My Most 'Precious Gift'

July 1, 2013
Sarah Ens |

A couple of months ago I read a post that had been shared around among some of my Facebook friends. It told the story of a bride-to-be, just moments before her wedding, praying with her husband-to-be and thanking God for their blessed ability to keep it in their pants. One select quote from this story reads: “See, he is not only my Prince Charming because of his incredibly handsome looks, or wonderful humor, or the fact that we have so much in common. He is my Prince Charming because he helped me protect the most precious gift that I owned, my purity.”

Youth groups that teach young girls to dress modestly to avoid tempting Christian boys, Christian books on relationships that elucidate what kind of kisses constitute as “too far” or “impure”, and parents and pastors who fail to unpack the virgin-whore dichotomy found in many biblical passages all lead to these sorts of conclusions: that the most precious gift a girl or boy could own is this idea of purity. I have attended baptisms where embarrassed confessions of watching porn or engaging in sexual acts were a part of the ceremony to begin a new, pure life with Jesus. I have been told in no uncertain terms that there was “a reason” a bride wore white to her wedding, and that this white was not to be tarnished by brides who did not deserve it. And I have seen this 'Greatest Gift' post shared and liked and viewed as an inspiration.

I’m sick of the church feeding the idea that purity is the greatest gift any woman or man could offer. In my search for the words to explain my frustration, I stumbled upon another article, which I am happy to say, was also shared around among my Facebook friends.

In it, the author writes:

“I’m done with virginity. I’m done with that word and that idea. I’m done defining myself, my past and my future, in terms of who’s what has been where, or hasn’t. I’m done with stories for virgins and non-virgins, promises and praises, and sentiments of “restoration” that just push forward bulldozer loads of this horrible twisted shame. […] Virginity is just another way that people in power talk about who’s in and who’s out of favor with Church, that we set up winners and losers in a Kingdom supposedly of equals. […] Instead of reducing the scope of human sexuality to one specific act and stamping that act with a no until marriage makes it a magical yes, I’m building a holistic sexual ethic. […] Let’s talk about commitment, balance, love, consent, wisdom, grace, and the markers of personal, emotional, spiritual and relational health. Let’s open wide the discussions on equality and power structures and work to end abuse in all contexts. […] Let’s work on a theology that has integrity all around it, not just in saying no.”

I agree that the church should have an opinion on intimacy, but as this author suggests, let it be an opinion grounded in equality, openness and love. The old dichotomy, the old rules, the old shame no longer have a place in church. Instead, please, can we rejoice in the fact that the greatest gifts young girls and boys have to offer extend far beyond their claim to virginity.

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