Does virginity still matter in the modern world? Virginity and the denial of marriage in the Acts of Paul and Thecla

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Peer-Reviewed Research
  • SDG 5
  • Abstract:

    In the modern world where people are still fascinated by the idea of virginity, the expression 'being a Thecla' or being a 'disciple of Thecla' refers to the state of virginity. This is a reference to Thecla in the ancient apocryphal Acts of Paul and Thecla. This article attempts to determine whether Thecla's virginity still has relevance in our modern world. This apocryphal work is interpreted as the understanding of the characteristics of Thecla's virginity and the denial of marriage. It transpires that the virginity in this apocryphal work is relevant to both men and women. Through her virginity, Thecla won social freedom, independence of male control and true love. She committed herself to her truelove of Jesus Christ. It is concluded that Thecla's virginity, as a free individual choice for both men and women, still matters in our modern world. However, virginity in modern patriarchal societies, where it is an instrument to control women, is a violent system of oppression of women; this is as negative and unacceptable as Thecla's being forced to marry Thamyris. Virginity for the sake of a career and the freedom to choose married life or not, as we find in our modern world, both fit into Thecla's framework of thinking. Virginity as a health measure to prevent HIV and AIDS does not affect one's freedom to control one's own body and is therefore typical of Thecla's choice. Forced virginity testing of women, however, would be another violent system of oppression.