I was thirteen years old, sitting in a giant, gazebo like chapel, at a Baptist youth camp in San Antonio, Texas. I sat in the back row with the rest of the girls from my church and anxiously waited the “teen girl-sex talk” that they had split up the genders for.
I had grown up in a fundamental, Baptist home and had already received the basics on sex: don’t do it till you’re married.
The female speaker finally showed up, along with three men. Instantly all of the girls in room were confused.
She proceeded to give us the typical intro to all Christian sex talks;
Sex was created for a husband and wife.
Sex outside of marriage is sin and God hates it.
Sex connects you to person you slept with and you can never break that bond.
I knew all of this already and believed in my heart that all it was true.
She then continued to give us a visual representation of these beliefs, involving the three men that she brought and duct tape.
She lined all three of the men up, ripped off a long piece of the tape and slapped it on the hairy arm of the first guy.
All of the girls in the room gasped, and then precede the giggle; we knew what was coming.
After she put the tape on the obviously terrified man’s arm, she explained that the tape was supposed to represent us girls having sex with a guy, who was being represented by the man’s arm. In one swift motion, she pulled off the piece of tape and the guy let out a loud yell in pain. She held up the tape for us to see all of the arm hair the tape had picked up, and explained that when we have sex with someone and don’t marry them, we leave with pieces of them left on us. The speaker then placed the piece of tape on the next guy and proceeded to do the same process of ripping it off. The man, though still slightly yelping in pain, seemed to be somewhat less effected because the tape was less adhesive. Finally, she put the tape on the last man’s arm and, due to the excessive arm hair; it could barely even stick to him.
She closed her sex-talk by explaining to us girls that when you had sex with multiple men, it left you ruined and unable to commit to anyone else. That the number of people you had been sexually active with, dictated your value and worth as a woman and no guy wanted to marry a girl who had a list of men she had been with before him.
Cue internal freak-out.
Now, at the age of thirteen years old I was still a “technical virgin” and had not had vaginal sex. But I had visited all of the other “bases” with a few guys. I wondered what this meant about me then?
Was I all used up and jaded?
Was I going to be rejected by my future husband when he found this?
Would I even be able to commit to him in the long run?
Needless to say, my self-worth took a silent hit that day and I sure as hell was not going to talk to the rest of the girls in my youth group about my promiscuity with different guys.
I had reasoned in my mind that as long as I remained a virgin that I was okay. I’m not used up, or defiled or not capable of commitment until I step over THAT line. And so I continued to push my limits to that very line for the rest of my high school years; until I got into a serious relationship.
I lost my “technical virginity” when I was 18 years old. I was in a committed relationship in which I believed was going to result in marriage. In my mind, sure I was breaking one of God’s rules, but it was okay because at least I was going to marry this guy in the end. I couldn’t have commitment issues because he was the only guy I had ever had sex with; we just stuck the tape on a little early.
But life took a very sharp turn when I ended that relationship due to suffering from abuse. I can honestly say, I’ve never felt so devastated before.
So there I found myself; I was now one of those girls I had been told about in junior high. My tape was covered in some guys arm hair and the next guy who came along was certainly going to find that unattractive. But there was some things nagging in the back of my mind.
I didn’t feel different after losing my virginity.
I didn’t feel used up or dented.
I didn’t feel like I would never be able to commit to another guy.
I didn’t feel broken because I had sex, I felt broken because I had to walk away from someone I thought I loved.
So much of the worth I put in being a “technical virgin” turned out to be completely false. I started to wonder if maybe I was just too jaded to feel anything anymore?
What I’ve realized is that this is one of the most damaging things that we teach girl in the church. That any of their self-worth and purity is tied to their virginity. That we over generalize the complexity of emotions and sexual intercourse between humans to one category.
What if a girl lost her virginity due to a rape?
What if she was sexually abused her whole life?
What if she was forced into sex trafficking?
When we teach girls this formula to purity, we completely removed the message of grace and restoration that Jesus offered.
“Therefore no one will be declared righteous in God’s sight by the works of the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of our sin. But now apart from the law the righteousness of God has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.” Romans 3:20-24
Preaching a message of purity that relies on anything to do by our merit is completely contradicting the new covenant that was established under Jesus. Telling young girls that the path to purity is to refrain from sex is wrong; the only way to purity is through grace.
What has been amazing for me to experience is that when I am able to live in the mercy of Jesus, the outlook of my worth changes. I don’t refrain from sexual interactions because I think it’s the only way to be Godly, I know that I’m too intelligent to be used by a man that just wants me for sexual gain.
That God’s purpose for my life is so much more than just dating and trying to make guys like me. But none of this worth goes away by choices I make regarding anything sexual.
So to the girl who was sexual abused at a young age, or raped or just escaped sex trafficking;
You are not tainted. You are not jaded. You are so beautiful and so precious. You are worth being loved and being held as though you are the most cherished thing on this earth. None of what was done to you defines who are.
To the girl who just lost her virginity;
You are not destined to a life of commitment issues. You are not of any less value or something that men won’t want anymore. You will learn and you will grow. You are still worth everything that Jesus suffered through on the cross.
To the girl who has been with multiple guys;
You are not a girl with a list. You are not a used up piece of duck tape. There will be men who try to make you feel like you are less valuable now, trust me I’ve met them, but you are not anything they say you are. You are the woman that the Pharisees dropped before Jesus, naked and scared, having been caught in sexual immorality. He did not condemn you. He did not let them stone you. He loved you and saw you for what you really were; a precious life worth saving.
And so that’s my story, bearing a lot to the world with the words above. I know that not everyone’s story is the same and we’ve all walked different paths trying to navigate how to be a woman in this crazy world. But Jesus’s message of grace and acceptance is never different for anyone who wants it.
Attempting to let the world see a piece of my heart,