A little over a year ago, I took my purity ring off. Not because I was swearing off the idea of ever getting married… I just didn’t want it on anymore.
For one, I’m tired of the awkward conversations. I was tired of people asking me questions about it, because what was I supposed to say?
“I’m waiting until marriage to have sex.” Great, a post-graduate virgin that no one wants to have sex with.
“I’m giving my heart to Jesus until he brings me a man.” Great, yet another young woman “waiting” for a man.
“I’m waiting for God to finish working on a man that will be perfect for me.” Yeah, because I obviously have no work to be done.
So here, a year later, I still have it off. Why?
Waiting assumes that one’s coming…and God may be calling me to singleness. And I mean, I have to be okay with that. Additionally, I have to minister to teen girls and show them that I’m okay with that, because God may be calling any one of them as well. To constantly preach the message to young girls that they need to “wait?” And to celebrate in that waiting? What? Have you every seen a teenager like to wait for anything?
I used to love the song by Superchick called “Average Girl.” The chorus goes “No more dating, I’m just waiting. Like Sleeping Beauty, my prince will come for me, he’ll come for me. No more dating, I’m just waiting. ‘Cause God is writing my love story, my love story.” I used to love that song as a teenager, because I would think “God is preparing someone for me. My prince is going to come. It’s going to happen.”
I feel like teaching our young ladies to “wait” is setting them up for disaster. Have you talked to a young woman about relationships lately? She will tell you how ticked she is, because she has been waiting like she was told to do, yet no one is coming. And don’t dare tell her that she needs to trust God more, or that she needs to clean some sin from her life. Because although in some cases that may be true, that’s not true for every case. Some women aren’t supposed to wait…we need to teach that as a reality and not as an alternative lifestyle.
I stocked up on True Love Waits material ever since I signed that pink card and put it on the bulletin board at church at age of 13. I requested a personalized purity ring for my 16th birthday. I even made my own students at church sign that card as well.
So when I started working with at-risk teens, many of whom are teen mothers, and began learning about the way the church has handled their “promiscuity,” “debauchery,” and “fornication” (crazy how they know these words and can’t even read past the 5th grade) I began changing my view of how we teach about sex.
Dr. Kara Powell said at SYMC conference in March 2013: “We have made sexual purity the litmus test for Christianity.” We have taught this to our teens: Once you have sex, it’s over. You’re done. When a teenager comes to us and says they have had sex, we put them at arm’s length and pray for their sweet lost soul.
We teach that if a teenager has sex, they are like a piece of gum that has been chewed. Once chewed, it will never be the same again. We tell them that they’ve given away a piece of their self away that they can never retrieve. We tell them that if they have any sexual contact outside of marriage, they are cheating on their future spouse, and that spouse may not want them if the hear of that person’s sin.
We need to change how we talk about sex: Not treating it as the unforgivable sin. Sure we talk about a “second virginity” and being a “born-again virgin.” But that doesn’t do anything for the morale; because although we say they are redeemed, we say in the exact same Sunday School lesson that they are that chewed-up piece of gum.
Especially since many of our young ladies may become victims of sexual abuse. Pushing this message actually tells them that they aren’t worthy of ever being loved. That they will never be able to have a marriage with good, Godly sex because a piece of them was given away, whether they wanted it to or not. So why pursue Godliness? Why wait for this perfect man when they aren’t worthy of him? Might as well continue a life of “fornication.”
I have a close friend who believes she is damaged goods: She made a mistake and had sex. And she can’t stop. She, too, was a fan of True Love Waits and advocated it. She had the purity ring, she read “Lady in Waiting.” But she can’t stop. She started because she had low self-esteem, but now she believes she has no value at all, because she gave what was meant for her husband to other men. I have other friends who have left the church because they were told they were whores; they weren’t told to their faces, but they were taught through the way we teach about sex.
Andy Mineo raps in “You Will” : “You’re never too far to be made new. They said you damaged goods? That ain’t true.”
Dang. How much do women need to hear this?
You are not damaged goods.
I don’t even know how to begin fixing the damage we’ve done, but I’m trying to do one thing: Love my teenagers (and my single girl friends) and show them that they are still worthy of love, and that it’s never too late to be pure in God’s eyes. That I won’t treat you any differently because you messed up, because you got pregnant at 14, or because you were a victim of sexual abuse. You’re not just some piece of gum. You are God’s crowning work of creation.