Of Virgins and FOMO

Nthabiseng Maphisa

Virgin is a word used to describe or salute Our Lady. But ask any twenty-something if they are a virgin and you may receive an awkward and embarrassed “Um, well yes” or an equally awkward and embarrassed “Um, no not really” or better still “Technically I am”. It seems in our world you’re damned if you are and you’re damned if you aren’t.

Are you still a virgin? Well be careful because soon you will be banished to the depths of dark and lonely singlehood. Not a virgin? Well then you should be hung out to dry with the rest of the infidels of the world.

What’s the big fuss about virginity anyway? Why does a cloud of shame hang over those who have it and those who don’t?

Ever since my adolescence, I have had the nagging feeling that I was missing out on something. Missing out on first dates, first kisses and “I love you”s. Missing out on roses, chocolate and “You hang up. No, you hang up”

It turns out I’m not the only one with this fear. In fact my generation is so overwhelmed by it that we had to invent an acronym to explain it. It’s called FOMO and is used to describe the empty feeling you get at the notion that someone else may be having more fun than you at any given moment.  For those of you shielded from the darts of popular culture, FOMO stands for the fear of missing out.

At university my FOMO only worsened. There are couples everywhere. Couples kissing, couples holding hands, couples, couples, couples. I no longer felt that I was missing out on just kissing but much more.

My “virgin status” left me wondering if I shouldn’t be more experimental sexually just to find out what I was missing. The pressure to be sexually active is enormous but what is the church doing to guide its youth in these challenges?

There are others like me who are facing the same pressures. Who do we turn to for answers? Why are some of our parents so afraid to talk to us about sex? Should we just go with what the world tells us? What is the world saying about sex anyway?

I am hoping to get some answers at the upcoming Christopher West conference in September. Christopher West is a Catholic speaker on life, love and sexuality from the Theology of the Body Institute near Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Using Pope St John Paul II’s Theology of the Body he has helped me to understand some of the church’s teachings regarding sex and marriage and life in a hostile world. We see that the church isn’t silent on these matters. In fact, perhaps rather unexpectedly, she responds to our confusion with compassion and clarity.

Temptation stands before us always beckoning us to “go with the flow” and “just do what you feel”. Heaven knows that this doesn’t always work out for the best. If you’re looking for God’s response to the world’s messages of “just have fun” and “nobody’s getting hurt” this is it. .

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