Several bloggers have recently tackled the issue of sexual purity. Though I completely respect their point of view and agree with what they had to say, I wanted to offer a response. This is a defense of virginity.
It was a Tuesday night and I was walking through the mist up to the arena. I had spent the day in a long, green and brown dress with quarter-length sleeves, which a neighbor had sent to us in a bag of used clothes. This particular neighbor sends high-quality hand-me-downs, so I wasn’t ashamed to step out in one of her old dresses…except maybe tonight. I had debated changing into jeans or anything more…normal. After all, this was the only night of the week I spent on campus, surrounded by hundreds of college students in a basketball court.
But why change at the end of day? If this had been fine for the past eight hours, it would be fine for a couple more. I trotted up the steps in my damp flats and through the heavy doors. The music was already starting, electric guitars whining and cymbals shivering and our talented lead vocalist belting out praise. I slipped in and sat somewhere out of the way. Maybe I was feeling slightly self-conscious about my attire. Soon, however, the seats around me filled up. The music came to a close and the ministry leader stepped on stage to speak. The topic was sexual purity.
Maybe dressing like an Amish girl was okay once in a while, but dressing like an Amish girl while we use such words as “lust”, “temptation”, “modesty” and “promiscuity”, is a bit uncomfortable. The skinny jeans and tiny shorts seemed to pulse around me. It was a good talk, and when he got to the part about forgiving yourself for your sexual sin and moving on, many girls were sniffing back the tears. I began to thank God that I wasn’t one of those sniffing. It wasn’t the Pharisee’s prayer of “thank you, God, that I am not a sinner like these” but a prayer of true gratitude, for I am not “pure” solely because of my own self-control.
I have made my share of mistakes and walked barefooted much too near the cobra’s nest, but I’ve been spared many falls, many bites. I sat in that auditorium as one of the few virgins at a Christian event of college-age students because, among other reasons, my parents have protected me. During that talk I went from feeling inferior to feeling blessed. I am blessed to have a different story. Blessed to have made it through my teen years without much regret. Blessed to have a mom and dad who watch out for me and guide me in the Lord. Blessed even to be naïve.
Losing your sexual purity isn’t the only sin and it isn’t any worse than the other things we do out of our flesh, but it does have great earthly consequences. My parents never taught me (as I am afraid some girls were taught) that my value was solely in my virginity and, losing this was the unforgivable sin. When we would hear of a friend or family member who was promiscuous or pregnant out of wedlock, their reaction was always sorrow, never anger. They taught me to value my body, to have dignity and to save sex for marriage, but they did not make and idol out of purity.
Sometimes, girls who come from Christian homes feel overly protected. I have felt this way many times. We have the church, the extended family and, most of all, our parents watching over us. Every decision is discussed. Maybe your boyfriends had to fill out questionnaires before taking you out. Maybe you signed a purity pledge or got a ring to symbolize your oath. Maybe you have to call every time you get to the grocery store and again when you’re on your way home (*cough cough* my parents!) This can be frustrating, especially as you get older, even if you know that it is done in love. However, I am thankful that I have, what some would call “overly protective parents” rather than no parental guidance at all. Living in a college town, I hear about a lot of stupid parents. Parents who think it is more important to be a friend than a mom or dad. Let’s remember what friends do at bars: encourage you to go further…preferably further than they themselves are willing to go! We hear about moms driving into town for twenty-first birthdays to party at the bars with their children. A good mom is someone who drags your wasted body into the hotel at two in the morning so you don’t get in a wreck, or get arrested or die choking on your own vomit, right?
Purity is something we are called to. It is a direction we are to walk in. It is a daily, personal lifestyle. We are going to be called to purity our entire Christian life. When you marry, sexual purity continues even though abstinence does not. It isn’t as if this is an issue only for teens and twenty-somethings and it’s not about someone trying to keep you from having fun. Sexual abstinence before marriage is a Biblical command. God only commands things that are important and for our own good. He set up this rule in order to protect something He thinks is amazing. His timing is always best. Always. No matter how much we may feel differently.
The talk was over and they were playing my favorite song on the keyboard, Be Thou My Vision. I lifted my skirts and scampered out of the arena among a flood of students. Outside I could see that rain had begun to pour. The girls rushed out into the storm to their cars. No one was prepared for the rain (do college students even carry umbrellas?) Boyfriends had nothing to shelter their girlfriends with. Everyone parted in the slippery parking lot. I pushed through the door prepared to do the same. Stepping out into the weather, I felt the rain stop over my head. There was my dad, holding a big umbrella above me. We smiled and walked to the car.