Lori "Lolo" Jones is a world-class athlete. She won three NCAA titles and garnered 11 All-American honors while running track and field at Louisiana State University. In the 2008 Olympics, she finished first in the preliminary rounds for the 100-meter hurdles but in the finals tripped on the second-to-last hurdle and finished seventh. She easily passed this year's 100-meter hurdles this morning, and on Wednesday will have a chance to collect the gold medal that has haunted her since the crushing Beijing loss. Her story is the stuff NBC programmers dream of, tailor-made for a fluffy human-interest piece to fill the time between archery and judo and other sports we haven't thought about for four years.

Lolo Jones is also a virgin.

Guess which narrative people are talking about?

That Lolo's virginity is considered more newsworthy than her athletic feats doesn't surprise me, really. There are enough movies that hinge on the ridiculousness of a mature virgin (and even these are rarely by choice!) to confirm the hypothesis that sexual activity is normal and expected for anyone old enough to have graduated from college. Is it sad that we are more impressed that an attractive 29-year-old woman has managed not have sex than we are that she has distinguished herself as one of the best runners in the world? Perhaps. But we've seen this before with another world-class athlete.

While some may have seen Tim Tebow's admission as proof that he's just as a naive kid, an aw-shucks former homeschooler who missed out by refusing the countless women who would love to "make him a man," most lightly teased him while suggesting suitably conservative dates. He became the heartthrob of choice for Christians and moms everywhere; hundreds of girls uploaded YouTube videos trying to catch Tebow's attention, and Katy Perry's mom suggested she'd love to see her daughter date Tim. His virginity is seen by some as "too good to be true"—dating service AshleyMadison.com, which caters to married people looking for discreet affairs, offered $1 million to anyone who could disprove the claim. It has become something of a joke, the "challenge" to take Tebow's virginity. This points to the ways we talk about the roles of men and women with regard to sexuality. We can joke about Tebow because he has remained strong and withstood temptation; Lolo, because she is conventionally "hot," comes across as a tease. She suggested as much herself when she told Jay Leno, "no one likes a girl who doesn't put out."

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The general shock surrounding this choice also reveals just how countercultural the Christian view of sexuality—which is what motivates both Lolo and Tim—remains. They have helped to put a new "face" on abstinence. Virginity isn't just a stigma that nerdy 18-year-olds and pathetic but lovable 40-year-olds will do anything to shake. It's a legitimate choice embraced by attractive, successful people who have had ample opportunities to have sex but aren't because of God's call on their lives.

What does set Lolo apart is how she also views her abstinence as her biggest accomplishment. In an interview for HBO's Real Sports, she told Mary Carillo, "It's just a gift I want to give my husband. But please understand this journey has been hard. There's virgins out there and I want to let them know that it's the hardest thing I've ever done in my life. Harder than training for the Olympics. Harder than graduating from college has been to stay a virgin before marriage. I've been tempted, I've had plenty of opportunities."

Taken on its surface, this admission seems to confirm the secular opinion that the Christian view of sexuality is oppressive and unrealistic or just plain awkward. I don't want to make presumptions about the complexities of Lolo's faith and sexuality, as she has not publicly discussed them in much length. Her "struggle" narrative as it has presented is a good in the ways it works against the negative perceptions of virgins and honestly represents the reality of plenty of mature, single Christians. It is hard. This is true. But if the message stops here, it also makes the choice of abstinence into something it is not, or should not be.

The church needs this kind of reframing talk about celibacy, now more than ever. All the recent conversations about homosexuality in the church have brought to the forefront just how much we have placed marriage in the center of the church—and either completely forgotten about celibacy or relegated it to the fringes where people can deal with it alone until marriage offers them a ticket "in." In the midst of the Chick-fil-A controversy, a friend directed me to a post by a gay Christian calling the church to consider how it might better support those called to celibacy: "Calling people to difficult standards is loving and Christlike; calling people to uphold difficult standards on their own is unloving and entirely antithetical to the gospel, especially when the standards you're calling people to uphold are so closely connected to relationships and intimacy." He points to Galatians 6:2, which commands us to "carry each other's burdens" in order to fulfill the law of Christ.

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If as a community we lovingly surround those who are called to virginity—whether for now or for life—it can be more than it has become. It does not have to be about constantly saying "no"—it should be about saying "yes" to something even greater. It is about honoring God with our whole selves and trusting his plan for our bodies. It is an act of worship, as Romans 12:1 puts it, and worship is our privilege rather than our sacrifice. It is not a means to an end, as Anna Broadway suggested in her post on why she no longer prays for a husband, but it is a real place in which God can and does want to work, right now. As a single Christian myself, I would define my struggle as one of constantly working to grow in dependence on God's love and mercy to sustain me through singleness, loneliness, and sexual temptation—and not to see these things as ends in themselves but reminders that too often I look for satisfaction apart from the ultimate goodness God has promised us: himself. He doesn't promise sex, or a husband. These things might come, and we are right to celebrate them when and if they do. But when our desires are in their right place, we see they are not the gold medal for which we strive.