The Christian virginity cult

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The Christian virginity cult

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TylerR's picture
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Weird and Disturbing

This was a particularly weird and disturbing article. Neither the author nor the critics he sites in the piece appear to have any idea what the rationale behind 1 Peter 1:16 and Lev 19:2 is. This article frightens me.

TylerR is the Pastor of Faith Baptist Church in Divernon, Il. He blogs here

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Culture

I've seen, up close, the kind of 'virginity cults' described by the author of the article (as well as in the links). Someone said that this emphasis on virginity, which seems to be directed mostly toward women, is the flip side of our sexually exploitative culture, in that women are STILL being defined by their sexuality, instead of as a human being. I wholeheartedly agree with that premise.

Isn't it odd that you don't see any 'purity proms' with moms giving their sons purity rings (or watches or, angels forfend, belt buckles) and extracting promises from them that they will remain virgins? 

Sexual purity is important, but it isn't the only important thing, nor should it become such a defining issue of worthiness. I've actually heard a father tell his daughter that she might as well have sex because she had given away her first kiss. She was dirty, damaged, and could never be whole again. He didn't even know if he could hold his head up walking her down the aisle at her wedding, knowing that when she kissed her husband at the altar, her lips had already known another man's. 

Building one another up in Godly love and encouraging the fruits of the Spirit to flourish would take care of the sexual purity issue for both men and women, as well as a host of other moral ills. We don't need Band-Aids, we need open heart surgery.

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Susan

I too noticed that the article was oriented exclusively towards young ladies, and didn't mention young men once. There is a tendency to stress female modesty and deportment, not recognizing that these are commands for both men and women.

I also noticed, in my post above, I misspelled "sites" when it should have been "cites." Yikes!

TylerR is the Pastor of Faith Baptist Church in Divernon, Il. He blogs here

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A few points

There's a couple of points that I want to make on this.

First off, Fundamentalists and CE's (I suppose CEs) are so well known for hammering the importance of purity into young women that it has (in my opinion) become an unhealthy fixation.  It's unhealthy because it doesn't teach about the value and merits of sex and the purposes that God has given to it.  Sex is treated as something that's 'bad, bad, bad' until you get married, when it suddenly becomes 'OK'.  

Next, because of that unhealthy fixation, women that 'blow it' are more likely (from what I can tell) to walk away from their faith entirely because now they've given away the one thing that usually gets hammered into them and they can't deal with the guilt that they now have to handle.  If you don't believe me, spend some time reading the accounts of women who have grown up in our circles and have headed into radical feminism...there's almost always a reference to the value of their bodies somewhere (either because they wanted to sleep with someone and couldn't or because they did sleep with someone and found out that intimacy wasn't the terrible, horrible thing that it was portrayed as).

It also places so much of a burden on the will to resist temptation instead of placing a demand with the mindset of a 'reasonable service' because of our redemption through Christ (Rom. 12:1-2).  

Another major problem is that these kinds of pleas are usually aimed more at women, when they should be aimed more at young men, who are supposed to be the leaders in the home and church.  It's not on the women to carry the burden of making sure that they remain pure - because that's not their burden to carry.  It's the men's role to protect her from evil (Song 8:8-10 for starters).  Do women have a part in that responsibility?  Yes.  But the primary protectors and providers in the family unit are fathers and husbands.

Also, once a person does sin by engaging in sex, people treat them as if they're utterly worthless and horrible people who are beyond redemption or use.  This video of Matt Chandler's presentation from the DG 2009 Conference sums that perspective well and emphasizes the key point of the issue - Jesus takes anyone from their sin (hetero or homo, adulterous or premarital, single or non-single) and redeems them.  He saves us from the sin and misery that we choose - even sexual sin.

We need to communicate a better purpose for sex and purity - that God's purpose for men and women is so much more than chasing the fallen and sinful illusions that the world around us wants to buy into.

"Our task today is to tell people — who no longer know what sin is...no longer see themselves as sinners, and no longer have room for these categories — that Christ died for sins of which they do not think they’re guilty." - David Wells

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Imbalance, Proverbs and "results arguments"

Sensitive subject...  I agree that there is a cultural tradition of locating too much of the responsibility for purity on young women. Want to be clear about that. On the other hand, it's interesting how Scripture looks on that score. Taking Proverbs as the example that comes quickest to mind, the emphasis is on the seductive power of women of poor character (Prov 2.16 ff, Prov. 5:3ff) but, at the same time, the message is directed toward young men to avoid that snare.

So a biblical balance probably lies in the direction of teaching both the young men and the young women about equal in amount, but differently in nuance.

But the whole "stay pure or you'll ruin your life" message has a built in problem: over-reliance on results arguments. It's true that the Bible uses results reasoning for appeals to avoid sin--and so should we--but it also has so many, many calls to deeper motivations. The good pleasure of God is so much more important than varying degrees of trouble in life. What parents and church leaders teach the young should reflect that.

(I do remember as a teen hearing several preachers speak of one sin or other in terms of if you do this you've permanently wrecked God's plan for your life. I had the impression at the time that most of us weren't buying it. Chalked it up to evangelistic hyperbole. But maybe my impression was wrong. It just seems obvious that you can't make that fit the Bible. Rahab and David come to mind, but then you have Moses, Paul, John-Mark, all of the "such were some of you" folks in Corinth, etc. It's just not how "God's plan for your life" works.)

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Sexual Sin is Different

According to 1 Cor. 6:18-20, God views sexual immorality differently than other sin and on par with idolatry. I think downplaying the importance that God places on purity by lumping it into the other sins we commit cheapens the importance of our purity to God.

That being said, purity (not virginity) should be what we stress with our teenagers and young adults, both male and female, because one's virginity is not necessarily an indication of one's purity.

In the FWIW category, the reason young women seem to be targeted more with messages concerning virginity may be that they are the ones who usually decide how far the relationship will progress. This, of course, implies that a guy will go as far as a girl is willing to go in the relationship. Right or wrong, this seems to me as a common relational dynamic in the dating relationship.

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Suggest....

Reading Col. 3.5   ... or doing a study on idolatry in general. Lots of things are idolatrous.

The biblically authoritative basis we have for putting sexual sin in a special category is indeed passages like 1Cor.6:18ff. But even then, the Bible does not teach that this sin is "worse" than others, but that it is special.

But lots of sins are special in different ways. Check out Prov. 6.16-19... six sins God especially hates and fornication doesn't even make the list. (Of course, you do have warnings about sexual sin in the next set of verses Prov 6:21-24).

 

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Who's in charge

T Howard wrote:

In the FWIW category, the reason young women seem to be targeted more with messages concerning virginity may be that they are the ones who usually decided how far the relationship will progress. This, of course, implies that a guy will go as far as a girl is willing to go in the relationship. Right or wrong, this seems to me as a common relational dynamic in the dating relationship.

It is interesting that this is the relational dynamic, even in churches. Sounds contradictory that men aren't "in charge of" the relationship dynamic until after marriage. 

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Relational Dynamic

Susan,

I don't want to be crass here, but even in marriage when it comes to sexual intimacy, it's usually the wife who decides if there is going to  be love making.  If the guy decided, love making would happen multiple times per day (at least until ED kicked in).

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Aaron Blumer wrote:Reading

Aaron Blumer wrote:

Reading Col. 3.5   ... or doing a study on idolatry in general. Lots of things are idolatrous.

What does God most liken idolatry to in the OT? My only point here is that these two are often linked together in Scriptures.

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T Howard wrote:In the FWIW

T Howard wrote:
In the FWIW category, the reason young women seem to be targeted more with messages concerning virginity may be that they are the ones who usually decide how far the relationship will progress. This, of course, implies that a guy will go as far as a girl is willing to go in the relationship. Right or wrong, this seems to me as a common relational dynamic in the dating relationship.

T Howard, those are all good points, and I agree with you on the flawed dynamic that is present in a 'dating' relationship (not to veer into the courtship-dating debate).  Even in your argument though, you make my point - the woman will go as far as she will let the man take her, hence the passage in Songs that I mentioned earlier.

I believe someone mentioned that the emphasis on keeping pure is on the women - If I can challenge that one point, let's think about what Proverbs said to the men in Proverbs chapters 2-6.  The instruction is almost always pointed at the young men.  Maybe that's because we as guys are more easily drawn away by lust and immodesty than the ladies are, but the emphasis as far as I know is aimed at guys.  Even Proverbs 31 is directed at guys, although that chapter is  describing the value of a good wife (cf v. 10).

Even the personification of Wisdom a woman is primarily someone who is in a helper role to the men - come to me and I will show you how how to be wise, how to gain wisdom, how to live wisely, etc.

Just thought those were interesting.  DanPhillips can probably add a lot more to this conversation that I could.

"Our task today is to tell people — who no longer know what sin is...no longer see themselves as sinners, and no longer have room for these categories — that Christ died for sins of which they do not think they’re guilty." - David Wells

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Indoctrination

T Howard wrote:

Susan,

I don't want to be crass here, but even in marriage when it comes to sexual intimacy, it's usually the wife who decides if there is going to  be love making.

Perhaps part of the problem is this constant emphasis on women as sexual conquests instead of as fellow human beings. I think it has already been noted that sex is preached and discussed in churches in a way that makes it sound shameful, disgusting, abomination, etc.. and then all of the sudden it's not just OK, it's supposed to be wonderful. This same preaching and teaching also leads to young men reducing women to sexual objects as well. Just because they aren't being shown porn doesn't mean that they aren't being negatively affected by the constant barrage of purity and modesty messages aimed at girls.

I've had many conversations with young men whose Future Wife Wish List was limited to cooking, taking care of the home and the children, and taking care of him. No mention of her as a person, merely as maid, nanny, and sex object. And then they get married, and lo and behold, that is how they treat her. 

The article points at a couple of extremes, and there is a real danger, IMO, of going off the deep end either way. Much of the purity movement, as well-intentioned as it might be, with proms and promises and rings and dates with dad, gives me the heebie-jeebies. 

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Afraid of the Topic

How much of this lack of discussion on proper, Biblical sexuality within the marriage relationship stems from the fact that most people are simply afraid of talking about it? Therefore, they limit the message to "No sex before marriage," and, perhaps unwittingly, turn their gaze towards the teen girls when they utter this proclamation.

TylerR is the Pastor of Faith Baptist Church in Divernon, Il. He blogs here

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Susan R wrote:Perhaps part

Susan R wrote:

Perhaps part of the problem is this constant emphasis on women as sexual conquests instead of as fellow human beings. I think it has already been noted that sex is preached and discussed in churches in a way that makes it sound shameful, disgusting, abomination, etc.. and then all of the sudden it's not just OK, it's supposed to be wonderful. This same preaching and teaching also leads to young men reducing women to sexual objects as well...

I've had many conversations with young men whose Future Wife Wish List was limited to cooking, taking care of the home and the children, and taking care of him. No mention of her as a person, merely as maid, nanny, and sex object. And then they get married, and lo and behold, that is how they treat her.

 

Susan, I would suggest the guy's fascination with conjugal intimacy is less about viewing his wife as a "sexual conquest" or "non-person" than it is about being a young guy with testosterone oozing out of his ears and finally given the green light to enjoy sexual pleasure. So, I wouldn't necessarily frame this dynamic in terms of power (though many do) but in terms of biology. Most men want to have sex as much as possible. They don't need romantic candlelight dinners, flowers, or Claire de Lune to get in the mood. That is how they are wired from puberty.

That being said, guys are normally the initiators in the sexual encounter (despite what Proverbs may lead one to conclude).  But, it's most often the woman who decides whether sexual intimacy will actually occur.  This relationship dynamic is usually true both before and during marriage.

As this relates to our topic, again I believe purity should be emphasized to both genders. However, the reality is that women are the ones who ultimately decide if the relationship turns sexual. 

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T Howard?

Why are the husbands the only ones who initiate it?   My thinking is that maybe the husbands need to figure out how to be a bit more sensitive to what their wives want.  Instead of always trying to get what they want give her what she wants and then maybe the wives would initiate it.   This is a Biblical issue- husbands love your wives- dwell with them according to knowledge.  In other words if we learn to show love for them in the sexual relationship, then we should not be surprised if they initiate something that will bring them pleasure.

Further, I must confront the terribly flawed thinking that the girl has to be the one to put on the brakes because the boy will never stop.  If our Christian single men are that depraved, we need to start preaching at them and holding them accountable for their actions instead of just suggesting that they are a lost cause so the girl has to take responsibility.  Both are responsible.   Both need to be taught to put the brakes on. 

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POV

Bro. Howard,

I agree that what you posted is considered 'normal' for a guy, but I was speaking more from the girl's POV. If she perceives that she is being objectified, she is going to avoid intimacy. Both girls and guys, IMO, are being taught (as described in the OP) that a woman's worth is inextricably linked to her sexuality. Girls are also taught that this is their burden to bear, and that it is a source of shame. Boys hear this as well, and let's face it- perception is reality. 

Are guys called "damaged goods" because they've engaged in sexual conduct? Has anyone here heard it said that no girl will want a boy that isn't a virgin? Are boys  given tokens for promising to be sexually pure? Do they go on 'dates' with their moms so that she can talk to them about saving themselves for marriage? Are they ever referred to as 'technical virgins' because they've done everything else? 

There are other areas where guys are under pressure to meet some kind of ideal, but this thread is about how we convey messages of a woman's worth by constantly harping on whether or not she is sexually pure. 

 

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 The mentality that "A girl

 The mentality that "A girl has sex once (whether she was a willing participant or not) outside of marriage and she is a slut-A guy has multiple *flings* and he is just a normal guy"  is sadly a mentality that is present even in our churches. 

I would also like to point out the very sad and unnecessary burden a lot of the "virginity" talks place on girls (and guys) who were forced into sexual activity.  (for that matter the "be a sex goddess for your husband or you aren't a godly wife" talks also)  The very sad statistics on the number of children abused do not leave the church untouched.  The mentality that if you have lost your virginity you are broken, dirty, unlovable and any number of other terms is so very damaging.     

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Susan R wrote: Bro. Howard, I

Susan R wrote:

Bro. Howard,

I agree that what you posted is considered 'normal' for a guy, but I was speaking more from the girl's POV. If she perceives that she is being objectified, she is going to avoid intimacy. Both girls and guys, IMO, are being taught (as described in the OP) that a woman's worth is inextricably linked to her sexuality. Girls are also taught that this is their burden to bear, and that it is a source of shame. Boys hear this as well, and let's face it- perception is reality. 

Are guys called "damaged goods" because they've engaged in sexual conduct? Has anyone here heard it said that no girl will want a boy that isn't a virgin? Are boys  given tokens for promising to be sexually pure? Do they go on 'dates' with their moms so that she can talk to them about saving themselves for marriage? Are they ever referred to as 'technical virgins' because they've done everything else? 

There are other areas where guys are under pressure to meet some kind of ideal, but this thread is about how we convey messages of a woman's worth by constantly harping on whether or not she is sexually pure. 

 

+1 

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Sadly, another side of this

Sadly, another side of this discussion is missed entirely.  Some people seem to think that since they are Christians, there should not be any consequence to anything they have done in the past.  To say otherwise is to be legalistic or judgmental.  Truth is, there are consequences to everything we do.  Sex sin is unique in that it is against the body.  A girl who willingly engages in sex will face consequences that the pure girl doesn't, whether Christian or not.

God is serious about sex sin.  The OT had all kinds of consequences for it.  The NT also calls it out and forbids it.

This isn't to say it is unpardonable.  It does reflect bad judgment in a major way though.

Separate topic, but if a girl used credit cards to get $80k in debt and then acted like it shouldn't matter because she is a Christian and guys need to overlook that, she would be a fool.  Same for the person who chooses to have sex outside of marriage.  It matters.  Don't be foolish.  Don't hide behind popular Christian idiocy.

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JD Miller wrote:Why are the

JD Miller wrote:
Why are the husbands the only ones who initiate it?

I'm not saying that men/husbands should be the only ones who initiate coitus, but that it is generally true that guys initiate sexual relations because they are biologically driven to do so. I agree with you that men need to be considerate and understanding of their wives in this area, and realize that their wife is generally not wired to desire sex as frequently as they are.

Susan R wrote:
Are guys called "damaged goods" because they've engaged in sexual conduct? Has anyone here heard it said that no girl will want a boy that isn't a virgin? Are boys  given tokens for promising to be sexually pure?

Is it wrong for a guy to desire to marry a woman who has saved herself for marriage? If not, then there is nothing wrong with passing over certain women whom he knows or finds out have had prior sexual relationships. Call it "damaged goods" or not, there are consequences for sin as James K points out. For some guys, marrying a woman who has remained sexually pure is important, especially if he has remained sexually pure as well. But, as I've stated earlier, the biblical imperative of purity among believers is much greater than whether they are technically virgins.

 

Crystal wrote:
I would also like to point out the very sad and unnecessary burden a lot of the "virginity" talks place on girls (and guys) who were forced into sexual activity.

Agreed. However, most people would (I hope) acknowledge a profound difference exists between consensual sex and rape / sexual abuse when it comes to purity.

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Talking past each other

I do not believe that the main article was implying that there were not or should not be consequences for the terrible sin of fornication.  Consider this quote from the article:

Thankfully, healing is possible for couples who do not abstain. The gospel of Jesus Christ can overcome any sin! Still, pastors who counsel couples tell me the process of restoring trust is long and painful.

And the final line:

Just do not make allowance for the lustful flesh.

The point that we all need to take away from this article as implied by the OP is that we should never assume that a marriage is doomed to failure simply because the sin of fornication took place.  The sin is terrible- whether a guy or a girl does it (James K, you may not have intended to, but it sounded like you were only concerned if the girl did it, not if the guy did it)- but that does not mean that those who have committed it should give up on the idea of a godly marriage. 

Perhaps I am naive (we waited- my father-in-law was really upset that we even held hands) so I do not personally understand the struggles of others who did not wait, but I do know what the scripture teaches about forgiveness.   Forgiveness does not erase consequences, but we need to be careful about an attitude that suggests that this sin is so serious that forgiveness should be withheld.  I believe that withholding forgiveness in this area will do far more damage to a marriage than the sin of fornication did and I believe that the sin of fornication does have serious consequences.  Thus the consequences of not recognizing grace (forgiving others and accepting God's forgiveness) are really serious. 

Further, a Biblical understanding of grace grasps that a sin was committed that needs grace.  Biblical grace is not the idea that we can just do whatever we want because it really isn't sin.

I almost get the impression from some that they are saying that they have forgiven, but that the consequences are so serious that they need to keep dredging up this sin and making sure that the person who committed it feels guilty for the rest of their lives.  (I do not mean to imply that anyone here is thinking along these lines, I am simply stating that this is how some people feel when this discussion comes up- yet another one of the consequences I guess)

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Flatly disagree

I'm not saying this is true of THoward (I don't know how he actually feels personally), but I can't let this pass by.

If not, then there is nothing wrong with passing over certain women whom he knows or finds out have had prior sexual relationships. Call it "damaged goods" or not, there are consequences for sin as James K points out. For some guys, marrying a woman who has remained sexually pure is important, especially if he has remained sexually pure as well. But, as I've stated earlier, the biblical imperative of purity among believers is much greater than whether they are technically virgins.

If "love" for a girlfriend or fiancée is predicated on whether or not she's been with a man, then that person doesn't really love her.  Not according to Biblical love.  Love is others-focused, not selfishly seeking it's own benefit (I Cor. 13:4-8, Philippians 2:1-11). Furthermore, that kind of article proves the point of the article that is linked to the OP.

Furthermore, why would it be acceptable to break up with a woman on the basis of her sexual state when almost all men are whoremongers dozens of times over, according to Matthew 5:27-30?  Yes, lust is different from the act of sex, but how is one kind of impurity really any different to God? Jesus essentially said that they're the same thing in v.28.

"Our task today is to tell people — who no longer know what sin is...no longer see themselves as sinners, and no longer have room for these categories — that Christ died for sins of which they do not think they’re guilty." - David Wells

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I'm Glad God is Not Like Men

JD Miller wrote

I almost get the impression from some that they are saying that they have forgiven, but that the consequences are so serious that they need to keep dredging up this sin and making sure that the person who committed it feels guilty for the rest of their lives.  (I do not mean to imply that anyone here is thinking along these lines, I am simply stating that this is how some people feel when this discussion comes up- yet another one of the consequences I guess)

I was a little bothered that I did not make this last paragraph a bit more clear.  We should be bothered by the sin of fornication, but we should also be bothered by the sins of unforgiveness and judgmentalism.  If someone says they have granted forgiveness but keeps dredging something up to make the other person feel guilty, that is not forgiveness.  I would council Christian couples where there is fornication in the past that it should be confessed (admit that it was sinful) and forgiveness should be granted and it should not be dredged up again.  1 John 1:9 says, "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness."  If a sinless God will do that, why won't the rest of us do that?  "Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted." (Galatians 6:1)

 

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Jay, a couple of things

Jay, a couple of things here:

Some might not get to that point with a girlfriend of loving them.  I found out from my now wife pretty early on.  I will be asking any potential boyfriend to my daughter very early on.

Again, those who engage in sex outside marriage demonstrate at the very least extremely poor judgment.  Given the plethora of STDs and teenage/single moms, I can't call it anything but foolish.  It isn't love to have sex prior to marriage, so it betrays a failure of understanding love also.

I wouldn't marry a girl with a gambling problem or drug abuse for the same reason.  It has nothing to do with being selfish.  Don't forget that in Eph 5, it is said that no man hates his own flesh, which is why he must care for his wife.  The idea that love has nothing to do with your own well being is not a complete picture of love.  In that same passage, we are told that Christ gave his life SO THAT he could present the church to HIMSELF in splendor.

I have no problem with a person marrying someone who was promiscuous before marriage.  I would just advise that same person about thinking through the decision to marry, so they know what they are getting into.

The strange thing is that those who were promiscuous are now the judgmental ones.  They get to stand back and judge others who might look down upon those things.  How bizarre is that?

Those things done in the darkness were shameful.  If you don't think there is shame in it, then I would question whether any actual repentance took place in regard to that.  What is to keep that same mindset from justifying adultery?  The Christian neither glories in nor lives in that shame.

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We've been here before

What the critics of the "Virginity Cults" are saying is pretty similar to what Hollywood personalities, sex-researchers, et. al. were saying 50 years ago (including: "for the preachers, this is the biggest sin there is"). In the 1940s and 1950s groups like YFC laid major stress on keeping yourself pure. Teen-agers often gave this point as a part of their public testimonies (all information written down). Now it is the voices of Evangelicals who are calling this talk twisted. According to Josh McDowell (don't have another source) the vast majority of men and women in America in 1900 waited until marriage to have sex. By the 1970s that had reversed. Now in Evangelical churches the majority of young people have slept with the opposite sex before marriage. And you say we are overstressing virginity???

 

When people have sex with one-another, they don't just engage in a sexual act. They give away part of their personality. That is how God created it. You don't get it back. God meant we should share ourselves this way with our spouses. I have said this a few times from the pulpit. Each time someone says, "What you said is so true!" Sometimes they have said, "I wish I had heard this as a teen-ager." If virginity were so unimportant, the Bible would never have laid such stress on it for the church (2 Corinthians 11:2). I doubt seriously if the majority of the people in my church kept themselves pure before marriage. Most of them were saved after they were 20. But I find it interesting that they want to teach their children to follow the Scriptures and remain pure.

 

This is an emotional subject, but if Christians want to head down the right path on this one, they need to look specifically at what God's Word says about chastity before and after marriage (there is plenty there), what love is all about, how to express it before and after marriage.

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for Jay

Jay, are you saying that because most men (let's say 95% - happens in a couple of seconds) have committed mental adultery, they have no right to say, "I'm not going to begin a serious relationship with a girl that I know has been sleeping around?"

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I just find this to be a very

I just find this to be a very bizarre thread.  I am quite disappointed at the lack of thoughtfulness here.  Great appeal to 2 Cor 11:2.

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Jesus did not equate the

Jesus did not equate the thoughts/actions in Matthew 5.  He did point to what made a person guilty of sin before God.  The one with contempt has sinned like the murderer.  The lustful has sinned like the adulterer.

1 Kings 8:60 - so that all the peoples of the earth may know that the LORD is God and that there is no other.

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James K and Marsilius

Do they have that right? Yes, I suppose they do, and the woman should have likewise right.  That being said, just because you can do something doesn't mean you should.  Furthermore, it would strike me as a complete misunderstanding of "love" to do so. 

Let me be clearer here - I'm talking about men that find out that their women have slept with someone and then break off the relationship as a direct result of that.  It's probably fairly rare, but it's very telling about the person who is the person who hasn't sinned (to borrow from John).  If you truly love someone, then their virginal state shouldn't matter to you.

Furthermore, James, that kind of IS my point - the lustful man is just as guilty as a woman who has slept with someone in God's eyes.  Are the consequences the same?  No.  But it's the same offense before God, which is really the Person we should be worried about offending.

"Our task today is to tell people — who no longer know what sin is...no longer see themselves as sinners, and no longer have room for these categories — that Christ died for sins of which they do not think they’re guilty." - David Wells

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Let me illustrate

Let's say Aaron is engaged to Erica.  Aaron finds out that Erica was, for a time, addicted to marijuana.  Erica has repented of her sin (and crime), and has made restitution to state and any other parties.  Erica has put that behind her, and she feels the need to level with Aaron after he takes her past an old dealer unknowingly to the way to a party, so she talks to him about it.  A few weeks later, Aaron says he just can't get past that in his mind and breaks off the engagement (let's say because he's studying to be a Pastor).

Did he do the right thing?  Why or why not? Is this situation fundamentally any different to Aaron, Erica, or God from what I said in the previous post?  Is it different just because we replaced 'sex' with 'drugs'?

That kind of stuff happens, guys, and this is where the theology has to lay rubber down on the road.

* I should note that I'm not thinking of anyone in particular here and chose names at random.

"Our task today is to tell people — who no longer know what sin is...no longer see themselves as sinners, and no longer have room for these categories — that Christ died for sins of which they do not think they’re guilty." - David Wells

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Jay wrote: Let's say Aaron is

Jay wrote:

Let's say Aaron is engaged to Erica......* I should note that I'm not thinking of anyone in particular here and chose names at random.

Whew - I was worried about Aaron there for a minute.

Why is it that my voice always seems to be loudest when I am saying the dumbest things?

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Or

Let's say a woman comes to you for counsel, having found out her husband was unfaithful to her on a business trip. She wants out of the marriage now as a result of his one time affair.  What do you say?  Is it really different if her husband has also come to you before this, repented, and told his wife about the affair after hearing your counsel on how to make things right?

"Our task today is to tell people — who no longer know what sin is...no longer see themselves as sinners, and no longer have room for these categories — that Christ died for sins of which they do not think they’re guilty." - David Wells

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Virtue Ethic vs. Metaphysical State

I take it that the OP is interested primarily in the way that the moral concept of chastity gets confused with the metaphysical concept of virginity. The concept of virginity derives from anatomy, and based on that anatomy 1) it applies only to women, 2) it is irreversible, and 3) issues of circumstance and agency are beside the point (that is, how one loses one's virginity doesn't at all affect whether one does). 

Thus, I don't think that virginity is a useful moral concept. It stems from a time when female overlapped with property to an uncomfortable degree and when morality was conceived primarily in terms of honor vs. shame. This is evident in the way that many women in the ancient world would be anatomically inspected to ensure that she was, quite literally, not damaged goods. 

Rather, the issue is chastity. Chastity is a moral virtue that consists in the proper reservation of affections, and their attendant acts, for the appropriate recipients. Chastity is a relatively attainable state regardless of one's past or present and regardless of one's marital state. It should not be confused with abstinence, since sexual activity can be chaste as long as it is properly directed (Heb. 13:4). 

Some of the comments made here show, I think, that the confusion between chastity and virginity is widespread. Obviously, no one should want to engage in marriage with someone currently living in an immoral lifestyle, just like no one should want to unite himself or herself to an incapacitated alcoholic or a degenerate gambler. Further, it is surely within someone's right to be cautious about someone who has a history of immorality, gambling, or substance abuse, even if that person seems to be on the straight for now. One must think of the future. All of these examples, though, consider the virtue of the person being considered as a spouse. 

However, in this thread I see a resurfacing of the metaphysical concept virginity rather than a concentration on the virtue of chastity. I think it is unreasonable to disqualify someone for marriage just because has had sex. Would we disqualify someone simply for trying a beer at a college party or having taken a trip to a casino once? I think that even a minor criminal offense, such as teenage shoplifting, would probably be overlooked several years down the line.  The overwhelming focus on a single action that irreversibly, permanently results in a new state betrays metaphysical rather than moral/virtuous thinking.

My Blog: www.sacredpage.wordpress.com

Cor meum tibi offero Domine prompte et sincere. ~ John Calvin

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Jay wrote: Do they have that

Jay wrote:

Do they have that right? Yes, I suppose they do, and the woman should have likewise right.  That being said, just because you can do something doesn't mean you should.  Furthermore, it would strike me as a complete misunderstanding of "love" to do so. 

Let me be clearer here - I'm talking about men that find out that their women have slept with someone and then break off the relationship as a direct result of that.  It's probably fairly rare, but it's very telling about the person who is the person who hasn't sinned (to borrow from John).  If you truly love someone, then their virginal state shouldn't matter to you.

Furthermore, James, that kind of IS my point - the lustful man is just as guilty as a woman who has slept with someone in God's eyes.  Are the consequences the same?  No.  But it's the same offense before God, which is really the Person we should be worried about offending.

Jay, until two people are married, they are free to continue in said relationship or not.  It isn't a matter of sin to break it off or continue.  And yes, either party can choose to continue or break it off.  It isn't as though only the guy can reject the girl.

Why would you not find out early on if the other person has been sexually active?  At some point would it be worth finding out if the person you plan to marry might have an STD?

As to Matthew 5, I kind of thought it was, but I wanted to put it a little differently.

1 Kings 8:60 - so that all the peoples of the earth may know that the LORD is God and that there is no other.

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Something to consider...

Something to consider...

http://www.theamericanconservative.com/dreher/to-be-a-girl-in-this-culture/

 

I would observe that there are two things to consider here:

1. Maintaining an ideal for conduct for those we raise and nurture in our homes.

2. How do we communicate a message of hope and redemption to those who have been raised in the depraved world system we live in.

 

1 Corinthians 6:9-20 seems pertinent here. We are to flee immorality, according to the latter portion of the chapter, which is pertinent to concern #1. Verse 11 reminds those who have transgressed, though, that their hope and cleansing comes through the work of Jesus Christ. There is room, nay, a mandate, for emphasis on purity and chastity (which in the ideal scenario includes not just physical virginity, as the article linked to reminds us). At the same time, we need to be careful that in upholding that standard, that we do not do so at the expense of a message of hope and redemption for those who have sinned in this area. There is freedom from the bondage they have known (and it is a system that traps and enslaves).

Greg Linscott
Marshall, MN

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Point

James K wrote:
Why would you not find out early on if the other person has been sexually active?  At some point would it be worth finding out if the person you plan to marry might have an STD?

Actually, the thought of asking my now wife about that never even crossed my mind when I was dating and engaged.  If it had come up, then I would have wanted to check on STDs if there was a risk, but I don't think that it should have changed the decision to marry. 

I guess what I'm saying is that we have to stop forcing people to live in the 'ideal' and live in the 'real'.  Very, very few people will grow up in a hermetically sealed dome of perfect Christianity.  That, and huge portion of Christianity is bringing the hope of the gospel to bear on sinners that have wrecked their lives.

"Our task today is to tell people — who no longer know what sin is...no longer see themselves as sinners, and no longer have room for these categories — that Christ died for sins of which they do not think they’re guilty." - David Wells

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I appreciate Charlie's post,

I appreciate Charlie's post, I think it is very appropriate. The confusion of purity with virginity sparked trouble when I was a young man. Thus the sense that if one is still a virgin, he/she is pure (as youth, we knew that wasn't technically true, but you can justify a lot of things); therefore, there was a quest to remain a "technical virgin" and thus remain "technically pure." It sounds very similar to the Pharisaical issues in the days of Christ. Yet our hearts (mine and my young friends) were anything but pure. Sexual activity before marriage was the fruit of an impure mind and heart, not the cause of an impure mind. That distinction is important because confusing that distinction is what can lead to a misunderstanding of the amazing and blessed sexual relationship in marriage. 

One thing that I was confused with as a teen and I hope by God's grace, to teach my three sons and soon to be born daughter, but notably my sons is that great emotional and intellectual damage is done in the mind of the promiscuous boy/teen/YA who allows his flesh and sexual desire to control him. Whether it is engaging in masturbation with pornography, sexual acts but not necessarily intercourse, or sexual intercourse. The chief damage I did to myself as a young man was that I viewed young women as a means to satisfy my desires. I did not mistreat women violently, abusively, or cruelly, but maybe I did something just as bad, I deceived my mind through habituation of sexual preoccupation, to believe that my satisfaction was my highest end. So I told them I loved them, I took them on dates, I touched their arm ever so briefly, I kissed them passionately in an effort to get them to love me, then they would "return" the affection. I am not saying, all men were as I, but I believe most teen young men are as I. There is just not enough maturity present in a normal teen's mind and soul to play around with such a powerful thing as affection and love. And so this is how I understand what the Scripture says in that the one who fornicates sins against his own body. I sinned against my mind, and taught myself ungodly habits, desires. When I was engaged, God graciously began to "unteach" all the selfish and wicked desires that I had taught myself while I was in my youth. My immorality as a youth was a hindrance to learning what it meant to love GOd with all my heart, soul and mind and strength. It was a hindrance to me learning how to selflessly love my wife as Christ loves his church. But I did more damage than simply losing virginity or stealing a girls virginity. I also gave these daughters of God a wrong view of a godly man. I led them to believe my lies of love and affection. I taught them to mistrust their future husband, I taught them to believe that men played with hearts. I taught them to give their hearts and bodies over to a mere man, rather than to devote themselves to the love of God, and then to their spouses and children. But where sin abounds grace does much more abound! And I thank God that I and they obtained mercy. Sex before marriage did not ruin my marriage, nor my wife, nor my children. But God did need to retrain my thinking, and he still is, so that I might learn what true selfless love is. I have a long way to go, but God is glorious in grace.

On another note, my wife dealt with this differently. We have been married for 12 years and we are delighted with one another, we have been blessed with 3 1/2 children. But when we were dating, God had recently restored me through repentance and faith from my selfish, backslidden condition. I felt it was necessary to inform her of my past sins of immorality. She had grown up praying for God to bring her a "pure" (read: virgin) spouse. She immediately burst into tears and for some time struggled with bitterness because (in her words) she had kept herself pure, and God had not answered her prayer. Thankfully, God mercifully matured her and helped her see, that her purity and virginity was not means to getting her prayers answered. And God had to teach her an important lesson of forgiveness and restoration. But I also had to learn a lesson that I had no right to impose my "But that was in the past and you need to accept me" attitude. Repentance means willingly humbling yourself under the consequences of sin. Remember David and his interaction with Shimei. So I know firsthand both sides of the "purity" movement. God is so gracious, he is able to abase and and to exalt. 

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Tidbit from and oldly-wed

My wife and I were married 12/28/1974 in Hillsborough County, Florida (Tampa)

Back then a syphilis blood test was required (both parties) to get a marriage license. 

http://www.intelihealth.com/IH/ihtIH/WSIHW000/35320/35323/361888.html?d=...

The reason for syphilis testing is that detecting this disease before people marry may allow the infected person to be treated before the partner becomes infected. In addition, detecting and treating syphilis in the woman can prevent transmission of the disease and its complications to her fetus in the event of future pregnancy. In this way, transmission through the population could be reduced or even eliminated (though, of course, this assumed that sexual activity was occurring primarily among married people).

When these programs began in the 1930s and 1940s in the United States, syphilis and other sexually transmitted diseases were reportedly very common, especially in big cities. There was considerable fear that syphilis could spread throughout the population — that is, it was truly a public health concern. The discovery of a blood test that could identify past or current exposure to syphilis led to widespread screening programs targeting those about to marry. If evidence of infection was discovered, treatment could be required before the couple could marry.

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Jay wrote:If "love" for a

Jay wrote:
If "love" for a girlfriend or fiancée is predicated on whether or not she's been with a man, then that person doesn't really love her.  Not according to Biblical love.  Love is others-focused, not selfishly seeking it's own benefit (I Cor. 13:4-8, Philippians 2:1-11). Furthermore, that kind of article proves the point of the article that is linked to the OP.

Jay, I think this objection has already been answered by others, but important conversations like this should take place before someone commits to a relationship with someone else. You would certainly ask the person you were interested in whether they were believers before committing to a relationship, would you not? Similarly, there are other important issues that would need to be discussed before "love" entered into the equation. It is perfectly legitimate to reject someone based on them not meeting the criteria you're looking for in a potential spouse.

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I appreciate the turn this

I appreciate the turn this discussion has taken. It has been very helpful.

 

Virginity in the Bible is NOT simply a female issue (see Revelation 14:4). As a subject it appears frequently in both OT and NT. It falls in the realm of chastity, is not as broad as chastity, and does not always mean pure in heart.

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If my daughter were to ask

If my daughter were to ask about a purity ring or a purity ball the answer would be "You don't need a ring or a ball, we assume your purity until otherwise demonstrated and if demonstrated otherwise you, not we, will have to live with those consequences". But that never happened since she already knew the answer having been given in response to so many other things containing the same or similar principles.

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Great post, Bro. Matthew

I have heard preaching about purity that implied, if indeed it wasn't baldly stated, that remaining pure was some kind of guarantee of future marital bliss, just as a lack thereof was an unavoidable curse. 

There has been more than one young man (that I know personally) walk down the aisle with a young women who was a virgin in body but not in mind. That should of just as much concern as the state of a girl's physical purity. 

Any sin we commit has consequences, and some carry more baggage with them than others- I'm not attempting to downplay that at all. The problem IMO is when we attach a consequence to a particular sin that the Bible doesn't. No one should have to carry a scarlet letter for sexual sin that has been repented of. We are all much more than the sum of our past sins, and none of us are in a position to deem another person unworthy of love or companionship because of past sin, including sexual sin.

The Lord Himself did not treat any person He dealt with, regardless of their past, as if they were forever marked by their sin and unworthy of a clean slate. God's miraculous grace and forgiveness imputes His righteousness where there was none. Those who want to take that miracle away from young people with their sin-sniffing and label-sticking should be ashamed of themselves.  

That said, our liberty in Christ is supposed to be used to bring more glory and honor to Him, not an excuse to indulge our flesh with the lusts and desires of this world. Those who indulge will simply reap unto themselves damnation in this life, and probably the next, if they have never become a 'new creature in Christ'. 

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Thanks, Susan, for the kind

Thanks, Susan, for the kind words.

I detest moral impurity because I see that sin in my youth and I see how it still is a temptation and struggle for me even now. I hate it and I desire to put do death that specific deed of the flesh. I also hate pornography. I was introduced to pornography at an early age, through no fault of my parents or church, but through ungodly neighbors. Those images and fantasies plagued me through my teen years and into my young adult life. Now as a pastor, I deal with people who struggle with these sexual sins (and more) on a weekly basis in accountability and counseling. I am certain that God has turned my sinful failures in the past into a means to help encourage and warn the sheep he has given me care over. I don't think that the Christians I encounter are more susceptible to sexual temptation and failure than most, but I have noticed that God has given me a compassionate heart toward those who struggle with sexual impurity of all sorts. My heart has broken as I have seen marriages and families torn apart by impurity, homosexual practicers turn from the truth because they just can't leave their lifestyle, transgendered people weep in my office as I read them the Word of God, praying for them, pleading with them to trust Christ, but they hold tightly to their sexual deviancy as their idol. This shows that it is not the act of sexual impurity that is the most devastating thing to a person's soul, But the idolatry that damages the spirit. In all these counseling situations and in my own past experience and present temptation, the greatest thing we can teach our children is to desire Christ and his Word in relationship with him above all the promised psuedo-satisfaction this world and flesh offers. God give us grace to teach and model for our children the greatest command.