|I'm a girl who's been a Christian my entire life, and I've never had a purity ring. How is this possible? Image source.|
And if I get it wrong, then I'm ruining my life. Or so I've been told.
This question is discussed in a recent blog post, "Progressive" Christianity and Premarital Sex. The writer, Sarah Moon, grew up in "Christian purity culture" and learned a lot of BAD reasons to not have sex- it will ruin your life forever! boys will have no reason to respect you! the most valuable gift you can give your husband is your virginity!- bad reasons based in fear and shame. She left that way of thinking behind and found other arguments in support of abstinence- the importance of building friendship in a dating relationship, choosing self-control over lust, having physical boundaries to show that you value your body.
But ultimately, she says those reasons did not satisfy her either. She concludes that abstinence is a "good choice" but "not necessarily THE good choice." She says you can't make some kind of universal rule for all Christians, because this is a complex personal choice.
And my first thought, before I can even begin to consider the merits of her way of thinking, is "Are we even ALLOWED to ask these questions?"
Because so many times I've been warned about how much it would ruin my life to have sex. Surely it's dangerous to even THINK that it might be okay. We mustn't let our guard down for even a MINUTE, because temptation is so powerful and the consequences are so disastrous.
I don't buy that.
Readers of this blog should know that I believe QUESTIONING EVERYTHING is very important. If something is TRUE, then it can stand up to any questions you throw at it. I've questioned whether God is sexist, why the plagues of Egypt were so horrible, whether the idea of "modesty" makes any sense at all, etc etc, and that's what I'll continue to do. Because I am a Christian and I believe the bible, and I'm very confident in that.
And the idea that sex/dating is the one area where everything is so powerful and dangerous that we mustn't let anyone attempt to make their own decisions... I don't buy that.
For what it's worth, I don't agree with Sarah's conclusion. I think the bible's commands against "sexual immorality" include premarital sex- Sarah actually brings this up, and asks for an explicit definition of "sexual immorality", which no one is able to provide. This is TOTALLY the right question to ask, and I don't have a real answer- I just believe that because it seems to be how those commands are typically understood.
Also, I don't agree that it's solely a personal choice. My body does not belong to me; it belongs to God. (This is not a very feminist idea.) So these decisions CANNOT be based solely on what I determine is best for my situation- I also need to consider what God would and would not allow me to do with my body.
All of these ideas are definitely worth exploring more. The reason I explain my own point of view is not to say "Sarah is wrong and needs to stop saying that stuff". No. I would totally love to have more discussion about this, rather than being afraid of hard questions, or afraid I'm ruining my life if I misunderstand.
God gives us freedom. He doesn't want us to live in fear. So let's follow God and ask those questions.