Tuesday, February 13, 2018

What do you mean "NO sex"?!

A book lying on the bed with a speech bubble that reads, "Does God really expect me to ABSTAIN from all sex for the REST OF MY LIFE? Are you saying God wants me to be miserable?
Valentines Day-hearts, flowers, candy and dates--it’s the perfect time to rejoin the conversation about what God expects from Christians in terms of sex.  In our last pair of posts we answered one question from two perspectives: “Should I be having sex?”  Angela Legg from The Diligent Woman answered the married half of this question with a resounding, "Yes." I answered the single side with a resounding “No” (LINK).  Now it's time for some details.   If you are married, head over to Angela's post "How to Make Time for an Abundant Sex Life." If you are single, keep reading to learn more about God's vision for a single life. 

When I finished writing my last post it was clear that just stating the facts about sex and singleness from God's point of view wasn't going to be enough.  We need to address the elephant in the room.  The giant "whale" of despair. 

Does God really expect me to ABSTAIN from all sex for the REST OF MY LIFE?  It’s so hard!  Are you saying God wants me to be miserable? 

This is really a two part question.  The answer to the first question is yes.  God expects every one of us to not have sex except in the bounds of marriage for the rest of our lives.  

The answer to the second question is much more complicated.

Does God want me to miserable?

This question makes a lot of assumptions.  It assumes that a person who is single and celibate has a miserable life.  It assumes that following the instructions of God make us unhappy.  It assumes that sex is the driver of a happy life.  It assumes an evil intent on the part of God. Let's examine these assumptions one by one.

How does God view a single life?  As a life free of encumbrance.  A life ready to do amazing things in His service.  

Paul puts it this way: 

But I want you to be free from concern. One who is unmarried is concerned about the things of the Lord, how he may please the Lord; but one who is married is concerned about the things of the world, how he may please his wife, and his interests are divided. The woman who is unmarried, and the virgin, is concerned about the things of the Lord, that she may be holy both in body and spirit; but one who is married is concerned about the things of the world, how she may please her husband. This I say for your own benefit; not to put a restraint upon you, but to promote what is appropriate and to secure undistracted devotion to the Lord (1 Corinthians 7:32-35)

As a married lady my service to God in large part consists of serving my family.  I can't pick up tomorrow and move to Africa to work with refugees or to head an orphanage.  Even simple things like spending time each morning in prayer or deciding to fast are complicated by the needs of a young family.  Moms have to stop their prayers to tend to a toddler and cook to feed their family while fasting.  These are things every single woman is free to do!  Free to be concerned about the things of the Lord!

Second, does following God's instructions make us unhappy?

Well, sometimes.  

I know, I was supposed to say, "Of course not."  And mostly we can say that following God's instructions do make us happy. Jesus says, "Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. “Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and YOU WILL FIND REST FOR YOUR SOULS. “For My yoke is easy and My burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30). Jesus insists that compared to the weight of sin or the law, following Him is easy. He is not a fierce master; He is gentle, merciful and loves us.  And trust me next to the weight of sexual sin, heart-break, rejection, unexpected pregnancy, single motherhood, abortions, STDs, economic devastation, and cancer, the burden of abstaining from sex is indeed light. 

But this is not the end of the tale. Perhaps a young woman having been married and now widowed or divorced will in fact find celibacy a great burden.  Ok. Jesus followers make sacrifices.   We like to consider the romantic, far-away unlikely sacrifices like risking your life to claim your Lord, but the simple everyday sacrifices like purity are sometimes harder to swallow. But Jesus was upfront about the cost. When He called us to take up our crosses and follow Him, He wasn’t talking about our illnesses, or misfortunes.  He was talking about daily laying down our flesh, our sins, our self and doing what HE wants not what we want.  To paraphrase the Lord, "the life of discipleship isn't easy, or quiet, or painless.  It's more like capital punishment."  So if abstaining seems down right painful, it should not be a surprise. 

Furthermore, we may be very surprised to find that when we offer Him our everything, He pours out all kinds of unexpected blessings in our life.  Pleasing our Father becomes our greatest joy. Our happiness is redefined in His light (for an example of Jesus' teaching on this topic carefully consider the Beatitudes -Matthew 5:1-12 and Luke 6:20-26).

Third, is sex the primary driver of a fulfilled and happy life?


Listen, I am an old married lady.  18 years and counting.  And trust me, I am HAPPILY married.  No need for awkward details but I am NOT the "I've got a headache" girl.   Yet, sex does not drive a happy and fulfilled life. 

Relationship does that.  

And in our culture we have got things all mixed up.  

God intended us to build relationship with any number of people who are not our sexual partners: family members, friends, children, brothers and sisters in Christ, seekers, coworkers, lost folks. Those relationships grow us, sustain us, give us purpose and allow God to work in our lives.  He placed us in community for two powerful reasons that have nothing to do with sex: to be salt and light and to be supported, nurtured and loved.  

Our culture on the other hand thinks EVERYTHING has to do with sex.  And as we think in our hearts as a culture, so is it.  We can't have simple friendships with people of the opposite sex; even friendships between people of the same sex are looked at with askance.  The hook-up culture has more than ever divorced sex even from the most elementary connection with relationship.  

God intended sex to be a facet of one and only one very special relationship.  Relationship is embodied in the two greatest commandments "Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your mind." And "Love your neighbor as yourself."  Relationship is at the heart of what it means to be a complete and fulfilled human being.  And the joy of relationship is just as available to the single lady as the married one!

Finally what about the character of God?  Shall we malign Him?

Indeed not.  We have already talked about how God has provided the command to abstain not for our misery but for our protection.  God  provided community and relationship for us that we may serve and be served and thus have the fulfilling life we desire.  God longs for His daughters to follow Him wholeheartedly. And single ladies young and old have enormous freedom in their service.  God is our wise Father not a malicious dictator.  He wants what is good for us.  

The rest of our lives seems like a long time.  And one of Satan’s favorite lies goes something like this… "You’ll never be able to resist temptation forever so you might as well go ahead and give in.”  Well, don’t!  Sweet sister, busy yourself with God’s good work, rejoice in your freedom to focus on Him first, settle into other relationships in your church and in your community.  These single days may be short or long but they have their own rewards.  Don’t let the world’s vision cloud your vision!


1 comment:

  1. True and well written, I enjoyed the read!