Living in an age where sex permeates every crevice of popular culture, admitting to being a virgin past the age of 21 is synonymous with ‘weirdo’ at best- ‘freak’ at worst. That’s why it was so refreshing to see a ‘celebrity’ who is not typically associated with being a Christian make a statement that puts their faith in the spotlight – albeit inadvertently – subjecting their private life to public scrutiny. Thankfully, no damaging revelations have emerged to the contrary.
If like me you were born in the early 80s, you may be old enough to remember popular 90s children’s show Sister Sister featuring twins, Tia and Tamera Mowry. Almost two decades on, and with considerable success under her belt – Tamera Mowry recently admitted to having remained a virgin until 29, and having lost her virginity outside of marriage (to the man she would eventually marry). But she then regretted it, committed to celibacy until marriage as a result, meaning she has had only had one sexual partner -–– her now husband. Confused?
Media reports of the story were unusually positive. In fact one article by a well-known UK tabloid paper was surprisingly congratulatory – with minimal cynicism. But comments from the general public were mixed. Although most seemed to support her decision ‘I respect her – I wish I had waited’, others were less gracious. ‘Yeah right – don’t you remember Britney Spears?’ to ‘it’s an outdated practice’ to ‘who cares. who is she?’ to ‘loser’.
So, why does this public confession matter? What were her motives for sharing this in the first place? Was Tamera Mowry genuinely out to inspire other young women (and men) to live a fulfilling godly life without succumbing to certain pressures, or was she desperate for publicity? Let’s be honest, Tamera Mowry is not the first and nor will she be the last famous person of faith to make such a confession. However her revelation has been inspiring and comforting for several reasons:
A) It challenges the lie that adult virgins over a certain age are weird and unattractive
This is a dangerous lie fuelled by the mainstream media. Just think of the film The 40-Year-Old Virgin … exactly. According to Western cultural norms and values, Tamera Mowry appears to be neither weird, nor unattractive – but in fact a beautiful, normal woman who has achieved significant success. She is a real-life example, helping to quash the existing negative stereotype (I am under no illusion that weird and unattractive – which are subjective terms anyway – virgins do exist but I am sure that is true for any group of people!)
B) It provides a positive role model to young women
According to statistics, the average age to lose your virginity in the UK is 16 therefore anyone north of this is ‘late’. I have overheard numerous conversations among young people, especially young women who despair at the thought of being a virgin past the age of 16. Whether you’re of faith or not, this is absolutely devastating; that something so precious is regarded as little more than a nuisance which needs to be got rid of – just to fit in. Tamera Mowry’s confession won’t change this but will hopefully inspire at least one young woman to wait, if not until marriage, at least until they are fully mature enough to handle sex and all that comes with it.
C) It models a true reflection of the Christian walk
She waited a long time, made a mistake by having sex outside of marriage, repented and committed to celibacy until marriage. I find this admission, not only encouraging but a powerful witness, particularly to non-Christians because it speaks more powerfully of God’s grace and the reality of our daily faith walk, which is more like a stumble at times! Christians aren’t perfect, we make mistakes but what matters is how you recover – with His grace and our repentance. (For the record, I am not advocating pre-marital sex just so you can have a stronger testimony!)
D) It is an effective example of evangelism
Tamera’s confession was made during a lively talk show with several other women who were clearly more sexually ‘experienced’ and vocal about it. It would have been very easy for her to stay silent and smile sweetly, letting the occasion pass. But Tamera used her public platform to celebrate her period of celibacy, taking the opportunity to indirectly evangelise to a captive audience who may not listen otherwise. I was so encouraged that she explicitly shared her faith as the reason for her actions.
How many of us as Christians, especially in the company of non-Christian friends, are prepared to share our own experiences (or lack of) when sex and relationships become the topic of conversation? How many of us are ashamed to articulate the words ‘I am waiting until marriage’, rather opting for silence to avoid looking like the weirdo or worse still, lie just to fit in? For those who may have messed up in the past, how many of us are publicly prepared to say ‘I have made mistakes but I’m determined to put my best foot forward from now on’.
It remains to be seen what effects Tamera Mowry’s public confession will have, if any, but it should give us Christians confidence to share out story, whatever it is; you don’t know who may be touched by it (sorry poor choice of words…).