EDITOR’S NOTE: In 2015, Ethan Renoe became a viral sensation when he caught the attention of a reporter while he was jogging through a storm. Internet fame shortly followed (for better or worse) and the online community would soon learn about Renoe’s conviction that he should save sex for marriage. The whole episode has propelled him into a career as a writer and speaker.
Possibly the most common question I get from people who have different beliefs and practices from mine is, “So have you lost your virginity yet?”
They never ask about my writing, my travels, my heart or my other friends.
After years of being asked why I’m still a virgin, and summing up volumes of logic and theology into about two sentences, I think there are several misconceptions people have about those of us who want to remain chaste until our wedding days. Here are five common ones:
Misconception #1: People waiting for marriage don’t struggle with sexual desires.
Nope. Not true.
No one could be more excited for his or her wedding day than I am.
People who choose to wait until marriage do not magically have less sexual desires than everyone else. But they understand the Bible’s call to abstain because sex is something to be shared in a covenant. And honoring God in that area becomes a higher priority than sexual fulfillment.
Misconception #2: Waiting is just because we’re ‘religious.’
For me, this is a big factor in my decision to wait until marriage. I want to honor God with my body and with my use of His gift of sex.
But a lot of my decision also comes down to logic and a love for my future spouse.
I have a friend who doesn’t share the same beliefs who once explained how amazingly spiritual and bonding it is to unite yourself to this other person through sex. Then she told me she has probably slept with over 150 people.
If sex really is as powerful as she said it is, I want to save that for the one person in my life I want to share that with for the rest of my life. The person I have committed myself to. Someone I can trust wholly and completely, and fully give my whole self to without fear or insecurity.
Misconception #3: Sex is just that ‘one line’ you can’t cross.
A friend at college once explained his views on celibacy as more of a sliding scale.
The goal is to live a pure life holistically. It’s not a matter of, “How far exactly can we go without it being too far?” but rather, “Is this honoring one another and honoring God?”
Misconception #4: People who wait are on moral high ground.
A lot of people get embarrassed or ashamed when they learn I have chosen to wait. But Christians recognize that all of us are on level ground before God. I may not have had sex but I am a sinful human in need of the grace of God every day.
My pursuit of purity is not to feel more spiritual than people who haven’t “waited for marriage,” it’s because I have found that this is the wisest way to prepare for a future marriage and honor the Lord with my body.
I have no moral high ground to stand on. After all, Jesus Himself said that anyone who looks upon a woman lustfully has committed adultery with her in his heart.
The standard for purity is more than physical.
Misconception #5: If you’re already not a virgin, it’s too late to pursue purity.
I have talked to many people who are disappointed because they have already had sex.
The Bible speaks a lot about renewal and restoration, and if you have had sex in the past, don’t let that fact, and the shame that may accompany it, determine your future.
You can choose right now to live a chaste life. God has already forgiven mistakes you may have felt you’ve done in the past and purity is a worthy pursuit no matter where you are in life.
It’s never too late to choose be a people who, from this day forward, long to live in the light, honor our bodies and those of others, being one in thought and action for the edification of the church, rather than out of a selfish pursuit of pleasure.
Let’s learn to walk in that freedom.
A previous version of this article originally appeared on ethanrenoe.com Used with permission.