Something to add to the discussion of whether the church tries to "out-obsess" the culture when it comes to sex. Let's talk about the preoccupation with celebrity virginity, most recently getting attention with quarterback Tim Tebow's admission that he's a virgin.

Tebow's news came a little differently than most. Celebrities like Miley Cyrus, the Jonas Brothers and (infamously) Britney Spears have made much of their virginity. (In fact, the iPhone purity ring app uses "Jonas Brothers" and "Miley Cyrus" – along with, oddly, "Billy Graham" and "Barack Obama" – as its keywords.) In this case, a reporter flatly asked Tebow a personal question about a subject he hasn't yet talked about. The reporter, Clay Travis, said he asked because he expected Tebow would say that he was a virgin. It also seems Travis wanted to make a point:

I guarantee you come Sunday across the South ministers will approach their pulpits and use Tebow's virginity as an example to the flock. After all, if Tebow can resist countless girls throwing themselves at him on a regular basis, is it really valid for you or I or countless others to argue that preserving our virginity was just too difficult? Maybe. But I think it's much tougher. Like many things in life, it all comes down to a choice. And Tebow controls his own choices better than most.

But the problem with this is that if Tebow does slip up and doesn't resist, is it then "valid for you or I or countless others to argue that preserving our virginity was just too difficult" as well? People who tell the whole world they're a virgin have just invited the whole world to hold them accountable. If they can renege on that commitment with the whole world mocking their weakness, how much easier is it for us to renege on ours? 

I have actually never asked a close friend the extent of their sexual experience. I only know if they choose to share it. That's why it seems intrusive to demand this information of a celebrity who hasn't yet given it. Travis was basically testing Tebow: He could either protect his privacy and say "It's none of your business" and then everyone would speculate that he wasn't a virgin, or he could tell the whole world his sexual status. It seems unfair to require our celebrities – who are first fellow Christians and celebrities second – to bare their private lives in a way that I don't even ask of my close friends.

I'm curious to know what the rest of you think. 

 
About The Author

Alisa Harris

0 Responses to Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell

  1. When I was a young teen and got my first email address, my parents grounded me when someone sent me one of those inane surveys that included the question, “are you a virgin.” They kept bellowing that such a fact should be kept private and sacred.

    I was mystified that they were so angry that I had even been asked. I believe I sassed back something like, “Glad to know you don’t care about the answer. Guess I’ll have some fun this weekend.” This did not convince them to lift the grounding.

  2. Interesting article. I’ll admit that whenever the latest celebrity virgin is announced (exposed?), I’m cynically filled with dread for that exact moment you describe, the seemingly inevitable “slip up” which gains far more attention than the virginal status ever did. It is unfortunate that “walking the walk” seems to require so much talk, and about such intimate things.

    I read an article a while back that suggested that certain tween idols discuss their chaste status as a backdoor to talking about sex. Even when talking about all the sex you’re not having, sex is still the topic of discussion.

  3. Joshua Keel says:

    Couldn’t agree with you more, Alisa.

  4. Stephanie says:

    It really is a private thing and although I admire that Tebow wears his faith on his sleeve, that was a bit personal for the reporter to ask. He is a sinful human after all, and the last thing I’d want to see is for him to get dragged through the dirt if he made a mistake (especially when losing one’s virginity is far from the worst sin a person can commit). Placing such pressure on a person who is simply trying to live their faith is a rather cruel thing to do IMO, and it’s the reason why I don’t like the idea of purity rings. I might agree with waiting until marriage but it just seems like too personal a thing to advertise (plus it doesn’t make me look like I’m any less obsessed with sex, to be quite honest).

    Besides, virginity doesn’t exactly equal purity. I’ve known many people who can say they are technically virgins because they have done everything up to but not including sex. Sorta defeats the purpose of the whole thing, doesn’t it?

  5. Phil says:

    I agree. It should be private. I’d love to hear a popular artist say, “It’s none of your business,” which is what presidents should say when they are asked what underwear they use. In fact, for some people, I think a question like that should end the interview. I hate stumbling across gossip news, written in hate, pointing to something like the Tebow interview, and saying, “What a hypocrite he is. We know he’s hiding something, and we can’t wait to find it.” I guess that’s the kind of thing you are saying is promoted by an artist’s confession to the world. Part of the world is nasty and hates any glimpse of purity.

    I don’t agree with Jon Busch though. Sex is sacred, and demystifying it doesn’t solve anything. Sex is something married people do as a part of their committed intimacy. It’s wonderful, can be challenging, and binds two people together. Casually bonding with someone for a night or short affair is terrible.

  6. Jay U says:

    Actually, I think it is being made into a big deal by the media because there has been a lot of to do on superfan websites about some pics that surfaced of Tebow with a with his girlfriend. (http://www.zimbio.com/Tim+Tebow’s+Girlfriend/articles/VL8U_JwfJNl/Tim+Tebow+Girlfriend+PHOTO)
    I’ll let you be the judge of why this might have happened.

  7. Alisa says:

    Jay – LOL. Was not expecting such a … well-rounded girl. Good Lord.

  8. Stephanie says:

    Oh my. Now, I’m hardly fit to judge whether or not a girl is what I’d call a “classy broad” (especially if I know nothing about her). However, if one is trying to be the girl that the guy takes home to his mom, I don’t know if letting “the girls” pop out all over the place is the best idea 😛

    Anyway, while the photo might cause people to speculate it doesn’t really make asking uber-personal questions any more appropriate.

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