I don’t want to be a virgin anymore.

The purity ring would be easy to slip off, the misspelled-and-back-again ‘purity’ tattoo a little more difficult to remove.

Not long after I turned 28 it seemed some sneaky devil bottled up every hormone he could swipe out of a Jr. High locker room, whipped the cap off fast as a whistle and dumped it into my blood.

Everything in me was hot and aware and sensitized.
But not talked about, certainly not talked about.

It’s been years-long this battle, to imprison the impure and hold fast to holiness, but in the last many months it’s reached tears and anger.

What do we do when we want to do it?

I don’t even remember when I originally made the mark in the sand. “No sex till I get married.”
Around 6th grade? (Though if Andrew Keegan had knocked on the door, we might be in a wildly different place right now.)

First kiss not long after, and since then, a string of kisses… in parking lots behind the TCBY and on the soccer field, on top of an abandoned lifeguard stand over a white sand beach and under the porch light, while curled on a trampoline at midnight and while pumping unleaded. Kisses, hard or soft or sweet or sad, but only kisses.

29 and only kisses.

I asked a friend not long ago, a friend who loves Jesus and maintains the same snow leopard status, how far she’d go without regret.
“Oral sex.”

I almost choked on my cocktail.

So now even among the prudes I’m a prude.

A prude with pride?
Or a wolf in sheep’s clothing?

There was an awkward season of life where I took part in a pro-abstinence education group that also dabbled in performance. Words could not do justice to the ridiculous embarrassment now caused thinking on those skits, speeches, & even black-light-mime-dance-in-white-gloves to DC Talk’s “I Don’t Want It” presented to youth groups and middle schoolers around central Ohio.
We tried to scare ’em with tales of HPV and the broken heartedness of their future spouses, and I guess that’s what I’ve still been carrying around.

I don’t want weird bumps or rashes and I certainly don’t want to make my maybe-someday-hubby hurt.

But that’s not enough.
Because it hasn’t been enough this last year.

Fear hasn’t prevented the presence of so much sickly darkness swirled up in my senses as of late.
Fantasies of a man I once knew, all badass and blue eyes and tattoos and full of care for me.
And though it’s been years since I’ve seen him, I’ve teased with words in this season just to get him to tell me how much he wanted me, and wants me still.
And then I have that heavy want to satisfy all the growling going on in my insides.

But I shouldn’t talk about it.
Certainly not talk about it.

Whenever I’ve spoken out loudly and boldy about my chastity, I’ve gotten a myriad of responses… from pity to piety.

Look people, there’s no need for your pity, I’m not ashamed, not one ounce. I deserve a blue ribbon, 2 cookies, a gold star, and a “Way to Go Tiger!” sticker for all the no-saying.
But there’s a whole lot of people out there who want to shame me into caving. People who talk openly, in every environment, about what I’m missing, how foolish I am for waiting, how stupid I should feel for holding out.

They find it fun to make me blush, they revel in the crude descriptions they know will turn my skin red or that I won’t understand.

But even if those with the long sticks kept quiet, it’s still everywhere.
It’s barely bearable to face a broken heart and encounter nothing but love songs on the radio and romantic-comedies on your Netflix, it’s equally as unfun to try to keep the knees of your mind closed and meet up with Usher’s bedroom antics and the ‘genius’ of Lena Dunham & Judd Apatow.

I’m not only a prude who’s made to feel a fool… but I’m also navigating a society which applauds the hipster mentality of ‘be different, be yourself, follow your heart, wear an old cardigan’ but didn’t mean to the extent of loving Jesus and keeping your panties on.

If I want to talk about sex, or how much I want to have it, I can dialogue at any office, bar, or basement nightclub.
But what if I want to talk about how much I want to not want to want it?
What if I want to talk about how the idea of pursuing holiness isn’t impacting my heart and my hormones the way I desperately wish it would?

No one’s talking about it.
Certainly not talking about it.

The church, for all of her beauty and community and service, she isn’t piping up to us girls who are trying to find wholeness along with holiness.

Every boy-turned-man in my life has bemoaned the purity pep talks. They’re everywhere! Every men’s chapel, mentor coffee date, and youth group getaway has been a no porn, no masturbation, no fooling-around rant, ad naseum.

But us girls?

We’ve talked skirt-lengths and nursery volunteering, daily devotions and how to pray, sang in our sweet sopranos and whined about our oblivious husbands or singleness… but we haven’t talked about it.


When I’ve uncomfortably asked about it I’ve gotten an eye-roll and a “Oh Kate, it’s so not that great, be glad no one’s pestering you to have it when you’ve been up with the kids all night!”

Oh, ok.

And that’s it.

But the concept of ‘sex’ … the having it or not having it or wanting it or not wanting it, there’s so much more to ALL of it.
And it’s that we’ve been called to abstain.
And that means when I let my thoughts trip past what’d it be like to get for-no-reason flowers to how I’d thank him, it’s not ok.
But I am growing powerless to stay pure as I get older and marriage, the light at the end of the tunnel, is nowhere on the calendar.

What do you do when you need to be broken and healed all at once?
What do you do when you feel like a carnival sideshow?
What do you do when it seems God’s got His hands busy with so much more than where I put mine?

We HAVE to talk about it.
Certainly talk about it.

Sex isn’t more important than scripture.
Orgasming isn’t better than staying faithful.
Feeling doesn’t trump honoring God’s will.

So, can we all start a conversation?
Because I certainly can not be the only person (man or woman) trying, and failing, at the waiting game.

What does rich intimacy look like without sex?

How do you stave off temptation when it feels like you can’t pray it away?

When marriage might not happen, what… do… you… do?

How can we encourage one another that it’s about so much more than the not doing?

What will it take to make ‘white as snow’ most attractive?

When will God’s desires for our wholeness, our holiness, mean more than our hormones?

If I never get married, if I never adopt my babies, if I never gather the grandkids ’round the Braverman-esque dining table, if I never swap my citrine purity ring for a diamond band, if I never know what it is to ‘know’ the man I’ve prayed for.

What then?

Let’s talk about it.

Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity.
1 Timothy 4:12


10 Responses

  1. How beautifully put! You are not alone in the lonely struggle between staying pure and feeling like a woman. Why do they seem mutually exclusive?

  2. whew….let me digest all that. its like reading my own thoughts….lets talk.

    A) I am old. Ok 28 isn’t old but ok it is.
    B) I am sagging in areas….this body ain’t getting any better
    C) Majority of guys out there aren’t saving themselves and the let down when you find out the guy you are talking to hasn’t saved themselves. UUUUUUHHHHHH……..WHAT DO I DO WITH THAT. The church sure didn’t teach me that this might be a one sided situation. I always assumed I would find a virgin dude. That kinda info sends my decision making skills into overdrive.
    D) I just wanna be normal and live life. Isn’t sex just a part of life? Part of the beauty God created? What is normal? Is sex normal?
    E) I just wanna. :/ Judge me all you want. I don’t care. I am 28 and a virgin. An endangered species.

    ohhhhh…..and having to tell the guy you are “making out with” that you are 28 and not only are you not going to have sex with them but that you haven’t. You get that awkward “I respect you for that (…but I kinda think you are a nun)”

    These are my thoughts. Over the last year of my life I have come to a strange decision to just not care any more. My expectation has shifted from marriage being the defining moment to just being in love. Will it really matter if I marry as a non-virgin? Yea it might be a gift to my future husband but ehhhh I’m sure I can give him plenty of other gifts to make up for it. 😉

    Is it bad that the only thing stopping me is that I’m scared, not my faith?

  3. i will certainly talk about it. anytime. like you, i think this is a way-too-neglected topic in the church.

    also like you, i put on the wait-til-marriage dress and wore it proudly all through high school. i walked and talked and spoke on the subject like a pro, but had actually no experience to back it up. the church (and the Bible right?!) said not to do it, and i was content to leave it there.

    i stayed a virgin until the ripe old age of 26, when i met a man i thought i’d marry. neither of us had had sex, but it seemed too tempting and within a month, it was very much a part of our relationship. we broke up a couple months later and i was devastated. i can’t say why, completely, but i did feel ashamed and guilty. as a couple we were not able to easily discuss that aspect of our relationship, and as a single Christian afterward, i felt i should feel bad about that decision.

    the next person i dated didn’t help. my forays into that world made me feel like a pariah to be handled with a certain level of heavy-handed guilt. i later learned that was a sure sign we weren’t meant to be together.

    i’ve since had a few other partners, including my current love. i can safely say i’m past the school-girl days of believing so heavily that no sex equals purity. i know, i know, that’s convenient to say now…but the truth is, that belief began to erode years ago. when reality confronted my youth group ideals head on, and made the later seem foolish and ignorant.

    i’m with the love of my life now, but i don’t regret the choices from before. because they helped me to understand myself as a sexual being, to understand what i want and what i don’t want and, to a greater degree, who i am. sex is just one dimension of a relationship, not something to be idolized. it is beautiful and strange and so connecting, but it is still just one dimension, not be outweighed by or outweigh all those other things that are so special and important, like communication, understanding, acceptance and the ability to give/receive love.

    i will not say this is the only way to go and it’s certainly not for everyone, but i will say this: don’t be afraid of your sexuality. explore. make “mistakes.” push to the edge and see what you find out about yourself. if any where the church has made the greatest mistake it’s been in teaching us that the only way to be a “good” Christian is to always play it safe. i no longer carry the shame of choosing the path i have, mostly because i’ve openly chosen it, and also because i’ve chosen to separate myself from those that choose to dole it out.

    that’s a lot, and i’m sorry if it’s too much. but you wanted to talk, so talk i did. hope it helps. and thank you for bravely sharing your story.


  4. Wow, Kate. You really are a phenomenal writer. You have such a way with words that it truly makes people feel as if they are diving into your heart. I had tears in my eyes while I was reading it! You are a wonderful person, and you will find that guy who was worth waiting for. I wish I would have abstained because it has honestly only made most of my relationships harder. I thought I had a deeper connection with people that I didn’t and who were never good for me. Christie is right, sexuality shouldn’t be idolized, for I believe it has the ability to put on many different faces-unlike other aspects of a relationship such as an emotional connection. I think it’s great that are so strong in your faith. Love you!

  5. Interesting reading…I never even kissed a girl til college but it was all over after that…I dated a few girls, the was married right before I turned 24. We got married because we were lonely (wrong reason) and because of our commitment to God and each other just celebrated 24 years together. They’ve been hard years on so many levels.

    As we all know, Satan is a liar…he’ll whisper, “the grass is greener over there; just one time, no one will know; look at that porn, it will stimulate your sex life.” He isn’t called accuser for no reason, as soon as you fail, there He is pointing fingers. I don’t know what to tell you honestly, the Bible says “deny yourself; put off and put on; flee and pursue.” The human body is a beautiful creation and as I study more about the wonderful capabilities of the brain to give us pleasure, or produce painkillers, or dwell on some subjects for too long…it seems impossible not to listen. We’re bombarded by society at every single turn, and then our bodies, even when everything is turned off, hinder our closeness to God.

    Like Paul wrote, “I wish you could be like I am…wholly devoted to God, but it is better to marry than burn with passion.” If God has called you to singleness, what a treasure you are! Able to give your 100% to God…if you are married, it definitely won’t be that much! (Just sayin). Pray to our Father and ask Him to either confirm or deny that calling for the present time…He knows all our desires, even sex! I’m married and still struggle with my sexual ness and my relationship to Jesus. I pray with you and ask you pray with me, that our appetites, whatever they may be, may be fed and satisfied by Christ alone. Thank you for your bravery Witterson! You are so beautiful!

  6. you can do one thing to become like the many who have defiled their marriage beds but they can never do anything to become like you. the Lord is faithful and quick to forgive but I greatly regret the choices I made prior to marriage.I don’t regret them because I failed my husband but because I failed my Lord and savior! My closest friend growing up and I have often talked about how our choices would have been different had we spoken about the forbidden things. instead we were silent and alone in our mistakes. be encouraged. stay strong. and keep talking.

  7. So proud of you for writing this and starting the conversation, love you!!

  8. Hey Kate.

    I stayed pure until I was married at 30. Hard at times, and pressured too, but I have never, ever, ever, regretted it. The two women who suggested that I have sex with my fiancee before we got married were the very same women who begged me to tell them how I had stayed pure after I was wed. Interesting.

    Here is what I did. I decided somewhere in my 20’s that peeking into someone else’s bedroom was wrong. Whether it was TV or movies, or even a book, I did not look. Somewhere I got the idea that these were contrived scenes: lights, camera, action, makeup,(or rewrites), and that my married love scenes would be personal and unique to us.

    When I was vulnerable after a serious relationship fell apart, I FOUGHT to bring every thought into captivity to the obedience of Jesus Christ. If a certain movie, show, or song began to cause my mind to slide in a downward direction, I would get up and MOVE! Getting out of a pit is like climbing one of those climbing walls. Every positive move and thought is like putting your foot on a peg that pushes you upward. Keep moving and fighting. Slipping down again makes you just want to fight harder next time to take hold of that verse or thought. Soon you will take that last heave and realize that you are completely out of that pit and you are breathing the clean fresh air of a purified heart.

    The battles that you face as a single woman will equip you to fight hard as a married woman when temptations come your way.

    Think of all that you have to gain if you stay pure! Think of all that Joseph gained as a result of his purity! A kingdom, a reunited family, being responsible for feeding the starving world! A happy family with two fine young sons! So MUCH!!! And think of what you would lose if you just cave in now. So much, my friend, so very, very much. Satan would just love to chain you up with guilt, and shame….because he may have an inkling about what God has in store.

    Best book I ever read on being single? God is a Matchmaker by Derek Prince.

    He is indeed.

    Love you,

    Emily’s Mom

  9. I love that you wrote this. Thank you.

  10. […] wrote about sex four years ago and to this day it’s the most read, most responded to, and most controversial […]

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