Understanding Virginity

Hello! The following is a quote from the Catholic Encyclopedia and I’m having a hard time understanding it. Could someone please break it down for me? Thanks so much!

“It is to be remarked, on the one hand, that material virginity is not destroyed by every sin against the sixth or ninth commandment, and on the other hand that the resolution of virginity extends to more than the mere preservation of bodily integrity, for if it were restricted to material virginity, the resolution, at least outside the married state, might coexist with vicious desires, and could not then be virtuous.” (catholic.org/encyclopedia/view.php?id=12105)

As an example, lusting for your neighbours wife doesn’t make you loose your virginity (if you are a virgin) but by the same token, you can be a virgin and not be chaste if you are in the habit of watching porn, lusting, etc.

Exactly; you can be a “bodily” virgin but not a mental one, AND both can exist at once.

Dear Pyromage07,

The passage you quoted draws a distinction between “material” (aka physical) virginity and a “resolution” (as in a solemn vow) of virginity.

It is possible to commit “sins of the flesh”, such as self-abuse, viewing pornography, or “cyber sex”, without losing “physical” virginity.

However, if one has made a vow of virginity (as in the religious life), such virginity involves not just physical virginity (“virgo intacta”) but purity in thought and word.

In addition to the above examples, I think another way to sin against the sixth commandment without losing your physical virginity would be to “go almost all the way” with someone who is not your spouse. If you do everything short of intercourse with someone, and you’re not married to that someone, that’s a sin against the sixth commandment but you could still be physically a virgin

really wish someone had taken the time to explain all of this to me in my younger years

another example that comes to mind is rape.

I don’t think it’s consider lost virginity if you are physicaly forced against your will. someone correct me if I’m wrong though

I personally believe that if you are raped you are still a virgin, since rape is not sex. It’s a severe violation of another person.

Thank you everyone for the easy-to-understand examples. Much clearer now.

Another thought, so would it be possible to lose one’s physical virginity but then through Reconciliation and time/healing regain their spiritual virginity/chastity?

Yes and no.
They can commit to a life of chastity, but they are no longer a virgin. (Sort of like how a married couple who have relations together are no longer virgins, but are still chaste)
The reason some consider a victim of rape to still be a virgin is that rape is a severe violation of the victim, and is not the same as sex in that respect.

Nah. This distinction is awkward. Virginity is a physical attribute by definition. This should be quite clear. You are overcomplicating things. I wonder why this chastity/virginity theme is so prevalent on Catholic boards. No other denomination seems to care half that much :smiley:

I read somewhere that virginity rose in importance for individuals who were not martyred. Martyrdom was a very high ideal, to give up one’s life for the faith. But, virginity was also considered to be as important, but a bit lower on the scale.

Virginity of the heart (ie chastity) is surely what matters - preoccupation with material virginity is a perhaps a form of vanity or even perfectionism or even scrupulosity.

As a wise old priest regularly advised the boys…once you’ve ejaculated you’ve lost your physical virginity. Get over it.

I disagree. Rape is sex against a persons will, but it’s still sex. Certainly, a person who is raped is not guilty of sin, but they’re not a virgin anymore either. I mean, you could have a virgin be raped and get pregnant from it, but I think there’s only ever been one virgin birth.

Obviously a woman who has violated against her will is may not be physically a virgin (presuming it got to that level of heinousness). She, however, is still a virgin in the eyes of God and culpability, (Assuming that she wasn’t married or had sinned on a separate occasion). St. Augustine makes this clear in “city of God”.

The idea that one could have one’s purity (as opposed to physical virginity) destroyed forcibly is contrary to the Church as well as common sense. It actually reeks of Islam.

To claim that to be raped is the same as to engage in sinful sex would be equivalent to saying that to be murdered is the same as to commit suicide. In both cases the end results are the same (physically speaking) but the blame is not.

If we go back to the OP, it is clear “virginity” has two distinct but related meanings.
One refers to an absolutely chaste heart, the other is the bodily sign of that in the female.

Obviously one can be visciously lustful and retain physical virginity.
Obviously one can also be forced against one’s will and lose bodily virginity yet retain virginal innocence of heart and absolute dedication to God.

The spiritual problem is when people are more interested in protecting the hymen than the heart I suggest.

This reminds me of something I read recently. Some people think that one is righteous merely if they keep to the letter of a law, like the Pharisees. But this is not always the case. For example, Muslims can enter into a temporary marriage for a day where they ‘marry’ a person just to have sexual relations and then divorce her right after. That way they can say they were not having sex outside of marriage. While this might meet the letter of their law prohibiting sex outside marriage it hardly meets the spirit of the law and it is certainly twisting things to get away with immortality on a technicality. As Isaiah says they may keep the commandments but their hearts are far from me.

Jesus said unless your righteousness exceeds that of the Pharisees you will not enter the Kingdom of heaven. It is not enough to merely obey the law to be righteous. We have to actually be righteous in our whole person. Jesus said you have heard it said do not murder but I say to you do not be angry with your brother. It is not enough to just not physically kill someone that you are angry with. In order to be truly righteous like God we must be willing to forgive others who trespass against us.

If one is truly loving God and our neighbour as ourselves we don’t even need laws. Laws are for the immature, not the mature. That is why Scripture says the fruits of the Spirit are love, joy, peace, etc… Against these there is no law. There is no law against love. If one loves their neighbours from the heart they commit no trespass against them. All laws do is to point out the transgressions of us who are not yet fully mature in God. And the only way we can be fully mature is to be transformed by the grace of God.

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