I’ve come pretty close to having sex.
It’s not the easiest thing for me to type that. Instantly, my mind starts to freak out and worry and wonder, “What will these people reading me think? Is my credibility shot? Will people ever trust anything I say?”
To be honest, I kinda don’t care, but at the same time I do deeply care. See, there’s a respect in the church for people who haven’t sinned in “certain ways,” like they have this Christianity thing figured out, so we can listen to them. But if they’ve done certain things, we can’t listen to them, we can’t trust them.
One certain sin that might “disqualify” someone is having sex before marriage, or losing your virginity to someone other than your spouse. It’s like this threshold that, if you cross it, you’re made to feel like you’ve lost something so precious and so holy that you’re nearly beyond repair. Phrases like “you’re still a virgin in God’s eyes because He wiped away your sin” emphasize this kind of thought in a subtle, more gentler way.
But I think virginity is a terrible idol. A dreadful one. Virginity becomes the thing that Christian dating couples want to pursue more than anything else. And as long as you don’t have sex, you can deal with anything else.
I think we should look at it a little differently. Because while virginity might be the “ideal,” we take it from “ideal” to “idol” real quick. Three reasons why that’s bad:
1. Sexual sin is sexual sin, no matter how far you go.
Let’s compare two dating couples where both parties in each relationship are Christians. In Relationship A, the guy and the girl do just about everything but have sex. It’s maybe a once-a-week thing, sometimes more, sometimes less. In Relationship B, the guy and the girl have sex one time but are pretty clean the rest of the relationship.
Which one gets a worse rap in the church? I’d wager it would be Relationship B. And that’s screwed up.
If we look at it biblically, they’re on level playing fields. Jesus set us the standard in Matthew 5:27-28,
“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”
A man who lusts after a woman once is a sinner just like the man who has sex with his girlfriend every night. There’s no levels to sexual sin. Yes, there is much more impact on a person and on a relationship when premarital sex is had, but at the end of the day, we’re failing God and His people by treating one with much more intensity than the other.
Actual loss of virginity outside of marriage is sinful, but so is looking too long and thinking about it. It comes back to the idea that sin starts in the heart. When David sinned with Bathsheba, his response in Psalm 51 wasn’t asking God to not let him have sex outside of marriage anymore. It was to cleanse his heart, to change his thinking. That’s the key.
2. Nowhere in Scripture is virginity the sign of a good Christian.
To my knowledge, there’s no verse that says, “To be a Christian you must stay a virgin until marriage.” But it sure seems like that sometimes, doesn’t it?
I’m not bashing ministries, books, pastors, etc., who promote that virginity is ideal. It is. There are even many non-biblical benefits to waiting for marriage to have sex. It’s also the biblical command. Hebrews 13:4 says, “Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous.”
But nowhere does it say that you must be or have been a virgin before marriage to pray, to read your Bible, to lead small groups, to speak, to get married. We end up making things like this some unwritten qualification for being honoring to God when it’s not. It’s putting something “in the Bible” that’s not actually there. And that’s never healthy.
3. You losing your virginity doesn’t diminish the Gospel being applied to you.
No sin can outweigh the greatness and the depth of the grace of the Gospel, “the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness” as Romans 5:17 says. Being a virgin might be “ideal” but it doesn’t disallow you being forgiven and loved by the Creator of the Universe.
I think we in the church make far too much of sin and far too less of grace and the Gospel. Have we forgotten who we are, and who God is? Have we forgotten that we have sinned, sin and will continue to sin? Have we forgotten that God is powerful enough and loving enough to forgive us of every sin, past, present and future?
If you’re a Christian and lose your virginity before marriage, your identity is not in that you are no longer “pure.” It’s as it was before: forgiven, loved, child of God. You’re not stained in a way that Jesus can’t clean up.
Will it affect your life? Sure. I’ve already been negatively affected by the physical interactions with the opposite sex I’ve had even if it didn’t include sex. It’s left me with some terrible memories and overwhelming anxiety. But God still calls me His. He doesn’t condone what I do, but He loves me still.
No sin changes that about me. If you’re a Christian, it doesn’t change that about you either.