Monday, December 30, 2019

Anonymous Asks (73)

“Is born-again virginity possible?”

Infogalactic says, “A born-again virgin is a person who, after having engaged in sexual intercourse, makes some type of commitment not to be sexually active again ... whether for religious, moral, practical, or other reasons.”

Like many ideas floating around evangelical churches today, the concept contains elements of both truth and error.

Total Forgiveness

One very true part is this: making a commitment to Jesus Christ is indeed very much like getting a giant do-over. It is a life-changing reboot. “Every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven people,” as the Lord put it in Matthew. Or, as Paul puts it to the Christians in Corinth, “Such were some of you [sexually immoral, adulterers, homosexuals and so on]. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.”

You were that then. In the eyes of God, you are not that now. You are now God’s child, born of his Spirit. In Christ, you are a new creation. That’s a wonderful thing. It’s actually way better than being a virgin. There are tens of millions of biological virgins who are still on the road to hell.

Commitment to Chastity

Another truth to be found in the “born-again virgin” concept is that it is possible to make a commitment not to be sexually active again until you can do so in a situation that pleases God. Lots of new Christians have made such commitments and stuck with them. I’m confident they were greatly blessed by learning self-control, which is a significant Christian virtue and the natural product of a Spirit-led life. Without it, our service to Christ will not amount to much. New Christians who commit to chastity also learn the power of deliverance from temptation. When we are weak, he is strong.

In fact, Christians who fail to make this sort of commitment and stick to it will cause themselves all kinds of problems. A renewed commitment to chastity before marriage is a very, very good idea ... but only so long as we do not confuse it with some kind of ersatz virginity.

Unconfusing the Confusion

And that’s the error part in the “born-again virgin” concept. Post-sex commitment to chastity is great, but it’s not virginity. We are silly to pretend it is anything of the sort.

You’re only a virgin once, and when it’s over, it’s over. That’s a biological reality. People who deny biological reality are usually suffering from mental problems or dealing with serious confusion of some sort. But even more important than biology, you now have history that will never go away, even if you never tell anyone but God about it.

People who insist on characterizing their newfound commitment to chaste sexual conduct as “born-again virginity” are consciously or unconsciously trying to dispense with a non-negotiable, non-nullifiable element of their lived experience, as if the knowledge they have acquired from prior relationships can be assigned to some unreachable part of their brain where it will not influence every new sexual situation in which they find themselves. They are dead wrong. Trust me, it will.

What It Is and What It Isn’t

You are a new creation in the eyes of God, and there is every reason to be tremendously grateful for that. But your memory is not going to be wiped, the skills you have developed in bed are not going away (even if you pretend you don’t possess them), and you will bring the things that went wrong (and right) in all your previous sexual relationships, and all the expectations and assumptions those experiences created for you, into any new relationship you enter into. That baggage will influence everything you do with your new partner, and, if he or she is the least bit experienced or alert, it will certainly be noticed.

Now, the good news is that you are completely and totally forgiven. The bad news is that your previous experience may complicate your life. It may create expectations that cannot be met. Your Christian wife or husband may not be as physically attractive as one or more of your former sexual partners. They may be clumsy or awkward or insensitive. There may be performance issues on one side or another. Your partner may become suspicious of your sexual skill set and irrationally jealous about how and where it may have been acquired. They may suffer from feelings of inadequacy or bouts of anger, and take it out on you. The more experience you have, the worse that may be.

Complications, Complications

This may be true whether or not your partner has also been sexually active before marriage. It has more to do with individual makeup, maturity, ability to forgive, self-confidence and tendency toward jealousy than it does with experience or inexperience. Both of you will need to be very honest with one another, honest with the Lord, and dependent on him to help you deal with the things you are not able to communicate adequately to one another.

Unsaved friends (and even saved ones trying to find some redeeming feature in their checkered pasts) will often tell you that sexual experience prior to marriage can help you bring things to your marriage that a virgin cannot. In one sense they are correct. The problem is that you are not bringing anything your partner really wants or needs. Everything they need to learn about sex and relating physically to one another, the two of you can and should learn together.

That is God’s ideal, and that’s what works best in marriage. Pretending you have gotten yourself back into that happy state of innocence spiritually rather than physically simply does not make it so. If we must have words to describe the sexually-reformed, it is healthier (and more accurate) to use terminology that is a little less delusory.

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