Soul Virgins: Redefining Single Sexuality
By: Doug Rosenau and Michael Todd Wilson
Baker Books (2006)
Review By: Clifford Watkins
Taking the Human Sexuality course here at Dallas Theological Seminary opened my eyes to so much about the importance of understanding God’s purpose in creating us male and female. As human beings, our sexuality permeates our being. Our gender is the basis of our personality and no matter how we personally identify ourselves or how society views our actions, gender and sexuality are inherent within all of us and cannot be changed.
The book Soul Virgins, one of the required texts for the class, and co-authored by one of the class’s instructors Doug Rosenau, attempts to unravel the knot of human sexuality that God has so intricately woven into our existence. It also attempts to show how a proper understanding of God’s design for sexuality is key for developing healthy dating relationships.
Rosenau is a licensed psychologist and a marriage and family therapist who specializes in sex therapy. Unlike most books for singles that try to attack the issue of relationships and dating, Soul Virgins attempts to take more of a holistic approach by stating that the means to having a good relationship is based on having a healthy view of one’s sexuality. As do most books that deal with relationships, Rosenau and Wilson offer their own model for how dating should work. Rosenau and Wilson refer to what they call the ‘relationship continuum bridge,’ which moves from connecting to coupling and then on to covenanting which is a synonym for marriage. Connecting is described as the natural friendship stage that we share with same-sex as well as opposite-sex friends before pursuing an exclusive relationship. Next is coupling which is when two people of the opposite sex begin considering one another as possible mates for marriage and define their exclusive relationship. The rest of the stages along the bridge can be summed up by saying that the couple grows closer in connectedness as well as commitment (assuming that the relationship stays in tact and everything goes according to plan). During this deepening relationship they will begin to prayerfully and honestly consider marriage.
What sets this book apart from others is the overarching theme of “soul virginity.” According to the book, a “soul virgin” is a person who continually seeks to value, celebrate and protect God’s design for sexuality in oneself and in others. In other words, “soul virginity” is a matter of the heart which hinges on how people value sexuality. A “soul virgin” views sexuality as a gift from God. This premise keeps the concept of dating from becoming legalistic with a specific set of guidelines or rules. The authors dedicated a chapter of the book to this concept called “Law, Lovetouching and the Bikini Line.” In this chapter, they explain that other than obviously immoral behavior, it is up to the two people in each relationship to establish healthy boundaries based on where they are in their relationships with God and each other.
Rosenau and Wilson refer to the game that men and women play as ‘the dance of desire.’ They preach that sexuality should not be repressed but understood and demonstrated at correct levels throughout a person’s interaction with friends, family and significant others, always saving “true sex,” or intercourse, for marriage. They even present a new concept within the book called “righteous flirting.” According to the authors, righteous flirting involves giving innocent, yet focused attention for the purpose of relating and building up another person. In contrast, they described un-righteous flirting as giving compliments or interacting in a way that manipulates the other person in to responding in a way that brings you gratification, which is not meant for the betterment of the other person. Rosenau suggests that righteous flirting could even take place with family members of the opposite sex. Seeing that we are encouraged to view each other as brothers and sisters in Christ I can see the concept that Rosenau is trying to reinforce, but maybe he might want to abandon the idea of flirting altogether because of the negative connotation attached to it within the culture already; not to mention the fact that flirting between family members is just a little bit weird.
All in all, Rosenau and Wilson illustrate the differences between men and women in order to show how they work together to bring about God’s design for sexuality. They propose that healthy relationships are based on a proper balance of five key aspects: the spiritual, mental, emotional, social and physical. In the process of becoming a “soul virgin” everyone respects their own sexuality and the sexuality of others, which allows them to express their love for God by walking in love with others building healthy, mature relationships — romantic or not. Rosenau sums the concept of the book up when he says, “Regardless of where you are as a Christian single along the relationship continuum bridge, being content with where you are is key. Balanced intimacy and sexual wholeness will certainly help.”