Am I Still A Virgin?

Am I Still A Virgin?

Chastity and Virginity are very different. There are ways in which we all fail at living chastity, but we shouldn't give up. It's a journey. Find out if this young woman is still a virgin or not.

Dear Heather,
A while back I "did stuff" with guys. I didn't go all the way but it was sexual. Am I still a virgin?

Dear Friend,
There is only one way to "break" your physical virginity. That is in having intercourse. You lose your virginity only once, the first time you have intercourse. So, you are technically a virgin. However, I know many very impure women and men who do pretty much anything and everything besides intercourse and call themselves virgins. This is not even close to chaste behavior. Just saving intercourse until marriage but nothing else is like graduating high school with all "D's". Sure, you made it, but you certainly didn't grow in self-discipline or much knowledge in the journey (the whole purpose of schooling). You just skimmed by. God calls us to desire more for our romantic relationships, and I believe, as does God, that living chastity faithfully will bring us the "more". This response describes this more: Tight Clothes & Making Out

As you have sensed, there actually is a big difference between chastity and virginity. As virginity is just a one-shot deal, chastity is a virtue that purifies our sexual desires and actions so that they are always loving. Honestly, all of us fail at perfect chastity – it's merely impossible, especially in our sex-soaked culture to have only pure thoughts about our spouse at all times. Consider how it's practically impossible to be completely honest all the time. When people ask me, "how are you?", am I totally honest with each reply? I try to be, but often I fail. Especially when we're young, when the media infiltrates so much of our lives, and when we're far from marriage, it's easy to stray from purely viewing and treating sex and members of the complementary sex. Therefore, becoming as pure of a vessel doesn't mean that we make no mistakes. It does, however, require that we expose those mistakes to the light so that God can wipe us clean and heal our wounds, and that we strive to more chaste each day.

My Journey
Living chastely is a journey. The longer you practice it, the easier it gets. In this culture, however, many of us can start out quite rocky. For example, I realized that intercourse should be saved for marriage, but didn't want to save the "other things". Then I realized that these other things didn't fulfill or make relationships better. So, I stopped doing those things just because I knew I shouldn't. However, over time, through pray and staying open to God, my heart started to change. Instead of wanting to do those things and choosing not to, I started to desire doing them less and less. I didn't repress my sexuality, but God increased in me love for others in my heart. Love for my future spouse grew. Love for the future of every guy I date or met grew. Then, chastity became a true outpouring of the purity in my heart – a desire to want more and live for more than just the immediate physical things. This is how the journey took place for me.

"Breaks" of Chastity
Still today, sometimes I have impure sexual thoughts. This isn't a sin unless I entertain these thoughts, pondering them for a while…encouraging impurity. If I do that, I need to ask God for forgiveness and to cleanse my heart and mind. It's part of our journey to be people of total purity. I find the more I ask God to forgive me for using guys or sex in my mind or for thinking impurely, the more pure I become. God then transforms and heals my heart and mind so that when I think of sex it is pure and beautiful and when I think of guys, it's only out of concern for them-because I truly love men!

If I'm out with a guy and discover that I'm only spending time with him because I just want to be kissed or held, I need to recognize that this isn't true chastity. I'm using this guy, hoping for physical comfort, meaning that I don't have pure motives for being with him. When I see that I'm not purely seeking a guy, I repent and then I find God forgiving me and changing the way I see and date guys. This is all part of the journey of being chaste people. It's an awesome journey, but it does require that we recognize when we have even small "breaks" of chastity. Does this make sense? We need to be the most pure people as possible to be authentically loving.

Major Breaks of Chastity
Also, there are ways we can "break" chastity that are more serious. When we are involved in sexual activity outside marriage (intercourse, dry sex, oral sex, manual sex, etc.), we need to know this is very serious. These are such intimate, private acts that should not be treated lightly. They will leave memories and scars in our lives in much bigger ways than the "small breaks" of chastity. They make the journey of living faithful chastity so much more difficult – like a big log or a bunch of trees in the middle of the road. Remember, however, chastity is about purity. Even when we've done sexual things, including intercourse, we can receive forgiveness…there is NO SIN that God cannot forgive. The Sacrament of Reconciliation becomes especially important for us as Catholics because we can say our sin out loud, let it "off our chest", and hear the words that we ARE forgiven-it's very powerful and necessary for the healing of serious sins. You can hear Jesus tell you (through the priest) that your sin is forgiven. I see the sacrament as God's way of whispering in our ears that he loves us and giving us literally supernatural grace to love better than before.

As I said before, the more we live the virtue of chastity, the more pure we will become. I met a good friend, Liz, when I was in college and she was several years older. She had sex when she was in high school but, when I met her, I knew she was much more pure than I (who had never had sex or sexual activity before). God has healed her in tremendous ways, and although she sometimes still experienced emotional scars from having sex, she was actively living a chaste life and everyone knew she was pure and beautiful. Check out her story.

In conclusion, I think it's important to know that chastity isn't a one-shot deal. It's a virtue that we grow in the more we actively attempt to live it! If you try to be an honest person and think about your honesty when talking with people, you will certainly grow in the virtue of honesty. Chastity gives us such a beautiful message of hope. Chastity is something we can always choose, any day, no matter what we've done. Repentance and healing helps us to be more chaste when we make mistakes, so don't forget that God is constantly offering a pure and free lifestyle.

Chastity Commitment Card – throw it away?
Signing a chastity commitment card or wearing a chastity ring means you're committed to staying on the journey. If you swerve, you get back on the road as soon as possible. In cases of major breaks of chastity, some people have found it helpful to do something new and unique as a re-commitment to chastity – a letter of apology and promise to your future spouse, a new card, etc. But those steps would be up to you. Most important is your commitment to the journey of chastity, your commitment to love. For more ideas on making a fresh start, no matter how far you've gone, check out our info on Starting Over.

I pray that you continuously seek Christ's help in your journey of living chastity. It's a challenge to live it well, and I could not have lived this lifestyle without the support of family and chaste friends and the graces of Jesus. But, it's worth it! As a single woman, I would never choose to live another way-the peace, freedom and true love I experience in every relationship because of chastity is incredible. Keep the faith and know that God never breaks in his love for you!

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