Fetish: any object, idea, etc., eliciting unquestioning reverence, respect or devotion. (Dictionary.com.)
In Walking the Wedding Aisle Without Your Virginity, Desiring God Ministries posts a response to a question from a young man who asks about not being a virgin when he gets married. Sadly, the first thing the article notes is complete agreement with the young man’s idea that not being a virgin on your wedding night is a tragedy.
I think the main thing I want to say is this: Virginity is a precious gift that you cannot give to your fiance … . That is a great sadness and a great loss.
The answer then asserts that while lack of virginity cripples the person’s ability to marry well, all is not lost:
But there are gifts you can give her and God will multiply those gifts so wonderfully that the loss will not be destructive.
John Piper – the one who crafted these answers – appears to be saying that even though the fiance has lost out on the big prize of the young man’s virginity, he can give her a consolation prize. But it’s up to the young man or the marriage is over (“so the loss will not be destructive”) before it even begins.
What does Mr. Piper suggest? A groveling confession to the fiance which promotes the idea that even though he’s not a virgin he hopes God can save their marriage anyway.
This advice dooms the young man from the start because it’s based on a reckless misreading of Scripture. The passages used to elevate virginity to an almost make-or-break status for marriage are 1 Corinthians 6:18 –
Flee from sexual immorality.
and 1 Corinthians 7:3-4 –
The husband should fulfill his marital duty to his wife, and likewise the wife to her husband. The wife does not have authority over her own body but yields it to her husband. In the same way, the husband does not have authority over his own body but yields it to his wife.
Both passages are stripped from their context and then misapplied.
Context Keeps Idols At Bay
Here is the verse from 1 Corinthians 6 in context.
Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a person commits are outside the body, but whoever sins sexually, sins against their own body. Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies. (1 Corinthians 6:18-20.)
Sexual immorality is a sin against yourself and God; sinning against your future spouse is nowhere mentioned.
Now look at the lead-in to 1 Corinthians 7 –
Now for the matters you wrote about: “It is good for a man not to have sexual relations with a woman.” But since sexual immorality is occurring, each man should have sexual relations with his own wife, and each woman with her own husband. (1 Corinthians 7:1-2.)
The church in Corinth had posed a specific proposition (i.e., not having sex) and Paul was setting them straight: this “rule” of no intercourse at all was uncalled-for and that in a marriage the couple should go right ahead and have sex. As Paul put it, husbands and wives are to yield their bodies to one another (verse 4) but not to anyone else.
If there’s one thing Paul was not elevating, though, it was virginity on one’s wedding night. And how could he? In another letter he advises that widows should re-marry (1 Timothy 5:14), and if there’s ever people who aren’t virgins it’s widows and widowers.
Are these men and women who remarry after their spouse dies bringing less than their all to the new marriage? Mr. Piper’s advice to the young man suggests that such re-marriages are lesser relationships because the people involved are not bringing virginity – the supposed great gift that brides and grooms can give each other – into this new marriage relationship.
It’s not that I think Desiring God Ministries would denigrate such a marriage. But I get the impression they would have some back-pedaling to do if they took a close look at how those re-marriages stack up against the words given to that young man who asked for advice.
Forgiveness Means Forgiven
Jesus died for that young man’s sins, every single one of them. His decision to have sex with someone else before marriage is a transgression against his own body and against God, but it is no more a sin against his future spouse than any other sin would be.
Yet the advice that young man received tries to lay guilt upon guilt on his back when the Bible tells us that all our sin and guilt has been laid upon Jesus, who took it to the grave and left it there. Why anyone would want to resurrect it and have us carry it around again is a mystery.
Happily, the only resurrection going on is the one Jesus has already done and in which we join now.
And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. (Ephesians 2:6-7.)
There it is. The incomparable riches of God’s grace are shown in God’s kindness to us, a kindness that raises us up so we are now seated with Jesus in heaven. That is what the Bible says to that young man, not that he must grovel in confession of sins he has already repented of but that he has the blessed assurance of being raised up with Jesus.
That’s what I would have told that young man.