God calls us to maintain sexual purity by reserving sexual intimacy for marriage. But most people do not wait until marriage to engage in sexual intercourse. For many Christians, particularly as they prepare for marriage, the guilt of premarital sex can weigh heavily on them.
Desiring to approach marriage with a clean conscience and a clean slate, such Christians might even ask God to restore their virginity by miraculous healing and/or erasing past sexual encounters. But can God restore virginity in this way?
God is not likely to physically restore someone’s virginity or erase the memory of past sexual encounters. But God does forgive our sins and provide us with renewed hearts and clear consciences.
Born Again… Virgin?
Premarital sex is common—even normal—in our culture. Yet, this is not unique to the present day, to America, or even to the post-Christian West. After all, the Bible was originally written to a culture that dealt with all of the same temptations and vulnerabilities that we face today.
As Christians, we have always been called to a higher standard of sexual purity. In some Christian circles, there is a trend among young people who either came to Christ after becoming sexually active or who gave in to temptation even as believers, to become a “born again virgin.”
This trend is most common in communities where sexual purity is stressed, and perhaps even enforced through guilt or shame. In extreme cases, young women have had surgical procedures done to restore the physical aspects of virginity. More commonly, those seeking to become “born again virgins” pray for God to miraculously heal their (physical) virginity.
While God, as Creator and Healer, is able to restore virginity, it is not likely that He would do so. Our fixation on the physical may cause us to miss the greater spiritual restoration that He desires for us.
When Jesus told Nicodemus that we must be born again in order to enter the kingdom of God, he made it clear that he was speaking of spiritual rebirth.
Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.”
“How can someone be born when they are old?” Nicodemus asked. “Surely they cannot enter a second time into their mother’s womb to be born!”
Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit.John 3:3-6
Restoration of the physical aspects of virginity neither erases the occurrence nor the memory of a past sexual encounter. God is more concerned with the state of our hearts than with the symbolic state of our bodies.
A Lesson from Circumcision
A person is not a Jew who is one only outwardly, nor is circumcision merely outward and physical. No, a person is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is circumcision of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the written code. Such a person’s praise is not from other people, but from God.Romans 2:28-29
Circumcision was established as a physical sign of a spiritual covenant between Israel and God. During Paul’s ministry, as the gospel reached into Gentile communities, the question of requiring circumcision often came up.
The answer that we find in the New Testament is that the spiritual transformation is what is important, and not the physical sign because our identity as Christians is established in Christ.
Paul’s appeal to ‘circumcision of the heart’ brilliantly underscores this truth. But we should be aware that this is not a new idea that started with Paul. In the closing paragraphs of Deuteronomy, as the Israelites were preparing to enter the Promised Land, Moses led the people in renewing their covenant, while including this encouragement:
The Lord your God will circumcise your hearts and the hearts of your descendants, so that you may love him with all your heart and with all your soul, and live.Deuteronomy 30:6
The physical sign has always been an outward symbol of a greater spiritual truth.
Similarly, when a paralytic was brought to Jesus for healing, Jesus looked at him and said “Friend, your sins are forgiven.” (Luke 5:20) It was only when the Pharisees challenged his authority to forgive that Jesus healed the man’s legs (v 21-25). Why?
Because the physical restoration was a symbol of a greater spiritual reality. The man had been made righteous through forgiveness, not through the healing of his legs.
Though not impossible, it is not likely that God would physically restore someone to a bodily state of virginity, because His concern is that we are restored to a right relationship with Him, in our hearts, minds, and spirits.
Still, God does desire to free us from our past sins and empower us to overcome ongoing temptation.
as far as the east is from the west,
so far has he removed our transgressions from us.Psalm 103:12
He promises to remove our sins and remember them no more. But that doesn’t mean that they will have never happened. It means that they will not be remembered in eternity and that we are free from their bondage in this life.
Bondage to sin manifests in two ways. The first is guilt and condemnation, which are removed from us by the blood of Jesus (Romans 8:1). The second is temptation, which we overcome by the power of the Holy Spirit.
This freedom from bondage is available to all who receive Christ, even those who carry the burden of past sexual sins:
Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.Corinthians 6:9-11
We’ve been justified (made guiltless) and sanctified (made holy) by the power of God. This is the true restoration that enables us to live as born-again people, unburdened by past sins, as we look ahead to fulfilling lives—and even God-honoring marriages—no matter where we have been.