Doo Wop (That Thing)...A Hip Hop Referendum on the Christian Ascetics of Virginity
By Terrance Dean
November 2, 2012
The practice of virginity has been an essential element of early Christianity asceticism. In particular for women, virginity has been “That Thing,” that way of life which proved their purity in an effort to reach an enlightenment and oneness with God. In the book, History of the World Christian Movement, authors Dale T. Irvin and Scott W. Sunquist posit how essential virginity was for the Christian movement and the rewards of it. “For the early Christian movement it was understood as a practice of self-discipline that freed the body from excessive attachment to the social and material world, and thus the pathway of holiness that enabled one to approach God.”
Biblical stories have illustrated many biblical women, including Mary the mother of Jesus, who were willing to ‘hold it down’ for Christianity by maintaining their virginity. Two of today’s biggest female Hip Hop artists, Lauryn Hill, and Ciara have done the same rhyming about the sanctity of virginity in their songs, “Doo Wop (That Thing),” by Hill, and “Goodies,” by Ciara. Both songs are cautionary tales about the downsides of pre-marital sex, while exemplifying how practicing the asceticism of virginity empowers women. Their lyrics are positive messages of the power of self-discipline, as well as inspirational words for women to keep themselves holy and pure.
In thematic comparative analysis, I explore how Hill’s and Ciara’s songs are modern day cautionary tales of the practice in virginity similarly to biblical scholars who often illustrated in their writings the teachings of virginity in early Christian asceticism.
Biblical scholars expressed how it was better for women to maintain their virginity, rather than live a life in sin and fall prey to the sexual pleasures of the body. Irvin and Sunquist posits, “Practices of self-denial that focused on moral control of bodily desires are generally called asceticism, and were the most prominent expression of such discipline in Christine life.”
Exploring Hill’s song, she begins with a jarring introduction of a woman trying to find a man after she engaged in sexual intercourse with him. Hill sings, “It’s been three weeks since you’ve been looking for your friend, the one you let ‘hit it’ and never called you again.” Clearly, this relationship was illusive from the beginning as the woman hasn’t been able to locate the man she gave herself to. After sex he disappeared, and unfortunately it wasn’t enough to keep him. He obviously was after one thing from her. Had she waited and gotten to know her pursuer better, she would have realized his true interests. Her actions demonstrated a lack of self-discipline, and an inability of moral control over her bodily desires.
Hill proceeds, “'Member when he told you he was ‘bout the ‘Benjamins’, you act like you ain’t hear him then gave him a little ‘trim.’” Here, we see the woman is enamored by his wealthy status, which entices her to give herself to him. Irvin and Sunquist posit, “Virginity is the practice of self-discipline that freed the body from excessive attachment to the social and material world.” Hill references this precisely but the character in her analogy doesn’t adhere to it. Attachments to physical and material possessions were gateways to self-indulgence and self-pleasure. And, if one indulged in such adulations they would fall to temptation and lose sight of pleasing God. In Hill’s song she pointed this out to show how the woman’s attraction to the man’s material possessions and social standing lured her to equate value to her sexual worth, which was at the cost of her virginity.
Hill continues to rhyme effortlessly, “Plus when you give it up so easy you ain’t even fooling him, if you did it then, then you probably do it again, ‘talking out your neck’ sayin’ you’re a Christian, a Muslim sleeping with the Jinn, now that was the sin that did Jezebel in.”
Hill directly approaches Christianity with the line, “Talking out your neck sayin’ you’re a Christian.” She confronts the woman’s religious indignation accusing her of not upholding the values and virtues of Christian asceticism, particularly virginity. Irvin and Sunquist posit, “Chief among the pursuits that ascetics gave up were the physical pleasures associated with sexual relations and marriage. Celibacy was a means for women and men to free themselves from the social demands of marriage and family life, thereby freeing them for greater love and service of God.” Hill used this maneuver to show how many will call themselves Christians, yet, they are not living Christian lives. Don’t proclaim to be a Christian, yet, when temptation arises the professing of religious identity is in direct contradiction to the practices, thus, calling into question its validity.
Continuing with lyrical precision, Hill uses historical biblical reference likening the woman to Jezebel -- “Muslim sleeping with the Jinn, now that was the sin that did Jezebel in.” One of the most deceptive biblical female characters, Jezebel, who worshipped Baal, was known as the woman who had Jewish prophets murdered, and misled the people of God into idolatry and sexual immorality. Her deceit and sexual promiscuity ultimately led to her death. Hill’s reference categorically relates the woman’s actions to a character whose sexual pervasion was the demise in her death. Ultimately, the same can happen to the woman in Hill’s illustration.
Approaching Ciara’s song, “Goodies,” she takes a no bars hold approach in addressing possible suitors about not giving up her ‘goodies.’ Ciara sings methodically, “I bet you want the goodies. Bet you thought about it. Got you all hot and bothered. Mad cause I talk around it. Looking for the goodies. Keep on lookin’ cuz they stay in the jar.” Ciara likens her virginity as ‘goodies’ being protected and sealed in a jar to that of a chastity belt and being locked up and protected. She’s wise that her suitor has thought about bedding her. She’s aware of his lustful desires searching for a way to get her into the bed. However, she prides herself in being able to discern his desires, thus, maintaining the asceticism of virginity and remaining pure.
Similarly, in the article St. Methodius: The Symposium A Treatise On Chastity, writer, Herbert Musuriollo, illustrates through fiction an imitation of Plato’s dialogue of the Symposium addressing the asceticism of virginity. The Symposium is a play, and the scene takes place with characters gathered for a dinner party. Through the characters, Musuriollo provides a manual on the Christine doctrine of the concept of chastity. He posits, “Virginity is something extraordinarily great, wonderful and glorious. To speak frankly in the manner of the Scriptures, this most beautiful, noble way of life alone is the Church’s sustaining bosom, her flower, her first fruits. This is the reason too, why our Lord, in that passage in the Gospels in which He instructs us in the various ways in which men have become eunuchs, promises that all who make themselves virgins will enter the Kingdom of Heaven.” Like Ciara’s character, she knows her virginity is something special, great, and wonderful. She’s aware that her ‘goodies’ is a flower, her first fruit, and she is not willing to give it away.
And, like Ciara’s character, Musuriollo shares what is expected of a virgin and how to protect herself. He posits, “The virgin should therefore always love what is right and good, and distinguish herself among those who are superior in wisdom. She must not be given to laziness and softness; but her life should be one of extreme excellence. She should ever keep her mind occupied with thoughts that befit her state of virginity and with her thinking wipe away the foul humors of sensuality, lest some small spot of corruption, overlooked, breed the worm of incontinence.”
Ciara continues to sing with indignation, “Just because you drive a Benz I’m not going home with you. You won’t get no ‘nookie’ or the ‘cookies.’ I’m no rookie.” Similar to Hill’s character, the man tries to impress the woman with his material wealth and status. He feels that because he drives a Mercedes Benz the woman will be impressed, and thus she will give herself to him. However, she shoots him down informing him that she’s not impressed with his material possessions. His car is not worth losing her virginity. Her focus and priority is to remain pure, and not give in to the material and flesh.
Musurillo illustrates similarly the importance of women remaining vigilant and protective of their bodies, becoming pleasing to God. Musurillo posits, “Thus, as blessed Paul says, the unmarried woman thinketh on the things of the Lord, how she may please God, that she may be holy both in body and in spirit.” Musurillo’s warning for women to be mindful of their thoughts relates to Ciara’s character. She doesn’t fall prey to the man, as she is firmly rooted in maintaining the holiness of her body and spirit, and in pleasing God. She is not thinking about the man or his material possessions.
Finally, Ciara chimes in creative prose, “You’re insinuating that I’m hot. But these goodies boy are not. No you can’t call me later. And I don’t want your number. I’m not changin’ stories. Just respect the play I’m callin.’” Regardless of her suitor’s pursuit, and his suggestion that she may be lusting for him, she firmly redirects him and his attempts in trying to persuade her to have sex with him. Furthermore, she is not willing to maintain contact with him because she is aware that if she accepts his number, it could lead to temptation.
Comparably, Musurillo’s shares how difficult it is to practice chastity, but if they are faithful and strong they can resist temptation. Musurillo posits, “Chastity is rare indeed among humankind, and a goal difficult of attainment; it involves greater risks precisely because of its excellence and magnificence. Hence it demands strong and generous natures, that can completely divert the stream of sensuality and guide aloft the chariot of their soul, straight and up and up, never losing sight of their goal – until, leaping easily over the world with the lightening speed of thought, they stand upon the very vault of heaven and gaze directly upon Immortality itself as it wells up from the pure bosom of the Almighty.”
Both Hill’s and Ciara’s vibrant storytelling are cautionary tales for women on preserving their virginity. They show the potential downfall for women who are not virtuous and pure, as well as the rewards for those who remain pure and holy, protecting themselves and being vigilant over their bodies. Hill’s illustration shows how easy it is to become a victim of outside influences when women are not in alignment with practicing Christian asceticism, while Ciara shows empowerment and pride for women maintaining their virginity. Ultimately, both artists teach women to be mindful in not losing control over their bodily desires, and succumbing to material and societal pressures. In upholding the Christian asceticism of virginity women can be honorable and live righteously, thus, becoming pleasing to God.
 Irvin, Dale T. & Sunquist, Scott W., History of the World Christian Movement (New York: Orbis Books, 2001) p. 142.
 Irvin, History of the World Christian Movement p. 142
 ‘Hit it’ – urban slang/vernacular meaning engaging in sexual intercourse.
 ‘Benjamins’ – urban slang/vernacular meaning money, particularly with reference to the one hundred dollar bill with Benjamin Franklin’s face on the bill, thus, the term “Benjamins.”
 ‘Trim’ – urban slang/vernacular pertaining to a woman’s genitalia.
 Irvin, History of the World Christian Movement p. 142
 “Talking out your neck” – urban slang/vernacular meaning trifling and frivolous.
 Irvin, History of the World Christian Movement p. 142.
 ‘Goodies’ – urban slang/vernacular referring to a woman’s genitalia.
 Musurillo, Herbert, S.J., D. Phil. (Oxon.), St. Methodius: The Symposium A Treatise On Chastity; Ancient Christian Writers: The Works of the Fathers in Translation (London: The Newman Press, 1958) p. 43.
Musurillo, St. Methodius: The Symposium A Treatise On Chastity p. 41.
 ‘Nookie’ – urban slang/vernacular for sex or sexual relations.
 ‘Cookies’ – urban slang/vernacular for a woman’s genitalia.
 Musurillo, The Symposium A Treatise On Chastity p. 43.
 Musurillo, The Symposium A Treatise On Chastity p. 42.