Joshua Rogers of Boundless / Focus on the Family Attacks Biblical Teaching of Virginity Until Marriage

Joshua Rogers of Boundless / Focus on the Family Attacks Biblical Teaching of Virginity Until Marriage

As I’ve said on prior occasions, far from Christians idolizing virginity, as some liberal, emergent, and even some conservative Christian bloggers and magazine writers claim, the biblical standards of celibacy and virginity have been under unrelenting attack by Christians over the past few years.

Most Christians these days no longer respect or value virginity but are seeking to diminish it if not do away with it altogether.

You can tell Christian thinking on the topic has gone downhill when we go from the 1980s message that says virginity is important and to strive for it, to the 2010 and onwards attack – by Christians – that says virginity is no big deal, so don’t beat yourself up when you have pre-marital sex.

Sometimes, Christians re-examining a view, teaching, or how they present it, can be a good thing, but I wonder about things when they start trying to downplay a standard that is taught in the Bible (ie, virginity and celibacy).

Christian culture has disturbingly gone from “Hooray for virginity!,” when I was a teen, to “boo, hiss, virginity, and everyone fornicate if you feel like it, because you are justified by Jesus, not your sexual choices, don’t feel any shame!” now.

It is now trendy in Christian culture to question virginity, and to shame adult Christians who are still virgins.

It is now standard by some Christians to say that virgins are either being “prideful” about their virginity, or are “worshipping” it, or to remind them they are not perfect, or to condescendingly remind them that it is Jesus who saves, not one’s “external sexual behavior.”

Case in point, this latest Virgin- and Celibate- Shaming editorial by Joshua Rogers at the Focus on the Family blog for 20 something singles, “Boundless” (yes, you will note that Focus on the Family ignores that there are many singles over the age of 30, 40, 50):

(Link): Stop Worshiping Your Virginity by Joshua Rogers

Excerpt 1:

    … 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 on the other hand, the male non-virgins didn’t seem 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.

    …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.

    … People of Planet Evangelicalism, I have good news: This is not the Gospel.

    … 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).

Call me kooky here, but I have never once heard any Christian imply that one is saved via being a virgin.

There might be some fringe, barely Christian group somewhere that teaches this perspective, but it’s not a view I’ve seen in my many years of reading about Christian teachings on sex. So I call “straw man” argument on that.

I’ve never once heard a Christian claim that one is made righteous and right before God by being a virgin, or that virginity was a component in the Gospel message.

Let’s review.

You, who became a Christian at a young age, or you were at least exposed to church or Christian teachings in youth, are taught from the time you are a child, or pre-teen or young adult, that the Bible instructs a person to remain a virgin until marriage.

For whatever reasons and personal convictions, combined with hearing these messages and reading the Bible for yourself, you decided, that yes, you will remain a virgin until you marry. Maybe one part of that decision was realizing that God does not condone pre-martial sex.

So you find yourself still single at age 30, then 40, and 50. You had really hoped to marry by your late 20s or mid 30s.

You were told by Christian culture – various preachers, Christian books, maybe your parents – that if you prayed and waited, that God would direct your spouse to you – but it never happened.

On top of the prayer and waiting, you may have asked friends to set you up on blind dates, or you tried dating sites.

Maybe you did get a boyfriend or two, or a few dates along the way, but you never got a spouse.

And yet you remained a virgin.

So you arrive at your 30s or older with your virginity intact, and you find little to no support or encouragement in Christian pulpits, media, or culture for adult singleness or for celibacy.

Christians and preachers love to blather on endlessly about marriage and having children, with barely a word about singleness or celibacy. They rarely discuss infertility or being childfree, either.

Not only does the Christian culture lack a positive portrayal of adult singleness and celibacy and not offer help and encouragement to celibate adults, but you may even be subjected to the negative in regards to adult singleness and celibacy.

Christians who harbor SSA (same sex attraction), who feel homosexual in orientation and who fight against engaging in sexual behavior, get no support in these types of Christian editorials that downplay virginity and celibacy, either: they have an entire culture, homosexual, liberal, atheist, secular AND Christian telling them that fornication is entirely understandable and cannot be avoided.

I’ve blogged on that topic a time or two, like (Link): here and (Link): here.

I mean, really, how do you think such naive Christian “rah rah, yay, don’t worry about fornication, God will forgive you for it” type editorials come across to celibate homosexual Christians who are barely holding on as-is?

Where are the “we know there are homosexual celibates out there fighting to hold on, and we salute you, job well done” encouragement pieces, and reminding them they are not alone?

Not only do adult, celibate singles get no positive commentary or media to consume to help them, but…

If you are a celibate, single adult, you may find yourself subjected to the negative stereotypes by married Christians – in their attitudes, or in sermons from preachers, or in books and blogs – that all single Christian women are sluts, or that you are just plain weird or flawed for not having a martial partner by a certain age.

In the meantime, you do have a libido and would love to have sex.

(Unless you are asexual, but this is a topic for another post, which I wrote of earlier.)

You get no support or outlet from Christians on that score, either.

You are just told “no, no,” or ill-informed, odd-balls who don’t know anything about singleness and celibacy, such as preacher (Link): Mark Driscoll oddly (and incorrectly) assumes that God magically removes all the sexual drives of adult singles.

And what does Christian culture do by the time you reach adulthood and are still a virgin? Why, they shame you and criticize you for it.

Then they write editorial after editorial normalizing fornication, justifying it, and rationalizing why Christian culture should go meek and mild when addressing sexual sin..

They go on and on citing the stats along the lines of how 80% or so of Christians under the age of 30 in the last few years have fornicated.

Hey, everyone is doing it, they say, some feel guilty after fornicating at age 25, after they remember hearing the sexual purity lesson they heard in Sunday School when they were twelve or 15 years old, when someone in the purity lecture spit in a cup of clean water.

Now the trend is to reassure all the men and women who are engaging in fornication in their teens, twenties, and older, that it’s basically okay and peachy.

Don’t feel guilty about not holding on to your virginity and being celibate.

Don’t you know that anyone who is a virgin is “prideful,” “self righteous”? Just ignore them and go about your merry way!.

I see from the comments on that Boundless Rogers thread that some Christian men who are virgins in their 20s and 30s, who would like marriage yet are still single, are very angry at these anti-virginity teachings, too.

I am sympathetic to them, up to a point. But they tend to start hating all women as a result, or they fall into the (Link): common Christian stereotype that All Unmarried Women Are Sluts stereotype.

One of the few points I can agree with this Rogers guy on was this comment:

    They [Christians] repeatedly admonished us [Christian youth] to “maintain our purity.” And we were 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.

Yes, I do agree with him on that much: it is quite an insult for Christians to run around telling people who had pre-marital sex that they can just abstain for several months and then start wearing a label such as “restored virgin,” “spiritual virgin,” or “born again virgin,” as doing so cheapens actual virginity, you know, people who are not having sex, nor who have ever had sex.

I left a comment under Roger’s post on “Boundless”. I have no idea if it will be published or permitted to stay on the page.

Here is what I said in the (Link): comments on their blog:

    I am over 40 and still a literal virgin. I had hoped to marry but am still single. I am not aware of any Christian virgins who “worship” their virginity. This entire editorial is very offensive, and it reads as a Virgin- shaming piece. It is devaluing adult singleness, virginity/ celibacy.

    No Christian I am aware of (not from any main stream groups) teaches the concept that virginity is part of the Gospel, or is a requirement for salvation, as the writer of this piece is claiming or suggesting. To imply as such is to create a straw man argument.

    I see little to no support from Christian culture, once I got to my mid twenties and older, for adult celibacy, virginity and singleness. Now that 80% or so of Christians under 30 are saying in polls that they are fornicating, I have begun seeing these types of “virginity is really no big deal” type editorials on sites such as this.

    There is such a rush to soothe the shamed or guilty feelings of fornicators and to reassure them, that Christians have become disrespectful towards virginity and they inadvertently insult people who are still actual virgins past their 30s and 40s.

    You’re so concerned with holding the hand of the 30 year old woman who admits to having had consensual, pre marital sex when she was 15, but who now says the sexual purity lectures she heard at age 17 at church make her feel ashamed, that you completely steam roll over the 40 year old virgins such as me by calling me “prideful” or “self righteous” (or tossing other insulting terms at me), or making a mockery out of my self discipline in this area.

    You are also giving me permission to fornicate now. I keep seeing Christians online the last few years reassuring readers that virginity is not a big deal, so I no longer feel I need to hold on to mine. I’ve already made up my mind that as soon as I get a steady boyfriend, I will start having pre-marital sex.

    After all, when I start having pre martial sex, to quote the author of this page, “you are no less righteous than anyone else.” Thanks for making a mockery of my years of self control and for now issuing me a “have pre martial sex get out of jail free card,” bub

————————-
Related posts, this blog:

(Link): No Christians and Churches Do Not Idolize Virginity and Sexual Purity – Christians Attack and Criticize Virginity Sexual Purity Celibacy

(Link): 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?

(Link): The Christian and Non Christian Phenomenon of Virgin Shaming and Celibate Shaming

(Link): Biblical Balance in Teaching About Sexual Sin – don’t white wash and downplay sexual sin, but don’t continually beat people up over it

(Link): Christian Response FAIL to Sexual Sin – Easy Forgivism

(Link): Permissiveness, Cheap Grace, and Easy Forgivism Run Amok in Christianity – Dallas Preacher Todd Wagner Says Christians Can Use Heroin (parallel to topic of sex, celibacy) / Why some Christians turn agnostic

(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): Why So Much Fornication – Because Christians Have No Expectation of Sexual Purity

(Link): Christian Males Blaming their Unwanted Protracted Singleness on Feminism – They have the wrong target

(Link): Christian TV Show Host Pat Robertson Disrespects Virginity – Says Pre-Marital Sex Is “Not A Bad Thing”

(Link): Christians Who Attack Virginity Celibacy and Sexual Purity – and specifically Russell D. Moore and James M. Kushiner

(Link): False Christian Hype About Waiting Until Marriage For Sex – We’ve Gone From “It’s Mindblowing” to Now: “It’s Magical” Re: Timothy Keller / Tim Keller Virginity Celibacy Singles PreMarital Sex

(Link): Where Are America’s Virgins? Discouraging the Virtuous / Sex and Never Married Single Christians / Virginity Virgin by Julia Duin

(Link): Remaining Chaste in an Unchaste World by Julia Duin

(Link): Article: Our Born-Again Virgin Bachelor – Secondary or Spiritual Virginity

(Link): The Contemporary Church Undervalues Celibacy / Virginity

(Link): Christians Not Only Accept Pre Marital Sex Among Adults But Are Also Now Accepting “Shacking Up” as The New Norm

(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): 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?

(Link): ‘Relevant’ Christian Magazine Ultimately Dismissive of Virginity – Also Maintain A Few Falsehoods

(Link): Preacher Mark Driscoll Basically Says No, Single Christian Males Cannot or Should Not Serve as Preachers / in Leadership Positions – Attempts to Justify Unbiblical, Anti Singleness Christian Bias

(Link): Commentary on the Editorial Entitled – Pastors, We Must Do Better on Premarital Sexual Ethics

(Link): Ageism in the Church – The Insufferable, Obnoxious Fixation on the Under-25s Demographic

(Link): Christian Stereotypes About Female Sexuality : All Unmarried Women Are Supposedly Hyper Sexed Harlots – But All Married Ones are Supposedly Frigid or Totally Uninterested in Sex

(Link): Candice Watters and Boundless Blog Gets It Wrong / Christian prolonged singlehood singleness singles ignored

3 thoughts on “Joshua Rogers of Boundless / Focus on the Family Attacks Biblical Teaching of Virginity Until Marriage”

  1. I know you don’t often publish comments, and I’m not asking you to publish mine. If there were a contact form, I would’ve used it instead. (Obviously, it’s your blog, so you can publish it if you choose, but I really just wanted to get this message to you.)

    I felt compelled to write to you for two reasons. One is that even though you’ve said you blog to express your thoughts rather than to help individual readers, I want you to know that you’ve helped me, whether or not you intended to. I’m a single Christian woman in my mid-30s, and over the past months, I’ve read your archives extensively. I can’t tell you how comforting it is to know someone else gets it! I’ve experienced and agree with most everything you say about the Church’s unbiblical glorification of the family and marginalization of singles and the childless/childfree, double standards for women, overhyped sex, “SuperChristians,” and the Word of Faith blame-the-victim mentality. Thank you so much for raising awareness of these issues!

    The other reason I felt compelled to write is that I’ve been down the same path you say you’re about to travel. I also was raised in a fundamentalist church and began to have doubts due to “unanswered” prayer and what I felt was the hypocrisy of so-called Christians. I also walked away from the faith, though I was much younger than you are now when I did it. I spent the better part of the next ten years half-convinced that God didn’t exist as I tried to find a husband in the secular dating world. Then, almost five years ago, through a small miracle, the Lord spoke to me directly in a way I couldn’t ignore, and I recommitted my life to Him. I have been single and celibate since that time. (But I can’t bring myself to go back to church, in large part because, as you’ve acknowledged so many times, it feels like a family country club rather than a meeting place for people from all walks of life!)

    Anyway, just because that path didn’t work out for me doesn’t mean it won’t work for you, and I’m the last person to judge anyone for the choices they make when they’ve been alone and lonely for a lifetime with no options in sight. But I wanted to offer to share my story if you ever want to talk to someone who made the choice you’re thinking of making. Again, I hope this doesn’t come off as all holier-than-thou because I mean it when I say I have NO bragging rights here. But if I could help someone else be more prepared than I was for some of the situations and problems I faced when going down that road, I would want to do that. I’m going to give you my email address (so actually I hope you WON’T publish this comment, after all!), which is [address redacted by blog owner, Christian Pundit to preserve writer’s privacy] … (but without spaces) at… [removed by blog owner CP]. Frankly, I’d love to hear from you just to talk to another never-married Christian (or ex-Christian) woman, especially one who recognizes and appreciates the particular struggles we face as people who are out of place in both the Church and the world, seen as even less than people by the very ones who are supposed to see Christ in us!

    So, yeah. If you ever want to write to me, I would welcome it. And if not, then I’ll just go back to quietly reading your blog. 🙂 God bless you, and I pray that He will give you the desire of your heart!

    1. @ dappleddreams

      Thank you very much for your comments.

      I scribbled your e mail address down somewhere, I hope I don’t misplace it (I edited it out of the post so you would not get spam from other people).

      I was actually brought up in a Southern Baptist Church. I think they probably consider themselves more evangelical than fundamentalist (I guess), but there is a little bit of an overlap there. SBs can be similar to fundies in some ways.

      In some of the books I’ve read about adult singles in the church, there were interviews with adult singles who said they stopped going.

      One guy (who is now over 50, and he is still single) was treated in such a disgusting fashion by 2 or 3 different churches he went to, (from the time he was in his 20s and older), and yet he still goes to church weekly.

      But there a lot of singles, women especially, who, by their mid 30s or later, got so tired of being ignored or treated like losers for not being married among other Christians, they gave up and dropped out of church.

      What compounds it is that many churches are gender complementarian, and will NOT allow women to serve in meaningful ways in a church. They only let you serve in the kiddie nursery or cooking in the kitchen. If you’re like I am, and just not comfortable or interested in kids (or working in the church kitchen), there is really nothing for you to do if you are an unmarried women.

      You just show up to a service every week to listen to some boring preacher guy yak on about marriage, then you go home alone. And none of the married people at the church try to get to know you or befriend you… sometimes even other singles will just sort of ignore you.

      I have a few reasons why I am sour on Christianity and going to church, one is the singles thing, also there was a death in the family, unanswered prayer – other things. It’s not only how singles are treated poorly that is causing me to leave Christianity, though that is a contributing factor.

      If Christianity is true, then great, I get to go to Heaven when I die, if there is an afterlife (I accepted Christ as a kid and believe in OSAS – once saved, always saved), but the faith itself has done little to nothing to help me in this lifetime and has actually held me back in many respects, at least in in regards to how the faith and its principles are taught.

      Then there are these little trends that pop up now and then that turn me off to the faith, (like the “Be a Super Christian, be RADICAL for Jesus, if you’re not living in dire poverty in a hut to serve natives, you are a lazy, unspiritual Christian who doesn’t really love Jesus” and the overly controlling pastors who preach church attendance is required by God, etc.
      The anti-medication / anti- psychiatry crowd, the Christians who blame depressed people for being depressed, tell them using medication is sinful, etc. That stuff turns me off.)

      Anyway, thank you again for the message. I will maybe consider making my e-mail address public, at least the one I use for this blog and only this blog. I hesitate to do that, because I just know that crack pots will contact me, or people who want to argue, fuss, fight and be nasty will want to scream at me. I’ll think about it, though.

      1. Funny you should mention the anti-psychiatry crowd. I consider myself anti-psychiatry, but don’t believe depression, psychosis, or other bizarre thought processes are sinful. They’re creative symptoms of profound unhappiness.

        Anti-depressants and other drugs used to treat these symptoms are neither safe nor effective when used long-term. I say this after 25 years of bearing a stigmatizing diagnosis and taking many psychiatric drugs which made me physically and emotionally suffer more than if I had never seen a mental health professional.

        Condemning taking SSRI’s and anti-psychotics and telling people to come off them immediately is very dangerous. Unless you are able to employ a slow and steady taper you could become truly ill–physically, and sometimes even die from the shock to your nervous system.

        A lot of the churches I have attended seem almost worshipful of psychiatry, and go around touting how anti-stigma they are. My problem with this particular mind-set is that it too leads to shaming the sufferers and its own brand of cruelty. The people believe that folks with mental diagnoses don’t have any reason to be unhappy or suffer. They don’t need emotional support, acceptance or unconditional love. They just need to shut up and take their prozac.

        These pills are NOT miracle cures or magic bullets. Despite the great marketing techniques and the fact that some people benefit (at least short-term) doesn’t mean they make the hallucinations, delusions or depression evaporate.

        The suffering person, called mentally ill, takes the pills exactly as prescribed. They make her numb, kill her ability to enjoy life, and cause her to gain 60+ pounds in 3 months.

        Because she is still having trouble relating to people (She is numb, remember?) the church people decide she must not be taking her medicine exactly as prescribed. They yell at her, tell her she can’t teach Sunday school, and go around “educating” other members of the church about how sick and dangerous she is.

        People treat her like a leper, accuse her of freeloading because she can’t work (the drugs make her sleep twelve hours a day and impair her work-related skills in other ways) and not taking her medicine exactly as prescribed. Cause pills will make it all better.

        And that lets them off the hook if they ignore or shun her. She only suffers because she has rotten brain chemistry and refuses to take medicine for it. It’s nobody’s fault after all. She’s the least of these that nobody wants to do anything for….

        Ironically, treating a depressed or even psychotic person with unconditional love will help him much more than condemnation or pills with condemnation. From what I can see, the mentally ill are more sinned against than sinning.

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