I want to begin by making it very clear that I am not advocating for sin, nor am I suggesting anyone revise their opinion about what is or isn’t sin. Here, I am going to focus on how we’ve turned purity into an idol.
I recently read a comment on another blog post where someone was describing a youth group activity about virginity. The students were shown a wedding-style cake. The girls were sent from the room, but the boys remained. The boys were instructed to dive in and enjoy the cake. When the girls returned, the experience was compared to what it’s like if a guy “takes” a girl’s virginity before she’s married. She becomes like that cake, utterly destroyed. She is “damaged goods.”
It’s not the only lesson illustration of its kind. Other common teaching tools for “purity” education include partially chewed candy or gum, previously licked lollipops, roses with the petals torn off, cups of spit. You can see some of them in this video:
(You can see more videos on abstinence-only sex education from Amplify Your Voice here.)
We have definitely made an idol of virginity, particularly for women. We even deliver retroactive guilt—people are shamed for having had sex before marriage even when they weren’t Christians at the time. I can recall the popularity of virginity renewal pledges and all the talk about how we could become spiritually pure again if we had committed such a grave crime against God.
What would happen if we placed the same kind of emphasis on shaming people for non-sexual sins? What if we stopped elevating virginity to the top tier as proof of Christian faith and self-control? Would it actually lead to less sinful behavior, or would it just increase shame and guilt in other areas of our lives? How about instead, we stop treating people as if a single event (loss of virginity, in this case) defines the rest of their lives.