12-years-old. That's how old I was when I was told that if I were to have sex before marriage that my wedding night wouldn't be special.

I was given sorry illustrations about being "fine China" and that I would be comparable to a paper plate if I had sex before marriage. I was also compared to tape. With each premarital act, I would become a dirty piece of tape with no value—unable to stick or "connect" with the husband God meant for me.

I went through my church's version of "True Love Waits." Yes, I know the intentions were good, but what stuck with me like a very unused piece of tape was that my worth was in my virginity. I still have letters I wrote to my future husband 11 years ago, pledging to save myself for him on our wedding night. I wore a purity ring to signify that promise and it served as a reminder every day that I wouldn't fall into the temptations of premarital sex.

I am now 23 and *surprise*—not a virgin. I lost my virginity in a frat house with a Lil Dicky song on repeat.

I was in and out of consciousness and this guy wasn't taking no for an answer. I was just too drunk to "stop it" like I wanted to. I still feel pretty worthless when I think about that night—and for good reason.

After that happened, despite the fact that it was just an unfortunate situation all around, I felt like I had nothing to give.

I saw myself as a used paper plate and a dirty piece of tape.

I had let down God, myself, my family, my church and my future husband. My wedding night wasn't going to be special anymore because I had nothing to give. So I just thought, what's the point?

Thankfully now, I know that I was completely and utterly wrong. Two years later and I have reestablished my self-worth and don't buy into the lies I was told as a prepubescent teen.

A person's worth is not in their virginity.

Whether you lose your virginity with someone you love, with a one-night stand or are taken advantage of, you still have your entire self to give to your future spouse. Those scare tactics and illustrations do nothing more than misconstrue where a person's purity truly lies.

I am not saying to not teach about waiting until marriage. I believe the Bible and God calling Christians to wait until marriage. I am saying that, as Christians, we should change the way we teach this value.

Yes, by all means, encourage teens and young adults to wait until marriage. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that. But as Christians, we should also teach that no matter what—you are loved. You are loved whether you sleep with nobody or everyone. You are valuable. You will always be valuable and no one and no experience can take that from you.

As a Christian, you will always be pure, valued and whole so long as God is in your heart.

I agree that God calls Christians to wait, but:

I will never agree that a person's wedding night won't be special if they don't wait.

I will never agree that a person can't fully give themselves to their husband or wife if they've had premarital sex.

I will never agree that a person is comparable to a paper plate or dirty piece of tape (why this is even a popular illustration I don't know).

If you are a Christian and you've lost your virginity you still are worthy. You are still pure. You still have your entire self to give your husband or wife. Your wedding night will be special. You will be able to connect strongly with your spouse no matter who you've slept with. Why? Because Jesus died on the FREAKING CROSS. He died for our sins, and that's not exclusive to premarital sex.

Your value and identity is in Christ—not something as overrated as your virginity.


Writer's Note: For any reader who finds themselves confused, I do realize I was raped but the point of my writing is to have a conversation about how the way I—and many other young women—are raised to believe that once they lose their virginity (from sexual assault or by their own choice) are devalued, which only added to my trauma. I know what rape and sexual assault is, and have even written about it, but I wanted this particular piece to be about my virginity and how the way I was raised impacted the way I felt about myself when I lost it and how I felt about myself being raped and what my mindset was at the time because of what I was taught.