I Promised Not to Lose My Virginity Until Marriage. Instead, I Lost My Faith.

I was taught sex outside of marriage was a sin. But when my body started to desire it, it wasn't myself I questioned, but the God I had been promised.
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Losing My Religion—And My Virginity
Everyone took their teenage daughter to the same store to buy her abstinence ring. The store was in a newly built outdoor shopping mall, and the air conditioning was on so high that I remember my hair blowing back when stepping inside from the triple-digit heat. Inside their glass terrariums, the rings were cradled in little pillows, each propped upright, begging to be purchased. It was the first time I had been into a jewelry store, and I tugged at my shorts, worried they were too short. In the cases shone silver rings with crosses cut out, crosses forged roughly, crossed horizontal on the tiny bands. Too obvious, my parents and I decided. We laughed together at the one with the words TRUE LOVE WAITS engraved on it. Tacky. We chose something subtle: a stacked silver ring. But there's nothing really that subtle about a 15-year-old wearing any jewelry on her left-hand ring finger. It was Texas, after all. Everyone knew exactly what it meant.

The ring was a finale to a multi-week program in which I had to listen to my parents speak vaguely and uncomfortably about sex more than I had ever wanted to. The idea was that by putting everyone at our evangelical church through the same True Love Waits abstinence pledge program, we would break down the barriers in communication around sex. This, of course, was a complete and utter failure because the whole premise of the program was that I was agreeing to not have sex until I was married. More than agreeing, I was promising.

In all honesty, it wasn't that hard of a promise for me to make. I was 15 years old. I didn't think I'd ever want to have sex very badly, so I promised not to do it. This made me good, moral, admirable. Worthy of praise by the adults in my community. But it also tied up my faith with sexual purity, so that without one, I could no longer have the other. In retrospect, I can barely even remember which I lost first: my faith or my virginity.


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