Confession: I am a virgin. Actually, that’s not really a confession, so much as a statement of fact. I’ve never tried to hide it or put it on a pedestal as a virtue. I am a virgin in the way that I have brown eyes or size nine feet.
The real confession is that I hate that I’m a virgin. It’s nothing I am proud of, much like my brown eyes and size nine feet. It is merely a part of who I am, a piece of my story, something I can say when I want to make people uncomfortable. And oftentimes, my virginity makes me uncomfortable. I don’t know what to do with it or where to put it. I feel as if it’s a shirt I’ve outgrown, but continue to wear because I haven’t the heart to toss it away. My virginity has become a burden, and that leaves me embroiled in guilt and disappointment.
Especially because I know when people hear that I’m a virgin or see my purity ring, they expect certain things. They make assumptions about my innocence, my purity, my experience. They look at me and say, “This is a good Christian girl.” They shame me with their praise, by assuming I’m something I’m not. They become the mirror I look into, all my struggles with lust, sexual desire, sexual urges glaring back. I hear their words and I cringe.
Because what would they think if they knew I resented my virginity? How would they react if they knew I only wore my purity ring to please my parents? How much disgust would fill their eyes if they knew I would have had sex years ago if I’d been given the chance?
I couldn’t bear it. So I smile and hide behind the ring, ignoring the breaking of my heart.
Because the Church today places worth and value on virginity and sexual purity. In a society that sells sex, encourages sex, exudes sex, we are “special” for not giving in. We are the “good” ones. We have managed to hold onto something that apparently makes or breaks your salvation. As if sexual purity is the currency to heaven.
I am a good Christian because of my virginity.
So where does that leave the virgins in body, but not in mind? Where does that leave those who are virgins by circumstance, not necessarily by choice? Where does that leave those who have given away their virginity, or had it taken from them?
I am the mascot for a movement that does not belong to me, a movement of purity that has become a breeding ground for shame and worthlessness. My virginity is held up as an example, a beacon of light in the darkness of our sexualized culture.
To the wide-eyed, innocent Christian girls and boys, “This is what you should strive for.”
To those who are no longer virgins, “This is what you should have been.”
My story is mine no longer, taken away from me and made into something that serves man. My virginity has become someone else’s virtue. And my worth as a woman, my value as a Christian has been tied to my body, to my sexuality, to my ability to say no.
And I can see no God in my story. I seem to have lost Him, pushed Him aside in my embarrassment, my guilt, my shame. I don’t feel pure, and I can’t imagine God would approve of me. I’ve been tainted and don’t deserve to be near that which is perfect, which is good, which is divine. How could God look on me with anything but disappointment? I can’t control my thoughts; I deal with lust daily; I long to do things I know I should not, things I’m told are sinful. But that doesn’t stop the wanting.
When did I decide I must be perfect? Sinless? When did my Christianity become a matter of my sexuality? When did my walk with God become a walk of shame?
I have condemned myself, forgetting there is no condemnation in Christ. I have denied myself solace from the only one who has the power to heal, or overcome, to redeem. My purity resides in Christ and His sanctification, not in my virginity.
You are more than your virginity, my soul whispers. You are more than your virginity.
In the scheme of my story, my virginity is merely a chapter, perhaps an excessively long footnote. Because while it is a part of me, it does not define me. My worth as a creation of God is not confined to my untouched body. It is not dependent on a shiny ring. It is not dependent on something that is not meant to last. Because, one day, my virginity will be gone.
But I will remain. My worth will remain. My value will remain. My love of life will remain. My writer’s soul will remain. My loving heart and critical mind will remain. My creative bent and love of words will remain. My strength will remain. My determination and resolve will remain.
That is who I am, truly, at my core. Those are things I would point to and say, “These make up the foundation of my being. These are the things that make me happy. These are my treasures, my blessings, the reason for every smile.”
And that is who God sees – the beautiful, intelligent, writer of a woman; His own creation. He doesn’t look at me and see my virginity. He looks at me, knowingly and with a smile, and sees the soul of His daughter. He sees someone worth loving.
He sees me, just me, and He revels in it.
Thank you for reading! And maybe (definitely) follow me on Twitter. I’m pretty entertaining.