I was sitting in a room full of wedding rings, we were all crammed around a small wooden table and were discussing “The Life of Jesus From a Middle Eastern Perspective”. The ages of the women ranged between thirty-five and eighty.
One second, I was thinking about how Jesus was so great at busting up our expectations, and the next moment, my mind trailed to the glittering gold on each ring finger.
It did not turn my thoughts to dreams of falling in love and wedding bells, but to:
“Hmmm, I bet I’m the only virgin in the room.”
There is really no way of fully knowing, but the thought surprised me enough I decided to chew on it for awhile.
At the age of thirteen, I would look around and feel united with my peers in our celibacy. But when high school hit, college, and then the roaring twenties, our solidarity turned into my solitaire.
I keep coming back to the question of why? Why am I waiting for sex?
It’s not just about fitting in with the cool kids, maybe it was, fifteen years ago, when the eleven years olds were all wearing purity rings. But by college, most of us had shed the rings, yet some of us were still giggling about wedding nights. Now, there are a few stragglers left standing with me mid-twenties, whether by choice or a lack of options.
If i’m honest, (Mom trigger warning), had I the proper opportunities or a long-term relationship, maybe it would of happened by now.
But it hasn’t, there have been a few guys bobbing in and out of my life in the past year who were more than willing. Their willingness was to their detriment I think, it acted as a shield, I would allow for just enough physical closeness to fulfill my own longing and then wag a finger in their faces saying “no farther, you! Because I’m a lady.”
Or something like that.
A few years ago I wrote Taking the Shame Out of Sexuality for Prodigal Magazine. It’s when I started to realize sex and sexuality were not behaviors to be ashamed of, sex is amoral. Meaning sex is neither moral nor immoral, it “lies outside the sphere to which moral judgments apply.” -Webster
However, sex between humans has an additional element, it involves emotions, motives, vulnerability, nakedness of mind and body.
I have come to understand the following about the act of sex: we make sex good and whole when our sex is intimacy, beauty, pleasure, and a gifting to another human. We break sex when it is selfishness, vanity, and manipulation.
As I am still a virgin, these are conclusions formulated not from personal experience, but from my faith background, from the conversations I have had with my parents, with my friends, from classes on human sexuality and perhaps a little of television and literature.
My formulated conclusions left me seeing marriage as the only context for intimacy, beauty, pleasure and selflessness.
However, I used to think alcohol, co-ed housing, Harry Potter and exercise were essentially evil. I couldn’t even round up a context, as I could for sex, in which they were acceptable.
Jesus spent a lot of time busting up the formulated conclusions of first century Middle Easterners, he spoke paradoxically about the hungry, and wealthy, the religious. I think Jesus wanted to scrape away their measurements of another’s righteousness and have them focus a little more on their own hearts.
I think this applies to me too.
Maybe I am asking the wrong question when I say “why am I waiting for sex?”
If the question is “why”, it would be a lot easier to talk myself out of waiting, especially when I am lonely, or feel like I am holding onto a crumbling moral code, or perhaps because I owe it to the other person for buying my dinner.
Rather, the question I’d like to ask is “what am I waiting for with sex?”
So, the “what” —
I am waiting for a relationship that is intimacy, beauty, pleasure and selflessness; realistically I am aware no relationship can fully portray goodness and wholeness, but I want one that is pursuing those qualities, rather than ignoring them, which in my experience, ignoring goodness and wholeness leads to selfishness, vanity and manipulation.
For some of us virgins, this might indeed be found in marriage, but perhaps not for others.
Where I may differ from the wedding banded women, and my twenty-somethings peers by being the only virgin in the room, I would like to think I am united with them in wanting to contribute wholeness and goodness to not only sex, but to my relationships, my to friendships, to my money,
and maybe even to my exercise.