You are not your hymen. [Or lack thereof.]

10 Aug

Warnings:

1. If sex makes you queasy (I’m sorry), please feel free to come back tomorrow. I’ll have something less scandalous for you.
2. If you are either of my parents, you can leave, too.
3. If you are a virgin, congratulations. This doesn’t apply to you. Except for the very end.
4. If you aren’t a virgin (and you’re not married) or you’re a just-barely “technical” virgin (this isn’t the time for Clinton games), this post is for you.

/end caveats.

Dear Reader:

Cue: drum-roll. 

I am not a chaste little flower.

Exactly what I have or haven’t done when and with whom under what circumstances is between me, God, and baptism. And. . .maybe one or two confessors since then.

I’ve made my fair share of poor choices, and you know what? As much as I would like to say that I’m full of self-loathing at the very remembrance of most of them, I, uh. . .can’t.

One? Can I be honest? I thoroughly enjoyed most of them. But two?

. . .because I’m done with the whole self-loathing regret thing.

It’s a really bad look for me. (I also look really awful as a hipster, coincidentally).

There is an unhealthy obsession with holding physical virginity as some kind of status card by which the worth of women (and men) are judged. And to you, I say: You are not your hymen.

You are STILL YOU. 

Sin does not define you.

Newsflash? The waters of baptism, the redemptive power of Christ, and the continuing call to repentance are what defines you.

Choices define our situation and our situations can in turn shape who we become, but we are still – I repeat, still – the person God created.

Having intact physical virginity does not automatically grant you access to some secret higher level club in Christendom. Which is like, really good for me, because all other circumstances coming off the table, I had an extremely unfortunate freak bicycle accident when I was 9 that would have really shot me in the foot under Levitical law.

I’m not trying to excuse mortal sin or make it seem like it isn’t really that big of a deal. BECAUSE IT IS. But quite frankly, I am so. sick. and. tired. of hearing people plunge into the depths of utter despair because they think their future spouse will never love them fully after they find out that they got busy in the backseat of a car in high school – or made out in a movie theater – or held the hand of a guy they weren’t related to.

If a man doesn’t want you because you aren’t a virgin, then you have no business being with that man in the first place. Wash that dirt off your feet and MOVE ON, darling.

And readers who have maintained purity, physically and otherwise? I applaud you. But please, please be careful how you think of those of us who struggle with sex and lust and everything in between. Because fornication is mortal sin, but so is pride. We have so much we can learn from you, and I love and admire the women in my life that walked a different road than I did.

One of my favorite songs from my fundacostal days includes the line, “For a saint is just a sinner who fell down, and got up.”

You have value.

You have worth.

You have beauty.

And the absence of virginity doesn’t change that.

That’s the beauty of reconciliation and forgiveness. 

37 Responses to “You are not your hymen. [Or lack thereof.]”

  1. Calah Michelle Alexander August 10, 2011 at 8:29 pm #

    Kassie! Yes. What a fabulous post! You are so wonderful. Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU for this!

  2. spilisz08 August 10, 2011 at 8:35 pm #

    Yes! Yes! Yes! Thank you Jesus (and Kassie) for writing this. When I was dating my now husband, he went to a “spiritual director” who pumped him for information about me, and when it was disclosed that I was not in fact a physical virgin, he advised my dh to dump me because I was “obviously damaged, and that would make it hard to be married to me”. My hubby told him to take a flying leap and proposed to me about two months later. :)

    I can’t love this post enough. I also do not look good as a hipster.

  3. Trista August 10, 2011 at 8:50 pm #

    Great post!

  4. Kendra B (@nugzthepirate) August 10, 2011 at 9:27 pm #

    Thank you Kassie.

    I just sat on this page for over an hour writing and erasing things and not knowing exactly what and how much to tell you on what this meant to me.

    “I’ve made my fair share of poor choices, and you know what? As much as I would like to say that I’m full of self-loathing at the very remembrance of most of them, I, uh. . .can’t.

    One? Can I be honest? I thoroughly enjoyed most of them. But two?

    . . .because I’m done with the whole self-loathing regret thing.”

    THAT.

    Thanks for affirming that I’m not the only one who has thoughts EXACTLY like that.

  5. gedert014 August 11, 2011 at 7:50 am #

    Kassie, you are truly amazing. I really needed to hear this.

  6. Christina August 11, 2011 at 8:09 am #

    Amen!

  7. Kimberlie August 11, 2011 at 9:19 am #

    Um, wow. And I thought it might be scandalous to talk about menopause on my blog. Clearly it will be OK to do that. ;)

    This post is wonderful Kassie! I can attest to the fact that a really, really good man will, in fact, marry you even if you are “damaged goods.” Purity in body is great but purity of heart is best. Didn’t Jesus have something to say about the prostrate tax collector vs the self-righteous judge?

    Love you!!! Call me soon so we can get a st*rbux and chat. Kids are going back to school soon praise Jesus.

  8. J.C. August 11, 2011 at 10:03 am #

    The problem isn’t so much in your past (we’re all sinners!!), as in is your attitude that you needn’t be sorry for your past. You’re expecting your future husband to forgive you your indiscretions without actually even feeling sorry for them, just because God has already forgiven you. Should he forgive you? Yes, just as God has forgiven him countless (and maybe far worse) sins. But in order to be forgiven you have to admit that you’ve done something wrong. It’s a cop out to say to your future husband–hey, these were MY sins; they have nothing to do with you; get over it! Because that’s simply not true. That lost intimacy belonged to him as your husband, and just because in our day and age, most people don’t save it for marriage, does not change that fact that that is what God intended for the sacrament of marriage. For the single Catholic girl with prior intimacy intending to enter into the sacrament of marriage with a single Catholic boy, the problem is that, like it or not, she has been unfaithful to her future marriage.

    There is a reason why the Church has always been accused of placing undue emphasis on sexual sins. It is true that one’s unrepentant pride may condemn one to hell just as easily as unrepentant lust might. The crucial difference between the two is that, while both sins are forgiven in the sacrament of penance, their absolution will not necessarily erase the consequence of that sin in one’s life. (The temporal consequences of sexual sins are generally greater, due simply to the innate nature of sex itself. We can see those effects easily in the world around us–abortion, STD’s, pornography, rampant single parenthood, infidelity, dysfunctional sexual relationships within marriage. Not applicable here, obviously.)

    So when you say, “Exactly what I have or haven’t done when and with whom under what circumstances is between me, God, and baptism.” That’s not quite accurate.

    In any event, if your pecadillos posed insurmountable obstacles in your past relationships, perhaps they were not meant to be. You are obviously a bright, beautiful, gifted girl, and God will undoubtedly send you your match. What you might want to ask yourself is which is preferable?–the kind of man who doesn’t really care what you’ve done or the kind of man who loves you so passionately and so completely, he wishes you had saved every morsel of yourself only for him. God bless you.

    • David MacMillan III (@davidstarlingm) August 11, 2011 at 11:08 am #

      Last I checked, the temporal consequences of pride are generally a heck of a lot greater. Sexual is a broken leg; you can’t miss it. Pride is a cancer that will kill you before you even know you’re sick. It wasn’t a “pecadillo” that got us kicked out of Eden.

      “Loves you so passionately….he wishes you had saved” — that’s nonsense. Sorry, but it is. It’s like asking a burn victim, “Which is preferable — the kind of man who doesn’t care about your scars or the kind of man who loves you so much that he wishes you weren’t ugly?”

      I can only speak for myself, but I would much rather marry a woman whose scars show the Father’s healing than a woman who is so caught up in her outward perfection that she thinks her purity makes her worth more than anybody else. Not that either of those are anybody here, mind you….

    • jen August 11, 2011 at 8:54 pm #

      can we “completely missed the point and proved the negative situation” here?

      if my future husband had been so bound up in the fact that he wished that i’d saved every morsel of myself only for him, i’d be a bit concerned about control issues and whether this guy was going to take me away from my family and refuse to let me see them except on his terms.

      the point is that the sin was committed, the sin was forgiven, the slate was washed clean by baptism/confession/reconciliation, and the sin is no more. if someone has engaged in sexual relations before marriage (which the estimate is 97% of all couples have), they owe it to their spouse to tell them that but it shouldn’t be an impediment in one’s relationship. if it is, it’s not a marriage-worthy relationship.

    • Laura August 11, 2011 at 11:56 pm #

      Playing the devil’s advocate here… I think a valid point that can be drawn from J.C’s comment is that a future husband shouldn’t hold it against his future wife BUT you can’t say hey God forgave her so it isn’t any of his bussines!!! It is his bussines since sex is meant for marriage, read: to be only had with him, and that future wife had sex with someone else. Again, if he can’t get past it then they shouldn’t be getting married, but that’s not to say that he needs to “get over it” in a split second because God bit him to the punch. I’m not saying it is what Kassie said but it seems to be what some are implying.

      • Laura August 12, 2011 at 12:21 am #

        I guess what I’m trying to say is that it isn’t wrong for a man to ponder what consecuences it might have in their marriage since it probably will have consequences (if not, why would God have intended sex only for marriage if it’s all the same?). Consequences will still be there after confession. It obviously shouldn’t be given more importance than it has to, women shouldn’t be viewed as damaged goods and in no way I’m saying that their marriage is headed for disaster.

      • The Secret Vatican Spy August 12, 2011 at 10:19 am #

        Laura,

        You’re absolutely right that sin still has consequences. And that’s something that should be addressed during marriage prep. I would never say that a couple shouldn’t consider the effects of past relationships on their current relationship – but the dismissing your significant other for lack of virginity is inexcusable in my book.

        Thanks for sharing! Devil’s advocates always welcome! ;)

    • The Secret Vatican Spy August 12, 2011 at 10:23 am #

      Hi J.C.,

      [Completely off topic, but you should totally look up the old Carmen song "Who's in the house?". The opening tag played through my head for five minutes after reading your name. What can I say, I'm easily distracted?]

      The other commenters have already voiced most of my concerns with your comment, but I wanted to say thank you for chiming in. I welcome input and discussion, even if I don’t necessarily agree with it all.

      Thanks for joining us!

  9. MaryJane August 11, 2011 at 11:32 am #

    Thank you so, so much for writing this.

    (J.C., obviously you missed the entire freaking point.)

    This post should be read by every college girl!

  10. jen August 11, 2011 at 12:33 pm #

    thank you. you are wonderful.

  11. spilisz08 August 11, 2011 at 3:23 pm #

    “He wishes you had saved every morsel of yourself…” Hold up dude. What is she, a bag of Doritos? You better re-think the wording on that one, unless you think a man has the right to think of his wife as something to be consumed, and therefore some kind of object. Just saying.

  12. Devon August 11, 2011 at 7:51 pm #

    Amen.

  13. Angela August 11, 2011 at 9:22 pm #

    This was fabulous! As a 30-something almost divorced, newly Catholic mom of 3; there are times where I feel like “damaged goods”. This post should be required of women of very age. Sure, any prospective spouse should know about your history (if there is one) but it shouldn’t be held against you. Frankly, if it is held against you it shows that this potential future husband thinks he is above God in forgiveness of sins. Like the commentator above said, pride is the cancer that will kill before you even know you’re sick.. Than you for writing this!

  14. Becca August 12, 2011 at 9:52 am #

    I suspect some confusion may have derived from the fact that this post began by saying “I *am* not a chaste little flower.” (emphasis mine) The use of “am” rather than “was” (which was probably a typo) implies that the sins are not in the past. So I see how this might have caused some confusion.

    And (and here I am also playing devil’s advocate), confession needs to be entered into with a “humble and contrite heart” (definitely not my words). Soooo… one does need to be fully repentant of one’s sins and fully intending to sin no more in order to be fully absolved. I think that this may have been the point JC was making. (Please understand that I am in no way inferring your level of repentance; I don’t know you and cannot make such a judgment.)

    Lastly, while I think that most men are actually pretty forgiving of a woman with a “past”, you may find that when you do meet your future husband, you will wish that you had “saved yourself” (and I cringe at this term but I am not awake enough to think of another) because you will want that for him. I know that has been my experience. But then, husbands are pretty forgiving especially as long as you have enough of yourself to give to him in the present. Food for thought, anyway. Thanks for an interesting post.

    • The Secret Vatican Spy August 12, 2011 at 10:16 am #

      Hi Becca,

      I did intend to write “am not”. That was a statement of ugly honesty. While I am trying my hardest to stay on track, this area is of particular burden to me. Dropping the hatred of myself for mistakes I made in the past, along with baptism and confession for some more minor indiscretions after, was instrumental in helping heal negative, unhealthy views of sexuality and has been a huge help in preventing a downward spiral into even more sexual sin.

      It would be supremely arrogant – and false – of me to say that I “am” a chaste little flower. Even if the actions aren’t there, this is still my battle right now.

      Thanks for your input, I hope you come around more often!

  15. Laura August 12, 2011 at 8:30 pm #

    “but the dismissing your significant other for lack of virginity is inexcusable in my book”

    I absolutely agree, specially since we can’t change the past; as long as we recognize our mistakes and learn from them there’s no reason to let them prevent us from living our lifes.

  16. Michelle August 12, 2011 at 11:09 pm #

    I enjoyed your post and could relate. Thanks for writing it.

  17. Morgan August 15, 2011 at 4:16 pm #

    This is something I wish someone would have told me after I lost my virginity before marriage, and something I just recently realized as a married mother of 5 young kids.

    Great post.

  18. The Licensed Fool August 29, 2011 at 1:05 pm #

    “Dropping the hatred of myself for mistakes I made in the past, along with baptism and confession for some more minor indiscretions after, was instrumental in helping heal negative, unhealthy views of sexuality and has been a huge help in preventing a downward spiral into even more sexual sin. ”

    [I remember once reading a cartoon which showed catholics as bent over double carring big bags of 'guilt' around all the time.]

    Looking in the bible at ‘Righteous’ men (Abraham, Jacob, David etc etc) or women (Rahab, Mary Magdelene & the Judge whose name I forget etc) being righteous doesn’t necessarily mean you are a good person or that you don’t make mistakes – it just means you try to live right with what God wants for you.

    Some of the above list tried repeatedly…

    As for the guys who would reject someone because they aren’t a virgin..? Well If your love for your girlfriend is so shallow that it can’t survive that revelation and you aren’t prepared to try to work through it then that probably says more about the man you will be as a husband than anything else.

    Peace
    LF

  19. Blueberries For Me September 8, 2011 at 1:03 pm #

    I haven’t been on your blog in a while…I thought you stopped writing! Glad to see your back.

    So you know I’m Catholic, but I grew up in the south, was involved in young life for a while (evangelical organization) so I’m pretty familiar with the evangelical way of thinking. And though the rules are the same as with Catholics (no sex till marriage!) there is a lot more emphasis on it. It was this prize, this golden ticket. You were supposed to stand up on your wedding day and have people think not about the commitment you are making to God and your husband but to think “VIRGIN!!! She deserves to wear white! She’s so pure!” And then you can talk to your Christian non-married friends about how good it is, how it is so worth the wait, yada yada yada. It was, for all intents and purposes, and idol. Something for Christians to cope with the difficulty of being a Christian. We weren’t waiting for heaven, for Christ to come again, we were waiting for sex. That was our prize for being good. That was our reward.

    So I got tired of this way of thinking. I moved away, got involved with my now-husband (who wasn’t a virgin, but understood that I wanted to wait) and realized I was holding out for all the wrong reasons. I just wanted to be able to say I had done it. Now I was really only virgin-ish at that point, but still. So we had sex after we got engaged, 8 months before the wedding. *Almost* made it into the Christian virgin-till-marriage bragging club.

    Sometimes I wish I had waited, sometimes I don’t. We were ready, we were mature, we were in love, we were all the things that we would’ve been after marriage. No stories here of the heart break that came from my poor decision. But I do realize it wasn’t God’s timing and I have confessed for that.

    Since then I was diagnosed with vulvodynia which can make sex basically feel like someone is taking a knife to my insides. It hurts a lot. And it makes me so mad that all those years I waited for sex like a cookie, this great reward you got for being good. And it’s just not true. Well, not for everyone at least. Sex is not the reward for being chaste. God is the only thing we can should be hoping for. Sex is great, but it’s not everything. We’ve really got to stop talking about it like it is.

    • Radiant Cobb November 22, 2011 at 3:06 pm #

      Hallelujah! Yes and thank you!

      I think this idolizing of sex is part and parcel of the sex-drenched culture-at-large. You are so right – sex is not the cookie. It’s great when there aren’t physiological impediments to cause discomfort and pain, but even when it’s at it’s best, it is NOT the great reward! Seriously, you just refreshed my brain and my soul. Soul lemonade. High five.

  20. nati October 10, 2011 at 11:43 pm #

    KASSIE! YOU’RE BLOGGING AGAIN :) I may or may have not been checking…

    Anyway, your post is wonderful. It screams redemption, and that’s what I love about it. I think lots of us have had screw ups. Though they’re not my proudest moments, I’m able to stand tall and move forward than linger in the past–much like what you seem to be doing.

    One of the greatest things I’ve ever read and has seriously revolutionized the way I think of sex and relationships is Theology of the Body. I’m surprised nobody has mentioned it here, but it appears that it’s time you dive into it. It’s so beautiful, and it explains the why to everything to the point that my mind is blown! By far one of the greatest gifts from JPII to humanity :)

    Proud of you

  21. Radiant Cobb November 22, 2011 at 2:54 pm #

    YEEAAYYY!!!! Let me tell you. I am the poster child for the “I was a wandering, ignorant quasi-Catholic, and I wasn’t a virgin when I met my husband” story.

    Once I started to understand and accept the Catholic teaching about sex, of course I had serious remorse over the things I didn’t know in earlier years, the things I *did* know but conveniently ignored, and the damage I’d done to myself. It still stings today. But I don’t feel like I’m less of a person, or less capable of trying to live chastely today, or less deserving of being given credit for my pure intentions, than I otherwise would have been. For those who are struggling with the “should I/shouldn’t I” – is premarital sex worth it? No. I would have to say it’s absolutely not worth it.

    But as a note to those who worry “what will the future husband think?” You know what? Who cares? The thing is done. If I were, by any tragedy, to lose my dear and wonderful husband, I really wouldn’t give a rusty busted penny what another man thought about my past. “Oh, he loves me so much that he can’t stand my imperfections.” That’s utter nonsense. That’s complete, Wuthering Heights, nonsensically-fraught bull-dung. If a man took serious issue with my past, that’s fine. That’s his prerogative, and I’m obviously not the right woman for him (nor would he be the right man for me). But I would NEVER wring my hands over the man who couldn’t stand what I did fifteen years ago. I am me. I am good enough. If I’m not right for any particular person due to things I can’t change, well, honestly, Whoopdie Freaking Doo.

    If God still loves me, I’d happily go through the rest of my life celibate than declare God’s love “not good enough” by putting on sackcloth and ashes over men not wanting to marry me. Men, I think you’re fantastic and I truly love being a wife. But I deny any human being the right to define how I value myself, which is why I say again, Whoopie Doo.

    • Radiant Cobb November 22, 2011 at 3:15 pm #

      Oh my gosh, reading that comment I did not mean to call anybody in particular (except former me) a quasi-Catholic. It’s just a really common theme for many of us Pacific Northwest 80’s born girls. Many of us didn’t know what the heck was involved in Catholicism, all the way down to the existence of Sacraments. We would go to Church every Sunday, eat some wafers, and scramble together morals out of stuff our parents said, filling in the gaps with TV and high school Career Prep Class.

  22. Anon December 23, 2011 at 8:44 pm #

    As a male convert who sincerely struggled as well I applaud your courage and fortitude! Keep on growing in faith, He will help!

  23. Combat Boot RPh October 1, 2012 at 12:24 pm #

    As the age of marriage increases, the likelihood also increases that one will experience human failing at some point. Part of marriage– I say this after 20 years– is that you have learned to not only love each other, but accept each other–failures and all.

    There are many ways to cause injury to a relationship and death to a marriage. Sex is a big one, but so are many other issues that don’t draw nearly the same emotional outrage and can be equally hurtful and damaging. Unless Jesus planned for us to drag our baggage around for eternity (which I don’t believe he did) I think you are absolutely right to have dealt with things and moved on. Christ came for real people and encouraged them to strive to be holy. The best we can do is offer our best, seek forgiveness when we fail, and try again anew.

  24. Larissa Heart December 1, 2012 at 8:01 am #

    Commenting well over a year after you wrote it but who cares? This is far and away the best post I’ve read by a Catholic convert ever, and has single-handedly restored my faith in Catholic bloggers in general. Thank you.

  25. Cambria January 30, 2013 at 12:41 pm #

    “[F]ornication is mortal sin, but so is pride.”

    Amen. As one who was a virgin until marriage, I can’t understand the superiority of some self-proclamed virgins over those who admit their struggles with lust and sex.

    And frankly, the whole sexual purity (over)emphasis is still damaging to those who waited. Because we who waited are probably just better at shutting down our emotions and often have a hard time getting them to work again. So we can have sex, but we don’t always enjoy it.

  26. brdinus March 12, 2013 at 9:32 am #

    Thank you for thoughtful words on the worth and dignity of humanity. There is beauty in humanity along with our brokenness.
    Beauty.
    Broken.
    Love and lust.
    Dignity and pride.
    Distinction and judgment.
    We are defined by beauty but it cannot explain the state that we find ourselves in. We are explained by our brokenness. As your song might suggest, the saint is standing, but the bruises explain the fall. As your thoughts suggest, you are a person of worth, value, and beauty, but a thin membrane explains something of who you are or at least what moves your fingers to tapping these thought into reality.

    What explains you shouldn’t determine how anyone treats you. The reality of this reveals the brokenness and not the beauty wrapped up in flesh and bone.

    Thank you.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Am I being “soft on sin”? | Elizabeth Esther - January 30, 2013

    [...] I am not my hymen. Or my lack thereof. [...]

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