Thoughts on John Piper’s “Walking the Wedding Aisle Without Your Virginity” and T. Fall’s Rebuttal

Thoughts on John Piper’s “Walking the Wedding Aisle Without Your Virginity” and T. Fall’s Rebuttal

Please understand that when I discuss things such as virginity and fornication on my blog, I am always discussing consensual sex, unless I explicitly state otherwise.

I am not discussing sexual abuse in this post per se (the main focus is on consensual sex), and the majority of other posts on my blog, unless it’s really obvious I am doing so, or give a disclaimer. Sexual abuse is another category altogether.

Most of my posts also deal with the topic of sexual purity from the vantage of a never-married adult getting married for the first time, not divorcees, remarriages, or widows.

Over at the “Desiring God” site, one can find this page, which contains a transcript of a podcast by John Piper:

Here is some of what Piper had to say:

  • I think the main thing I want to say is this: Virginity is a precious gift that you cannot give to your fiancé, nor she you. That is a great sadness and a great loss.
  • But there are gifts you can give her and God will multiply those gifts so wonderfully that the loss will not be destructive.
  • You said that you have heard people say, Save yourself sexually for marriage and it is a terrible thing to squander that. Well, I say: Yes, yes, yes — that is exactly right. That is exactly what I think Paul and Jesus would counsel any virgin: “Flee fornication” (1 Corinthians 6:18).
  • Your body belongs to God as a single person, and it will belong to your future spouse. It would be good to think about 1 Corinthians 7:3–4: “The husband should give to his wife her conjugal rights” — that means sex — “and likewise the wife to her husband. For the wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. Likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does.”
  • ..That is a gift you don’t have to give. And you will want to teach your children to have it.So what is the gift you do have to give to this fiancé with whom you have had sexual relations? What gift can you give her that God might be pleased to make so wonderful, the gift you can’t give her will not destroy?
  • [Piper then instructs the young man to apologize to his future wife for the fornication]

Blogger Tim Fall wrote a critique of Piper’s page here:

Regarding Tim Fall’s rebuttal to Piper’s “Walking” post.

I happen to like Tim, so this is nothing personal. But I find myself disagreeing with portions of Tim’s page, or its basis.

Tim makes a few decent points on his page, but his overall premise is similar to the “diminishing-of-virginity” perspective I’ve seen bandied about by a lot of Christians the last few years, which I find disappointing and view as a personal discouragement to maintain my own virginity (more about this below).

I’m not a fan of Piper’s. I disagree with him quite often.

I also find Piper very weird. HIs Twitter account is so earnest and wacko, I sometimes wonder if it’s not actually a parody account, but no, it’s real.

I read Piper’s page, “Walking the Wedding Aisle Without Your Virginity” and actually don’t find much wrong with it.

I find Piper’s “Walking” response to be a refreshing change of pace from the usual conservative Christian malarky about sexual sin and virginity I’ve seen in blogs, podcasts, interviews, and books the last few years, in that conservative Christians have been attacking the concepts of virginity and celibacy, or else drastically minimizing both lifestyles or disciplines quite a bit.

Piper is unabashedly defending virginity in the “Walking” broadcast, which is a rarity these days among Christians. So kudos to Piper for being on Team Virgin here.

Really, anyone defending virginity is so rare these days, Christian or no, I found a secular essay by a Non-Christian young lady who was asking society at large to back off about her virginity quite surprising and unexpected – and these types of defenses are not common:

How sad. The young lady who wrote that should be able to find a plethora of “pro virginity” articles on Christian blogs and sites (no surprise she cannot find them on secular sites), but I am afraid all she will find on Christian sites are essays that say “beware of virginity idolatry,” “virginity is not a big deal,” or, “God is down with sexual sin, he will wipe your slate clean” (implying one might as well fornicate).

My impression is that Conservative Christians have mainly backed down on supporting virginity because the progressive Christians, who were apparently influenced by secular left wing feminists (it would appear), think it’s wrong or mean to judge anyone’s sexual choices.

To do so, to hold negative views about someone’s sexual choices, is referred to by secular feminists as “slut shaming.”

So, the conservative Christians now believe that even conservative Christians should delicately tip toe around the feelings of fornicators, which includes down-playing virginity, assuring fornicators to the hilt that God loves and forgives them in spite of their sexual sins, and in the process, we are told that virginity doesn’t have much, if any, value.

Nor is virginity a gift to one’s future spouse, according to many of these same writers – at least the ones I’ve come across.

If that is so, if virginity has little to no value, is only an invention of the patriarchy to keep women down, and is not a gift I would be bestowing on a future spouse (should I ever marry), there is no point in me, a 40 something virgin, holding on to her virginity.

As a matter of fact, in light of the Christian leniency on this topic and this attitude that virginity is not important (and other reasons I shall not state), I’ve already decided that as soon as I get my next, serious boyfriend, I will be having sex prior to marriage, if the guy I am dating is willing to have sex.

And what is the Christian response to this?

Most Christians know deep down that sex prior to marriage is a sin (or at the very least that the Bible prohibits it), yet, what can they say? They’ve already told me on their blogs and in their books that my virginity is not a gift, is nothing special, means nothing, and hey, God will forgive me when I have sex outside of marriage.

And yes, there are a handful who have stated before that the Bible does not teach that one should remain a virgin until marriage, that this is a teaching “read into” the Scripture to control women.

Some conservative Christians go farther than all this and accuse adult virgins of making a fetish out of virginity, making virginity into an “idol,” or of being “prideful” – even though we do no such thing.

Most of us adult virgins are simply living out our personal and biblical convictions about sexual purity and are offended, hurt, confused, and infuriated to see the same Christian culture that told us to stay virgins when we were teens and while single, now writing books and blogs saying, “virginity means nothing.”

Oh yes, some of them will say, “of course virginity means something!” On what grounds do they say that, though?: they continually rob adult virgins of reasons and rationales to stay virgins with every “virginity has been made into an idol” essay or book.

If God is all peachy with sexual sin and will wave the wand of forgiveness, if my value and honor has no stake in my virginity, and virginity is not a gift to a future, hypothetical spouse, I might as well be engaging in fornication.

(Please note: the average Christian will deny that God is fine with sexual sin, but what I am saying is that in the end scheme of things, this is precisely the logical conclusion to their essays that are critical of virginity. That is, the way they argue their “virginity has been turned into an idol,” or anti- sexual purity views, they might as well be saying, “God does not mind fornication at all.”)

I have written of these situations in posts such as (and I will include more links about this at the bottom of this post, under the “Related Posts” section) – there is additional commentary by me below this list of several links:

As you can see from the last link on that list, staying a virgin is not the problem these days. More and more Christians are having pre-marital sex.

In his rebuttal, Tim writes,

  • The first thing the article notes is complete agreement with the young man: not being a virgin on your wedding night is a tragedy.

Is this saying that it is not a tragedy?

I think it is. I think it’s at least regrettable.

As an adult virgin, my preference would be to marry another virgin, not a person who has had sex previously.

My ex fiancee admitted to me he had sex with at least one prior person, an old girlfriend (possibly two, I cannot recall), before he met me, and that was painful for me to hear.

As much as some Christians think people should be forgiving towards a partner’s past sexual behavior, be aware that it is still painful; I had to go through a process of getting through the hurt and anger.

In other words, if you are a fornicator, or, even if you were married in the past and were a virgin before marrying that ex spouse who is now dead, be aware that your sexual history still can have negative consequences for someone such as myself.

That is just the way it is.

An adult virgin such as me who believes, or did believe, very strongly in sexual purity, cannot just insta-presto hit a button and remove all feelings about these things.

I’ve written of this before, such as:

I think it’s become popular for Christians, and now some well meaning Christians, to “nit pick” and gripe, complain about, every pro-virginity editorial there is. It’s become trendy to water down virginity and celibacy.

I think the tendency is for some Christians now to view any and all pro-virginity editorials as being legalistic when they are not.

I don’t see anything particularly harsh or legalistic in Piper’s comments on this particular page about virginity.

As a matter of fact, to soften any blows, Piper writes:

  • I think the main thing I want to say is this: Virginity is a precious gift that you cannot give to your fiancé, nor she you. That is a great sadness and a great loss.
  • But there are gifts you can give her and God will multiply those gifts so wonderfully that the loss will not be destructive.

Which seems to be his way of saying “all is not lost if you marry and your virginity is not intact.”

Tim chooses to characterize that passage – which sounds like it’s trying to be hopeful to the sexual sinner – this way on his blog:

  • John Piper – the one who crafted these answers – appears to be saying that even though the fiance has lost out on the big prize of the young man’s virginity, he can give her a consolation prize.

I am not seeing Piper’s comments in the same light, as though it’s a judgmental, doom’s day outlook.

Piper also writes:

  • Your body belongs to God as a single person, and it will belong to your future spouse. It would be good to think about 1 Corinthians 7:3–4: “The husband should give to his wife her conjugal rights” — that means sex — “and likewise the wife to her husband. For the wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. Likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does.
  • …In other words, you belong to each other — to no one else. You belong to God in your singleness, united to him in your body by the Spirit. ”

The “your body belongs to your spouse” clause may be one of my few quibbles with Piper’s remarks, as I’ve seen some sexist, patriarchal Christian men twist the “do not deny each other” verse as some kind of divine right to demand sex from their wives.

Tim presents Piper’s suggestion of an apology to the hurt or offended spouse to be as such:

  • What does Mr. Piper suggest? A groveling confession to the fiance which promotes the idea that even though he’s not a virgin he hopes God can save their marriage anyway.

It didn’t come across to me as a groveling confession, but as a sincere apology and as an attempt to make amends to the spouse to be who may be upset to discover her future husband is not a virgin.

I myself am a 40ish year old virgin, and should I marry a non-virgin, a sincere apology from my spouse would go a long ways. I would appreciate it.

Tim writes on his blog:

  • If there’s one thing Paul was not elevating, though, it was virginity on one’s wedding night.

The Bible, does teach that virginity is a standard that Christians are to adhere to, until and unless they marry. I’m afraid that some writers equate defending that truth or promoting it is the same thing as “idolizing” it or “elevating” it, when it is really neither.

If I were to tell you that some Christians are “elevating” honesty, or making honesty into an idol, because they remind you on their blogs that God considers stealing or lying sinful, would you not consider that strange?

If I told you that the Bible says it is immoral to lie or steal, that Christians should not lie or steal, would you portray that as me “elevating” honesty?

I doubt you would, so why do that with a discussion of virginity and celibacy, where virginity and celibacy are acknowledged as being good, right, moral, and for adult singles in the Bible?

I don’t know about the particular verses Piper used to make his points about sexual acts – Tim did not seem to approve of the verses Piper selected – but it remains that there are passages in the Bible which teach that fornication is a sin, and that people are to be virgins until they marry.

You can read more about that here:

Tim says,

  • Are these men and women who remarry after their spouse dies bringing less than their all to the new marriage?

I suppose not, but is this not mixing apples and oranges?

It seemed to me as though the man writing Piper for advice was saying he has never married before. In the Bible, never-married adults are to be virgins; never married adults are not supposed to be engaging in consensual sexual acts. There are no exceptions for that.

Tim writes of Piper and Desiring God’s site:

  • But I get the impression they would have some back-pedaling to do if they took a close look at how those re-marriages stack up against the words given to that young man who asked for advice.

I hope Tim bears in mind that blog posts such as his, that try to remind people not to make too much out of virginity, can have a negative effect to people such as me who are over 40, never married, want to be married and having sex, and are still literal virgins.

Tim writes

  • Jesus died for that young man’s sins, every single one of them. His decision to have sex with someone else before marriage is a transgression against his  own body and against God, but it is no more a sin against his future spouse than any other sin would be.

I don’t know if I completely agree with this. As I said above, if I were to marry a man who had sex before, it would have a negative impact on me. You cannot wish your sexual history away, it still remains for your new wife to deal with.

Tim writes,

  • Yet the advice that young man received tries to lay guilt upon guilt on his back when the Bible tells us that all our sin and guilt has been laid upon Jesus, who took it to the grave and left it there.

As I’ve written of before on my blog (see the post above about Tim Challies), a big problem I see among many Baptists, evangelicals, and other Christians is there is a total and complete lack of stigma, shame, regret, and guilt of fornication. And I don’t think that’s necessarily a good thing.

Where are the Christian affirmations for adults such as me, over 30, who are never married and still virgins?

All I see are editorials anymore by Christians accusing adult virgins of being losers.

As I’ve noted on this blog time and again (with links to examples), Baptists, some Reformed, fundamentalists, and evangelicals often accuse adult celibates / virgins of being losers, because the only goal in a woman’s life is supposed to be to marry and have children. And that is also pretty much the expectation for men, as well, but women get more of that message.

All I see any more on left wing secular sites, conservative Christian sites, ex Christian sites, and progressive Christian sites, are essays accusing adult virgins or churches of idolizing virginity, which is not even so – since when is following a biblical mandate in and of itself idolizing it? I see adult virginity on these sites dismissed, mocked, ridiculed, and jeered.

The people doing the mocking and dismissing often expect me to respect fornicators, fornicating, and homosexual behavior, but they are unwilling to respect virgins or virginity or celibacy.

By the way, if you know of a mainstream denomination that “idolizes” virginity, please let me know, I would consider attending such a church in a heartbeat.

I’d settle for a church or denomination that treats adult celibates and adult virgins with respect, let alone idolatry. Most churches treat celibate adults like losers, work horses, slaves, or weirdos.

When can I see blog posts by Christians thoroughly affirming virginity and celibacy, without any qualifications to appease any wounded fornicators who may be reading the page – rather than the pages I keep seeing which tend to knock sexual purity down a few pegs and reassure the fornicators that Jesus forgives them and wants to give them hugs and lollipops?

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This post has been edited a few times to add clarifying thoughts. The bulk of it has remained the same

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Related Posts:

(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):  Some Researchers Argue that Shame Should Be Used to Treat Sexual Compulsions

(Link):  Christians Assume All Adult Singles Are Porn Addicted Fornicating Horn Dogs

(Link):  An Example of Mocking Adult Virginity Via Twitter (Virginity Used As Insult)

(Link):  Depressing Testimony: “I Was A Stripper but Jesus Sent Me A Great Christian Husband”

(Link): Slut-Shaming Is Bad—But The Overreaction Against It Also Hurts Women by J. Doverspike

(Link):  CDC Report: Virgin Teens Much Healthier Than Their Sexually Active Peers (2016 Report)

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

(Link): Older Christian Singles and Celibacy (There Are No Consequences for Sexual Sin)

(Link):  Mainstream Media Thinks Virginity is a Shameful Status, Not a Sacred Choice

(Link):  Sometimes Fornication Can Impact Another Relationship Later – One Example

(Link):  Stop Pretending Sex Never Hurts, By D.C. McAllister

(Link):  Ramifications of Pre Martial Sex – Sky Diver Husband; Also: Stereotypes About All Men Wanting Sex Constantly and Being Visually Stimulated Disproven Again

(Link):  How Pre-Martial Sex Negatively Impacts People: The Incest Letter

(Link): Virgin Shaming: Hollywood’s Attack on Purity (by B. Bowen)

(Link): Christians Are Following Secular Trends in Premarital Sex, Cohabitation Outside of Marriage, Says 2014 Dating Site Survey (survey/article)

(Link):  Christians Teaching That All Sexual Sins Are Equal – Thoughts and Reflections

(Link): Religious Dating Sites: More than Half of Users Surveyed Are OK with Premarital Sex

(Link):  When Adult Virginity and Adult Celibacy Are Viewed As Inconvenient or As Impediments

(Link): Christians Are Following Secular Trends in Premarital Sex, Cohabitation Outside of Marriage, Says Dating Site Survey (survey/article)

(Link):  Americans’ Acceptance of Sexual Immorality Growing, Gallup (May 2015 Report) Finds

(Link): Christian Preacher Admits He Won’t Preach About Sexuality For Fear It May Offend Sexual Sinners

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

(Link): Christian Double Standards on Celibacy – Hetero Singles Must Abstain from Sex but Not Homosexual Singles

(Link): Criticism of Purity Teachings by Christians via a Woman’s Personal Testimony

(Link): Are Most Churches Too Judgemental About Sexual Sin? (of the hetero variety)

(Link): The Christian and Non Christian Phenomenon of Virgin Shaming 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): A Grown-Up, Not Sexed-Up, View of Womanhood (article) – how Christian teachings on gender and singlehood contribute to raunch culture and fornication etc

(Emergents, Sexual Abuse Victims, some Feminists, and Liberals attacking sexual purity teachings and virgin until marriage teachings mentioned in the following post):

(Link): Emergent Christian Guy Says Christians Need to “Celebrate Pre Marital Sex” (Fornication)

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

(Link): Christian Author Lauren Winner Discusses Pre Marital Sex

(Link):   Older Single Christians And Sex – article by Julia Duin

(Link): Why People Rationalize Sexual Sin – You scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours

(Link): Why Christians Need to Uphold Lifelong Celibacy as an Option for All Instead of Merely Pressuring All to Marry – vis a vis Sexless Marriages, Counselors Who Tell Marrieds that Having Affairs Can Help their Marriages

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): I Notice It’s the Fornicators Who Want to Ignore or Downplay the Bible’s Teaching that People Are To Stay Virgins Until Marriage

(Link): Sexual Immorality and Five Other Reasons People Reject Christianity by D. Johnson

(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): Confusing Sexual Assault and Sexual Abuse with Consensual Sex and Then Condemning Sexual Purity Teachings – and other, related topics

(Link): Is Premarital Sex [a.k.a. Fornication] a Sin? Bible Scholars Respond

(Link):  Sacred and Secular Split and Its Effect On How Christians View Morality

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