What Killed Singles Ministries?

bible-web

Before the 1980s, nearly every large metropolitan church had singles ministries. They had their own Sunday School classes, Sunday School books, spring retreats, and singles conferences every year. It was taken for granted that singles had never been married and never had sex, which served as a relational common denominator. Most did not go to church looking for mates and their groups were not thought of as “meat markets.” There were very few widows and divorced in those groups because they customarily went into the married classes or found something else to do during Sunday School time.

Things started to change drastically around the mid 1980s. Singles groups that once had 200-300+ dwindled to a few dozen. At one time, Shades Mountain Baptist Church in Birmingham, AL was using their old sanctuary for singles classes and it could hardly hold them all. If you wanted a seat, you had to get there early. But now only a handful remain. Their youth have taken over the empty space and all have kneeled at the feet of the children.

But what killed off the singles from churches? One reason is because they lost support from other church members and from leaders of their denominations. One of the key factors that played a part is divorce. Because of their sex drives and desire to find other mates, divorcees gradually found there way to singles groups and threw a kink in the common bond that the never marrieds once shared with each other. All discussions then had to be filtered for sexualized ears. After all, biblically speaking, once you’ve had sex, you’re married. And once married, you can’t become “single again.” But churches, in their effort to be politically correct, happily stuck singles labels on everybody. They became content in hunkering down behind the barracks and murmuring “everybody is sleeping with somebody.” Instead of defending those who were virtuous, they decided to yell “the sky is falling” every Sunday morning from their pulpits. Instead of addressing the problem of sexual sin head on, they waited until their singles groups got the reputations of “meat markets” and withdrew funding and support. Then single adults were left with the choice of going to adolescent pizza parties or going to old time gospel singings with the senior citizens.

Another factor was rampant fornication, which was made easier and more accessible with the advent of the internet, social media, and pornography. Every church has a rumor mill and this just added gasoline to the fire. The respect that the marrieds had for the unmarrieds slowly eroded away with the stereotyped image of a greedy selfish single sitting in front of his pornography screen ordering up all the sex he wanted. Church leaders began to view anything to do with virginity with skepticism and spite. Many preachers blatantly launched attacks against virtuous singles who were saving sex for marriage. A prime example is the Baptist’s controversial Russell Moore. He openly criticized a chaste female for being concerned about the sexual history of her husband to be on his blog: “You are not ‘owed’ a virgin because you are. Your sexual purity wasn’t part of a quid pro quo in which God would guarantee you a sexually unbroken man . . . Jesus was a virgin. His Bride wasn’t. He loved us anyway.” His bride wasn’t? See, you have to understand that Moore does not believe Christ died for our sins and does not believe that the church is the virgin bride of Christ: http://www.russellmoore.com/2010/03/10/how-much-do-i-need-to-know-about-my-potential-spouses-sexual-past-my-response/ My sister, Julia Duin, wrote about this in a recent article. You can read it here: http://www.ebireflections.com/2/9/6j.

One of the biggest factors that has killed singles groups is homosexuality and its perceived threat to the golden calf of family. Many denomination leaders, like the SBC’s Moore, believe that it’s not possible to live without sex – that if you’re not married by a certain age, you’re a fornicator, homosexual, or pedophile. In Moore’s words, we are all “sexually broken.” He has even trashed singles further by stating that fornication is worse than adultery: “This makes fornication even more dangerous, in this sense, than adultery. Both fornication and adultery are acts of infidelity. But a man who has committed adultery, if he is repentant, understands something of how he’s broken trust, attacked a covenant.” Yes adultery just brings so much immediate insight and understanding. It’s the Christian thing to do. But those fornicators – they are so dangerous. Even more shocking is the Southern Baptist’s recent statements that marriage is required for salvation. Jeff Medders, pastor of Redeemer Baptist Church in Tomball, TX, and member of the Biblical Council On Biblical Manhood And Womanhood (which Russell Moore also serves on) made this recent statement on his blog: “The post-Edenic lure of perpetual boyishness, fun, frivolity, and zero responsibility is the ultimate space for “lost” boys —not for men who have been found and are relocated ‘in Christ.'” Lost boys until we are relocated in Christ? This should make it clearer why single men have lost respect for their churches. http://cbmw.org/men/manhood/manhood-marred-the-peter-pan-syndrome/

Another interesting phenomenon is the perceived gap between the sexual ethics of men and women. Following the lead of the world, churches began to equate sex outside marriage with men only. And church women gladly reinforced it. “Why should he buy the cow if he can get the milk for free.” “The more women men have sex with, the higher their status. The more men women have sex with, the lower their status.” The church gulped in all the worldly stereotypes, not seeing the importance of separating themselves from the world. Indeed, they took a Masters and Johnson approach to all their ministries. “Let’s just target what the surveys identify as the majority and forget about the rest.” More and more preachers started quoting the sex surveys, wringing their hands that “nobody is waiting for marriage anymore.” “Men need to man up and get married.” God’s word was replaced with pie charts and Pampers. Many churches today are nothing more than daycare centers with a steeple on top of the building. And the drama. Did I mention drama? How many single men would want to sit and listen to preachers call them “sexual atheists” and “overgrown adolescents”? http://www.christianpost.com/news/sexual-atheism-christian-dating-data-reveals-a-deeper-spiritual-malaise-117717/. So the bottom line reason for the demise of singles ministries is that churches, for the sake of political correctness and comfort, threw all categories of singles into one barrel. They were unwilling to give never marrieds a space of their own. More importantly, most churches still define the initiation of a marriage as the exchange of vows during a wedding ceremony and tossing of rice instead of the biblically based coming together as one flesh during sexual bonding. Without understanding what marriage is, they will never understand what celibate singleness is.

For a more in depth look at what killed singles ministries, please see Julia Duin’s book, Quitting Church – Why The Faithful Are Fleeing. http://www.amazon.com/Quitting-Church-Why-Faithful-Fleeing-ebook/dp/B00D39ZFIC/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1399480201&sr=8-1&keywords=duin+quitting+church

What’s The Difference Between Purity And Virginity?

dictionary

There’s been a lot written lately about the difference between purity and virginity, with those opposed to virginity pledges crying how purity is so much more than physical mechanics. I think the biblical intent was for them to be one in the same because the virginity that two people bring to marriage is symbolic of Christ’s purity and his marriage to the church. When you look at the big picture of what God expects, virginity before marriage actually underscores how we can never measure up to Christ’s purity. It’s a goal that we aim for, but never attain. It reminds us that, even at our best, we are very inaccurate representatives of what real purity looks like. But at the same time, it does publically identify us as people who are trying to live like Christ. More importantly, it symbolizes that we understand the relationship between human sexuality and Christianity itself and how the act of sex cannot be separated from the spiritual realm, whether that be pure good or pure evil. As his creation, physical virginity also confirms the binary, black or white, all or nothing nature of God. Of course, this stands in stark contrast to a world that tells us everything exists in shades of gray. Have you ever wondered why it was necessary for the mother of Christ to be a virgin? It’s actually very simple. He had to be both from man and from God, spiritual as well as physical. But how many times have you heard that discussed in church?

In traditional Christian culture, it was an unwritten expectation that the bride and groom were virgins at the time of their marriage and that they were both bringing empty temples that had not been occupied through fornication and that they were equally yoked, starting a life together on the same level. This necessitated already accepting Christ and understanding the metaphor of the church being the bride of Christ. It was also a common belief that marriage brought with it the concerns of the world, chiefly because of the responsibilities of raising a child. This makes perfect sense. To feed a baby, the new dad had to be of value to men in the world. There was also a common understanding, as explained clearly by Apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 7, that not all people were meant for marriage, and that those who could live without sex and not burn would do better focusing on the concerns of the Lord. So it was understood that marriage and making babies was not the most important thing in the world and not mandatory for a Christian life. In contrast, many people today are still living in Old Testament times when we were commanded to “be fruitful and multiply,” quoting Old Testament scripture saying that “it is not good for man to be alone.” They still have Jesus dead on the cross. They still see marriage and reproduction as the center of the world.

This is where the cart got put before the horse in contemporary purity movements like True Love Waits because already being a Christian was not an expectation.  These concerned parents who started such organizations assumed all who had not had sex were children “waiting” on marriage. Since many of them couldn’t provide a personal testimony of chastity to their children, they tried to fit their children’s virginity into the world’s landscape of support groups, like Alcoholics Anonymous. Indeed, singleness is still seen as a disease, a forsaken place of eternal waiting, something to be cured. That’s one reason singles have fled churches in droves. They have no identify unless they are married, unless they are fruitfully multiplying – of no spiritual value to the church.

Churches still fail to understand the connection between the physical and the spiritual dimensions of sex.  Just sign this pledge card and stand in this holding booth.  This shortsightedness with regards to purity groups reinforces the worldview that defines virginity as a mere adolescent prerequisite to marriage. It provided the world with so many straw men they didn’t know what to do with them all.  And focusing on one gender reinforced the belief that women should set the religious standards in society.  But they had not counted on the world’s reaction to “purity culture” and could not defend biblical standards when challenged. Hence, today we live in a world where virginity is still defined in terms of adolescent teenage girls, purity balls, boundaries, pledge cards, and “committed” same sex relationships. The more girls a boy has sex with, the higher his status. The more boys a girl has sex with, the lower her status. And the double standard cycle continues, all because of a culture that worships sex, parents who never knew what purity was, and churches that think it’s their responsibility – not God’s – to define sexual standards.

Thankfully, there are a few churches and parents who are the exceptions.  It should be our responsibility to bring the believing world out of Old Testament times and sacrificial offerings of pure lambs and into the world of  New Testament times when the ultimate purity sacrifice has already been made.

What’s Different About A Virgin?

The Flower Muse by Marlina Vera

1. She has love that goes beyond her own family, a love that knows no limits. It extends to strangers on the street and to people who are suffering. Most importantly, she loves all men equally until the day she marries. She is open-minded and does not let boyfriends or anybody else prevent her from being kind to others. She is a professional lover of all men.

2. She has a joyful and thankful heart, one that is not just happy with superficial circumstances. She is content in knowing that, even though her work may not be rewarded on earth, there will be an eternal reward one day. She is always aware that there are those less fortunate than her and everything she has is through the grace of God. Her joy does not depend on this world. She can laugh and be laughed at with no problems.

3. She is at peace with herself and everybody else. She knows how to agree to disagree without arguing. She does not hold grudges and knows how to forgive. She defends what is just, but doesn’t take sides on petty issues – chooses her battles carefully. She knows that her real peace is from Christ who freed her from sin and death, and that the concern of the Holy Spirit living within her is life and peace (Romans 8:6).

4. She shows patience towards other people, even those who disagree with her. She puts other people’s schedules above her own schedule. She is able to accept anybody into her life, even if they create difficult situations for her. She is able to tolerate people who get on nerves. She is able to keep her boat afloat in the midst of angry waves, throwing out as many life rafts as she can. She does not let the behavior of other people dictate her priorities. She puts little stock in opinion polls or statistics charts. Her behavior is governed by grace and understanding. She is willing to wait, even if she is last. Her watch is set on eternity’s time.

5. Her kindness reflects the Holy Spirit in her heart. She is not angry or bitter and accepts what she has with gratitude. She does not stereotype people based on their age, gender, class, or marital status. She shows compassion to others, treating them as she would want to be treated, and is always looking for ways she can help people. She does not compare herself to other women. Most importantly, she guards her heart – but does not lock out kindness.

6. She is generous with her time and possessions and is uncomfortable with having more. She gives anonymously and does not let her left hand know what her right hand is doing. She can give without expecting something in return. She can receive without expecting to give something in return. She engages the world with humbleness and meets people where they are. She knows the value of intangible things like time, effort, listening, ideas, visits, etc. She knows the value of heirlooms and knows that what may priceless to her may be of no value to the world.

7. She has a spontaneous temperament and does not have to set appointments for everything she does. Her honesty allows reactions that are not scripted. She understands that time is short on this earth compared to eternity and strives to make the most of every second – like it was the last second in time. She is concerned that she missed an opportunity.

8. She is faithful, not only to God, but to her friends and family. She does what she says and gives everything her best effort. She is consistent.

9. She has a gentleness that sets her apart from other women. Even-tempered. Not envious of other people. Not prideful. She is willing to submit her whole self to God without thought of her own comfort, which is last on her list of priorities. She is wise in words and deeds. She has no expectations and makes no assumptions. She is humble and knows she doesn’t have all the answers, embraces a mystery. She is not afraid of being viewed as weak because her strength is not in the world. She is as serene as a dandelion seed in the wind. She can count her losses, but knows she has more spiritual collateral at the end of the day. She can sing a new song without looking at the words, talk to a child on his level, and pour lemonade for the school fundraiser.

10. Her life is marked by chastity. In a world out of control, this is where she stands out. She has a pure heart that is not fragmented or confused. She does not live seeking her own pleasure, but sacrifices herself for the good of others, to bring them closer to Christ. Her identify does not depend on men and she knows what her boundaries are when it comes to romance. She does not attempt to have a sexual relationship until she is married. Her confidence comes from Christ only, not a man. A man does not define her sexuality. Her passions are mediated by temperance and self-restraint. They are sublimated by friendships with her neighbors. She is able to give herself to God with an undivided heart. Her celibacy is a positive witness to the world.

11. She is modest and doesn’t use her skin to attract men. She doesn’t draw attention to herself with excessive makeup, jewelry, etc. Doesn’t try to keep up with the latest fashion trends. She doesn’t use her sexuality outside the will of God. She also doesn’t have to have the best of everything, nor does she expect to have it all. Her comfort is last on her list of priorities. She is frugal and doesn’t envy what other people have. She is conservative with her money and does not gamble with it. She has better things to do with her money than spend it on fitness clubs and tanning booths.

12. She understands life and death and knows how to grieve. She is acutely aware of our temporary station in this world. She respects other people’s losses and memories of their loved ones.

13. She knows how to contemplate, how to temporarily shut out the world and meditate on Christ. Prayer is the center of her life and she makes time for it.

14. She is honest with herself and others and doesn’t try to hide the truth, even when it may be uncomfortable.

15. Even when things get dark, she has hope for tomorrow which is based on the mercy of God. She is always anticipating a miracle. Her faith is bigger than the headlines.

16. Her mercy extends to people on the margins of society; the disabled, elderly, mentally ill, abused, homeless, etc. She does not consider herself more important. If she finds someone she can’t help, she goes the extra mile to find someone who can.

Virgins Destroying The World

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Samantha Pugsley recently wrote an article in which she blamed a virginity pledge for destroying her life (http://www.xojane.com/sex/true-love-waits-pledge). Yes, those vicious virgins are at it again. Actually, Puglsey proved how humorous straw men really are. There are so many exaggerations and misrepresentations in her article I’m not sure where to start. First of all, let’s look at the last sentence of the virginity pledge as it appears on her blog: “As well as abstaining from sexual thoughts, sexual touching, pornography, and actions that are known to lead to sexual arousal.” The first part of it is accurate for 2000 (when she was 10), but the last portion never appeared in any True Love Waits pledge. I would definitely agree with no sexual touching or pornography or actions that lead to sexual arousal. But I’m not sure how one would abstain from sexual thoughts, unless you’re lying in a cold dark grave with no active brain cells.

“At the age of 10, I took a pledge at my church alongside a group of other girls to remain a virgin until marriage.” According to True Love Wait’s co-founder Richard Ross, the annual promise ring ceremony is only offered to middle schoolers who accepted Christ the year before. So it is unlikely she participated in the ceremony in the 4th grade. Also, TLW was never targeted to only girls. Interestingly, she acknowledged she was too young to participate in the ceremony because she was playing with Barbie dolls and having tea parties with imaginary friends. But did anybody force her to sign the pledge? Where were her parents? Did she accept Christ the year before when she was 9 years old? If she “didn’t have a clue about sex,” how could she promise to save sex until marriage?

“The church taught me that sex was for married people. Extramarital sex was sinful and dirty and I would go to Hell if I did it.” Extramarital sex is sinful? Yes. Go to hell if you do it? I’m not aware of any church that teaches that.

“I learned that as a girl, I had a responsibility to my future husband to remain pure for him. It was entirely possible that my future husband wouldn’t remain pure for me, because he didn’t have that same responsibility, according to the Bible.” I can’t find that in my Bible: “Ye shall open your mind up to the fact that your husband might not be a virgin.” What Bible is she reading from? Was her pastor David Koresh? Herein probably lies Pugsley’s main problem: She did not choose a husband who was a virgin and now she blames the whole world for her unfulfilled marriage – her parents, church, friends, coworkers, everybody.

“Everyone knew I’d taken the virginity vow, of course. Gossip is the lifeblood of the Baptist Church.” I never considered virginity to be gossip. And I think gossip is just as bad in every other church.

“It became my entire identity by the time I hit my teen years.” This confirms that she was not a Christian when she took the pledge. Nowhere in the Bible does virginity become a person’s entire identity.

“I wondered where the line was because I was terrified to cross it.” It is unfortunate that she had no one to answer these questions. But whose fault is that? The church? Her friends? Her coworkers? I don’t think so. It should have been her parents. If parents were not available, then a mentor should have stepped into the picture.

“An unhealthy mixture of pride, fear, and guilt helped me keep my pledge until we got married.” It’s interesting that Christ was not in that picture.

It sounds like Pugsley built virginity up in her mind to be something it was not, some kind of vacation package to heaven with marital bliss thrown in as a bonus. That’s what happens when virginity is approached without Christ’s death and resurrection. That’s when happens when you enter marriage with unrealistic expectations based on fairy tales. That’s what happens when virginity is not expected in a future spouse. And most importantly – that’s what happens when sex is approached without parents willing to guide you, answer hard questions, tell their own love/romance/marriage story, and make sure you understand how Christianity is rooted in human sexuality and how marriage between husband and wife symbolizes the marriage between Christ and the church. And of course the True Love Waits Program, while it may have had good intentions, was a misguided adventure from the beginning because it assumed that one could not have true love without first having a spouse.

Also see Arleen Spenceley’s excellent response: http://arleenspenceley.com/virginitypledge/

“Student Ministry and Supremacy of Christ” by Richard Ross: http://books.google.com/books?id=0QHWtakxH2oC&pg=PA212&lpg=PA212&dq=salvation+%22richard+ross%22+%22true+love+waits%22&source=bl&ots=2Oy6jIx_V7&sig=2um42BuJw37Sqie-7Y5pHhl7dfk&hl=en&sa=X&ei=_DfyU6WAGcLG8AG1v4DoDQ&ved=0CDAQ6AEwAg#v=onepage&q=middle&f=false

Marriage And Celibate Singleness – The Ultimate Paradox

HeadSpace by Kevin Chupik

HeadSpace by Kevin Chupik

A paradox, as defined by the Oxford Dictionary, is “a person, thing or situation that has two opposite features and therefore seems strange.” The “thing” I’m going to explore is the two sides of the Christian lifestyle coin – marriage and celibacy. A worldly marriage and socially sanctioned sex represents the pinnacle of Christian values in 21st century American culture. Indeed, the word “family” has become synonymous with the word “Christian. Misplaced priorities in marriage have become the basis of cliques along socioeconomic lines and the downfall of America’s education system. In contrast to the Greatest Generation, Americans now believe everybody has the right to have it all; that a man’s good faith goes no deeper than the number of hungry children in his house, and that sex is just as important as food and water. There are many benefits bestowed on those who marry and often these are more important than any perceived love or commitment. First, there are tax breaks. The “marriage penalty” is mostly history. More than half of couples today benefit economically when they marry. For single taxpayers in 2013, the standard deduction was $6,100. But for married couples filing jointly, the deduction was twice as much at $12,200. Another big bonus is children. They are like tax gold. A newborn infant was worth $3,900 in 2013. Then there’s the child tax credit, another $1,000 per child, unless you earn over $100,000 a year. For the lowest income earners, the amount of Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) increases significantly with each child they add. In 2013, $6,044 was awarded to families with three or more children earning around $13,450 a year. So for the people who are uneducated and poverty stricken, it pays to have kids. What do you call that? A welfare state. Then there are estate transfer benefits. If a person dies with a hefty nest egg (over 5.25 million), they can transfer all of those assets to their spouse without paying one dime of federal estate tax (called the marital deduction). Add to this the tax exempt status for gifts from spouses. Of course we can’t forget the IRAs. Under certain conditions, a person can pay money into their spouse’s IRA and deduct up to $11,000 on their joint tax return. Married people also benefit when they sell a home. If you’re a single person and pass both the time and residency tests for a long term investment, you’re allowed to earn up to $250,000 in profit from the sale of your home tax-free. If you’re married, you can make up to $500,000 in profit from the sale of a home without paying a cent in capital gains. This all makes it a little easier see why many marriages are not motivated out of love and commitment, but out of financial gain and convenience.

Paradoxically, a biblical marriage is a witness that we are not promised all of our dreams, that we must often wait to have more than we’ve got, that the kingdom of God is not yet come, and that the love between a husband and wife is but a hazy reflection of the love between Christ and his church. Marriage witnesses to the familiar rhythms of life, to the natural order of God’s creation, to the seasons, and to the expected. It symbolizes commitment and sacrifice in a world that can’t see beyond tomorrow. It requires planning, timing, schedules, multiple priorities, and compromise. It also requires the kitchen be ready 24/7 (i.e., Martha) and transportation ready to go anywhere anytime. A Godly marriage also testifies to the self-sustaining nature of human existence. It produces babies. And unlike other babies in the animal world, human babies require consistent care for the first few months of their lives. The paradox: The world says married people have it all; two kids, two car garage, a dog, and a white picket fence. The American dream. In contrast, the Bible says husbands and wives have to wait for the wedding feast in heaven to see all of their dreams fulfilled and what real love is all about.

Likewise, worldly singleness is regarded as a life of unfulfillment, a sacrifice of sexual relationships and heirs, barrenness, bitterness, and loneliness. Our society laughs at the idea of sexual restraint. Movies and TV portray sex as being available on every street corner, with girls being prudes if they say no and guys being desparate and always on the prowl. Distrust reigns supreme because your an unknown quantity until you reveal your heterosexuality within marriage. It’s a world where bodies are a mere means to an end, as a means to arrive at sexual ecstasy. With the help of the pharmaceutical industry, sex has become a recreational sport; something that you have “to be ready” for anytime. Everybody is just one pill away from the crowning golden calf of orgasm, to having all of their dreams fulfilled. And no need to worry about passing along STDs. Men can be safe with latex and women can abort if they don’t want. After all, there’s a “pregnancy crisis center” on every street corner ready with the diapers, bottles, and formula – and a scripture on the way out the door. No price to pay, right? Our society has become so porn saturated that even the word “date” now implies a sexual rendezvous. What used to be a meet in the park and a two hour conversation over coffee has now become a click on a singles meetup page and a 30 minute workout in the backseat of a car. Just shop to your heart’s desire. Don’t like blondes? Here’s a brunette. The church encourages this mindset because it regards singleness as a problem to be solved, a holding station for people who haven’t reached adulthood. Many churches assume that we have a mate waiting out there somewhere. It’s just our job to find them. Even worse, some churches teach that you will not find that someone special until you are walking closer with the Lord. And if you reach some arbitary age around 35-40 and are not married, woe be unto you. After that point, the church sees only two long term possibilities – either you’re fornicating or your gay. Worldly singles today are like the five foolish virgins (Matthew 25) who went to meet the bridegroom with no oil in their lamps. Once they saw the other five virgins with lamps that were burning, they became jealous. As Matthew 25:8-9 tells us: “And the foolish ones said to the sensible ones, “Give us some of your oil: our lamps are going out.’ But they replied, ‘There may not be enough for us and for you; you had better go to those who sell it and buy some for yourselves.'” In today’s society, a virgin has become an obstacle to self pleasure; a source of jealousy for those who couldn’t wait until marriage and did not bring oil with their lamps to meet their bridegrooms. And if you’re not sexually satisfied, the world will do anything to please you. Not happy being a man? Not to worry. Become a woman. Believe God created another garden with Adam and Steve? Not to worry. Become a homosexual. Hit a road block when she says no? Find a girl who will say yes. The spiritual nature of sex has been separated from the physical. So what seems like a free choice today will end up costing untold amounts in the long run.

Paradoxically, celibate singleness for Christians is actually a witness to eternity in heaven, to being able to live without sex or having it all, and of living and loving within the boundaries of biblical principles. Celibate singles put a higher priority on mastering self control. They have no expectations and make no assumptions. Even though our Declaration of Independence lists the unalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, the celibate single testifies that not all dreams come true and that there is dignity and meaning in suffering and sacrifice, even for a stranger. In his book Yearnings, Craig Barnes noted that: “Some married people will yearn for a better marriage or for a different marriage, or no marriage; and some singles will yearn for any marriage.” Desire is built in to the sexual process. It can be a good thing or a bad thing. The determining factor is self-control. Celibate singles do not depend on sexual pleasure for contentment or meaning in their lives. And they don’t depend on sex or children to define their manhood or womanhood. To be a child of God in the New Testament is to born of the spirit, not of a woman – which explains why all the Old Testament genealogies are not listed in the New Testament.

Christian marriage and celibate singleness should point to one thing – eternity in heaven with Christ. Unfortunately, it looks like the world’s view has superseded basic Christian beliefs. The church has swallowed the Freudian view that sex motivates everything a man does and that something is always lurking in his subconscious mind, something of a sexual nature that controls his every thought and action. The church needs to repent of this world view of singleness and come to the realization that platonic friendships cannot be overlooked in the Christian community, that some people do think about other things than sex, and that celibate singles have something priceless to offer – love that goes beyond blood lines and a point of view that is not dependent upon financial status or the size of a house.

What Virtue Is Not

Desire_News

1. Having one sexual partner at a time. If marriage is in your plans, you are called to have one sexual partner in a lifetime.
2. Waiting on each other. Having sex with everybody before you meet your spouse and then deciding to wait is not biblical.
3. A “covenantal” or “committed” relationship without a marriage between a man and a woman.
4. Experience.
5. Wearing a condom.
6. A vasectomy.
7. Contraception or any other form of birth control.
8. Paying for your girlfriend to have an abortion.
9. Appearing to be somebody you’re not.
10. Doing everything short of intercourse, including oral sex.
11. Gifts and favors.
12. Carrying a Bible and quoting scripture. We are called to back it up with behavior.
13. Education. The number of academic degrees will tell you nothing about a person’s character.
14. Job title. As the Bible tells us, it’s harder for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than it is for a rich man to enter heaven.
15. Stopping when she says “no.” It’s your responsibility guys to have the self control to not even go there.
16. Sex education other than no sex before marriage. A godly man doesn’t even need to know what a condom looks like .
17. The ability to hide a pregnancy.
18. Getting married in a church.
19. Getting married because you’re pregnant.
20. Settling for a non-Christian because you think you can change him/her.
21. Pursuing or being pursued.
22. Dating young or marrying early because your preacher/parents said you can’t control yourselves.
23. Believing marriage makes you a Christian.
24. Having sex one time to see what it’s like.
25. Thinking that sex makes you a man or woman.

More Than Words

more_than_words_by_kubusbbt

“Testimony” is a word steeped in religious and legal overtones. Church-goers know it traditionally as an emotionally charged story to convict people to get right with the Lord. It usually involves sexual sin, out of wedlock pregnancies, STDs, drugs, rehabilitation, and everything else that defines a free for all society. And on the internet, you can read “How I Turned Sexual Temptation Into A Blessing” and “Delivered From Sexual Addiction.” The same soap operas can be heard in churches today. Should we take it for granted today that everybody has had sex by 14 and that the idea of chastity can only provide punch lines on late night TV? That’s the message teenagers are getting. They are being tossed words that provide them with only entertainment. Unfortunately, many parents think sex-laced, broken but forgiven drama is the only way to keep them on the straight and narrow. If you didn’t know better, you would think Tom T. Hall was leading every church service with “Faster horses. Younger women. Older whiskey. More stories.” Testimonies are certainly effective witnessing tools. But it seems today that the Christianity presented to the world is less about saying yes to Christ and modeling our lives after him and more about recovering from tragedy and having a story to tell and about making sure not to make anybody feel uncomfortable. As blogger Libby Anne recently wrote:

“I was one of those good little evangelical children who listened to speakers talk of pasts full of drugs and sex and their changed lives and wished that I could have a “testimony” as powerful as theirs. Christianity had the power to change lives, to completely transform people—or at least, that’s what I was taught. And those whose lives reflected that—those who were in the past addicts or criminals but whose lives were changed by Jesus—were the proof of the transforming power of Jesus.”

We have indeed reached a low point when purity is not considered a powerful testimony or the transforming power of Jesus, when Christianity requires a fall into the depths of depravity to be authentic. For youth groups, hearing about another person’s sexual exploits often plants the seeds of what they’re missing in their impressionable minds. And when these “times of sharing” come around, it is only those who engaged in premarital intercourse or other illicit activity who come forward to rehash their sordid tales — not those with no sexual history. But it’s about more than words. Let’s face it. There are not too many teenagers who are going to get up and tell their non-story of waiting on sex after hearing the details of sexacapades in the city from their peers – because it leaves them even more self conscious about being different. Not many are going to walk out on a limb of chastity in such an environment– especially guys. They will always see personal testimonies of sexual behavior as sexual conquests, just with a little guilt written on their faces. Even worse, experience-based testimonies reinforce the widely accepted belief that fornication and adultery are inevitable for everybody and that you get a lot of attention when you do “stumble.” Breaking news for the church — Teenagers love attention. Most don’t get it at home.

These stories also validate the error of visually-based ethics. “I know it when I see it” replaces all standards set forth in the Bible. Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart would feel quite at home today. They also present men as being inherently unable to control their desires and reinforce the belief that women are objects as well as victims. “Well, I met this guy” becomes as predictable as the doxology. In these fallen and repentant testimony roundtables, purity is presented as an ideal, a “project” to keep working on, something to dream about – as a way to prevent STD’s, teen pregnancies, and to uphold family (i.e., church) honor. But that’s what happens when the world comes into the church. The spiritual nature of sex gets detached from the physical body, the logic behind waiting is never addressed, everybody gets homogenized into a nice rainbow, and the truths presented in the Bible become hazy relativity. After hearing Brother Mike retell his alcohol binge out on the streets with a different prostitute every night and waking up in an emergency room after falling into a gutter, the definitions of “purity” and “self control” become quite hazy indeed.

Premarital sex today is glorified in all shapes and forms; from the bedroom to the boardroom, from the streets to the pulpits. But testaments are about more than words. They’re about more than what we do. They’re about more than what we see. They’re also about what we don’t do in the process of reflecting Christ’s love in our lives and respecting the dignity of other human beings and God’s creation. They’re about remaining faithful if you accepted Christ as a child and about the capacity to serve as mothers and fathers for those children who don’t have them. I encourage everybody on the journey of chastity before marriage to stand up and let your voices be heard and church leaders to step away from the world and reconsider the witness of inexperience, the witness of something more than words.

On a personal note, I thank Kerri and The Coffee & Christ Show in Huntsville, AL for asking me to share my story. You can watch it here: http://kerrichronicles.com/the-coffee-christ-show-talking-celibacy-one-of-gods-greatest-gifts/

http://www.patheos.com/blogs/lovejoyfeminism/2014/07/everybody-has-a-past.html