Thursday, January 17, 2008

Is virginity the last taboo?

I was surprised by the affirming stance taken in this article which was printed in Sunday's Observer... what do you think?
"In our hyper-sexualised, ultra-liberal society, virgins are perhaps the only sexual sub-culture left with the power to shock us. You can be as gay or as fetishy or as promiscuous or as transsexual as you like; you can be a regular at Cake parties and on the dogging scene; you can be part of an open relationship, and we won't bat an eyelid. But a virgin? Are you serious? We simply don't expect to encounter them any more. We certainly don't expect to meet attractive, assertive, well-dressed, professional, celibate Christians in their late twenties. But it seems that they do exist. And furthermore, they reckon there are hidden benefits to their choice."

CLICK HERE for full article

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abi vedder said...
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spurious said...

I can't help feeling a little sorry for those who have chosen celibacy, though. There seems to be a popular misconception in Christian circles that once you've "opened the floodgates" to sexuality, you're somehow unable to regain any control and become a twig on a might stream of desires and impulses that you're suddenly unable to resist. It's a nonsense, but I guess it serves virgins well if they feel the need for self-assurance.

I perceive our sexuality and its urges and expression as a perfectly natural, you might say God-given, part of our humanity which we should explore and enjoy, and see no benefit to restricting huge parts of our life to denying this parts of us.

Matt Wilson said...


Would you agree with the writer's opinion that our society is 'hyper-sexualised'? I think it's this notion that is widespread in 'Christian circles', rather than your suggestion of 'open floodgates' which I'm quite sure would only be held by a minority of narrow fundamentalist groups. My hope would be that even those with a nominal understanding of Jesus' message would recognise that sexuality is part of our God-given identity as humans but that is constantly under threat of subversion and distortion in a culture that promotes such profound relational wisdom as 'You and me baby ain't nothin but mammals so let's do it like they do on the Discovery Channel'.


spurious said...

I concede that my experience in what I would describe as a 'narrow fundamentalist' group is perhaps distorting my perspective on the wider Christian community, that's true. Is society hyper-sexualised? Not to the extent the author of that article would have us believe. Most people certainly would "bat an eyelid" if someone they knew was in an active open sexual relationship with more then one other person. We're certainly more familiar with sex as a society, but it would be wrong to mistake comfort for hysteria.

Society's problem isn't one of sex, drugs or rock and roll lifestyles. It's one of identity, direction, community and collective responsibility, or more accurately the absence of these things. We have devolved into individuals merely drifting along, using cheap, impulsive short-term gratification as respite from our soul's cry for something more than the average salary and a Sky+ box.

Sex is simply available to us now. It's not hidden on the top shelf in seedy back alley outlets. It's all over the media and marketing. But the problem isn't sex itself, or the abundance of it, the problem is a lot deeper than that.

Matt Wilson said...

Thanks for unpacking your thoughts in a bit more detail Spurious. I find myself pretty much in agreement. Your ideas are much more cogent without the bellicosity!

Becki said...

I both agree and disagree with S, in that I agree that the sexual problems that society encounters are definitely rooted in something deeper, and that in my experience people often end up experimenting beyond what they are comfortable with owing to a deep need to discover themselves and their identity, and to discover something which really makes them feel alive.

BUT, I have to say that it depends which facet of society we live in as to how 'hyper-sexualised' it is. I am quite positive that many people in todays Britain would find certain percieved outrageous sexual practices shocking, and view themselves as fairly 'normal' in their sexuality/sexual habits. However, here at University I have to say that I am surrounded by the lifestyles described in the Sunday Observer and they are definitely accepted as acceptable, however outrageous they may be. As much as there are those students who just want to get a degree and have a little fun on the way (I am not tarring ALL students with the same brush!) there are also those students who revel in the freedom of University by taking their sexual experiences further and further.

For example, in the last two years I have now made friends with three open relationship couples, nine gay/lesbians (and through them have been introduced into a whole gay community, where anything literally goes) a group of pagans who are into fetish and sexually based rituals, a pornography obsessed fetish photographer, a group of guys who every so often feel the need to visit a brothel, not to mention every other person who finds it totally acceptable to 'get laid' every Friday and Saturday night as long as you are 'safe'.

And it's definitely my experience that when my boyfriend and I let out about two and a half years ago that we had decided to quit sleeping together and wait until we got married, that pretty much everyone around us (including the above) were a) totally shocked, and b) deeply disbelieving that we could keep it up. Having said which, at least half of those who gave us a very hard time over it have now said that they really respect us for managing not to give in thus far!

In summary: I agree that the issues are deeper. Ultimately, everyone wants to feel adored and worth something, and discover something about themselves which is utterly unique. And sex, percieved as being the most accepted and intimate way to achieve those feelings of worth and depth, and (in persuing a certain lifestyle) to discover your true originality, is often the road down which many people travel in an attempt to achieve the self-worth they long for.

BUT I also agree that virginity is seen as being a huge taboo, that to be a virgin or to be choosing to wait for marriage in your teens or twenties is often an embarrssing thing to admit and seen as quite naieve, sad, or even unhealthy to a lot of people.

Personally I don't think anyone needs to be bashed over the head with 'Christian' opinions of their sex life and have large buckets of guilt and condemnation thrown in their faces. God can deal with that in His own way if we just show them love and support wherever they're at, and speak volumes with our own sexual lifestyles. In my experience, if you live it, people will notice and ask why.