Young People Ask . . .
Is It Normal to Be a Virgin?
‘Is anything bothering you today, Jane?’ asked the kindly physician.
‘Doctor,’ she said hesitantly, ‘so many of the girls at school are talking about taking the birth-control pill and going all the way. Is there anything wrong with me because I’m not having sex?’—What Shall We Tell the Kids?, by Dr. Bennett Olshaker.
VIRGINITY. In times past it was a badge of honor. Nowadays, many youths view it as a cause of shame and embarrassment, an abnormal condition, a malady to be “cured” as soon as possible.
Not surprisingly, youths are giving up their virginity in record numbers. For example, a 1983 survey of German youths revealed that only 9 percent of 15-year-old girls and 4 percent of 15-year-old boys had experienced sexual relations. By 1989 the numbers had risen to 25 percent and 20 percent respectively! Similar trends are noted all over the world.
What, though, has given virginity a bad name among youths? Youths of all generations have had to deal with the strong feelings aroused during puberty. Today’s youths, however, grow up in a world that gives them little or no moral guidance. In one European land, a group of Christian elders report: “In spite of a religious veneer, this is essentially an amoral country. Immoral sex is tolerated as a ‘human weakness.’ Children are raised in families where the parents are not married. Sex-oriented advertising is worse here than in any other country in the Western world.”
Youths in developing lands are likewise exposed to powerful cultural and economic forces that encourage promiscuity. ‘If a young man doesn’t have sex,’ youths in one African land are warned, ‘then his body will be weakened.’ Equally common is the belief that ‘a girl does not know life until she has had sex with a boy.’
Furthermore, because of widespread unemployment and poverty, a girl may be afraid to turn down a prospective employer’s demand that she have relations with him. Teachers may likewise demand sex as payment for a passing grade in school. Why, it is not unusual for poor girls to offer sex in exchange for basic necessities—even for a bar of soap! “Having sex is considered much like having a drink or a meal,” report observers in one developing land.
Particularly influential, though, is the pressure from peers. A youth who is still a virgin is likely to be the victim of unrelenting teasing and harassment. And if you are one of Jehovah’s Witnesses, you may particularly be singled out in this regard. Your peers may tell you that you are not a real man or woman unless you have had relations. They may argue that it is a good idea to get “experience” before marriage. Or they may try to fill your ear with stories of illicit sexual escapades.
“Sally would go on and on about how great sex was with her boyfriend,” said one young woman. “She also made me think that I was missing out on one of life’s great pleasures.” Failing to realize that “there is a lot of bragging, exaggerating and lying about sexual experience among teens,” many youths are swayed by such stories. (Coping With Teenage Depression, by Kathleen McCoy) One young woman named Maria who gave up her virginity in immoral sex recalls: “I felt pressured, and I wanted so much to be accepted. Even though I knew it was wrong, I wanted to be like everyone else—to have a boyfriend.”
Millions of youths have similarly swallowed the world’s propaganda and come to believe that virginity is abnormal and that premarital sex is little more than harmless fun. Virgins have thus almost become an endangered species among youths.
Nevertheless, there is a side to premarital sex that your peers may not talk about. Maria recalls: “Afterwards I felt embarrassed and ashamed. I hated myself and I hated my boyfriend.” Such experiences are far more typical than most youths admit. Forget the tall tales and exaggerations you may hear from your peers. In reality premarital sex is often an emotionally painful and humiliating experience—with devastating consequences!
This should not surprise you. For while the world may very well view premarital sex as healthy and normal, this does not make it right in the eyes of God. Jesus Christ reminds us that “what is lofty among men is a disgusting thing in God’s sight.” (Luke 16:15) God has his own standards of acceptable behavior. “This is what God wills,” the Bible says, “the sanctifying of you, that you abstain from fornication; that each one of you should know how to get possession of his own vessel in sanctification and honor . . . For God called us, not with allowance for uncleanness, but in connection with sanctification.”—1 Thessalonians 4:3-7.
As far as God is concerned, then, virginity in a young man or woman is not only normal but clean and holy! In ancient Israel, virgin girls enjoyed an honorable status. They were protected by the Law from sexual exploitation. (Deuteronomy 22:19, 28, 29) And virginity continues to be honored among true Christians. The Christian congregation itself is likened to “a chaste virgin” because of its moral purity.—2 Corinthians 11:2; Revelation 21:9.
Nowhere does the Bible urge youths to view their virginity as a curse. On the contrary, the apostle Paul said that “if anyone stands settled in his heart . . . to keep his own virginity [by remaining single], he will do well. Consequently he also that gives his virginity in marriage does well, but he that does not give it in marriage will do better.”a Paul was not condemning honorable sexual relations in marriage. Rather, he was showing that a Christian who chose to retain his or her virginity by remaining single would be able to enjoy “constant attendance upon the Lord without distraction.”—1 Corinthians 7:25, 33-38.
For a Christian youth, then, virginity is not a badge of shame but a testimony to one’s integrity to God. Granted, it is not easy to stay chaste; considerable self-control is required. But the Bible assures us that God’s “commandments are not burdensome.” (1 John 5:3) The psalmist assures us: “The orders from Jehovah are upright, causing the heart to rejoice; the commandment of Jehovah is clean, making the eyes shine.” (Psalm 19:8) Following God’s ways is always healthy, beneficial.
‘Sinning Against One’s Body’
By way of contrast, the Bible says at 1 Corinthians 6:18: “He that practices fornication is sinning against his own body.” Popular folklore notwithstanding, there is no evidence that abstaining from sex is physically harmful. It is indulging that carries physical risks! A prominent physician says: “Sexually transmitted diseases will continue to increase in incidence unless effective control strategies can be applied, and the recent increase in incidence has been due, in part, to increased levels of sexual activity among young people.”—Current Controversies in Marriage and Family.
Promiscuous behavior among youths has also given rise to an epidemic of teen pregnancies. In the United States, half of these pregnancies are terminated by spontaneous and induced abortions. Then there is the emotional devastation immoral sex can wreak. “After he’d gotten what he’d wanted all along,” recalls young Diana, “he dropped me.” Paul’s words ring true. Premarital sex is a ‘sin against one’s body.’
Fornication also ‘harms and encroaches upon the rights’ of others. (1 Thessalonians 4:6) At the very least, it deprives another of the right to enter marriage in a clean moral state. A future marriage mate is also deprived of his or her right to have a virgin marriage partner.
The book Why Wait Till Marriage? thus makes this sobering observation: “With your first sex experience, you are no longer a virgin. . . . You can choose only once.” Make the right choice! Do not be conned by the world’s propaganda into thinking that something is wrong with you if you hold to Bible standards. Virginity is not strange or abnormal. It is immoral sex that is degrading, humiliating, and harmful. By retaining your virginity, you protect your health, your emotional well-being, and most important of all, your relationship with God.
Just how a youth can do this will be the subject of future articles.
a The Greek word rendered “virgin” in the Bible applies to both males and females.
[Picture on page 21]
There is a lot of bragging and lying about sexual exploits