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January 10th, 2004

Holding the Line

Not Just Like a Virgin

 
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There are certain things one simply does not announce about oneself upon meeting a marriage-eligible member of the opposite sex.

Such as: “I’ve refrained from sexual intercourse because my body is a Temple of the Holy Ghost, and you?”

My name is Mary Beth, and I’m a virgin by day, sealed fountain by night (Song of Songs 4:12).

Eroding the bond
The Church teaches that sex should be reserved for the sacrament of marriage. From a practical standpoint, sex education at my Catholic all-girls high school interpreted this as: If you’re not ready for morning sickness, then legs together, ladies.

From a spiritual standpoint, it’s still: Legs together, ladies. Sex, while fun (so I’ve heard), both creates and strengthens emotional bonds.

I’ll never forget watching a religion teacher slap a piece of masking tape on a classmate’s arm, then rip it away. The girl winced. She placed the same piece on another girl’s arm, then pulled it off. She cringed too, but not as noticeably as the first. Then another, and another. The more the teacher eroded the bond, the less adherent the tape became.

Backseat assembly vs. pew parliamentary maneuver
Virginity is a commitment, and one not easily defended or discussed. Couples who don’t flat-out state where “the line” is risk tears in the morning or angrily slapped hands at night. Eleven-thirty p.m. in the backseat of a Jetta is not a good time to announce or confirm one’s virgin status. These things are better talked about by daylight. With your clothes on. (“In a church. Right after one of the Gospels about hell,” some might add. What a fantastic date.)

It’s not easy, not being easy. I have a very vivid memory of one of my college corridor-mates walking up and down the hall, slapping the walls every few feet. I stuck my head out the door: “What’s the matter with you?” She stopped and stared at me, then raised her head to the ceiling. “I am so horny!” she yelled, then went back to hitting the walls. Yes, this was the Catholic college experience I was after.

Some young adults hold off very seriously. I know of a couple who didn’t even kiss on the lips until after they hit the altar, maintaining that foreplay of any kind should be verboten, that the main point of fondling and general prom night tomfoolery is to prepare the body for sexual activity.

Tough stuff in a world in which virgin=Star Trek convention attendee.

And it’s a decision I have to respect: I’ve never slammed back into my apartment after a date wondering, “What did I do wrong? Why didn’t he want to shake my hand when he dropped me off?”

Counter-measure or counter-culture?
I read an article recently about Secretary of State Colin Powell, who, along with his wife, Alma, encourages young women to maintain abstinence. The author described Powell as making “an admission” to disseminating such dangerous information. An admission. As if he were caught with a crackpipe in one hand and a drowned puppy in the other.

Sitcom characters lament a multi-week dry spell as if it were the end of the world, but I enjoy spinning counter-culture. I figure something that causes so much fuss must certainly be worth waiting for.

So, yeah, I don’t get any?run on over and join me! I’ll be the one smacking the paint off the walls.

 
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The Author : Mary Beth Ellis
Mary Beth Ellis writes from Orlando, Florida.
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