Yesterday I wrote about the Silver Ring Thing. Among other issues with this program, I talked about the Born-Again Virgin process, and how much I dislike it. One of the reasons I dislike it is because I think it teaches teenagers (and pre-teenagers) that sexuality is something you can annul. You can deny it’s existence. And, most importantly, you can deny your own past experiences with it.

This really does the exact opposite of what I think the Silver Ring Thing folks want. By giving teenagers the adult- and religion-sanctioned ability to claim a sexual encounter did not happen, they are dis-honoring the sexual encounter itself.

Now, there are certainly times and places where a sexual experience was just bad, particularly in retrospect. And it is very appealing to think that it can be annulled – rather like a regrettable marriage. But here is a time for working on self-forgiveness, rather than denying the past. This is a time for understanding that mistakes make us, in part, the wiser people we are today. Teenagers need education in self-compassion rather than simple denial.

I remember a friend of mine from high school decided he was a born-again virgin. He had had two stable, loving, monogamous relationships with two good friends of mine. He had sexual intercourse within each of those relationships. Both of the girls were virgins before their relationship with this young man. Neither of the break-ups included much anger or animosity. After the second of these relationships ended, my young male friend decided that he would be a born-again virgin.

To me, that suggested that he was denying the closeness, both physical and emotional, that he had with those two young women. What an extremely hurtful thing to do to a past lover. They both considered that they had had sex with him – but he no longer acknowledged his part in that experience.

From that point forward, when asked, he would say he had not had sex. That was a misrepresentation to potential sex partners. It so happened that he did not have any STIs and had not gotten anyone pregnant, but he certainly had had the opportunity to do both of those things.

Now, had my friend simply said that he was not going to have sex again until marriage – that would have been different. Deciding to be sexually abstinent is a choice that I, essentially, support anyone making for themselves. But this “born again virgin” thing is ridiculous.