Approaching Grace in Red High Heels
This post is part of a current series, The Other Virgin Diaries.
“So you’re telling me that something that was natural and good and made me feel loved is a sin?”
I tapped my pen against the corner of my mouth, squinting at the screen. How to answer?
There are many people making life decisions based on nothing more than personal emotion. ‘Feelings’, if you will, have become the determination of morality, especially when it comes to sex.
Starting out The Other Virgin Diaries I debated on which topic to tackle first. Since the morality of sex is the foundation behind most questions, that’s where I’m going to begin.
The church has made a grievous mistake when it comes to sexual discussion. Whether out of fear, legalism, or just ignorance, many churches take two tacks when it comes to sex: 1) ignore the topic completely; or 2) emphasize the evil of pre- or extramarital sex without ever discussing the nature of sex itself. This leaves church-going girls with questions about both the nature and the details of sex, but afraid to ask because the stigma is so strong.
But when these girls leave the sanctuary, they enter a different kind of world. This world is everything BUT silent about sex. Here, sex is trumpeted as an achievement, a badge of honor, and a source of value. Told to both avoid sex and be ‘in the world but not of it’, many Christian girls spend their days playing whack-a-mole with sexual topics, never truly understanding sex in a frantic effort to remain pure. Meanwhile, the world is screaming, “It’s natural! It’s good! It’s wonderful! It makes you feel great and loved! Don’t let religion control your choices!” So there they stand at a crossroads, tired of whacking the moles of sexual thought but completely sexually ignorant… and completely ready to give up.
If God is good like I’ve been taught, and God made sex, why is sex bad? And why does everyone else seem to think sex is great? Is Christian sex the only kind that’s bad? And if it feels good, how can it be wrong?
These are sad but necessary questions, and they lead us to the world’s primary argument for extramarital sex: “If it feels good, affirms me, and makes me feel loved (however temporarily), it cannot be wrong”. ..
Today I had nearly thirty emails fly in over the course of four hours.
“I read your post about saving your virginity… I had a question…”
“Thank you for your post, but I had a question…”
“Do you mind if I ask you an awkward question?”
“I don’t want to ask this, but…”
I suspected this would happen, and you know what? I’m excited about it. I’m excited to talk about a topic I’ve prayed over for almost a year now. I’m excited but I’m anxious, too, because it requires dangerous transparency, unbelievable vulnerability and even some writing of rather graphic nature. But in spite of all that – I’m at peace to proceed.
Because there is an unspeakable need for honesty about sex, especially for Christian girls.
Having been raised in a Christian home, great churches, and attended a Christian school, you would think I had an advantage when it came to the biblical view of sex. But in reality, my understanding of sexuality was pieced together from biology textbooks, Cosmo magazines, and late-night hearsay from girls on the dorm. I didn’t really know what to expect: I just knew I was supposed to wait. I wasn’t taught that sex was bad, but it was mysterious, and many of my questions went unanswered because I was too frightened to ask.
Many Christian girls are like I was, terrified to talk to parents and pastors about topics of this nature – especially when to do so would indict themselves.
So this week I’m starting a new series. I’m going to be answering the questions that pile into my inbox along with many I was asking while dating and engaged. Questions like:
Does God really say sex outside of marriage is a sin?
Is masturbation a sin?
I’m a girl with a lust problem. Am I freak of nature?
What do I do if I am addicted to porn or erotica?
Is there forgiveness for sexual sin, even if I am no longer a virgin?
Phy, you need to read this.”
I got that text from my friend while I was sipping coffee in renovated cottage-turned-cafe. It contained a link.
“This writer did a purity pledge,” The texts continued. “And has rejected all of it. You need to read it, and some of the comments.”
So I did, and as tears welled in my eyes, I knew I’d have to do what I really don’t like doing: write a response post.
The article was entitled “It Happened to Me: I Waited Until My Wedding Night to Lose My Virginity and I Wish I Hadn’t”. I read it in its entirety. The more I read, the more heartbroken I felt for Samantha (the author) and the twisted experience she relayed in the post. But my sadness was overwhelmed with a sense of utter urgency.
A lot of young women will read that post: young women who have made purity pledges and are waiting for an excuse to walk away from them. Young women teetering on the bring of sexual and spiritual destruction. Young women wondering if it is even worth this waiting-for-marriage.
So I’m going to battle for the other side because this waiting-for-marriage thing – it’s worth it. In fact, waiting for marriage to lose my virginity was the best decision I ever made.
1. My commitment to purity wasn’t to a church: it was to Christ Himself…
Despite the fact I took a Master Gardening course for a semester, I have an uncanny knack for killing all things green. I’m not quite sure how my geraniums have survived the last month, since I haven’t tended to them since the Fourth of July.
My non-nurture nature isn’t specific to flowers. As a nanny, I was very brass tacks. I’m not paid to baby these children, I told myself. I’m paid to cook and clean and change diapers. So that is what I did.
To ‘nurture’ means to ‘care for and encourage the growth or development of’ something or someone. For those of us who are ‘Type A’, the time and patience required for this care may not be an exciting prospect.
But love is on the to-do list, and part of love is being patient, kind, and gentle – all traits which contribute to the nature of a nurturing spirit.
What does this ‘nurture’ look like? What is it, and what is it not?
Felista emailed me a while back from my ‘Partner With Me’ page. What stood out to me was her work with youth in Kenya (where she lives) through an organization called ‘Preserving Human Dignity’. I loved the sound of that, and our continuing conversation revealed her great writing, heart for discipleship and our mutual desire to preserve the dignity of young women worldwide. You’ll be seeing posts from Felista on a monthly basis! sig
I see you walking down the street with your head down, almost like you’re embarrassed to be seen.
To even exist.
I see you in the supermarket glancing surreptitiously at the glamorous cover girls in the magazines section; and I see your face fall just a little. I see you trying so hard to fit into a mould that has been created by an industry that doesn’t care about you. I see you and my heart breaks, because I was there.
Just like you, I walked with my head hanging low. Some days I didn’t even want to leave the house, because I felt that I didn’t deserve to be seen. I felt fat and ugly and miserable for a long time, and it hurt. It took me years to believe that I am beautiful. My heart breaks also because I now understand that it doesn’t have to be this way.
You are loved by a Father who sees you as beautiful, and who wants you to see yourself as beautiful. You see, beauty isn’t just a commodity sold in advertisements and movies and series and magazines; it’s a basic component of who we are as women. To know you’re beautiful is a necessity; to truly know it in your heart of hearts is vital. Inner beauty is important, and it matters more than what you look like on the outside. But how you feel about what you see in the mirror is also important. I mean, you’ll be looking into the mirror and seeing your face and body for as long as you’re alive; so you might as well learn to accept and appreciate how you look early on, right? Right…
“There are times silence is like lettuce in your teeth; incredibly awkward, but without a sudden exit to the bathroom, no way to deal with it appropriately.
Our high school method for such silences was to lay one hand on top of the other, spinning thumbs like a turtle’s fins and hollering “AWKWARD TURTLE” until we were all laughing again. But I can’t do that at work, even though there are times I’d really like to. I can see it going down in the conference room, me in my black suit looking professional but completely ‘I Love Lucy’ on the inside:
“Where did these matriculation rates come from? The business intelligence office?”
It could be really great.
There are a lot of times I don’t know what to say, whether it be in a conference room, on the phone with a friend, or in the living room with my husband. Sometimes I know what I want to say but I know I shouldn’t say it, which leaves me gasping for synonyms like a landed catfish.
But God gives us a template for what to say in those situations. He even gives us a few options to choose from.”