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Location: Irondale, Alabama, United States

Monday, October 16, 2006

Consecrated Virginity, Judgment and Salvation

Lori Rose Cannizzaro, made Associated Press headlines last week by dedicating her virginity to Jesus, joining some 200 women in the US and 2,000 worldwide. You can read the article and you can learn more about about the Association of Consecrated Virgins. What is striking is not that she would do this, but that it would be reported as something odd if not shocking.

The article does little to explore Lori’s spirituality beyond a couple of quotes, like “it is a good and holy thing to want to be in a virginal state.” Nor does it look into the theological reasoning of the Roman Catholic Church in promoting this ascetic practice. Instead, we get a vague suggestion that her decision is based in some sense of personal failure: “dating wasn’t working… I wasn’t connecting.”

Such an attitude says a lot about our culture; a culture in which virginity is more likely to be viewed as a handicapping condition than a state of purity. The message of much of our media to teenagers is that virginity is something that should be lost as soon as possible.

I wish I had waited. I confess that I did some foolish things when I was in college, and that was one of them. I could get into a whole other discussion about how our sexuality finds its fulfillment in the covenant relationship of marriage, but that’s for some other day.

Here is the thing. While Lori’s dedication may be unusual, it is commendable these days that someone would dedicate anything to Jesus.

Just as striking in the article about Lori was a statement she made and the response it drew. The article closes with this statement by Lori: “the consecrated virgin is living now what all people will live in eternity before Christ.” In the comments section, Rebekah reacted to the apparent suggestion that everyone will live in eternity before Christ, insisting that God as “perfect and just” will never forgive those who have sinned. She cites Matthew 7:21, “not everyone who says, ‘Lord, Lord’ will get into the kingdom of heaven.

I don’t know if Lori really meant that everyone (believer and non-believer) will be saved. What struck me, though, was that Rebekah reminded me of how eager we are to be the ones who determine who gets saved and who doesn’t.

I hear this issue in my discussions with church members. We seem to be pretty sure about who is going to heaven and who is going to hell. Never mind that in Matthew 25 those who went both ways were surprised in the end. Who is to say who will be saved? Only God. What I am grateful (and hopeful) about is that God is far more forgiving than I am.

The bottom line for Christian spirituality is not figuring our where other people are going after death, but rather how will we live our own life seeking to follow our Savior, so we might join him now and in eternity. If consecrated virginity is a means that will help Lori and others in their Christian walk, then God bless her.

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