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Virginity/sexual abstinence pledges:

Sexual purity, secondary
virginity, & behavior boundaries

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About sexual purity:

The term "sexual purity" is a common term used by conservative Protestant groups. As a minimum, it means to refraining from sexual intercourse except within a opposite-sex marriage bond. The implication is that all sexual activity is in some way sinful, and defiling if it is performed outside of an opposite-sex marriage. This includes behavior by opposite-sex couples from the start of their friendship, through the time when they make a personal commitment to their relationship, through their period of engagement, and up to the conclusion of the marriage ceremony. This teaching also negates the validity of loving, committed same-sex relationships and same-sex marriages.

The True Love Waits and many similar groups define sexual purity very broadly. It includes abstinence from penile-vaginal intercourse as well as many other sexual behaviors, including:

bullet "...Dwelling on thoughts of sex with someone other than a spouse."
bullet Any actions and situations which allow one to be "turned on" sexually.
bullet "Intense hugging, passionate kissing and anything else that leads to lustful thoughts and behavior. Anything beyond a brief, simple kiss can quickly become dangerous."
bullet Sexual touching in any form including solitary activity like masturbation.
bullet Oral sex.
bullet Anal sex.
bullet Viewing pornography or erotic pictures. 1

The concept of "Secondary Virginity" -- voluntary and enforced:

This is a concept promoted by most abstinence pledge groups for unmarried persons who have been sexually active in the past. The person decides to remain "sexually pure" in the future and thereby achieves "secondary virginity" (a.k.a. revirginization, being a born-again virgin, renewed virginity, etc). One cannot regain their original physical virginity. However they can try to change their both their current and future behavior and attitude.

LoveMatters comments:

"Your physical virginity may be lost, but virginity is more than just a physical state. It's an attitude, a frame of mind. It's manifested in the way you look at yourself and others. Secondary virginity is a time to change bad habits and heal past wounds. It allows you to clean and renew yourself prior to marriage." 2

The Virgin Club suggests that attaining secondary virginity is not a simple task. It might require the breakup of a close relationship and the abandoning of friends. Renewed virginity"

"...can be difficult when you are surrounded by an environment that doesn't lend itself to your starting over. Some people have said that they would love to have never had sex, but that they don't want to stop now because 'my boyfriend wouldn't be too happy,' or because 'there isn't much point now.' In situations such as those the best thing, although definitely not the easiest, is to remove yourself from those with a negative influence. Reevaluate the people in your life - if your girlfriend wouldn't approve of you suddenly abstaining from sex, then go back to the fundamentals of your relationship, if she doesn't support your decisions or beliefs, what foundation does your relationship have to stand on?" 3

The New York Times referred to this phenomenon in late 2002 when it commented: "These days, a period of 'secondary virginity,' as it is sometimes called, is increasingly the norm for many brides-to-be across the South, an accommodation to the modern reality of premarital sex and the traditional disapproval of it in the Bible Belt." Some pastors are requiring couples who come for pre-marital counseling to cease sexual activity, and revirginate themselves until marriage. Some pastors make it a condition of them officiating at the marriage. 4,5

Behavioral boundaries:

Remaining sexually inactive until marriage is a bit of an uphill battle. Many polls over the past decade have indicated that North American youths become sexually active, on average, between their 16th and 17th birthday. The average age for first marriage is more than a decade later. Remaining celibate for over decade, while experiencing raging hormones, and an intense desire to be very close to a significant other is extremely challenging for most youth. Various surveys have indicated that 90 to 95% of youths and young adults are non-virgins when they first marry. Thus, as a program, abstinence only has a 5 to 10% success rate.

Most groups that advocate pre-marital sexual abstinence recommend that each couple discuss and establish firm boundaries which list behaviors in which they will not engage. This avoids the couple getting involved in a situation where they might be tempted to lose control and engage in sexual behavior that neither really wants. A list might include:

bullet No physical contact beyond a brief kiss and hand-holding.
bullet Never being alone in a house together.
bullet Never getting horizontal on a bed, couch, floor, etc.
bullet Avoiding being with other couples who are sexually active.
bullet Avoiding one-on-one dates, in favor of group dating.
bullet Avoiding alcohol and other drugs which might lower inhibitions.
bullet Avoiding restricted movies, pornography, erotic materials etc. that might arouse them.

They might also list behaviors that will help them keep their commitment:

bullet Tell friends, their families, spiritual leader(s), and/or counselor(s) about their decisions and obtain their support.
bullet Pray before each date for the strength to resist sexual temptation.

References used:

  1. "Frequently Asked Questions about True Love Waits: What does sexual purity mean exactly?," LifeWay, at:
  2. "How to Start Over If You?ve Lost Your Virginity," Love Matters, at:
  3. "Secondary. "Renewed Virginity," The Virgin Club, at:
  4. Elizabeth Hayt, "It's never too late to be a virgin," The New York Times, 2002-AUG-04.
  5. Cullen Murphy, "Back to Square One: My own private Groundhog Day," The Atlantic Montly, 2003-JAN/FEB.

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or Home > Religious Information > Basic data > Sex > Abstinence > here

Copyright 2005 to 2010 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally posted: 2005-MAR-20
Latest update: 2010-JAN-05
Author: B.A. Robinson

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