COLUMBIA — Chastity, celibacy and purity are not three adjectives often associated with life on a modern college campus. They were the keywords of the night, however, at “The Virgin Dialogues,” held Feb. 28 at the University of South Carolina.
The event was co-sponsored by USC’s Students for Life and the Palmetto Family Council. It was designed to offer a rebuttal to the central message of “The Vagina Monologues,” a sexually explicit play scheduled for performance at USC on March 1.
An ecumenical panel of Catholic and Protestant young adults talked about the emptiness of a secular culture, which promotes promiscuity, versus the fulfillment possible in living a sexually pure life. The event drew a crowd of about 50, most of them USC students.
The panelists included Daniel and Ginger Blomberg, a young married couple from Irmo, and Marie Connelly, a former USC student who works with the Palmetto Family Council. They each presented a 15-minute testimonial about their experiences in living chaste lives and offered suggestions on how to pursue chastity on a college campus.
Daniel Blomberg talked about how the commercialization of sexuality in society at large contributed to the growth of the “hookup culture” on college campuses, where students frequently engage in sexual behavior with people they barely know.
“In the name of sexual fulfillment in this culture, we’ve broken the lifelong promise of marriage,” Blomberg said. “The misuse of sex has destroyed lives … and even though the cult of sexuality has told us that unrestrained, free love is more pleasurable, it’s really taken all the fun out of sex. We need rows and rows of magazines and books just to focus on how we can enjoy it again.”
Blomberg quoted survey results that suggest that people who save sex for marriage and take a “traditional, Biblical” approach to sexuality actually have happier and more fulfilling sex lives.
“The Biblical view says that sexuality is for oneness between a man and a woman, and for procreation,” he said “It’s also a symbol of the relationship between God and humanity. By embracing these truths, we can freely enjoy sexual relations because we realize that sex is not just a physical act.”
Ginger Blomberg described how she and her husband practiced restraint during the time they dated and were engaged, and said this offered a new, selfless perspective to their relationship once they were married.
She said that a Christian perspective on sexuality stresses the importance of thinking of others, rather than using the physical body just to achieve personal pleasure or other selfish goals. She noted that adopting modest dress and behavior allows people to live their lives in a way that focuses more on generosity and decency.
“The ‘hookup culture’ is selfish because it’s all about ‘what can I get out of this person,’ ” Mrs. Blomberg said. “If a woman uses her body to get something out of a man, that’s a type of violation, just as it would be a violation for a man to force himself on a woman.”
She suggested to the men in the room that they should consider the term “chivalry” as a guide for dealing with women. “There’s something attractive about someone who knows what is good and right, and is willing to fight for it,” she said. “An intelligent woman wants a true partner, a man who respects her.”
Marie Connelly, a Catholic who is active in pro-life issues, described the beauty and importance of being willing to wait for marriage to have a sexual relationship with someone. She explained how important it was for young people to learn how to live full lives, combining the spiritual, intellectual and physical.
“Restraint means waiting, and you wait because there’s something better on the other side,” she said. “Restraint teaches you how to be selfless. Through restraint, you say ‘As much as I’d like to give in to desire, I know there’s a higher purpose.’ Anything impure outside marriage leaves you empty, and nobody here deserves to be hollow. You were made in love and deserve true love,” she said.
She encouraged the students to learn about themselves and to stop trying to seek fulfillment through empty relationships. She reiterated that sex outside marriage is a case of partners using each other.
“Nobody deserves or wants to be used — using sex to dominate someone is wrong,” Connelly said. “Chastity is about freedom and respect. You have to know who you are and you can’t know yourself if you’re living just for the approval of others.”
All three of the panelists encouraged the students to deepen their relationship with God and to seek the truths about sexuality that can be found through reading and studying Scripture.
Connelly said there are plans to hold similar dialogues in the future, possibly including guest speakers who can offer stories of how they transformed their lives through adopting chastity and purity.
For more information on “Virgin Dialogues” and chastity initiatives visit
www.scstudentsforlife.org or www.palmettofamily.org.