I never told my daughters that they should marry virgins.
I told them instead they had to marry guys who loved Jesus. And those two are not necessarily synonymous.
This week Lori Alexander’s article “Men Prefer Debt-Free Virgins without Tattoos” went viral.
But I want to comment on just one thing. Others have talked about Lori Alexander’s abysmal view of women and how she doesn’t understand grace, and I want to find something new to add to the conversation, so I thought I would revisit this idea of virginity.
Based on the surveys that I did for my book The Good Girl’s Guide to Great Sex, I know that around 70% of you reading this blog who identify as very serious Christians were not virgins when you married. I know even more of you had husbands who were not virgins. So the number of couples where both were virgins was really very small.
Now, is it a good idea to wait until you’re married to have sex? Yes, it is. It’s certainly what God wants, but I believe He wants that for our good, not because He’s just making a rule.
That being said, virginity is not the be all and end all. And, in fact, ultimately virginity means nothing. It’s just a pile of horse manure.
And if you don’t believe me, read Scripture, because that’s exactly what Paul says (although in the original Greek, “horse manure” would be even more explicit and gross.)
In Philippians 3, Paul, starting in verse 4, lists all his credentials for righteousness. He was a Pharisee of the Pharisees. He was born a Benjamite (that’s a good tribe!). He was zealous. He was blameless according to the law. He did absolutely everything right.
But then he says this:
But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. 8 What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith. 10 I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead.
That phrase–“I consider them garbage”–is better translated “a pile of dung”. All of the things that made him “righteous” are actually a pile of dung compared to what? Knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.
And that’s what I taught my girls. When you choose someone to marry, first and foremost, before everything else, choose someone who knows Jesus.
Because ultimately nothing else matters. And that’s why we need to change this conversation around virginity, as if we are born pure, but then we can mess up and never be pure again.
Purity, you see, is not something you can lose. Purity is something that you gain in Christ.
We talk about virginity all wrong, as if you can make one mistake and now you’re no longer pure, and you’re second class, and no one will want you. That is simply not biblical. In fact, biblically it’s a pile of crap.
It is not virginity that makes us pure. It is our relationship and position in Christ.
I know a lot of virgins who are impure, and a lot of people with pasts who are pure. Paul would even say that those who have confidence in the flesh, as Lori Alexander seems to, aren’t pure because they don’t understand Jesus. And that’s really the point.
I’ve answered the question on the blog before about “is it wrong to want to marry a virgin?”, and I think if I were to answer that today I’d be even more adamant. We’re looking at the wrong thing. We’re focusing on past actions, rather than the present condition of someone’s heart. Ultimately what makes someone a good marriage partner is not what they’ve done in the past, but who is controlling their life now. If they are surrendered to Jesus, then they will love you. They will cherish you. They will honour you. They will walk with you, want the best for you, be a wonderful partner to you. But if they are simply focused on the external marks of righteousness, then you will never know real intimacy.
Now, when you do marry someone with a past, there are challenges. You have to agree to put their past behind you, and to overcome any jealousy. That can be difficult, and I don’t mean to minimize it.
But I have read letter after letter on this blog from men and women in terrible marriages, and I can tell you this with confidence: the reason their marriages were terrible had nothing to do with their virginity or lack thereof when they married; their tattoos; or their debts. The reason their marriages were terrible was because someone was not acting like Jesus and someone was of bad character.
Lots of selfish, narcissistic people tick all the right boxes in church, but they don’t have love.
The boxes don’t matter. They are a pile of dung compared to knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. Let’s teach our kids how to recognize people who truly know Jesus, not how to run after virgins.
Purity is not something you lose. It’s something you gain in Christ.
Side Note Number 1:
Here is a picture of Katie with David from July 16, 2017–exactly one year before Lori Alexander’s article came out, and about 15 minutes after David proposed:
And here’s a picture from their wedding:
Notice anything? Yep. That man has tattoos.
And the tattoos tell the story of his faith journey, and are a great opening in conversations for him with his military buddies.
Right now David is on an exercise in Nijmegen, the Netherlands. He was chosen to be among just a few hundred Canadian soldiers to participate in this march with thousands of other NATO troops. It’s an annual exercise, and it’s a great honour. They also visited the Canadian graves in France last week, and David was asked to give a speech at Vimy Ridge.
Two days ago Katie woke up to find this picture on the Canadian Forces Facebook Page, of the troops marching into Nijmegen. Look at who was chosen to carry our flag:
Yesterday my daughter Rebecca and my son-in-law Connor celebrated their third anniversary. Here they are at Rebecca’s university graduation (Lori Alexander says women shouldn’t go to secular universities, either. Whoops. Guess Rebecca messed up there, too!)
They’ve grown together so much in the last three years, and though Connor met Christ only about a year before they got engaged, he’s become such an integral part of their church in Ottawa. He’s on worship teams and drama teams. He starred in their Christmas play. He volunteers. He serves. He prays for his co-workers.
Oh, and he had student debt that the two of them paid off, too.
Nothing matters except real character, and real character only comes from knowing Jesus.
So how about we stop talking about criteria for marriage outside of knowing Jesus and having the fruit of that relationship? Because ultimately Jesus is all that matters.
And here’s Katie’s video response:
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Neither of my girls followed Lori’s advice. But they did follow mine. And they’re all doing great.