Judith Stegman wants to reclaim the word "virgin" from jokes, satire and stigma.
When people ask whether she’s married, the 49-year-old Haslett, Mich., resident replies, "Yes, and no."
"I’m not married to a man, but I’m far from being single," Stegman tells people. "I’m a consecrated virgin in the Catholic Church."
At a time when virginity is getting the Hollywood laugh-track treatment — the movie "The 40-Year-Old Virgin" — Stegman wants to celebrate the V-word for its beauty and integrity.
"An important part of being this," she says, "is not to be afraid to say it," but it took even Stegman a while to do so with a serene smile.
"I’m not remaining a virgin because I’m repressing some part of sexuality, or giving everything to my work, or refraining from loving relationships," says Stegman. "I’m invited to a loving relationship with Christ."
She is one of about 160 women in the United States who are consecrated virgins. They are members of a little-known ministry that dates to Christianity’s earliest days.
These women pursue a spiritual vocation, but not as members of a convent or religious order. They work as teachers, nurses, lawyers, or, like Stegman, certified public accountants. They support themselves, follow a life of prayer and, in the words of Catholic canon law, are "mystically betrothed to Christ."
On her left ring finger, Steg-man, of Haslett, Mich., wears a silver band fashioned to resemble an ancient oil lamp. It symbolizes her betrothal to Jesus Christ and evokes the imagery of the Gospel parable about 10 virgins, five of whom had lanterns lacking oil. Without it, they were unready for the return of the bridegroom, a symbol for Christ. [Source]