Virginity has been treasured and valued in many ancient and modern cultures. In some countries, doctors will provide “virginity tests” before a wedding to ensure that a female family member retains physical evidence that she has never engaged in sex (no such test exists for males). Failure to provide adequate evidence of virginity justifies the annulment of the marriage as well as the heaping of public shame and humiliation on the family of the “tainted” bride.

Recently, a news story reminded me of this sad tradition. During her wedding ceremony, Maryland bride Brelyn Bowman offered a gift to her proud father in front of 3,500 guests. The gift was entitled a “Certificate of Purity,” and was presented as a symbol that she had remained sexually pure prior to her wedding day. She also had the certificate signed by her doctor confirming that her hymen was intact as physical evidence of her purity. Brelyn voluntarily submitted herself to the same test that many women around the world are forced into in order proudly and demonstrably to reveal a virginal state before marriage. 

This Postmodern Realities episode is a conversation with Journal author Richard J. Poupard about his 39:5 article “Should We Continue to Use the Term Sexual Purity?

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