The Curious Case of the Undesirable Virgin.

Quick, let’s play word-association. What comes to mind when I say this word?

VIRGIN.

Most likely you saw a woman of some sort, didn’t you? Did you see an old woman or a young one? A pretty woman or an ugly one? A fat woman or a thin one? A well-dressed woman or a frump? A smiling woman or a frowning one? What race is she? What religion is she? Is she straight or gay or bi? Cisgender or transgender? Go on, paint a picture for yourself.

c. 1437-1446

c. 1437-1446 (Photo credit: Wikipedia). A perfectly representative virgin.

I strongly suspect most people playing this game are seeing the following: a young, pretty, straight, cisgender, thin white Christian woman with a pretty face, a great smile, and wearing a dress that emphasizes her figure but doesn’t cut too low at the bust or hit too high across the legs. She is a desirable woman in every sense of the word–desirable by men, of course. This image was brought to us by Christian culture, which infects many people so deeply that even those of us who’ve escaped that religion can find ourselves falling prey to this sort of thinking.

Christian culture thinks about virginity in a very particular way, and that’s what we’re going to talk about today.

Some time ago we talked about how the fundagelical Christian vision of marriage is only applicable to a very narrow range of people: to middle-to-upper-class folks who can afford to have lots of kids, homeschool them, and have the wife stay home to tend those kids and keep house. Well, in much the same way its vision of purity applies only to a narrow range of people. And that teaching is coming back to bite a lot of women–and men–on the ass at this point.

A virgin, in that ideology, is a beautiful young woman. She is highly sexualized and approachable, but doesn’t actually have sex or do anything sexual. She’s accessible but not accessed. She wears clothes that dance that super-narrow line between modest and immodest–just enough to show that she’s got all the right measurements, but not enough to outrage the Christian morality police. She does her hair and makeup but doesn’t spend more time at it than the arbitrary, ever-shifting number of minutes society thinks is appropriate. She inspires lust, certainly, but it’s the right kind of lust, whatever that might be. She is safely sanitized and contained, her dangerous sexuality reined in with rules and control; she is owned, and doesn’t object to being owned or to being held in trust for her next owner. She is like a flower waiting to be plucked, waiting for her One True Pairing (OTP) to show up to swoop her into his arms and propose to her, at which point she’ll get married and switch her virginity for properly-corralled sex in a flawless, seamless transition (nobody wants to admit that this transition is by no means a guarantee). After marriage, she is the proverbial lady in the streets but a freak in the sheets. In exchange for behaving herself according to all of these rules and breaking herself trying to fit into this mold, she is promised a happy, long marriage with a perfect Christian man who will love, adore, and value her for her entire life.

Being a desirable young virgin is the necessary first step in the life script that Christianity has declared suitable for a woman’s life; if she misses that step, then she risks never having the rest of it happen to her. In that narrative someone finishes one task and gets handed another, over and over, till her very life is done. One task gets finished–“being a virgin”–at which time the next is handed to her–“get married”–after which she gets the next–“have beautiful children”–and so on and so forth. Christianity suffers not only from hierarchical thinking but also very linear thinking; something can’t happen out of its proper order. Almost every single modern Christian stars in a movie running in their own heads, and that movie has a certain storyline that must be followed without deviation.

And oh, the Christian marketing machine is in full swing trying to sell that narrative to parents and young people all through Christianity. Young men are taught to see their female peers as someone else’s wife; young women are taught to define their entire identities around their virginity and to feel responsible even in their early childhoods for men’s lustful reactions to them. Parents are taught to treat their daughters like possessions and to falsely inflate the importance of sexuality. They even very creepily celebrate that virginity, focusing on it to an extent that is genuinely disturbing and I dare even say reminiscent of pedophilia with how it focuses on the bodies and sexuality of little girls. Purity balls, modesty movements, courtship culture and “I Kissed Dating Goodbye,” covenant marriage, “true love waits” so-called purity rings and T-shirts (it reads “VIRGINITY ROCKS” on the front, and on the back “I’m loving my husband and I haven’t even met him;” the blurb selling it advises purchasers to wear it with humility and appreciation for being pure rather than “as far into the muck as our neighbors and our friends”–just amazingly sanctimonious and self-righteous, isn’t it?), it all perpetuates an image of virginity and carefully-controlled and curated sexuality that fits the storyline Christians want to impose on young people.

That marketing machine sells a false empowerment that ignores consent, healthy boundaries, and respect for others’ choices, but given how little real empowerment exists in Christianity, the young people affected don’t know any better that they’re being tricked and swindled into buying into a patently false and harmful ideology. Some won’t find out until something dreadful happens in their lives to make them question the life script.

What happens, though, when the virgin in question isn’t lucky enough to be conventionally desirable? What if she’s a boy? What if she’s not interested in boys? What if she–fetch the smelling salts!–gets old before she is found and claimed by her OTP?

Well, then that virgin has a problem. When I was a teenager, I noticed already that every time my church talked about virginity (and this applies to the Southern Baptists and Pentecostals alike; they both did it), they were talking about a very, very specific type of person. They weren’t talking about boys or for that matter men. They weren’t talking about middle-aged people of any gender. They weren’t talking about people whose sexual attention was something society deemed undesirable or superfluous. They definitely weren’t talking about anybody who fell outside the cis/het norms.

A middle-aged woman in my church who wasn’t married yet–and was therefore assumed to be a virgin–was something of an embarrassment. Divorcees and widows we kind of understood, but a never-married woman was a serious anomaly. She was a flaw in the divine plan we thought our god had for everybody, which was “get married young, have lots of kids, die of old age in our OTP’s arms.” She was a disturbance in the Force, a fly in the ointment, a visible and glaring injury to the body of Christ. What was wrong with her? Why hadn’t her husband found her yet? Surely it was “God’s” plan that she wait this long, though we could not fathom what it might be. Why, even Sarah had had Isaac in her advanced age, so who knew what would happen? Surely she was being compelled to wait this long to start the next phase of her life in order to advance the Kingdom in some dramatic way.

In The Blue Castle, Valancy laments as her 29th birthday looms that she has never been kissed. But worse than that, she realizes, is that nobody has ever actually wanted to kiss her. Her expiration date has arrived and she never once had a chance to misbehave, whether she would have wanted to misbehave or not. That’s what bothers her the most. It’s not that she made it to 29 as a virgin; it’s that she never really had a choice to be anything else but a virgin. Her virginity wasn’t valuable enough for someone to want to take it.

[Her family and hometown] had long since relegated Valancy to hopeless old maidenhood. But Valancy herself had never quite relinquished a certain pitiful, shamed, little hope that Romance would come her way yet–never, until this wet, horrible morning, when she wakened to the fact that she was twenty-nine and unsought by any man. Ay, there lay the sting. Valancy did not mind so much being an old maid. After all, she thought, being an old maid couldn’t possibly be as dreadful as being married to an Uncle Wellington or an Uncle Benjamin, or even an Uncle Herbert. What hurt her was that she had never had a chance to be anything but an old maid. No man had ever desired her.

Valancy had figured out the truth nobody wants to say in Christianity: if nobody wants to take something, then it has no value. Undesired virginity has no value. Virginity is a bargaining chip, a thing to exchange for goods and services, but its owner finds out very quickly that virginity in and of itself has a value that is highly dependent on the degree to which its owner fits into the correct narrative of idealized womanhood. Now, obviously I totally do not agree that virginity is a bargaining chip or that people should feel compelled to exchange their sexuality for goods and services; that’s just what I observe in Christian culture and it needs to change. This sense of virginity being a thing that’s owned and exchanged and handed over from one owner to another owner–something whose loss irrevocably devalues its onetime possessor–can’t really exist in a culture that prizes consent and personal liberty, which is why I think Christians cling as hard as they do to their idolization of it.

A lot of Christian men and women, crippled by shame and self-doubt, find themselves in that exact same boat with Valancy. As horrible evangelical relationship advice and Christian-inspired sexual shame wreaks its damage on American culture, growing numbers of older virgin men and women are seeking help to figure out what’s going on in their lives. Dating sites and advice columnists alike try to reassure their worried older virgins that they’re really okay after all and stop worrying so much.

But those links are from the secular world. Christians have a more complicated problem because single people aren’t supposed to be having sex with anybody but a spouse anyway. Non-marital sex is considered one of the worst sins someone can possibly commit, and avoiding that sin is a big part of Christian youth education. Men are taught that they’re rampaging monsters who will ruin any woman they touch, and women are taught that if they have sex before marriage that they are destroying their value, sullying their purity, and wrecking their future marriages before they’ve even begun.

So holding out until marriage is the rule. If that marriage takes place, then the virgin is expected to skip lightly from considering sex a ghastly horrible sullying, dirtying thing to a great and fulfilling act of love with her (yes, her) spouse. Alas, it doesn’t always work out so wonderfully.

And if that marriage doesn’t materialize at all–if that perfect square-jawed Christian husband never swoops in from nowhere to gather up his blushing virgin bride–then our virgin has a big problem.

Indeed, middle-aged and older unmarried Christian women complain that they feel ignored and irrelevant in their churches. It’s not really surprising that they would feel that way. Christian churches are filled with people, and those people live in a youth-glorifying society that is increasingly open-minded about sexuality. There’s no god making church people any different from anybody else. Of course they largely don’t want to think about non-young, non-beautiful women. And oh, they really do not want those women to be virgins or childless/childfree. Those women don’t fit the correct ideal at all. They are a reminder of just how hollow and false that ideal is and how hard most women must strive to come anywhere close to achieving it.

And they are savaged by people around them for not achieving it. While researching this topic, I found a post by a prominent misogynist blogger–a complete shitbag who ironically described himself as “fairly nice” while describing older never-married women as “vaginal fossils” and “hoebags” who “need to go away” and not offend the delicate sensitivities of princes like himself who think they are entitled to only look at pretty, young women in clubs and don’t even want to be reminded that any other type of women exist (note to any Nice Guys™ out there: you don’t get to call yourself “nice” if you talk about people like that). Of course, even younger women must conform to such misogynists’ expectations of sexual purity or else they’re not worth even talking to. But one need not go all the way to MRA-ville to find examples of older women being told to disappear, to vanish–that their sexuality is unneeded by society anymore, that this thing they’ve jealously guarded for so long is no longer valuable at all, that its worth–whatever that worth was–has evaporated into the clear blue sky without a single sign of its ever having existed.

Christians get told that they’re doing something wrong if they’re not married by some arbitrary age. Unmarried women are treated like social lepers who are out to seduce all the honorably-married men; these women are ostracized, ignored, turned away, even shunned socially. An unmarried man might get some of this as well (and of course they are blamed for the general lack of enthusiasm for marriage Christians think is happening in society, since men are seen as the initiators and leaders in relationships), but at least an unmarried man can still head into ministry in a lot of these churches. One of the most celebrated preachers in my entire denomination was a never-married man who I am absolutely positive now was gayer than a squirrel parade down Main Street (oh we were all so very impressed at the time with how “godly” he was, at how he never seemed sexually attracted to the legions of eager women who flocked around him at all times–no, really, we thought it was just that he was this totally godly man). An unmarried woman has no place in a home, no place in a church, and no place in active ministry. She just doesn’t belong anywhere in a marriage-mad church society. It must be hard not to wonder what on Earth she did wrong.

A bit late, churches are starting to wake up to the fact that they see unmarried people–especially women, and this applies as well to widows and divorcees–as “half a cookie”. One church calls the increasing numbers of single people “a time bomb for the church”, which must make single people feel just incredibly valued and loved. Isn’t it nice to be thought of as a time bomb? While leaders are wringing their hands over this “time bomb,” I saw one hilarious blog post from a Christian woman who even blamed churches for creating “fallen women” who were more likely to vote Democrat and become feminists and morph into “Jezebel spirits” out of a sheer desire to belong somewhere. Isn’t it sweet to imply that middle-aged unmarried women are stupid and gullible enough to get twisted around politically and socially if churches won’t lower themselves to be nicer to them? So I see Christians as at least recognizing the issue in a vague sort of way, even if their response to it is characteristically tone-deaf and laughably inept.

Christianity in general isn’t a really good deal for women, but I see a great deal of dysfunction and abusiveness in how it creates these narratives for both men and women and punishes anybody who doesn’t fall into line with those narratives. Even now, their response is not to question their entire dynamic or their entire conceptualization of that narrative. The narrative is obviously perfect. Their response as a group seems to be to find some way to patch unmarried people into their garment, some way to find some place for them, some way to be nicer to them so they don’t run off and sin or become Democrats. The narrative itself remains untouched and pure, just like the women Christians like to see.

But here as well as in a lot of other areas of Christian abuse and overreach, simple demographics is going to be the final determiner of this issue. Young people are leaving Christianity in droves. A lot of people just aren’t getting married. A sizeable percentage of women are never having kids (some by choice, some not). The life script that worked somewhat-okay in previous decades is looking increasingly quaint and outdated. Even Christians who pay lip service to that script can’t live up to it most of the time.

The solution’s going to look a lot like the de-fetishizing of virginity and the dismantling of the purity myth that inspires that fetishizing. Thus, we can count on Christians to ignore that option until the very last second.

The rest of us are already charging ahead on that front, so hopefully they’ll tag along on this next wave of human progress before they get left behind in the dirt.

About Captain Cassidy

I blog over at Roll to Disbelieve about religion, culture, cats, and tabletop RPGs.
This entry was posted in Feminism, Hypocrisy, Religion, The Games We Play and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

26 Responses to The Curious Case of the Undesirable Virgin.

  1. notleia says:

    Do I get a cookie for being a special snowflake because my visualizations for “virgin” are archaic because I was only ever exposed to that word in old texts and stories? I can’t really claim any merit for it, because talking about virgins would have interfered with Never Talking about Sex, Ever, which was the standard for my upbringing. It’s kinda necessary to understand the thing if one is to understand its negation.

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  2. I’ve been reading a lot of posts lately from a few Christian bloggers who talk about this stuff, and it turns my stomach. Things were bad enough for me as an unmarried man (essentially I wasn’t an adult until I had kids, I was always asked if I was dating anyone or met anyone serious), and I can only imagine the heat was turned up higher on women. Now that I’m looking at things without the GOD-GOGGLES(C) on, I’m positively disheartened that women are getting used like this.

    What’s worse is that I didn’t fully see it when I used to believe.

    I will say that the more Christians come out and say silly things about virginity, marriage, purity, and gender-roles, the more others will actually hear how stupid it sounds out loud. So whether it’s Godly anti-feminism, spiritual warfare between the sheets, or “Game” (something I’ve just heard about and didn’t think was serious but apparently is), I am confident it will only make sensible men and women leave the faith.

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    • We can sure hope. This post was my total reality as a young woman in Christianity. And the condemnation and constant judgment never really ended. If I didn’t get married I was doing everything wrong. If I did but it was too late, I was doing everything wrong. If I did but didn’t have kids…. if I had kids but only one…. if I had two but not three… if I didn’t homeschool… if I didn’t if I didn’t if I didn’t if I didn’t….

      There is quite literally always some way to blame a woman for doing something wrong. It keeps us in line and docile and aching for an approval that never really comes. The more you look the worse it seems. It’s only getting worse–but there’s hope I think. As you said, the more these things get said aloud the more stupid and vicious they seem, and more and more people aren’t buying into that game anymore so there are lots of folks around to say “this is totally creepy” and “wow this is totally boundary-blurring and horrifying.” It has an effect. I see it happening. There’s a defensiveness to statements that once would not have sounded at all defensive. I’m confident as well that this is just an awful phase.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. SirWill says:

    Oddly enough, when I see the word “Virgin” I don’t think of a teenager or woman or even a guy who’s just so uncharismatic he can’t get laid even going to the five-dollar-hooker street.

    First thing that comes to mind is kids. Mostly because they shouldn’t be doing the activity that’d shed that description anyway. I know that isn’t truly the case, because some people do terrible things to kids, while other kids experiment with each other, but they shouldn’t be messing around with such things without accurate information about it.

    What gets me is it’s all about control. Christianity as practiced today uses thousands of tiny little hooks to control as a marionette. Virginity and sexuality is simply one of the more obvious ones, not because its hook is any bigger than those of indoctrination, political power, coercion, force, outright war, and systems of lies. Just that it’s in a very sensitive place that makes it hard to not dwell on it.

    Yes.The imagery is intended. To extend the metaphor a bit, it’s not easy to cut the strings, but that part is usually easier than digging out the hooks later.

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  4. Jamie Carter says:

    This is why I’m fighting against the complementarian teachings that have corroded everything good about Christianity. What they basically boil down to is the idea that ‘true’ Christians are married with the correct arbitrary number of kids. The husband leads spiritually and has the final say in all decisions. A Woman’s role is cook, clean, and care for the children. Men are logical. Women are emotional. Men are initiators, women responds. That’s why the vast majority of pastors (over 90%) are male – they use these teachings to tell women that they are forbidden from teaching, preaching, and having spiritual authority over men. These teachings don’t have a name in church – they’re the default and just called Bible teachings.

    Over the last few weeks, I’ve seen dozens of blog entries, some of them are a few years old now, but they all say the same thing: “I’m praying to God as hard as I can for Him to send me my OTP. I’ve been waiting five, ten, fifteen years now and I don’t know how much longer I can wait. I’m so very lonely.” I wish I knew what to tell these women, they’re following the rules, keeping up their end of the deal. But the interpretation of God’s will they have been taught hasn’t come through for them yet. It never occurs to them that the interpretation and it’s application is the cause of the vast majority of their troubles. The household codes in the Bible was written for first century believers in response to the Roman household codes – either way you look at it, they don’t apply for all cultures, all places, and for all times. We live in a society that’s pretty much the opposite of the one in the Bible, I don’t understand why we must follow the rules that it contains.

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    • I think that’s a mighty fine point. I don’t understand either why so many of those folks want to recreate 1st-century Palestine. The second those complementarian teachings got popular, that’s when things started being more about who was at the top of the hierarchy than about doing anything Jesus said to do. Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts, well, you know.. Maybe that’s why the Bible has its hero championing the powerless to such an extent. A pity such folks don’t seem to like reading it. (And if I’m inferring correctly that you’re Christian, then please know you have my heartiest encouragement and best wishes in rescuing your faith system from such awful teachings.)

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      • Jamie Carter says:

        I really wish I could do more to fight against it than blog about it. Still, the best group of people to keep Christians in line are other Christians, the more fundamentalist groups (and the worst ones about treating women poorly) are Bible literalists and non-believers don’t often know how to speak to them in a way that they’d be receptive to. Oftentimes, they get this sort of, “the world hates Christians and you hate me, so I must be doing something right!” persecution complex. Many progressive Christians see the Bible as more like guidelines – they don’t stick to the code as rigidly.

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        • I noted the same mentality in the churches I was in–that the more offensive and boorish they were, the more “correct” they were. The devil don’t bark at what don’t move, one of my old pastors often said. I guess he never owned a beagle.

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  5. Glandu says:

    waow, don’t know what to say… So much things, in fact.

    I can attack from outside, for example. Back to the business world. The french one. Things are more healthy in the USA(on that topic, at least), but in France, when you get a diploma for computer programming, the narrative is that you’ll be project leader within a few years. Or you’re a loser. While I’m excellent in both programming & testing, I have absolutely none of the quality of a project leader. Therefore, I am a loser. I now am working for an american firm because my days in the french systems were numbered. At age 38. I’m very glad to leave this narrative behind me, & my new career is really interesting.

    Still. The parallel is striking. There is a general & unrealistic narrative about how life should happen. Everyone loves it because it’s so perfect. perfect wedding, perfect career, hollywoodian scenario. But life is all but perfect. There not an OTP for everyone(for simple statistical reasons, sex-ratio, differential death-rates between genders, men-only migrations…..). There are not that much project leader positions. And so on. As soon as statistics put you away from the narrative, you are an alien. There are many aliens, here, or there. Outcasts. Marginalized from the flock. Some are lucky in an unusual path, as me. Many are not.

    Another way to look at your shaking blog is to remember my own private life. My beloved wife & me met late. I had always been single. Not by choice. Not all french boys are Don Giovannis. My wife also always had been single. She was waiting for the OTP. Aged more than 30. Then we met, a Polish lass & a French Girl, crazily in love like teenagers, in a beautiful park, next to small cute river boats, in shakespeare’s hometown, a very sunny day like England is supposed never to enjoy.

    Before our wedding in Poland, a pastor from the USA preaching in an english-speaking church next to Paris did make the “preparation” to marriage. He said “Bible says the woman shall not live at the man’s home before the wedding. I’ve seen some cases like yours, when people come from different countries. But it’s clearly a sin. Even if you don’t sleep together”. We didn’t. We were virgin until the wedding. Yeah, you struck me hard with this blog entry. Somehow, I’m always trapped by stupid & beautiful narratives. And I always end up exiting them, sideways, an happy way.

    But that’s not the topic. The topic is that many people never find the way out. That’s the problem. While those stupid & counterproductives narratives did add some spice to my life, they are just destroying countless other lives. Here or there people live in illusions. At school, on TV, in theatres, in stadiums, in churches, in parliaments, in military training camps, everyone speaks about the ideal life as it should be, whether it is a perfect wedding, a perfect career, pursuit of happiness, dying heroically for your country, or whatever other bullcrap. And life never proceeds like that. Life is change. Life is chaos. Life is surprise. Life is adaptation. Life is endless evolution. Life is laughing at narratives. And we are not preparing ourselves to life – only to narratives.

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    • What a beautiful and stirring story. You and your wife sound like a loving and wonderful couple. And to hell with that priest who was so condemnatory.

      Dulce et Decorum Est indeed. The stories are all fine and good but there are real people suffering trying to fit into those stories. I’m glad that didn’t happen to you.

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  6. ratamacue0 says:

    Quick, let’s play word-association. What comes to mind when I say this word?

    VIRGIN.

    Most likely you saw a woman of some sort, didn’t you?

    Well, you said word association, so I didn’t see anything. I just thought “no sex”.

    But that’s me – I tend to think in words, not pictures. I think I’m unusual in that way.

    Doesn’t mean the attitudes and ideas you described were absent from my mind…

    “I Kissed Dating Goodbye”

    Fuck that book, and its slave mindset – submissive to a master that isn’t there.

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    • Fair enough! :) And yes, I agree wholly about the book. I was way out of the religion before that courtship stuff got rolling–and I’m so glad. I’ve run into so many people whose lives were wrecked by its teachings.

      Liked by 1 person

      • ratamacue0 says:

        I’ve run into so many people whose lives were wrecked by its teachings.

        I’m interested to hear more about this. Sounds like good post fodder. Or have you written about it already?

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        • I’ve talked about it off and on. Tomorrow’s post is largely about that “purity” mindset and how it has destroyed one particular young woman’s life. One of the most popular posts on this blog is “Modest is Nottest”, and it talks about the same sort of stuff. Love, Joy, Feminism (a Patheos blog) often talks about how Purity Culture hurts women, especially the ex-Quiverfull blogger herself.

          Liked by 1 person

  7. The "Eh"theist says:

    Read this last night at the airport waiting for a redeye but I was two tired to pull my thoughts together. It’s an excellent description of many church cultures. What really struck me was:

    “When I was a teenager, I noticed already that every time my church talked about virginity (and this applies to the Southern Baptists and Pentecostals alike; they both did it), they were talking about a very, very specific type of person. They weren’t talking about boys or for that matter men. ”

    It is amazing how it’s a double standard, and how boys are hoped to be so “manly” that their hormones make them “fall”. I remember a church where one of the families had a daughter who was considered “loose” and all the young men were supposed to be “warned” about her, and yet there was an aspect of “if you’re so virile that you can’t control yourself…” that made her the acceptable alternative to having to “sully” on of the “good” girls in the church.

    Coming into that church at 14 and my friends and I were considered too young for the whole messed-up situation (I think she was 18 or 19 at this point) so watching it as part of the youth group, it was shocking to see how she was almost treated like an inoculation and for the couple of boys who did try to be chaste, they were discouraged as partners for the girls in church “just in case” they were gay. (It was never said that way publicly, but the inference was there). What was amusing was the assumption that after the other boys had “sown some oats” that they’d now be safe with the “good” girls and therefore there were no worries about leaving couple alone, or them heading off in cars, etc.

    You would think it naivete, except for the motherly euphemistic explanations to the girls that they’d better use sexual desire to seal the deal with the guy of their choice (only promising of course, not delivering) before the guys got established in the world and had other dating options to choose from. So the occasional “had to” marriage was just collateral damage to ensure pairing off in the church, and when the girl that everyone considered “loose” finally met someone outside of church who didn’t consider her a fleshlight with legs (not that we knew what one of those was) she was judged for settling for a “worldly” man who’d want someone “like that”.

    Such a twisted idea of sex and relationships and yet they considered themselves superior to the Catholics for “worshiping” the Virgin Mary and for their “unmanly” priests. So twisted.

    Liked by 1 person

    • O.O

      Seriously… wow. I just don’t even… wow.

      I’m so furious suddenly for that poor young woman treated that way. I want to scream and yell and stomp and there’s nobody to do it to, so I’ll take deep breaths and try to remember: she escaped. You escaped. I escaped. “Fleshlight with legs” only starts to cover it, doesn’t it? I’m so glad she didn’t pair off with anybody from such a toxic, nasty, evil-minded, sexist, horrifically mean-spirited group of people. I feel so awful for her, and for the other young men and women taught that way. I think you’re totally right. The whole culture creates “outs” for men to basically treat women like sex dolls–then blames women when they’re victimized and shaped by that culture. I think of all the dozens of young men and women who came out of that church as adults thinking that way and how their elders and parents and ministers stand up in church every Sunday and sing and wear their nicest Jesus smiles and wonder with every passing year why more people don’t want to join them and become just like them.

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      • The "Eh"theist says:

        That’s exactly the reason why it takes so long out figured out how insane it is. These people that are telling you about God, and love, and heaven, and how happy and joyful you will be by being like them, also tell you this person is rebellious, and hard-hearted,proud of her sin, etc, and you just want to make God happy, so you don’t ever think that they’ve boxed her into this role, how this messed up system meets their twisted goals and why, if they “love” her so much, are they (and God) content for things to remain this way?

        Even if she had gone to the altar and “repented” I’m sure in hindsight that they would have still held her at arm’s length and waited for her to “backslide” while continuing to hold her “past” against her. What really struck me as I was writing the first comment was the realization that I truly had no fact-based idea of what “past” she did or didn’t have, that it was all assumed because of the church’s judgement. She may have liked sex and had lots of it, or simply tolerated the attention because she was afraid of rocking the boat, or may have never touched anyone, but knew it would never be believed and let guys spread rumours.

        I just wish current me could go back and smack past me on the back of the head and explain some things. It took years of unlearning and reinterpreting to fix that mess I installed. I’m glad we’re all out.

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        • Stories like this make me glad too that we’re out. It takes time for most folks to untangle that kind of messed-up teaching and indoctrination. I hope she figured things out for herself and is happy now after such a nightmarish adolescence. I just don’t get people who sexualize girls that way.

          I hadn’t even thought that maybe she’d never actually done anything and was just the victim of rumors, but suddenly that seems very possible. Never yet ran into a church that wasn’t a hotbed of nasty gossip, name-calling, pointed fingers, and lurid rumors. If Jesus and Heaven are real, then they are welcome to these TRUE CHRISTIANS™.

          Like

    • ratamacue0 says:

      I remember a church where one of the families had a daughter who was considered “loose” and all the young men were supposed to be “warned” about her, and yet there was an aspect of “if you’re so virile that you can’t control yourself…” that made her the acceptable alternative to having to “sully” on of the “good” girls in the church.

      Lolwut? That’s f’d up.

      So twisted.

      Quite.

      Like

  8. These are the churches who pair up gay men (who desperately want-to-want to get married) with naive women (who interpret the young man’s restraint as godly) to create deeply unhappy marriages which no one can escape.

    So there’s lots of ways such teachings can mess up a person’s whole life!

    Like

    • Yiiiiiiiiiiiiiiikes those poor women.

      Like

      • Glandu says:

        Poor men also. On this specific case, there’s as much harm done on both sides. The gay man is supposed to “go” with the woman & at least sometimes try to make her a child. Must be as horrible for them as if I had to go with a man. Eeeeeeerk.

        You were so right with the narrative – when people prefer to follow the narrative than to accept the truth as it is, when people try to follow the script even when it is obviously not adapted to the current case, then trouble begins. And, in that case, very big trouble.

        It also raises another topic, that has been hot in France a few years ago(mainly on the muslim side). Arranged marriages. When I was a young man, feeling so lonely & so inadapted at the seduction game, I was not thinking it was that bad. At least I’d have someone. But never, never, it would have been possible to arrange a wedding between a French software engineer, with few religious convictions, & Polish artist & painter, 12 centimeters bigger, 3 years older, fundie evangelical. And there’s plenty of other differences that would make any external matching system – or person – decide that no, we are not compatible.

        Yet we met & loved each other. There are bad moments, of course. We are carrying quite a few incompatibilities. But as adults, we manage them.

        The conclusion I draw from my personal experience is that there is no arranged marriage. There are only forced marriages. The official difference is that in an arranged marriage, the spouses are supposed to give their consent. But that consent is NEVER free. It is always under heavy pressure. Those poor gay men & shy ladies, as the few muslim girls I’ve met in this situation, did accept because the local pressure were so high that they felt they had no choice. They felt trapped. So they did say “yes” because saying “no” was not an option. That’s a forced marriage. That’s illegal in France(and, I hope, in the States too, even if it’s tough to prove, unfortunately).

        Like

        • I think it’s sweet how you and your wife met and got together. You’re right–so unlikely, too! Mr. Captain and I are a pretty unlikely story as well. Sometimes people just somehow develop a lot of requirements and forget what’s important about a relationship.

          Technically forced marriages are illegal here, too, but courtship culture in fundamentalist circles makes that really difficult to prove. There’s not a lot of meaningful consent where girls are kept so sheltered.

          Like

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