Monthly Archives: September 2014

Sex and Singleness

Seianno, Italy
Seianno, Italy

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.

Amalfi Coast, Italy
Amalfi Coast, Italy

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.

Amalfi. Italy
Amalfi. Italy

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?

Amalfi Coast
Amalfi Coast

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.

Seianno, Italy
Seianno, Italy

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.

Sorrento, Italy
Sorrento, Italy

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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An eChallenge for eAddicts (and those who love them)

IMG_1485We live in a new culture where traditional social interactions are often discouraged in favor of efficiency. Acts of kindness, respect, and simple acknowledgement of the people around us used to turn into friendships that knit us together. Many normally interactive routines have disappeared in our fast-paced world. We’re not encouraged to casually speak face-to-face with each other any more than necessary.

My hunch is that the resulting percentage of people experiencing chronic, low grade loneliness is well above the reported 40% — there’s an ugly stigma tied to feeling lonely. We hide it, even from ourselves, as we glorify busyness.

Researchers say soaring statistics around loneliness — directly attributable to our electronic obsessions — are bound to  worsen without dramatic change on the parts of users. Let’s do something about it.

The eChallenge

  • Give up or limit electronic use for a period of time 
  • Focus on connecting with people  — That’s it. 

2 experiments for myself:

  1. No automated anything. No pay at the pump, ATMs, online interactions. No screens at all (phones and computers) for a short period.  Engage more face-to-face, even when it’s inconvenient and uncomfortable.
  2. Severely and systematically limit Computer, iPad and Smart phone use. Turn OFF all notifications — for a week.  Engage more face-to-face. Intentionally create opportunities to connect and know people, risking they’ll think I’m strange.

The Goal — jumpstart to abundant Life. Wholeheartedness. Vibrant Connections. Messy, meaningful sharing  of life with others. Friendships with skin on. Community. Finding God’s path…

Highlands, NC
Inviting chairs — Highlands, NC

If you’re convinced that more facetime and less  screentime might enhance your life, make a plan, any plan…  The point is to realize how intrusive and addicting electronics can be; and that there’s opportunity costs in all our clicking. My guess is our lives will be ENRICHED in many  noteworthy ways. Not the least of which might be creating time and space to pray. Prayer is our number one connection. 

Other tips: Assume interactions are meaningful.  Engage others where silence is the code. Like elevators — how scandalous. Really see the people around you. Ask questions, and reveal something of yourself. Learn names. Watch an episode of The Waltons,  Happy Days or The Cosby Show to remind yourself how much life has changed in a short period of time.

Thomasville, GA

Information technology is beneficial and here to stay. As a user, I just need a bit of retraining: To stop being a modern-day electronic lemming. To discover how my habits might be isolating me and steering me down a dead end street. And to get a jumpstart on the road to Life.

Would you consider accepting the challenge?  I’d love to hear how it goes.  Below are a few sobering eStats to give you a push.


  • 70% of Americans sleep with cell phones within arm’s length. 1/3 get online before getting out of bed.
  • 61% check our phones at least EVERY hour.
  • Adults spend at least 8-12 hours staring at screens. That’s more time than we spend on any other activity, including sleeping. (messy house? Fatigue? No wonder!)
  • Despite the fact that most young people have an average of 243 Facebook friends, it’s not translated into real-life friendships. (Adults too?) Researchers theorize we are spending so much time online, that we no longer have time to go out with our non Facebook friends.
  • More than half of us admit that we find it more difficult to make friends in “real life” than online.
  • “Skin hunger” is a real condition that is impacting more and more of us…  Eighteen-year olds are as lonely as eighty-year olds, and they want a friendship service because they can no longer make friends the traditional ways.
  • Why do we keep clicking?  One possible answer: Dopamine, which regulates our reward and pleasure centers.  We get a “hit” when we get a technological ping. What is the result? For a brief moment we feel known. Research proves when we get low levels of dopamine (hits), we are prone to addiction. (Davis, Connecting, 47-49)IMG_2311
  • 91% of adults use a cell phone – the cell phone is the most quickly adopted consumer technology in the history of the world – and youth ages 12-17 put their cell phone adoption at 78%, and 37% of all teens have a smartphone
  • A recent study of Facebook users found that the amount of time you spend on the social network is inversely related to how happy you feel throughout the day. (
  • 67% of cell owners find themselves checking their phone — even when they don’t notice their phone ringing or vibrating. (Pew Review)
  • The increased mortality risk of loneliness is comparable to that of smoking and about twice as dangerous as obesity.
  • Social isolation impairs immune function and boosts inflammation, which can lead to arthritis, type II diabetes, and heart disease.

Admittedly, I’m a little anxious, but … HERE GOES.

Are you on the Path of Life?

French countryside
French countryside

Some people — whether they feel happy, sad, scared or whatever —  live wholeheartedly. We are drawn to them and wonder with longing what their secret is. They are introverts, extroverts, men and women from all walks of life. What they have in common is a deep and meaningful connection to others. They feel known and loved in a world where life is a journey meant to be experienced and shared.

Perhaps it was never in their temperaments to hide or isolate themselves. Or it’s possible they’ve made a conscious decision to risk living intertwoven with others – even though they are sometimes hurt,  rejected and fail.  Either way, their lives are attractive and desirable, but belonging to this vibrant group eludes some of us. What is it they have, that we might not? Some possibilities:

  • Courage and willingness to be imperfect. We all acknowledge we are sinful, for goodness sakes, surely honest mistakes and sub par performances are allowed.
  • Compassion (this will surprise you) toward themselves first and then others. They are not their own worst critic, therefore they give ample grace to both themselves and others.
  • Vulnerability. It’s is the human condition, and even more so for Christians. While some of us find this a terribly painful truth, those who live fully connected and alive surrender to it’s necessity. Vulnerability is at the heart of belonging, which leads to fullness and the freedom to live artfully.

    Pebble Hill Plantation, Georgia

IMG_1788There’s another group of us who flirt with life on Lonely Street — and know in our hearts we’re missing something. What if time spent on the continuum of chronic loneliness inversely impedes our experience of the abundant life God promises?  Let’s view loneliness, for a moment, as the antithesis of abundant life.  Are you living life to the fullest most of the time? If not, are you willing to take another path?

I know how painful it is to to trust, to let your guard down and others in — only to get burned.  It happens in business, families and friendships. No one is totally immune. What do we do in response?

When our relationships fail or don’t meet our expectations, most of us withdraw. With each subsequent rejection, we build more walls — and we succeed in keeping others out and feeling isolated.

Highlands, NC

But the truth is relationships aren’t all about what we receive as individuals. We are made to live in community with others, as image bearers of God. Consider Jesus’ relationships. He reaches out to others first (including you and me) and doesn’t seek people because they can benefit Him. He doesn’t keep score and he’s the first to resolve conflict and forgive.

He asks us to be like Him. In a  nutshell, loving our neighbors (relationship) is  about loving God and letting Him fill us with perfect love. God’s extravagant love, demonstrated to us on the cross and everyday of our lives, freely flows through us and impacts others.

hanging bridges, Costa Rica

Sometimes, we struggle to love this generously. We hoard God’s love inside our self-built walls. We live privately and politely, but we’re very careful not to go down narrow alleys where we might connect deeply and honestly enough to risk pain.

Remember I’m defining loneliness as a continuum that steals from us the abundant and joyful life God wants for us. Are you anywhere on that continuum, missing out on all God desires for you” Possibly —

  • clinging to entitlement: what I want? the good life? just having fun?
  • are you so strong you’re trying to carry God’s load?
  • do you refuse to be inconvenienced?
  • do you insist on hiding your imperfections from others?
  • are you afraid of dirtying your hands in the messiness of life?
  • do you escape to substance or behavioral abuse (technology included)?
  • do you worship busyness: schedules, tasks, and accomplishments?
Santorini Greece
Santorini Greece

What’s your MO? We want to think that loneliness happens to us, but most often we are inflicting pain on ourselves. We stubbornly insist on doing things our way, which means isolating ourselves from intimacy with the Living Christ and real relationships with our neighbors. A dead end street.

My encouragement is that we all embrace what God offers — abundance and fullness of life. The Message says it this way “I came so they can have real and eternal life, more and better life than they ever dreamed of.” (John 10:10) 

Just before that (John 10:7-9), Jesus says this, “ I am the Gate for the sheep. All those others are up to no good—sheep stealers, every one of them. But the sheep didn’t listen to them. I am the Gate. Anyone who goes through me will be cared for—will freely go in and out, and find pasture. A thief is only there to steal and kill and destroy. 

black bear- Alligator Point Rd, FL

1 Peter 5:8 adds, “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.

Lions, enemies and thieves alike go for the prey they find straying from the herd. It’s not much of a stretch to say the devil has a much easier path to you when you are isolated and lonely. AND the Bible states clearly there is value in the body of Christ being connected and interdependent.

Back in January I wrote Like a Little Child – part 1 with some ideas about ways we’re different as little children than when we grow up. Part 2 was never written —  I got stuck, because I didn’t have good answers as to why I hold back. That post is related to this one, because children offer some of our very best examples of abundant life; they are vulnerable, fearless, relational, fully alive people. God says to be like them in order to enter His Kingdom. I think this is true for heaven and on earth.

Costa Rica

In God’s timing — I’m back at the crossroads.  Today’s post is the follow up. There are many ideas for how to live whole heartedly in part 1. In this series on loneliness, I hope you’re convinced as to WHY it is worth the effort to end our chronic loneliness. To connect every day — deeply and casually. To become wholehearted like a little child. To stay on the God prescribed path that leads to Life.

IMG_5873Expect a challenge to follow.  If you’re an electronics addict. If anything around chronic loneliness resonates with you (even if you have a great life and lots of friends). Or if you just want to live less distracted and more whole hearted — I’d love you to join me in seeking to live on the path of Life.

Psalm 16:11 “You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.”


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