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To Our Virgin Daughters

The word virgin has, ironically enough, become a dirty word in our society.[1]

The entertainment industry spits out movie after show presenting virginity as something distasteful, mockable, proof that you aren’t “with it” and lack some essential high school experience that makes the rest of your classmates sophisticated and worldly wise and you a backwards clod.

They declare that your virginity is not a precious thing—a mark of purity; it is, rather, the absence of a precious thing—sexual experience with people who will more than likely have no permanence in your life.

They tell you that your virginity is an embarrassment, something to be discarded as quickly and as cheaply as possible.

The path to relational happiness in this world, is, they say, found through years of varied sexual encounters that allow you to sample without purchase a wide variety of people so that you can discover yourself and what kind of person will make you happiest in longish-like relationships.

They present “living with someone” as a sensible and wise path to relationship vetting.

It doesn’t matter that this is the most statistically verifiable path to failed marriage relationships going forward; they have a vision of how they wish the world worked and they’re sticking with it.

Even in the church, particularly among progressive Christians, virginity is scorned as a meaningless category. They declare the term meaningless because lines of purity are fuzzier than what they deem a mere physical condition of virginity. They wonder what does and doesn’t qualify. How much sexual contact does one need before they are no longer allowed to use this category for themselves? What about rape and molestation victims? Do they get to call themselves virgins? Does oral sex count as sex? What about heavy petting? What about masturbation? “Doesn’t even lust entertained eliminate sexual purity, even if not acted upon?” they ask dismissively.

In the face of so much confusion, they demean the very use of a term like virginity. Sexual purity is a goner for most girls by the time they are old enough to buy a training bra so we should get rid of the term altogether. Your lustful thoughts are, after all, equal to that other girl’s wanton sexual experimentation… sin is sin, without distinction, they say.[2] (The foot note comments are important… check them out.)

They are sooooo compassionate as Christians that these social savvy progressive Christians are willing to sacrifice your moral compass to make those who have thrown over their’s feel better about themselves. “They aren’t so bad,” they say; “They haven’t lost anything precious, because Jesus forgives unconditionally.” (It’s so unconditional in fact that one doesn’t even have to acknowledge sin as sin anymore save in the most vague, “We’re all sinners in need of salvation” way.)

The hope of grace, mercy and forgiveness is perpetrated upon the diminishment of the badness of certain acts (wouldn’t want people to feel negatively about themselves) rather than on the magnanimous love of God in Christ. This is so important that we must wash away any notion that crossing certain lines has consequences in the real world, forgiven or not… no matter what the statistics have to say on the matter.[3] We must convince people that there is no serious price to pay when one has cast themselves into the morass of sexual immorality, even if this proves a betrayal to those who might yet keep themselves from tumbling into that disease ridden swamp after them in quite tangible and avoidable ways. “Just repent and all is forgiven,” they say, “No harm, no foul.”

If this were a letter to those who have fallen into sexual sin I would address them, but since it is not, but is a letter to those who are still young enough or steadfast enough to have kept themselves from crossing certain lines, I won’t.[4] I’ll just speak to you. Not out of disdain or hatred for them, but out of a desire to keep you from following their examples, to help you preserve what is left to preserve of your sexual purity.

Sex is wonderful. It is a powerful bond between people, if it has not been cheapened and shared so generally as to weaken and destroy one’s capacity for intimate bond. Never allow yourself to fear sex & desire in and of themselves as if sex & desire were innately shameful, or a compromise of one’s devotion to God and Christ. Sexual intimacy is a precious gift from a loving creator. It should be held in honor among those who worship that creator.[5]

Even so, do we imagine that we can allow any of our fleshly appetites to remain undisciplined without paying a dear price? We know this about maintaining fitness and health. We understand this when talking about food and drink, and emotions like anger, envy, jealousy… all of which destroy when unfettered by discipline. The world does not, however, tend to recognize this about sexuality. Sex is a drive not a need, but it is a powerful drive, particularly in men.[6] It is beautiful in its place, but undisciplined human sexuality is a wrecking ball to individuals and to society.

Our modern society imagines that the best answer to unfettered male sexuality is unfettered female sexuality. They think this places women on an equal plain with men, sets them up as their equals. “Two can play at that game.”

It couldn’t be further from the truth. Unrestrained men enjoy the usability of sexually unrestrained women, but they don’t respect them, they don’t truly love them, they don’t bond with them. In truth, sexually unrestrained men are rarely capable of true intimate bond; women are and always will be things to be used for their own self-gratification, and easy women make their contemptuous use of them much easier, less complicated, less fraught with immediately perceivable consequences. You are never held in less honor by even the most unscrupulous of men than when you objectify yourself before them. There is no reason they can see to respect a woman who doesn’t respect herself, nor to view her love and affection as a prize to be won at great personal expense.

Honorable men, those worth having in your life on a long-term basis, know, if they are wise, that such women can never be truly theirs, for they have given themselves away for nothing, and have developed patterns of behavior that promise selfish betrayal, instability, and emotional distance.[7] Their sexuality is about themselves and not about the relationship. Their sexuality is a tool and not a true intimacy.

So, dear Virgin Daughters, know this. Your virginity is precious. It is not precious because sex is bad, or because desire is unseemly. Your virginity is precious because you are precious. You are a treasure to be sought and won and purchased at the highest price—the price of a man’s entire life and dedication. Your virginity is precious because your affections are precious, your love is precious. You are worth all that a man has to give for the honor of calling you Wife. Accept nothing less than lifelong devotion, respect, and love in exchange for your virginity, proven at the altar with vows of “’til death do us part.”

While forgiveness is possible, and failings can be overcome, it is a beautiful thing to be your one and only’s one and only. It is a great gift from him to you, and from you to him. Fight for that.

This doesn’t promise endless uninterrupted bliss in marriage, or an easy discovery of sexual intimacy,[8] but it is a more likely path to such things than what the world offers in its celebration of sexual wantonness. Marriage is hard; some things, like immorality beforehand, make it harder.

Life does not always turn out like we imagine it will, but placing a high price tag on yourself and your love is a surer road to happy intimacy than the roads mapped out by those who tell you that your love is cheap and worthless, who tell you to give your love and affection away for the price of a little fun and exhilaration, for a little attention, for the flattery of being wanted but not cherished, and for the hope that he will like you.

[1] This is a letter to women and girls, not men and boys. I’ve tailored the discussion so. Also, I do not discuss elements of pure obedience to divine command. I chose an angle and stuck with it. Obedience to divine command is a statement of faith and trust in divine command. The God who loves us and sent his son to die to save us, has given us a path to follow. If we do not see the love in any given divine command, then we do not yet understand that divine command.

[2] There is an important message in this line of reasoning that is wise to heed. Purity and true virginity is not merely a physically intact hymen. When one approaches their virginity in some legalistic sense, they ask, “How far can I go, how much can I do and still call myself a virgin to my future husband?” [I could tell you stories that would boggle your mind over what some women I know have done and still claimed virginity.] Legalists always look for loopholes and excuses and redefinitions that convince themselves that they are not a law breaker. Sexual contact is sex. Every line we cross is a further corruption of our moral position. One should pursue moral purity as a point of honor for God and honor for her future husband, being faithful to him even before she knows who he is, preparing her heart as best as she can to love him unblemished, untainted, unchallenged. I have told my own daughters for years, “Someday you are going to get married and you are going to have answer to your husband for the life you lived before him. You can say, “You are my one and only, my heart is given wholly to you, unspoiled by sexual sins with others.” OR you can explain to him why you didn’t think enough of him to keep yourself for him; you can tell him about each and every person who has laid claim to some part of your heart, soul and body before him. They will be his competitors forever.” By the way, a man can forgive indiscretion, but a man who isn’t jealous over your affections past, present and future, isn’t worth having.

[3] I highly recommend, Pam Stenzel’s book, Sex Has a Price Tag… and her other books full of straight talk about the consequences of immorality in the real world. Here is the link.

[4] That said, we must realize that what is past is past and cannot be changed. There are consequences for our actions even when we don’t track them, but we can minimize their impact by putting down a marker in the here and now and saying, “From this point forward, I’m going to live a different life, make different choices, begin to prepare myself for the best of all possible futures.”

[5] It is a strange thing to me that those who idolize sex, who make it their all-consuming fixation, demean it the most. To the immoral, sex is both nothing and everything at the same time. It is all they think about, an object for which they would do almost anything to have in abundance and with as many people as possible, needing to have everyone they fancy, and to compete with others to take a taste of those whom others lay relational claim… yet sex is also cheap and meaningless… because the people from whom they seek it are cheap and meaningless to them.

[6]Stephan King said it well; “For men, I think, love is a thing formed of equal parts lust and astonishment. The astonishment part women understand. The lust part they only think they understand.”

[7] Those who “come to themselves” to paraphrase the Parable of the prodigal son, can, with guidance and dedication to biblical principles regain some of what this kind of life steals from a person, but the road is long and hard. When I talk about these things I get two replies. Most “fallen men” admit to the struggles and confess just how much damage they’ve done to themselves and their capacity for intimacy. Many “fallen women” (not all) imagine that they came through unscathed, forgiven and set to rights easily… their husbands, however, usually tell a different tale to me.

[8] I hate this false promise. I’ve heard it preached on more than a few occasions. “If you wait to have sex until you are married, your marriage bed will be a bounty of divine blessing, the shekinah glory will be seen over your house as you delight each other with a level of holy spirit anointing that causes the bed to levitate with the very essence of heavenly joy.” Okay, I’m paraphrasing… maybe exaggerating a little, but only a little. A marriage is not meant to be two experts getting together to compare notes, as one writer once said. The joy of marriage is meant to be two fumbling fools who love each other discovering each other and the joys of sex together over decades.

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