Washington Post Editorial by Ruth Everhart: Virgin Mary Offends Rape Victims By Her Purity
This anti-Purity Culture crusade has taken on new insane heights.
Sexual assault victims who write anti-Purity editorials keep confusing the issues of consensual sex with rape and wanting to toss out all of sexual purity teachings, which is in error. I have written of this phenomenon before, such as:
Related content by another author:
Whether you like it or not, the Bible does say that Mary was a virgin, and that being a virgin is expected of both sexes unless or until a person marries.
I am over 40 yeas of age and am still a virgin – and I’m a woman. I was engaged to a man for a few years in my early 30s and had an opportunity to fornicate, but I resolved to wait until marriage. I broke things off with my ex and remain single to this day.
I do not appreciate anti-Virginity editorialists besmirching my choice to sexually abstain by belittling virginity itself, or by attributing my choice (made of my own free will) to “patriarchy.”
First, here are the pertinent links with excerpts, and I will resume my commentary below:
(Link): Our culture of purity celebrates the Virgin Mary. As a rape victim, that hurts me – by Ruth Everhart, Dec 2016, Washington Post
Some guy wrote a brief rebuttal of sorts to that editorial:
by THOMAS D. WILLIAMS, PH.D.
8 Dec 2016
In an article (Link): titled, “Our culture of purity celebrates the Virgin Mary. As a rape victim, that hurts me,” Ruth Everhart explains that especially in the Advent lead-up to Christmas, Mary becomes a problem for many Christians because of her pristine purity.
Mary “set an impossibly high bar,” Everhart writes. “Now the rest of us are stuck trying to be both a virgin and a mother at the same time.”
As a rape victim, this has been especially difficult for the author, she says, which led to her becoming a pastor, in order “to come to terms with Mary’s story.”
Everhart writes that she doesn’t blame her sense of ruin “entirely” on the Virgin Mary. In fact, it isn’t really Mary’s fault, she states; it’s the Church’s for manipulating Mary into a model of purity.
“Mary is not responsible for what we’ve done to her story,” she writes. “Church culture has overfocused on virginity and made it into an idol of sexual purity. When it comes to female experience, the church seems compelled to shrink and distort and manipulate.”
…Never mind that you can attend a thousand Christian church services without ever hearing a sermon on purity. Never mind that virginity is rarely held up as a model in our sex-soaked western culture, even within our churches. Never mind that Christians have elaborated an entire “Theology of the Body” to help people appreciate the human body and sexuality as a beautiful gift of God.
…Yet, teaching young people the value of purity or to appreciate abstinence before marriage is no solution, Everhart contends. Purity is no model for today’s generation.
I have addressed several of the points in Everhart’s Washington Post editorial in previous posts on my own blog.
First of all, Christians do not make virginity into an idol (which is what Everhart seems to claim in her WaPo editorial, but it’s a frequent accusation by anti- Purity culture champions):
Christians, back in the 1980s and there-abouts, did, at that time, teach kids and teens to wait until marriage to have sex.
However, the trend in the last few years, from what I’ve seen online, is the complete opposite: sexual sin and fornication are treated by Christians, both conservative and liberal, as though they are no big deal:
(Link): Preacher Mark Driscoll Disparages Virgins and Virginity (Again) – The Feelings of Fornicators Always Take Precedence With the Anti-Purity Culture, Anti-Slut- Shaming, and Pro- Cheap Grace Crowd
-and people who are actual virgins are shamed (by conservative and liberal Christians) for being virgins:
The entire concept of virginity has been thrown into the trash can, with many left wing type Christians on a quest to convince other Christians to completely do away with sexual purity teachings (which often come under the heading of “Purity Culture”), and even some right wing Christians have bought into this.
Here is just one example of someone who is somewhat left wingish wanting to trash the entire concept of ‘virgin until marriage’:
We have some self-professing Christians who claim that sexual purity is not necessary at all, and that folks should be having sex outside of marriage, such as:
LIBERALS AND INTERNALIZED MISOGYNY
Everhart believes that it is the patriarchy undertones in Christianity that has emphasized Mary’s virginity. From this sort of thinking, she, or others like her, seem to think the entire concept of virginity is an invention of the patriarchy, which totally invalidates my choice to remain a virgin.
I can’t believe that women who are feminists cannot see how insulting this view is, this mindset that says, if you are a female virgin, your virginity is not due to your own adult choice, but due to patriarchal programming.
This is a lot like left wing women who attributed any and all female votes for Donald Trump in the 2016 Presidential elections to “internalized misogyny.”
At some point, you, as a liberal feminist, need to realize and accept the fact that just because other women do not share your views on every social or political topic or practice, that this means it’s always due to “the patriarchy” or “internalized misogyny” or to “women hating other women.”
By attributing any and all choices of conservative women, or women with traditional values, up to “internalized misogyny,” you are also, just like patriarchalists, infantilizing grown women.
You (liberal feminists) are saying women are incapable of making their own damn life choices UNLESS those choices totally line up with left wing positions, or else you are conveying that adult women need liberals to tell them what to think and do.
Who is to say that all left wing practices and views about the female sex are “pro-woman”?
I find some liberal positions ANTI-woman, such as abortion: under abortion, a woman can and will terminate (murder) a female fetus. How is killing a girl baby “feminist” or “empowering?” It is not.
Third wave feminists teach women that it’s acceptable for them to sexually objectify themselves and to be and dress slutty and use their sexuality to gain attention and favor, when, in reality, all that behavior does in some cases is to ultimately cause disillusionment for women (see the secular dating advice book “He’s Just Not That Into You” for numerous examples, see also: “Anal Sex Ruined This Relationship“), it gains them broken hearts, dysfunctional relationships, and sexually transmitted diseases.
Not to mention, a woman objectifying herself plays into the hands of hetero men: it makes the women cater to the male gaze, so it’s not ultimately empowering but plays to hetero-normative sexism standards and assumptions.
Sometimes, left wing, secular feminists are all over the place on a topic, so they end up contradicting themselves – here is one example:
(Link): Secular Feminists: It Is Okay To Be A Slut But Not Dress Slutty For Halloween or for Companies to Sell Slutty Costumes -huh? Also: Wrong for men to objectify women but okay for women to objectify men -say what?
At one point in her editorial on WaPo, Everhart makes this comment:
For starters, I believe it’s impossible to be a good girl — meaning unblemished and pure — and also inhabit a body. It’s certainly true if you’ve been sexually assaulted, and may also be true if you are fortunate to not have been.
This gets back to the untrue trope that remaining a virgin past the age of 20 or 25 is “heroic” or impossible. No, it’s not. I’m over 40 and still a virgin, and I have a normal libido.
(Link): Typical Erroneous Teaching About Adult Celibacy Rears Its Head Again: To Paraphrase Speaker at Ethics and Public Policy Center: Lifelong Celibacy is “heroic ethical standard that is not expected of heteros, so it should not be expected of homosexuals” (ie, it’s supposedly an impossible feat for any human being to achieve)
Everhart writes (source, WaPo ed):
We want to pretend sexuality is something we can lock in a box and keep on a shelf. But a lockbox won’t work. Neither will a chastity belt or a purity ring. Certainly not the abstinence pledges they make young folks sign.
No, a chastity belt or a purity pledge won’t keep you a virgin until you marry, but your CHOICE and your SELF CONTROL will (again, I am speaking in terms of consensual sex).
I’ve been a virgin this long, into my 40s, due to self-control.
Anyone and everyone is capable of being sexually abstinent, but more often than not, they choose not to be.
God did not sprinkle magical Celibacy Dust on me which makes me impervious to sexual desire, nor did God kill my libido.
I still experience sexual desire – but I choose not to act on it. It’s nothing more complicated than that, and it is something anyone can achieve. (And I never wore a chastity belt, nor did I ever sign a purity pledge or wear a purity ring.)
Everhart writes (source, WaPo ed):
If you’re a woman, it’s [your body is] a complicated gift. But why does Mary’s story have to oppress women when it could liberate us?
Who says “Mary’s story” is oppressing women? I’m a woman, and I’ve never felt oppressed by her story.
Everhart writes (source, WaPo ed):
It [purity] does not have to mean unused, or sparkling white. Maybe the church could ask body-owners to weigh in about their experiences. …. Sometimes our bodies are at the mercy of others because the truth is that bodies are uniquely vulnerable, especially our sexual selves.
Yes, your vagina is supposed to remain “unused” for a penis entering it, until you are married: this is what the Bible teaches. The Bible is discussing consensual sex on this score, not rape.
Everhart writes (source, WaPo ed):
The world still needs to hear from Mary. What Mary gives us is the gospel — not a gospel of sanitized sexuality, but the gospel of incarnation.
Look, I’m a virgin over 40, and while I recognize that the Gospels mention that Jesus had no earthly father, and that Mary was a virgin when Jesus was conceived via the Holy Spirit, I never once ascribed any of this to “sanitized sexuality,” or took this to mean that the Bible was “idolizing virginity,” or that the Bible was telling women who were raped that they are, or were, “ruined.”
The whole point of Jesus being born of a virgin had to do in part with the fact of demonstrating his sinless nature. It was more a commentary on Jesus’ sin-less-ness than on the virginity of women in general or even of Mary’s in particular.
I think that some sexual assault victims are allowing their personal experiences to color how they read the biblical text way too much, or to color how they hear sermons on sexual purity (if churches still actually teach on sexual purity these days, because I doubt many do).
Remaining a virgin until marriage, or at least being celibate after having once been sexually active, can be emotionally or physically safer or healthier for people:
I am sorry for anyone who has been sexually assaulted, but I don’t find the unfortunate existence in our world of sexual assault to be a reason to go in full-scale attack mode on, or denial of, the Bible’s teachings about sexual ethics vis a vis CONSENSUAL SEX.
I don’t find the awful existence of rape in the world to be a justifiable reason to twist and distort (or deny) the Bible’s teachings that both men and women are to stay virgins until marriage (i.e., context of consensual sex).
As I said before, I don’t appreciate my choice to stay a virgin, so long as I am single and choose to remain one, to be ridiculed, dismissed, or attributed to “the patriarchy” or to “internalized misogyny” by feminists or sexual assault victims.
I am over 40 years old and still a virgin, by choice – I wonder if folks like Everhart find me “offensive” merely for existing?
(Link): Marcotte (secular, leftwing feminist) on Anyone Choosing To Be a Virgin Until Marriage: “It’s a Silly Idea” – What Progressive Christians, Conservative Christians, Non Christians, and Salon’s Amanda Marcotte Gets Wrong About Christian Views on Virginity
(Link): Sexual Equality, Sexual Decadence: The Emerging Menace of Female Predators – from The Other McCain – Also quotes feminists as saying Virginity Invalidates Lesbianism and is Hence a Terrible Concept