A Conversation: featuring virginity, sex, and idols

Ok. Here’s the deal. I am boring right now. Boring, I tell you. Boring! It’s not because I want to be, I would love to be over here on little ol’ love.joy.peace. writing all kinds of awesome things. But, alas, I’m being forced to write essays about Napolean Bona-what-not, and studying/sleeping for AP Chemistry tests, and reading insane amounts of Mark Twain-el-berry Finn. Hear me out on this one: I would loooove to be blogging. But I’m not. These apologetic posts hapen often, don’t they. Gah how do I even have readers? Come heeeere, let me hug you. I love you, and you, and you, and you. Thanks for sticking it out with me. Sometimes being an over-achiever (read: obsessive-crazy-person) in High School just sucks.

But before you x out of here lickety-split, crying your little eyes out, WAIT! HALT! SIT! STAY! I have shtuff to tell you… just not in my own words.

Allow me to link you up, because a lot of my non-boring blogging friends have ah-mazing things to say.

Lately, my thoughts have been consumed ever since I read THIS post by Sarah Bessey with joy, sadness, and anger. It is one of the best blogs I have read in my entire life. Eshet Chayil, Woman of Valour! Sarah is BRAVE. Her post is entitled “I Am Damaged Goods” and it tells the story of how she was shamed by the church for having pre-marital sex. You see, I feel joy because I am bursting with pride for Sarah sharing this story. I love that she is calling attention to this topic we’re too scared to address. I’m overwhelmingly sad because she endured this public shaming, and that it hasn’t stopped… Christianity can be such a shaming environment but, dear friends… Jesus is NOT. Jesus does NOT shame. I am angry for the ways in which the church, the Bride of Christ, has not only allowed, but invoked this shaming upon its people. Here’s how Sarah begins her post:

“I was nineteen years old and crazy in love with Jesus when that preacher told an auditorium I was “damaged goods” because of my sexual past. He was making every effort to encourage this crowd of young adults to “stay pure for marriage.” He was passionate, yes, well-intentioned, and he was a good speaker, very convincing indeed.

And he stood up there and shamed me, over and over and over again.

Oh, he didn’t call me up to the front and name me. But he stood up there and talked about me with such disgust, like I couldn’t be in that real-life crowd of young people worshipping in that church. I felt spotlighted and singled out amongst the holy, surely my red face announced my guilt to every one.

He passed around a cup of water and asked us all to spit into it. Some boys horked and honked their worst into that cup while everyone laughed. Then he held up that cup of cloudy saliva from the crowd and asked, “Who wants to drink this?!”

And every one in the crowd made barfing noises, no way, gross!

“This is what you are like if you have sex before marriage,” he said seriously, “you are asking your future husband or wife to drink this cup.”

Who would want to be a Christian and follow God’s plans if this is the tactic being used. Shame doesn’t produce fruit, shame doesn’t change things. Shame says “you’re stuck and there’s absolutely no way you’re getting out of it. No one could ever want you. You’re dirty. And if you don’t repent you may even be headed for hell.” and then the shaming church/group/person/whatever adds a P.S.– ” Jesus love you! Jesus always offers you grace!” Um…Do you see the contradiction? Here’s the truth: There is NO shame in Jesus. NO condemnation. ONLY love and grace. Your worth isn’t intertwined with your virginity, you ARE worthy of love, RIGHT NOW, worthy of THE greatest Love in the universe. You cannot earn it in any form or fashion, it’s freely given, and it’s HUGE.

“So, you had sex before you were married.

It’s okay.

Really. It’s okay.

There is no shame in Christ’s love. Let him without sin cast the first stone. You are more than your virginity – or lack thereof – and more than your sexual past.

Your marriage is not doomed because you said yes to the boys you loved as a young woman. Your husband won’t hold it against you, he’s not that weak and ego-driven, choose a man marked by grace.

It’s likely you would make different choices, if you knew then what you know now, but, darling, don’t make it more than it is, and don’t make it less than it is. Let it be true, and don’t let anyone silence you or the redeeming work of Christ in your life out of shame.

Now, in Christ, you’re clear, like Canadian mountain water, rushing and alive, quenching and bracing, in your wholeness.

…For I am convinced, right along with the Apostle Paul, that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any other power, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus. Not even “neither virginity nor promiscuity” and all points between can separate you from this love. You are loved – without condition – beyond your wildest dreams already.

I would say: Sarah, your worth isn’t determined by your virginity. What a lie.

…Darling, young one burning with shame and hiding in the silence, listen now: Don’t believe that lie. You never were, you never will be, damaged goods”

be sure and read Sarah’s entire post HERE.

Well if you’d already heard of Sarah’s post above, you’ve likely noticed that it sparked a little movement in the blogging-world when it aired weeks ago. From there, other bloggers came forth and were just as graceful and powerful with their stories.

Elizabeth Esther wrote her story on her blog, HERE.

As a Catholic and someone who definitely leans to the political right, she has a lot of helpful things to say to those on the conservative side on the issue of idolizing viginity. Elizabeth has a lot of helpful things to say to everyone:

“Yes, I was a virgin on my wedding day. Then again, I was only 20. Yes, remaining a virgin until my wedding day saved me from some romantic heartbreak. Then again, I’ve had other heartbreaks. Yes, chastity is special. Then again, so are lots of virtues. Except, as a 20 year old bride, I thought virginity was extra-extra special and would win me lots of special prizes like: a happily ever after marriage.

It took me a long time to realize I idolized virginity. I kept saying I was just promoting virtue and chastity and purity! Nothing wrong with pushing purity, right? Nothing wrong with Being Good!

Like other Christians, I talked about the “sacrifice” of abstinence. There were princess-themed books about saving our first kiss. Some of us wore purity rings and made pledges to our Daddies not to have sex until we’re married.

Ultimately, we implied that a woman’s inherent worth and dignity could be measured by whether or not a man has touched her.

I understand why we do this. Christians are alarmed by what we see as a sexually permissive society. America no longer seems to share our values. This scares us. The less sacred sex seems to the broader culture, the more sacred we insist on making it among fellow Christians.

The intention might be good but over-emphasizing the specialness of virginity has unintended, harmful consequences.”

Then Elizabeth Esther and Kristen Howerton talked about the purity culture in their regular video-blog: “So Totally Relidge” over on Kristen’s blog. On that same blog post, Kristen also links to some other bloggers whom I’m not as familiar with, but also had things to say on this explosive topic.

AND THEN (if you’re still reading this, pat yourself on the back because I saved the best for last. Just kidding…kind of… Sorry I just really love Jamie.) Jamie The Very Worst Missionary blogged about this same topic today! But hers wasn’t part of this whole synchro-blog we had going on a few weeks ago. Some readers asked her what she thought about pre-marital sex and then her youngest son went on a date, so she decided to write THIS GENIUS POST. I think all of her posts are pretty genius, actually.

“So, yeah, I was an unwed teenage mother. Classy, I know.

But oh, it gets worse, because before I invented MTV’s Teen Mom, I was a little bit of a ho-bag. Yup. I willingly did regretful things with my body, and I allowed myself to be used in regretful ways by some regretfully sleazy douchebags, perverts, and (in retrospect) probably pedophiles. Gross, I know.
I believed that sex was the best thing I had to offer the world. It was the only thing about me worth loving. And I learned, too young, that I could leverage sex to get what I wanted. My female parts had become my greatest asset. Then I found my way into the Church, 19 with a baby on my hip, and while I lingered on the outskirts of the Christian bubble, guess what I learned… I learned I was right! Apparently, even God was super concerned with my vagina, and where it had been, and what it had touched. Apparently, my genitals were like a portal that led straight to my soul. I had been muddied – and everybody knows that once you muck up clean water, you can’t unmuck it.

It took me a lot of years and a lot of conversations with God (and with people who know more about God than me) to understand that everything I believed about my own sexuality was built on two huge lies.
The first comes from our culture, and it tells us that sex outside of marriage isn’t a big deal.
The second is from the Church, and it tells us that sex outside of marriage is the biggest deal of all the deals ever.
One allowed me to give it away freely, convinced I would carry no burden. The other forced me to carry a spirit-crushing load.
Both are complete crap.”
Like the other bloggers I mentioned also wrote so eloquently, Jamie reminds us that actually nothing can seperate us from true love. And no pun intended, but- your “true love”… GOD… doesn’t wait. He wants to love on you right now… no matter what you’ve done, what you’re doing, or what you’re going to do.
“You’ve had sex outside of marriage? *gasp* So what! You are so much more than your sexuality. And the God of the Universe, the one who turns whores into heroes, and drunks into prophets, and liars and murderers into leaders and kings – that God? He made peace with you and me and our promiscuous, pathetic attempts at love a long, long time ago. He gave you a Redeemer. Shame is no longer your burden.”
Sex is a big deal, but its not the biggest deal. No, we shoudn’t make it more than what it is…
But, I’ve grown up with the Bible long enough to know we also shouldn’t fall into the trap of making it less than what it is. That’s part of the reason I so appreciate Jamie’s blog post- because she spells out that we should care, and care highly, with the utmost respect and love, we just shouldn’t obsess. When we obsess, we create an idol. A god that no one can please, and so people just stop trying to do good at all. Churches, Christians, me, are the best people I know at making gods.
That’s really what I want you and I to grasp from this whole concept. Let’s stop the shaming, let’s stop the idol-making, let’s stop the belief that we aren’t worthy of God and His love. Purity may not be what you struggle with- whether it’s shaming or being shamed. Ok, that’s cool. You know, it’s really not my struggle either. I’ve already made up my mind to wait until marriage, but it’s not because I believe I would be dirty, shameful, and unlovable otherwise. And so although it’s not my particular struggle at the moment… it is for a lot of my peers, and probably yours too, whether they be young or old. You see, I’m sometimes oblivious to issues like these…I really didn’t know much about all this. I feel grateful to be part of a church and community that doesn’t shame, but rather builds up. Although, I’m not sure I even have the liberty to say that because of the fact that I’ve never been in this situation. I pray that I don’t point a shameful finger toward others. You see, I’m more concerned with how we’re going to build back up now that we know others feel so torn down. My heart aches for them, for the shame in their hearts that hasn’t been healed. May we be catalysts for healing in our world.
Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace. Where there is hatred, let me sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; where there is sadness, joy.
O, Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console; to be understood as to understand; to be loved as to love; For it is in giving that we receive; it is in pardoning that we are pardoned; it is in dying that we are born again to eternal life.

4 thoughts on “A Conversation: featuring virginity, sex, and idols

  1. Carlee, this is so amazingly good. So true that we all pick out special sins to focus on and think to ourselves that we cannot be very dirty sinners if we do not partake of that one. We are sinners—period. God sees this every day in our lives, but His amazing Son took care of all that by His death—HIS DEATH. That is how bad sin is in God’s eyes. We live in His Grace and it is our duty to help others recognize and accept His loving provision. To overly condemn or to make too little of any sin is crippling. He offers the mind of Christ to us through His word—His Word to us through the Holy Spirit and through wise and compassionate Christians. I am thrilled you are in a fellowship of people like this. His teachings are taking root and He will continue to use you strongly.

    I love you, my darling granddaught…




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