Singleness and The Sex Conundrum

puzzle pieces

There’s a real conundrum in the life of single people in Christianity. A sex conundrum. Yep. A sex conundrum.

The church doesn’t like to talk about it.

They pretend that people don’t struggle.

But singles in the church are struggling.

Most singles are experiencing the conundrum of sexual frustration or guilt and inability to be open about it in the Christian life.

The church will talk about sex when they have someone who’s already married and has a great testimony to share regarding their past. But never do we hear from any single person who is actually struggling with sexuality at the moment. I wish they would let that kind of person preach to the singles. That’s relatable.

Or they say broad generalizations like “singleness is a gift” and to just “wait for marriage” as if it’s easy as riding a bike. The church can make single people feel like it’s not okay to be sexual at all, when there is nothing that human beings can do about the way their bodies were designed by God.

I’ve heard so many sermons on singleness and dating and not once have I heard anyone talk about the difficulties of being single and wanting to have sex.

Single people in the church are really struggling.

At least I am.

And countless other people who I know.

And no one knows who to talk to about it.

I think someone needs to start talking about it.

So I guess I’m just dang crazy enough to talk about it. : -)

This isn’t meant to be a rant! I’m just trying to process this for my own self and I know lots of others who feel the same way about this. So I hope it helps to stir thought.

The human body was designed by God to be sexual. Not only does it contribute towards procreation but it builds intimacy between two people that is crucial to a marriage relationship. Without it, married people would find it challenging to cultivate lasting attachment and affection. It rekindles intimacy between two people and subconsciously primes those 2 people to need each other and belong to each other. Thus, fostering their overall relationship. God is really smart to have designed it.

The problem is that the same body designed for this kind of sexual intimacy with a marriage partner is the same body that experiences sexual desire and arousal at an age where marriage is not culturally accepted anymore.

So if I’m single and I have sexual feelings what am I to do with that?

I know what I could do with that. I can think of a lot of things I could do with that. That’s the problem.

The church tells me I’m supposed to wait. But how do I stop my body from feeling aroused when it feels aroused?

I’ve had people tell me to get over it.

I’ve had people tell me to go exercise.

I’ve had people tell me I’m not following God enough.

I’ve had people tell me I’m not reading my Bible enough.

Let me just say…Reading a bible verse is not the antidote to sexual arousal. It’s just not. If that works for you, then that’s great! Praise God. But I’ve never experienced that to work. I just haven’t.

All I know is I’m really trying to follow God… and I know I fail all the time and am far from where I need to be… but I’ve never felt closer in my relationship with God than I do right now…I go to seminary even…the most Christian environment I could be in…and yet, my sexuality plagues me more now than it ever has in my entire life.

Why is that?

Maybe it’s my age and my hormones.

Maybe it’s other things.

But it’s still an issue I have to deal with.

So what is the antidote to sexual arousal and sexual frustration?

If the Bible tells me that I’m supposed to restrain myself until marriage, what does God expect from me?

Let’s look at the 2 hypotheticals in the Christian life: Even if a person is to follow God to the best of their ability and restrain themselves from not having sex until marriage, that person will still experience the feelings of arousal and subsequent frustration from it. They can’t escape it. On the flip side, if a person gives in and has sex, that person will feel guilt when I don’t think God wants to shame us for something He created us to feel. There just isn’t a perfect path in this. It’s difficult for everyone. And I guess each person has to figure out how to handle their sexuality while asking for a lot of grace.

Look, I know what the Bible teaches about sex and I’ve heard it my whole life. But I’m just trying to think practically about this.

I’m not here to offer up a neat perfect answer… because I don’t think there is one.

But I do know that, as a single person, there is a difference between naturally being aroused and making yourself become aroused so that you can feel what you want to feel.

I’m not going to condemn anybody for anything because I know my own self and I have to deal with my own issues regarding it. So this should be left up to each person to think through in correlation with your own time with the Lord. We need to go to God about it because He’s the one that designed our bodies to begin with. I’m sure He has something that can help us. I hope so.

The only thing comforting is knowing that God gives endless grace in the midst of sexuality.

All those who want to condemn people for their sexuality must not be very akin to their own…because that is the MOST hypocritical thing you can do it to blast somebody else for their sexuality when we know 100% that you deal with it too.

Why?

Because you’re a human being with a pulse that’s why.

Please remember that you were saved from your sin just like anybody else. Read Ephesians 2:8-9.

The good think about being single is that is most definitely contributes to a person’s maturity.

God often uses one’s time while single to refine him or her and grow us spiritually.

God does a lot in our hearts.

It’s true.

But we really need to be careful about saying “singleness is a gift.”

That is dangerous to say.

Saying singleness is a gift pretends that there are no difficulties accompanying one’s singleness.

When in fact, there are many difficulties – sex being one of them.

Singleness can be one of the most difficult phases of life.

But singleness is just a season for most.

It’s a season of life where you learn necessary and crucial lessons that you need to know before you can enter the next season of life.

And those lessons can be gifts.

Sure.

But I would be hesitant to call singleness in itself as a gift.

Rather, it’s more like preparation.

I like to look at it this way → it’s like going to get your hair done at the salon…it’s exciting and thrilling while you sit there in the salon chair. You watch the stylist while she works and you know she knows what she’s doing…that’s comforting…but what you’re really excited for is the finished product when you get to see what your hair looks like when’s it all done. But you still have to wait and sit in the salon chair and see hair fall and see the scissors cutting and you worry if it’s really going to look good when she’s all done. But when she’s done you don’t stay there in the chair. You take off the smock and you leave and you go on with your life. You weren’t meant to stay in the salon chair. It was just preparation for the final product.

So it is with seasons of singleness.

Or any other season of life.

Because, ultimately, all of life here on earth is really one big preparation for the return of Christ…the wedding supper of the Lamb…with His bride, the church.

God is working in your heart and my heart and He has things He needs to do to prepare us.

For some people, marriage happens sooner and that in itself can be preparation, which has been discussed in much of the feedback I received after publishing this blog. So I have edited this section.

My friend Jacob Jones with some great insight said this,

“I would say that the one thing I have a hard time with is the idea of singleness as preparation. It definitely helps some people to think of it that way, and it did for me at one point, so I think it’s a good perspective–just not the only conceivable one you could take. For me, when it started to sink in that marriage might not happen at all, and that people a lot younger and more impulsive than me get to be “prepared” for later life THROUGH their marriages, I started to experience some dissonoance with the idea that singleness is preparing me for something, as if God is holding out on letting me be married until I’m “ready.”

“Now, I acknowledge that the present is ALWAYS preparation for the future, but it is also what we’ve been given NOW. That frustration and pain we experience is definitely not fair, definitely not good or right, but in a Gestalt sense, the whole story of my-life-in-this-moment is good. Every instant is a complicated tapestry of joy and pain. The way God works in me through that pain is good–even though He could just as easily teach me the same lessons through joy. Why does He choose to give some of us more pain in certain seasons? I don’t think we’ll ever get the answer to that. But He is definitely good, and He is wise, and He is glorifying Himself, and we can feel great about that.

“It also helps me to think about sexual tension as a natural part of the human experience–nothing to be embarrassed about. Pain is so much less potent when you don’t resent it.”

I thought his words were too good to not include here. Thank you, Jacob.

It seems that God does very specific things through each person when it comes to singleness and marriage. Each of us has our own story and our own process of growth over our lifetime. I’m glad God is in charge of it all.

And marriage is of course a big step of faith and cultivates faithfulness and loyalty in a person that is very necessary in God’s process of making us into His image in this life.

And no matter when marriage happens for 2 people, it’s going to be a lifetime of learning and growing in the Lord.

Especially in sex, as well.

James Hibbs, another friend of mine gave some great feedback regarding sex and marriage saying this,

“People get married, and things are great, and they even have some awesome sex. Then one partner is feeling aweful, has a bad day, gets stressed out and upset, or is seriously ill. The healthy happy partner is just going to probably be doing without the awesome sexual experiences, maybe for a long time…”

Thanks for your thoughts, James. Great input. Especially relevant to real life and reminding us to love one another above ourselves like it talks about in Philippians 2:1-11. Sometimes we have to sacrifice what we want out of care and concern for the one we love and their well-being.

Marriage surely fuels those 2 individual’s spiritual growth. And teaches us what it looks like to love someone like Christ loves us. How beautiful is that.

Now there are some people who choose a life of singleness because it’s what they want – and for them, they would say singleness is a gift.

That’s great.

I’m glad for them.

But that is that person’s assessment of their own singleness.

And we can’t use that as a theological precedent for other people.

However, I do not believe that God gives certain people “gifts of singleness.” I just don’t. I believe people choose that lifestyle on their own based on their own life experience and their desires.

This is why I believe this: Paul is the one everybody cites as support for the “gift of singleness” argument because he said it’s better to be like him (i.e single) in 1 Corinthians 7:8, after he became a follower of Christ. However, it is likely Paul was married at one time, since he wanted to be a member of the Sanhedrin (Galatians 1:14) which required a member to be married. Scholars have suggested he became a widower just before his conversion. But we are forgetting one VERY important experience of the apostle Paul → he saw Jesus Christ in person!!!! Are you serious!!! If any one of us had seen the risen Lord in person, I’d say we would be fine with being single too!! Nothing would compare after seeing Jesus in person. And Paul was so on fire with a mission that God gave him to reach the gentiles that marriage at his age became not as important and that boldly comes out in his writing. This is Paul’s story. Not yours. Not mine. No one else will see the risen Lord on the road to Damascus the way Paul did and so be sent to preach to 1st century gentiles. So I think using Paul as basis for this “gift of singleness” theology is just not appropriate.

God gives everybody a choice when it comes to finding a marriage partner and if someone defers that choice then that’s, again, their own choice.

And God is kind to let us choose.

Any season of life, whether single, married, widower not anything else is ALWAYS used by God to accomplish His purposes in our lives.

Christ will use that time in your life to prepare you, draw you closer to Him, teach you wisdom and use you to help other poeple.So I have to learn to be okay with singleness right now because of the preparation it is doing for my heart.

And I’ve seen God really soften my heart over the past year. I wouldn’t want to be who I was a couple years ago. I didn’t know how to relate to people very well. I didn’t know how to show emotion or affection. I was not open whatsoever. I would never have written a post like this back then! No way. I was very guarded and insecure. God has blown that up over the past year. And it’s hurt like hell. But I’m very glad. I’m very thankful for how God is changing me. I feel like I can finally be myself and I’ve never felt more free and joyful.

So all in all, this is what I have come to in my thoughts about singleness and the sex conundrum. I still have a lot to process and each person has their own unique thoughts and experiences to bring to the table in this kind of topic. But I know that I’m going to keep fighting this fight as best I can and ask the Lord to help me when I’m weak.

God’s kindness towards us to give us a pass and help us in the midst of this conundrum is called grace. Receive it. Ask Him to help you.

I believe God is very personal.

So there is no 1 answer to this issue of sexuality.

Talk to God about it.

Talk to others.

Ask God to help you with this problem in relation to where you are at in life and what steps can be taken.

I pray for everyone and your sexuality, that God would help you and that you would know God does care and He knows it’s difficult. He’s not here to condemn you. He made you to be sexual for a reason. And He loves you no matter what. I pray God would give us strength to follow Him in a way that is honoring to Him and when we are weak, that He would give us grace. Praise God for His kindness towards us.

 

But He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Therefore, I will most gladly boast all the more about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may reside in me. 10 So I take pleasure in weaknesses, insults, catastrophes, persecutions, and in pressures, because of Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

2 Corinthians 12:9-10

 

Questions for Today:

  • How am I struggling in my sexuality?
  • Do I have anybody I can talk to about it?
  • Why is it important to believe that God is a personal God?
  • Do I believe that God cares about my sexual frustration and/or guilt?
  • Am I willing to always receive God’s grace and believe that He wants to help me?

 

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