"Your naked body deserves the honor of being shared only with someone who is covenanted to never stop loving your naked soul."—Ann Voskamp I read these words, which ring so beautiful and true, and for some reason I was reminded of a conversation I had with a young woman this summer. She told me, "the problem with all of the purity events I went to is they push the message on us that the most important thing about a girl is her virginity." There was a twinge of anger in her tone that broke my heart. I was at some of those events, and I know that was not the intended message. Still, the fact that even one girl came away feeling like that is jarring to me. Regardless of intent, if that message is the one a young woman internalized, we failed her. Even worse, we failed the gospel and the message of grace. So, for every young person who has felt like that, let me set the record straight. You are so much more than the status of your virginity. In fact, the whole idea of "purity" is misleading. Apart from Jesus, none of us is pure--not even the most virginal--but in Him anyone can be--even the most promiscuous. Your value has absolutely nothing to do with your sexual status, but rather your status as the creation of a loving God who thought you were worth dying for. One of the things that always tore me apart when this discussion came up in Sunday School or at youth events was the way issue of virginity was used as a measuring stick in hurtful, competitive ways--at least among the girls. Those who were still waiting felt proud, and those who hadn't waited assumed the others were virgins only because they were undesirable. Hear this: no matter whether you have never looked at the opposite sex or have been around the block and back, you are precious and worth fighting for. You were created for a big, powerful, sacrificial love and you. are. worth. it. The only reason your virginity matters to God is that He wants the best for you. I'll be honest. I hope my kids marry virgins (and marry AS virgins), but not because that would make them better people or more deserving of love. I want it because I think it is the safest, easiest way to enjoy the gift of sex--as designed and free of baggage. However, do you know what I want more? I want them to marry someone who treasures them the way Jesus does, because he or she understands His love. I want them to marry someone who loves their soul and not just their shell. Also, I hope you get that sex isn't dirty, and it's not shameful. God actually created sex, and He wants you to enjoy it. The reason we old folks want you to wait is that we've learned--some of us the hard way--that when you try to enjoy God's gifts outside of the context for which He created them, you lose out on the full joy He wanted you to have. That's why I love the quote above--it's such a great picture of what He intended and why it's so wonderful HIS way. The human body is so much more complex than just hormones, urges and interlocking parts. Even secular science is finding that the best scenario for physical intimacy is within the context of a committed, monogamous relationship. Good sex releases chemicals that bond you emotionally to another person. The only way to have sex without creating that bond is to have bad sex, and who wants that? It's also no surprise to find out that psychological research is finding that those who follow the hook-up culture's message of sex without relationship or commitment often suffer psychologically. Whether your mind accepts it or not, your body and your subconscious know that sex is more than just physical. I guess that's the message I hope you get. You are loved whether you wait or not. You are valuable whether you wait or not. But when I urge you to wait, it's because I know something. Someone needs to counter the message that the culture is sending. We were made for something different and so much better.