian culture) can or does twist virginity to such a degree that women are judged only in terms of their sexuality, and this is not good, I do not agree with others (I’m not sure of Valenti’s position specifically) that teachings about sexual purity should be abandoned altogether – if one chooses to be a Bible-believing Christian, I should say.
I myself am on the verge of becoming agnostic after years of having been a conservative Christian. Despite this, I tend to view these debates about sex, modesty teachings, celibacy and virginity through a biblical lens, especially if a Christian is discussing these topics, or if the arguments apparently conflict with the Bible. (At other times, I do waffle and view them from an agnostic position.)
If one is going to be a Christian, I see no room for disputing that the Bible says that women -and men- are called to remain virgins until marriage.
If you are a Christian who is having sex outside of marriage, that is your choice, but do not try to defend that choice -and I have, yes, seen self- professing Christians use all the following rationaliztions – by saying things such as: the Bible supports fornication;
or the Bible is too vague for us to know for sure what God thinks about pre-marital sex, so let us overlook it; or,
other Christians (these are usually liberals or emergents) insist that that the biblical teachings about sexual purity should be ignored because they sometimes hurt the feelings of fornicators, rape victims, or child sexual abuse victims.
It should go without saying that of course rape victims and child sexual abuse victims are not to blame for having been violated.
That sexual abuse victims unfortunately feel uncomfortable by virginity teachings or sexual purity teachings is less evidence that such teachings are erroneous or cruel in and of themselves, and perhaps more of an indicator that the conveyors of such teachings, such as church youth pastors, may be framing the discussions in an unnecessarily hurtful or condescending manner (by comparing fornicators to used chewing gum, for instance, which yes, I grant, may be insulting).
However, that some Christian youth speakers or pulpit-pounding, legalistic preachers tend to convey sex sermons and teachings in an unloving manner does not change the fact that the Bible supports virginity- until- marriage, celibacy, and chastity.
There are some Christians, who dispute the use of the terms “fornication” and “fornicator” when discussing sexual topics, as they feel it is insulting to people who have in the past fornicated, or who currently fornicate. I use these terms only for breveity’s sake. They are not intended by me to be derogatory.
It’s a hell of a lot easier to type out the word “fornicator,” than the long, meandering description, “one who has sex outside of / before marriage.”
Strangely, nobody, not even most Christians who dispute the use of the word “fornicate,” seem to mind the weird, and not- mentioned- in- the- Bible, trend lately where Christian fornicators get to call themselves “born again virgins,” “spiritual virgins,” or “secondary virgins,” if only they promise in public to have repented of their sexual shenanigans. Why the double standards on terminlogy?
Christians are calling for other Christians, including those who have actually remained virgins into their adulthood, to tip toe around the sensitive feelings of those who have fornicated, yet those pushing this insane agenda do not care at all that their downgrading of the importance of virginity and celibacy is not only insulting and hurtful to actual virgins, but that it removes any remaining impetus for us to remain chaste any longer.
And I note a tad of hypocrisy on display: many of the Christians asking adult virgin Christians to be more tolerant and understanding of rampant sexual sin and who implore adult virgins not to take virginity so seriously, sometimes end their blog postings with the end notes reading thusly: “author John. W. Smith; married 20 years, father of three,” or, “Mary Jones, phD in literature, married eight years, mother of two.” They are not virgins themselves but feel fine lecturing virgins.
Here I have carried out the “be a virgin because you’re not married” biblical mandate, and I’m over the age of 40, yet these buffoons, these Christian bloggers who are getting their sexual and companionship needs consistently satisfied, are presuming to dress me, or those like me, down? I don’t think so.
Separate from your spouse for the next twenty five years, live alone, give up all sex and contact, then, and only then, write a blog post about all this, please… and then let’s see what your position is on the topic. I have a sneaking suspicion your views will have shifted at least a tad.
Christians, even preachers and Christian professional authors and bloggers, are now showing far more concern over the feelings and considerations of sexual sinners, helping them getting their needs met, and offering them encouragement and a sense of community, than they are in helping or supporting adult Christians who are sexually abstaining, and who are actually following the Bible’s teachings on sexual mores. This is a disgusting double standard and very upside down.
To add further insult to injury, and diminish virginity even more, adult virgins such as myself, or author Julia Duin, who point out the hypocrisy, the lack of support for the truly celibate single, and the sexual failings of the Christian culture, are chided, insulted, and reprimanded by preachers and professional Christian authors in their blogs, magazines, and editorials over this.
I never thought I would see the day, but this kind of attack on virginity – and by Christians – is becoming a horrifying, regular occurence in American Christendom.
Adult Christian virgins get scolded and chided – by (married authors- that is, ‘having sex occasionally authors,’ I should add again) Christians, no less, and it’s mind boggling – for defending the very biblical standard of ‘virginity- unti- marriage,’ to be told that we are not loving, we are prideful, and we also get these nauseating, non-sensical, sappy, maudlin comments, courtesy Christian Tim Challies, such as, “we are all virgins now.” (More on that farther below.)
Per the last point on the list: not all guilt is a bad thing, according to the Bible. Christians are supposed to feel convicted for any sin they commit, which usually translates as feelings of guilt. There is such a thing as “false” guilt, to be sure – but in so far that the Bible teaches that pre-marital sex is wrong, if you do not feel the least bit guilty for having engaged in that particular sin, and yet you claim to be a Christian, there might be something wrong with your conversion experience, or your fidelty to Biblical teachings.
This is not to say that anyone guilty of any sin should spend years wallowing in hatred of self or in self-unforgiveness, but the attitude I pick up in contemporary Christian views about sexual sin on blogs and in some books is to dismiss it out of hand, especially because teachings of sexual purity makes people feel ashamed or guilty, which is not, in my view, biblical.
Turning attention to Challies’ anti- virginity post. Notice like in Moore’s anti-virginity posting, Challies also offers the obligatory “I support celibacy and virginity” commentary, but then spends the rest of the discussion nullifying those sentiments. Here are excerpts (his editorial is hosted on his own blog, and at Christian Post):
These are excperts. If you wish to read the Challies post in its entirety, please click one of the links above.
[by Tim Challies]
- We Evangelicals are known for our obsession with virginity. Now don’t get me wrong—I affirm that it is good and God-honoring to remain sexually pure before marriage (and within marriage and after marriage). As a pastor I want to teach the people in my care the value of having their first sexual experiences with their spouse in the marriage bed and not with a prom date in the back of a car. I want my children to value sexual purity and to understand that lust is not love, that love expresses itself in self-control. Virginity matters because sexual purity matters because God says it matters. But it is not the highest of virtues. It is not the measure of a godly young man or young woman. It is not the goal and the measure of Christian living.
- This Evangelical obsession with virginity manifests itself in youth conferences where a flower is passed around a room, going from hand to hand, until the speaker can 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. (As Matt Chandler reminds us, Jesus wants the rose!)
- … It is painful to those who were raised in ignorance of what God commands, who simply acted the way unbelievers will act as they committed sexual sin.
- … It is particularly painful to those whose virginity was taken from them, who were unwilling participants in abuse or rape. They may feel spoiled
- This whole obsession with virginity misses one New Testament key, the gospel key…
- …Paul tells us that in God’s eyes we are all holy. Through Christ we are all redeemed, all forgiven, all made new, all unspoiled. In Christ we are all virgins.
Here I will address a few of Challies’ specific comments (I have dealt with some of his other points in other posts at my blog, and I do not wish to rehash them all here and now; please see my previous posts); Challies wrote:
- This obsession with virginity….
The only Christians “obsessing” about virginity the past few years, are youth preachers at youth rallies, and those Christians who are not virgins: the fornicators themselves and the married (who are presumably having sex regularly with their spouses). They are the ones writing these types of editorials besmirching virgins and virginity, or seeking to have both diminished.
I’ve yet to see an adult Christian virgin past the age of 35 write one of these attacks on celibacy and virginity, or asking for untold amounts of lovey, sugary, sprinkles sprinkled with an extra dash of understanding atop the sexual sin ice cream cone.
- Not only that, but this obsession causes such pain. Elevating virginity to the first place among the virtues…
And knocking virginity down the totem pole a few notches to soothe the hurt feelings of sexual sinners is the approach you think the Christian community should take? Keep robbing older virgins of a reason to stay pure, by all means.
- It is painful to those who were raised in ignorance of what God commands, who simply acted the way unbelievers will act as they committed sexual sin. …
As I have discussed before on my blog (please use the drop down menu and look for the tag “married people sexual sin”to find examples), I have seen countless testimonies in Christian magazines, blogs, and television programs of married Christian people who say they were committed Christians and that they knew adultery and pornography was wrong, but who engage in both types of sexual sin anyway.
I have also blogged about Christians who say that while single, they knew that fornication was a sin, yet who say they fornicated anyway, and some went so far as to also work in strip clubs, work for X- rated movie productions, and work as prostitutes. Not all Christians who sexually sin are acting out of “ignorance.” Please do not insult my intelligence on this point.
Given the immense amount of sexual purity lectures Christian young people get from Christian sources while they are teens and early 20- something, it is inconceivable to me how anyone in this day and age can grow up as a Christian, hit their mid twenties or older, and not realize that the Bible instructs a person to save sexual activity for marriage.
The young ‘uns get bombarded with sexual purity lectures from the church as kids (at least this was true of many evangelical and Baptist churches in the 1980s and 1990s – as of the last few years, it has become unfashionable for seeker friendly and other types of churches to actually confront sexual sin). When you remain a Christian virgin into your late 20s and older, the church drops the topic of celibacy, virginity, and sexual purity.
There are no support groups, no regularly issued literature (such as magazines) for adult Christian virgins past the age of 25. That Challies can claim that most, or all, of the Christians fornicating ‘out of ignorance’ is laughable and implausible. Christian teens hear about sexual purity quite often; the only sex talk adults get from the church is: “Remember, married women, husbands like sex, so perform sexually all the time!”
- God does not look upon his people as non-virgins and virgins, spoiled and unspoiled, defiled and undefiled. He does not see two classes of people: those who have waited to experience sex within marriage and those have not…. In Christ we are all virgins.
Aw, that sounds so sweet, but it makes my former choice to remain a virgin until marriage very moot. I tell you what, as soon as I get a boyfriend after I move the next year or two, and we start having pre-marital sex, I’ll just go back and re-read those last lines.
Apparently, the phrases and words, “non-virgins,” “virgins,” “defiled,” and “undefiled” and so on, have no meaning. God does not differentiate on those terms, neither should we. I was brought up that every single last word of the Bible, in so far as it has been accurately translated, of course, was there for a reason, that the Holy Spirit put great thought for each and every word and verse, and it’s there for a reason. Now Challies is saying not so.
It’s all fine and dandy to remind sexual sinners that God is loving and forgiving, but really, do Christians have to do so at the expense of running virginity, and actual virgins, down in the process?
I guess if you want to be one of the popular cool kids like the emergents, the popular thing to do these days is bad mouth virginity.
A visitor to Challies’ blog thinks Christians should use the term or concept “recovered virginity.”
Why do Christians keep inventing these bogus terms to re-state or sugar coat the term “sexual sin” or “sexual sinner?” Your good, old- fashioned virgin bristles at mis-use of the term “virgin” to ease guilty consciences of sexual sinners. If you have sexually sinned, God will forgive you, but you are in no way, shape, or form a “virgin,” not even in a spiritual-allegorical sense, I am oh- so- sorry to say.
It is editorials like this one about virginity by Challies (and the previous one by Moore), among other reasons I have, that has been driving me away from the Christian faith and into the arms of agnosticism. The things I was taught to believe from childhood onwards about God, the Bible, Jesus, sex, and marriage are all dismissed by Christians today as though they mean nothing, or as though those beliefs were wrong the whole time.
Congratulations, Challies, for being yet another step in the staircase leading me farther away from God and away from any previously held notions about reserving sex for marriage.
Doesn’t the Bible say that teachers will be held more accountable by God than regular joe’s like me, due to the fact that some of their teachings would cause some to stray or fall away?
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