My Decade as a Born-Again Virgin & Why the World Doesn’t Understand Sex
As I approach 40, I have watched far too many of my peers go through tragic affairs, divorce, and the separation and destruction of families that change the landscape of children’s lives forever. Being a child of divorce myself, I am now reflecting on what I learned during my decade as a “born-again virgin.”
A “born-again virgin” is a popular term used to designate someone who, “after having engaged in sexual intercourse, makes some type of commitment not to be sexually active again until marriage (or some other defined point in the future or indefinitely), whether for religious, moral, practical, or other reasons.”
For almost a decade after living a sexually promiscuous lifestyle, I was sexually abstinent (though I struggle as a Christian with lust in its various forms), and for me the reason was religious (i.e. I became a Christian – Mat 5, Gal 5, Eph 5, 1 Cr 5). But I think what ended up as my abstinence from sex because I decided to follow Jesus, really didn’t start out that way. I think it was initially catalyzed and spawned from frustration, emptiness, unfulfilled longing, and hollowness that worldly sexuality had turned out to be in the long run. My worldly sexual pursuits of pleasure originally began as a search for something more—a search for love, meaning, validation and acceptance. Of course I didn’t necessarily know that at the time, but inevitably this lead to a decade of chastity due to the greatest love, meaning, validation, and acceptance that can possibly be found: in the love and salvation of the Lordship of Jesus.
So if my younger self asked me if my 10 years as a “born-again virgin” was worth it, I would respond, “It literally could not have been more worth it.”
Although I lived a celibate sexual life for nearly a decade because of my discipleship to Jesus (that caused some who found my sexual abstinence hard to fathom to wonder about my sexual preference and orientation), it was still worth it.
It was worth the ridicule, worth being misunderstood, and ultimately worth my own doubt and struggle as to whether I would ever find a spouse or ever have sex again . . . Jesus was, and is, worth it.
And if my younger self were to ask me now that I’m married and have children, if it has been easy and without challenges to heal from my broken sexual past, I would reply, “Absolutely not.” I have struggled with guilt, shame, doubt, regret, and a whole host of other things due to my sexual sin (and many other types of sins as well).
C.S. Lewis wrote, “It would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased” (C.S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory).
God teaches us (and my personal experience confirms this over and over again) that we are to reserve sex for a marital relationship between a man and a woman because it is such a deep, intimate, and spiritual union with another. This is not to be taken lightly, and when we take it too lightly, it is to our own demise and detriment. God is not some cosmic traffic cop getting his jollies from making sure that we don’t go too fast or run any red lights, trying to keep us from real sexual fulfillment, joy, satisfaction and pleasure. On the contrary, as the designer, creator, and author of sex and sexuality, He actually directs us to a live a life of obedience that leads to the greatest possible fulfillment, satisfaction, joy, and pleasure humanly possible! Even when it comes to sex.
But the great paradox of this kingdom life in God is that freedom is found in restraint, pleasure in self-denial, and true life in cross-carrying death (Lk 9:23-26).
(You can read more from Jon’s blog at www.jonsherwood.com. Used with permission.)