virgin master

LOW GLORY. At various times in my life, friends, foes and more distant observers of my lifestyle have expressed astonishment upon learning that I chose to remain a virgin until marriage, and that I am now teaching my children this same value. Their incredulity has often been expressed with words like, "I think it is very unreasonable to expect kids to abstain from sexual intercourse before marriage; it’s just too hard, given the social pressures, the media, our sexually open society and all.”

These observers certainly didn't intend it, but their very words and attitudes imply that I and others who have chosen to remain virgins until marriage have accomplished a tremendous feat, against great odds. I am a Virgin Master.

These folks would be irritated that I now construe their words as confirmation of my having accomplished something remarkable and celebratory. For what they often mean to imply is that only people with weird religious ideas about sex (a.k.a. ‘hangups’) show up virgins at the wedding alter. Sometimes they mean to imply that they are just such sexual beings, their libido so strong, they be so sexy, they just couldn't restrain themselves. And those who do? Well, they just somehow weren't as blessed/cursed with the raging hormones normal people let rage.

I’ve never had any such observer cede the great deal of harm---hurt feelings, broken trust, health risk, etc.---a celibate individual spares others by choosing to remain a virgin. Instead, they are more likely to grudgingly accuse virgins of being instigators of pain, of guilt, and exclusion by projecting the ridiculous value of chastity. Virgins are party poopers.

MEDIUM GLORY. In celebrating my Virgin Master status I do not intend to raise myself above others. The truth is we all fall short of the glory of God. In fact, being a virgin means nothing unless one is doing it out of a love and desire to follow Jesus. It would be like fasting to be seen of men.

Jesus can redeem anyone who comes to him. Blessedly, those who forfeit their Virgin Master status can yet reclaim their virtue, and become, perhaps a “Celibacy Master”---a redeemed one, who is born again to walk a virtuous way.

This story I write as a private reflection. It is my journal-story celebration of an accomplishment. Such celebration seems not a sin. I would feel no shame in celebrating my winning a race. Therefore I will not shrink to celebrate my virginity, a virginity that was won in the face of great and imposing odds. I humbly recognize that my virginity was a choice I was able to make because of the knowledge and temperance God gave to me. It is an expression of my faith and love for him.

I have laid claim to Virgin Master in a long series of choices over a long period of time. And now I celebrate those choices and give God praise that like Joseph of Egypt I was able to flee enticements of the flesh. In saying this, I do not put myself above Joseph of Egypt, or anyone. Most people face similar dire choices of eternal magnitude with equal valor. But this accomplishment is mine, and today I am grateful.

I am grateful that my forefathers chose to show me the way of the Virgin Master. My father tells a tale that has inspired me. He tell of his time with the Navy in Guam. He had two weeks of leave in Hong Kong. He traveled with two friends, a Jewish fellow, and a young man named Callis from Chicago. As they travled to Hong Kong they were full of excitement. Callis announced he would be living with women in Hong Kong. He had been saving money for a wedding, he had his fiancĂ© in Chicago send him some of this money for his vacation in Hong Kong. He said, “hey, it’s my money, I’ll do as I please.” And he did. My father chose a different path. He parted way with his buddies. He spent time visiting a family who belonged to his religion (the father of this family told my father stories about his days being a “Flying Tiger” in World War II). My father reflected on his time, saying I had every opportunity for illicit activity. I can still remember seeing my friends, smiling and waving to them across a street. They were with women. I was with God.

I honor my father, the Virgin Master.

HIGH GLORY. There are certain truths, beliefs that are so strong, so brilliant, and so utterly explosive that we hesitate to publicly unsheathe them, to frankly admit them, and even to privately confirm them. The reason is that these peculiar beliefs have the potential of tearing asunder the very fabric of ordinary life, rupturing the comfortable taken-for-grantedness of life as we know it. These beliefs can significantly challenge our naive notions about what in society merits our approbation and regard. Ancient prophets who dared unsheathe these beliefs in a blunt way often suffered death by stoning.

I recently unsheathed such a belief in front of a number of people who are close to me. I posed this particular belief as a question to my parents, my pastor, my uncle, and a number of my close friends. While none of them picked up stones, they each reacted with a moment of hesitation, if not irritation, as my question brought the force of a provocative truth down upon them, forcing them to confess something almost unbelievable about me (and themselves).

I asked them, “which accomplishment do you believe is more significant, deserves more honor, would be more likely to cause angles of heaven to break into songs of delight?

Accomplishment A: me arriving at the wedding alter a virgin. Or, accomplishment B: me achieving all of the following accomplishments combined: being the first cyclist in history to win seven Tours de France (like Lance Armstrong), and being a six-time NBA champion and league MVP (like Michael Jordan), and summating the world’s highest peak six times (like Ed Viesturs) being the first man on the moon (like Neil Armstrong) and being lead singer for the Rolling Stones (like Mic Jagger). Accomplishment A or B?

Before you answer, however, let me add this qualifier to accomplishment A. Not only will I be a virgin at my wedding alter, but my accomplishment will be done in secret, without the notoriety, publicity, public recognition and societal confirmations that would be mine in accomplishment B.

So now I ask you, which of my accomplishments would be the greater, A or B?

The vote was unanimous. I am the Virgin Master.

By writing this in my personal journal and keeping my celebrations of this accomplishment private, I am following the ways of the Virgin Master. It needs to be enough for me to know that God knows I have achieved this high status.

Here are three reasons we Virgin Masters should be secretive about our high status.

First, humility and compassion. The way of the Virgin Master is open to all. Yet, for reasons I soon discuss, many people will choose to not take this peculiar pathway of accomplishment. It is wise to not suppose you are better than they, nor to overshadow them with your colossal accomplishment. It is a great act of kindness and humility, the way of a true hero and master, to veil the brilliant light of high accomplishment; revealing it only at the right time, place and among the right persons.

Second, disbelief. Besides, most people, would only ridicule you; and see you, at best, as someone who is delusional. Someone who only thinks they have accomplished a great feat. Ironically, weathering such slander, or even only the anticipation of being defamed, further confirms your rightful status as a master. You can take heart knowing throughout history many people of great accomplishment, though not all, have been similarly derided and dismissed.

Third, fear. As you might imagine, the way of the master is going to have an extreme edge. By “edge” I mean both an audacity and an advantage.

People who travel this way are foraying to an unfamiliar place; doing, seeing and believing unconventional things.

Because people fear the unfamiliar, the edge can be a fearful place. The way of the Master is so edgy that many people are apprehensive even talking about it, let alone traveling it. Many people prefer to pursue accomplishments along more familiar, traditional, conventional and supposedly more sure pathways.

For the sake of kindness, peace, and the sanctity of individual liberty, I believe that neither you nor I should coerce others to walk this or any other path.

Most people labor diligently their entire lives, under intense pressure, just to lay claim to lower accomplishments (e.g. to be a mid-level manager in a large corporation). Until such people of their own freewill decide to follow “the way of the Master” we should be circumspect. We should not wave our colossal accomplishments in anyone’s face, nor even speak of it, except on occasion to kindly remind them that such a way exists.

In other words, we should do as the Master of all masters instructs, ”go forth as sheep in the midst of wolves; being wise as serpents, and harmless as doves” (Matthew 10:16).