The 30-Year-Old Virgin
Today’s my birthday, which means I’m officially the 30-year-old virgin. I’m not embarrassed. I’m not afraid to say the V-word. My lack of (ahem) experience is a running joke with my friends, and I’m happy to keep it going—as long as they don’t start believing that virginity equals purity.
In a world where sex is king, some might think 30 years of celibacy is a huge moral achievement. It’s not. Sure, in my singleness I’ve refrained from sexual activity. But for every time I said “no” to sex, I said “yes” to something else: pride, envy, bitterness, idolatry. There’s no reason to celebrate staying out of the bedroom when I’ve so often jumped headfirst into other sins. “For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become accountable for all of it” (James 2:10). My virginity hasn’t kept me pure.
And what’s more, I’m certainly not a virgin in my head. Even sinners saved by grace have rounded third base a time or two (or a few hundred) in their imagination, and I’m no exception. In my mind, I’ve gone too far, fooled around, slipped into someone’s bed—all in the fleeting seconds between “Wow, he’s attractive” and “Lord, forgive me.” I’m not innocent, I’m not pure. And if I take Matthew 5:27-28 seriously, I’m hardly a virgin.
Don’t get me wrong—I’m not saying, “We’re all sexual deviants in our hearts anyway, so go ahead and get laid.” Far from it! God has established sexual boundaries for his glory and our good, and we should delight in following his commands. Anyone who’s read my previous writings on homosexuality knows I’m not a 30-year-old virgin because it’s fun, but because I’m committed to God’s design for sexuality and marriage, and because I truly believe celibacy comes with blessing. So I’m not saying the pursuit of sexual purity isn’t important; I’m just saying it’s not impressive. It’s not the gospel. My virginity can’t save me or anybody else.
Only Jesus can do that.
He lived a perfect life. He was a virgin in body and soul. As the pure one, the only acceptable sacrifice, he surrendered himself to the horrors of the cross, where a great and glorious exchange took place: our sin for his righteousness. That’s how we get pure! Salvation comes “through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith” (Phil. 3:9). Only when we clothe ourselves in his purity can we be pure. So pure, in fact, that someday, when we walk the aisle to meet Christ our Bridegroom, we’ll be wearing white (Rev. 19:8). So great a salvation isn’t a result of our good works.
Not even 30 years’ worth.
Bryan can be reached at The Happy Alternative