Long Editorial about Virginity at CT – Don’t Blame Evangelicals for the Cult of the Virgin
I am not in complete agreement with all points raised in this editorial farther below.
In particular, I disagree with this view (among a few other portions of the essay):
- Additionally, Christians should extol obedience— in all its forms— not virginity. Chastity is, after all, an act of obedience
Yes, virginity should in fact be extolled; currently in Christian culture, as well as this very editorial, it is being disrespected and downplayed.
You know the Christians who do not want virginity upheld, valued and extolled? None of them were virgins when they married.
The people who have failed at the Biblical command to remain virgins until marriage are the ones who want the teaching ignored or watered down.
You may possibly be able to find some Christian somewhere, who stayed a virgin past age 35, who feels Christians should ditch or downplay the virginity teachings and stop esteeming virginity, but by and large, most of the people I am seeing talking smack about virginity are fornicators.
Some are self-admitted: they will tell you they boinked around a lot as teen aged kids and hearing sexual purity lessons in Bible class when they were 18 or 25 years of age hurt their feelings or made them feel ashamed.
This is like a convicted thief telling Christians,
- “Look, I’m 35 years old now. When I was a teen ager, I robbed a lot of convenience stores and a few banks.
All those sermons I heard against theft when I was 18 or 25, and all the lessons on how stealing is wrong I heard at age 19 in Sunday School, made me feel so dirty and ashamed!
Therefore, I think Christians should stop condemning theft and esteeming honesty in particular and just speak in very generic terms about being ethical in a very vague way.”
That is what fornicators, those who had pre-martial sex, are asking the rest of Christian culture to do in regards to sexual sin and virginity.
And it makes no sense to me why Christians should stop condemning “sin X” or stop extolling “virtue Z” just because some have failed to do “Z” or feel guilty about “X.”
I am not sure I am comfortable or trusting of sexual sinners dictating to the rest of the Christian community how churches should be discussing or handling topics such as sexual sin and virginity. (It also reminds one of this: (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)))
Virginity is a form of obedience, how odd the writer of this piece assumes otherwise.
Oddly, while this paper at “Christianity Today” portends to defend virginity in some fashion, it actually puts virginity down by saying virginity is a lost cause and Christians should really only support a broader concept of purity or chastity. ~Way to abandon adults who have remained virgins past age 35, author of this web page.
- As the saying goes, we didn’t start the fire.
- by Karen Swallow Prior
Even in the midst of a sexual revolution, of a generation drawn to open relationships, hookup culture, and “polyamory,” virginity still enthralls.
Yet another beautiful young woman is auctioning hers off.
The cable show My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding juxtaposes a cultural expectation to maintain virginity until marriage with a flashy celebration on the day-of. Feminist defenses of virginity crop up on edgy websites. A burgeoning academic field is devoted to (Link): “virginity studies.” Even the “first kiss” video that recently went viral is but a variation on the “first time” theme.
In the midst of this, younger evangelicals question the church’s message to encourage Christians to maintain “purity” until marriage. They have a point: some of our efforts cross the line between encouraging chastity and venerating virginity. But as the examples above show, making an idol out of virginity is a problem that’s much bigger than evangelicalism.
A recent (Link): article [Naked and Ashamed: Women and Evangelical Purity Culture] at The Other Journal that details virginity’s history in the church moves toward correcting a myopic vision that can’t see past the pews of personal experience to the broader historical and cultural contexts. Yet, the exaltation of virginity for virginity’s sake began, and continues, well outside the church.
Rather than merely an evangelical hang-up, our adoration of virginity is a universal impulse with a long tradition.
Throughout human history, virgins have been worshipped in paintings, sculptures, poetry, prose, and song. Today’s church needs to do a better job at distinguishing between biblical and cultural views of virginity to develop a robust theology of the body, human sexuality, and chastity.
Chastity, sexual abstinence outside of marriage and faithfulness within it, has been a distinctive of the Christian church since its beginnings, brought into sharp relief by an array of sexual practices found in the surrounding pagan cultures.
Unlike the balanced view of sexuality offered by the church—as a gift that promotes human flourishing when expressed within the limits of its Creator’s design—ancient sexual practices embraced the extremes: homosexual pederasty, for example, on one end and sacred virginity on the other.
…Fascination with virginity is by no means limited to medieval Catholics, courtiers, and queens—and virginity was no less fashionable in the modern era.
In the Victorian age, women were caught in a double bind: in her idealized role as wife and mother, the Victorian woman couldn’t, of course, be a perpetual virgin and fulfill those roles, so she was exalted instead as the “Angel in the House.”
In the meantime, a thriving prostitution industry arose, perpetuating a dichotomous view of women as either angels or whores and nothing in between.
… Christians, of course, are commanded to live chaste lives before and during marriage. But when we decontextualize the purpose and meaning of virginity or attempt to promote it through guilt or gimmicks, the church reflects ancient myths and modern fetishes more than biblical principles.
While there’s no formula for how Christians can encourage chastity without accommodating cultural practices that are at odds with biblical principles, a few guidelines come to mind.
First, chastity is best cultivated within the context of vibrant relationship and genuine community.
Yet, the (Link): rituals and (Link): pledges [Study: Abstinence Pledges Aren’t Enough] popular with some Christians reflect ancient pagan rites more than a biblical faith centered on personal relationship.
An understanding of chastity based in relationship rather than pageantry will eschew approaches to chastity that blur proper relational boundaries. We should thus be wary of methods that rely on emotional incest by (Link): making a parent the stand-in for a future spouse and that cast the parent-child relationship as a kind of romance.
Additionally, Christians should extol obedience— in all its forms— not virginity. Chastity is, after all, an act of obedience, not a sacred guarantee of later bliss or blessings, as believed in ancient Rome. While disobedience brings consequences, obedience is its own reward. The church’s failure to make that distinction clear has, incidentally, caused many a victim of rape and exploitation to bear undue burdens of shame. A holistic and biblical approach to virginity and chastity must always emphasize redemption not ruin.
Finally, unlike the pagan cultures, Christianity must reject a double standard that places greater power or responsibility on women’s virginity than on men’s. To do otherwise is to risk partaking more in the cult of the virgin than in the full picture of scripture.
— end excerpt—-
I’m not going to paste the whole thing in so click here to see the rest of it
Related on this blog:
(Link): Stop Rewarding People For Their Failure – Christians Speaking Out of Both Sides of Their Mouths About Sexual Sin – Choices and Actions and How You Teach This Stuff Has Consequences – Allowing Sinners To Re-Define Biblical Terms and Standards