As I dove deep into the world of Christian writers and speakers over the past few years, it became painfully obvious that there exists a divide between sons and daughters of Christ over issues like sexuality, modesty, and the holy v-word — Virginity.

At 27 years old, I still turn red and tear up when I hear someone on a stage denounce the loss of virginity and praise purity.  Don’t get me wrong– after the choices I’ve made in my life, I am a huge advocate for waiting until marriage for sex.  I believe in a God-created intimacy that is best enjoyed and fulfilled with one committed person. That’s how God designed it.

But when losing your virginity is portrayed as a disgusting sin you must carry with you forever, rather than a past covered in grace, my heart can’t help but grieve for the ladies who have been taught to believe that lie. We’ve left little room for the women standing at the wells in our communities, while Jesus simply gave them new, everlasting life just as he did with the Samaritan woman in John 4.

I lost my virginity when I was eighteen.  It all happened so fast and wasn’t something I was expecting or wanting.  When it was all over, I was so lost and confused about that night, I lied to myself and others that it was my choice, and that it was beautiful.  I didn’t want to believe that something so important and defining of who I was in the church had been lost unwillingly in a few short moments.

In the years and relationships that followed, I deceived myself into believing that my body was more important to others than my heart. It was only by the grace of God descending upon my emptiness that I realized I could be used for more than just my body. I could in fact be used for the actual good of God’s Kingdom.

As a result, I surrounded myself with men and women who did life differently than anything I had known before and soaked up their selflessness and pursued their wisdom.  I declared singleness for a year while I sought out a closer relationship with my Creator.  And when I started dating again, I was intentional about the man I chose to let in and was honest with him about my past. But my heart was unprepared for what followed.

I’ve read stories and blogs of women revealing their non-virginity to the men they love and being met with unending grace and a careful concern for their hearts.  But when I was met with tears and questions of, “Who? When? How many times? Do you regret it?” a veil of guilt and shame slid despairingly over my heart.  I wanted to run and never again let another person get word of the things I had done.  Suddenly, everything I had forgiven myself for and everything God had forgiven me for was shoved to the forefront. I felt unworthy to go on, like I could never be truly forgiven.

The following months of dating were met with plenty of tears and arguments over where to draw the line in our physical relationship.  I genuinely believed that in dating a Christian man, our relationship would automatically be holy.  But Christians don’t have a “Get Out of Jail Free” card when it comes to sex, and we’ve certainly not perfected forgiveness either.  Lust is a human struggle, not a non-Christian one, and it can separate us from the love of our Maker and take others with us. The realization settled painfully deep into my heart that I would never again be a virgin, and I believed it would break every man’s heart who found out.

But are you really only a virgin by physical technicalities?  What if the emotional intimacy you’ve experienced with someone was more profound than physical sex? Does our grace cost more or less with the bases we round?

It’s hard to put into words the depravity one feels when you’ve seen the light, and believe you have no choice but to live in the darkness of shame and guilt.  But sisters, if your story is anything like mine, the redemption you’ve sought is already here.  You will find reminders that your body is a beautiful gift, and not just a tool for sin.  You will be shown forgiveness and then fall wholeheartedly into God’s love for you when you realize it will never take anything from you.

For He has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”

And if it’s in His will, you may just find out what all those blogs were speaking of when the man you love holds your face, looks into your eyes, and says, “Darling, your past doesn’t matter to me.”

So you’re not a virgin? Live in the grace you’ve been given and share it with others. Freely forgive as you were forgiven.

God embraces us while setting us on a new path and saying, “My daughter, I love you…go and sin no more. I have a different life for you! Don’t keep looking back.”

You have been fearfully and wonderfully made, and no mistake you’ve made or opinion of the world can change God’s beautiful handiwork.

Shannon Douglas

Born and raised in Southern California, Shannon is now the Communications Director for South Hills Church. She enjoys storytelling, styling events, strategizing for organizations, and going to Disneyland. Read more about Shannon in the "Our Team" section of She Has Worth.

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