So recently I read an article posted on the Huffington Post’s Website/ Blog called, “The Damaging Effects of Shame Based Sex Education; Lessons From Elizabeth Smart.” While reading this article; which effectively blames Christians for making teenage girls feel bad about themselves and all but tells parents to hand their young teens some condoms and birth control pills in lieu of teaching them self control because what’s the point 80% of teens are just going to have sex anyways?
As I read further I came across a sentence in all capital letters that read, “It’s also imperative that we teach our kids, our girls specifically, that THEIR IDENTITY AND WORTH IS NOT TIED TO THEIR VIRGINITY.” The author asserts that this message is dangerous and should not be taught because it is psychologically damaging. She goes on to say that in all her experience it is Christians who make girls feel this way and how Elizabeth Smart, a rape victim and the child of Christian parents, was made to feel this way by her own parents because they strove to encourage her to retain her virginity until marriage. The author then goes on to say, “Elizabeth’s experience is a startling example of the way this kind of religious rhetoric significantly alters a young woman’s confidence and self-worth.”
Now, I will have to stop and take some time to address the author’s assertions because, while reading this article, her words and her very clear misunderstanding of this issue made me sad for the young girls who may be mislead by this article into believing that Christians, and subsequently God, will make them feel nothing but shame if they make mistakes regarding their sexuality or virginity or are tragically forced to have sex before they want to.
First of All Let Me Say This: No true follower, believer, and lover of Christ should ever teach young girls that their identities and worth are tied to their virginity. That being said, I have yet to come across any true followers, believers, and lovers, of Christ Jesus who made me (or any other young girls to my knowledge) feel this way. You see, I agree with the author on this point but I think we need to take it a step further to the real root of the problem. I truly believe that NO ONE should ever make a young girl feel as if her self worth is somehow tied to her virginity be it a Christian, Parent, Jew, Muslim, Atheist, or any one else for that matter. If someone does (and I have no doubt that this does happen) then they are absolutely misunderstanding the very thing that Christ stands for and should not be speaking about or representing Christianity at all.
I am so sorry that Elizabeth, the woman that the author interviewed for her article, has faced the kind of horrible experience she has, has been made to feel somehow lesser than by the people in her life, and I am also heartbroken that she has such a clear misunderstanding of Christ and His message.
Christ Does Not Want You to Feel Shame!
Jesus Christ did not come to make anyone, least of all women, feel ashamed of themselves. If you don’t believe me, please turn to the Bible which is the living, breathing, inspired Word Of God, and find your proof there. There’s plenty of it. There are plenty of instances where Jesus tells the crowds around Him that He has come to seek and save the lost, not the pure. Luke 19:10. Or where, when faced by a crowd of people who want to stone a woman for her impurity, challenges them to instead search their own hearts for purity before they would throw the first stone. John 8:7
These verses and many more like them have given me peace and comfort in moments when I have begun to feel a crushing, overwhelming sense of shame and have been made to doubt my own self worth. You see, Jesus has never made me feel like this. Neither, have any of the good, loving, supporting, Christian men and women I spend time with, my very own husband included.
Satan Wants You To Feel Shame!
In all my hard moments, my depressed moments, the moments when I doubted whether or not life was even worth living, Satan was doing whatever he could to make me feel this way and to make me feel ashamed and worthless. Satan will always do whatever he can to make us feel this way by whatever means he can. He will use misguided people to spread his web of lies so tight around you that you feel like you can’t breathe. He will even manipulate the very people you love into making you feel this way. But Jesus Christ Never Will.
Now, I truly believe that it is important for a young girl to realize that she should do absolutely everything she can to remain pure for her wedding night. But Why? Why does God care if we are virgins when we get married?
He cares because He loves us. He cares because we are worth so much in His eyes, so very much, that He wants us to never ever have a reason to doubt that. He knows how Satan works. He knows that Satan will use everything and anything he can to make us lose our way and God does not want us to feel this kind of hurt. He cares because He wants us to experience sex the way it was meant to be experienced, in the marriage bed, unhindered, uninhibited, free and pure. He cares because we are His daughters whom He treasures and He always wants the very, very best for us. Not Shame, Never Shame. Please believe me when I say this, when you lose your virginity outside of marriage whether by your choice or the tragedy of someone else making that choice for you, God’s heart breaks and He cries right along side of you. He cries because He never wants to see any of His children face anything that would make them doubt their self worth or His love for them.
You see ladies, your worth is not tied to your virginity at all. It never was and it never will be. Your worth was already guaranteed when Jesus Christ Our Lord and Savior gave up His life to free you from the bonds of sin and offer you true salvation and love. Ladies, your lives were bought and paid for with the ultimate sacrifice, the blood of Christ. No mistake you ever make, no mistreatment you ever face, nothing you ever will do and nothing done to you can ever take away this precious gift God has given to you.
So please, if you ever come across a message such as this article written for the Huffington Post, don’t be mislead. The words might sound good, the ideas may be compelling, you may feel as if it is speaking right at you; but please don’t be deceived. God is not a God of shame. Religion is not the root of all evil. It is worth it to retain your virginity until marriage but if for whatever reason you find yourself in a position where this is not possible there is always the possibility of healing and hope. Healing and hope that comes from Jesus Christ alone.
Please go ahead and read the article I am responding to, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/kristen-howerton/damaging-effects-of-shame-based-sex-education-lessons-from-elizabeth-smart_b_3226971.html
and feel free to post your questions, comments, thoughts, etc. below.