Dale Martin presents a comprehensive look at how virginity was understood in the first century in the ninth chapter of his book, “The Corinthian Body.” Paul’s recommendations to virgins and the men in their life must be taken very seriously, because for Paul, an improper handling of the desires of virgin women could contaminate the body of the individual and of the church community.
In a similar fashion, many churches today preach the importance of virginity for the sake of the individual. For years, teenagers are told of the dangers, both physical and emotional, of engaging in sexual intercourse before being legally married. Scare tactics are often used and horrible analogies are employed in order to encourage conformity. By paralleling one’s premarital sexual life to bruised fruit, plucked roses, or disappointed husbands, young women are taught an unhealthy view of human sexuality.
This puts enormous pressure on a young woman to behave correctly, and often sets many teenagers up for failure – failure that can carry deep emotional baggage with it. This social pressure and unhealthy sexual discussion then leads to unhealthy (and maybe even unrealistic) discussions and expectations for one’s first night being married. Because sex has been forbidden and presented negatively for so long, there is a huge barrier to overcome in many marriages as to healthy and proper discussions of sex between partners.
Thus, by presenting virginity and its sexual prohibitions in one light, many young people are doomed to think of their sexuality in a taboo manner for the rest of their lives, with young women bearing the brunt of this effect.