The Definitive Answer to “Why?” ☆

why question mark“10 things to say to singles.”  “10 things not to say to singles.”  “14 principles for single living.” “5 things to do while single.”  “25 things to do to prepare for marriage while you are single.”  “35 things to be grateful for if you are single.”  “53 things to say to your spouse.”

OK.  We’ve all seen articles with titles like these, haven’t we.  Quite frankly, I seldom read them anymore.  They just don’t scratch the itch of onesomeness issues.

The Church tries to parcel out good advice to singles by saying, “Just don’t. . .”  Folks may talk about some of the negative consequences of “doing,” but rarely do they stress positives of “not doing.”  Of course, the title of this post is said tongue-in-cheek.  I’m still working on my definitive answer.

I said in my last post:  “. . . the Church has said “don’t” for centuries.  But the question of ‘why’ has not been answered adequately in order to build a good enough reason into single hearts to comply, [especially in the area of sexual activity.]

Everyone loves a baby.  Their innocence and sweetness when they smile and coo just touches deep places in our hearts.  People acting inappropriately toward a baby or young child brings out the “mother bear” in most of us.  In particular, we teach our little ones about good and bad touch and we work hard to keep them out of harm’s way.  So, what happens when they begin to mature physically and hormones start to kick in with hyperactivity?  Are they stilll not precious and do they still not house a treasure in their bodies and souls?  Are there not still reasons to consider good and inappropriate touch, particularly to areas of the body we consider private?  Is there an age where these considerations automatically stop?  Why should something which obviously brings a great deal of pleasure be limited to marriage – especially when we feel like the bull in a rodeo which is penned into a small stall.  Every fiber of his being wants out – to be free – to express his intensity.

So, what is a good enough reason for Christian singles to wholeheartedly comply with spoken cautions about our actions?  For some, the possibility of surprise pregnancy is not enough to deter.  A variety of health issues is not enough to deter.  “Because Scripture says so” is not enough to deter.  Shame is not enough to deter.  Waiting for a more fulfilling physical and emotional life is not enough to deter.

I wholeheartedly agree with Paul’s words in I Corinthians 7:32-35 which speak of freedom from concerns, undivided devotion, and the opportunity for unhindered attention to the Lord’s affairs.  This is exactly God’s desire for us in singleness.  However, I also know from personal experience that these things are not automatically built-in when a single commits him/herself to moral faithfulness.  Personally, I often find myself living in the midst of a great many concerns, divided attentions, and a feeling of loss and dissatisfaction at not having an intimate human life companion.  I have even at times hollered at God, “I know You are sufficient – but I do not feel as if You are enough.”

So, what have I found which helps answer my “why?

  • * God loves me with everlasting love and draws me with unfailing kindness.  (Jeremiah 31:3)
  • * Celibacy has never been the cause of anyone’s death – no matter how it may feel at the time.
  • * God knows my desires and He also knows my frustrations when they are not fulfilled.
  • * Jesus was tempted in all things as I am, and because He never gave in to temptation, He provides for me a way out of my temptations – every time.  (Hebrews 4:14; Hebrews 2:18; I Corinthians 10:13)
  • * Temptation’s strength is not determined by what I give in to – but by what I resist – and I can resist!
  • * The Holy Spirit gives me power to live with self-control, patience, and persistence.  (Galatians 5:22-23)
  • * I can utilize self-control in many things which are harmful to relationships.  Why would I not expect to use it in sexual areas in sight, hearing, thought, and action?
  • * I can use unfulfilled desires as a sort of “fast,” as a reason to help me deepen my relationship with Christ.

Above all, I thank God for those friends who have listened to me throughout the years – sharing my desires and frustrations, encouraging me, not trying to “fix me.”  Giving these things a voice is extremely helpful!

For more thoughts on these things, take a look at the first posts of this blog, “I Corinthians 7 – a fresh look.”

What in the world is a “Christian sexual atheist?” ☆

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The Christian Post ran an article in the Spring of 2014 called “Sexual Atheism: Christian Dating Reveals a Deeper Spiritual Malaise” which highlights an alarming reality in today’s single society.  It uses information from a 2014 survey done by christianmingle.com called State of Dating in America.  While this was not limited to those who claimed to be Christians, a significant number of Christians participated.  It is worth your while to look at all 81 pages of this report which includes dating etiquette, deal breakers, expectations, and a host of other information.

Out of 2,600 singles from 18 to 59 years of age, over 80% believe that engaging in any sort of sexual activity with someone outside of a committed relationship is considered as unfaithfulness.  This includes flirting and texting suggestive messages and pictures.  But, even though fidelity is given lip service, about 25% would consider marrying someone who has been unfaithful to them, with a slight % increase of those who admit to having been unfaithful in a relationship.  So, faithfulness is important, but not so important that it is a limiting boundary in many lives. In the scale of faithfulness and temptation to infidelity, the temptation often proves more appealing – of greater value – more important – irresistible.

The Christian Post article says that 63% of the Christians surveyed indicated that they would have sex before marriage.  This is not terribly surprising to us given the world we live in today.  Sexual messages smack us in the face in advertising, movies, and online opportunities.  We all know folks who choose to live together outside of the marriage commitment, and sometimes children are also in the picture.  And, we are not surprised.

Some who say they have given their lives to Jesus Christ and are committed to honor and glorify Him are ones who admit they are sexually active outside of marriage.

What has happened to disconnect these folks from honest and straight-forward teaching on moral conduct and holy living?  Is this just a reaction to strict and discompassionate lectures of the past?  Is it just a reaction to the common command, “No sex before marriage,” with no solid and honest help to deal with a normal strong desire built into us by the God Who created sex and everything else?

What has happened to honest exploration of Scriptures such as I Corinthians 6:12-19:

  •      * I can do anything – but everything is not beneficial.  I have choice!
  •      * God created me to glorify Him in what I choose to do.
  •      * Immorality – sexual practice outside of its intended parameters – is harmful to the body.
  •      * Therefore – choose not to harm your body – the temple of the Holy Spirit – in this way.

A much more pressing issue is, the Church has said “don’t” for centuries.  But the question of “why” has not been answered adequately in order to build a good enough reason into single hearts to comply.

Just as “because I say so” is not necessarily a convincing statement to a defiant child, “because God says so” is not necessarily convincing to a person whose hormones are screaming for release.

Consider this quote from The Christian Post article;

“. . . nearly nine out of 10 self-proclaimed single Christians are, in practice, sexual atheists.  In other words, God has nothing to say to them on that subject of any consequence or, at least anything meaningful enough to dissuade them from following their own course of conduct.  It is the ultimate oxymoron.  A person who at once believes in a wise, sovereign and loving God who created them and all things, can also believe simultaneously He should not, cannot or will not inform their thinking or living sexually.  It reminds me of those famous red letters in Luke’s Gospel where Jesus says, “Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord’ and do not do what I say?”  (Luke 6:46, NIV)  There is a disconnect between identity and activity.”

Well, my brain is off and running on this topic!  I hope this has spurred some new thinking for you.  Your comments most welcomed!

The Taaaaaaaaaaaaaaall Tree ☆

In another post I recounted my experience with Shenanigan, an irresistible cocker spaniel puppy which crawled its way out of the tall grass and immense trees in the Rockies as I spent nine days all by myself in a beautiful setting of mountains and fragrant pines.

One windy afternoon as I gazed down a mountainside, I noticed a curious thing.  As the wind roared its way down the slope the trees were thrown fro and to in total disarray.  Many of them bent nearly to the ground under the powerful gusts and I was amazed that they didn’t break off and take flight.  Indeed, I felt much like those gnarled trees.  I was struggling with crushed dreams and shattered hopes, and felt battered and bruised by life events.  The effect of the wind was relentless.

Then, my eyes fell on one very large, very tall pine tree which simply stood straight as the wind beat against it.  Its branches barely moved while the trees around it were doing backflips and jumping jacks.  The wind kept aiming its ferocious strength at this tree from every angle, but it simply stood strong and unshaken.

As in times past, God softly spoke to my heart.  “Let Me help you become like that tall tree with deep roots which sink deeply into the ground giving strength and refreshment to your soul.”  Ahhhhh, yes.  I wanted that!

It has taken a long time for me to realize that God is far more interested in the condition of my heart and my relationship with Him than He is in my present comfort.

(You might want to read that sentence again. . .)

  • .*  He does cause His good to work in every circumstance of our lives.  (Romans 8:28)
  •  *  He has good plans for us, regardless of how things look and feel.  (Jeremiah 29:11)
  •  *  He honors faithfulness to Him like a fruitful tree planted by a water source.  (Psalm 1:1-3)
  •  *  He rescues those who feel totally alone in their desire to follow Him.  (Psalm 73)
  •  *  He lifts our eyes above the shame society tries to heap on us for remaining faithful to Him.  (Romans 5:5)

And, just as it took years of slow growing for that tall pine tree to become strong and unflappable in the wind, it takes time to develop deep character.  Paul speaks of the progression from suffering to Godly hope in Romans 5:1-5.  This sort of suffering is not confined just to pain, but is a state of patient waiting for God to do His work in us.  This patient waiting leads to steady persistence, which leads to unique strength of character, which leads to Godly hope which does not put us to shame!

Society heaps its derision and scorn on those who choose to remain celibate in singleness because it would seem to be foolish to follow this Scriptural mandate.  Instant gratification continues to be the rule of the day.  BUT, fidelity in body, soul, and spirit continue to be God’s rule of the day from now into infinity!

While I was writing this post, I ran across a phrase which unfortunately describes too many singles who profess belief in Jesus Christ but who do not practice celibacy:  “sexual atheists.”

(Well, guess what the subject of the next post will be.)

 Blessed is the one who trusts in the LORD, whose confidence is in him.  They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream.  It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green.  It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.  (Jeremiah 17:7-8 – NIV)

Stand firm, my friends.

Polyfidelity??? Polymonogamy????? Polybaloney!!!!!!! ☆

question many directionsSome time ago I watched a Dr. Phil show in which a married man loudly and boldly defended his activity with a mistress using a word, polyfidelity.  His wife of 19 years sat mostly in silence while her husband declared his love for her – and for the other woman.  He ignored the pain in his wife’s eyes which was evident to all who were watching.  He was convinced that his “faithfulness” to both these women would last a lifetime.  Dr. Phil’s marvelous comment was something to the effect of, “I have another word for polyfidelity.  It’s called cheating!”  Score one for Dr. Phil.♥

Now, polymonogamy is another oxymoronic term which has been around for several years.  Online definitions are a bit hazy.  It seems to describe someone who is convinced he/she can have multiple sexual relationships with more than one person and say they are monogamous since their attention is completely on whomever they are with at the time.  Another thought I find is that while one person in a marriage is faithful to their spouse, the other wants to have multiple partners.  The oxymoron part comes out with the prefixes, “poly” and “mono.”  “Poly” means many; “mono” means one.

Let’s see what Webster Dictionary says about fidelity, monogamy – and baloney:

  •        * Fidelity:  Adherence with faithfulness to the marriage covenant.
  •        * Monogamy:  Marriage with but one person at the same time.
  •        * Baloney:  Nonsense; foolishness.

As our society gets increasingly defiant about acting within the confines of faithfulness, we see multiplied increase of terrible body, soul, and spirit injury.  No matter how much people talk about freedom in all areas of morality, we see the same people being terribly wounded in the process.  I believe it is because in their heart of hearts, they still see value in faithfulness to one spouse.

Now, where does singleness come into this?  Let’s face it.  The general opinion and action is that singles can be as sexually active as they want with little thought to the consequences because there is no commitment – covenant – in short-term relationships.  While we see some semblance of commitment when an unmarried couple chooses to live together for a longer period of time, the avenue of escape remains if it doesn’t work out.  It’s still a tough breakiup, but there are no particular legal ramifications – unless there are children.  In that case, many of the consequences fall upon the little ones’ shoulders.

Living out life as a single Christian who practices self-control in a whole host of things is not an easy stance.  Foolishness abounds.  Temptations abound.

But God’s promises abound as well!

Hebrews 4:14-16 – Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess.  For we do not have a high priest who is unable to emphasize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are–yet he did not sin.  Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. (NIV)

I Corinthians 10:13 – No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind.  And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear.  But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it. (NIV)

  • *  Faithfulness as a single person is the best preparation for faithfulness in marriage.
  • *  If unmarried, there is still faithfulness to God and to one’s own person.
  • *  This does not diminish fulfilling relationships with men and women which include far more than physical intimacy.
  • *  Setting appropriate boundaries in all areas of life is important – for unmarried and married alike.

So, stand firm, my friends, whatever your life holds!  God is in charge!

♥  drphil.com – “Twisted Love”

How do I respond to “those” singleness comments????? ☆

question markYou know the ones.  they start with “Why are you. . .?  When are you. . .?  You’re not yet. . .?”  There is a great variety of comments and questions which are recounted on a lot of lists online under titles such as “10 things not to say to singles.”  As I have scanned that well-covered category this week, it seems that the questioners are all reading the same book.  People in Nebraska ask the very same questions as people in New York.  Go figure.

When younger, the questions usually are “When are you getting married?” or “Why are you not married yet?”  As years go by, they change a bit to “Why is it that you have never married?”  If I had even a quarter for the number of times I’ve been asked those questions, I’d be very wealthy.  And if I had THE definitive answer to those “why” questions, I’d be even richer.

I like a response I read awhile back.  “My prospective husband took a detour and he refuses to ask for directions.”  Well, if that’s possible, mine has been wandering around the wilderness for 40 years just like the Israelites in the Old Testament.  What can I say?

Even though many singles are choosing to live together, the common expectation is still that college age men and women will find their “significant other” and hopefully marry one another in a lifetime commitment – that covenant to love and cherish each other as long as they both shall live.  While there are many marriages which illustrate that, we seem to mainly hear of the ones which do not.  Few walk down the wedding aisle thinking that their marriage will fall apart with relational death.  What happens?

My observation:  The hard work which goes into a committed, faithful, covenant marriage often fails because the hard work of committed, faithful, and yes, covenantal singleness goes undone.  Fidelity is a word which gets much lip service today, but actually living it out is deemed impossible.  In particular, sexual freedom is viewed as an entitlement, and little thought is given to inevitable physical, emotional, and spiritual consequences.

In reality, all these consequences meld together because the physical connection is but a visual part of the “becoming one flesh” which Scripture talks about.  This process is meant to go infinitely beyond “urges” and “needs.”  Animals illustrate those basic things; but we are to transcend those.  The physical act is meant to connect the emotions in mutual love and respect, and to point to an even deeper reflection of our spiritual relationship with the God Who put all those complex gifts into our lives.

How in the world can I relate to all this as a single person who believes that this “becoming one” – body, soul, and spirit – is a freedom one is only to have with a spouse?  Is remaining celibate an impossible task?  More applicable for today, is remaining celibate a laughable and unnecessary goal if one is unmarried?  Is it a respected ideal only if one is called to be a Mother Teresa?

There is universal respect for the discipline it takes to be skillful athletes.  Olympic skaters, gymnasts, swimmers, skiers, and cyclists wow us with their finesse and speed.  What we see, however, is just the tip of the iceberg.  Their public successes come only as a result of all the behind-the-scenes work on tiny details.  Same with pianists, by the way.  A Chopin Etude may eventually take less than 5 minutes to play in concert.  The preparation may be 100+ hours of slow, steady practice.  A concert lasting an hour may consist of 250 pages of music – traditionally memorized if you are a pianist.  All these skills are seen as objects of celebration when done successfully.

So, why do we see fidelity and discipline in the life of an unmarried person as any less a celebration?  It is a puzzle, isn’t it?

For those of you reading this who are walking this journey with me, I’m here to say, “Good for you!  You encourage me just as I hope I encourage you!  God’s blessing of His spiritual fruit be yours in abundance – love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control!”  Galatians 5:23 goes on to tell us that none of these things are against any law in any situation!

Well, this post has started my mind on a quest for more good responses to singleness questions.  More to come! 🙂

Genesis 2:24; Mark 10:8; I Corinthians 6:16; Ephesians 5:31

Does the Bible really tell singles to “wait?” ☆

“Waiting” is one of those words which we use in a number of ways:

  •    *  Time spent in inactivity in anticipation of a desired result.
  •    *  Time wasted when only one bank teller window is open and there are 20 people in line.
  •    *  Having to sit through three red lights because of road construction.
  •    *  For the single person, time spent preparing for marriage as the only desired goal – and being disappointed by God’s timing – or by looooooooooooooong-term or permanent earthly singleness.
  •    *  In a dating situation, abstaining from mutual close physical activity which is inappropriate in singleness, appropriate in marriage.

Sound familiar?  I think most of us think of “waiting” as wasted time.  And, for the single, a great many might consider “waiting” for marriage as an outdated notion thought up by killjoys.  Our culture has been relentlessly pushing “if it feels good, it must be good,” messages for so many years that even some Christians of all ages have adopted that thought pattern.

“God can’t really expect us to live out expectations written to a totally different age and society can He?”

“He wouldn’t give us one of the strongest pleasures known to mankind and then put equally strong restrictions for its usage – and expect us to obey them – would He?”

Well, yes!  the use of unlawful sexual activity for lustful purposes is condemned from Genesis to Revelation – for the unmarried and the married!

While it is true that verses relating to unmarried folks throughout scripture do not use the words “wait” or ‘be celibate,” that is certainly the understanding.  Words used are ones like “flee immorality,” “don’t commit adultery,” behave decently” [in terms of sexual morality], “there must not even be a hint of . . .” and “honor the marriage bed.” ♥

So, what about ‘waiting?”  Once again, I cannot find that Scripture tells unmarried folks to spend time waiting for marriage, or even to assume that is his promise for our lives.  We do, however, have clear indication of what the object of our waiting should be!

“I wait for the LORD, my whole being waits, and in his word I put my hope.  I wait for the Lord more than watchmen wait for the morning, more than watchmen wait for the morning.”  (Psalm 130:5-6)

So, how does this help when physical desires threaten to overtake us and we are tempted to chew the upholstery off the sofa if we cannot express them?  Oh how I wish I could give 4 easy and effective steps to victory in the lust area!  I CAN say that God’s restrictions are meant to spare us the pain of guilt and shame which comes as a result of carelessly and hastily sharing the most intimate parts of our bodies and souls with the opposite sex.  He wants to spare us from the complications and heartbreak pregnancies outside of marriage cause.  He wants to spare us the fear and consequences of STDs.  He wants us to understand the “two becoming one” in the covenant of marriage alone.  (Mark 10:8)

I CAN also say that God listens with understanding when we holler at Him a bit.  He’s not surprised by anything, by the way.  We don’t need to pretty up any language for His ears.  So, pray, pray, pray, run, flee, talk to an accountability friend, AND realize that as strong as our passions and urges are, they do not last forever!

“I have the right to do anything” you say–but not everything is beneficial.  “I have the right to do anything”–but I will not be mastered by anything. . . Flee from sexual immorality.  All other sins a person commits are outside the body, but whoever sins sexually, sins against their own body.  Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God?  You are not your own, you were bought at a price.  Therefore honor God with your bodies.  (I Corinthians 6:12,, 18-20)

♥  I Corinthians 6:18; Exodus, 20:14; Romans 13:13; Ephesians 5:3; Hebrews 13:4.  All Scripture quotes – NIV.

 

 

Celibate and Celebrate – 2 words for every single to ponder! ☆

Did you know that June is National Celibacy Awareness Month?  Actually, it’s right up there with Adopt-a-Shelter-Cat Month and National Iced Tea Month.  I kid you not.  I’m not sure who puts these titles on the calendar, but you can look them up for yourself.  I say this just to point out that celibacy is an element of discipline where society takes what God values as a sacred treasure for the unmarried/single person and turns it into a laughable and unnecessary concept.  Now, as for “celebrate,” everyone views that as meaning a good time.

The Online Etymology Dictionary says of “celibacy:”  formed from Latin caelibatus “state of being unmarried, from caelebs “unmarried” probably from [an ancient linguistic] root kaewelo – “alone” + lib “living.”   It eventually also came to mean, “not engaging in sexual relations.”

The words “celibate” and “celibacy” actually do not appear in scripture.  Biblical words are ones such as “unmarried” and “virgin.”  The meaning is clear no matter what translation you read, however.  Those who find themselves in these circumstances are to refrain from expressing their sexuality in sexual acts.  The reasons why have been debated through the ages.  Just as “Because I say so,” is a frustrating response to a child’s “Why?” so “Because God and the Bible say so” is not an easy reason to respond to with joy and celebration for the single person who is struggling with intense physical and emotional longings.  And yet, ultimately,.the latter is the foundation of our discipline.  It is the “Why!”

The “how” is a bit more difficult to apply.  We may think that “sexual freedom” is a fairly new concept.  But when Moses spoke God’s word through the 10 Commandments in Exodus 20 which included “You shall not commit adultery,” the desert wanderers did not have to ask, “What is that?”  They already knew, because adultery was an expression of their bodies and souls when restraint and self-control were ignored, and they knew it caused great pain and suffering.  These were people who had seen God’s rescue from slavery and life-saving provision in the desert.  They also saw vivid consequences of God’s displeasure when they lived outside his instructions.

Over and over, though, they were given clear words on living a life pleasing to God.  Verses such as Numbers 15:37-41 gives some possible clues to the “how.”

  • * Use something to remind yourself of your resolve to be faithful to God.
  • * Look at it – think about it – focus on what it symbolizes – and obey.
  • * Do not chase after your emotional, physical, and visual inclination to immorality.

OK.  This seems to be a basis for the “just say no” phrase which popped up in the 1980s as a tool to discourage drugs, violence, and premarital sex.  Purity rings sprang up on many fingers as a reminder of promises made.  Do these things work?  For some.  For others, the requirement of their promise proves to be too stringent.  Too many of us continue to follow what promises to bring good feeling rather than miss out on pleasurable things.  “Why in the world,” we ask, “would God create us with bodies and souls which scream out for sexual expression at times, and then tell us not to go there if we are single?”  But, even though we do not get as clearly defined instruction as we would like, these verses in Numbers still give some good basic steps into “how” land.

So, how do we follow the above concepts without going crazy?  As Christian singles, it is imperative that we look beyond the moment.  All through Scripture, desire and fidelity in marriage and singleness are used as tools to point us to God who is the ultimate answer to our intimacy needs – now and in the future.  One of the fruit of the Spirit which comes at the end of the list in Galatians 5;22-23 is self-control, letting us know that the self can indeed be controlled when we partner with the Holy Spirit to influence, govern, and restrain in important areas of everyday living.  The self can take an active and responsible role in developing holy habits as a result of the sprouting of that hardy spiritual fruit nourished by God!

He can help us turn around and walk away at the first hint of temptation to immorality.  He can give us the boldness to control where that computer mouse so quickly can navigate us.  He can bring Scripture to mind when we are about to step into a lust-producing situation.  He can help us train our eyes and ears to see and hear what leads to God-pleasing living.

We can take delight in the Lord, and He will give us the desires of our heart!”  (Psalm 37:4, NIV)

Well, as usual, I’ve barely scratched the surface of this subject.  I’m sure there will be a sequel. 🙂

In the meantime, a book for your consideration is Your Single Treasure by Rick Stedman, Moody Press.

I want ________ and I want it now! ☆

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. 🙂

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Covenant is for Singles, too (Part 3) ☆

Covenant is for Singles, too!

A marriage covenant is a public pronouncement of a couple’s honor and faithfulness to one another and to God.  Ideally, this involves careful and thoughtful coming to terms with their sexuality, giving them new opportunity to share that area of their lives in the God-ordained boundary of marriage.  It also brings their commitment into the public arena of fellowship with fellow believers.  There is no comparable public celebration for the single, however, especially for those who live in faithful “waiting.”

For singles, advice is usually summed up in abstinence and “don’t do’s” emphasizing over and over what we cannot have and still be pleasing to God.  Unfortunately, it overstresses that “it is all up to me.”  Patience and self-control stand toe-to-toe with desires and raging hormones.  Yielding does not show the strength of temptation.  Resisting does!  The path to I Corinthians 10:13 is arduous, but can become a cherished truth.  God does provide a way out of temptation every time, period.  It brings one into partnership with God, taking conquering temptation out of the “it’s all up to me” mindset.

While abstinence centers around the individual and his decisions, the practice of celibacy centers around relationship.  It always involves another person in thought, word, or deed.  While I personally do not feel “called” by God to be single, I am called to be faithful with my thoughts, words, and acts, and remaining celibate falls under that parameter.

The practice of fidelity as a single is the best training for fidelity in marriage.  And, fidelity is precious to God whether we are unmarried or married. Grasping that the practice of celibacy is a partnership with God which can lead to a covenant as a single is a way of opening the door for God to change the heart.

While a single’s covenant is not publicly celebrated in ceremony or anniversary, it is nonetheless very precious, and is a very serious commitment.  It is quite simply recognition of God’s love and faithfulness to me and my promise to be faithful to Him in all areas of my life.  This covenant is only possible with His working out its truth in my life in the deepest part of my soul, for His good pleasure.  (Philippians 2:13)

Do I have this mastered?  It is a life-long process, and I’m still on the way!

Prayer of personal covenant:  Dear God, I commit my deepest longings, desires, hopes, and dreams to You and bring them under Your covenant of faithfulness, acknowledging that I cannot be faithful to You in my own strength, but only with Your grace, mercy, and power.  I rededicate myself to You – body, soul, and spirit.  I will be honest with You about temptations and struggles, and trust You to transform my life in Jesus Christ.   Amen – so be it!

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