I grew up in a religious household. I went to church every Sunday. I listened to my parents, youth pastors, and hip young married couples tell me all about the importance of waiting. For 22 years, I lived in a world of saving myself for marriage. I lived in a world of adults telling me I was worth more if I was a virgin, that I would somehow be a better wife to my future husband. If I lost my virginity, I was worth a little less, I loved my future husband a little less, and I loved God a little less – I would be worthless. I learned how saving myself for marriage was saving a piece of myself for my husband. I learned that my virginity was the most valuable piece I could save for him. It wasn’t my thoughts, my beliefs, my values, my secrets, my time, or my love that was worth the most – it was my virginity. The nakedness of my body was worth more than the nakedness of my spirit.
I don’t believe the church means any harm by this. It prevents heartbreak, STDs, and teen pregnancy. Maybe it teaches young girls to not give it away to any man who asks. It also teaches girls that their bodies are not their own. Their bodies belong to future husbands, pastors, parents, God, and the church. Their bodies do not belong to them. Their bodies, their nakedness, belongs to a man they haven’t met. Sex is then viewed as the biggest show of affection, it is the greatest act of love. This is bullshit.
Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.
– John 15:13
For 22 years I believed that sex was the greatest act of love a woman could show a man. I believed that, should I lose my virginity, I was worth less than those who still held on to theirs. I believed that my husband would judge me, would look down on me, for having premarital sex.
And then I lost it.
It was unceremonious on the giant couch in my parent’s living room. We fumbled around drunkenly under a blanket. I wasn’t in love with him, nor was he in love with me. He was one of my best friends visiting from Australia. I wasn’t struck down by lightening and it didn’t hurt. It was just sex.
Sex isn’t love. Physical affection isn’t love. Your body should not be used to show someone you love them. But that’s what we’re taught, as Christians.
I didn’t feel bad after having sex, after losing my virginity. I wasn’t guilty. It felt good. I mean, it’s sex, it feels good, that’s why people do it all the time. It was after I told my mom that I began to get angry. She confessed that she and my dad had engaged in premarital sex, after telling me my whole life they had waited until marriage. In fact, over 50% of my so-called Christian friends had also had sex. I began to feel like I was a part of some sick joke where everyone gets to have sex except me. It’s not like I had men banging down my door to get some action every night, but I felt cheated. In a sense, I felt betrayed.
Love is not something that has to be proved with sex. Love is being woken up in the middle of the night because your partner is snoring and not so gently nudging them awake so they stop. Love is sitting on the couch and ignoring each other while you’re both engrossed with something on your phones. Love is dealing with shitty music because your partner loves it. Love is not being embarrassed to sing at the top of your lungs even though you suck at harmonizing. Love is slowly inching your feet under their bodies while you’re watching a movie because your toes are cold. Love is being with somebody else. Love is not wanting to do boring things with anyone else. Love isn’t just physical.
Yes, sex can be romantic. It’s called love-making for a reason. But it’s also called fucking. You can be completely in love with someone and fuck instead of make love. It’s not always romantic. There are noises that happen. There are times when you’re both horny and lucky enough to have someone that wants to bang just as bad. There are times when neither of you can fall asleep and you’re already half naked and in bed, so what else are you going to do?
My goal isn’t to bash on the church or to undermine virginity. I think the first time you have sex, it should be with someone you trust. Being completely nude with someone can be a bit terrifying. I can hide all my imperfections in selfies, but nothings going to hide the fact that my stomach jiggles when both of us are rolling around in the sheets. I lost my virginity to one of my best friends. Someone who had seen me naked emotionally (and physically, but come on, what else is Snapchat used for when you live 8,000 miles away?). In fact, he didn’t even know I was a virgin.
My goal with this is to call for a different approach to virginity and sex. My goal is to call for a different approach to love and the female body.
I’ll leave here with three things:
- My body does not belong to anyone else. I don’t have to save myself for a man. My body doesn’t belong to my husband. My body belongs to me. I am not worth less than those who have not had sex. Stop telling young girls that they are giving pieces of themselves away by having sex. Stop telling young girls that their husbands will like them better if they’re virgins. Stop making sex the greatest act of love because…
- Sex is not the greatest act of love. Sex doesn’t equal love. Sex can simply just be sex. As simple as making out or holding hands. Sex can be an act of love, however, but it isn’t always. It’s not the end all be all of love. Let’s start educating girls about sex. Let’s be real. Let’s talk about STDs. Let’s talk about how it doesn’t always have to hurt the first time. Let’s talk about how great it is. Let’s talk about how it can suck with the wrong people. Let’s be honest about it.
- Love cannot be measured by physical acts, nor should it be measured by physical acts. I should not have to prove my love by having sex, sucking a dick, or even holding a hand. Love is not something that needs to be proved. You’ll know love when you see it. And if some man tells you that you need to prove your love by having sex, let me know and I’ll drop kick him into next month.