Home » Feminism » future husbands: your future wife does not belong to you

future husbands: your future wife does not belong to you

virgin with lamp

So, I keep swearing to myself that I won’t keep writing reactionary posts. I do. I really do. I make all these beautiful promises about keeping my head down, not getting involved when someone says something unintelligent . . .

And then this happens.

And, after ranting about it a little bit, and stomping around on twitter (only two tweets for this one! two! I did so good), I decide that hey, this is an issue that actually needs addressing. Because, yes, I’m reacting to something that got published on the internet– but I’m also reacting to the place where these ideas come from. And these ideas come from a very scary, very dark place. A place I lived most of my life in.

So, to get us started, here’s the significant portions of the young man’s letter I’m going to address:

. . . I’ve been checking off the various boxes over the years to become a better mate, yet I cannot seem to find any girls of marriage potential.

I have not been able to find any Christian girls who are virgins. If I successfully get a date, as it moves along I am constantly disappointed to find out they have had sex with numerous men before. Each makes the typical statement that they were mistakes and they’ve asked God for forgiveness and moved on. Unfortunately, as a potential husband, there is no option for me to “move on” beyond the infidelity . . .

My female friends keep telling me, “It’s not that big of a deal, and no girls over 20 are virgins. The fact they’ve had sex doesn’t change much.” But not only do I not believe them, there’s lots of scientific as well as biblical evidence for it being a big deal! And that’s on top of the human feelings of betrayal, shame and dishonor of knowing your girl didn’t love you enough to not sleep with other men, as well as the mental images you’ll have for a lifetime of her being sexually active with her lovers.

Feel free to go vomit into a bucket, or go scream into a pillow. I had to go furiously clean my kitchen after I read this. I’ll wait for you.

Ready? Ok.

Honestly, though, the first thing that clues me in to this young man’s attitude is in the words “checking off the boxes.” He talks about all the things he’s done to ready himself for marriage– getting a job, settling down, all that. Those are all fantastically good things. I encourage anyone who asks that waiting to seriously think about long-term relationships until you’re established can be a very good, healthy thing. Doesn’t make it the right circumstances for everyone, but it can help. So yay. He’s waited until he’s more established to start looking.

But, when I think back to all the men I knew growing up, men who declared they’d follow this same formula, men who ascribed to all those kissed-dating-goodbye ideas, I think I know where this man is coming from. And he’s coming from a place where men are The Supreme Commander over All Things– in the church, in the home, in the workplace. In a word, that’s called patriarchy, which will be important in just a sec.

So, his entire letter is dedicated to asking for some guy on Boundless.org to give him justification. He’s not really interested in advice– he’s interested in having Scott Croft affirm his belief that “finding a virgin” is some sort of biblical mandate, that he’s right in believing that he shouldn’t marry anything ‘less’ than a virgin. That, because he’s a virgin, and he’s “checked off all the right boxes,” that he deserves a virgin. That he deserves to feel “betrayed” and “sinned against” by any unmarried woman having sex with someone who isn’t him.

After he opens with not finding women who meet his standards as a “potential,” he then labels the act of a woman having pre-marital sex as infidelity.

Infidelity.

Let’s let that sink in for a moment.

Because, ladies, having sex before you’ve even met your future husband is cheating. And, in this frame of reference, it’s cheating because, guess what– you belong to him already. You’ve belonged to him from the moment you were born (because, of course, any suitable husband will be older than you). Because God made you for each other. God knew who you were going to marry when he formed you in your mother’s womb. Behaving like you’re not already married? Not possible. Because you are, before you’ve even sworn that vow. Your body, your vagina, isn’t yours. It’s his, your future husband’s. Always.

And because your vagina belongs to him, if you let anyone else in there, he deserves to feel betrayed, and shamed, and dishonored by what you’ve done with your body.

I’d like to highlight the words he chose to use– betrayal, shame, and dishonor. That’s the language of patriarchy. He can be betrayed if you’ve broken a vow to him– a vow you’ve never even made. He can feel shamed by you, because he has the right to control what you do before you’ve met him. He can be dishonored by you, because you belong to him. Your honor, your choices, are his. You don’t get to make decisions based on what betrays and dishonors yourself.

And to top it all off, you just don’t love him enough. A man you’ve never met. And he’s going to continuously feel threatened by your previous sexual partners, because he has always owned your body. It’s his possession, and someone else dared to touch it. No, you dared to let someone else touch it.

That being said, I think that even with those who in general agree with the emotional and physical virginity idea thought this letter-writer was an unmitigated ass.

So, moving on to the response, where everyone shouted a great big cry of “here, here!” Because it has its own problems.

This is the second sentence of Scott Croft’s response:

To begin with — especially in light of what I am about to write below — I want to affirm you in your belief that premarital sex is everywhere and always a sin, and that it is a sin not only against God, but against one’s eventual spouse. I deeply wish that more single people — especially those who profess to be Christian — lived out that conviction.

And then he goes to the Bible to back up this point.

Matthew 15:19– doesn’t say that pre-marital sex is a sin against your spouse.
Mark 7:21– doesn’t say that pre-marital sex is a sin against your spouse.
I Corinithians 6:18– this explicitly states that sexual immorality is a “sin against your own body.”
1 Timothy 5:2– includes the word “purity” which means “clean,” but it’s a stretch to make that about sex.
Galations 5:19-21– doesn’t say that pre-marital sex is a sin against your spouse.
Song of Solomon 2:7– “don’t awaken love until it pleases.” Ok. Maybe that’s about sex. Maybe.
Hebrews 13:4– is specifically talking about already married people, so, no particular relevance here.

Interesting thing about all those passages– they are references to “sexual immorality,” which is a vague enough term, but we can assume (at least for the moment) that they’re not talking about prostitution or pedophilia, but pre-marital sex. Even if we accept that assumption, none of these passages say pre-marital sex is a sin against your future spouse. None. Not one. One of them even says, quite clearly, that “sexual immorality” (whatever it is) is a sin against your own body.

Scott does go on to say some things that I agree with– that all of these principles affect men and women equally, which doesn’t really get said very often in our patriarchal culture when men own a woman’s vagina. He also goes on to say that issues like pornography are more damaging than pre-marital sex, so kudos to Scott for that.

But then . . .

In other words . . .  you are right to be frustrated at the sexual immorality you see, and it’s quite understandable for you to feel hurt at the notion of marrying a woman who has sinned against you by having sex before her marriage to you.

Heavens. I don’t know how to make this more clear, but there is no evidence, from the Bible, that pre-marital sex is a sin against anyone. If it is a sin, which is not what I’m addressing in this post, it’s only a sin for you, personally. It only becomes something that can be “against” someone when that someone is a man, and he owns your vagina, and because he owns it, deserves to be upset about what happens to it.

Going to use a ridiculous example here, but it’s like my car– if someone came along and took my car for a test drive without my permission, I’d have a right to be pretty dang upset. Because it’s my car. I paid for it so that I would have exclusive rights to it, and no one could use it but me.

But guess what? My vagina isn’t a car. It’s not anybody’s property– not even after I get married. If I decide to commit adultery, it’s not a betrayal because I’ve done something with my husband’s property that I didn’t have the right to do. It’s a betrayal because, as a human being who made a promise to stay faithful to my husband, I would have broken that promise by having an affair. Vow breaking, in my opinion, is a serious issue.

Back to the article– Scott does affirm that just because a man or a woman has pre-marital sex it doesn’t mean they can’t get married. Yay. But then he just goes back to the same tired line– that this man is justified in being upset that a woman who’s had sex has “betrayed him” and “sinned against him.” Scott tells the man to ponder grace and forgivness, after just making that task extraordinarily difficult by saying “y’know what, women who’ve had sex did betray you, and they did sin against you.” He’s said exactly what this man wanted him to say. This man wrote that letter asking for justification in believing that a woman having sex is a betrayal against his ownership– and he got it.

To round this out, I’d just like to remind everyone that Rahab was a זָנָה, which is usually translated as “prostitute.” And she is in the lineage of Jesus Christ.

Edit: I’d also like to note that Scott doesn’t say that it’s only a sin against a man when a woman has sex, and that it’s not equally as much as a sin against a woman when a man has sex. However, the idea in both the letter and the response is based on the patriarchal notion that a woman’s virginity belongs to a man. It’s an “update” to say that a man’s virginity also belongs to a woman, but it’s the same idea. This idea is wrong because it completely ignores concepts like individual autonomy and personal agency. No one’s decisions belongs to anyone else. Male or female.

70 thoughts on “future husbands: your future wife does not belong to you

  1. Wanting the woman you marry to also be committed to lifelong monogamy: reasonable. Wanting the woman you marry to have always lived by those ideals perfectly (as if you’ve lived by all your ideals perfectly): not reasonable.

  2. This silly patriarch in training reminds me of a car commercial that was airing about a year ago in which the future car owner was stalking the present car owner nagging him/her to be careful with the coffee and to obey the speed limit.

    The sad thing is I can see this fellow as an OCD domineering husband that gets jealous of everything from old friends to his newborn baby and takes everything personally. Eventually, he will be a generalized asshole and his poor (or is it pure) wifey will need to be indoctrinated by the Pearls or that Fascinating Womanhood book to learn how to be passive-aggressive enough to fly under his radar. This guy is so jealous and possessive of a vagina when he has no way to know which woman that vagana belongs to, what next, he’ll express righteous jealousy of every tampon she has ever used….(can’t post here because my thoughts cross a line but if you head toward the theory that he’s compensating for some natural shortcomings, you’re in the right neighborhood.

  3. I can’t remember where I saw it, but the whole “virginity” obsession is founded on the notion that the most important (perhaps the only) thing a woman brings to the marriage is an intact hymen.

    (I think patriarchy in general reduces people to objects – both men and women – and this is a great example.)

    I am thankful that my wife had and has so much more to bring to the marriage than a hymen. And that she chooses to share her mind, love, and her body with me. Had she had experiences with others, it would not have mattered much to me because she is now choosing to share herself with me. That is the gift that I treasure.

    You are absolutely correct that “sexual immorality” is NOT a sin against someone else. If anything, it is a sin against Christ – “uniting Christ with a prostitute” by frequenting brothels – in that one passage. That is a totally different concept than the ownership assumed by the partriarchists.

    Good post.

  4. I read the entire Q&A article and it was quite disturbing. Were I a single woman, I would not consider this guy to be marriageable material; that is just inviting life-long trouble.

    You did a great job of picking this post apart and zeroed in on the right issues with excellent observations. Good job!

    • Good question! Apparently in the patriarchal world, the blood of the hymen is more powerful than the blood of Christ. No other good explanation, really… well, there is that most masculine of insecurities, but saying more than that may be a bit much for certain audiences. *ahem*

  5. I don’t think you give enough credit to Scott Croft. He tries to take the question seriously and meet the guy where he is. The guy is clearly from a patriarchal background and needs to hear language that he can understand.

    However, Scott doesn’t stay there, he repeatedly says that the same standard needs to apply both ways, AND that we have ALL sinned in one way or another.

    Then he ends with:

    “The sin of premarital sex . . . is not so egregious that it sets aside the biblical truths that apply to all of us as people who have been graciously pardoned of capital offenses against God. ”

    and

    “Even if you are as pure as fresh snow in your singleness, and no matter how many of the “various boxes . . . to become a better mate” you check off, two things remain true: (1) you will never be asked to forgive your wife of more than you have already been forgiven in Christ, and (2) if you have not already, you will repeatedly sin against your wife and will need grace and forgiveness from her. ”

    oh, yeah!

    Then
    ” … . Just make sure that you are not sinning in your own thinking, or holding others to a standard you yourself could not bear.

    I will pray for you to have wisdom and grace as you look for a wife to serve (Ephesians 5:25-28). ”

    Did you catch it ? – “a wife to serve,” as in he is to serve her.

    • There were some good points to the article that I agreed with, that’s true, which I did say a few times throughout this post. This was just focusing on the repeated use of the patriarchal rhetoric throughout the entire thing. If Scott hadn’t kept on justifying the main point the letter-writer had made, I would have been much happier. But, he didn’t. He completely re-affirmed everything the man thought was a problem with “women these days.” The letter-writer said “women are sinning against me when they have sex,” and Scott said “yes, you’re right, they are.”

  6. I would like to ask this juvenile opps young man a few biblical *sarcasm* questions.
    1. So, have you never not once in your life looked at women with lust? If you say no, you are either a liar or you prefer men.

    My Jesus had a way with whores, he hung out with them and loved them into a new way of being. I just bet HE knew that they were confused on how to properly use their God given gifts of giving. OK, so i am being a smart a**. (read a quote from Kathleen Norris a few years back that said something to the effect of: promiscuous girls have the gift of giving but have to be taught the better way to use their gifts) paraphrased

    The cross imho is the place where Jesus leveled the ground for all sinners.
    2. Now young man have you ever looked at any sort of porn soft or hard? Now what are you going to do with Jesus had to say about: “But I say, anyone who even looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” or do you think the words of Jesus don’t really mean that you have already committed adultery many times in your own heart.

    Methinks God’s point in saying that is like duh- don’t be picking the speck out of your bride to be eye, when you have a plank of self righteous pride poking out of your own eye.
    Silly boy, do you really believe that God is more worried about someone’s morality than the condition of their heart?

    O my, the purity teachings makes my blood boil. What is worse, I wonder in God’s eyes? Not being a virgin on your wedding day or having a hard & prideful heart… again the cross leveled the ground that all of us sinners stand on. Lord have mercy, Christ have mercy, on us all.
    Loved what Reverend Ref said: “Why do I get the feeling that if this guy had been engaged to Mary he would have said, “You’re pregnant?? That was supposed to be MY job!!”

  7. Aaaaaaaaaaaggggggghhhhhh!!!!!lsafkjasl;fjdsfl;asjflsa;kjfasdl;fjadsl;fkadjsfl;jkfasl;fjasda;sljk!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Thank you, Samantha, for coming up with a much more rational answer than I could have. I just want to slap the snot out of the guy who wrote this question, and the one who answered the question. However, you responded beautifully. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and having the courage to respond with logic and intelligence.

    • My answer to the question would be: “This is why God is keeping you single.”

      As for the response, I think he is calling the guy out in several places (the pornography paragraph is a dead giveaway), but he’s way too subtle about it. What’s disturbing is that the response seems to imply that if a guy refrains from sexual immorality, he deserves a virgin bride as a reward.

      • Exactly. There were done moments where Scott seemed to be balanced, and other times where he was just handling this man’s ego with kid gloves… But he did, unfortunately, reaffirm the basic problem.

  8. Also,

    “Virginity is the concept that a man’s penis is so powerful, it can change your worth and value as a human being by simply coming into contact with you.”

  9. I need to clarify here, I didn’t mean to imply that a woman who has sex out of marriage is a whore or prostitute nah, never, so, so sorry if that came across that way…

    Yet what hope there is for all the whores and prostitutes that Jesus has redeemed, I just bet that they love Him so much!

    “I tell you, her sins–and they are many–have been forgiven, so she has shown me much love. But a person who is forgiven little shows only little love.”

  10. My first thought when reading that was anger at his entitlement. It’s obvious he’s going after the hot girls (the whole bit about if he even can get a first date). I don’t personally mind if he wants to screen for virgins only, but dude, stop being such a selfish, superficial, perfectionistic idiot! You want a virgin Christian girl? Fine, that’s pretty easy. Go find the fat girl in the corner, the one who dresses frumpy, looks shy, and that all the old ladies love but you’ve never even noticed. She’s probably a virgin. If you are really, truly looking for a girl who has managed to stay a virgin, you might have to lower your standards for looks. The horror!

    It just made me mad, because growing up in the church I tried so, so hard to do *everything* right because I LISTENED to guys like this talk about good Christian character being what they wanted. Then I watched as they all married thin, hot girls, most of whom had been “impure”. Eventually I lost weight successfully and got much hotter looking myself. But, I found my darling outside the church, because he’s sweet and listens to what I want and need and he likes me for myself, not because I check all the right boxes. He fell for me before I lost the majority of the weight and he has been patient as I worked through so many emotions and scars from my past. Nowadays I’m extremely grateful I didn’t snag one of those godly guys I thought was a “catch.”

    Eh, it just annoys me. The dude needs to be more self-aware and look at reality. If you really, really want one specific trait, then your actions will show it. If you’re whining because life does not give you perfection, go climb a tree.

    • Oh absolutely!! I was the fat, frumpy girl that hung out with the older ladies… always dressed modestly in somewhat baggy clothes. Guys never paid attention to me, even when I went to a “liberal” Christian college, and I started wearing jeans!! Totally a virgin, never even kissed a guy, and always ignored by Christian guys – even the not-so-good-looking ones!

      • Because even the not-so-good-looking men have been taught this idea that “women aren’t visual,” that we don’t care about looks as much as a good sense of humor and a good heart– so they expect to get a hot one, too. As one of those “frumpy” girls, I know what that feels like. (Although, thankfully, I grew up and realized that I can buy clothes I like and wear makeup and stuffs).

  11. Dude, the reason you aren’t married has nothing to do with what the women in your life have or don’t have between their legs and everything to do with the fact that you are a colossal wanker. If I ran into you I would also disqualify myself because the idea of being stuck with a misogynistic, judgmental ass like you would turn me off men for life.

  12. Also virginity was the ONLY FREAKING THING on his list of what a potential spouse should be like!!!!! Nothing about her character, personality traits, beliefs, habits, nothing. Now, I know that it’s very problematic and legalistic to have a list of what you want your future spouse to be like, BUT if the one and only thing he cares about is getting a mint-condition blow-up doll for Christmas, then he has serious problems.

  13. Yes! This is probably the biggest problem with purity culture. The whole premise of “purity” is that all of my sexual/romantic interactions belong to my hypothetical future husband. I owe him virginity. I owe him my first kiss. I need to feel really bad about any crushes/dates/previous boyfriends I’ve had. And in purity culture there’s lots of talk of apologizing to one’s spouse for things you did before even meeting them. (Even if it’s not consensual. Because hey, it’s your spouse’s property, why would it matter if you CHOSE to give it away or somebody just TOOK it? Wow ewww this is terrible reasoning. Ewww.)

    I’ve even heard people teach that you’re supposed to act like you’re married to your future spouse before even meeting them. (Uhh what?) Or that I shouldn’t kiss a guy because “you’re kissing someone else’s husband.” Umm, no I’m not?

    The whole thing makes no sense. How are you supposed to date and get married if dating is a horrible sin against the guy you eventually end up with?

  14. It’s so creepy this guy is asking women so quickly (the first date?) about their sexual past! This should never be asked on the first date, or even the fifth. I would never discuss this with someone until we were at the point of engagement. If on one of the first few dates, a man asked me if I was a virgin, I would decline to answer.

    Also, I noticed he never said that he was a virgin himself.

  15. No woman owes the Nice Guy™ who asked the question anything. If he truly is a Christian, he will be able to look beyond past errors. Honestly, if he can’t, he is incapable of truly loving another human. Love and grace go hand in hand.

  16. Reblogged this on Ellayne Shaw and commented:
    After praising the high school graduates all week, I had nothing left creatively to offer the blog today. However, I found this post earlier this week, and it is really good. Make sure you read the article that this post refers to so you have a full picture of the arguments and ideologies the author is picking apart. There are a lot of discussions about sex, purity, virginity, etc., going on in various Christian circles these days, and I’ve really enjoyed sifting through these discussions and seeing what others have to say about it all.

  17. Preach!! I am so sick and tired of the legalistic, ritualistic, and unrealistic view on women and purity. Honestly that guy needed to be slapped with a reality check, I am a Christian and I only sin against my self and God. He is obviously crazy. I get so sick and tired of people looking down on women who have been or are involved in sexual activity outside of marriage. We are all guilty of sin!! A woman is more than what she does with her vagina, I mean really, I get so infuriated. Great post by the way :)

  18. how absurd! so please ladies….save yourselfs for the persons you havent or may never meet…..HAHAHAHAHAHAHA. This guy is nuts!! im a man, and this notion of virginity is well awkward,,,,its for the woman to decide what she does with it. isnt it?

    i myself have no problem with “patriachy” or “feminism”, its the extremists that have warped perceptions of reality. Lets not get too excited, hes just your run of the mill nutcase. and if he did stand up he would be hilarious.

    i cant understand how some people who live in the twenty first century can have such a warped world view >> “after all these years, to think that my wife cheated on me before i even met her…….shes got some explaining to do! slut! how dare she cheat on me before knowing of my existence? how utterly disrespectful! ” i mean imagine that? if my wife came home with that i would absolutely howl with laughter, not because she is nuts, but because the reasoning is so poor and the reality is so improbable that i would just burst into laughter!

    • I’m very, very glad that his kind of “nutcase” is not someone you’ve been exposed to very often.

      However, his position, unfortunately, doesn’t really represent the extreme, but what is fairly normal in many American Christian environments. You may not have heard of Mark Driscoll, but he’s an incredibly famous Christian here in the States. He’s written several books, he speaks at conferences all over the country, his blog is very popular, and he’s the pastor of one of the largest church networks in the country.

      When he found out his wife had slept with someone before they got married… well, you can read about his reaction in his marriage-advice book that he wrote with his wife. His description is that he was “absolutely devastated” and that it causes a depression so deep and so severe that he took it out on his congregations for months.

      So yeah.

  19. “When he found out his wife had slept with someone before they got married… well, you can read about his reaction in his marriage-advice book that he wrote with his wife. His description is that he was “absolutely devastated” and that it causes a depression so deep and so severe that he took it out on his congregations for months.”

    im sorry but that almost brought me to tears….with laughter! pffft hahhahahaha!
    im from south africa, we have those types here, but they obviously dont get the same kind of publicity as he does in the usa.

    how is it possible to be “absolutely devastated” by someone’s behaviour if you havnt even met them? even if the person lied about their past in order to move on. They clearly looking to leave it behind them, why not just leave it where it is?

    anyway we as society need to look beyond, “virginity”, sexism, racism ect…. using religion to justify your personal outlook on life is rather stupid, and of course dull! any person with half a brain can figure out what you are up to. .and if you cant figure it out then you deserve whats coming to you…..no wait, some people dont.

    give me a few example of what he did show how devastated he was,,,,,cmon please?

    • It’s nice for you that you find it so entertaining, but it’s not really funny when people like him have far too much power in this country and over people’s personal lives. My father is one of these people, and something like this was preached at all of my sister’s weddings. They actually believe this stuff, and they enforce it. Brutally, in a lot of cases. Women get beaten for stuff like this – not every guy would take out his ‘devastation’ (and make no mistake, a large component of it is anger) on other people.

      • its people like you who give them so much power……i say fuck them! my mothers husband tried that shit with her….i landed his ass in a police van! nobody said the woman out there have to listen to this crap, and second just leave the guy

        • That’s enough.

          I realize you have no exposure to the kind of environment we’re talking about. Women are usually raised from infancy to believe in this system. We don’t willingly, of our own free thought and volition, enter into this kind of thinking. We’re indoctrinated into it before we have any clue what is happening.

          I will not tolerate you attacking any of my readers when it’s clear you don’t have any context or understanding of what we’re talking about. If you make a comment like this again, you’re banned.

        • I did leave, when I turned 18, and I was lucky I had even that much choice – I had a friend who was able to give me a room I could afford on a part time job. Even then, if my dad had really decided to stop me, he would have been able to. Most of these women are first of all brainwashed, and secondly don’t have options. The system is designed to keep them trapped and afraid, and it works very well. Part of what we are trying to do here in blogs like this is help people in those kind of situations realise that it’s wrong, and they shouldn’t have to be treated that way. Step one in setting people free is education.

          What you’re doing is not education, it’s shaming and blaming. They don’t need any more of that. They’ve already been told their entire lives that everything that happens to them is their fault. They’ve been told they deserve this kind of treatment, and that it’s their duty to stay there and take it. They believe it. You won’t convince them otherwise by using more of the same tactics. I’m glad you were able to help your mother; that’s definitely one thing that gives people options, is having someone strong to stand with them. Not everyone is that lucky. I can also assure you that most of the time, at least here, the police either don’t give a damn, or are part of the problem.

          You are probably trying to argue against what you see as fatalism, but you clearly have no idea what kind of situation we are talking about to begin with, and that is not what we are doing here. We are analysing our own experience to better understand how it works and how it traps others in the same beliefs, both women and men. Before we can help others or heal our own hurts, we have to first understand what happened, and why. You can learn to be an ally and how to support people in this kind of situation, but it doesn’t look to me like you have the patience it would take to learn. What you’ve done so far is not helpful.

  20. To take your car analogy further, even if you owned the “car,” it’s more like being upset if someone test drove it before you bought it, which surely even these people could agree would be stupid. (I’ll reiterate that nobody owns anyone.)

  21. Pingback: My Brothers Too: Purity Culture and Double Standards

  22. Guys like that make me wanna hurl. A few of my guy friends have turned down women as “marriage material” because they weren’t virgins. But my guy friends weren’t virgins either-double standard much?

    Even worse, one of my guy friends has taken this whole “feeling betrayed by a woman if she’s not a virgin until marriage” idea to the next level. He will end friendships with women if he finds out they’ve had premarital sex. He feels the need to reprimand them for their “infidelity.” Yet he’s never ended friendships with male friends that have had sex before marriage…

    After one his close friends confided to him she had had sex with her boyfriend, he wrote her off and called her a whore! She’d known my guy friend since childhood and felt she could tell him anything; it broke her heart he ended their friendship that way. I reminded him what she had chosen to do with her body was none of his business and wasn’t something to end a friendship over. But he responded she should’ve waited to give herself to her husband and that no good woman would ”taint” herself like that.

    Afterwards, he warned me he’d never forgive me I chose to be loose like her (his words, not mine). Needless to say, we haven’t been close since then.

  23. Breaking a marital vow amounts to adultery. Hmm. Understood. Now sinning against one’s….own body…….does not appear like a sin to me at all because we would all eventually live the ‘sinful’ body in the earth and fly away to heaven?…..and then I remember that our bodies are supposed to be a holy habitation for our holy father…….and this is where I went ‘awwww shucks”!

  24. I had been dating my (now) husband for 5 months, and engaged to be married to him for 1 month, when I finally told him about the boyfriend I had when I was fifteen. I had been intimate with R, though we had not had intercourse (he was eighteen, and afraid of being charged with statutory rape, otherwise I’m sure that would have happened, too). I had no intention of hiding this information from Nick, but a few weeks into our relationship he was sharing a funny story about our first kiss, and commented on how sweet and special he thought it was that we had each been privileged to share our first kisses with each other. I was confused, at first, wondering how he got that idea, and then remembered back to the kiss; we kissed, he smiled at me and asked if I enjoyed my first kiss, I said yes, and he said, “Me, too!” It was a very sweet moment – and one I had misunderstood (I thought he was asking if I enjoyed OUR first kiss, when he was actually asking if I had enjoyed MY first kiss).

    It shouldn’t have been a big deal to fix the misunderstanding, but I was eaten up by guilt. This was compounded by the fact that one of our girl friends who was with us when he made that comment had known me when I was dating R, and knew that not only was my kiss with Nick not my first, but that there were quite a few firsts I had already discovered, that Nick obviously knew nothing about. She took several opportunities in the months that followed to tell me that I owed it to Nick to be honest and come clean about my sexual history and sins, and that he deserved to get to choose whether or not to forgive me before he actually married me (so that if he decided he couldn’t (or didn’t want to) forgive me, he could call off our engagement before he was stuck in a marriage with me forever). I already carried a great deal of regret about not coming to my impending marriage a virgin (*trigger warning* I come from a background of severe child abuse, ages 3-12), though Nick knew all about it and repeatedly assured me that I had nothing to be ashamed of, and he had nothing to forgive (the aforementioned friend, and many other people, had repeated told me over the years that, even though I was not to blame for the abuse, I was guilty of sin because I did not fight to my dying breath – 3 year olds (or 12 year olds for that matter) do not know that they have the option to resist their abusers, especially if the individual in question happens to be their father, and they had gone to their mother 3 times over the years with no change but for the worse.

    Anyway…

    Months passed, and guilt was practically eating me alive. Despite our mutual goal of virginity on our wedding night, we messed around more than we later wished we had (though, to be clear, we don’t beat ourselves up about it), and every time we did I had intrusive and vivid flashbacks to my time with R (though rarely to my abusers, oddly – work of healing, already begun, I suppose). Finally, a month before our marriage (and a week before my father’s trial – terrible timing, but it went well, and he is currently serving life in prison without parole), I couldn’t stand the guilt (or my sweet Nick’s misinformed pleasure at all our “shared firsts”) any longer, and confessed to him about R, in the middle of his mom’s front yard, at 1am, in the rain (not a great end to our evening). I sobbed, he was shocked and confused, I told him he didn’t have to marry me, he became angry… In the end, he took me in his arms (despite my wretchedly ashamed attempts to stop him) and told me that he loved me, that he still wanted to marry me, and that he forgave me. I went home, the trial started the next day and lasted for a week, and then we entered the madhouse of the last 2 weeks before our wedding in another state and all that that entailed.

    Six years later (yes, I said SIX YEARS later), this whole thing came back to us again…

    Over the first six years of our marriage, I was repeatedly assaulted by intrusive and vivid flashbacks of my time with R, to the point that more than once I broke down crying in the middle of sex, and I frequently felt dirty and unworthy of the love of my husband. Never once did Nick ever give me reason to feel this way, and since I refused to talk about it 99% of the time, he rarely even knew who the flashbacks were about, and assumed they were about my father (I had those, too, but not nearly as frequently – I had been processing that whole thing for years, already, and the flashbacks I had about him were almost always triggered by something like a scent or the time my husband buzzed his hair and I saw him in silhouette and almost had a heart attack). Then one day, I started seeing a new counselor, and for some reason I brought up my relationship with R. She asked me a lot of questions that were very baffling and scary at the time, and then shocked me to my core by telling me that she believed that I had been a victim of a form of date rape in that relationship.

    WHAT??? The bleep??

    The only time I had ever initiated intimacy with him was our first kiss (my actual first kiss), which was super romantic at first (the northern lights, man, I can’t even begin to describe how gorgeous they were – first and only time I’ve seen them), but quickly turned confusing and scary when he deepened it to a full french kiss that lasted for several minutes, despite attempting to step back twice. I won’t lie, it was very exciting, but I had only known him for a couple of days, and earlier that evening had told him I was saving my kisses for when I got married (to be clear – because I wanted to, as a gift, NOT because I felt he owned me already, though I had in fact been taught that, and rejected it). My hormones and my fear were at war, and my fear won, but he won, ultimately, because he was a lot bigger than me, and I was more afraid of making a guy mad than I was of being kissed against my will. I told him, the next morning, that I was not okay with being physically intimate before marriage, and that I was sorry that we had kissed. He was quick to assure me that kisses weren’t that big of a deal (and they’re not, unless you decide they are for personal reasons). From there, it escalated quickly. I won’t go in to detail, but I will say that he initiated every single physically intimate thing we did, and overrode my protestations each time with charm and insistence, and sheer size (he just did what he wanted, because he could).

    I never saw anything that happened as anything more than me being incredibly weak willed, until I spoke with my counselor about it. After all, I didn’t scream, call him names, claw his face, or kick him where he’d hurt so I could get away. He never verbally assaulted me, ordered me around, or hurt me in any way. *trigger warning* When he held me down, I told myself it was part of the experience, even as I cried and begged him to stop. I was weak in my protestations, speaking softly, being kind and gentle, trying to explain why I wasn’t okay with his actions even as he ignored me and did whatever he wanted, drawing from me reactions I couldn’t control, and that robbed me of the ability to think clearly. I judged myself weak and wanton, because he made me feel things against my will, and —- I liked it.

    Someone dear to me had a similar experience in college, and it was very healing to talk (cry) with her about it, after my session with my counselor. I spoke with my husband about it, too, and THAT was an eye opening conversation if I ever had one! You see, it turns out that all those years ago, when he held me in his arms, assured me he still wanted to get married, and forgave me…? He was forgiving me for lying by omission, and allowing him to think (and tell others) that I had never been intimately involved with someone (voluntarily – neither of us count my childhood abuse, at all) other than him. When I told him what the counselor had said, and for the first time elaborated a little bit on what had happened with R, and my actions in those moments, he agreed with her completely that it had been a form of date rape, and ongoing (six months of) abuse.

    Those conversations took place less than six months ago. I am still processing things, though family crisis’ this summer superseded everything to the point that I haven’t really thought about it for months, until reading this post (thank you for writing it – you did the right thing, to respond to that drivel). I haven’t had any flashbacks since then, though I can feel them lurking in this moment, after writing all this (I am so sorry for writing a book, here – thank you for giving girls like me a safe place to talk out this stuff).

    Until reading this, I didn’t realize that it all went back to the patriarchal attitudes with which I was raised, but it makes so much sense. Had my friend not applied so much pressure (and condemnation) to “confess my sins” to Nick, I would have likely told him right away that there had been a misunderstanding, though I know that I would have still felt a lot of misplaced shame over my relationship with R, because of the unresolved issues there. I certainly wouldn’t have considered calling off my engagement at the last second because I felt that he deserved a virgin, had I not been heavily influenced by the concept of “future-husband ownership”.

    Thank you for writing this. You have no idea how cathartic it is to get it out there. And again, sorry for the extreme length. You don’t have to publish it, if you don’t want to.

    • Hugs for you, dear sister, if you want them. I am not the owner of this blog, but I am sure she would agree that you needn’t apologise for writing so much, it’s good to get it out and make those connections, it’s part of the healing. I’m so glad to hear that your husband is such a wise and godly man, and was able to respond to you in such a truly loving way. It sounds like you are together well on the path to healing and restoration, blessings to you both!

  25. Why is there so much emphasis on the woman maintaining her virginity and an equal demand not made on the man to remain chaste before marriage?
    In my humble view I believe the biblical ideal is that both men and women should keep their virginity until marriage (not easy)……but which part of the bible makes it categorically clear that its the woman who should avoid fornication and not the man?
    I love the way the husband in this story handled this situation…..very brilliantly…….but I still have a big problem with him; why did he not also confess his extra-marital transgressions as her wife bravely did? Why did he wimp out of this duty he clearly owed to his wife to be ? Or perhaps he was a virgin at the time he was dating this woman? The fact that he revealed to the woman that ‘she was the first lady he had kissed’ does not mean he had had no sex with any other woman?.
    All said and done I think this is one good man lucky to have found an extremely sensitive and genuinely caring and lovely wife.
    May the tribe of such couples increase in the world to serve as lighthouses in the usually stormy marriages of our time.

    • Thank you for your kind words. I completely understand your frustration, so allow me to answer your question…

      Nick was not only a virgin when we got married, but before me, he had never been intimate with a girl in any way (hand holding, kissing – anything), and had never had a girlfriend. And make no mistake, Nick is not unattractive or uninteresting – he was raised to value relationships that could go somewhere, and chose not to date until after high school. We met at Bible school, and a year later started dating (we were married 9 months after that). He wouldn’t want me to portray him as a saint, and he’s not and wasn’t, but yes, he was a virgin and I was his first in every way. He had other struggles, and he did tell me about them, honestly and humbly.

      • Thanks sister Alena for the further clarification about Nick’s side of the story and ohh you have a real man for a husband.
        You two deserve each other and may the good Lord continue to fill your marriage with His heavenly love which surpasses earthly wisdom.

        • Thanks, Franklin.

          So, I told Nick about this post and my comment, and he told me that while he had never dated anyone before me, he had in fact made out with a few girls in high school. News to me, but not a big deal. Just thought I’d put it out there, as I inadvertently painted him with a clearer brush.

          • Hahaha…..I don’t know Nick personally but I really love him for his honesty. In my books its good to maintain pre-marital virginity , but the most important form of ‘virginity’ is that which, when successfully maintained throughout marital life surely brings the peace of God in the home ; this ‘advanced’ form of virginity is spousal fidelity. Its the most important because its the Godly platform of all successful marriages and without it there would be no real peace in any marriage ; therefore remaining faithful to each other as couples is the Godly thread that knits the family together. Truly , pre-marital virginity is only a practise run for the long haul……post-marital ‘virginity’.
            From the above I would rather fail at the pre-marital virginity ‘test’ as explained above , than fall short of the most important duty to wife , children , community , country and the world……which is maintaining my post-marital ‘virginity’…….for it is the presence of God Himself in every good and peaceful marriage.
            If I have learnt anything in my six-year marriage , it is the above.
            Sister Alena , may God continue to pour His blessings on your marriage to Nick , a man of Godly conscience.

            • I believe they call that fidelity. *wink* To be faithful and devoted to one’s spouse, both physically and emotionally; to not turn to the affections of a partner outside of marriage, either physically or emotionally. And yes, Nick is faithful ♥

              We have been married for 6.5 years, and I agree, what we do after the vows are said and the party is over is far more important to the success of a marriage than sexual indiscretions before marriage, and especially before meeting one’s spouse.

              And isn’t that what this blog post is about? How could I be unhappy with Nick for making out with other women before knowing me, when – he didn’t know me? wasn’t dating me? wasn’t engaged to me? wasn’t married to me??? I can’t. Not without being inappropriate and hypocritical.

              Blessings to you, as well, sir.

  26. Pingback: First Kiss: why rape myths are so dangerous | Defeating the Dragons

  27. My partner wasn’t a virgin when I met her (also: virginity isn’t a real thing), and I’m really glad. I’d much rather be with someone who’s enjoyed her sexuality up to this point.

    I, on the other hand, grew up believing I was sinning against my future wife every time I had a lustful thought, masturbated, or touched a girl. Life was miserable.

  28. Hello. I’ve read only about the first one fourth of your blog page here and may read the rest later, and even blog about it later on my blog (or not, I don’t know).

    I really don’t completely fault this young man in the letter for wanting or preferring a virgin to marry, if he is one himself. I am over 40, a woman, and was waiting until marriage to have sex, and I was engaged, but never married, but am still a virgin.

    My preference would be to marry a male virgin. I too would feel a bit disturbed, creeped out, or cheated to marry a man who has had sex previously, especially if the sex was in the form of fornication (ie, outside of marriage).

    However, at my age, I realize if I ever do marry, the guy I marry will probably be divorced or something, an idea which I have grown to accept.

    This is a two way street; female virgins sometimes want to marry male virgins – so I can’t beat the guy in the letter up for being a virgin who prefers wanting to marry a female virgin.

    I notice that whenever people publicly discuss sexual preferences on blogs and forums, no body bats an eyelash when someone says they would prefer to marry a person with previous sexual experience, but there is certainly a double standard in play if someone says their preference is to marry a virgin.

    I glanced over the Boundless magazine page that was linked to at the top – the guy’s answer – he did at least say that sexual purity applies to both genders, not to females only.

    I don’t mean to confuse anyone here. My views are not neatly boxed as they used to be, on several subjects. I was a Christian my entire life, but have been doubting the faith for several reasons, over the last couple of years.

    I do believe that the Bible teaches that sex is for marriage only, but I am not a fan of the “Boundless” publication.

    I’m not against marriage (and still hope to be married myself eventually, if I can find the right person), but I find that too many evangelicals, the Reformed, and Baptists, and other conservative Christian groups, have turned marriage and the nuclear family into idols, which I totally disagree with and am put off by.

    One thought I will put out there is that there is actually a backlash against virginity and celibacy, even among Christians now.

    It seems to have started among the more liberal type Christians, but even some conservative Christians (even some males) have been sort of criticizing virginity over the last two to three years – which I find gravely insulting, since I am a virgin myself.

    Christians are double minded hypocrites on the topic. When I was younger (a teen ager, and in my early twenties), much of the Christian preaching and material I heard and saw in Christian sermons, books, etc, encouraged younger Christians to wait until marriage to have sex.

    But it seems once you get to your mid twenties or older, and if you have still not married and are still a virgin, churches and Christian culture drop any and all support for you in your singleness and celibacy.

    It’s like many Christians who preach or push virginity and celibacy really only believe virginity is for any person under the age of 25. They don’t really expect or believe any Christian to still be single and a virgin at age 20, 25, or 40 or older, even though we do in fact exist.

    Not only do older virgins get no support from churches, but we see editorials by people purporting to be Christian who are disparaging of virginity and celibacy. They are attacking virginity and the virgins themselves. I have come across several such pages on the internet the last couple of years.

    I now typically see Christian editorials and blogs referring to virgins as “prideful” and so on – we virgins are being insulted – and after we were told when younger by these same types of people to save sex for marriage.

    Now that we have in fact done so (stayed sexually pure), we are being lambasted by Christians on blogs, pod casts, and forums for this very thing. I don’t know why they are attacking us now for something they told us to do when younger.

  29. Okay, I’ve just discovered your blog and I love everything about it. I am a Christian feminist and I feel like you are confronting A LOT of issues I have noticed and they are articulated so beautifully and intelligently. You have a fan for life and I will look forward to reading anything you have to say.Please keep it up!

  30. What I’m interested in is that, after marriage and sex you are then one body. So in a sense the woman belongs to the man and the man belongs to the woman. Meaning adultery is a sin against the other person because you are one and belong to each other, not only due to the commitment. A Godly man will forgive and forget the past sins pre marriage just as God has forgiven them as well. As for post marriage its just not wise to stay bonded to an adulteress or adulterer.

  31. Any sins committed by either spouse *before they got married* cannot be “forgiven” by the other spouse. Because they weren’t around then, and those sins weren’t committed *against THEM.* Seriously, whatever your spouse did before you were around is NOT about you. It really isn’t. You don’t have anything to “forgive” since no one wronged you before you were even around.

  32. I found it interesting that The Douchebag was told that he had grounds to expect a virgin if he was a virgin himself and also not “regularly involved in other forms of sexual immorality”. That was odd to me. So a girl has sex once and she’s off his “options” list but as long as he’s not regularly involved in something they disapprove of it’s okay?

    Also, dude is a douchebag. He just is. He needs to never get married and never even try to date anyone because he has his head so far up his ass that he will be an idiot to any woman.

  33. If your spouse is you soulmate, your best friend, you should tell everything. Not as a shameful confession, but as a way to understand the joys of past sexual encounters, what each of you enjoyed and didn’t. My husband and I have found these discussions to be a source of joy and intimacy.

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