Very rarely is sexuality discussed in churches, especially in a singles environment. I think it would be helpful to explore what God’s vision for sex is, and what that means for Christians who want to honor God with their sexuality but who are unmarried so we can prevent sexual issues down the road if marriage is in the future.
In this Article:
Sexuality And Singleness
People who were raised in a Christian home were taught that sex is bad until you get married, then it is good. Because of this general message from the church around sex I usually hear one of two things from the people I work with. I hear that because sex was taught as a bad thing until marriage, that they repressed all sexual urges, and are surprised when they get married and have issues with desire or arousal. The other thing I hear from people who did decide to engage sexually before marriage and now battle through shame and guilt because of their sexual past. Although the messaging from the church around sex is well intentioned, I wonder if we are missing a large piece of God’s message for sexuality.
I think this tension is especially difficult for people who are single in the church. Very rarely is sexuality discussed in churches, especially in a singles environment. I think it would be helpful to explore what God’s vision for sex is, and what that means for Christians who want to honor God with their sexuality but who are unmarried so we can prevent sexual issues down the road if marriage is in the future.
Sexual Desires Vs. Sexual Lust
It is important to acknowledge whether you are single or married, God made you as a sexual being with sexual urges. I want to distinguish between sexual desires and sexual lust. The way God designed your body means that you will experience fluctuations in hormones that cause a very physical response called sexual desire. This is normal! Your body is letting you know you are still human! How we manage those urges can either be healthy or unhealthy. Lust happens when you allow your mind to wander in such a way where you desire someone that does not belong to you in a way that does not honor God or that other person.
How Does It Work?
I can tell what you’re thinking. “What am I supposed to do? If my sexual urges are ok but lust is not, what is that supposed to look like?” Well, I’m glad you asked.
- I believe it starts by allowing God to redeem what His plan and intention for sexuality is. God made sex as good and to be enjoyed in the appropriate context. Take intentional time in scripture to search out what God says on the subject and let your values be informed by what He says first. Because sex is so much more than a physical act, our attitudes and values about sex need to start from the inside out. What I mean is, if we allow God to change our hearts and minds about His plan for sex, then it is easier for our behaviors to follow. If we just try to impose arbitrary rules on ourselves we are less likely to maintain boundaries when tempted.
- Learn to celebrate how God made your masculinity or femininity! Get into healthy community and start making friends with the opposite sex. Learning about how God made you and enjoying friendship in opposite sex relationships can be fulfilling.
- Start to see sexual desire as an ache for intimacy. Sexual desire can be the thing that points us back to intimate relationships with friends, partners, and God (Doug Rosenau, Soul Virgins).
- Learn to use your time and energy in ways that are life giving and that can release tension and stress positively. Go for a run, take a yoga class, learn a new hobby!
- Remember that no matter what past choices you have made, we serve a God who is always able to redeem and make new! His mercies are new every morning, and as you seek out His heart for your sexuality, I pray that you find renewal in His purpose for you.
No matter where you are in your journey in understanding yourself as a sexual person, I hope that you stay intentional about God’s heart for sex and about staying in healthy community. Your sexuality is an important part of how God made you, even if you are not yet married. It is not just a light switch you can turn off on when it is convenient; your sexuality is integrated into who you are.
If You Need Help
If you need help navigating what that looks like for you, please reach out to me or any of our amazing counselors, and we would be happy to walk alongside you in your journey towards healthy single sexuality.
Rosenau, Douglas and Michael Todd, Wilson. Soul Virgins: Redefining Single Sexuality. Sexual Wholeness Resources, 2012.