Wednesday, August 6, 2014

I Regret Remaining A Virgin Until I Got Married

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By Samantha Pugsley

"Believing that true love waits, I make a commitment to God, myself, my family, my friends, my future mate and my future children to be sexually abstinent from this day until the day I enter a biblical marriage relationship. As well as abstaining from sexual thoughts, sexual touching, pornography, and actions that are known to lead to sexual arousal."

At the age of 10, I took a pledge at my church alongside a group of other girls to remain a virgin until marriage. Yes, you read that right — I was 10 years old.

Let's take a look at who I was as a 10-year-old: I was in fourth grade. I played with Barbie dolls and had tea parties with imaginary friends. I pretended I was a mermaid every time I took a bath. I still thought boys were icky and I had no idea I liked girls, too. I wouldn't get my period for another four years. And most importantly, I didn't have a clue about sex.


The church taught me that sex was for married people. Extramarital sex was sinful and dirty and I would go to Hell if I did it. I learned that as a girl, I had a responsibility to my future husband to remain pure for him. It was entirely possible that my future husband wouldn't remain pure for me, because he didn't have that same responsibility, according to the Bible. And of course, because I was a Christian, I would forgive him for his past transgressions and fully give myself to him, body and soul.

Once I got married, it would be my duty to fulfill my husband's sexual needs. I was told over and over again, so many times I lost count, that if I remained pure, my marriage would be blessed by God and if I didn't that it would fall apart and end in tragic divorce.

I believed it. Why wouldn't I? I was young and these were people I trusted. Everyone knew I'd taken the virginity vow, of course. Gossip is the lifeblood of the Baptist Church. My parents were so proud of me for making such a spiritual decision. The church congregation applauded my righteousness.
 
For more than a decade, I wore my virginity like a badge of honor. My church encouraged me to do so, saying my testimony would inspire other young girls to follow suit. If the topic ever came up in conversation, I was happy to let people know that I had taken a pledge of purity.

It became my entire identity by the time I hit my teen years. When I met my then boyfriend-now husband, I told him right away that I was saving myself for marriage and he was fine with that because it was my body, my choice and he loved me.

We were together for six years before we got married. Any time we did anything remotely sexual, guilt overwhelmed me. I wondered where the line was because I was terrified to cross it. Was he allowed to touch my breasts? Could we look at each other naked? I didn't know what was considered sexual enough to condemn my future marriage and send me straight to Hell.

An unhealthy mixture of pride, fear, and guilt helped me keep my pledge until we got married. In the weeks before our wedding, I often got congratulated on keeping my virginity for so long. The comments ranged from curious (how in the world did you manage?) to downright disgusting (I bet you're going to have one busy wedding night!). I let them place me on the pedestal as their virginal, perfect-Christian-girl mascot.

I lost my virginity on my wedding night, with my husband, just as I had promised that day when I was 10 years old. I stood in the hotel bathroom beforehand, wearing my white lingerie, thinking, "I made it. I'm a good Christian." There was no chorus of angels, no shining light from Heaven. It was just me and my husband in a dark room, fumbling with a condom and a bottle of lube for the first time.
 
Sex hurt. I knew it would. Everyone told me it would be uncomfortable the first time. What they didn't tell me is that I would be back in the bathroom afterward, crying quietly for reasons I didn't yet comprehend. They didn't tell me that I'd be on my honeymoon, crying again, because sex felt dirty and wrong and sinful even though I was married and it was supposed to be okay now.

When we got home, I couldn't look anyone in the eye. Everyone knew my virginity was gone. My parents, my church, my friends, my co-workers. They all knew I was soiled and tarnished. I wasn't special anymore. My virginity had become such an essential part of my personality that I didn't know who I was without it.

It didn't get better. I avoided undressing in front of my husband. I tried not to kiss him too often or too amorously so I wouldn't lead him on. I dreaded bedtime. Maybe he'd want to have sex.

When he did, I obliged. I wanted nothing more than to make him happy because I loved him so much and because I'd been taught it was my duty to fulfill his needs. But I hated sex. Sometimes I cried myself to sleep because I wanted to like it, because it wasn't fair. I had done everything right. I took the pledge and stayed true to it. Where was the blessed marriage I was promised?

I let it go on this way for almost two years before I broke down. I just couldn't do it anymore. I told my husband everything. My feminist husband was horrified that I'd let him touch me when I didn't want him to. He made me promise I'd never do anything I didn't want to do ever again. We stopped having sex. He encouraged me to see a therapist and I did. It was the first step on a long journey to healing.

Ten-year-old girls want to believe in fairy tales. Take this pledge and God will love you so much and be so proud of you, they told me. If you wait to have sex until marriage, God will bring you a wonderful Christian husband and you'll get married and live happily ever after, they said. Waiting didn't give me a happily ever after. Instead, it controlled my identity for over a decade, landed me in therapy, and left me a stranger in my own skin. I was so completely ashamed of my body and my sexuality that it made having sex a demoralizing experience.

I don't go to church anymore, nor am I religious. As I started to heal, I realized that I couldn't figure out how to be both religious and sexual at the same time. I chose sex. Every single day is a battle to remember that my body belongs to me and not to the church of my childhood. I have to constantly remind myself that a pledge I took when I was only 10 doesn't define who I am today. When I have sex with my husband, I make sure it's because I have a sexual need and not because I feel I'm required to fulfill his desires.

I'm now thoroughly convinced that the entire concept of virginity is used to control female sexuality. If I could go back, I would not wait. I would have sex with my then-boyfriend-now-husband and I wouldn't go to hell for it. We would have gotten married at a more appropriate age and I would have kept my sexuality to myself.

Unfortunately, I can't go back but I can give you this message as a culmination of my experiences: If you want to wait to have sex until marriage make sure it's because you want to. It's your body; it belongs to you, not your church. Your sexuality is nobody's business but yours.

Originally published on xoJane







17 comments:

  1. 'At the risk of over-spiritualizing this, you are right, your body does not belong to the church of your childhood, it doesn't belong to you either, at least it shouldn't. It belongs to God. Yours is an unfortunate experience, every person to whom virginity is important runs the risk of putting their virginity on a pedestal. To us (yes, us, because I too was a virgin when I got married) virginity becomes an idol, an ideal, and a righteous experience. It should instead be a way of life, one that is in obedience to the Word of God.

    I think it's sad that you left your faith because of sex, interestingly, you can have both and enjoy both very well. God has no qualms with sex in marriage, he celebrates it. It is God's intention that both partners come into the marriage bed as novices, that way, any shortcomings in the bedroom won't matter at all because there'll be no yardsticks for measurement. To us, sex should never just be about fulfilling anyone's desires, it is a deeper level of intimacy between husband and wife.

    In the society we live in today, it is hardly necessary to tell people to enjoy sex before marriage, everyone's doing it anyway. However, to base your message on the doctrines and laws of your childhood church tells an incomplete and utterly pedestrian story. Those who take God's Word seriously will ignore your message, but I pray that those who struggle will find the truth of life in the Bible. I also pray that you find a balance between your sex life here on earth and your eternal life after this; may your walk lead you back to Him.

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  2. I understand that she wants to make her points about what happened to her, but no need to bash Christianity in the process.

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  3. I don't even know whether to just laugh or laugh too hard. Everyone would know you were soiled and tarnished? In marriage? And because of all these, you stopped being a Christian? Na wa o.

    People should read their bibles well abeg. If people developed a relationship with God, and really understand rules and boundaries, maybe we will not be reading articles like this.

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  4. Puuuleease...this woman should take several seats. I'm really sorry that she felt bad after having first time sex with her husband but, he's her husband for pete's sake!
    I hate it when people get emotional and try to convince the world that they are better off on their own than without God or religion. (I figure that's what she's saying here)

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  5. Having read all the comments here, I am very much relieved. I'm relieved that there are actually lots of people who realise everything that is wrong with this experience. This woman is unfortunate. She wasn't just sold a lie- she was sold a bundle of lies; that sex is dirty, that girls should keep themselves for their husbands but THE BIBLE doesn't require boys to do the same (did you ever hear such satanic bullcrap?) that virginity guarantees a blessed marriage and not being a virgin condemns your marriage... Gosh, how the heart of Jesus bleeds at all the rubbish human beings have made of the Gospel. It has also been a pain in my heart that girls are told that sex is dirty. They are told how "wrong" it is, and then when they marry they can't function. I feel so sorry for her, and my heart aches for girls out there who are being fed these silly lies. I took the True Love Waits vow at 16, and it is still one of the BEST decisions of my life. I am a spiritual woman, I have an amazing sex life, praise God, and I tweet about #marriedsex via a handle totally dedicated to love and marriage. I don't know why they chose to manipulate a ten-year-old into doing something she didn't even understand. And why don't Christians read their Bibles? If they did they would see right through all these disgusting teachings!

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  6. my goodness!! no disrespect, but these comments are extremely short-sighted. I don't even know where to start. Is it the origins of christianity, or ..... i don't even know. first of all, your names are Kofoworola, Lola, Adaeze etc. do you see any yoruba people, igbo people, etc, i.e. your own image, represented in that bible of yours? Can't you see religion was just a way of controlling people when those colonial masters came? (I'm sorry, but this is why Africa as a whole will continue to take 1 step forward and 5 steps backwards. The masses have been made to hate their nature)

    Anyway, back to the article. She's just pointing out the damaging effects having ANYthing that is fleeting define your self-worth. VIRGINITY IS A FLEETING THING!!!! You CANNOT let it define your self-worth. That is why if the man, for example, married you SIMPLY because you were a virgin, in 2 or 3 years time, he'll go out and find another young thang to experiment with. Remember, at this time you will no longer be a virgin, so what will you now use to define your self-worth?

    I could go on, but bottom line is, anything in the physical should never be used to define your self-worth because when it's no longer there, how do you cope with yourself? Listen to your body. When you're ready to have sex, you'll know (and go ahead, if YOU CHOOSE to. There are actions and consequences. Just remember that. IT IS NOT A MATTER OF GOOD AND BAD, and that, btw, is where the feelings of guilt the article talks about, start to creep in); not when some book brought by people who insisted on degrading your humanity and calling you 'black'--a word that's used for virtually anything bad or disgusting in the english language--tells you.

    Peace (please, my peaceful and loving christian brothers and sisters, don't eat me up because of my comment)

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    1. You know what? I was going to give a lengthy response but then I realized- what's the point? Anything I say will be construed as a 'Christian eating you up because of your comment' because for some reason, believing in the Bible is to many, akin to some sort of betrayal or lack of pride or (my personal favourite) intolerance.

      So no. That's a Nope from me. I'll pass.

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  7. This story touched me because I and my siblings also made the virginity promise at 10. It was after my mum read a book called 'Keeping them chaste' and we were given chastity or promise rings that showed our promise to be chaste till marriage. I don't know about my siblings but I took my promise pretty seriously and somehow had friends in the university who also claimed to be virgins. As I grew older I realised that I was an intensely sexual person. The guys I dated sensed it but they could see how stubborn I was about not losing my virginity because it was like I would lose my identity so they got content with smooching. I could drive a guy crazy with my hands and mouth and he likewise but NO SEX. I constantly used my virginity as a bargaining chip in my relationship with God afterall if I was keeping my end of the bargain he had to keep his too. I would love to say I lost it on the wedding night, alas I didn't. My then boyfriend, now husband took my virginity one night a month before he proposed when we were both a little high. I love sex and can't get enough of it and thankfully I am married and can still boast that I have only ever slept with one man but this virginity thing kinda messed up my walk with God.I was like a Pharisee, considering myself better than every one else because I was saving myself for God. I also always brought it to the table anytime I needed God to do something great for me, it was a covenant I had with Him and He is a covenant keeping God. I was also rationalizing sin, not willing to admit that foreplay and oral sex were as bad a sin as sex sex. After I got disvirgined I experienced a disconnect with God, I had nothing else to bargain with or blackmail Him with and I experienced fear, not sure that my prayers would be answered. I am walking myself through that now and finding out more about God's unconditional love for me. I will teach my children the commandments of the bible but more about His love, grace and mercy...

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    1. I agree with you Anonymous. I was also raised in a Christian home but thankfully (and I'm seeing how lucky I was the older I get) my parents never made a big deal out of virginity. We hardly discussed it. Now I don't advocate this method for every child, some children need strong guidance on this issue, but thankfully I was a good kid and I believe God had His hand on my life early on to direct me. Anyways when I was 16, I felt that I wanted to have sex. I was never coerced by the boy, in fact I goaded him into agreement. And I enjoyed it! My first time was great and I have no regrets whatsoever about losing my virginity that way. I was sexually active from the age of 16 - 19 with four guys (all of whom I loved or thought I loved and we were in a relationship, except for one one-night stand) before becoming celibate from the age of 19 to 25 due to a deeper walk with God, where I declared myself a reconstituted virgin. I met my ex at the age of 25 (it was a sexual relationship for two years because I thought we would get married, but we didn't) then I met my husband, who I slept with on the first date. We are now happily married and we have a good sex life.

      Now I know this goes against the 'no sex before marriage' and 'no sex on the first date' wisdom, but I truly wouldn't have it any other way. I believe my sexual journey is similar to many women's, except there is no pain, shame, fear or regret, no scars or terrible memories connected to any of it. I always did it when I wanted to and enjoyed it, plus it was never such a big deal. I thank God immensely for this, especially when I hear many women's story of early sexual abuse, coercion, sex for money or other degrading situations connected to such an important act.

      But I believe my journey of 'good' sex was due to the fact that I had no fear or shame attached to it by my parents or the church, and I was essentially a good girl. Sex doesn't have to be this barbed wire or forbidden fruit. I'm also glad I wasn't a virgin when I got married, that would have made the experience all kinds of awkward and full of false notions. I agree that sex before marriage is sin and I repented of it all and accepted God's forgiveness, so that now I can barely remember sex before my husband.

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    2. Wait this ex that you slept with on the first date was this after you became a 'reconstituted' virgin?

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    3. You contradict yourself. On the one hand, you extole the virtues of your pre- marital sexual experiences, and you wouldn't change a thing, yet on the other hand you admit that sex before marriage is a sin, and you acct God's forgiveness.
      Be clear in your mind on which side of the fence you're on. I pray God's Spirit continues to lead you.

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  8. Your decision to be a virgin should be a personal one, and you shouldn't go discussing it with people. When you constantly let everyone know you're a virgin, it forms your identity. And when you lose your virfinity, you lose your identity too.
    The issues you are having with sex are a separate issue
    Return to God. This is a lie of the devil.

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  9. When you prioritize keeping your virginity over your salvation, you become self righteous. The implication of this is that you justify other non sexual sins you commit with the fact that you were a virgin; when you should repent, and maintain a contrite and repentant spirit in your walk with the Lord. Thus when you lost your virginity, you lost your refuge of lies that has kept you away from seeking genuine salvation by grace rather than work. I pray you come back to the Lord to seek salvation God's way -BY GRACE.

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  10. Everything seems to have been well said already as I read through some of the comments. My sister, I would ask you honestly: have you ever yet had the new birth experience? I mean, if you were actually born again and not just a mere moralist prior to your wedding, you would have understood God's stand on these issues.
    Well... People congratulated you because you were a virgin, but those virgins with the 'oil' of the Holy Spirit aflame within them are the ones heaven celebrates. Remember there were ten virgins as narrated in Jesus' parable. Five were wise; five foolish. What made the difference is just one thing: the Holy Spirit, not just the morality of it.
    As I write this, please note I've been a christian virgin guy for 28 years till now and have not at all concurred with your views. I pray that the Lord will help you find Him. Only a personal walk with God by His Spirit can make you experience the joys of virginhood and even after 'post-virgin' life in christian marriage. I tell you the truth, that both are glorious phases of the faith.

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