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If I’ve had anal sex, am I still a virgin? How far can I go and still call myself a virgin?

Response to texted question on dating from May 12
What is virginity? How far can I go and still remain as one that can honestly say, “I’m a virgin.” This is a popular concern among students who are seeking to be faithful to their Christian beliefs.

The easy answer to this question is simply that a virgin in one who has never had sexual intercourse. But I would argue sex is sex: oral sex, anal sex, mutual masturbation, and the like. We’ve made this question incredibly difficult. Thus, I think the best way to respond to this question is to take a page from Jesus’ playbook and change the question.

I really do believe that in asking a question about virginity or any manifestation of the question, “how far is too far,” misses the point. In asking the question, we articulate a solid value, but are addressing it the wrong way. Embedded in this question is a value on purity or, dare I say, righteousness, to which followers of Jesus are undoubtedly called in Holy Scripture.
Instead of asking the question that is essentially, “How far can I go and still be righteous, pure, or in God’s will?” we need to reframe the question to be, “How, as a sheep gone astray, can I get close to the shepherd?”

In the pasture of our lives, we too often walk around near the fence trying to find a distance from the Good Shepherd, but still be in the green pastures. I get that we are curious about what is on the other side of the fence. I, likewise, wonder why it is that we are not more curious about the Good Shepherd that is standing there watching us and bidding us come. Why are we more curious about the other side of the boundary than we are with the God of the Universe? I think what the Shepherd has for us is far spectacular relative to the other side of the fence.

Pursuing union with God and the faith of Jesus is the point of living out the Christian faith. Frankly, we should be less concerned about discovering virginity boundaries, and be more resolved to pursue union with Christ. I’m convinced that when one commits to that pursuit, purity is sure to follow.

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