Virginity is something we mostly laugh at, or make satirical movies about, like the blockbuster hit, “The 40-Year-Old Virgin.”
The conventional wisdom — and I use the term "wisdom" loosely — is not a matter of IF you lose your virginity before marriage, it's only a matter of WHEN you will. For teens, and for our entire culture, it's completely normal to think that sex and one's pursuit of happiness go hand in hand. Sex is a rite of passage, a road to joy, a giver of love and true romance. It's the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. It's the fulfillment of all of our deepest and most sacred desires. At least, that's what media and the sexual revolution has led us to believe. It is the Holy Grail of life's existence. In a word, our culture worships sex and romance as a form of spiritual wholeness.
Dawn Eden, author of the book, “The Thrill of the Chaste: Finding Fulfillment While Keeping Your Clothes On," says, "the fruits of the sexual revolution" of the '60s "prove to be loneliness, divorce, and disease." That's the legacy of the "get yours while you can" generation. And it's certainly a far cry from a pot of gold or spiritual fulfillment.
It should make us weep that the hot news this week was centered on a self-proclaimed 18-year-old virgin, who was looking to lose her virginity on camera. The agency that’s pedaling her wares issued a press release saying this "real-life virgin" wants to star in porn movies. The story of "Katee Holmes," hit the wires because the real actress (and wife of Tom Cruise) was angry — and she may possibly take legal action. Of course it worked. The story is in countless papers nationwide.
However, the real concern should be that an 18-year-old, so influenced by porn and its images, would think it's okay to prostitute herself for the sake of our voyeuristic culture so controlled by sex and its images. It should anger us to the point of revolt that she would actually believe there was something virtuous in her decision.
Dawn Eden says that this girl, even if she hasn't lost her virginity, has certainly lost her innocence. And in fact, she has already been psychologically raped by the lies of a sexually-obsessed culture. Her on-camera appearance will simply complete the trifecta of being physically and emotionally raped. "This is not just the Paris Hilton syndrome or the 'Girls Gone Wild' syndrome. This is a case of a woman who was already broken and the media catered to her brokenness in a very negative and damaging way."
So we can ask at this point, what is the purpose of sex? Is it for our personal pleasure? Is it just for procreation ... or for recreation?
The purpose of sex is to give. It is the most intimate act of giving that two people can create. It is only that incredible level of giving that lovers are connected spiritually and emotionally. It's called one life oneness, a.k.a., marriage. It is the icing on the cake, the dessert after a gourmet meal, the harvest after the planting. It's like the fireplace that warms a room.
But, if you light the fire out of the protective guard of the brick and mortar of the hearth, and light it in the middle of the living room carpet, it will burn down the house. And in today's culture there are a lot of houses burning down. The divorce rate is about 50 percent for first marriages and about 60 percent for second marriages; the divorce rate for couples who live together before marriage is actually double that of couples who don't.
We are built for intimate, loving relationships. Our whole being cries out for it. That's why the sexual drive is so strong. But something so strong needs an equally strong boundary, so that it doesn't risk getting out of control and being used in ways that are dangerous or damaging. You wouldn't put a 500-pound lion in a playpen and expect it to be safely contained. It is the same with sex.
There's hardly an adult alive that hasn't been hurt by a relationship break-up. One of the reasons the pain is so intense is because a lasting bond was created; if the intimacy included sex, the pain is even more intense. When you create that bond outside of a conventional relationship two things will happen: the machine by which we build lifelong, loving relationship will either work, or it won't work. When it works, it's beautiful. There's a spiritual oneness that is created with the person with whom we hope to share a life. However, if there's a break up it will feel like death because our emotional system believed in a forever that was not to be.
If the machine doesn't work, it means we've simply detached ourselves from the act. We are in fact using the other person to fulfill our own selfish physical pleasure. The more partners one has the more detached one becomes to the sex and its ability to form life-long intimacy. When and if you can find the "right" person, you will have to unlearn your detached attitude about what sex and its power to strengthen the love you share.
What Ms. "Holmes" doesn't even know yet is how her past has possibly dictated her future. A high percentage of porn stars were abused as children, and one wonders if Ms. Holmes suffered a similar history (she did not return calls requesting an interview). She's so embroiled in the idea that sex is recreation that she's blinded from the truth of the potential heartache that is ahead.
The title of Chapter Five in Ms. Eden's book is called "The First Cut is the Deepest." She explains how the real damage of losing your virginity to someone you don't love is that you learn to "separate sexual sensation from love." Eden is a born-again virgin. After years of trying to find love with sex, she learned that she was putting the cart before the wheel. She says "You lose your innocence when you learn to detach. You detach in order to protect yourself. You protect yourself, and sex goes from being a shared, outer-directed experience of love to an insular, narcissistic experience of insecurity." She ends the chapter by saying that "to truly connect with someone, you must allow yourself to be vulnerable. You can't be vulnerable if you're always having to ask yourself whether the man you desire will be there to catch you when you fall. I know that I will never regain my innocence. But I can regain my vulnerability."
There are countless books in stores about how to find your soul mate and live happy and wonderful lives. There are countless romantic films about people who have found true love in the most unlikely circumstances and conditions, but the only way to find the right person is to be the right person. You must be willing to put instant gratification on hold for the promise of a permanent and lasting connection and the only way to find true love is to share an intimacy that's beyond the flesh, and yet does not include the flesh. It means having a spiritual foundation in your relationship that does not involve the sharing of body parts but the sharing of a life-giving faith. In short it means trying to give up the chase, in favor of being thrilled by being chaste.
Lauren Green serves as a religion correspondent for the FOX News Channel. Prior to this, Green served as a news anchor for “Fox and Friends,” where she provided daily news updates and covered arts for the network. You can read her complete bio here.
Lauren Green currently serves as Fox News Channel's (FNC) chief religion correspondent based in the New York bureau. She joined FNC in 1996. Her new book is "Lighthouse Faith: God as a Living Reality in a World Immersed in Fog."