Virginity: A Religious Precept Or Social Construct? ASK A SEX THERAPIST

I was randomly scrolling through my Facebook newsfeed and saw a post where a young woman was posing with her new husband and the caption read: “This lovely bride presented a Certificate of Virginity to her father on her wedding day. A doctor certified that her hymen was intact and that she’s a virgin! It’s a new trend in Christian weddings.” I took the liberty of attempting to correct the grammar in the original post since Every Word Began With A Capital Letter. A famous gospel singer reposted this, saying she didn’t understand the negative backlash and that she sang at the wedding featured in the post and applauded the young lady.

Virginity is a social construct created to control the sexual agency of individuals, primarily women. The hymen is not some impenetrable barrier that is only broken during intercourse, but a thin layer of tissue that can “break” during different types of athletic activities. Some girls are born without them, although rare. But if we know all of this (and Google is free), why do we still place so much emphasis on the idea of virginity?

A few more questions: exactly what are we applauding? And was the young man’s chastity equally scrutinized? And then, as a sex therapist, all I could think was that they may be hiring a sex therapist in their near future. I’m completely conjecturing, but if she was raised to believe that sex outside of marriage was bad, was she empowered to learn her own body so she could guide her new husband in pleasing her? Or was she taught, as so many women are within the Church, that sex is for the man and it’s just your wifely duty to provide it on demand or someone else will?

Okay, I have more than a few questions, but that post really bothered me. I believe we spend too much time legislating women’s sexuality, particularly black women’s sexuality, not really focusing on pleasure. And yes, pleasure can be taught within a Christian context (just read Song of Solomon). But I think we have so much more work to do. So many more conversations are needed and so much more education is appropriate. If we continue to hold onto antiquated ideas regarding sexuality, we’ll only do more harm to ourselves when we are really standing in the need of healing.


De-Andrea Blaylock-Johnson is a licensed clinical social worker and sex therapist in private practice at Sankofa Sex Therapy, LLC. She’s on the Executive Board of the Women of Color Sexual Health Network and has been featured as a sexpert on and Check out her YouTube show, Ask A Sex Therapist, where she answers your questions related to sex and sexuality and visit her website,



5 responses on “Virginity: A Religious Precept Or Social Construct? ASK A SEX THERAPIST

  1. Sophia

    You raise great questions and concerns. I have nothing but love and respect for anyone, man or woman, who chooses to remain a virgin until marriage. But … and there are a few buts, here … virginity does NOT equal purity, in my opinion. I know several women who claimed virginity only because they didn’t engage in vaginal penetration – type sex. Yet, they were active and expert at oral sex, anal sex, and manual sex. Also, why is a woman’s sexuality still policed, suppressed and controlled in 2015? Haven’t we moved beyond those patriarchal ideas of chastity? Apparently not. And finally, if you are still technically a virgin, why proclaim it to the world? Who cares? It’s none of my business what you or your fiance did or didn’t do before your wedding day. As long as the love, commitment, respect and shared dreams are real, isn’t that all that matters? Isn’t the wedding enough of a proclamation of your devotion to this man?

  2. suzy

    Sophia i love this discussion,whn i was a little girl i always think of staying a virgin till marriage;am a single mom ,n i’v dated a couple of guys but can u believe i had to have sex w abt four guys before disvirgined but before i went around saying i was a virgin who told u i was,i wasnt cos i use to have manual n oral sex w my guys.i dnt think its kind of a big show to let the world knw one’s sexual status before marraige ,its btn u ,ur bed n ur hubby.but i respect those who chose to stay virgin before marraige n i think its a choice

  3. De-Andrea

    Oh Sophia, I completely agree with you! An in-tact hymen only gives the message of no penetrative sex, but then, it forces us to look at our definition of sex. Like you said, folks can be experts of “everything but” and still proclaim themselves as virgins. However, defining sex so narrowly excludes an entire demographic of people who express themselves sexually in ways outside of penetration.

  4. Michelle

    Really?? Correct her grammar on FB? Get your life! In case you didn’t know, people do not write college essays on FB. I am annoyed by that comment. So now you are using her lack of grammar on FB (like really? no one cares on FB) and her lack of understanding the hymen to suggest she’s not intelligent.

    I can’t say I completely agree with this sex therapist with some of her statements. First of all, I am a Christian and never, ever heard of presenting a Certificate of Virginity and it being the new “fad”. Please don’t put all of Christianity in that category. Most Christians I know and grew up with understand that as you get older the hymen can be broken. Some break during their first pap smear! Yes there are people who do not understand that. But does that mean we cannot applaud this young lady for keeping her virginity?

    What are we upset about here? In this sex craved society where STDs and HIV/AIDS are effecting more minority women, I applaud her for staying pure and waiting.

    Yes we do need to encourage men to do the same and channel that sexual energy elsewhere. It can be done. The author of Yoga and Love (or Love and Yoga) explains his reasons for “saving” himself. And he’s not Christian and FINE as heck!! One of my friend’s husband wore white at his wedding. It was later announced that he wore white because he decided to save himself for marriage. My friend was slightly embarrassed because she could not say the same (but not seriously embarressed). It’s true the emphasis is always put on the women to be chaste and we’re surprised when a man is chaste or at least ask “what’s wrong with him?”. We expect them to be promiscuous and “sow their oats” until they are ready to settle down. Having sex with multiple people affect you psychologically. I don’t know what background you come from, but where I grew up men were also celebrated to staying pure. Virginity is not this evil “social construct”. That’s pure ridiculousness! For those who are believers, it is Godly, is characteristic of Him. He created virginity and He created sex. He created awesome sex!!!

    Some of us did indeed attend churches that talk about sex! Teachings that encourage couples to learn how to please one another. Do we need actual sex lessons at church? Heck no! At least not in my opinion. That’s what sex therapists are there for. If we did it at church for free or a low fee, girl you’d be out of a job!! Sex is a spiritual experience, that’s why I believe God wants us to stay pure until we find the right one, one who is committed to intimacy with you and you alone. God created it to be pleasurable and explored between two people. Yes, I was taught (not by the church i was raised in put in college) that it’s okay to talk about how and what pleases you to your husband. You are one. Why not?? Sex is a worship experience. Your souls mingle. This is why it is important to God that we stay pure and share this experience with someone who is totally committed body, mind, soul and spirit. Sex with multiple partners breaks your soul because you have too many soul connections without the support in soul, mind and body. It heals, but the memory of giving it away to someone undeserving haunts you before you are healed and move on. The point is God is looking out for us. Why go through the unnecessary, the thing I don’t want you to experience for a few moments of pleasure. Today, because of media, we are spiritually null, dull and out of tune. To be in tune spiritually is to control what you can and prevent unnecessary hurts. No one has time to be sour over some dude who also does not know what he wants except the pussy!

    I’ll be happy when women stop giving it up overtime he smiles. I guarantee you the men will no longer be douchebags! But real men!!

    PEMG (please excuse my grammar!) LOL