Singles love to say, “There are some who are single for a season and some who are single for a reason.”
Those of us “normal” singles are “seasons” all the way. We know that it’s not due to any problem of our own; it’s because–and we’re quite certain of this–God only has us here for a season. So, in all of our “seasonal” holiness, we glance around our singles groups and identify the special ones and bless their hearts, or we watch TLC’s Virgin Diaries, cringe at every awkward moment, and thank God that we are not like them, the “reasons.” Our pharisaical view of our own singleness is a thing of beauty, really.
I used to joke with my friends that by the time I get married, I’ll be invited for a segment on the Today Show to discuss how I’m the oldest virgin still in existence. We would get a good laugh about it, partially because I dropped the “V” word into conversation and partially because I struck a chord with fears of their own.
The longer I’m alive and single, the more I see truth to that Today Show invite. I’m not sure when virginity lost its value, but it’s all but gone–not even a basic respect for people who live out their belief that sex is to be preserved for the marriage bed. Sure, there are those who have struggled with sexual temptation in relationships (who hasn’t?) and eventually lost the battle, but I’m not really talking about that.
Case in point: In this post-Jane Austen world that we live in, I get slightly nervous writing a post that states that I’m a thirty something virgin. I know the culture around me thrives on misconstruing the words of others, making snap judgments, and pointing fingers at those who dare to stand against it.
When I sat down to write, my fear of being judged or misunderstood made me want to write a litany of things to prove my cultural normalcy. I cringed at the thought of readers who might think that I am a “reason.” (By the way, no single ever thinks they’re a “reason.” The “reason” term is strictly reserved for everyone else.) If I have attended a Jay-Z concert, enjoyed a glass of wine occasionally, or expressed my disdain for cats then maybe people won’t stereotype me as a weird single adult and will believe that I’m just a normal, average person. Conservative Christians scoff at my sinful behaviors, and the liberals laugh at my naivete, but I get the feeling that having some sort of cultural awareness and relevancy validates my argument somehow. Sad.
But the point of all of this is that, even now, in my firm conviction that sex is a gift from God and it is created to be enjoyed within the parameters of marriage, I get nervous even publicly making that statement. Not because my conviction is wavering, but because I can see the collective eye roll that I’m a bit of an anomaly for not succumbing to those desires in my 35 years of life. Even Christians are tempted to side eye, “Really? No sex in all this time? Really?”
It’s a bit of a darned if you do, darned if you don’t scenario for the Christian virgins of the world. We’re just a statistic if we give it up before marriage, but if we truly wait for the marriage bed–even if we don’t get to share it until we’re more advanced in years than the norm–we’re considered weird, at best.
So for those of you who have held on and fought the good fight of sexual purity for decades and who feel like a bit of a circus sideshow, a word of encouragement:
You are not the Hester Prynne of the virginity world. You don’t have a scarlet “V” on your shirt because you were obedient to Christ. Few people will ever know the battle you’ve waged whether through physical or emotional desires and longings, but He does. It’s not for naught. Whether you marry at 35, 55, 75, or never at all, you are being sanctified through your suffering, in the same way but also in a completely different way than your married friends are.
And in this season, no matter how long it lasts, it is His will for you–His good, pleasing, and perfect will. He sees you, He hears you, and He is withholding no good gift from you–even sex. If and when it is good for you and your future spouse, He will give it.
“It is God’s will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; that each of you should learn to control his own body in a way that is holy and honorable, not in passionate lust like the heathen, who do not know God…For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life.” (1 Thessalonians 4:3-5, 7)
Culturally subversive? Absolutely. But then, so is grace.
For now, run your race with endurance and know that there are some of us here running alongside you who can identify. We’ll all sit together on the Today Show sofa one day.