The Bachelorette: Purity, Virginity, and Shame

I confess I watch the Bachelorette.  I used to try to give a more academic reason to why I liked watching the Bachelorette so much such as, “it’s interesting to watch the social dynamics and the way that people present themselves within a group.” While this statement is true, let’s be real, I like watching this show about a woman who is dating multiple men with the expectation that they are going to find true love. It is such an odd and dramatic show it is hard to resist.

There have been many seasons where you have the token Christian within the group who is usually doesn’t last long. The last Bachelor, Colton, was a virgin which he made clear that it was a personal and not religious reason. This season of the Bachelorette was full of jargon that you mostly hear within the walls of the church. Statements such as being a “second virgin” or a “born again virgin” was used.  

The contestant Luke P. stated that he would have to “end the relationship” if the Bachelorette, Hannah, had sex with any of the other contestants.  As the conversation unfolded, it revealed that Luke P. was not only assuming they agreed on their views around sex but was also using a form of shame within his declaration.  The conversation and relationship ended with a clear message from Hannah, “I have had sex, and Jesus still loves me.”

It became clear that there were two different kinds of Christians sitting across from one another.  Both had faith in the center of their lives. Both viewed sex to be beautiful and made by God. What was different was the view that was having sex outside of marriage.  One saw sex to only be fair and holy within the confines of marriage while the other did not.

As I sat there watching this situation broadcast across the nation and most likely around the world, it made me think about the circumstances I was put in during my youth.  In high school, I had a classmate write and send me a letter that stated that God had told him that I was his future wife with a ring taped inside. Since God didn’t tell me that, I never talked to that person again.  I know, it was not the best way to handle the situation, but I didn’t understand it, and I chose to ignore it. Around this time, there was the purity movement with rings to wear and books to read about the Christian way of dating.  Looking back, it was tough to date in the Christian world without feeling judged. 

As I thought about the term “virgin,” I looked up how often this term appeared in the Old Testament versus the New Testament.  According to the New Revised Standard Version, the word “virgin” was used 42 times while in the New Testament the word “virgin” occurs only 8 times.  Virginity in the ancient times of Israel was a form of political power for the woman and her father’s family. In the book Social World of Ancient Israel 1250-587 BCE it states, “Virginity was the legal guarantee of land and children for a household in the world of the Bible.” In the New Testament, you have the virgin, Mary.  This virginity was essential to the miraculous conception and birth of Christ. Virginity is a critical detail that fulfills the criteria for the Messiah.

Later in the New Testament, you have Paul addressing the issues around sex.  He points towards the virgin in 1 Corinthians 7:34 saying, “…the unmarried woman and the virgin are anxious about the affairs of the Lord, so that they may be holy in body and spirit…” Paul is pointing towards a decision to set oneself a part to be a person of honor.  They are honoring their body and God by remaining a virgin. In this statement, to reason to be a virgin is to be more concerned about the ways of God than the world.  

Let me be clear it is honorable to be a virgin, but if it is used as a tool of shame to someone who is not a virgin, then we are not representatives of Christ. We have a place to correct and guide our fellow brother or sister, but Paul talks about how it will be received much better in love (1 Corinthians 13).  Shame will only turn people away from you and from God.  

We can learn how Jesus handled this situation when he was confronted with the woman who had committed adultery. Jesus treated the woman who had sex outside of marriage in John 8:6-7 (NIV): “…Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger.When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground.”As Christians, our stance is not to shame someone for their choices whether it is on the subject of sex or other matters our attitude is to see them as a fellow brother or sister and to love them for them. Let’s stop casting the stones at one another and support our growth together.

Sources:

 Matthews, Victor H. and Don C. Benjamin. Social World of Ancient Israel 1250-587 BCE. Massachusetts: 1993. Hendrickson Publishers, Inc.

Photo credit: ‘The Bachelorette’ premiere: Here’s everything you need to know about Hannah B. Washington Post. 13 May 2019. https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/2019/05/13/bachelorette-premiere-heres-everything-you-need-know-about-hannah-b/?noredirect=on&utm_term=.00ac84431f80

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