By Tom Quiner
I regularly read advice columnists.
I don’t read them for the advice as much as to keep my finger on the pulse of the culture.
I read Ann Landers until she died.
I read Dear Abbey.
And I particularly enjoy a syndicated advice columnist named Carolyn Hax.
Ninety-percent … no, make it 95% of the problems people write about could be eliminated if they embraced the virtue of chastity.
And yet, “chastity” is a word sneered at by the culture.
Carolyn Hax had an interesting letter from a 19 year old girl anxious to expunge herself of her virtue:
“I am a 19-year-old freshman in college. I have decided to lose my virginity soon, obviously in a safe way while using protection. Is it okay to not tell the guy I’m a virgin? It’s come up before and it seems to bother guys. I also hate the idea of someone knowing they were my first; I (irrationally, I know) feel like it gives them power over me. I sort of want to get this over with in a sort of one-night-stand kind of way.”
“You don’t have to tell. You don’t have to “get this over with,” either.
In a way, both waiting and one-night-standing it give your virginity more power than you seem to want it to have. Both make it into a Thing.
If instead you just go about your life and it happens when it happens, then I think it’ll occupy a more comfortable place in your psyche. Just a hunch.
If you ignore me, though, pick someone trustworthy.”
[Read her complete response here.]
You know who would be trustworthy? A guy who said, “you’re worth waiting for.”
I decided to get some feedback on the subject from a writer whom I respect, Arleen Spenceley. She is author of “Chastity is for Lovers,” which will be out on November 28th.
Here’s her take on the full exchange:
“The letter’s writer’s decision to lose her virginity is rooted in her resistance to divulging her virginity. She doesn’t want to be a virgin so that she won’t have to tell somebody she is. But that turns what she wrote into a catch 22.
She wants to have sex — which requires the disclosure of a lot of private things — because she doesn’t want to have to disclose private things (or, at least, one of them).
In her response, Carolyn Hax told the letter’s writer that she doesn’t have to tell a partner she hasn’t had sex. But secrets and sex don’t mesh. Sex, which is designed in part for unity, requires communication. A person who is unwilling or unable to communicate is not prepared for sex.
What bothers the letter’s writer about having to tell a guy she’s a virgin is his response to that — he’ll be bothered by it, she wrote, or have power over her. But there is no difference between a man who is bothered by a woman’s virginity and the same man when he doesn’t know she’s a virgin.
There is no difference between a man who takes advantage of a woman’s virginity and the same man when he doesn’t know she’s a virgin. In other words, the only factor affected by her decision not to tell a guy she’s a virgin is her knowledge of whether he’s the kind of guy who would do the very things she doesn’t want a man to do.
So to the letter’s writer, I’d say this: Carolyn Hax is right. You don’t have to “get this over with.” There is no wholly comfortable way to tell somebody that you haven’t had sex, but please know that person who can’t handle it when you say it, is a person with whom it isn’t safe to have sex.
I’d also refer her to the Catechism of the Catholic Church’s chastity section, and give her a copy of my book.”