I am a Roman Catholic. Many will find that enough to discount what I say; I counter that the religion I chose after coming to see this idea for truth bears little responsibility. Catholicism was one of many effects of seeing this truth; the first was marriage—16 years and growing stronger daily.
For, This I Believe: that Virginity is the Original Blessing, an opposite of Original Sin. It is a gift we seem quick to throw away, often as far as we possibly can. Throwing away this gift brings us down a path I find scary, thinking of my son’s, my students’, and our culture’s future.
I speak from experience (more than I am comfortable discussing) from the half of my life prior to finding out the truth. I know now that what we call “love making,” as if calling it that makes it OK-no-matter-what, is a permanent act. Not only that it has permanent consequences, but that we can never take it back or un-do it. Because I carelessly discarded my gift, I’ve lost friendships, suffered embarrassing moments, and hurt people.
We must recognize how special and precious a gift virginity is, both in the giving and the receiving. So much of what we find shocking in our culture, or that we find dislikable in ourselves, stems from our mistaken notion that we can enjoy the euphoria of sex without accepting its responsibilities. Our culture says “if it feels good it must be good,” “more is better,” and “if it’s hard to do, don’t.” We get this hedonistic laziness in part from the careless way we treat this gift.
Young men across the country won’t admit this, but the truth is that sex without love weakens us, draining strength and economy. Young men, open your eyes to the power of growing up, find true love’s self-sacrifice before squandering your gift. You young women who protest so loudly that you seek commitment, value that commitment: delay your euphoria a while. Momentarily visualize what our cultural resolve and resources might be if we treated sex as gift rather than precocious, obstinate right.
A generation ago, Nancy Reagan said “Just Say No.” That was to drugs, but the argument’s the same. Cynics scoffed, people young and old rolled their worldly-wise eyes, snickering. Few saw the slogan as a plea to grasp innocence, but I often wonder how many who have lost innocence look back at its loss regretfully.
Self-denial; long-term thinking; delayed gratification; commitment to purpose, self, partners…in short, “grown-up,” responsible living would be a huge step. The world benefits from valuing chastity and virginity, the Original Blessing that brings so many other gifts with it. Explore “Freedom FROM,” versus “Freedom TO.”
Admitting and teaching that abstinence is possible, instead of shrugging shoulders and ignoring the destructivity of not waiting, we can change cultural attitudes. This, I Believe.
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