Growing up, I spent most of my childhood at church. I relished in singing Vacation Bible School songs, complete with cheesy hand motions, and racing to the community kitchen for snacks prior to Sunday service. I cherish those early church memories.
As I entered my pre-teen years, though, church elders began introducing a rather controversial topic: premarital sex.
The youth group messages I loved went from memorizing verses in catchy tunes to sermons about the onset of puberty and the increased vulnerability of committing the mortal sin of premarital sex.
I endured numerous Bible study lessons on purity, and conferences dedicated to saving myself for marriage. When I was 11, I received a fancy-dancy purity ring with “true love waits” engraved on it. I was barely old enough to understand the concept of sex, let alone make an important decision like choosing to remain sexually pure.
While I understand the church’s stance on premarital sex, I am not so certain they handle the issue correctly. Instead of reminding us how precious and worthy we look in God’s eyes, the church teaches adolescent women how disgraceful we become when we don’t save the best parts of ourselves for marriage.
Christians place such an emphasis on striving for purity, but for the wrong reasons.
They remove the focus from God and the young females making a life-changing decision, and place it on factors that should not be as influential. Forget our personal respect; the church tells us not to wear revealing clothes so teenage boys don’t “stumble” in their walk with the Lord. The church advises against exposing ourselves to certain situations, not for our own well being, but because it might give others the wrong impression. Failing to live up to these expectations adds an elemental of guilt and shame.
Somehow, Christians started equating purity with virginity, when in reality, it is so much more than that. It is keeping the mind and heart as close to God as possible. Abstaining from sex does not account for the words we speak, the movies we watch, or the music we hear. When we limit purity to abstinence, we expose ourselves to an outlook that is potentially dangerous and rarely successful. After all, young women like myself enter into a promise of sexual purity without God at the forefront. It’s replaced instead by church leaders, pastors, parents, friends, and men.
Having the freedom of choice is empowering and liberating.
This applies to any part of life, including premarital sex. I am not claiming that the choice to wait isn’t ideal. It can be. Personally, if I were not marrying the man I lost my virginity to as a teenager, I would probably regret that I did not wait. However, women should never be made to feel less than because they did not choose to wait until marriage. Those women are not inferior to the woman who saved sex for her wedding night. Fact be known, she is likely struggling to overcome her own emotional burdens from the years of conditioned shame despite living up to the church’s view of purity. The church would better serve women by providing emotional support and reminders of their worth, not spitting punitive, shame-filled messages.
Ironically, I lost my ring at the beach one summer day. No matter how big the waves, it could never drown the guilt I felt from confusing purity with virginity.
If you are a female battling conflicting emotions because of the way in which churches sometimes approach the topic of premarital sex, it is important to remember this difference between purity of virginity.
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