Opinion | Sexuality

Don't Blame Evangelicals for the Cult of the Virgin

As the saying goes, we didn’t start the fire.
Don't Blame Evangelicals for the Cult of the Virgin
Image: Constantin Hölscher / Public domain

Even in the midst of a sexual revolution, of a generation drawn to open relationships, hookup culture, and "polyamory," virginity still enthralls.

Yet another beautiful young woman is auctioning hers off. The cable show My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding juxtaposes a cultural expectation to maintain virginity until marriage with a flashy celebration on the day-of. Feminist defenses of virginity crop up on edgy websites. A burgeoning academic field is devoted to "virginity studies." Even the "first kiss" video that recently went viral is but a variation on the "first time" theme.

In the midst of this, younger evangelicals question the church's message to encourage Christians to maintain "purity" until marriage. They have a point: some of our efforts cross the line between encouraging chastity and venerating virginity. But as the examples above show, making an idol out of virginity is a problem that's much bigger than evangelicalism.

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