In an era where women want to feel in control of their own choices in relation to their bodies and sexual intimacy, virginity as a concept is also slowly being redefined as a mere social construct. As much as women have the right to explore casual affairs—if this is what they freely choose for themselves—the decision to honor their virginity and pursue celibacy until marriage is, likewise, an essential value that should be respected as a form of women empowerment.
Jamey Santiago-Manual and Dianne Sy-Isla share their insights about the importance of preserving virginity before marriage, and its impacts on overall spiritual, emotional, and mental wellbeing. Beyond the religious beliefs, it actually presents other benefits for the person and their relationships with others as a whole.
On reasons for preservation
Jamey is a happily married wife to Jan Manual and mother to two-year-old Josiah. She was raised in a God-loving household. Both her parents are lead pastors at Life Giver Church, and have heavily influenced her perspectives in life, paired with her personal relationship with the Lord. She shares that she will never forget the powerful statement her dad told her during her singlehood: “Anak, ipakita mo lang ang katawan mo sa asawa mo—hindi sa boyfriend mo, sa fiancé, or kahit kanino (My daughter, only show your body to your husband—not to your boyfriend, your fiancé, or to anyone.”
Aside from the deeply rooted mindset instilled by her father, she adds that there are two other reasons why she stayed firm in her decision, albeit a difficult one, of staying pure. The first one being a mistake that she has done in the past. Compromising worldly values left a negative impact in her life at the time, which showed her the importance of honouring her body and saving herself for her husband—“the only one who put a ring on my finger.”
As a mother, she acknowledges her role of preserving her new generation. And when the time comes that her children asks her questions about purity, courtship, and marriage, she can be a proud example of what it means to have honoured God and herself.
Dianne got married in January 2020 to her husband Jonri. She grew up in a Christian family with Sunday school playing a big role in her childhood. Her reasons reflect her faith in Christ too, saying “I wanted to pursue the relationship in God’s way… so I chose to wait on the right time.”
On temptations and accountability partners
Both Jamey and Dianne also saved their first kiss with their grooms until their wedding day at the church altar. And they admit that it was difficult with “so many temptations”, and it’s “by the grace of God” that they were able to resist it. The emphasis on boundaries was reiterated by Jamey and Dianne alike.
Jamey mentions following the “typical Filipino set up” and discussing limits with Jan early on in their relationship. “Ang ligawan sa bahay. Nagpapaalam pa din kami sa parents (who are also their pastors) namin.”
Dianne and Jonri made basic non-negotiables throughout their dating relationship, which included “not traveling with only just the two of us. It has to be with family or friends.” It was also their commitment to avoid temptation that led the couple’s decision of not kissing on the lips until their wedding. “The key to overcoming temptations is to flee from it, and direct your desires to following Jesus,” says Dianne as she quotes 2 Timothy 2:22, which encourages running away from youthful lusts and pursuing “faith, love, and peace with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart.”
Having accountability partners have also been critical in their journey of waiting. Jamey shares her family and having a community of supportive friends has been so “priceless! They even supported and prayed for us.” Dianne has a similar group of friends who she mentioned has been accepting and reassuring of her values, too. “Being surrounded with like-minded people inspires me to be faithful and to guard ourselves in relationships.”
On waiting for marriage
For Jamey and Dianne, waiting for marriage and having succeeded in doing so has been a rewarding experience. “Because waiting builds character. And in waiting, we develop the virtue of patience and the blessings from being faithful,” as per Jamey. Dianne says by waiting, she appreciates marriage with “a fuller meaning.” Claiming the feeling of “no longer two, but one” has actually applied to many things in her marriage life, beyond physically or sexually in the flesh, but also spiritually. “It felt so good and freeing knowing that we can finally do it, and it pleases God, and this gives me joy.”
Implications of casual sex
They also share their insights on the implications of casual sex, and why they discourage it. Jamey, who is also a pastor and life coach by profession, say this includes: “soul ties and emotional trauma.” Dianne agrees with this perception, stating “engaging in sex is not only a physical activity. It creates an emotional entanglement and even a spiritual bond.”
Jamey says engaging in casual sex is not simply an ordinary act, as in doing so, you are becoming “one flesh” with the person you are engaging in a “one night stand” with. This is why such activities often result to emotional emptiness and even trauma, “kaya minsan, nagiiba ang ugali (after an encounter), because may napasa na sa iyo (ang sexual partner) nang hindi mo namamalayan.” This is also why, for Jamey, sex is best enjoyed “only in the context of marriage.”
Dianne adds, “People think that abstaining from sex is a restriction, but they do not realize that this is actually protection for our own good. Whether you are Christian or not, pre-marital sex does not only cause emotional pain, but undesired consequences as well, which may lead to complications in the family’s design when a child has unmarried parents, or when teenage premarital pregnancies are involved.” Jamey also reveals that “when we see the danger of this, we will be willing to honor God and wait for His timing.”
On virginity as a patriarchal social construct
Virginity has been redefined as restrictive to the modern day woman, and identified as patriarchal, even sometimes “misogynistic” in nature. Dianne disagrees, stating that there might be a misunderstanding on the meaning of virginity or purity. “Purity does not define a woman’s value or worth, her character and identity is what defines her worth.” She further expounds that “waiting on marriage shows how one defines sex itself—as merely an activity or for true love? True love waits.”
Jamey echoes this sentiment. “Women who wait until marriage preserves her body, her morals, and emotions for her God’s best.” It’s not about demeaning women, it’s about having “less heartaches, traumas, or negative implications” altogether. These lead to better character building, and a well-guarded heart; and this does not apply only to women but to their male partners or future husbands, too.
On renewing commitment and inspiring others
“You should never feel ashamed,” says Dianne, referring to women who have lost their virginity and may feel broken inside and by others’ judgements. She stresses that God sees their value as a person, and it has not diminished, “it’s never too late to recommit yourself to staying pure until marriage.
Jamey recommends five basic steps for women who want to renew their virginity, namely: forgive yourself; talk to a coach, mentor, or counsellor to help you confess and heal; forgive the person; start again, and actively wait and serve the Lord; and lastly, give yourself only to one who deserves you by waiting for marriage with you.”
According to Jamey, “in every ‘break me’ moments is an opportunity for a ‘breakthrough. Choosing marriage over any short term casual relationships and clinging to God as the author of your love story will always lead to a more fruitful and fulfilling one.”
Both women hope their respective love stories can inspire others to continue to have hope in Jesus, and have faith in God’s design for marriage by practicing patience and learning to wait. Finally, developing self-control through preserving one’s purity also displays a significant representation of character, self-love, and women empowerment; and a safe approach to guarding oneself from any unnecessary emotional burden and trauma.