Giant Male Virgin #3: The Young Theologian

Boilerplate reminder: there has been a good bit of chatter about this series going on, through email, facebook, etc. The overwhelming majority of the responses have been positive. However, agree or disagree with me or the guest posters, I do want to repeat a point I made in the original post for this series. We're talking about what these Christians believe is best. How many Christians actually manage to do what is best? By the very nature of the way I've asked the questions, these men have succeeded (to one degree or another) where others have failed. Not one of them will not confess that this is by God's grace alone. Nobody is saying anybody here is better than anybody else. They are saying that obeying God is better than disobeying, and they're sorting that out. But without any of the wishy-washiness that masquerades as piety these days. So please don't be offended.

Jim Thompson is a schoolteacher in South Carolina, and the author of A King and A Kingdom: A Narrative Theology of Grace and Truth.

This post is part of an ongoing series of guest posts on being Christian, and male, and virgin.

Q. You were a virgin until you married. How old were you at that time?

If by "virgin" you mean "someone who has not had sexual intercourse," then yes, I was a virgin until I was married at age 25. However, if I was to list for you two or three of the biggest regrets of my life, number one would probably be a relationship than I had with a girl my freshman year of college. There was no love in it and probably no chemistry. We were friends with benefits in the purest sense of the term. We just liked the idea of physicality. In this specific relationship, I crossed boundaries that I knew were wrong deep in my gut even if they weren't spelled out word-for-word in Scripture.

Q. If a [Christian] man is not a virgin when he marries, how big a deal is that?

In some senses it is a big deal for a brother in the Lord not to be a virgin when he marries. In other senses, it's not. For example... Eternally, there is no sin or stumbling that can cause our feet to slip on the sure rock that is Jesus, Israel's Messiah. Our right-standing before God hinges on his person and work and not ours. Emotionally, however, it could be a big deal if it was a habitual sexual relationship because it could cause difficulty in being able to emotionally connect with your spouse. Biologically, it could be problematic if there were any STDs contracted. Spiritually, there could be some left over guilt from past relationships even if the individual knows that they're forgiven. Healthy spouse-to-spouse dialogue and immersion in a community of faith that emphasizes grace are both remedies to this possible spiritual side effect.

Q. I've noticed that people have a hard time believing a young man could stay a virgin by choice. That is, that sex is impossible to resist for any length of time. I'm sure that it was difficult, but how difficult was it, really? What kind of struggle was it?

While resisting sex was formidable at times, I grew up as a pastor's kid. Sex before marriage was sinning with a high hand. It was like shooting the pope or blaspheming the Holy Spirit. So, my mindset was always about how much I could get away with without actually reaching intercourse. Resisting intercourse was easy compared to resisting everything that leads up to it.

Q. You must be some kind of wuss. So must other "wait 'til we're married" guys. What do you say to that?

I would say that real men ought to have a spine enough to think long term and not just about immediate gratification. Also, the last time I checked, patience and self-control were both fruits of the Spirit. I'd rather yield to his promptings than grieve him. Additionally, if I was having this conversation with someone who didn't hold to my same values and/or worldview, I would convince them that patience and self-control are virtues that are respected in the most arenas of life. To cultivate them is to cultivate success. Those who have given up their virginity to one who is not their spouse can never have the freedom and joy of giving themselves away without guilt and reservation. Lastly, it is a scientific fact that having only one sexual partner in your lifetime increases sexual pleasure. Whenever two people engage in intercourse with one another, the hormone oxytocin is released by each party. The releasing of this hormone from the same two people again and again heightens orgasmic satisfaction. (Side note... I am far from being a biologist, but read some stuff about this a while back and have had some discussion with others who studied it more thoroughly. So, I might have worded it a bit awkwardly in a technical sense.)

Q. What good did staying a virgin until marriage do you? How would you say it impacted your marriage? your sex life?

On a positive note, my virginity until marriage did teach me patience and self-control. I really do feel like it was a small variable that helped me to pray for my future wife. I think it also aided me to cultivate general intentionality in my life. It also taught me a lot about healthy boundaries. It gave me the honor of telling my wife that I was hers in a way that I was no one else's. Along those same lines (and concerning my virginity's impact of my present sex life), I don't have to worry about closing my eyes during sex and picturing another girl's face. What a relief. Lastly, and hopefully, it has been a positive example to the hundreds of students I've worked with, and I think it will also be a good example to my kids in the future.