Waiting for marriage? Former Bagley resident explores relationships on MTV show 'Virgin Territory'
BEMIDJI -- A mock barcode is tattooed on Luke Conger's left shoulder beneath the words "Bought with a price," inked in a scripted font below his neck.
It's a reference to 1 Corinthians 6:20, which according to the New International Version of the Bible, states, "You were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies."
It is a fitting verse for Conger, a former Bagley resident who is appearing this summer in an MTV reality show that follows virgins throughout their romantic encounters. Conger believes that sexual intercourse should be saved for marriage.
"The experience as a whole definitely was different than anything I had ever experienced before," Conger told the Pioneer, corresponding by email, as he reflected on the show. "When we began filming I didn't think it was going to be weird or hard at all to talk about something so personal, however, once the cameras started rolling things became real, really fast."
"Virgin Territory" premiered on July 16. Tonight's episode will be the fourth installment of the reality series, which airs at 10 p.m. Wednesdays on MTV.
Conger, 22, was home schooled throughout his childhood years and moved to Bagley in the summer of 2009, before his senior year of high school. He graduated this past May from Liberty University, a Christian college in Lynchburg, Va., with a major in athletic training.
Conger, now living in Severn, Md., told the Pioneer he was perusing MTV's website for the first time when he saw they were casting for upcoming new shows.
"I saw the casting call for 'Virgin Territory' and sent in an application not really thinking anything of it," he said. "Low and behold here I am now! My initial response was that this was crazy and that it probably wouldn't be very big, but I guess I was wrong."
Conger was introduced in the second episode of the series as a montage pictured him at Bemidji Bowl. Later, viewers were introduced to his Bagley home and his family. At one point, he joins his father, the pastor of a local church, for yard work as they discuss intimacy and sex.
"My parents and I have always been very open with these types of conversations," Conger told the Pioneer. "I think we began to seriously talk about these issues when I was around 13 or 14."
Printed on a Post-it stuck to the mirror in the bathroom are questions his brother Tim once wrote out: Is it right? Is it good? Is it helpful? Would God approve? Would my parents approve?
The show follows Conger both at his Bagley home and at college, as he experiences his senior year at Liberty, a university whose slogan is "training champions for Christ." Conger said he chose to attend the university because he wanted to attend a Christian college and also because Liberty has a strong athletic training program.
Conger said he felt a "sense of peace" as filming ended for "Virgin Territory," stating that the show helped him to work out some details in his life that he otherwise would have swept under the rug. He also said he would be open to the experience again.
"The messages I have been receiving from people about how the show and my story has touch(ed) and impacted their lives helped me see that God really did have a bigger plan for the show than I could have ever imagined," he said.