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When I was in high school, it seemed like girls had to explain if they weren't a virgin. Now they have to explain if they are. Our culture sees virginity as a bit of an oddity. Curious. Nice - sort of. Maybe slightly unnatural.
One cable news network posed this question to their viewers: "Why are we so obsessed with virginity?"
This latest foray into virgin territory was triggered by a recent HBO interview with Olympian Lolo Jones. She's won gold medals at the World Indoor Championship twice and is regarded as one of the best hurdlers in the world. But it was her recent Twitter mention of being a virgin that started the buzz and made the interview news. After all, she's attractive...she's a star athlete...she's fit - and hasn't had sex? What?
Calm down, everyone. Just listen to Lolo herself explain the finish line she has in sight. "It's just something, a gift I want to give to my husband." This is a young woman who understands making sacrifices and working hard to get to a cherished prize. Oh - and she understands the hurdles between her and that finish line.
"Please understand: This journey has been hard. It's the hardest thing I've ever done in my life. Harder than training for the Olympics, harder than graduating from college. I've been tempted. I've had guys tell me ‘if you have sex, it will help you run faster.'"
One gutsy woman - with a seriously tested but uncompromised conviction - has again, unintentionally, put virginity back in the national conversation. As did NFL quarterback Tim Tebow some time ago when he revealed that he is saving sex for one person - his wife. A pro football quarterback? Lots of head-scratching and snickers.
The good news for Lolo and Tim and every man or woman who guards their virginity as an inviolable treasure is this: you've got God on your side. That's God, as in the Inventor of sex. The Designer of human sexuality, of man, of woman. Oh, the culture has changed. But you can't change the Creator's plan for His creation.
Jesus said this about sex: "At the beginning of creation God made them male and female. For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh. So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate" (Mark 10:6-9 ).
One man with one woman. In a lifetime covenant before God. That's how sex was designed to be. Anything else is settling for a twisted or discounted version of the beauty and fulfillment God has planned for us.
God really cares what we do with His incredible love gift called sex. He says, "Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure. For God will judge...all the sexually immoral" (Hebrews 13:4 ). God's put a fence around sex. It's called marriage. He will judge those who violate it. I didn't say that. God did.
My friend Mel has the most amazing vegetable garden I've ever seen. He has a fence around it. Not because he doesn't want people to enjoy it, because he wants to keep it a garden! The fence is there to keep out the things that would ruin it.
That's why God put a fence around sex called marriage. It's not there to deprive us of something good or fun. It's there to protect us from ruining something beautiful.
The "you're a virgin?" reactions Lolo Jones has received as a public person aren't unique to her. Every person who refuses to bow their knee to the culture's pressure to be "normal," as in sexually active, knows the drill. It's like you're weird, or something.
It makes me think of the valuable baseball card collection my son built as a boy. The best ones - the ones worth investing in - were those that were hard to find. Rare. Oh, you could buy a ton of "commons" - the cards there are plenty of - for cheap. But the rare ones? They were valuable!
A virgin isn't weird. But they're increasingly rare. And the less there are of them, the more valuable they become.
And to all the "Lolos" and "Tims" who still cherish their irreplaceable gift of purity, just know that the finish line - and God's gold medal - are worth the sacrifice. And worth the wait.