In a world which throws sexual messages at us at every turn, it is a challenge for a Christian unmarried person to keep sexual thoughts from multiplying like dandelions. You know that if you don’t nip those yellow flowers in the bud, they turn into soft fluffy puffballs which fly away in the wind and settle down to raise thousands of other little puffballs.
It takes effort to conquer the mighty but tiny dandelion, and much more effort to conquer thoughts which affect our lives – body, soul, and spirit. Paul tells us in II Corinthians 10:5, “we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”** In the surrounding verses, we see that he is speaking of warfare which rages around us all the time with the aim of keeping us off-balance with numerous distractions. For the person who is committed to Godly living, the battle is especially fierce. And a strategic battlefield is between the ears.
What happens when soul ache, physical desires, and spiritual truth are on a collision course? We are built by God for relationship, intimacy, and faithfulness – to God, to others, and to ourselves. But we do not always make wise choices for caring attention. We are related to Adam and Eve who, when given one instruction, chose to disobey it and were thrust into a world in which there were increasing rules and regulations which were impossible to keep. It’s as if God put a little fence around one tree, and A & E couldn’t be satisfied with their incredible freedom to enjoy the rest of Eden. They decided instead to climb over the fence to the one tree, making the horrid discovery that it was a one-way fence.
Scripture gives strong admonition to practice sexual purity which we understand to include fidelity for married and unmarried alike. Especially, for those of us who are single, it means guarding our thoughts and hearts to reserve that part of our lives to glorify God. As our bodies develop, so do desires for sexual expression. To pray fervently that God will take away those desires is futile.
He chooses instead to let us partner with Him in learning how to live full and satisfying lives – within His restrictions.
We have to decide what value we place on intimacy and fidelity. Are they precious treasures to cherish or commonplace commodities to dispense without restraint and self-control? Do we follow the path of feelings which, while strong, are not always reliable short-term guides? Or do we measure everything by the long-term truth of God’s Word?
While there is no one Bible verse which explicitly says, “Do not have sex if you are unmarried,” there are plenty of verses which talk about honoring the marriage bed (Hebrews 13:4), fleeing sexual immorality (I Corinthians 6:18), ‘acts of flesh’ to avoid (Galatians 5:19), and that a significant part of living a holy life is to steer clear of sexual immorality (I Thessalonians 4:3). In other words,
God’s agape design for us is, if you are single – no intimate sex! Is it easy? No! Is it possible? Yes!
I remember hearing a story about a couple on a secluded beach at sunset, making the decision to satisfy their physical desire for one another. One of them said, “Let’s pray first,” and then prayed, “Dear Lord, forgive us for what we are about to do.” That brought them back to the reality of the situation and its importance, and they decided to leave the place which was putting them into temptation’s path.
So, how in the world do we “take thoughts captive?”
- * At first hint of temptation, go into “flee mode” – what I call the “Joseph move.” (Genesis 39:11-12)
- * Switch channels, choose books wisely, police yourself online – a living sacrifice choice. (Romans 12:1-2)
- * Focus thoughts on something else – redirection. (Philippians 4:6-8)
- * Make a “covenant with your eyes” – Job’s advice to avoid lust. (Job 31:1)
- * Change “just say ‘no'” to “I can say ‘no'” – choice made with self-control. (Titus 2:12)
- * Find a confidential buddy – burdens shared, joys multiplied. (Galatians 6:2)
And, the umbrella verse for all of life no matter what age we are:
Psalm 119:9 How can a young person stay on the path of purity? By living according to Your Word.**
** New International Version