Let’s face it. There are many words which fit here which have nothing to do with being single: money, a better job, vacation, happiness, comfort, contentment, patience, and on and on. But, since the circumstance of singleness has a bunch of things which we do not have – but want – it’s easy to jump right in with the restrictive things just out of our reach. For those of us who choose to live according to Scriptural direction, the list may vary from those who do not, mainly because of differences in setting boundaries in the area of intimacy. Everyone wants to be known body, soul, and spirit. And, my guess is that at some time in our lives, every single person has said, at least to themselves,
“I want sex and I want it now!”
That got your attention, didn’t it? There are times in our lives as singles when physical desires and emotions threaten to boil to the surface like an unruly volcano. Having sex becomes a focus of feelings and thoughts. Cold showers and jogging may distract for a short period of time. For the Christian, it may seem like a cruelty that God would create us with such a strong desire for physical intimacy and then put limits on it.
It’s my understanding that during Old and New Testament times, marriage, particularly for the woman, came at a very early age. Men and women generally went from their parents’ homes to a new home together. Lifetime singleness was rare with Jesus, John the Baptist, and Paul being especially prominent New Testament examples. There may be many more which just aren’t labeled. Scripture tells us that the disciple, Peter, was married, but is silent about marriage status of the other disciples. Mary Magdalene, Lazarus, Mary, and Martha are others who are never mentioned in spousal relationship. I admit to some frustration at the brevity of specifics for singles, with Matthew 19:11-12 (following a discussion of marriage and divorce) and I Corinthians 7:32-35 (again in context of marriage) being the main references.
So, how is it that sex and celibacy have become the pivotal foci of discussion for Christian singleness? How in the world can I live as a sexual being made that way by God, while living within the confines of “don’t?” Scripture is full of admonitions to “flee sexual immorality,” and is especially clear in this passage from The Message.
I Corinthians 6:16-20 – There’s more to sex than mere skin on skin. Sex is as much spiritual mystery as physical fact. As written in Scripture, “The two become one.” Since we want to become spiritually one with the Master, we must not pursue the kind of sex that avoids commitment and intimacy, leaving us more lonely than ever–the kind of sex that can never “become one.” There is a sense in which sexual sins are different from all others. In sexual sin we violate the sacredness of our own bodies, these bodies that were made for God-given and God-modeled love, for “becoming one” with another. Or didn’t you realize that your body is a sacred place, the place of the Holy Spirit? Don’t you see that you can’t live however you please, squandering what God paid such a high price for? The physical part of you is not some piece of property belonging to the spiritual part of you. God owns the whole works. So let people see God in and through your body.**
OK. so how do I handle the “don’t” part? Remember the “just say ‘no'” campaign against drugs in the 1980s-90s which expanded into the area of teenage sex? For many, it probably worked, at least for awhile. It meant engaging the mind to partner with desires with the aim of protection and safety to body, soul, and spirit. But as most of us know, just gritting our teeth and saying ‘no’ is a painful and often unsuccessful way to live. Remember Paul’s words in Romans 7:15-24 about his inner battle of “doing what I don’t want to do, and not doing what I want to do?” Fortunately, he ends this passage recognizing the victory given by Jesus Christ, our Lord!
How do we partner with God in the mind part of this struggle to flee immorality? What can the church do to help us live successful and fulfilled lives of singleness? One of the fruit of the Spirit mentioned in Galatians 5:22-23 is self-control, which becomes powerful when joined with “taking thoughts captive” in II Corinthians 10-5.
I’m working on that in my life as well as in an upcoming post. Stay tuned. 🙂