Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Am I still a virgin if I've had anal/oral sex?

Dan Savage is trying to define the word "saddleback" in a way that embarrass Rick Warren (Chief pastor of Saddleback church). The definition that seems to be sticking is:
'Saddlebacking' should be the term for the phenomenon of Christian teens engaging in unprotected anal sex in order to preserve their virginities. 'After attending the Purity Ball, Heather and Bill saddlebacked all night because she's saving herself for marriage.' Please, please adopt this definition!"(dedicated site)
Of course the problem is the kids are right. The people who think they are wrong are confusing chastity (purity of soul) with virginity (purity of body). Augustine (De Virgin. viii) "virginity is continence whereby integrity of the flesh is vowed, consecrated and observed in honor of the Creator of both soul and flesh." In other words as long as the integrity of the flesh is maintained virginity is maintained. The church has a notion of "virgins in the flesh but not in the spirit" which is a violation of chastity, not a violation of virginity. (example Jerome's letters to Eustochium) and that IMHO is the correct status for kids that engage in non vaginal sex acts but have never engaged in vaginal penetration. They lack chastity but not virginity.

Now what's interesting is this is a rising phenomenon. While at some point I'll do my upcoming series "Sex and Fundamentalism" which discusses virginity pledges, it does appear these sorts of pledges cuts the age for first anal sex by several years (to below the level of first vaginal sex for kids whose parents are liberal about sex). So this is a big issue.

On a related topic some kids think they are virgins if they have had vaginal sex but not ejaculated. And again loss of virginity is loss of integrity of the flesh. Once penetration happens virginity is lost.


Anonymous said...

It's shameful you'd even use the image you chose for this post.

Yea,..wreaking of Christianity there..

CD-Host said...

Anonymous --

Why is it shameful? What do you even mean, shameful in that I'm using a G rated image for R rated topic or shameful in that the image was too explicit? And of course I'm not sure how I'm wrecking Christianity in saying that evangelicals are correct and secular writers wrong.

Bittersweet Sage said...

Hi CD,

Please comment on Summa Theologica, Section 2, Question 152, Article 1, "Whether virginity consists in integrity of the flesh?" In this passage Aquinas also quotes Augustine, but to quite different ends.

To me the transition from "virgin" to "not virgin" seems to be a very blurry continuum. Sure a guy can stick his penis in all manner of non-vaginal orifices, but once he's gone to the doctor because it hurts when he pees... well, I don't think he still gets to wear the "purity of body" moniker.

Bittersweet Sage said...

By the way, I'm wondering if the anonymous troll meant "reeking of Christianity" (sarcasm), rather than "wreaking of Christianity" (literal).

CD-Host said...

Bittersweet --

Not sure what you mean his reply to Objection 1 is that reading Augustine to not have virginity be physical is incorrect. His reply to Objection 2 is that virginity is of the body not the soul. His reply to Objection 3 regards the hyman. And reply to Objection 4 is asserting that penetration not ejaculation is the act that causes the loss of virginity.

So I'd see Aquinas as fully agreeing. Where do you see a disagreement? So yeah the guy who got an STD from anal/oral is a virgin but not chaste.

As for the anonymous, that makes sense. I like letting people post anonymously but it bothers me they don't stick around.

Bittersweet Sage said...

Hi CD,

You seem to have actually reversed Aquinas' stand on Objection 4. Specifically, Aquinas states that "If [ejaculation] be the result of the mind's purpose, it destroys virginity, whether copulation takes place or not" (emphasis mine). Let me repeat that: "whether copulation takes place or not."

For Aquinas, it is not penetration that nulls a man's virginity, but intentional ejaculation. Males are off the hook if they ejaculate unintentionally (e.g. nocturnal emission or molestation), but causing oneself to ejaculate is a virginity-breaker. In addition to masturbation, that certainly covers anal and oral sex.

By Aquinas' definition, you would be hard pressed to find a male virgin older than thirteen!

CD-Host said...

Bittersweet --

Actually it was resolution of seman that I had trouble with (what you translated as ejaculation). I had taken that to mean receipt of. I thought about your translation and I'm assuming you are asserting that this is just an overly literal translation of resolūtiō from the latin. And I checked Summa in latin and your hypothesis is correct.

OK so there are essentially no male virgins after puberty according to Aquinas in 152. I would agree. What's interesting is in 154 he classifies masturbation with bestiality and sodomy as not being sex but using the sexual organs in a way contrary to nature. So at least for males he seems to have completely severed the relationship between sex and virginity as well as procreation and virginity, and "mixing" and virginity. He allows for procreative acts to occur without loss of virginity and then doesn't allow for non procreative acts that are the result of consent. Far be it from me to say Aquinas is wrong, but without a better argument this strikes me as a stupid definition best ignored.

Ultimately virgin moved from:
A woman not married and thus not focused on the details of marriage and raising children hence spiritually more pure.

To a woman who has not engaged in the marital act. That is a woman who one can be assured is not pregnant with another man's child. Thus physically pure.

Excluding acts that unmarried women engage in which are not procreative like masturbation seems a stretch. In particular masturbation seems like a worse choice since girls frequently engage in masturbatory play very early in life (like ages 3-7), well below the age for boys. One could argue that this sort of play isn't masturbation, and I normally would but it seems to meet Aquinas definition of using the sex organs to achieve pleasure.

But even if we did take Aquinas postion, I'm not sure how that changes the argument in this post. If we were to assume Aquinas is correct boys aren't losing their virginity because they already lost it early in puberty and girls still need vaginal penetration (assuming they didn't lose it much earlier).

Moreover American evangelicals (and non evangelicals) all seem to believe that there is such a thing as a male virgin in high school. So I guess I'd have to say they are all rejecting Aquinas' position.

Bittersweet Sage said...

CD wrote: "So I guess I'd have to say they are all rejecting Aquinas' position."

Which is fine. I just wanted to hear your take on Aquinas in this matter. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

With the Aquinas logic, a homosexual that never engages in vaginal intercourse is a virgin?!? That is ridiculous. Any sexual act is sex. Period.

999 said...

You nutty christians. I'm soo sharing this on facebook. Should provide ample amounts of shits and giggles.

Simon96 said...

If you have sex in any form you are no longer a virgin , there is no get out of jail free card

Loura Dominic said...
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