Emphasis on virginity - Protestant vs. Catholicism?

Most of my background with Protestant churches was from a nondenominational church. Since looking into Catholicism and becoming a Catholic myself, I’ve noticed that the Catholic view on sexuality speaks almost nothing about keeping your virginity, but emphasizes the virtues of self-control and chastity. Most of the mentioning about virginity is about those who take vows or Mother Mary.

In my Protestant time there was a huge emphasis on virginity, and not being affectionate (they taught that holding hands can lead to kissing which eventually leads to more and more until sex is involved). They also taught that if you were no longer a virgin, then God can restore your virginity (I think inwardly).

Is this difference common, and why?

Chastity is (loosely) defined as not having sex outside of marriage, having sex properly within marriage, and not masturbating. So, really, when we say we require chastity we are saying we require staying a virgin until married.

I get a laugh out of those that claim to be “born again virgins”. It’s simply not possible. Virginity is a physical reality. Once someone has had sex they can never be a virgin again. Sure, they can confess sexual sins and receive absolution, but that cannot erase the corporeal consequences of having had sex. One of which is no longer being a virgin.

No such thing as a “born again virgin.” You have sex, you are no longer a virgin. It’s really that simple.

I personally think that the Church has made it clear on how people who aren’t married should conduct themselves. :shrug:

Actually Chastity encompasses far more than just virginity. It is a way of life. For the unmarried, virginity is part of the chaste lifestyle. For the married, honoring the marriage vows and one’s spouse by only having sex with that spouse is part of being chaste. I say “part of” for both, because chastity involves the mind and heart as well as the body. As Jesus taught us,fornication and adultery, etc., begin in the mind. One can have lost their virginity by having sex outside of marriage, but upon repenting of this, while never again a virgin, they can embrace chastity.

So I would say that if the emphasis is only on virginity, it is incomplete. Most faithful Protestants that I know, however, would agree with the chaste lifestyle rather than just emphasize the virginity. They know the teachings of Jesus.

Virginity is like youth, or innocence, or life itself. Once any of these are gone, that’s it, you don’t get them back.

So an emphasis on virginity would bypass all of those who no longer have it.

Chastity however, is not just for those of virginal body, but for everybody.


I agree with this in principle; however, I could also add that the way the CC handles and defines annulment easily leads to similar analysis.

Particularly when a Catholic has been married, gets an annulment, and then marries again…they have to understand why it is that fair-minded, rational people will easily call this their second marriage, or a re-marriage, without really meaning to cause offense. But then sometimes they’ll be like “No, I got an annulment, so I’m not getting re-married and you shouldn’t think of it as a second marriage.”

Using the exact same mindset and basically all the words that you would use when talking about born-again virgins, I am inclined to say- yes, that, and all of that. Additionally, come on, with very few exceptions (those being marriages that are truly null and disallowable from the outset)- respectfully people, who do you think you’re kidding.

Of course chastity incorporates virginity, but I feel like the Catholic Church doesn’t teach specifically to keep your virginity, as if it’s a commandment, they teach self mastery and the theology of the Body. I feel like the church I went to taught about virginity in a way that they felt like they had to, so that they could reach our generation, but it feels flat or incomplete. They taught that sex bonds us to someone and gives them a fraction of ourselves, and God can restore that, but that’s as deep as it went really.

From what I understand, if someone is granted an annulment, they weren’t married in the eyes of God. I haven’t read up on it much because I’m not trying to get one.
This has nothing to do with what the OP stated, though. The OP is talking about the importance of virginity in different denominations. If you wanna talk about annulments, start a thread. :slight_smile:

I don’t remember the commandment of ,“you must keep your virginity.” There is the commandment of not committing adultery, which would include not having sex before marriage. I don’t think the Church overlooks virginity, like it isn’t important or something.

I think protestants emphasize virginity until marriage because they only have two sacraments, or what they call ordinances. They have eliminated all the other ordinances and are left with only baptism and matrimony; and they eliminate the concept of grace received in those ordinances. They then start to trump up those remaining two ordinances by emphasizing other aspects. So what they are left with is virginity being the more important aspect of matrimony.

I find it a bit ironic that often those who go on so much about virginity are also so very quick to disparage the choice of Catholic priests and sisters who remain virgins through out their lives.

I guess some don’t understand why they take those vows.

Hi Mikeeh,
To speak of protestants in a general way usually causes problems.

That said, even Lutherans, who have not eliminated the sacraments or an understanding of them as a means of grace, typically do not view matrimony as a sacrament, per se. Those communions who do not recognize sacraments as means of grace wouldn’t recognize even Baptism that way.
But none of this is meant to imply that American evangelicals, or Lutherans, or others, do not view it of the highest importance, from the time of Genesis, instituted by God for His purposes, and that marriage is a blessing to us from God.


Protestants tend to focus on the material aspects of Christianity. So, with sex…

In my experience, it’s not that there is a huge emphasis on virginity per se. The emphasis is on no sex outside of marriage and for young people and people who have never been married that would essentially mean remaining a virgin.

The idea being that if you impress upon children and young adults the importance of chastity (and thus virginity) early one they will not lose it.

There is also a related idea that someone who is currently a virgin will more easily remain a virgin than someone who is not a virgin will remain continent. Once that person has their first sexual encounter, they fall more easily back into the same sin.

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