I was reading a blog post on Boundless.org and a couple of the commentors were saying how they are growing discouraged about finding a man who is a virgin and that they desire to marry a virgin. Another commentor pointed out that the men are also feeling discouraged in this. In response to them, I mentioned that their focus shouldn't be so much on whether the other person is a virgin, but whether they are. I was responded to by a young woman telling me that God (through the Bible, I suppose) values virginity and as Christians, we should value it as well - and desire it in our spouses.
This got me to thinking - what IS, exactly, the value of virginity as purported in the Bible? What does scripture lead us to believe about the value of virginity? Has our society raised up virginity to more than it should be, to the point of requiring it in our future spouses? Is this biblical?
I did a look-see and determined that the only place where "marrying virgins" is specifically required is in the Old Testament when commanding the Priests on who they can marry.
The rest of the Bible's expounding on anything related to the subject is on Adultery and is specifically directed towards the reader. Not the reader's spouse or the reader's children.
I think that it is very important to remember that scripture doesn't place the value on Virginity but on the Heart ( Protect the heart above all things, for it is the wellspring of life. ). To put value on virginity is glorifying a physical attribute that will be gone upon your marriage to someone and will be irretrievable (assuming you wait til marriage, as you should). If it were so valuable, it wouldn't last for such a small amount of time. The value, instead, should be what God values the most. It is obvious that God desires our hearts above anything else - not our virginity, not our blood, not our breath, our hair, our money. He wants our hearts - love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, and soul. The beauty and the issue of sex is that it binds two people into one - it is as much an emotional act as it is a physical one. Pre-marital sex is warned against so vehemently (and more than any other commandment) because it connects your heart to someone else's who isn't committed to you. We aren't warned against adultery because you should save your virginity for your husband - you are warned against adultery because you should save your heart, not only for your husband, but ultimately for God. Virginity is a SYMBOL of this and nothing more or less. Yes, it is important, but not out of this context.
I wonder if we have over-glorified virginity to the point of expecting it in others. I wonder if this is a wrong attitude. The person who you are going to marry is already aware of what the Bible says on adultery, and if he is not a virgin and is honest with you about it, Virginity should not be a pre-requisite to marriage.
The Bible warns against it for our own safety, good, and to preserve the relationship we have with the Father. Through our purity (not only in sex, but in other things as well), we are to glorify God. To lose sight of this goal in our own lives means to miss something very important in life. We should not be aiming to expect everyone out there to be perfect, but instead lovingly encourage them to pursue God with all their heart, mind, and soul - and sexual purity should be a by-product of that and nothing more.