Rebirth of Reason

The Good Life

True Love is Expressed
by Matthew Graybosch

It is an infantile superstition of the human spirit that virginity would be thought a virtue and not the barrier that separates ignorance from knowledge.
-- Voltaire

Christianity appears to have a virginity fetish. From the myth of the immaculate conception and the claim that Jesus of Nazareth was born of a virgin to the demands of conservatives that sex education in public schools be limited to "wait until marriage", Christianity and the cultures it touches is tainted with what Voltaire describes as an "infantile superstition", the premise that there is virtue in having never known a lover's touch. Even the expression "losing my virginity" connotes a loss to be mourned, instead of an experience to cherish.

Making matters worse is the double standard perpetuated even amongst the non-religious. For some reason, a boy or man who remains untouched is considered defective, leading some to question his masculinity. Boys are expected to be sexual, and to start sowing their "wild oats" as soon as they can. Whether or not the male wants to be sexually active is irrelevant; he is expected to get laid. A girl who seeks sexual experiences early, on the other hand, is often regarded as "loose" or "fast". She soon receives the label "slut", whether she has earned it or not.

Looking at popular culture, it is the girls who extol the virtues of virginity. I do not know of any male celebrities pushing chastity to the masses. Britney Spears swore up and down that despite her sultry facade she was a virgin who intended to remain untouched until marriage. Another musician, Grammy award winner Rebecca St. James, claims that "true love waits". Ms. St. James, by the way, won her Grammy for "Best Rock Gospel Album".

An international campaign called True Love Waits is, according to the Lifeway Christian Ministries site: "...a grass-roots effort that originated and has since been led by young people. Youth leaders have carried the True Love Waits message to young people through churches, student organizations, health-care groups, and on campuses across the nation. " The movement uses peer pressure to persuade teenagers to sign "chastity pledges" that state, "Believing that true love waits, I make a commitment to God, myself, my family, my friends, my future mate, and my future children to be sexually abstinent from this day until the day I enter a biblical marriage relationship."

However, the "true love" upheld as an ideal by the likes of Lifeway Christian Ministries is as divorced from the real and the physical as any other Christian ideal. Christianity's ideal of true love is strictly altruistic; love is a duty and a coin to be tossed to any beggar that comes a-rattling his bowl.

Virginity, according to the Christian ideal, is a "sacred" gift that should only be given to one's husband or wife in a Biblical marriage. In order to remain "pure", you must repress your natural sexuality and avoid intense physical contact (no more than a light kiss) with your lover even if you value that person as highly as you value yourself.

Does true love wait? Should true love wait? No!

True love should be expressed, not only with words but with physical action. As Leonard Peikoff writes in Objectivism: The Philosophy of Ayn Rand, "When a man and woman do fall in love -- assuming that each is romantically free and the context otherwise appropriate -- sex is a necessary and proper expression of their feeling for one another" (page 345). Peikoff backs this claim by writing, "Sex is to love what action is to thought, possession to evaluation, body to soul." (ibid.)

To claim that sex has nothing to do with love is to claim that one must choose between lust and love -- between the body and the mind. As Ayn Rand has proved in her writings, a choice between mind and body is a false one.

As with other human endeavors -- art, science, business, philosophy -- love is conceived in thought. Meeting a person and getting to know them, one comes to admire that person's virtues and often their physical beauty. One offers love in payment for the virtues one admires in another. However, just as the David did not exist outside Michaelangelo's mind until he took up his chisel, love exists only in the lover's mind until he expresses himself. To make one's love real, one must act.

Christianity treats sex as a necessary evil, just as it treats love as a duty. Objectivism, on the other hand, treats sex as a celebration of one's existence and love as a tribute given to whose virtues one admires. If Christianity treats virginity as something to lose and virginity's loss as something to regret, then how should Objectivism treat virginity?

Physical virginity, that state of having never known a lover's touch, has no intrinsic value. Virginity has no value until it is given, ideally to a person with whom one is passionately in love. It is the experience of giving one's virginity that is precious; the moments of discovery when one learns to give and receive sexual pleasure are moments to cherish.

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