The vast majority of young people in my generation say that they are willing to give their “V Card” –their virginity– to someone that they genuinely love, within the context of marriage or not. Sex itself is no longer reserved for marriage; it is reserved for someone who has earned your trust, or perhaps who you would consider marrying– or perhaps just anyone, for no reason at all.
One of the biggest aspects of my own falling in love with Christ circa my college years was seeing the beauty and the value He places on sex, sexuality, and their meaning.
After learning about the “Theology of the Body,” Pope John Paul II’s exposition on human sexuality, I better understood why we were created as complementary men and women and why sex was so sacred as to save for marriage. As of late, however, I have had some new thoughts on purity and virginity to add to my former understanding. So, here goes:
God the Father in the Old Testament wanted families to offer Him lambs as a sacrifice. At the time, lambs were considered the finest livestock; they were of utter value and importance to families. And not only did God the Father want just any lamb– He wanted a family’s most pure, holy, and unblemished lamb.
To give up such a perfect lamb was a sign from a family that it truly loved the LORD above itself and its own interests. The purity of the offering, of the lamb, increased its worth exponentially and was a stronger offering that spoke of genuine love to our LORD.
In the Holy Eucharist, our LORD Jesus Christ offers Himself as the Lamb of God on the altar. Jesus Christ makes of Himself a most pure, holy, and unblemished offering to God the Father. In fact, His sacrifice of Himself was so pure, holy, and unblemished, that it will forever be known as the One Perfect Sacrifice– the sacrifice that granted all of humanity salvation! He is THE Sacrifice whose blood wiped away all of our sins, and saved us from ourselves.
In Holy Matrimony, a man and a woman are called to live in purity before offering themselves up to one another and to GOD. Just as Christ gave Himself as an unblemished sacrifice for all on the altar, so too in the sacrament of Holy Matrimony are we to give ourselves as unblemished sacrifices for our spouses, on our wedding night on the marriage bed. Just as a church has an altar, the domestic church (the family) has an “altar”: the marriage bed itself. This is where we lay down our bodies for one another, and together, for God.
Just Christ says, “This is my body; it has been given up for you,” so too shall spouses say this to one another, as well as together to the LORD: “This is our body (now “one flesh”) which has been given up for You.”
Marriage reflects the familial, one-in-three, triune nature of God. Accordingly, the marital embrace (sex) is called to reflect the perfectly holy and pure nature of the sacrifice that Jesus Christ, the Bridegroom, makes for the Church, His Bride (both on the Cross and till this day in the Holy Eucharist). Purity before and during marriage is thus of immeasurable worth! Striving for purity proclaims: “I love you… and You, LORD!” with an individual’s entire body, heart, and soul. Purity is the mark of the sacred romance of marriage, a sacrament that only Our Romantic Creator Himself could design!
Just as a family in the Old Testament was to offer their most perfect lamb to the LORD, so are those who are called to married life asked to offer up their most perfect selves to one another and to the LORD: before marriage, when they get married, and throughout their marriage via sacrifice– such as that which Natural Family Planning demands– and lifelong fidelity.
What wondrous beauty! Human sexuality is called to speak purity, sacrifice, love.