Christian or not, once you find yourself in a church, the sermon is most often than not the most awaited part of the service. However; the topic of virginity isn’t the most pleasant preaching to listen to in most churches. Not because those listening are adulterers and fornicators, but, these sermons sound “scary” to everyone; something in the likes of… “If you loose your virginity before marriage, you are going to HELL!”, no questions asked.
As a kid I wondered why that aspect of our lives was so important, not only to our parents but pastors; and nosy church members too. How did me having sex affect God? I asked, so those unmarried with kids are sure candidates for hell? or does loosing your virginity make you less “pure” or a second class christian? what was the emphasis on “being a virgin?”.
Even though I didn’t have the best responses to these questions, respecting the pastor and my parents was all I had as an option then. Who else knew better? at least they were the older and wiser ones. Today on the contrary, I doubt how much “better” they knew.
As sex in all it’s forms becomes more accessible to everyone today, managing the issue of virginity is hard. Social media has a swing of views on the topic, with more people advocating for “sexual liberation”. How then will you tell a modern day youth trying to explore his/her sexuality that insouciant sex is bad, when everyone around tells them otherwise?
Social media has it’s part to play in the fall or virgins. Even so,most of this blame goes to the Church. A major part of a child’s training, particularly in African homes (apart from the parents) stem from the church;but this is where the church FAILED, and killed it’s virgins.
When it comes to the issue of sex, most churches partake in guilt preaching, inflicting fear and sometimes curiosity in the minds of it’s Christians. Sermons are hardly focused on the cause & preventives, the emphasis is always on “Don’t have sex”. Which is more or less useless to most young Christians battling sexual urges and those who will in due time.
Other pastors who press a little bit more on the matter are so shallow, it’s not uncommon to hear things like; you may get an unwanted pregnancy or loose the spirit of God.These are real implications, but somewhat vague.
The fear and curiosity activated via these preachings make Christians more prone to fall into sexual sins in their search for answers. When they do fall, few come back for help; because they know most of what they will get is judgement and a reminder of how “impure” they are.
The world teaches youths sex is awesome and should be experienced with varied people and ways, virgins are shamed and feel out of place in a sex oriented world. On the other hand, the church offers nothing to counteract the teaching of the world but a “guilt” strategy which has proved unavailing so far.
Sex is good, as a matter of fact sex has been proven to have more benefits to a human body than most people know off, but pastors hardly say so. Most send forth an image of sex as this scary thing that has the ability to put you in hell; sadly this hasn’t stopped young people from becoming extremely promiscuous.
So what is the way forward? should the church wear iron pants on Christians till they reach the right age for marriage? or should they confine them in a safe incubator till they are ready, or better still cut them off from the rest of the world; at-least they will be void of external influence then. Well…that could help for a while, but even iron pants can be taken off, bad seeds grow in incubators and no one can live healthily in isolation.
What churches need to focus on is more sex education and less sex shaming. This is not to say pastors should sugar coat promiscuity. On the contrary, they need to stop hitting hard and start hitting smart. While the world is crafting theories on sex and the importance of sexual liberation, the church has to develop solutions to real issues Christians face like lust, pornography, masturbation etc and the benefits of chastity. Rather than making people kill themselves out of guilt, they should focus on educating them.
Even the holiest of people have hormones that demand sexual fulfilment, it is the church’s responsibility not to make others feel dirty for having these thoughts & feelings.
Rather than saying “sex is bad”, a better approach will be to tell them “insouciant sex” feels good in the moment, but has short and long term disadvantages such as pregnancy, STD, creation of soul ties, unhealthy addictions etc. This emphasises the fact that sex isn’t a bad thing, which is what the world preaches (and true); but is also gives them a clearer understanding of why this good thing shouldn’t be enjoyed indiscriminately.
Also, apart from choir practices and prayer meetings, churches need to develop workshops for Christians to learn about sex and other aspects of their lives from a healthy source. These issues need to be explained in detail, so that Christians understand that it is not in hell that their actions will affect them (because some don’t care); but it starts here and now.
Focusing too much on the “Hell” preaching and ignoring the “Earth” side makes most people feel the church is a joy killer, a sadists to some extreme. So it’s the church’s duty to blend these teachings and make Christians understand how it benefits them on earth, in their daily living.
Of course, it is not totally the churches responsibility to educate, parents also have a strong role to play. But as young children, we spent most of our time in church than with our parents (which is still the case in most homes today), and these places have a huge impact on us.
I will like to end with a message I got from a lovely article on sex, virginity and sexual purity.
The most significant need in overcoming the shame culture in the church, especially as it regards sex, is an embodiment and understanding of grace and forgiveness which emphasizes the reality of sin being removed. That’s what purity is, a removal of sin. Jesus didn’t die so the church could perpetuate the guilt of the sexually sinful. His death provides the removal of sin from us to Him and the gift of purity from Him to us. — BARNABAS