Sex and Singleness: several have suggested I write about it. I’m happy to talk to all who ask, but putting my thoughts out there where anyone can read them? I’ve resisted. Recently, in discussing an altogether different topic, the subject of premarital sex was mentioned… I felt God nudging me out of my comfort zone.
Prayerfully and very humbly I’m sharing some of how God led me during my single years after divorce. Hopefully, there’s something here for everyone: for friends and parents, for singles of all ages, and for married folks who feel they messed up something important. God loves you and has your best interests at heart — in sexuality and all things.
First, what does God say in His Word? It’s always good to be clear on what the Bible says and know that you believe it. I like The Message for these verses — it takes away formality, which we use to see ambiguity, which allows us to rationalize… There are many more verses, but let’s consider these two.
Hebrews 13:4 “Honor marriage, and guard the sacredness of sexual intimacy between wife and husband. God draws a firm line against casual and illicit sex.”
1 Corinthians 6:18-20 “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.”
So exactly what God has to say about it, isn’t the debate. I don’t see much wiggle room. God makes it clear how we can live to please Him concerning sex. Is He limiting us? Or protecting us? 100% — God’s guidelines around sex (and anything else He asks of us) are NOT simply a limitation, even though He draws a firm line against premarital sex. He wants our lives to be abundant and full — in ALL seasons and situations.
God is offering us guardrails. This summer, Rob and I rode in a car along the Amalfi Coast. The “shoulder” was not a foot wide before plummeting to the sea, the driver spoke no English, and the two-way traffic was chaotic — buses, vans, bikes, and cars, all disregarding the marked lanes and moving forward in any way possible.
The guardrails were our only hope of arriving alive! Everyone respected and trusted the wisdom of the guardrails — and the scars and scrapes along the sides of most vehicles proved their worth. Not even the pedestrians risked climbing over the rails to walk on the unprotected edge… No one felt their experience was less exciting, less productive, or limited in any way by moving within the rails. Like us, they felt protected.
I don’t need to spell out the application of the guard rail metaphor to pre-marital sex. It’s equally applicable to loving your enemies, forgiving offenders, prayer without ceasing, tithing and many other direct commands of God. Will we trust Him in all things? Or will we decide for ourselves what is right, and live however we please?
A trusting, God-driven motivation is ultimately of utmost importance regarding premarital sex and many other choices. As parents, no matter what our history, we know casual sex isn’t a good thing. We teach our kids to abstain using the Bible, fear of pregnancy, and anything else that might “work.” This is not necessarily bad, but any behavior modification done for another human being is somewhat shallow and difficult to sustain. Each of us needs to eventually make our decisions based on God’s will for us. We need to leave space for God to wrestle with loved ones where they are. Do we believe our prayers are our most precious and worthy efforts on other’s behalf — no matter where they are struggling?
It’s all about relationship — between an individual and God. It’s about loving God, trusting Him, and surrendering our desires to His will. He can use anything for our good — even our mistakes. He wants our hearts. 2 John 1:6 says “And this is love: that we walk in obedience to his commands.”
Do you trust Him and His ways? Can you see how faithful and good to you He has been? Do you believe He really has “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11) We want to obey because we love God, and our relationship with Him comes before all else. Not even in marriage should our love for God be in competition with our love for our spouse. It’s simple: love God first and foremost, and all the wonderful second things of life fall into place. Put second things first (ahead of God), and end up with nothing working quite right.
The earthly benefits of waiting until marriage to have sex are way longer-lived and more satisfying than any momentary pleasure gained from illicit sex. At a minimum, trust and respect between marriage partners will be profoundly enhanced. What joy and security there is in knowing your spouse’s love for the Lord is more important than anything else — and worth sacrificing for. It’s the foundation God says works best for marriage.
How to do it? The familiar verse is 1 Corinthians 10:13. “No test or temptation that comes your way is beyond the course of what others have had to face. All you need to remember is that God will never let you down; he’ll never let you be pushed past your limit; he’ll always be there to help you come through it.” Pray and trust — and add a little common sense to it!
Don’t ask others to read your mind — tell them what you’re thinking. When dating, your commitment to wait until marriage should be discussed on the front end. If the other person doesn’t get it, you have saved yourself the heart ache of falling in love with the wrong one! You are looking for a maturity of faith and a commitment to God in your partner, or I’m guessing you wouldn’t have read this far. Don’t compromise God’s perfect plan for you.
If the person you are dating has no personal commitment to purity, but will honor your wishes, that could become an issue in more ways than one. You want God to be their #1 if you are even considering an intimate relationship. Also when one person is weak, the other is strong. Personal prayers, and conversations about why you are waiting need to always be at the forefront of the relationship. Be clear, even with yourself, that God is Lord and the undisputed #1 love of your life!
A warning about prayer. I know it sounds strange… but in my experience, praying with someone of the opposite sex can equal or even surpass the intimacy of sex — and the premature closeness can cause relational vulnerability. Don’t rush into praying together. Do pray without ceasing through every date — reminding yourself that your loving, good Father is with you — protecting you and showing you His path that leads to Life!
And what about those, married or single, who have already “messed up” on on this one — those who were unable to resist? A majority of people from their early adolescence have to deal one way or another with their God-given sexual appetite. 1 John 1:9 says “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” Psalm 103:12 gives further assurance, “He has removed our sins as far as the east is from the west.”
There may still be consequences, but if you seek forgiveness and repent (turn toward God and His ways), anyone can begin anew. Our God is a God of grace and great redemption!
I love the imagery below: life God’s way is “a living, spirited dance.” Pleasing and trusting God in all of life isn’t drudgery or a wet blanket — it’s our JOY! It’s not up to us to figure it out or even to make it happen. We just need to be sure we’re spending time with Him daily, and inviting Him to work in us as we surrender our will to His and love Him most of all.
1 Thessalonians 4: 3-5 “One final word, friends. We ask you—urge is more like it—that you keep on doing what we told you to do to please God, not in a dogged religious plod, but in a living, spirited dance. You know the guidelines we laid out for you from the Master Jesus. God wants you to live a pure life. Keep yourselves from sexual promiscuity. Learn to appreciate and give dignity to your body, not abusing it, as is so common among those who know nothing of God.”
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