The Value of a Female Virgin

I used to be really proud to be a virgin, and most of the time I’m happy that I’m yet to succumb to external pressures, whether it be kissing, touching or other sexual things. I never really questioned why I felt proud, or why I, as a woman, was made to feel as though it was something I should wear like a badge of honour.

I still think it’s a good thing to save yourself for someone special and to make the commitment to only ever be with that person; to be in a courtship and exercise the art of self-control; to keep promises. But the double standard in our churches in regards to male/female virginity has really started to grate on me. Always, a woman’s virginity is valued more than a man’s. Society in general has an issue with female sexuality, hence the slut-shaming that women face when they admit to liking sex, and the appraisal men receive upon acting in the same way. But the church has this thing of thinking women are “precious” and “sacred” and it’s more damaging than men will understand.

If we were to look at countries where war rape is rife, we would see that it’s not just the rapists that are at fault, but the men in the victimised communities as well. These communities place such a value on women’s sexuality, branding them as “their women”, that when the rape takes place it not only shatters their morale but bruises their manhood: another man has tampered with their goods. And in this battle of the egos, the woman becomes collateral damage. In this same way, by owning the sex lives women in church, the church brothers leave them open to attack from people from outside; profane men who are craving the appeal of a virgin, and would like nothing more than to “show her a few things”.

This is also detrimental to our young men. When sexual purity is taught in church, if it’s implied that a woman’s virginity is more important, we’re going to implant a warped view of sex to the men.

I’ve been thinking about these things a lot lately, mainly because I’m starting to see women my age feel doubly guilty when they do “impure” things. This battle to be the Ultimate Proverbs 31 Woman, to be strong even when we ourselves are struggling with our own lusts and sexual sins. The thought hit me this  week because there has been a bit of talk recently about the church men going through hell during summer when most women begin to dress in less clothing than they usually would. I’ve been talking to a few female friends about this issue and none of them can actually understand what the big deal is; women have always had to repress their sexual feelings because they’ve always had to be more chaste than men. So we either struggle in secret or don’t struggle at all. It makes me wonder whether these viewpoints further establish the notion that a woman’s body is a bad thing. A weapon that has been the downfall of men and it needs to be kept in check. This may be one of the reasons why people are more concerned when a woman loses her virginity; she used her sinful body to lure a man into a trap.

Who knows? I’m sure there are many reasons why this viewpoint exists. But I’m weary of letting people know I haven’t done anything before. It may attract the wrong crowd.

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The Right Way to Pray

Is there such a thing?

I actually wanted to talk about Independent Women, but something happened today that really put me in a sour mood for a good few hours…

I was asked to do the closing prayer at Sabbath School today. I actually hate praying in public: the words never come out; I get tongue-tied and I forget most of what I have to say. A few months ago I had been asked to do the pastoral prayer and I was dreading it until my Sabbath School leader suggested I write it down, so that I cover all the bases and don’t forget anything. Since then, this has been my way of doing public prayers before the church. I pray before I write the actual prayer and pray after, I pray throughout for inspiration. It has never been a problem before and it alleviates some of the stress on my part.

Today, I did my closing prayer and a few minutes afterwards a visitor from the Netherlands asked me to see him outside. Then he pretty much berated me for reading the prayer! He told me that I must never do that, and that God would give me the words to say. He said that prayer should always just come from the heart and not be prepared beforehand. I calmly told him that I heard a seminar once where it was argued that preparing prayers were not unBiblical, because in the same way one would prepare a sermon to speak before the church (and a sermon is also something that “comes from the heart”, with God leading it), one could also prepare a prayer. Which was true, I can’t remember the exact seminar, but I know it exists because that particular message was relayed to me.

As soon as I had said this, he looked embarrassed for telling me off; shuffled away and said “Oh sorry, I’m from the Netherlands so I don’t really know.”

You “don’t really know?” And what’s coming from the Netherlands got to do with it?

Huh?

This is why we should be cautious of people who say their opinions on religious matters with such conviction. If I hadn’t had the seminar to back me up, he would have made me feel really stupid and I would have had a completely negative outlook of my prayer life. All it took was a couple words from me for him to admit he didn’t really know what he was talking about. If only Jim Jones and David Koresh had had the same challengers. Yes, I am taking it a step further than what really happened, but when it comes to religion people are easily swayed, which is something I’ve seen a lot of recently in my own church. One person comes along, with no credentials, says something slightly “grey” with enough confidence, and then everyone starts to get confused.

Beware of such people!

Anyway, I felt really cheesed off after this man spoke to me and I have to admit I treated the Sabbath in a terrible way; I even went off to the cemetery to sulk! God forgive me.

Is there a “right” way to pray? Or are we too used to praying traditions?

The mind wanders…

 

Eve and Gender Equality

It has been a few weeks since I updated this blog, mainly because of exams and coursework. It was really stressful; I’ve never felt so unprepared for an exam. No matter how much I revised, the information just wasn’t staying in my head, but I prayed and I would like to think I did well. God’s got it all under control.

In between exam papers, I’ve been reading Daughters of God by Ellen G White. She was one of the pioneers of the Seventh-day Adventist church and is also our prophet. She was alive in the 1800s so I was rather skeptical about what she had to say about women. I always assumed that her views on gender roles would be old fashioned and anti-womanist, but I’ve been pleasantly surprised by what she has written. So far, my favourite quote has been her opening assessment of Eve:

God Himself gave Adam a companion. He provided “an help meet for him”—a helper corresponding to him—one who was fitted to be his companion, and who could be one with him in love and sympathy. Eve was created from a rib taken from the side of Adam, signifying that she was not to control him as the head, not to be trampled under his feet as inferior, but to stand by his side as an equal, to be loved and protected by him. A part of man, bone of his bone, and flesh of his flesh she was his second self, showing the close union and the affectionate attachment that should exist in this relation.

I’ve heard similar sayings before, but I think it’s a positive sign that Sister White made this point. A lot of people in our church disagree with such things, believing that women should be beneath men, despite our own prophet saying differently. I have another quote from her that I would like to share with  you, probably tomorrow, regarding the Independent Woman.

xXx

Naked

One day, I wanted to feel strong
so I stood by the mirror
in the nude
and thought about Eve.

As I basked in my reflection
I forgot that
a naked woman is sin:
a salacious role play
between Him and Her
becomes too clear in the mind
of the one who beholds.

I need to remember
that my body is a weapon
made to mortally wound the minds of men
and force them to lose control.
So the sensitivities of my brothers-in-Christ
must be at the forefront of my mind
whenever I get ready for church.

A woman should remember
that her nakedness will only be valued
when she is lying beneath the man she vowed
to be her wedded owner.

Rahab

I knew what it was like
to have men in my house.
My body was an entrance
in which many passed through;
all-welcoming for wanderers who were hungry
and tense
and wanted nothing more than to ravish
and devour.

It was alien for me to open my doors
and leave my body closed tightly.
It was alien for me to witness men with a purpose.
So I gave them something to eat,
I folded their clothes as they slept
and I kissed them gently
when they took their leave the next morning.