Virgins in a world of eros defiled

  TLC’s “Virgin Diaries” premiers tomorrow. It’s a peek into the lives of adults who have saved themselves for marriage.

For all the creators’ insistence that the show is meant to “celebrate celibacy,” something about the trailer makes the show look more like a feature about these awkward oddballs who have grown into adulthood without hooking up.

In American culture, virginity is seen as an anomaly. Healthy, happy, well-adjusted people are portrayed as having sex on the regular.  No marriage required.

The idea is promoted in popular music, magazine ads, TV sitcoms and in commercials for everything from beer to automobiles. Even the fashion industry is on board producing ever tighter, more transparent garments with plunging necklines or high midriffs. It’s nearly impossible to find young girls’ clothing that doesn’t wreak with “sexy.”

No wonder many young people, Christians included, think there’s something wrong with them if they haven’t “lost their virginity” by middle school – as though it were a thing to be discarded!

When you’re young and itching to have sex, it’s easy to see God as a killjoy, a spoiler of all things fun. Christianity, with its objections to sex outside marriage, seems hopelessly outdated. Not even priests are celibate these days. Can God really be serious?

When I was growing up, adults harped on the danger of becoming pregnant outside wedlock. The ensuing scandal seemed more important than the morality of being sexually active. Multiple family members walked that road, and they were not celebrated. No baby showers. No strolling through the mall with a big belly and no wedding band. Consigned to the back church pew.

No more.  The stigma is reserved for those who are not out there getting their freak on.

Worries about unwanted pregnancy are all but forgotten in the New Age of booming infertility and accessible abortion. Even the dreaded VD (venereal diseases) of my day have morphed into STDs (sexually transmitted diseases) that are infinitely more treatable. Today, even HIV-positive people are told they can engage in “safe sex.” Full-blown AIDS, considered a virtual death sentence in the 1980s, can be treated if not cured.

One thing has not changed. Neither pregnancy nor disease are the worst things that can happen to a sexually-active young woman. (No sexism. Women are usually the ones who get hurt in these things.) The loss of innocence can never be regained. And we learn too late that stepping outside God’s established boundaries for sex triggers “The Law of Unintended Consequences.”

Consequence 1:

Sex becomes cheap and vulgar – When I listen to pop music or watch YouTube, I am struck by how easily this generation throws around the f-word, which we all know is a crude reference to sexual intercourse. I’m no prude – I have teenagers remember – but it saddens me that the more young people are exposed to sex, the less they know of real intimacy.

I am reminded of a lunch I had at the home of a friend, a former nun, and her husband. They had paid an immense price to be together in the way of husbands and wives. He brought her a cup of tea while we chatted; their glance was literally moving. Something holy and intimate passed between them that made me feel an intruder in the room. I’ve never experienced such a moment.

In contrast, many young people casually enjoy “Friends With Benefits” with barely a thought. What should be sacred has become something sordid and empty. Being with that special someone once left them tingling with passion. Now they are left staring at the ceiling wondering “Why did I do this again?”

The stolen fruit that was so sweet has left a bitter taste in their mouth. To quote BB King, “The thrill is gone.” Sadly, they believe the lie that this is what sex is and, in doing so, are robbed of its fullness.

Consequence 2:

Unholy soul ties – Sex is not only physical but also spiritual. The Bible says when we lie with someone the “two become one. “ (Ephesians 5:31) Obviously, the two don’t morph into one person because they get up, put on their clothing and go their separate ways.

Even so,  having sex binds people to one another in a kind of spiritual union, forming a connection that God intended to be lasting. That’s why He reserved sex for the marriage bed, which the Bible declares is “undefiled” or pure.

Outside marriage, this sexual gluing becomes bondage. That initial sexual encounter can turn into an addiction we love to hate. The jokes that used to be funny become irritating, the attentiveness becomes stifling or maybe we just get bored. The sex isn’t even that great, yet we just can’t get that person out of  our system. We are attached even when we don’t want to be.

This, beloved, is what sexual boundaries are intended to spare us. God is no prude. No matter what pious Christian tries to say otherwise, God intentionally designed people with sexual union in mind. He purposely made sex possible and pleasurable… not just for utilitarian pro-creation as the Puritans once taught. The joy of sex was His idea, but make no mistake. God made sex for a specific setting: marriage.

Oh, I know the mess we’ve made of marriage. Christian divorce rates are no better than the general population. Still, ideally, marriage is to be the one place where people are committed to one another for life, come what may. In that setting, they are free both to fully know and to be fully known. Naked and unashamed. Able to fully enjoy one another with God’s blessing.

Sex outside marriage is no blessing. Just ask someone who was young once, did not learn to exercise self control, and is transparent enough to be honest.  While the marriage bed is blessed, “Whoremongers and adulterers God will judge.” (Hebrews 13:4)

The urge to merge is God-given. He doesn’t mock us. He created us with desires that He intends to fulfill at the proper time in the proper way.

For I know the plans I have for you,” says the LORD. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. Jeremiah 29:11

Believers can trust that. While it’s true that losing one’s virginity is not the end of the world, some gifts can be given only once. Yes, we can always begin again and “reclaim” our virginity. God forgives if we repent, but we are not promised no complications.

“We have become accustomed to happy endings, but life is not always like that,” to borrow a phrase from The Huffington Post‘s Black Voices.

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