This house believes that if you’re engaging in consensual heavy petting prior to marriage, you shouldn’t claim to be a virgin on your wedding day. Discuss.

I’m not excited about writing this blog: I’m pretty sure it’ll be the blogging equivalent of ripping a plaster off of a particularly hairy body part. There will be blood. And probably some yelping. For a start, the term ‘heavy petting’ makes me itch. But here goes: this house believes that if you’re engaging in consensual heavy petting prior to marriage, you shouldn’t claim to be a virgin on your wedding day. Discuss.

In my last article, I raged against our ugly shades of grey. I wrote mainly about swearing, but the hypocrisy that piqued my interest the most was the obsession many young Christians have with claiming to be virgins ’til marriage. I know all about this obsession, because I was an ‘obsessee': I had the purity ring, the little ‘teen creed’ poem stuck on my mirror and the stern looks from my youth workers at the mention of a boyfriend. I also later had a baby outside of marriage, which probably goes some (though definitely not all) of the way to speaking for itself.

You notice that once people get to their mid-twenties, everyone suddenly goes silent about still being virgins. The fact is that many aren’t, or at least, they wearily say they might as well not be. Quite honestly, out of all of those I know who claimed to be ‘waiting’ until marriage, only one of them actually did – by the skin of his teeth. We all knew the theory: marriage is the safe place that God designed for sex, and we run the risk of messing things up if we don’t keep our pants on. But what about if we kept our pants on and just… kinda… y’know…did other stuff?

Technically, yeah, we’d still be virgins. Hooray. It’d be a bit meaningless though, wouldn’t it? It would just yell loud and clear that what we call sacred is actually just an inconvenient ‘rule’ we have to shimmy around. And the problem with that is that we cheapen our own values and make God look like an outdated dictator. Our heart isn’t in it.

My heart wasn’t in it for ages; I wanted the prestige of virginity without doing any of the groundwork, and I didn’t start on the groundwork until I was ten wrong decisions into the journey.

It was time for some honesty. I needed to own my values and rediscover God’s heart on the matter, which meant asking myself a series of uncomfortable questions: ‘How much of my current belief about sex is just unhelpful indoctrination?’, ‘If there are no immediate negative consequences to dry-humping this guy I’m dating, will my values and beliefs still stand?’ and ‘Now that I’m not a virgin any more, have I blown it all? – and if so, do I have licence to go crazy?’

I didn’t give myself an easy time. I’ve arrived at this point though: I’m not a virgin, and there’s still redemption available for me. Duty, pride and fear – the big three that drove every act of abstinence previously – have been given the boot. ‘Waiting’ is wider than having a check-list of stuff I can’t do – it’s about respect and relationship. Is heavy petting sex? Yes. No. Maybe. Will I be wearing white on my wedding day? You bet, unless it clashes with my shoes.