Chewed Up Gum and a Ring by Spring

I am sure that many of you have heard the phrase, “Ring by Spring.” It has become a popular phrase in Christian culture and I am certainly not the first  person to bring it up in conversation. If it wasn’t obvious enough, “Ring by Spring” is a popular phrase in the Christian college culture that refers to becoming engaged or married by spring time. I have heard this phrase used many times throughout my college career and now that I am in my last semester of undergraduate studies, I have even been asked if I have a potential husband lined up. While this phrase can be funny and somewhat cute at times, it can also cause undue stress on individuals who base their self-worth on finding a spouse by the end of their college careers.

Another train of thought that I would like to present before diving in to my main discussion point is this: “The Chewed Gum Analogy.” The Chewed Gum analogy refers to a person that has given themselves away physically to one or multiple partners, the chewed gum represents how once one has engaged in sexual activity, that person can never have their purity restored (one cannot un-chew a piece of gum). This way of thinking isolates those who have had a sexual history, as well as rape victims and those who have endured sexual abuse.

The majority of Christian culture has always had a negative view of sexual activity. Often times, those who are religious look down on those who have had any kind of past experiences with this. I have had to fight this battle for the last seven years of my life. Ever since I was thirteen years old, I have wondered if I was that chewed up piece of gum, the rose without petals, or whatever other category that someone wanted to assign to me. As far as I was concerned, I was dirty, unclean, and unworthy of love.

However, if we are truly looking at what it means to be pure, I suggest that we consider Christ’s words. In Matthew, Jesus tells His followers that to look at someone in lust is to commit adultery in one’s heart and to harbor hatred in the heart is akin to committing murder. By these standards, would we not all fall under the category of impure?

A person’s past experiences do not determine their worth. The simple fact that each individual person was created in the image of God is reason enough to treat every person that we come across with love and respect. Society has taught us to stop seeing people as people, but has taught us to view one another as objects to use for our own personal gain. We live within a cycle of exploitation and heartbreak. Only when we allow ourselves to see one another as beautiful and worthy creations of God will we be able to break this cycle.

I’ll be honest, even within the last few months I have really been struggling with my own self worth. Do I even fit the mold of what someone would want as a future wife? A future mother? What do I have to offer another person that has not already been taken or given away? Am I too damaged? Do I even deserve love? I have had to continually tell myself that I am worth waiting for, worth fighting for, I’m worth being appreciated, and I am worth being valued. Despite my past, I am valued by God, and I deserve to be valued by those around me. The truth is, I don’t need to find a spouse before I graduate to fulfill my true potential or to find self-worth. I don’t need to redeem myself from my past, because I have already been redeemed. I need only look to Christ and His sacrifice on the cross to fully understand how much I am worth.