Sunday, December 21, 2008

No Sex Please – It’s Christmas

Virginity was not always a Christian virtue.
And neither was Mary always a virgin.

The concept of virginity is older than Christianity. People believed in female virgin gods who protected wildlife, the harvest and natural woodlands. The virginity of the Vestal Virgins was thought to bring luck to the Roman populace. Occasionally, virgins were sacrificed as especially potent offerings (seven male and seven female virgins to the Cretan Minotaur, Iphigenia). Somehow human beings linked the absence of sexual activity with spiritual purity.

And then came Christianity. And idea of purity was indelibly linked to spiritual purity through the ultimate Virgin - Mary the mother of Jesus. The argument went something like this: the Lord and Saviour of all could not have come from an ordinary mother. She needed to be spiritually pure. And so Christianity borrowed from the Graeco/Roman concepts of virginal purity and suggested that Mary remained a virgin. This was a virginity before becoming mother to Jesus, and forever afterwards. (And some would add even during giving birth to Jesus.)

Why would a lack of sexual experience render anyone pure? One can be a glutton, or a covetous egotist, or an emotionally manipulative schemer, but your virginity guarantees your spiritual purity. Or does it mean that if you are a virgin then these sins will never enter your life?

And so Christmas rolls around – and people venerate Mary for remaining a “Virgin most pure” and fuck themselves silly at office parties and New Year binges. Like the ancient Romans, we want virgins for good luck – just as long as that virgin is not me!

(The photograph is taken by Margolove and is posted at:

1 comment:

Wessel Bentley said...

Well said, Pete!

I'll give you a ring sometime. You've been haunting me in my dreams... and it has nothing to do with speaking about sex or virginity or that kind of stuff. Chat later.

Verification: oding (short for "houding" or "hou-ding"). Let's not go down this road...