Virgin Shaming: It's A Thing That Exists

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Warning: This post is gonna sound like I’m being a bit-ca. Not my usual sweet tone. But that’s what happens when I get on the soapbox.

I will be the first to admit that this country isn’t perfect. We fought over the color of a dress and think that “Deez Nuts” is an actual person that could run for President. We also think that a guy who’s more famous for his hair, beauty pageant and reality show than for any actual actions relating to politics and philanthropy is presidential material. But last week, I came across an article that made me think this country just hit a whole new level of stupid: The Catholic Response sharing the internet’s confused and hateful reactions to Jessica Hayes becoming a Consecrated Virgin.

I’ve written about consecrated virginity on this blog before. Heck, one of my friends became a consecrated virgin this summer. So why is it that the internet is going nuts now?

I guess it’s because Indiana was prominent in the gay marriage debate and Jessica Hayes happens to be from Indiana. But seriously, people, women marry Jesus more often than you think. Most of them do so by becoming nuns. Jessica Hayes, however, chose to remain a lay person and devote her entire life to serving Christ. It’s no different than a man choosing to be a diocesan priest instead of entering a religious order.

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I don’t understand why people don’t give a hoot about the Dalai Lama being celibate but yet want priests to be married. I don’t understand why gays demand to be married in a church that won’t comply to them and sue people who refuse to bake cakes for them instead of taking their business elsewhere. I don’t understand why people aren’t arguing for civil unions. And think of the divorce rates!

It really stems from a misunderstanding of what love and marriage mean. Society these days sees sex as the be-all, end-all with marriage being just a “bonus.” Marriages aren’t about big weddings and exotic honeymoons or even about being with somebody until you can’t take it anymore. Love and marriage are about sacrifice. And love can manifest in a million different ways that have nothing to do with relationships.

Being a virgin isn’t a disease or something to be ridiculed. At the same time, people shouldn’t put such an emphasis on “purity” that they have entire dances revolving around it. Being a virgin means simply to embrace a life of chastity, which means putting one’s desires aside for a greater cause.

 

When I first read about Jessica Hayes choosing consecrated virginity, my first question wasn’t “Why isn’t she getting married to a man?” but “Why isn’t she going to be a nun?” She answers that question in an article she wrote in Our Sunday Visitor.

“Miss Hayes, why did you want to become a consecrated virgin instead of a religious sister?” posed an inquisitive student in my Women’s Dignity class. “Because I wanted to stay with you,” was my immediate and honest response. Without missing a beat, she replied, “We wanted you to stay with us, too.”

Hayes is a teacher. She wants to devote her life to serving the church through her teaching. She’s not denying herself sex or children.  The bishop who consecrated her goes more into this in his homily that you should seriously read. While many, many nuns out there serve as teachers, the life of a nun belongs to her convent first. By choosing to marry Christ and stay a lay woman, Hayes has a bit more freedom than a religious sister. Her time can be her own, to do whatever she pleases. She’s giving her love to the diocese she serves and to the kids that she teaches. I think that pretty much trumps whatever stuff a certain HBO show can come up with in regards to sex in the city.

So yeah, people. Stop shaming Jessica Hayes for choosing to stay a virgin. Learn from her. And learn what love and marriage really mean.

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Images by Joseph Romie. Posted with permission.

 

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