Image Credit: Ben White via Unsplash
I’m an anomaly in Christian circles (even though I’m following Scripture by waiting for marriage) because most of my friends vowed to love, honor, and cherish their husbands by their late teens and early twenties. I didn’t end up with any of the guys I dated in college, so I’m out here in no man’s land, trying to “Christian date” at 29 in Chicago.
My dating stories entertain a lot of the women from the Evangelical community, but they can’t always relate, having had a ring on their finger for so long. Some are prone to judgement, and their raised eyebrows make it clear that they do not understand. What was wrong with me that no boy in college proposed before graduation?
But to be fair, I am very confused over the fact that four out of five of them voted for Donald Trump. What is wrong with them that they were able to vote for a man who so clearly hates women? So, in a way, we are even.
On the other side of the street, my non-Christian friends, who enrich my life and even strengthen my faith, are open with me. I was once even invited to a blow job class, to which I respectfully declined. But when we are talking guy problems and dating, it’s hard to get advice or participate in certain conversations because I am a virgin, and for them sex and dating are linked (no judgement here, promise!). Still, the idea that I have held on to my V-Card for spiritual reasons – believe me, it’s not as if I don’t have a sex drive – is foreign to them.
I don’t quite fit in anywhere.
It’s not just my virginity that affects my relationships with both groups. I receive a lot of side eye for my “liberal” views (aka my feminism) from many Christians. And a lot of feminists can’t understand how I reconcile being a feminist and a Christian when Christianity has been on the wrong side of so many issues for so long.
To the Christians, I beg them to read the Bible, to take in the Gospels where Jesus is most definitely a feminist. To my fellow feminists, I agree that Christianity has failed on so many important issues (and continues to do so — just look at this election), but there is a difference between faith and religion. I’m anti-religion, while my faith pushes me to grow in my feminism.
Let’s get to the juicy stuff though: What is dating like as a 29-year-old virgin Evangelical feminist? Because things get even more complicated there. Before the election, I was seeing a Christian dude from a very Southern, very red state. He “reluctantly” cast his ballot for Trump because of the GOP platform, “despite Trump’s character.” I thought I could deal, even though I was already praying for the strength to love family members voting for that man – because this good ole’ southern boy was a decent, kind-hearted man. I knew he thought I was a flaming liberal, so I threw down my “trump” card and told him that as a sexual assault survivor, I could never vote for that man after the #TrumpTapes. There were hundreds of other reasons why, but that was the one I gave him.
After the election, I couldn’t get over his choice. I certainly don’t think this Southern guy is a villain, but if he is a bible reading, church attending, Evangelical then how in the world can he reconcile Jesus’ beliefs with Trump’s actions?
But I was asking that of a lot of people on November 10, when I read that four out five Evangelicals voted for Donald Trump. I wanted to wear a shirt, or maybe get a tattoo, that said, “Yes, I’m an Evangelical and a woman — but I didn't vote for Trump. I swear I am a feminist!” which also made me keenly aware of my privilege.
As I wallowed and prayed post-election, I went on a few dates with a guy from Chicago, a liberal city that turns our whole state blue. We shared a lot of the same views when it came to faith — except for the most important ones. He believed Trump to be better for the economy while admitting he was bad for women. So, money “trumped” his sisters-in-Christ? Congratulations on saving yourself for marriage though, Bro!
Come on, Church. We have to do better than this.
A man who loves Jesus, believes in waiting for sex, and cares about intersectional feminism? That’s hard to find in Evangelicalism (although admittedly easier in an urban environment). And to find a guy who cares about intersectional feminism and also prioritizes faith? That’s not a snap either.
If Christianity is what most visible Christian leaders have made it out to be, namely a platform that agrees with supporting a candidate who disparages women at best and assaults them at worst, championing the pro-life movement when it’s actually just a pro-birth movement, not caring for the “least of these” by destroying healthcare, and on and on... then we are reading different Bibles and worshipping different Gods.
I believe that the Christian Right movement, just like the Republican Party, is coming to a tipping point. I hope and pray for that tipping point because this cannot go on. But I can’t always say that to them because then I am “just so liberal.”
When I feel like I don’t fit anywhere, when there is no clear box for me to check, I go back to what I know for sure. A man asked Jesus what the most important commandment was. Jesus told the man, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment.” So the question was put to bed, except that wasn’t enough for Jesus, because that first commandment was not complete without the second. Jesus continued, “And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself’” (Matthew 22:37, 38).
So, Christians, it is not enough to just love God. And to feminists asking how am I an intersectional Feminist and a Christian? Because Jesus told me to love my neighbor as myself. Do I want good healthcare for myself? Do I want a fair justice system for myself? Do I want to be judged for who I am and not what I look like? Then I have to want that for other women and men of every color and creed. And I do. I so desperately do and I’m willing to fight for it.
And in the meantime, I’m still a virgin.