Have you ever heard a really good sermon about sex?
I mean the kind that makes you actually shout, “hallelujah,” “amen,” “praise Him all ye saints!” or whatever it is that you yell when the preacher does a particularly great job proclaiming the truth.
I remember growing up in church and hearing a few sermons on sex.
Just a few.
I actually remember hearing (probably not in these exact words), “Hey single people, sex is NOT for you! If you are lucky enough to get married one day, you’ll have the most amazing mind-blowing sex. Sex so good that you can’t even imagine it. And, you shouldn’t, because you’re single! So don’t even think about it!”
Then, in Bible College I heard a few more talks on sex. In fact, at my school we had a week of discussion on sexual topics (every year that I was there) and at least once they separated the guys and girls for this talk. For one week, which we lovingly named “Sexual Saturation Week,” we talked about all of the reasons a single person should not have sex. But, honestly…I can’t tell you now what the reasons were. Something about God created us male and female and designed us for a monogamous relationship. Somewhere between the snickers in the pews, the joking jabs to my neighbor, and the tuning out a little (it was a full week after all and how many ways can you say abstain?), I learned that sex was between a man and woman AFTER marriage, because…
…well, because that’s how God designed it and its best for us.
I actually worked with a therapist for a while during my time in college (see…I really do believe in counseling!) and asked several questions about sex. I wanted to know why Christians have such a hard time talking about it and if sex is so sacred, why do so many Christians have no issue with watching sex scenes on TV and the movies? I wondered why some Christians would harp on not having sex before marriage while others would talk about not getting sex after marriage.
Hmmmm…so…don’t have sex before marriage and don’t expect it after marriage??? This didn’t make sense to me for something that was supposedly a gift from God.
I guess it’s really no surprise that I decided to seek certification as a sex therapist. There was quite a bit of time between my time in the counselor’s office until my time sitting in the therapist’s chair and while I certainly wanted to gain a better understanding of sexuality to help others, quite honestly, my journey started out because of the questions I had myself.
One of the biggest questions was, “Why do singles have to fight so hard NOT to have sex, while married couples seem to never want sex with one another?”
I know plenty of singles (and I mean Christian singles that love God) that feel that sex isn’t really that big of a deal. “Certainly”, they say, “God understands. Its harder now to say no.” And some absolutely believe that the church’s teaching on the matter is somehow wrong. “God didn’t really forbid sex before marriage. I just believe you should wait until you are in love.”
But, Scripture definitely talks about sexual integrity and it is pretty clear that sex is reserved for marriage. Consider the following:
Marriage should be honored by all and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral.
I Corinthians 6:18-20
Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a man commits are outside of his body, but he who sins sexually sins against his own body. Do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought with a price. Therefore honor God with your body.
1 Thessalonians 4:3-4, 7-8
It is God’s will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; that each of you should learn to control his own body in a way that is holy and honorable. For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life. Therefore, he who rejects this instruction does not reject man but God, who gives you his Holy Spirit.
Well…shoot. That’s some intense stuff!
You know what the amazing thing is here? These verses are not screaming, “Hey single people…” These verses are for all of us. Married…single…it doesn’t matter. We are ALL called to honor the marriage bed, flee from sexual immorality, and control our bodies in ways that are holy and honorable.
Once married, your sexual urges should be directed to your spouse. You shouldn’t act them out with someone else. Because in marriage, you are still “bought with a price.” What if controlling your urges in singleness is really practice for controlling them later in marriage?
And, in marriage, sexuality is blessed and encouraged. Consider this:
Proverbs 5: 18-19
May your fountain be blessed, and may you rejoice in the wife of your youth. A loving doe, a graceful deer – may her breasts satisfy you always, may you ever be captivated by her love.
I Corinthians 7: 3-5a
The husband should fulfill his marital duty to his wife, and likewise the wife to her husband. The wife’s body does not belong to her alone but also to her husband. In the same way, the husband’s body does not belong to him alone but also to his wife. Do not deprive each other except by mutual consent and for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer.
Song of Songs 1:2-4
Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth – for your love is more delightful than wine. Pleasing is the fragrance of your perfumes; your name is like perfume poured out. No wonder the maidens love you! Take me away with you – let us hurry! Let the king bring me into his chambers!
Sex within marriage is meant to be enjoyed fully. Sex within marriage creates a coming together of bodies (physically, emotionally, spiritually) in a beautifully mysterious picture of God’s love for us. Sex within marriage allows us to know and to be known by one another! Sex physically bonds a couple so that there is little ability to know where one body ends and another begins. And, when a couple does not have that time together, they are robbing themselves of part of the “two become one” experience.
So, what is the disconnect here? Why do Christian singles so often struggle to wait until marriage, while many Christian married couples struggle to prioritize their sexual relationship?
I believe that it is time for Christian couples to start working toward teaching principles of sexual wholeness to Christian singles. Its time that Christian singles understand that waiting until marriage is more about learning how to discipline themselves; honoring themselves, their partner, and their God, than it is about just following a rule. I also believe that couples cannot help singles unless they are enjoying a fulfilling sexual life with one another.
This means, that the Christian couple owes it to themselves and to their Christian communities to seek healing in the broken places of their marriage and to place a high priority on enjoying their sexual relationship.
What do you think? Do Christian couples have a duty to their single brothers and sisters? And if so, how can they help?