“I’m just scared my coworkers will ask if I’m a virgin.”
This and a bunch of other concerns surfaced after I wrote “Other Reasons to Wait Until Marriage,” so I thought I’d respond.
What if they ask if I’m a virgin?
When someone asks me if I’m a virgin, I smile and say, “You’re gonna think I’m crazy, but I’m planning to wait until marriage.” It’s funny, but it came up twice in the two weeks since I wrote the post. In one case I had just met the person that day and he responded, “I respect that.” The other, despite being the locksmith sent to help me rescue the keys I locked in my car, pulled me in for a big hug before he left.
I remember a very different response to my virginity when I was in college. When I wasn’t around, one of my roommates asked the other, flabbergasted, “Is Ross even a man?!”
In the same way that telling people you’re a virgin shows them something about you, their response tells you something about them. It’s hard when your convictions set you apart, but it may be a poignant moment for your unspoken evangelism to gain traction. When others realize you are serious about your faith, they will probably watch even more closely to see if you exhibit an unusual joy, peace and love, especially towards them.
Don’t fewer people want to date a virgin?
Another commenter said that he read a study saying more and more people don’t want to date a virgin. Rejection is discouraging, whatever the reason. But I would say that just helps you eliminate the ones who probably don’t agree with your beliefs anyway. It might be an undesirable trait to many people, but not to the ones you want as a potential partner (see my post on “The Finding Flaw”).
Aren’t you shaming people who have had sex?
I have a friend who read my post and told me to be careful I wasn’t implying shame on anybody who has messed up. When we tell others our convictions, they can easily assume we are judging them. Let’s do our best to let them know that is not the case. I also don’t want people to think they can’t have a very happy marriage if they have had sex before marriage. But my friend knows at least a couple people who felt like they couldn’t talk to any of their Christian friends after they messed up.
Though we should strive for purity and godliness (both for our good and God’s glory), Jesus’ people must lead with grace and compassion. We want people to know they can come to us and we will cry with them and love them and shower grace on them. For we have been forgiven much. May he who is without sin throw the first stone. Come, all ye sinners, for with Jesus’ people you (should) find rest.
Can we reclaim abstinence?
I called my sex therapist friend Liza again and she pointed me to this article by a woman who was a virgin but lost all hope when she failed once, so she gave up and freely had sex. Her post was about later reclaiming her abstinence. She chose to wait until marriage — again. Her struggle to do what is right is beautiful to me. When we fail, all is not lost. Being reborn abstinent is also good. It can still have impact in the world and make a difference in my future marriage.
So you don’t think about sex at all?
I think we have a tendency to idealize one philosophy and take it to the extreme. Just because we are waiting to have sex doesn’t mean we’re not sexual beings. When I told the locksmith guy that I’m waiting for marriage, he responded, “Oh, so you don’t even think about sex at all?” I shook my head and smiled as if that were a huge understatement, and said, “No, I still think about it.”
I wish I could say I don’t struggle with lust and what to do with it. I definitely do. But I hope my post doesn’t make anybody think we need to make an enemy of our sexuality. It is a part of us that deserves recognition and respect. If we cope with abstinence in the wrong ways, it can really mess us up for when the right time finally comes. That’s what Liza taught me in my post, “A Damaging View of Sex.”
Although we are careful with our sexuality, I think we can appreciate it and recognize it without shame. Liza suggested not to be afraid to talk about it and even joke about it when it’s appropriate. We just don’t want to make all sex or sexuality bad, or we run the risk of carrying that stigma into our marriage.
What about masturbation?
I think the elephant in the room is masturbation. The question remains: What do we do with our sex drive if we’re not married?
The Boundless stance on masturbation is as follows: We avoid definitive statements on the question of the sinfulness of the act while acknowledging that self-gratification is inconsistent with the purpose, goal and basic nature of sex. We’ve explored aspects of the topic in numerous posts including these by Gary Thomas and Candice Watters.
Even though it is meant to be enjoyed, sex’s purpose is not my own pleasure. Although our society is based around each person’s rights to pursue their pleasure, it is still the Christian’s call to surrender all of our desires to God. For God wants us to find purpose and meaning in Him. And while He may delay our earthly pleasures, He can give us a deeper peace in return.