Rebecca Bernardo is 18 years old.
Rebecca Bernardo is 18 years old, and she is selling her virginity.
Rebecca Bernardo is 18 years old, she is selling her virginity, and the highest bid is currently $35,000.
You may have heard of Rebecca, and how she’s hoping to make enough money to start a new life for herself and her invalid mother. You may also have heard of Catarina Migliorini, another Brazilian girl who sold her virginity: her transaction was part of an Australian documentary and was auctioned off for $780,000 (the deal has yet to be consummated). A lot goes through my mind when I hear of stories like this. For starters, I’m reminded how thoroughly broken our world is. I also wonder what it would be like t0 feel forced to choose between morality and responsibility. I even wonder how I would respond to the death grip of desperation.
But most of all I am reminded that we need a better message. We need a better message than the one inherent to the stories of Rebecca and Catarina. And yet, theirs is the exact same message I heard growing up in Evangelical youth groups:
Virgins are worth more.
And post-virgins are worth less.
Post-virgins are actually worthless.
It’s no surprise to hear this coming from a sensationalistic media or sexually charged culture. Virginity has been held aloft as the sole standard of purity in countless cultures for millennia (Christian and not). It dictated dowry rates, played a role in social standing, and past generations tragically believed that sex with a virgin was the best cure for an STD. The result, as Rebecca and Catarina are capitalizing on, is that virgins are worth more.
But it should be shocking to hear this coming from Christians. We should be appalled that teenage virginity is as much of a commodity within the church as without. But rather than being surprised, we’ve actually duped ourselves into becoming one of the loudest proclaimers of virginity-based value. And so we hold up a rose, slowly pull off each petal, and say, “This is what happens every time you have sex before marriage.”
A rose with no petals is a rose without value.
We mislead the church when we teach that virginity is the sole definition of purity. We mislead our youth when we imply that God cares more about their sexuality when they’re teenagers than when they’re in their 40’s. We mislead ourselves when we conceive of purity as a single event before or behind us, rather than a lifelong pursuit.
Rebecca Bernardo is 18 years old, and she is selling her virginity for $35,000. Her desperation motivates her to cash in on the final remaining item of value in her possession. She clearly understands the message that once she does, her value will plummet forever.
We live in a broken world.
May we offer a true understanding of value, and in doing so may we help to bring healing to a broken world. May we proclaim the message that our value is based on our humanity, not on our actions. May we shout from the rooftops that each one of us bears just as much much value as anyone else–the value of bearing His image. May our emphasis on virginity protect us from destructive messages, not contribute to them.
May we pursue purity over a commodity.