Thursday, August 23, 2007

Did you say "SEX"?

First, before you continue to read this spiel, I would like to refer you to an article, A Peculiar People: Sex and the Young Christian.

Now, some quotes:
Two decades of coupling, uncoupling, hooking up, relationships and shopping around. [The teenage and young adult years aren't] a transition anymore. [They're] a sprawling life stage, and nobody knows the rules.
~ David Brooks, New York Times
Contemporary Christian teaching on this subject blurs the line between celibacy and singleness and leaves singles mistakenly believing that the two are the same. God is often painted as capriciously willing singleness for some and not others. Consequently and sadly, many Christian singles resign themselves to this less-than-ideal state. A more thoughtful and critical examination reveals that today's singleness is not some sort of divinely ordained, interminable state for a quarter of the population, but the result of a string of systematic impediments to marriage
~Debbie Maken, Rethinking the Gift of Singleness
Some of these impediments are a dating structure not geared towards marriage, but low-commitment relationships, a lack of male leadership, and (my favorite) a "redefinition or a defining downward of healthy biblical adulthood."

But oh, there's so much more. Apparently, there's a trend towards fewer marriages, fewer young adults in the church, and an increase in the preaching on the "Gift of Singleness". And young men seem to be gobbling it up. And young women, to some extent, are too. But the first article brings up a very valid point. In our "Gift of Singleness", how many of us are really pursuing what Paul was referring to in 1 Corinthians 7? According to the article, we are not remaining chaste, we are not remaining sexually pure, and instead, we are falling into the same trap as our secular counterparts.

I'm very surprised that the article did not quote or even mention 1 Corinthians 7, so I'm going to quote some of it here:
1Now for the matters you wrote about: It is good for a man not to marry.[a] 2But since there is so much immorality, each man should have his own wife, and each woman her own husband. 3The husband should fulfill his marital duty to his wife, and likewise the wife to her husband. 4The 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. 5Do not deprive each other except by mutual consent and for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer. Then come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control. 6I say this as a concession, not as a command. 7I wish that all men were as I am. But each man has his own gift from God; one has this gift, another has that.
~ 1 Corinthians 7:1 - 7
And two verses later, Paul adds this often forgotten verse:
But if they cannot control themselves, they should marry, for it is better to marry than to burn with passion.
~1 Corinthians 7:9
Oh...wait, what was that? Paul doesn't say to stay unmarried if you find yourself "burning with passion". He tells us that we SHOULD get married. How many churches are actually teaching this little bit with their "Gift of Singleness" doctrine? Paul makes it quite clear that not all men are able to proceed with life-long singleness. He says it is better, yes. So that you can pursue God with all your heart, mind, and soul without being concerned about a wife. But if you can not control yourself, or if you have a desire to get married some day, than pursue it.

I know beyond all doubt that young men can not wait until they are 30 or 40 before having sex. I'm a 23 year-old woman and, in spite of all the claims that women aren't as sexual as men, I'm VERY sexually frustrated and in need and want of sex. I'm "burning with passion", but not just any passion; it is a desire to give myself completely to a husband and to satisfy his needs as well.

What is so ironic about this "burning with passion" bit, is that if you do suffer from a physical need and want for sex (or a relationship), you are going to be even more distracted from God and his calling for you then if you were married and finding that satisfaction. But the distraction won't be one that God created to be good and holy, it will be a distraction characterized by a constant battle against temptation and sin.

So, I must therefore follow Paul's command and "get married". But where are the men? They are embracing this so-called gift and, as one young man put it, indulging in a self-centered, irresponsible life-style. But I am going to add that it is an excuse to be cowardly and fearful and not take a position of leadership. Of course, the men aren't the only ones, as some young men that desire marriage have certainly discovered. There are women who embrace this life-style as well.

Now, I'm not saying that the gift of Celibacy is not a legitimate gift. I honestly think it is. However, it is not one to be taken lightly, it is one to be prayed about. Celibacy is not an excuse to live a self-centered life. It is not an excuse to remain unmarried and sexually promiscuous. It is not SINGLENESS. Singleness is the state in which you are free to pursue a committed relationship with another individual while pursuing a relationship with God. Celibacy is the state in which you pursue God and God only, leaving behind sex and a hope for a permanent, earthly relationship. I also believe that celibacy is not as common a gift as it has suddenly appeared to be.


mindlab prime said...

Hi, I just linked in from Boundless (I'm mindlab) and I was quite enjoying reading your page until I found this. . .

"I know beyond all doubt that young men can not wait until they are 30 or 40 before having sex."

and I couldn't help myself. I'm going to disagree in the strongest of terms.

While waiting in purity is not easy, pleasant, or conducive to sanity, it is eminently possible. I know of several 35-40 year old guys who I am morally certain are virgins. Even getting to 23 hasn't been fun, but it's not impossible.

Excepting that sentence, I enjoyed the rest of the post. Also, your position on 1 Tim 2 in 'Woman, Be Silent' was very well argued. Willingness to read that sort of thing and try to understand rather that ignore it is hard to come by.

God Bless,

Blue Sky, Autumn Leaves said...

Yeah...I will concede that that statement was a illogically put.

I guess the point I wanted to make was exactly what you said - that its very difficult and sometimes feels impossible.

I'm a girl, and I struggle with that. And I know men are more sexual/physical in that regard...

But do you ever feel like you are "burning with lust" even if you aren't acting on it?

And thank you about 1 Timothy 2. It is a difficult passage to swallow, but I think I'm starting to really understand some of its points :)

Kimberly said...

Singleness was described in the following ways:

As a "less-than-ideal state", and

"the state in which you are free to pursue a committed relationship with another individual while pursuing a relationship with God."

I tend to disagree, and I can't take the credit for this revelation, because I learned it from a teacher at just the right time.

In 1 Cor 7:32-36, Paul describes his wishes like this:

"I would like you to be FREE FROM CONCERN.
An unmarried man is concerned about the Lord's affairs - how he can please the Lord. But a married man is concerned about the affairs of this world - how he can please his wife - and his interests are divided.
An unmarried woman or virgin is concerned about the Lord's affairs: Her aim is to be devoted to the Lord in both body and spirit. But a married woman is concerned about the affairs of this world - how she can please her husband.
I am saying this FOR YOUR OWN GOOD, not to restrict you, but that you may live in a right way in UNDIVIDED DEVOTION to the Lord."

I think it's clear that in reading the whole of what Paul says about marriage and singleness throughout the Bible, he leaves it up to the individual. I believe he thought, whatever God wants for you is what you should be totally submissive to, because we know that God has the best for us. ("I wish that all men were as I am. But each man has his own gift from God; one has this gift, another has that." 1 Cor 7:7) In some places, he shows how good it is to be married. If it's marriage God has for us, I believe He is more than able to give us someone who enriches our walk with Him, and does not divide our devotions. In others, he shows how good is is to be single. But never have I seen where he describes being single as "less than ideal" or a state to "pursue others AND God".

My main point is that I think if God gives us this "gift of singlenss" (because that's what it is - a gift), even if it's only for a short time (which makes it even more fleeting and valuable), it's for us to be able to pursue a deeper relationship with Him, and let HIM worry about what comes next. It's like a Daddy taking his daughter to the park, just the two of them, to share some ice cream and talk about anything and everything. He values time with us. He loves us. He has the best for us, and when we "delight ourselves in the Lord, he will give us the desires of our hearts." (I believe that means he will not only give us the right desires, but that he "fulfills our desires with good things" Ps 103).

If God's given you the gift of a trip to the park with Him (not that it's always "a walk in the park", without hard times), soak it up. It's a beautiful thing.

Kimberly said...

...sometimes I "preach" the thing I needed to hear most. That's neat lol

Blue Sky, Autumn Leaves said...

I'm so embarrassed by this post >.<

Though I will not be so dismissive as to think Debbie Maken is completely wrong, I've been learning that, though I'm the victim of a system, one gender is not completely to blame for the problems that relationships have nowadays.

Whatever the case, I do think that our ability to be self-controlled needs to be taken into account when choosing to remain single or marry.

I have also learned that how you live your life intentionally is part of obeying the commandment "Thou shall not bear false witness." Which directly correlates with Jesus' 2nd commandment - love your neighbor as yourself. Which means RESPECTING eachother, as well.