More Virgin and Celibate Shaming in Article: How the New Abstinence Movement is Trying to Reshape Our Views on Sex (from Relevant Magazine) Another Christian Anti Virginity Hit Piece – Fornicators Need To Repent of Their Pride in their Fornication Testimonies Maybe?
There are one or two people quoted in this article from Relevant magazine who defend virginity, but there are several sections that are heavy on virgin-shaming.
I would not say this is one of the worst anti-virginity Christian works I’ve seen, but it is rather bad in parts.
Basically, it’s the same ol’, same ol’ – that, supposedly, purity and virginity teachings need to go the way of the dinosaur because women today who are now 30 years old who had consensual sex when they were 15 or 20 years old feel just oh- so- icky and guilty when they hear positive, biblical messages about virginity, or, they say, when they heard such teachings when they were 18 years old and in Sunday School, or attending “True Love Waits” conferences.
The end result: once more, in the process, the concept and practice of virginity -by those Christian adults over the age of 25 who are still holding on to their virginity- are inadvertently shamed, or their actual virginity is disparaged or disrespected. I don’t think this is a winning strategy, nor do I find it biblical.
Where I do agree with some of the individuals interviewed in this piece is where they point out that evangelical Christian teachings about sexuality get carried into the extreme absurd, where young kids are told to not so much as kiss, hold hands, or go on dates alone.
What happens when you limit a kid’s exposure to the opposite sex to that insane degree and instill that level of paranoia of fornication, is you make kids socially awkward, they don’t spend enough time around the opposite gender and hence learn how to enteract comfortably with the opposite gender, and therefore, they never marry, or not until much later in life.
I have more observations below this long excerpt:
(Link): How the New Abstinence Movement is Trying to Reshape Our Views on Sex from Relevant Magazine
- Emily Maynard remembers the construction-paper illustrations and signed pledge cards, the rings with the hands holding the heart and the lock-and-key necklaces.
She remembers the after-church conversations with friends at 14 or 15 years old, barely teens, wholly in love with Jesus and trying to figure out how to honor Him with their lives. She remembers their promises to save their first kisses for their wedding ceremonies and, years later, the notes in their wedding programs announcing it.
That part seemed rather “fetishized,” she says, but she did feel a little embarrassed and upset when her dad didn’t pony up for the “purity ring,” more for social reasons than anything else.
She remembers the conferences and camps and the admonishment not to give her heart away by having sex before she was married, or maybe even kissing before then or, just to be safe, by having a crush on a member of the opposite sex.
In short, Maynard remembers growing up in the purity culture of youth ministry in the late ’90s and early aughts, a culture that persists today amid growing backlash.
“I think I knew not to have sex even before I knew what sex was,” the writer and speaker says. “I was steeped in those messages, from both the standard, evangelical youth retreat or camp kind of messages to the ‘don’t kiss before marriage’ messages. I grew up just surrounded by all those True Love Waits ideas … and there was definitely this idea that once you started kissing someone, you wouldn’t be able to stop—a very slippery-slope sexuality, to the point that even feelings for someone or crushes were discouraged, very poignantly.”
If the goal was to get her through high school without having sex, well then, those messages were successful, she says. But, at 28, the Portland native is questioning whether abstinence should be the Church’s single-minded goal for its single members. And she’s not the only one.
This year started with a declaration from Sarah Bessey: “I am not damaged goods,” which led to what the Canadian blogger and author of Jesus Feminist called a “spiral of conversations that have spun off” about virginity and purity in every corner of the Christian blogosphere.
… She was thinking of a culture that ties value and worth—especially for women—to virginity, that judges a single person’s relationship with Christ on a single checkbox: Have you had sex?
She was thinking of the 80 percent of unmarried evangelical Christians between the ages of 18 and 29 who would check that box to the affirmative, according to a 2009 study by the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy.
And she was thinking of the message about the grace and wholeness of God she wished she would have heard as a teenager who lost her virginity “far too soon.”
That if, as it says in Romans 8:38, neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing could separate her from the love of God, then neither could sex.
“I knew I was in the majority, but because of shaming and silencing, we are often made to feel like we are the minority—the shameful minority,” Bessey says.
… True Love’s Weight
Bessey’s voice was one among many. One blogger decried the “idolizing and fetishizing of virginity.” Another wrote about the good lessons she had taken away from abstinence education. And in May, The Atlantic published a summary of the arguments in a piece titled “Why Some Evangelicals Are Trying to Stop Obsessing Over Premarital Sex.”
[Under a post about virginity on a Christian blog] It seemed some people who had remained—or planned to remain—virgins until they were married still wanted “to justify themselves by that one thing: the fact that they did not have sex,” Appling says. And some who didn’t wanted to justify themselves, too, in some cases implying sex before marriage has no consequences and virginity does not really matter, he says.
But most of the Christian voices engaging on the issue of purity culture made it clear that it’s the way the message is packaged, not the message itself, that poses the problem.
“As far as what I believe about premarital sex, I think it needs to be a conversation separate from our worth and our value,” Bessey says. “There are some real conversations about sex to be had, absolutely. It’s not everything, but it’s not nothing either.”
For her part, Emily Wierenga, an artist, author and blogger who lives in Alberta, Canada, says she thinks virginity is a gift—one that should be given in marriage to the one who earns our heart, who promises to love us through thick and thin.
… Because as much as sex is something sacred, something that should be saved for marriage, the judgmental attitude that purity culture tends to foster shows how pride can become dangerous, sinful territory those who don’t cross sexual boundaries.
In fact, Bessey says, a number of responses she received to her declaration were messages from Christians who had waited, who “felt convicted of their pride and had to repent to their friends—and in some cases, their own husbands and wives—for shaming and silencing them, for thinking they were “damaged goods” because of choices from long ago and then treating them that way, in some cases for years.
… Beyond Abstinence
Another danger Maynard points out in the way the Church has presented its message is detachment—a tendency to simply follow the rules.
“It’s easy to think, ‘I’m totally fine. I’m not having sex.’ But simply not doing something doesn’t build health,” she says.
… Instead, she [Maynard] says, she wants to focus on her relationship with Christ and on listening to the Holy Spirit, not on following rules and checking boxes. And she thinks the Church would do well to look at the results of its purity message: The majority of its young people are having premarital sex.
… With the perspective of a nearly a decade of marriage, he [Appling] says, he would tell them the truth: “The fact that we have to tell kids is that we are all damaged goods, whether we have sex before marriage or not. “We are all broken, all sinful. For some of us, sex will be a part of that brokenness. But our marriages are not doomed if we have already had sex. And they are not destined for greatness just because we haven’t,” he says.
… Ben Trueblood, director of student ministry at LifeWay Christian Resources, the group that created the True Love Waits campaign, says purity is an obedience issue, one that “will immediately separate [young people] from a sex-obsessed culture and open the door for the Gospel of Jesus to take center stage.”
Trueblood knows True Love Waits, too, needs to change the way it talks to young people about sex. And that message can’t just come from the student ministry, he says, but also from families and churches getting similarly honest about sex.
… But, while he maintains the student ministry has done “mighty things,” Trueblood acknowledges, “Sexual purity isn’t just about waiting until marriage to have sex.” It’s a life that embraces the truth that Jesus is enough, that centers on Him and His death on the cross, he says. It’s a life lived in Him and by His power.
… And LifeWay is in the middle of relaunching True Love Waits through a new resource called the True Love Project to reflect that truth, the student ministry director says.
“The new True Love Project is not solely about a student signing a commitment card proclaiming that they will be abstinent until marriage,” Trueblood says. “It is about learning and living in the forgiveness of Jesus. It is about how the Gospel transforms our lives, not just until marriage, but forever. It is about how God desires to use our life’s purity as a platform for the Gospel around the world. It is about shining the spotlight on Jesus, our King and Savior, and not on a sexual decision.”
Maynard says she hopes that’s not just relabeling virginity “a healthy sexual ethic,” not just “a new cover for the same shame.”
..It’s made her [Maynard] a better listener, she says, listening for the same nuance in people’s stories as she has recognized in her own. She has come to realize that more experiences make them who they are than just that one.
And it made her realize everyone, as a sexual being, has sexual baggage.
Additional Observations By Christian Pundit:
Virgins are now expected to repent, huh?
And please, not repent of “being prideful,” let’s be real, here: the very presence, or existence, of adult virgins makes some Christian fornicators feel ashamed or guilty.
Back when I was a very devout Christian, I went to parties where I was the only person not drinking and not cussing.
Even though I was not sitting in judgment of anyone else for their drinking and cussing, those in the room felt condemned or uncomfortable by my mere presence.
I did not have to lecture anyone, give dirty looks, or make a show out of the fact I was not drinking or cussing; people just noticed it.
I noticed that as the party would continue, those around me felt more and more uncomfortable that I was not joining in with the dirty language or drinking, and slowly, one after another, would stop with the dirty jokes and put their beer bottles down.
They felt convicted on their own. I did nothing but just sit there minding my own business.
I actually felt awkward being the only one in the room NOT drinking and cussing. (I was trying to blend in with the wall paper. I did not want to draw attention to my non drinking and non cussing.)
I believe the same thing is at play in situations such as this, where maybe a woman who engages in pre-marital sex may be aware that her female friend is still a virgin who believes sex is for marriage only.
Even if the virgin friend never says a word about it, the fornicator is going to feel judged or guilty never- the- less. Some fornicators may interpret this as “pride” on the virgin’s part, when it’s their own conscience convicting them.
I have a FM (family member) who is like this.
My FM sleeps around with about every man she meets, and she knows I’m a virgin, and she knows that for years I felt strongly sex was for marriage only.
I did discuss the issue with her at her behest a few times, but I NEVER lectured her or told her to stop having sex.
I did not pass judgment on HER for her sexual choices, I only informed her I did not believe it was right for a person to have pre-marital sex when she asked me about my view points.
I politely stated my opinion on the topic when it was raised by her, but I did not insult her, put her down, or scold her for having sex prior to marriage.
But this FM would hound me about the topic, and when I started dating a new guy, I found out from him later that when she was alone with him, she was needling him to find out if he and I were having sex.
He told her no (and no, we were not having sex. He was telling her the truth).
She was wanting to find out if I was fornicating, because if so, it would make her feel less guilty about her fornication.
This FM used to drag me to bars against my will. I think bars are sleazy, personally.
I don’t drink alcohol. I never judged her for wanting to drink or be a bar fly.
If she wants to drink, fine. I don’t care. If she wants to visit every bar on the weekends, great. Just don’t harass me to go along or to drink too. Live your own life, and stop pressuring me to do what you think I should be doing if it’s stuff I don’t want to do (bar hop, get drunk, have pre marital sex).
What was really going on: my FM knew going to bars and drinking was wrong, and she was trying to entice me into that lifestyle, because if I would cave in and drink and ‘night club’ around, it would ease her guilty conscience about it.
I suspect it is much the same thing going on with the Christian fornicators who are saying Christians need to shut up about virginity, that virginity is not a big deal (they say), and they try to argue that the adult virgins are “prideful.”
As I’ve remarked before (and will probably say again in future posts if I keep blogging), while it’s all fine and dandy to remind sexual sinners that God forgives them of their fornication, this emphasis on the forgiveness aspect leaves a long time virgin such as myself (still a virgin at age 40+) wondering why I should bother any longer?
If everyone is having sex before marriage, and Christians are excusing sexual sin as much as they are, maybe I should get a boyfriend and starting fornicating.
Those interviewed in this anti-virginity article at Relevance accuse those who have remained actual virgins of being “prideful” about their virginity.
Are you serious?
Most virgins don’t feel “prideful” about being virgins past their 20s, 30s and beyond, they feel abandoned and betrayed and infuriated, because the lion’s share of the Christian dialogue today about sexual sin and virginity is to celebrate how fornicators are forgiven of their sexual sin, while actual virgins are insulted and put down for being virgins, and are told virginity really does not matter.
In my view, the fornicators are the prideful ones, not the virgins.
Fornicators like to brag (yes, it sounds like bragging) in these articles and on their blogs about how they had to bravely endure years feeling shamed by sexual purity teachings, modesty teachings and purity rings, but now they like to shout from the rooftops how they’ve found recovery in Christ.
Christians who have had pre marital sex also like to crow about how sex is so much more than the status of a person’s virginity. They seem to like to set themselves up as role models we should all admire.
These fornicators were fallen but now redeemed, and by doggies, they have wisdom to impart, and think the rest of us should listen so attentively to their views about sex.
I suppose this is what feeds into the strange habit of Christians holding up sexual sinners as role models for sexual purity (see these previous posts):
- (Link): How About Using Celibates as Role Models For Celibacy? (Oddity: Christians Holding Up Non-Virgins [Fornicators] As Being Experts or Positive Examples on Sexual Purity)
(Link): Article: Our Born-Again Virgin Bachelor – Secondary or Spiritual Virginity
Why would I want to take sexual purity advice from a guy or woman who is a sexual sinner?
I’d rather hear advice and perspectives about sexual purity from the adult man or woman who is, you know, actually still sexually pure (still a virgin) past their 30s.
It reminds me of the Christians I see on television who like to give these cool, coming- to- Christ testimonies, which frequently has them sharing with the audience that they used to smoke crack cocaine, they mugged people in alley ways, and joined the Mafia, where they shot numerous people in their faces.
Compare that kind of “exciting” coming- to- Jesus personal testimony with one such as mine:
girl from middle class background, who accepted Jesus as Savior before turning age ten, never slept around, never shot people, never abused drugs, went to school, obeyed her parents, and made good grades.
Not quite as sexy or glamorous a testimony, now is it?
It just sounds so much cooler to say you banged your boyfriend in wild sex-capades when you were 21 year old for three years, and/or worked as a stripper for five years, then as a high class prostitute, but then you “found Jesus,” and your life is all cleaned up now.
I do really wonder if these Christian women (and some men) who divulge to the rest of us that they had sex back in college, or dabbled in prostitution, think of themselves as cooler than Christians who were goody-goods their entire lives.
They seem to be taking a tiny bit of pride in their “deviant- to holy- roller” conversion stories.
I have not read through all the comments at the bottom of the Relevant magazine article yet, but I did see this one, and I agree with most of it:
- David Burnett commented…
Whenever I read stories like this, I feel a subconscious, visceral lashback somewhere deep inside.
Some of us signed on to wait for marriage because it was right, and believing our future spouses would be proud of us for it (not surprised and guilted), and believing the line that if you both waited, it was far more blessed in God’s eyes.
I’ve carried around that weight for years, against the grain, against the culture, against all expectations.
I’ve watched friends give in, even the Christians who once stood with me.
I’ve forgone multiple relationships because I didn’t want to sign on with an otherwise-appealing girl who didn’t have the same level of commitment.
And now, after all this time, along comes the benevolent “It’s Okay” movement.
Now in charge of the hen-house, it seems foxes are announcing clemency for anyone caught eating the hens, but in their haste to console the ones that gave in or affirm value isn’t tied to purity, they’re reversing the very ground to which we fiercely clung.
They’re saying all these years of starvation don’t really matter, not as much as those nasty Christians used to say.
The deed I’ve saved for my future bride is now being involuntarily performed against me, coming and going, by well-intentioned Christian philosophers desiring to smooth the ruffled feathers of the guilty — now that they’re in the majority. No sir.
I’m still holding out, and I still hold in higher esteem someone who had the quiet strength to wait for me.
I struggle deeply to accept as a potential bride anyone who didn’t wait.
And I desperately hope, despite everything Abstinence 2.0 is saying, God IS a little happier with me for following His will on this. If not, well then, the joke really is on me.
11/12/2013 6:00 PM
I completely agree with David Burnett. David is right on, 100%.
Here’s an interesting comment by Blair Mulholland
- I think a good deal of the problem is the Protestant emphasis on family and marriage.It’s just assumed.The idea that one could be celibate, unmarried and happy never seems to enter people’s heads, and in fact it is looked down on and not valued by Protestants.It’s not promoted as a happy state of being.So you have people with (married) sex lives telling people it’s bad to have sex!Is it any wonder it “rings” hollow?
Young people don’t need purity rings, they need Christian faith. Given the choice between having celibate daughters with a tepid Christian faith, and daughters who struggle with their passions, yet confess their sins regularly before God, I’d happily take the latter scenario.But of course I’d prefer both virtues.
11/18/2013 12:02 PM
This has become a dangerous trend in Christianity these days:
bloggers saying that because teachings about virginity causes fornicators to feel guilt or shame that such teachings should be dropped.
I’ve blogged about it before in posts such as:
(Link): No, Christians and Churches Do Not Idolize Virginity and Sexual Purity – [they either downplay both or attack both]
(Link): Christians Who Attack Virginity Celibacy and Sexual Purity – and specifically Russell D. Moore and James M. Kushiner
(Link): Sometimes Shame Guilt and Hurt Feelings Over Sexual Sins Is a Good Thing – but – Emergents, Liberals Who Are Into Virgin and Celibate Shaming
(Link): 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
(Link): I thought Christians “worshipped” virginity? Guess not: TLW (True Love Waits) Spokesman Says TLW Will NOT “Elevate Virginity” – Life Way to Relaunch “True Love Waits” Campaign
(Link): ‘Relevant’ Christian Magazine Ultimately Dismissive of Virginity – Also Maintain A Few Falsehoods