This week I’ve been reading a lot about purity. On Tuesday, on A Deeper Story, a post appeared from Sarah Bessey called I am damaged goods. If you read no more of my post beyond this point please at least go and read it, it’s definitely worth the time.
Sarah’s post has been read by a lot of people, and many of them have commented on it, or written their own blogs as they’ve reflected on this issue of purity and virginity. So I’ve been reading a lot, and thinking myself and come to a couple of interesting (to myself, at least!) realisations.
Firstly, many Christians are obsessed with sex. That’s not news I suspect, and maybe it’s not unique to Christians, maybe it’s a human-thing. I’m not really sure, but I do think that in Christian circles that obsession is worked out in a couple of ways:
- Sex is the be all and end all of life. It is the best human experience that can be had (although only within the context of marriage, natch.) so marriage is prized above all, and the ‘gift’ of singleness is a poor consolation prize, avoided at all costs.
- Sex, outside of the context of marriage, is the worst kind of sin that can be found, and whilst teaching on that does speak about all sexual activity, the main focus is on the big bad line that must not be crossed.
The first of these two out-workings does irritate me, but today I’m going to focus on the second implication, since that’s been where the chat has been found this week. And maybe you’re wondering why this deserves a place in the hallowed ‘Feminine Friday’ anthology, well, here’s where it’s all going to get a bit real folks, so if you’re of a nervous disposition, perhaps it’s best to look away now.
You see, this is how it’s all being worked out: holiness is purity, purity is virginity, and virginity is about one thing, and one thing only: being intact.
And, biologically speaking, that’s only a problem for the female half of the population. Men don’t get labelled as ‘ruined’ or ‘damaged’ because there’s nothing to ruin or damage. Yes there’s all sorts of talk about all of us remaining pure and fleeing temptation and all that jazz, but when it comes down to it, the general message is this: don’t cross that final line. Anything else isn’t brilliant, but it’s redeemable, however, once you’ve gone past that line you are changed. You are damaged goods.
Here’s the thing. It’s not that I don’t think that marriage is a good thing, because I do, I think it’s a wonderful picture that God has given to point us towards the true and perfect marriage: the one he’s arranged between his Son, the perfect Bridegroom, and his Church, the whore-turned-Bride. And it’s not that I don’t think that God has a plan and a place for sex which is for our best and our benefit, because I do. But I think that our obsession with virginity is doing damage, because that one line drawn in the sand, which says that all one side are as pure as the driven snow, and all on the other are damaged and ruined beyond repair is saying two things:
- If you’ve crossed the line then you’re ruined. Whether that was by choice, or not. Whether it’s a regretted choice, a drunken mistake, or a violent act, forced upon you, you’re still damaged.
- If you’ve crossed the line, then there’s no redemption.
With regards to the latter point, well, I don’t think that many Christians are being explicit about this, but I think that the implication is there a lot of the time. It has become an irredeemable act, the one thing that can’t be forgiven, or at the very least, can’t be forgotten. Perhaps you will be allowed in to the Kingdom, but you’ll have to spend eternity sitting in the corner thinking about what you’ve done.
What a pile of crap.
In the comments to Sarah’s post, someone [‘Church Reject’] asked this question to another commenter who had rebuked Sarah’s conclusions:
Is the blood of the hymen so much more powerful than the blood of Christ that it must cause permanent damnation in those women who have shed it?
The answer, in case you were wondering, is no.
The gospel is not Jesus, plus an intact hymen.
It’s just Jesus.
My favourite bit of Sarah’s whole post was the following paragraph:
For I am convinced, right along with the Apostle Paul, that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any other power, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus. Not even “neither virginity nor promiscuity” and all points between can separate you from this love. You are loved – without condition – beyond your wildest dreams already.
That’s the good news. Nothing can separate us from the love of God which is Christ Jesus. Let’s stop thinking, or acting, like anything else is true.
In summary: pure.