Virginity From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia Invocation by Frederick LeightonWhite has traditionally been associated with ritual purity, innocence and virginity.Virginity refers to the state of a person who has never engaged in sexualintercourse. There are cultural and religious traditions which place special valueand significance on this state, especially in the case of unmarried females,associated with notions of personal purity, honor and worth. Like chastity, theconcept of virginity has traditionally involved sexual abstinence before marriage,and then to engage in sexual acts only with the marriage partner.Unlike the term premarital sex, which can refer to more than one occasion ofsexual activity and can be judgment neutral, the concept of virginity usuallyinvolves moral or religious issues and can have consequences in terms of socialstatus and in interpersonal relationships.The term originally only referred to sexually inexperienced women, but hasevolved to encompass a range of definitions, as found in traditional, modern, andethical concepts. Heterosexual individuals may or may not consider loss ofvirginity to occur only through penile-vaginal penetration, while people ofother sexual orientations may include oral sex, anal sex or mutual masturbation intheir definitions of losing ones virginity. Further, whether a person canlose his or her virginity through rape is also subject to debate, with the belief thatvirginity can only be lost through consensual sex being prevalent in some studies.
Etymology and usageThe word virgin comes via Old French virgine from the root form of Latin virgo,genitive virgin-is, meaning literally "maiden" or "virgin"—a sexually intact youngwoman or "sexually inexperienced woman". As in Latin, the English word isalso often used with wider reference, by relaxing the age, gender or sexualcriteria. Hence, more mature women can be virgins (The Virgin Queen), mencan be virgins, and potential initiates into many fields can be colloquially termedvirgins; for example, a skydiving "virgin". In the latter usage, virgin simply meansuninitiated.The Latin word likely arose by analogy with a suit of lexemes based on vireo,meaning "to be green, fresh or flourishing", mostly with botanic reference—inparticular, virga meaning "strip of wood". The first known use of virgin inEnglish comes from an Anglo-Saxon manuscript held at Trinity College,Cambridge.c. 1200: Ðar haueð ... martirs, and confessors, and uirgines maked faier bode inneto women. — Trinity College Homilies 185 [ms B.15.34 (369)]In this, and many later contexts, the reference is specifically Christian, alluding tomembers of the Ordo Virginum known to have existed since the early church fromthe writings of the Church Fathers. However, within about a century, the wordwas expanded to apply also to Mary, the mother of Jesus, hence to sexual virginityexplicitly.c. 1300: Conceiud o þe hali gast, born o þe virgine marie. — Cursor Mundi 24977Further expansion of the word to include virtuous (or naïve) young women,irrespective of religious connection, occurred over about another century.c. 1400: Voide & vacand of vices as virgyns it ware. — The Wars of Alexander4665
These are just three of the eighteen definitions of virgin from the first edition of theOxford English Dictionary (OED1, pages 230-232). Most of the OED1 definitions,however, are very similar.The German word for "virgin" is Jungfrau. Jungfrau literally means "youngwoman", but is not used in this sense. Instead "junge Frau" can be used. The ratherdated German word for a young (unmarried) woman, without implicationsregarding sexuality, is Fräulein. Fräulein was used in German as a title of respect,equivalent to current usage of Miss in English. Jungfrau is the word reservedspecifically for sexual inexperience. As Frau means "woman", it suggests a femalereferent. Unlike English, German also has a specific word for a male virginJüngling ("Youngling"). It is, however, dated too and rarely used. Jungfrau, withsome masculine modifier, is more typical, as evidenced by the film, The 40-Year-Old Virgin, about a 40 year-old male virgin, titled in German, "Jungfrau (40),männlich, sucht…". Note that the term used for the starsign virgo also isJungfrau, which makes the above movie title ambiguous. German alsodistinguishes between young women and girls, who are denoted by the wordMädchen. The English cognate "maid" was often used to imply virginity,especially in poetry.German is not the only language to have a specific name for male virginity; inFrench, male virgins are called "puceau". Males presenting with phimosis whoinjure their frenulum during first penetration are said to be "uncartridged" asopposed to "cartridged" before first intercourse.[clarification needed]By contrast, the Greek word for "virgin" is parthenos (pa??????, see Parthenon).Although typically applied to women, like English, it is also applied to men, inboth cases specifically denoting absence of sexual experience. When used of men,it does not carry a strong association of "never-married" status. However, inreference to women, historically, it was sometimes used to refer to an engagedwoman—parthenos autou (pa?????? a?t??, his virgin) = his fiancée as opposed togune autou (???? a?t??, his woman) = his wife. This distinction is necessary due tothere being no specific word for wife (or husband) in Greek.
By extension from its primary sense, the idea that a virgin has a sexual "blankslate", unchanged by any past intimate connection or experience, leads tothe abstraction of unadulterated purity.CultureDefinitions of virginity lossThere are varying understandings as to which types of sexual activities result inloss of virginity. The traditional view is that virginity is only lost through vaginalpenetration by the penis, consensual or non-consensual, and that acts of oral sex,anal sex and mutual masturbation do not constitute virginity loss. Engaging in suchacts with no history of having engaged in vaginal intercourse is considered"technical virginity" among differing heterosexuals andresearchers. In contrast, gay or lesbian individuals maydescribe any of the latter acts as constituting virginity loss. Gay males may regardanal penetration as resulting in loss of virginity, but not oral sex, and lesbiansmay regard oral sex or fingering as loss of virginity. Some lesbians arguethat, according to the traditional definition – penile-vaginal penetration – they arevirgins, while other gays and lesbians argue that the term "virginity" is uselessto them because of its prevailing heterosexist definition.Since the early 1990s, the concept of "technical virginity" has been popular amongheterosexual American teenagers. For example, oral sex is common amongadolescent girls who fellate their boyfriends to create and maintain intimacy whilepreserving their virginity, avoiding pregnancy, or both. In a 1999 studypublished in the Journal of the American Medical Association, the definition of sexwas examined based on a 1991 random sample of 599 college students from 29 USstates; it found that 60% said oral-genital contact (like fellatio, cunnilingus) did notconstitute having sex. "Thats the technical virginity thing thats going on," saidStephanie Sanders, associate director of the Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex,Gender and Reproduction. Sanders, as the co-author of the study, and along withother researchers, titled the findings "Would You Say You Had Sex If ...?" Inanother study, published in 2001 in The Journal of Sex Research, over half ofrespondents considered that virginity could only be lost through having consensual
sex. However, in a study released in 2008 by the Guttmacher Institute, author ofthe findings Laura Lindberg stated that there "is a widespread belief that teensengage in nonvaginal forms of sex, especially oral sex, as a way to be sexuallyactive while still claiming that technically, they are virgins," but that her studydrew the conclusion that "research shows that this supposed substitution of oral sexfor vaginal sex is largely a myth".Virginity pledges (or abstinence pledges) made by heterosexual teenagers andyoung adults may also include the practice of "technical virginity." In a peer-reviewed study by sociologists Peter Bearman and Hannah Brueckner, whichlooked at virginity pledgers five years after their pledge, they found that thepledgers have similar proportions of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and atleast as high proportions of anal and oral sex as those who have not made avirginity pledge, and deduced that there was substitution of oral and anal sex forvaginal sex among the pledgers. However, the data for anal sex without vaginal sexreported by males did not reflect this directly.Some historians and anthropologists note that many societies before the sexualrevolution that place a high value on maintaining virginity for marriage actuallyhave a large amount of premarital sexual activity that does not involve vaginalpenetration.Female virginityCultural valueLe Droit Du Seigneur (1872) by Jules Arsène GarnierThe first act of sexual intercourse by a female is commonly considered withinmany cultures to be an important personal milestone. Its significance is reflected inexpressions such as "saving oneself", "losing ones virginity," "taking someonesvirginity" and sometimes as "deflowering." The occasion is at times seen as theend of innocence, integrity, or purity, and the sexualization of the individual.Traditionally, there was a cultural expectation that a female would not engage inpremarital sex and would come to her wedding a virgin, which would be indicated
by the bride wearing a white gown, and that she would "give up" her virginity toher new husband in the act of consummation of the marriage.In some cultures, it is so important that a female be a virgin that a female willrefrain from inserting any object into her vagina, such as a tampon, menstrual cupor dildo, or undergoing some medical examinations, so as not to damage thehymen. Some females who have been previously sexually active (or their hymenhas been otherwise damaged) may undergo a surgical procedure, calledhymenorrhaphy or hymenoplasty, to repair or replace her hymen, and causevaginal bleeding on the next intercourse as proof of virginity (see below). Insome cultures, an unmarried female who is found not to be a virgin, whether bychoice or as a result of a rape, can be subject to shame, ostracism or even an honorkilling. In those cultures, female virginity is closely interwoven with personal oreven family honor, especially those known as shame societies, in which the loss ofvirginity before marriage is a matter of deep shame. In other cultures, forexample in many modern-day Western cultures, sexual abstinence before marriageis not taken as seriously as it is in those discussed above.Virginity is regarded as a valuable commodity in some cultures, and the right tohave sexual intercourse with a virgin can be bought. For example, in Japan, geishaswould sell the right of first access in a ritual called mizuage. There is also alegendary droit du seigneur ("the lords right", often conflated with the Latin phrase"ius primae noctis") which alleged entitled the lord of an estate to take the virginityof the estates virgins on the night of their marriage, a right which the lord can tradefor money.It was the law and custom in some societies that required a man who seduced orraped a virgin to marry the girl or pay compensation to her father. In somecountries until the late 20th century, a woman could sue a man who had taken hervirginity but did not marry her. In some languages, the compensation for thesedamages are called "wreath money".
Proof of virginityMain article: Virginity testSome cultures require proof of a brides virginity prior to her marriage. This hastraditionally been tested by the presence of an intact hymen, which was verified byeither a physical examination (usually by a physician, who provided a certificate ofvirginity) or by a "proof of blood," which refers to vaginal bleeding that resultsfrom the tearing of the hymen. In some cultures, the nuptial blood-spotted bed sheet would be displayed as proof of both consummation of marriageand that the bride was a virgin.Researchers stress that the presence or absence of a hymen is not a reliableindicator of whether or not a female has been vaginally penetrated. The hymenis a thin film of membrane situated just inside the vulva which can partiallyocclude the entrance to the vaginal canal. It is flexible and can be stretched or tornduring first engagement in vaginal intercourse. However, a hymen may also bebroken during physical activity. Many women possess such thin, fragile hymens,easily stretched and already perforated at birth, that the hymen can be broken inchildhood without the girl even being aware of it, often through athletic activities.A slip while riding a bicycle may on occasion result in the bicycles saddle-hornentering the introitus just far enough to break the hymen. Further, there is thecase of women with damaged hymens undergoing hymenorrhaphy (orhymenoplasty) to repair or replace their hymens, and cause vaginal bleeding on thenext intercourse as proof of virginity. Others consider the practice to bevirginity fraud or unnecessary.There is a common belief that some women are born without a hymen, butsome doubt has been cast on this by a recent study. It is likely that almost allwomen are born with a hymen, but not necessarily ones that will experience ameasurable change during first experience of vaginal intercourse.Some medical procedures, such as hymenotomy, may require a womans hymen tobe opened.
Male virginityHistorically, and in modern times, female virginity has been regarded as moresignificant than male virginity. The perception that sexual prowess is fundamentalto masculinity has lowered the expectation of male virginity without lowering thesocial status. For example, in some Islamic cultures, though premaritalsex is forbidden in the Quran with regard to both men and women, unmarriedwomen who have been sexually active (or even raped) are subject to name-calling,shunning, or family shame, while unmarried men who have lost their virginities arenot. Cross-culturally, males are expected and/or encouraged to want to engagein sexual activity, and to be more sexually-experienced. Not followingthese standards often leads to teasing and other such ridicule from their malepeers. A 2003 study by the Guttmacher Institute showed that, in mostcountries, most men have experienced sexual intercourse by their 20thbirthdays.Females are more accepting of male virginity, but there exists negative feelingsabout the topic even among women. Reflective of the Guttmacher study, somewomen perceive men being virgins past their early twenties to be an undesirabletrait and would decline marriage due to the mans sexual inexperience; in thesecases, male virginity is considered to threaten the fantasy some women have aboutmen knowing how to sexually please them.Within American culture in particular, male virginity has been made an object ofembarrassment and ridicule in films such as Summer of 42, American Pie and The40-Year-Old Virgin, with the male virgin typically being presented as sociallyinept. However, some have challenged the negative connotations regardingmale virginity, as well as the belief that males should want to lose their virginitiesat earlier ages than their female counterparts. Noted are surveysand studies where adolescent males reported depression after losing their virginity,such as when discovering that their partners did not care about them and ratherwanted "bragging rights" for having bedded a male virgin. There is lessresearch on male virginity, but the topic has started to gain more traction. Whilesome writers and researchers argue that male virginity does not exist because thereis nothing to identify male virginity, like there is in the case of hymens for females,
others argue that it is no less valid since virginity can be subjective and is a matterof sexual experience.Prevalence of virginityPrevalence of sexually-experienced 15-year-olds based on self-reportsCountry Boys (%) Girls (%)Austria 21.7 17.9Canada 24.1 23.9Croatia 21.9 8.2England 34.9 39.9Estonia 18.8 14.1Finland 23.1 32.7Belgium 24.6 23France 25.1 17.7Greece 32.5 9.5Hungary 25 16.3Israel 31 8.2Latvia19.2 12.4Lithuania 24.4 9.2Macedonia 34.2 2.7Netherlands 23.3 20.5Poland 20.5 9.3Portugal 29.2 19.1
Scotland 32.1 34.1Slovenia 28.2 20.1Spain 17.2 13.9Sweden 24.6 29.9Switzerland 24.1 20.3Ukraine 47.1 24Wales 27.3 38.5The prevalence of virginity varies from culture to culture. In cultures which placeimportance on a females virginity at marriage, the age at which virginity is loss isin effect determined by the age at which marriages would normally take place inthose cultures, as well as the minimum marriage age set by the laws of the countrywhere the marriage takes place. In some cultures, a female is encouraged orrequired to marry at a very early age so that she will not have the opportunity tolose her virginity before marriage, or so that a girl can experience her sexualityfrom an early age. In some cultures, for example in many modern-day Westerncultures, sexual abstinence before marriage is not valued, and in some cultures,abstention is discouraged.In a cross-cultural study, At what age do women and men have their first sexualintercourse? (2003), Michael Bozon of the French Institut national détudesdémographiques found that contemporary cultures fall into three broadcategories. In the first group, the data indicated families arranging marriage fordaughters as close to puberty as possible with significantly older men. Age of menat sexual initiation in these societies is at later ages than that of women, but is oftenextra-marital. This group included sub-Saharan Africa (the study listed Mali,Senegal and Ethiopia). The study considered the Indian subcontinent also fell intothis group, although data was only available from Nepal.In the second group, the data indicated families encouraged daughters to delaymarriage, and to abstain from sexual activity prior to it. However, sons areencouraged to gain experience with older women or prostitutes prior to marriage.Age of men at sexual initiation in these societies is at lower ages than that of
women. This group includes Latin cultures, both from southern Europe (Portugal,Greece and Romania are noted) and from Latin America (Brazil, Chile, DominicanRepublic). The study considered many Asian societies also fell into this group,although matching data were only available from Thailand.In the third group, age of men and women at sexual initiation was more closelymatched. There were two sub-groups, however. In non-Latin, Catholic countries(Poland and Lithuania are mentioned), age at sexual initiation was higher,suggesting later marriage and reciprocal valuing of male and female virginity. Thesame pattern of late marriage and reciprocal valuing of virginity was reflected inSingapore and Sri Lanka. The study considered China and Vietnam also fell intothis group, although data were not available.Finally, in northern and eastern European countries, age at sexual initiation waslower, with both men and women involved in sexual activity prior to any unionformation. The study listed Switzerland, Germany and the Czech Republic asmembers of this group.According to a 2001 UNICEF survey, in 10 out of 12 developed nations withavailable data, more than two thirds of young people have had sexual intercoursewhile still in their teens. In Denmark, Finland, Germany, Iceland, Norway, theUnited Kingdom and the United States, the proportion is over 80%. In Australia,the United Kingdom and the United States, approximately 25% of 15 year olds and50% of 17 year olds have had sex. A 2002 international survey sought to studythe sexual behavior of teenagers. 33,943 students aged 15, from 24 countries,completed a self-administered, anonymous, classroom survey, consisting of astandard questionnaire, developed by the HBSC (Health Behaviour in School-agedChildren) international research network. The survey revealed that the majority ofthe students were still virgins (they had no experience of sexual intercourse), and,among those who were sexually active, the majority (82%) used contraception.In a 2005 Kaiser Family Foundation study of US teenagers, 29% of teens reportedfeeling pressure to have sex, 33% of sexually active teens reported "being in arelationship where they felt things were moving too fast sexually", and 24% had"done something sexual they didn’t really want to do". Several polls haveindicated peer pressure as a factor in encouraging both girls and boys to havesex.
Some studies suggest that people commence sexual activity at an earlier age thanprevious generations. However, the 2005 Durex Global sex survey foundthat people worldwide are having sex for the first time at an average age of 17.3,ranging from 15.6 in Iceland to 19.8 in India. A 2008 survey of UK teenagersbetween the ages of 14 and 17 (conducted by YouGov for Channel 4), showed thatonly 6% of these teenagers intended waiting until marriage before having sex.The increased sexual activity among adolescents is manifested in increased teenagepregnancies and an increase in sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). The rates ofteenage pregnancy vary and range from 143 per 1000 girls in some sub-SaharanAfrican countries to 2.9 per 1000 in South Korea. The rate for the United States is52.1 per 1000, the highest in the developed world – and about four times theEuropean Union average. The teenage pregnancy rates between countriesmust take into account the level of general sex education available and access tocontraceptive options. Many Western countries have instituted sex educationprograms, the main objective of which is to reduce such pregnancies and STDs. In1996, the United States federal government shifted the objective of sex educationtowards "abstinence-only sex education" programs, promoting sexual abstinencebefore marriage (i.e., virginity) and prohibiting information on birth control andcontraception. In 2004, President George W. Bush announced a Five-Year GlobalHIV/AIDS Strategy, also known as the Presidents Emergency Plan for AIDSRelief (PEPFAR), which committed the U.S. to provide $15 billion over fiveyears toward AIDS relief in 15 countries in Africa and the Caribbean, and inVietnam. A part of the funding was earmarked specifically for "abstinence-only-until-marriage" programs.In a peer-reviewed study about virginity pledges (commitments made by teenagersand young adults to refrain from sexual intercourse until marriage), sociologistsPeter Bearman of Columbia and Hannah Brueckner of Yale estimated that malepledgers were 4.1 times more likely to remain virgins by age 25 than those who didnot pledge (25% vs 6%), and estimated that female pledgers were 3.5 times morelikely to remain virgins by age 25 than those who did not pledge (21% vs6%).
Social psychologySome cultural anthropologists argue that romantic love and sexual jealousy areuniversal features of human relationships. Social values related to virginityreflect both sexual jealousy and ideals of romantic love, and appear to be deeplyembedded in human nature.Psychology explores the connection between thought and behavior. Seekingunderstanding of social (or anti-social) behaviors includes sexual behavior. JoanKahn and Kathryn London studied U.S. women married between 1965 and 1985 tosee if virginity at marriage influenced risk of divorce.― This article examines the relationship between premarital sexual activity andthe long-term risk of divorce among U.S. women married between 1965 and 1985.Simple cross-tabulations from the 1988 National Survey of Family Growthindicate that women who were sexually active prior to marriage faced aconsiderably higher risk of marital disruption than women who were virgin brides.A bivariate probit model is employed to examine three possible explanations forthis positive relationship: (a) a direct causal effect, (b) an indirect effect throughintervening "high risk" behaviors (such as having a premarital birth or marrying ata young age), and (c) a selectivity effect representing prior differences betweenvirgins and non-virgins (such as family background or attitudes and values). Aftera variety of observable characteristics are controlled, non-virgins still face a muchhigher risk of divorce than virgins. However, when the analysis controls forunobserved characteristics affecting both the likelihood of having premarital sexand the likelihood of divorce, the differential is no longer significant. These resultssuggest that the positive relationship between premarital sex and the risk of divorcecan be attributed to prior unobserved differences (e.g., the willingness to breaktraditional norms) rather than to a direct causal effect. ‖This study makes no recommendation; it simply notes that the women most likelyto exercise freedom to enter sexual relationships prior to marriage, overlapsignificantly with the women most likely to exercise freedom to leave arelationship after marriage. Men were not the subject of this study.
Sexual moralitySocial normsMain articles: Sexual morality and Norm (sociology)Each major religion has moral codes covering issues of sexuality, morality, ethicsetc. (see below) Though these moral codes do not address issues of sexualitydirectly, they seek to regulate the situations which can give rise to sexual interestand to influence peoples sexual activities and practices. However, the impact ofreligious teaching has at times been limited. For example, though most religionsdisapprove of premarital sexual relations, it has always been widely practiced.Nevertheless, these religious codes have always had a strong influence on peoplesattitudes to sexual issues.Human sexual activity, even among adolescents, like many other kinds of activityengaged in by humans, is generally influenced by social rules that are culturallyspecific and vary widely. These social rules are referred to as sexual morality(what can and can not be done by societys rules) and sexual norms (what is and isnot expected). There are a number of groups within societies promoting their viewsof sexual morality in a variety of ways, including through sex education, religiousteachings, seeking commitments or virginity pledges, and other means.Most countries have laws which set a minimum marriage age, with the mostcommon age being 18 years, but the actual age at first marriage can beconsiderably higher. Laws also prescribe the minimum age at which a person ispermitted to engage in sex, commonly called the age of consent. Social (and theresulting legal) attitudes toward the appropriate age of consent have driftedupwards in modern times. For example, while ages from 10 to 13 were typicallyacceptable in Western countries during the mid-19th century, the end of the19th century and the beginning of the 20th century were marked by changingattitudes resulting in raising the ages of consent to ages generally ranging from 16to 18. Today, the age of consent varies from 12 years (or onset of puberty) to21, but 16 to 18 is the most common range of ages of consent, but somejurisdictions also have a "close-in-age" exception, allowing two adolescents (asyoung as 12 years of age) to have sex with each other provided their ages are notmore than 2 years apart. For the average age at which adolescents have their first
sexual experience, see "Prevalence of virginity" above. Some countries outlaw anysex outside marriage entirely.
Religious views Main article: Religion and sexualityBuddhismMain article: Buddhism and sexualityBuddhism does not go into detail regarding what is right and what is wrong withinthe mundane activities of life. Details of accepted or unaccepted human sexualconduct is not specifically mentioned in any of the religious scriptures. The mostcommon formulation of Buddhist ethics for lay followers are the Five Precepts andthe Eightfold Path, which say that one should neither be attached to nor cravesensual pleasure. These precepts take the form of voluntary, personal undertakings,not divine mandate or instruction. The third of the Five Precepts is "To refrainfrom committing sexual misconduct". "Sexual misconduct" is a broad term,which is clearly subject to interpretation relative to the social norms of eachcommunity. This interpretation is not a religious matter as far as Buddhism isconcerned.On the other hand, Buddhist monks and nuns of most traditions are expected torefrain from all sexual activity and the Buddha is said to have admonished hisfollowers to avoid unchastity "as if it were a pit of burning cinders."HinduismFor most of the history of Hinduism, premarital virginity on the part of the bridewas ideal- as it is today. The prevailing Hindu marriage ceremony or the Vedicwedding, centers around the Kanyadan ritual, which literally means gift of a virgin,by father of the maiden through which the Hindus believe they gain greatestspiritual merit, and marriages of the daughters are considered a spiritualobligation.
However, in ancient India, virginity was not specially esteemed in the Hindu socialsystem. On the contrary, it was believed that a virgin can never attain spiritualenlightenment. Sex had never been a taboo in ancient India and intactness of thehymen had nothing to do with virginity. But these rules were not applicable towomen of elite birth.The worship of virgins, ie.Kumarika pujan, is still observed by many Hindus.JudaismIn Judaism, sex is not considered to be sinful. Though premarital sex isdisapproved, there is no requirement for a female to be a virgin at her marriage,and a child born to an unmarried female is not regarded as illegitimate (mamzer) orsubject to any social or religious disabilities.Sex within marriage is considered a virtue (mitzvah, literally a commandment).Jewish law contains rules related to protecting female virgins and dealing withconsensual and non-consensual pre-marital sex. The thrust of Jewish lawsguidance on sex is effectively that it should not be rejected, but should be lived as awholesome part of life.Greece and RomeVirginity was often considered a virtue denoting purity and physical self-restraintand is an important characteristic in Greek mythology.In Roman times, Vestal Virgins were strictly celibate priestesses of Vesta. Theywere brought to the temple before puberty and were required to remain celibate for30 years, on penalty of death. In the documentary, What is a Virgin? it ismentioned that the vestals virginity was more important for the state than toherself, because the sacred fire that they attended could not be allowed to go out. Ifa vestal virgin was found having sexual relations she would be buried alive.
ChristianityDetail of The Reading Madonna by Giorgione (c. 1500)Paul the Apostle expressed the view that a persons body belongs to God and isGods temple (1 Corinthians 6:13, 3:16) and that premarital sex is sexualimmorality and fornication, and is sinful (1 Corinthians 6:18), on an equal level asadultery. (1 Corinthians 6:9) Paul also expressed the view in 1 Corinthians 7:1-7that sexual abstinence is the preferred state for both men and women. However,recognizing human weakness in matters of sexuality, he countenanced sexualrelations, but only between marriage partners within marriage, with premarital andextramarital sex not allowed.According to classicist Evelyn Stagg and New Testament scholar Frank Stagg, theNew Testament holds that sex is reserved for marriage. They maintain that theNew Testament teaches that sex outside of marriage is a sin of adultery if eithersexual participant is married, otherwise the sin of fornication if both sexualparticipants are unmarried. An imperative given in 1 Corinthians says, "Flee fromsexual immorality. All other sins people commit are outside their bodies, but thosewho sin sexually sin against their own bodies."[1 Cor 6:18] Those who aresexually immoral or adulterers are listed in 1 Corinthians 6:9 in a list of"wrongdoers who...will not inherit the kingdom of God." Galatians 5:19 and 1Corinthians 7:2 also address fornication. The Apostolic Decree of the Council ofJerusalem also includes a prohibition of fornication.Aquinas went further, emphasizing that acts other than copulation destroyvirginity, but also clarifying that involuntary sexual pleasure or pollution does notdestroy virginity says in his Summa Theologica, "Pleasure resulting fromresolution of semen may arise in two ways. If this be the result of the mindspurpose, it destroys virginity, whether copulation takes place or not. Augustine,however, mentions copulation, because such like resolution is the ordinary andnatural result thereof. On another way this may happen beside the purpose of themind, either during sleep, or through violence and without the minds consent,although the flesh derives pleasure from it, or again through weakness of nature, asin the case of those who are subject to a flow of semen. On such cases virginity is
not forfeit, because such like pollution is not the result of impurity which excludesvirginity."Some have theorized that the New Testament was not against sex beforemarriage. The discussion turns on two Greek words — moicheia (µ???e?a,adultery) and porneia (el:p???e?a, fornication see also pornography). The firstword is restricted to contexts involving sexual betrayal of a spouse, however thesecond word is used as a generic term for illegitimate sexual activity. Elsewhere in1 Corinthians , incest, homosexual intercourse (according to someinterpretations) and prostitution are all explicitly forbidden by name. Paul ispreaching about activities based on levitical sexual prohibitions in the context ofachieving holiness. The theory suggests it is these, and only these behaviours thatare intended by Pauls prohibition in chapter seven. The strongest argumentagainst this theory is that the modern interpretation of the New Testament, outsideCorinthians, speaks against premarital sex;Christian orthodoxy accepts that Mary, the mother of Jesus, was a virgin at thetime Jesus was conceived, based on the accounts in the gospels of Matthew andLuke. The Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, and Oriental Orthodoxdenominations, additionally hold to the dogma of the perpetual virginity ofMary. However, most Protestants reject the dogma, citing sourcessuch as Mark 6:3: "Isnt this the carpenter, the son of Mary, and the brother ofJames, Joses, Judas, and Simon? And arent His sisters here with us?". TheCatholic Church holds that in Semitic usage the terms "brother," "sister" areapplied not only to children of the same parents, but to nephews, nieces, cousins,half-brothers, and half-sisters. Catholics, Orthodox Christians and other groupsmay refer to Mary as the Virgin Mary or the Blessed Virgin Mary.There are references to virginity in Book of Genesis in the Hebrew Bible. In thefirst reference, in Genesis 19:8, Lot offers his virgin daughters to the people ofSodom for undetermined sexual purposes in an attempt to protect his guests, withthe implication that the people of Sodom would be more likely to accept the offerin view of the girls virginity than they would otherwise. The next reference is atGenesis 24:16, where Eliezer is seeking a wife for his master, Abrahams son. Hemeets Rebekah, and the narrative tells us, "the damsel was very fair to look upon, avirgin, neither had any man known her" (in biblical terms, "to know" is a
euphemism for sexual relations). It is noteworthy that Eliezer was not instructed tofind a virgin bride, nor is anything further said about the prospective brides virginstatus. Exodus 22:16-17 and Deuteronomy 22:28-29 deal with the requirement fora man who seduces or rapes a virgin to marry her and pay a bride price at thevirgin rate, which presumably is higher than that for a non-virgin.Virginity is a recurring theme in the Bible — the nation is frequently personified as"the virgin daughter of Israel" in the prophetic poetry. It is a wistful phrase, sinceGenesis also says that Israels (Jacobs) only daughter Dinah was, in fact, raped asshe entered the promised land. The Torah also contains laws governing betrothal,marriage and divorce, with particular provisions regarding virginity inDeuteronomy 22.Catholic viewVirgo inter Virgines (The Blessed virgin Mary with other holy virgins),anonymous, Bruges, last quarter of the 15th Century.The Catholic Encyclopedia says: "There are two elements in virginity: the materialelement, that is to say, the absence, in the past and in the present, of all completeand voluntary delectation, whether from lust or from the lawful use of marriage;and the formal element, that is the firm resolution to abstain forever from sexualpleasure." And, "Virginity is irreparably lost by sexual pleasure, voluntarily andcompletely experienced." However, for the purposes of consecrated virgins itis canonically enough that they have never been married or lived in open violationof chastity.Christian Mysticism and Gnostic ChristianityThis unreferenced section requires citations to ensure verifiability.In Christian mysticism, Gnosticism, as well as some Hellenistic religions, there is afemale spirit or goddess named Sophia that is said to embody wisdom and who issometimes described as a virgin. In Roman Catholic mysticism,Hildegard of Bingen celebrated Sophia as a cosmic figure both in her writing andart. Within the Protestant tradition in England, 17th Century Christian Mystic,Universalist and founder of the Philadelphian Society Jane Leade wrote copiousdescriptions of her visions and dialogues with the "Virgin Sophia" who, she said,
revealed to her the spiritual workings of the Universe. Leade was hugelyinfluenced by the theosophical writings of 16th Century German Christian mysticJakob Böhme, who also speaks of the Sophia in works such as The Way toChrist. Jakob Böhme was very influential to a number of Christian mystics andreligious leaders, including George Rapp and the Harmony Society. The HarmonySociety was a religious pietist group that lived communally, were pacifistic, andadvocated celibacy among its membership.IslamSee also: ZinaIslam considers premarital sex to be sinful, though of a lesser quality than adultery.Most forms of sexual contact within marriage are permissible.