Wednesday, June 05, 2013

32, Single, Virgin, Male


I am eight years out from claiming the title from the 2005 comedy 40 Year Old Virgin – if I don’t marry by then.  Unlike the movie that sought to depict all older male virgins -- who are not priests or monks -- into being awkward, antisocial, and weird, I hold my head high. I walk without embarrassment, and proclaim that virginity is the natural state in which all people are born and is nothing over which we should shame ourselves.

I know by writing this I make myself vulnerable and open to the attacks from the world.  I will likely be called a “freak,” “weird,” and “unnatural” for retaining my virginity through my thirty-second birthday.  I write this not for the cynic or the jaded who have become bored with their own life and find pleasure in criticizing the lives of others.  For those who criticize virtue and goodness are indeed jealous of the lack of virtue and goodness in their own lives and seek to deprive others of it.  I write this for those who might feel as if their purity and chastity is for naught, for those who feel as if they might falter in their perseverance, or those who feel as if they are alone in their quest for virtue.

Through my thirty-two years of keeping my virginity, I have learned and grown in ways even unexpected to me.  A few of these areas of growth are what I choose to share with the reader.

In Control
I do not attempt to say that the thirty-two years have been without temptation.  There have been times when giving away my virginity would have been easy.  In those moments it was like a man being offered a low hanging fruit from another man’s garden.  Sure, it would have been easy, and no one would know; I would have only cheated myself, and it was not mine to take no matter how low hanging the fruit might be.  These temptations have allowed me to focus on who I am as a person and determine where my own boundaries reside.  My “yes” means “yes,” and my “no” means “no.”

Even more so I have not allowed society to dictate to me the norms of my behavior and life.  Some act as if the whole purpose for virginity is to give it away as soon as possible.  Virginity is a dirty world only whispered in the corners of schools as if it is a disease or drug.  Yet, to date there have been no reported deaths due to virginity.  All the while people gather round their glowing boxes asking it for solutions to save them from the own virginity less they die.

If TV is, as TV execs have said, a reflection as to how the real world lives, then as a thirty-something male the expectation from society is that I should be sleeping around with girls by the third date, having sex with every drunk floozy who throws herself at me, spending nights at a lover’s place, or even sharing the same house or apartment.  Moreover, every relationship would be either a syrupy-puppy-love-barf-at-all-the-cuteness-fest or completely abusive and dysfunctional.  If this is what American culture and society expects of a thirty-something single male then I will gladly be wrong, and I will boast boldly in my wrong.

Regrets, Nope
One thing for which I am grateful for is that I have no regrets, no shame, no guilt.  Not once have I had to second guess my decisions not to have sex.  Not once have I awoke with a stranger in my bed.  Not once have I had to do what my friends called “The Walk of Shame” (Leave a girl’s place early in the morning, before she awakes, so as not to have to face the consequences of the previous night’s actions.).

1,000 Ways to (Make) Love
Because I have refused to give into cultural expectations, I learned sex isn’t the only way to express love towards someone I love.  As the saying goes, learn to make love 1,000 different ways.  That is, learn to express your love to another by as many means possible.  I have not met, as of yet, one girl who does not like flowers.  Girls like flowers.  Girls like being heard (even if you have nothing to say in return, just listen).  Girls like to laugh, hold hands, hug, and spend time with the person they like and/or love.

Keep It Simple Stupid (K.I.S.S)
There is an odd adage that states, “Sex complicates things.”  It has been repeated often enough that there must be some truth in it.  Yet, interestingly enough, it is a phrase I have only heard from sexually active singles and unmarried couples.  I find the opposite sex mysterious enough already that I don’t feel the need to make things more complicated than things already are.

Why does sex complicate things in an unmarried relationship?  Simple, it signifies and expresses a reality it cannot make present.  The body speaks of union, but the heart and mind speak otherwise, and it thereby causes confusion.  To liken it to a sacrament, premarital (or even extramarital sex) is like trying to celebrate the Eucharist with milk and cookies instead of bread and wine.  Yes, it might be delicious, but it cannot make present the reality it signifies.  I do not mean to say that sex inside of marriage is not complicated.  But the difference here is that in the marital union grace is dispensed to strengthen and help during those complicated moments.

Respect, Love, Not Use
I remember the moment when I realized girls were not just things guys tolerated for a while with hopes of having sex with one.  In a lengthy “make-out” session with a girl when I was in high school, a thought entered my mind.  “Entered” is too tame a word; it was more like superman smashing through a brick wall.  The thought was simple, short, but would later prove profound.  The thought was “using and used,” and it repeated itself like a broken record in my head for the reminder of the night.  This thought was not from me.  It did not originate in me.  I was drunk on emotions, and my brain was flooded with a hormonal cocktail, and all I wanted was more.  I would have never thought such a thought, but there it was.

Eventually, during a break, I went to use the bathroom, and as I washed my hands the thought blossomed, “You’re using her . . . You’re using her as a thing, an object . . .You just want pleasure, not love.  You don’t care for her . . . She might as well be a toy and not a person.”  My initial response to this blossoming thought was, “So what.  I’m getting what I want.”  The reply I received was shattering to me:  “You know, she is using you.  She is insecure.  She is using you because she wants to feel loved.  Do you like being used?”

I left the bathroom a changed person.  I realized selfishly using another person as a means of gratification was wrong.  I did not want to use her, and I was even more appalled at the idea of letting myself be used in a similar fashion.  Little did I know at the time that I had a revelation similar to something a certain Cardinal wrote years prior.  This Cardinal – who later became Pope John Paul II – taught that selfish, unjust use of a person was the opposite of love.  “Wait! I thought hate was the opposite of love?” My whole life I have been taught that hate is the contrary to love.  Now here is a Cardinal – the Pope at that – telling me otherwise.

Through further reading and studying, I learned that when a person is unjustly and selfishly used as a means to an end the result is that user cares not for what is best for the one who is being used.  For love is to willfully desire the best for the other person.  I might hate a person, but still desire the best for them and in doing so love my enemy.  But I cannot love the person I selfishly use, because I make the person I use into an object, a thing, something which I no love care what is best for it.   In those long make out sessions, I was doing the very opposite of what Christ wished: love your neighbor; not use your neighbor as a tool for your own selfish ends.

6 comments:

Angela Santana said...

Thanks for your vulnerability, Paul. I know that's not easy. Treasure your purity!

Jessica said...

As a 31-year-old also proud virgin, I want to say thank you for being willing to go out and share your testimony, and for standing strong for all of us who are trying to live out the Theology of the Body in a world that does not make it easy. Blessings!

4760724c-dc60-11e2-abf4-000bcdcb2996 said...

Paul, I stumbled on your website after finding it looking for something about G.K. Chesterton and Nietzsche. I will look around more in the future.

I'm a little confused by the purpose of your message on this post: it starts out like you're bragging about being a virgin. This bragging, not your virginity itself, seems odd to me.

Furthermore, I wager that at this point your virginity is no longer something that requires a lot to keep around i.e. the temptation and opportunities for sexual encounters decline, minus the possibility of prostitutes and really intoxicated women (neither of which I'm confident you'd entertain and nor do I). Maybe when you were 19 or 22, but when you're 32 and still a virgin, most people of your age are not into having sex with virgins.

Furthermore, once you lose your virginity and experience [a] sexual relationship(s) with women, I'll warn you now that as great as sex is, its novelty and shine will wear off no matter who it's with-even if it is with someone you're married and committed to. Sex complicates any relationship: I don't care if you're married, divorced, single, young, old, what have you, sexual relationships invite ranging emotions. My experience and observation is that no one can avoid emotional and complicated interactions with someone they're regularly having sex with. You'll believe me once you get married and lose your virginity, or before.

Sex is a psychological and physiological need. It's like Vitamin C and scury or Vitamin D and rickets or iron and anemia. You can live without those nutrients but the quality of your life will be less. Your libido is there and creates an energy inside you that affects you no matter if you're having sex or not. Most people are able to channel that libidinous energy into positive and/or moral, constructive activities. I assume that's what you do or aspire to.

Being a virgin isn't as difficult as being a celibate non-virgin. Once you get there come back and look at this post. I think you'll be surprised.

Either way, you got me thinking. Best of luck.

April Joy said...

I'm not exactly sure how I stumbled onto this blog, but I did. I particularly resonated with the used and using part of your post. I just want to say that remaining a virgin in this day and age, for reasons that have nothing to do with lack of opportunity, but instead because of a moral choice, is not easy and should be commended. It gives me hope, that is all.

Lynda said...

Great piece. Inspiring.

Acire Htims said...

Recently I encountered a true test of my virginity. I am 31 and felt a strong desire to give into temptation because of the constant worldly influences and the fear of never being able to find a husband. My reasons to hold onto my virginity were solely based on my promises to God. As I reached my 30s I began to doubt my faith and struggled with understanding the purpose of refraining from sex until I was married. Because of my curiosity and rebellion I reached out to a lifestyle I was unfamiliar with and naive to. I felt those out in the world having sex really never suffered any consequences. So I blindly entered a relationship with a man who I quickly fell for and believed cared for me. Unfortunately he turned out to be a sadistic sociopath who had many women in his life. For some reason I fell for his good guy act and came close to losing my virginity. I am thankful for my family and friends who sensed something wasn't right about the situation and boldly intervened. It was God who saved me from a potential disastrous lifestyle decision. I now know my virtuous ambitions are not shameful but commendable in God's eyes. That is all that matters to me now. I no longer want to please the world around me. It is all about pleasing God now.

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