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A lot of religions are concerned about virginity, or at least a woman’s virginity. Probably the most famous requirement is from the Hebrews who said in their Scriptures (Deuteronomy 22:13-12) that a husband might later claim that his wife was not a virgin on their wedding night, and if the wife’s father can’t prove that she was, then she will be stoned to death. (You won’t find this quote on many Jewish web sites, however, and even Wikipedia’s entry on “virginity” reflects current political correctness. You always have to wonder who is doing the Wikipedia entries, especially for religious issues, as believers have a vested interest in how their religion is portrayed.)
One of Rome’s oldest and most sacred religious tenets was that of the Vestal Virgins, who were deemed to be essential to Rome’s continuance and as an institution were considered to have been established during the time of Rome’s semi-mythical early years. They were considered to be imbued with magical powers. They served for 30 years and breaking the vow of chastity would lead to death by being buried alive.
Of course, when the Christians took control, they got rid of them, and Rome was duly sacked by invaders (390 AD by the Gauls, 410 AD by the Visigoths, etc.) prompting St. Augustine to write some of the most worthless apologetic drivel ever to befoul the human intellect. And by the way, for all you Christians out there who take great pleasure in calling Mohammad a pedophile: St. Augustine, the promoter of the doctrine of original sin and most of what now passes for mainstream Christian dogma, also was engaged to a child (he didn’t marry her, and may not have consummated the relationship however).
Why this fascination by so many religions and cultures with a woman’s (and, less often, a man’s) first sexual experience? There are scores of books out there pondering this conundrum, many of which focus on the issue of the breaking of the hymen and the fascination with and ignorance about the process of procreation. Personally, I think it was partly an issue of the woman’s inferior status in most societies; she was chattel. She was the virtual property of her father, then of her husband, and in her later years maybe her son. But to me, these explanations of past beliefs don’t matter at all.
A virgin is just someone who lacks a certain form of experience. I suppose you could say I am a “virgin” when it comes to skydiving—that is to say, I have no experience of it. So, what do you do when something is reportedly enjoyable and you lack experience in it? Get some experience, of course! Read about it, watch films about it, ask other people about it, Google it, search for it on YouTube, and find a partner that you trust who can teach you about it. Easy enough. It’s no big deal, there is nothing magical or mystical or particularly special about your first sex or your first orgasm, other than the fact that it was the first one (hopefully in a long line of future enjoyments). If you stop to think about it, your first tooth filling should probably be more memorable—another person is violating your “inner space”, there is significant pain (no pleasure here), and it probably lasts longer than your first sexual encounter. But most people don’t remember it, because it’s not fun and better forgotten. People talk about their “first time” for sex (in my experience, with much embellishments and sometimes factual errors in biology, but hey, I am a literalist), but I have never, ever, heard anyone talk about their first tooth cavity filling.
Having your first sexual experience doesn’t mean you are going to proceed towards being promiscuous. It is your choice to have as many or as few sexual partners in your life (even none if you want). You have lots of “firsts” in your life, like the first time you drove a car, rode in an airplane, competed in a sporting event, played your first computer game, etc. Your first time having sex is just one first out of many. Atheists don’t need to worry about it. I always remember a play I saw once, where a young girl whose mind is filled with dreams of romantic exuberance, of cascades of rose petals, of the “earth moving,” is asking her mom about her mother’s first sexual experience in one of those touching mother-daughter scenes. “Well,” said the mother, “it was sort of like riding a bicycle…but without the seat.”
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