About two months ago I found myself on a plane navigating the aisles hoping and praying that whoever I sat next would be cool, or at least not talk to me because I wanted to sleep. I was looking at my ticket number and at the aisles ahead trying to figure out who I would be sitting next to, praying that it wasn’t that elderly gentleman with a cold, or the young mother with a screaming infant.
I got lucky, I sat next to a guy around my age and he didn’t look like he wanted to talk. Score. I planned on watching movies and sleeping for the duration of my flight, but of course, God had other plans.
Talk to him.
No thanks, God. I am cool with watching Ant Man here and pretending like he doesn’t exist.
Meghan, you know my voice. Talk to him.
It was then that I remembered that I need to book our rental car for New Zealand (my friend and I were traveling together but sitting in different seats), so I furiously worked on my phone to find and book a rental before our flight took off. It took about five minutes, I then shut off my phone, turned to him and apologized.
“Sorry, that was rude. I’m Meghan.”
He looked really confused.
I kept going, asking him about his life and why he was going to Hawaii and to my surprise, he really opened up to me.
His name was Joe*, he was 24 and had no idea what he was doing with his life. Most of his days looked like going to work and then spending his evenings getting either high or drunk. He said that whenever he was sober there was this anxiety that would bubble up and swallow him whole, at least until he smoked or drank.
He had cheated on his girlfriend dozens of times, even with married women. It seemed like sex and who he was having it with, was a huge part of his identity.
He seriously doubted if he had a good heart or not. He said that even when he was kind to people, he secretly felt that he was manipulating them, only to use them later.
I asked him his greatest aspiration, and he said, “not to be homeless, like my dad.”
I kept pressing him, “Surely, there must be more that you want. Come on if you could do anything in the world, with no limitations, what would you do?”
“I honestly don’t know. I am never sober enough to figure it out.”
It was then that I thought it might be a good time to start talking about God. About how God loved him and had a plan for his life. I started sharing my own personal testimonies of how I knew God was real and what He had done in my life.
I told him stories of miraculous healings, of demons and angels, of the way God had spoke me through dreams and completely changed my life. I even got a word from God for him that was spot-on. God, himself, spoke to this man through me.
Joe told me he felt like he was supposed to be talking to me, like it was part of some sort of plan for his life. Somewhere along the way, he fidgeted in his seat and asked me, “Are you a virgin?”
At this point he let out an audible yelp, covered his mouth, and jumped up in his seat as if he had just spotted a unicorn. He was in complete disbelief.
I shushed him and tried to calm him down as he squirmed and giggled in his seat. He was downright amazed by this news, “But you’re, like, pretty. How is it possible that you’re a virgin?”
I told him I’ve chosen not to have sex. He couldn’t understand why I would possibly do this. I couldn’t understand how it was more believable to see a deaf woman hear or for a possessed person to be delivered from demons (stories that he didn’t bat an eye at), than for a woman to choose not to have sex.
And it’s not just him, even some of my Christian friends are shocked when I tell them I am a virgin. After they find out the news, just about everyone tries to make me feel better, as if it wasn’t a conscious commitment that I fought to keep.
My virginity didn’t happen to me because I couldn’t “get any.” It’s not a disability I have or some disease I caught. It was something that I chose.
They say, “well that’s ok I didn’t lose my virginity until I was 21,” or some kind of “Good for you. I never could have done that.”
It makes me feel almost embarrassed about my decision to wait. But then I think anyone might feel some kind of embarrassment no matter what their sexual history. If you have had sex, people are going to look at you different too. As if our decisions to have sex or not have it make us who we are.
I see this most profoundly played out in my friends who have worked in the sex trade, where they are seen as a sex object. To the men that purchase them, the pimps who sell them, and even themselves, they are seen purely by their sexuality. They think they ARE sexuality, and it’s hard for them to see themselves as more than that.
And really I am just fed up, my friends who have been trafficked are not their sexuality. She is not the number of men she has slept with or the sexual acts she has performed. Gay men and women are not defined by their attraction to the same sex. I am not defined by the amount of zero sex I have had. You are not defined by your sexual past.
Can we please move on? Can we please talk about something other than what body parts have gone where?
You are more than that. I am more than that. And Joe, that guy on the plane I was talking to, is more than that.
There are better things to be defined by, like who we find our identity in. And in case you’re wondering who that is, it’s God. It’s Jesus Christ himself and a love so infinite that it sees past your mistakes, your sexuality, and anything else you might choose to define yourself by. Anywhere else you turn to get your identity is just not going to cut it.
I’m hoping that if nothing else, that’s what my conversation with Joe on the plane did. I’m praying that it showed him that he was so much more than his addictions, vices, and sexual history. He was Joe and he was loved with a love so much deeper than what he found in his sexual partners.
He was loved by a God who died and rose again just to be with him. And it was that, that incredible, amazing, unchanging, undying love that defined him. And if he could just understand that, if we could all understand that. Then maybe we would stop defining ourselves by our sexuality.
What about you? Have you ever been defined by your sexuality? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.