ďA SERMON TO VIRGINSĒ
First Corinthians 7.17-38
1. I once spoke to a fornicator and told him that if he ever got saved he would want to marry a nice Christian girl who was a virgin. The fornicator told me that there werenít any virgins anywhere. Contrary to what he thought, there are some virgins left in the world.
2. Perhaps there are not many in southern California who are virgins, but of the few unmarried virgins left in the world I am happy to report to you that we have some in our Church who have not defiled themselves by committing sexual sin.
3. Young people, listen carefully to me, because I am a rare individual, indeed. Most adults in most Churches in America these days were not virgins when they got married. But when I got married I was a virgin.
4. Somehow and in some way God protected me from the sin of fornication before I got saved. He did not choose to protect me from stupidity before I got saved, or from foolishness. Neither did He choose to protect me from drunkenness or brutality. But He did protect me from the sin of fornication. When I married my wife I was a virgin.
5. It has come to my attention that too many young people these days have never been taught by their parents, have never been preached to by their pastors, on the virtues, on the benefits, on the advantages of being a virgin. Too many young people have no strong personal convictions about virginity, and you are virgins only because you are too immature to be fornicators or have not yet had opportunity to commit fornication.
6. What would you do if your mother or father foolishly allowed you to date? What would you do if your mother or father regretfully allowed an older brother or older sister who committed fornication to continue living with the family, therefore spreading the temptation to commit fornication?
7. What happens in homes where the mother or the father is an unrepentant fornicator, and therefore does not know or value the importance of being a virgin?
8. Have you ever given thought to being a virgin? Have you ever examined Godís Word to consider what importance God places on an unmarried personís virginity? Have you set for yourself the goal of remaining a virgin until you marry?
8. My desire in this first of several messages on the subject is to provoke you virgins to think about what it is to be a virgin, and what the advantages are to being a virgin. Contrarily, I will seek in this message to give you a glimpse of the utter folly and personal degradation that fornicators heap upon themselves, and how giving in to the temptation to commit sexual sin has set them up for a lifetime of personal tragedy and difficulties in marriage.
10. If I have succeeded in securing your attention, please turn to First Corinthians 7.17. When you find that verse, please stand for the reading of Godís Word:
17 But as God hath distributed to every man, as the Lord hath called every one, so let him walk. And so ordain I in all churches.
18 Is any man called being circumcised? let him not become uncircumcised. Is any called in uncircumcision? let him not be circumcised.
19 Circumcision is nothing, and uncircumcision is nothing, but the keeping of the commandments of God.
20 Let every man abide in the same calling wherein he was called.
21 Art thou called being a servant? care not for it: but if thou mayest be made free, use it rather.
22 For he that is called in the Lord, being a servant, is the Lordís freeman: likewise also he that is called, being free, is Christís servant.
23 Ye are bought with a price; be not ye the servants of men.
24 Brethren, let every man, wherein he is called, therein abide with God.
25 Now concerning virgins I have no commandment of the Lord: yet I give my judgment, as one that hath obtained mercy of the Lord to be faithful.
26 I suppose therefore that this is good for the present distress, I say, that it is good for a man so to be.
27 Art thou bound unto a wife? seek not to be loosed. Art thou loosed from a wife? seek not a wife.
28 But and if thou marry, thou hast not sinned; and if a virgin marry, she hath not sinned. Nevertheless such shall have trouble in the flesh: but I spare you.
29 But this I say, brethren, the time is short: it remaineth, that both they that have wives be as though they had none;
30 And they that weep, as though they wept not; and they that rejoice, as though they rejoiced not; and they that buy, as though they possessed not;
31 And they that use this world, as not abusing it: for the fashion of this world passeth away.
32 But I would have you without carefulness. He that is unmarried careth for the things that belong to the Lord, how he may please the Lord:
33 But he that is married careth for the things that are of the world, how he may please his wife.
34 There is difference also between a wife and a virgin. The unmarried woman careth for the things of the Lord, that she may be holy both in body and in spirit: but she that is married careth for the things of the world, how she may please her husband.
35 And this I speak for your own profit; not that I may cast a snare upon you, but for that which is comely, and that ye may attend upon the Lord without distraction.
36 But if any man think that he behaveth himself uncomely toward his virgin, if she pass the flower of her age, and need so require, let him do what he will, he sinneth not: let them marry.
37 Nevertheless he that standeth stedfast in his heart, having no necessity, but hath power over his own will, and hath so decreed in his heart that he will keep his virgin, doeth well.
38 So then he that giveth her in marriage doeth well; but he that giveth her not in marriage doeth better.
11. Weíre going to spend a couple of weeks examining this and some related passages, but this is the central place in Godís Word dealing with Godís will for a Christian who is a virgin. So, here we will stay for the most part in ďA Sermon To Virgins.Ē
1A. Let Me Begin By Asking The Question, WHAT IS A VIRGIN?
1B. Websterís New Universal Unabridged Dictionary defines a virgin simply as ďa person who has never had sexual intercourse.Ē Bauer & Dankerís A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and other Early Christian Literature defines the Greek word for ďvirgin,Ē parqenos, in exactly the same way. Itís a person whoís never committed the sin of fornication.
2B. I once worked a couple of summers in the mid 1960s for a fellow named Rex Bray, a man of vast experience.
1C. Joining the Army as a young Mormon man from Utah, Rex Bray found himself stationed at Clark Field in the Philippine Islands at the outbreak of World War 2. And after being captured and living through the Bataan Death March, he survived 3Ĺ years in a Japanese prison camp, incredibly enough in the same prison camp my uncle was in.
2C. O, the stories Rex Bray told me over coffee and cigarettes. Eye-opening stories. Stories about his time as an enlisted man in Egypt and Libya after the war, stories about his time serving as the senior noncommissioned officer in the Strategic Air Command under General Curtis LeMay, and stories about his time in the Philippine Islands. I listened carefully to his stories.
3C. One particular story stands out because it relates to our subject this evening. It seems that young Rex Bray was in Manilla on leave. Having never met a stranger, he was in conversation with a Roman Catholic priest during the course of a parade. When he asked the priest what the parade was all about, the priest explained that it was an annual parade of virgins held every year in honor of the Virgin Mary.
4C. Rex told me that when he pointed out to the priest that a number of the young women in the parade were local prostitutes, the Catholic priest sheepishly explained that ďHere in the Philippines we define a virgin as a woman who has never had a child.Ē
5C. Was Rex Bray telling me the truth? Or was he pulling the leg of a teen aged boy? I donít know. But I do know that the concept of who and what a virgin is is not difficult to understand. A virgin is someone who has never engaged in sexual intercourse. Period. And I never did ask Rex Bray how he knew some of the young women in the parade were prostitutes.
3B. I also remember the very first year that I took our Church kids to camp on Mount Palomar. That year we shared the camp with two other groups.
1C. One group, of course, was about 150 young Korean kids in a camp conducted by Korean Presbyterian Churches from the Los Angeles area. That was the camp in which the Hymers twins overheard a preacher ask all 150 kids how many wanted to go to heaven, and when all 150 raised their hands he led them all in prayer. And when they all indicated they had prayed that prayer he rejoiced, ďPraise God, it looks like all 150 of you kids just got saved!Ē
2C. Over the years since then I have ridiculed that naive decisionism, but there was yet another group sharing the camp with us that first year.
3C. They were a bevy of young San Diego area beauties who danced and pranced around the camp in short shorts, for those of you who remember. I learned that that group of blue-eyed blondes were girls who had gotten themselves involved with sex and drugs, and their rich daddies sent them to a rehab clinic. They ended up at our camp for a final week of treatment and evangelical decisionism before they donned their white gowns and sat down to a nice candlelight meal with their well dressed fathers, as the preacher declared them all to be virgins once again.
4C. By what amazing deceit that so-called preacher was able to pull off that bit of shysterism I do not know, but a virgin is someone who has never engaged in sexual activity. And once you have engaged in sexual activity, there is no power on earth or in heaven that alters that bit of personal history and experience.
5C. You kids who are virgins, remember this: You are a virgin only if and so long as you have never engaged in sexual intercourse with anyone. Once you engage in sexual intercourse with anyone, be it boyfriend or husband to be, be it lover or casual acquaintance, and no matter how long ago it occurred, you are no longer a virgin.
6C. Understand that there are many who are not virgins who wished they were virgins again. There are so many who foolishly threw away their virtue who would try to reclaim it. And there is an entire world of men and women who are no longer virgins, but are too stupid to see the tragedy and heartache they have brought upon themselves. The point being? Virginity is something that once lost can never, ever, be regained.
7C. Oh, how many of our Church parents pray that you young people come to realize that fact. But too many Church parents give little thought to such matters. I wonder how many of you kids have ever had your momma or your daddy sit down and talk to you about the importance of being a virgin on your wedding night.
2A. Which Brings Me To The Next Question, WHAT ADVANTAGE HAS AS VIRGIN?
Of course, the world would have you think that a fornicator, a tramp, a slut, a whore monger, an alley cat, someone with the morals of a barn yard animal, has an advantage over the virgin. But remember that Satan is a liar and sinfulness is deceptive. The wicked and their stupid apologists insist on their superiority, but Godís Word declares otherwise. ďLet God be true, but every man a liar,Ē Romans 3.4.
I propose to consider the virginís advantage, your advantage, negatively and positively.
1B. Negatively, virgin, what have you not done by maintaining your chastity? At least four things:
1C. First, by not following the fornicating crowd, by not succumbing to the temptation to throw your virtue away, by not seducing or being seduced, by not having sex before you get married, you have not sinned against your own body. Look at First Corinthians 6.18, where Paul shows the uniqueness of the sin of fornication as a sin which a person commits against himself: ďFlee fornication. Every sin that a man doeth is without the body; but he that committeth fornication sinneth against his own body.Ē So serious a sin against yourself is this sin of fornication that Paul urges anyone tempted to commit this sin to literally run from the situation! So, you who are virgins are blessed in that you have not sinned against yourself in this way.
2C. Next, by not sinning in this way, by not defiling yourself in this way, you have not violated the purpose for which God created your physical body. In the last half of First Corinthians 6.13 Paul wrote, ďNow the body is not for fornication, but for the Lord; and the Lord for the body.Ē Notice that Paul did not say that the body is not for sex, because it most certainly is for sex. The human body is wonderfully suited for sexual pleasure, but it is not suited for sexual pleasure outside of marriage. So, when a man or a woman engages in sex outside of marriage that person has tragically misused the physical body that God has given. What a waste. What a shame. And what guilt and heartache as a result.
3C. Third, as a virgin you spare yourself the terrible memories that fornicators are burdened with. Imagine what it does to a marriage when that person who was not a virgin when he or she got married thinks and dreams and reminisces, not about the person they are married to, but about that person or those people they slept with before they married! Such memories are, in my opinion, one of the chief causes of the so-called mid-life crises that so many men go through in their 40s or 50s, that result in them committing adultery and divorcing their wives. But such temptations you spare yourself later in life so long as you are a virgin until you get married.
4C. Finally, as a virgin, especially as a young woman who is a virgin, you have not by committing fornication forever altered the relationship only a virgin has with her father. O, I know a girl can cry and ask her dadís forgiveness for committing fornication. And I know a dad can honestly forgive his daughter for committing such a wicked sin against God, against him, and against herself. But, when all is said and done, fornication does irreparable damage to the relationship a girl has with her daddy, even if her daddy never finds out that she wasnít a virgin when she got married. You see, in Godís Word a virgin daughterís issues of marriage are dealt with in cooperation with her dad, in First Corinthians 7.36-38. But a girl who is no longer a virgin finds herself dealt with in First Corinthians 7.8 and following. ďO, but pastor, I apologized to my dad and we worked out my marriage together.Ē I donít care what you say, Godís Word says different. You kids who are virgins, especially you girls, keep in mind that there is a part of your relationship with your daddy that you will forever ruin if you give up your virginity. And nothing will recapture it and restore it to the way it was once itís ruined. Nothing.
5C. These, then, are the things you have not done by remaining a virgin.
2B. Positively, there are some other things you have done by remaining a virgin.
1C. First, by remaining a virgin you have protected your virtue. Whatís wrong with being virtuous? Whatís wrong with doing right? To be sure, no one is perfect. But whatís wrong with keeping your trousers up and your skirt down? Why do you need to cheapen yourself by behaving in a base and degraded manner? If you are a virgin until you marry you have protected your virtue, which is worth protecting.
2C. Next, by remaining a virgin you have prepared yourself for marriage. ďI thought you prepared for marriage by sleeping around and getting experience, pastor. The song says, ĎMy momma told me, youíd better shop around.íĒ Thatís utter nonsense. Thatís a lie from the pit of Hell. You who are a virgin should make sure you marry a virgin, and you will be married to someone with whom you can share with each other what hasnít been shared with anyone else in the world, what hasnít been cheapened by misuse, and what has been saved for your beloved. Excuse me, but if gum thatís already been chewed is thought to be disgusting to chew, what about a partner whoís casually bedded other people before marrying you?
3C. Third, by remaining a virgin you have planted no seeds of marital destruction. You may think Iím being hard on people who were not virgins when they got married, but youíre mistaken. Iím simply speaking from a quarter century of counseling with couples, some of whom were virgins when they married, but the vast majority of whom were not virgins. Thereís a difference, kids. Can God give people who were not virgins when they married a wonderful life together? To be sure, He can and does. But everything is so much more difficult, unimaginably more difficult, for those who were not virgins when they married, than those who were virgins when they married. And when a virgin marries one who is not a virgin? God can bless, but it is sometimes so very sad. Unless God works mightily, the person who commits fornication really has started a time bomb that promises to destroy a future marriage unless God mightily, mercifully, and powerfully intervenes.
4C. Finally, if you maintain your virginity until you marry you have preserved your fatherís position in your life. Words fail me in my attempts to describe the damage done by the stupid girl who beds a guy before she marries. O, what sin she has committed against her father. O, how she will suffer for it in ways she cannot comprehend. Just rest assured in the knowledge that you who remain virgins until you marry have spared yourself a world of unnecessary grief and heartache.
1. Dad? Someday a daughter may come to you after forsaking her virginity for a season of foolishness. And she will cry and plead with you for forgiveness.
2. Dad? Please forgive her. Please embrace her. Please do what you can to love her and to minister to her spiritual needs.
3. But dad? If she seeks comfort from you and the assurance that things have been restored to the way things were before, when she was still a virgin, do not assure her that they have, for that is not possible.
4. Just as a man whose sin results in his hand being cut off will not have that hand replaced by Godís or manís forgiveness, so virginity is not restored by Godís or a fatherís forgiveness, and that daughter will not be restored by God from First Corinthians 7.8 to First Corinthians 7.36-38.
5. You who are virgins, you have been given great advantage by God. Advantage for marriage, advantage with your father, and advantage for conversion by having less heart hardening sin in your life to interfere with the Holy Spiritís work of preparing your heart for Christ.
6. Please, do not throw your advantages away. Make the best use you can of your advantages. When you get to be my age, and perhaps years before you get to be my age, you will be profoundly thankful to God that you did.
7. Now, before this eveningís sermon, brother Isenberger comes to lead us in a song.
1. Not everyone resists the temptation to commit fornication. Some give in to their urges and yield to opportunities that present themselves and commit sexual sins. Others pursue sexual sins with a vengeance, literally prowling about in a hunt for illicit sex, trying desperately to find someone who will bed them.
2. Regardless of the specific reasons why you are no longer a virgin, the fact remains that you are no longer a virgin. By your own behavior you have removed yourself from near the end of First Corinthians chapter 7 to near the beginning of chapter 7, from Paulís dealings with those who are virgins to Paulís dealings with those who are (How shall I say it?) sexually experienced.
3. Let me, in the few minutes remaining, recap for you the course of your life up till now.
1A. First, YOU ARE CATEGORIZED IN GODíS WORD A ďFORNICATORĒ
1B. Does that sound bad? It is bad. You were already a sinner. You were a sinner before you were ever born. And youíve committed sins over the course of your lifetime since you were born. But then you committed the sin of fornication and forfeited your virginity.
2B. Now you are in an entirely different realm of temptation and enticement. Now you have so damaged yourself that the impact of the sin of fornication will be felt throughout the rest of your life. How many wrecked lives and ruined homes have been destroyed by being built upon a foundation weakened by fornication? Only God knows.
2A. Next, YOU HAVE VIOLATED GODíS INTENT
1B. God intended for you to be born, to grow up, and then to marry. His grand design included you being sexually inexperienced until your wedding night, and your spouse being sexually inexperienced on your wedding night, and the two of you mutually recognizing that ďMarriage is honourable in all, and the bed undefiled,Ē Hebrews 13.4.
2B. Your body was not made for fornication. Sex within the boundaries of marriage? Yes. But sex outside of marriage is dangerous, is damaging to a personís spirit, and is damning to a personís soul. Were you not spiritually blind and dull in your sensibilities you would understand what damage you have done to yourself by abandoning Godís intent for you and rushing into something you should have patiently waited for.
3B. Now youíve got a royal mess to deal with that is so complicated and confusing that it will spend decades straightening out, if your mess ever gets straightened out.
3A. Third, YOUíVE SINNED AGAINST YOUR OWN BODY
1B. Sexual sins are different than any other kinds of sins. Any sin is a wicked attack against God and deserves His harshest punishment. And many sins are also sins against other people, such sins as lying and stealing and extortion. But in a way unlike other sins, sexual sins are sins against your own body.
2B. You hurt yourself in ways you do not comprehend when you sleep with someone before you marry, even if you sleep with the person you eventually marry. You do damage to your spirit by scarring yourself, by scalding your sensitivities, by callusing yourself emotionally. But according to First Corinthians 6.18, when you sin in this way you also sin against your own body.
3B. In what way does a man or a woman or a young person sin against his own body by such a sin as this? I donít know. Spiritually? To be sure. Emotionally? I have no doubt of it. Physically, in some way no team of doctors has yet figured out? I am convinced of it. Your body was not designed by God to experience sex outside marriage. And when it does certain things start getting fouled up. And no one knows just how it affects everything, except God.
4A. Fourth, YOUíVE DISHONORED YOUR PARENTS
1B. The great tragedy, of course, is that so many parents place so little stock on the importance of their children honoring them. But regardless of your parentís evaluation of your behavior, according to Godís Word you dishonor both your mother and your father by committing such sin.
2B. The fellow who sleeps with a manís daughter is the greatest enemy the man can possibly have. No greater danger to a manís home exists than the fellow who would subvert his daughter and undermine his family in such a way. And no more traitorous act is possible by a daughter than to commit sexual sin and dishonor her parents.
3B. Why is it, then, that such sins are so quickly brushed aside? Why is it that children are not reminded how terrible and how tragic such a sin is against their parents? And why are parents so shallow in their thinking, so pathetic in their lack of personal dignity and self respect, that such a sin by a son or a daughter doesnít quite literally crush them?
4B. Young person, I promise you that you have no idea what wickedness you perpetrate against your parents, what crashing and dashing of their hopes and dreams and aspirations for you results from such a sin as this. And I only wish more parents saw the seriousness of this dishonoring sin.
5A. Finally, YOUíVE FAILED TO LOVE AND OBEY GOD
1B. You do understand, do you not, that loving God and obeying Him is not an option? You are aware that He commands you to love Him, He demands that you love Him, and that loving Him means obeying Him?
2B. What a great sin it is not to love God, not to obey God. Yet it is a sin that you commit without much regard or concern. And when sexual sins are committed they are committed without any thought whatsoever for Godís will or Godís commands.
1. If you are not a virgin, your sins are heaped up very high against you. You have a great store of Godís wrath laid up awaiting judgment day to be poured out upon you.
2. You are in desperate need of the forgiveness that only Jesus Christ provides. And if you do not someday come to Christ your life with be a pathetic testimony to the ravages caused by the sin of fornication.
Websterís New Universal Unabridged Dictionary, (New York: Barnes & Noble Books, 1996), page 2124.
Bauer, Danker, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and other Early Christian Literature, (Chicago, Illinois: The University of Chicago Press, 2000), page 777.