I was unbelievably close to entitling this post “God Doesn’t Actually Care About Your Virginity” but figured that wouldn’t go over well with those who don’t read past the title.
Maybe you’ve seen the post that recently went viral in Christian circles. A post about how men prefer women who are virgins, debt-free, and who don’t have tattoos. Needless to say, it lit up the corner of the blogosphere that deals with female sexuality among Christians. We might not be a big corner, but we do exist and we don’t take kindly to the sound of wolves slinking (do wolves slink?) into our camp.
No, I’m not calling her a wolf. But shame and judgement disguised as “honoring God” definitely is.
I am sure she had the most honest of intentions in writing that. She, like many of us, want to encourage women to live lives that honor God. However, the way you communicate that message is super important, especially to a generation of young girls who likely have already made mistakes. There needs to be grace, and in her post, there isn’t. That missing piece of grace and the idolization of marriage as the woman’s highest calling in life, blow a hole in the fence and allows shame to go on a rampage.
To put the post in perspective, it’s not even written by a man or through the consulting of men. So giving it the definitive title “men prefer xyz” goes against everything you’ve learned about how to write. It’s essentially an e-mail from a reader with the author’s feedback in parenthesis. So, what you have is the thoughts of one, anonymous, woman with the author’s input where needed with a clickbait title.
It is not the definitive guide of what men want. It’s not even a guide of what God wants. Because you know what?
God actually doesn’t care about your virginity
At least not as much as some Christians would like you to believe.
Your virginity is a physical state. It’s a physical fact. Either you’ve had sex or you haven’t.
That physical state has nothing- and I repeat, nothing- to do with your spiritual one. I know plenty of God-honoring men and women who have sexual pasts. I also know plenty of non-Christians who are virgins for other reasons.
The fact that you’ve never had sex doesn’t automatically place you on some spiritual high ground. I’m a virgin, a debt-free one even, and I don’t have any tattoos because I don’t like needles. But I spent years entrenched in hardcore pornography and sent nude images to a man before that was the “in” thing to do.
And my “excuse” for all of it was “But I’m still a virgin.”
I grew up in this same culture that taught virginity is the most important thing about a woman. And it’s not. Marriage was the ultimate end of all women. And it’s not. Motherhood was a woman’s highest calling. And it’s not. Following God is the most important thing. That– not motherhood, not marriage, not even virginity- is our highest calling.
If we truly believe, as Christians, that God looks on the heart and that the outward appearance (physical) is all vanity, the we have no choice but to conclude that God is far more concerned with our hearts than He is with our sexual status.
Rightly so, many fellow bloggers have responded to this errant post, citing their own tattoos, sexual histories, and the overwhelming grace of God. You can check those out here when you’re done reading this one:
Honestly, at this point, you could probably Google “Debt-Free Virgins Without Tattoos” and find post after post on this topic. I wouldn’t recommend it because anything with “virgin” is bound to have a trap door, but the reality is, there are several blogs that have taken aim at this unhealthy, unBiblical, and straight-up shame-based teaching.
So, instead of launching into a post where I say “How dare you,” I want to speak directly to the women who read that and immediately felt shame.
Because, for the past nine years, I have seen what shame does to women. I’ve seen what it looks like to feel like you’re no longer welcome at the “good girls’ table” because of something you have done.
I have held teenage girls as they’ve cried, wondering if God still loves them because they’ve slept with their boyfriends.
I’ve sat across from preacher’s daughters who were contemplating abortion because they were pregnant out of wedlock and didn’t want anyone to know. They didn’t want to face the shame that would rain down from their families and churches.
Shame makes us feel worthless, unworthy, less-than.
And there are women who read that article and were deeply wounded. You questioned your worth, questioned your ability to be loved. You wondered if any man would ever want you. Wondered if your past completely defined you.
Even though the blogosphere rose up to tear down the argument, it didn’t change the fact you were already hurting. You know all-too-well there are people out there who think like this. It’s thinking like this that keeps you from reaching out for help, from being honest, from finding healing.
It’s thinking like this that makes women write e-mails asking:
“If I am molested, am I still a virgin in God’s eyes?”
As if God’s primary concern is whether or not a man (or woman for that matter) has ever crossed the boundary line of your body. We treat women like cars in a dealership lot that need their mileage plastered on the window for all to see. We treat women like objects that lose value with use.
And if you’re a woman with a sexual past, you know the feeling that no man will ever want you. When I finished my book detailing my struggle with pornography, I was absolutely convinced publishing it meant I would never get married. That’s the whole reason it had taken me seven years to write it.
- I still believed that a “woman like me” didn’t deserve to be happy.
- A “woman like me” didn’t deserve a good marriage.
- A “woman like me” was destined to spend the rest of her life publicly shamed, wearing a scarlet letter, second-class, damaged goods.
Fact: I’m six weeks away from my wedding, and there are still days I battle those feelings.
If you’re a Christian woman who has made some regrettable choices, you probably read that article and felt the same.
Hear me: You are loved.
You are loved just as much as the debt-free, tattoo-free virgin, because God’s love for us is not something we earn. She’s actually not better than you. You actually aren’t better than her. Grace makes the ground even.
If you’re worried about “what men want,” let me tell you what I say from the stage when women ask me if they’ll ever get married.
Any man worth his salt will understand God’s grace. If your past is enough to make him run, don’t chase him. You don’t want him.
And the beautiful thing about all of this is, I’ve talked to men and can tell you that the good men, what they want is a woman who loves Jesus. If he asks you about your sexual status on the first date, feel free to get up and leave, because it shouldn’t be that important to him.
My future husband and I met because of my book.
The very thing I thought would keep me from ever finding him turned out to be the thing that drew him to me. He was drawn to God’s grace in my life. He didn’t care if I was a virgin or not. In fact, at 33, he fully accepted that he might marry a non-virgin, and he was ok with that. He didn’t care if I had debt. He didn’t care if I had tattoos.
What mattered to him, what matters to good men, and what matters to God is grace.
Grace means the redeemed rule-breakers get to sit at the table right beside the diligent rule-keepers and eat from the same bounty and know the same love. There is no first class of the Christian faith. It’s not like the virgins get first class and everyone else gets the cattle car.
As Paul says, does that mean that we just do whatever we want because there’s grace? No. But it does mean that if we’ve made choices in our past that threaten to permanently mark down our worth and value, we can refuse to be discounted and stand in the grace of God. It means that we can approach God boldly and believe His goodness just like the girls who never crossed a line in their lives.
Scandalous, isn’t it?
More scandalous than tattoos. It’s been a scandal since Jesus hung out with prostitutes and women of ill-repute. It’s been a scandal since all of the straight-laced rules of the Pharisees got thrown in the rubbish heap. It’s been a scandal since tables were flipped in the temple.
So, if articles like the debt-free virgin one have left you feeling a little low today, a little worthless, a little hopeless even, stand up. Stand up and take your seat at the table, right beside the ones who “never fell.”
Remember, we’ve all fallen for something.
We don’t sit here because we earned it; we sit here because we belong. Take your place as a redeemed and whole daughter of the King and don’t let anyone ever put your beggar’s robes back on.
This is grace, and you belong here.