Just Friends?

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When I made the choice to remain as I am, one of the things that comforted me was the thought that I could claim all girls as my girlfriends. Then I could spend all the time I wanted with any of them and wouldn’t have to worry about neglecting a wife or children. For that matter, I could call up anybody anytime, man or woman, if I wanted to talk. The only problem is that men and women can’t be friends anymore. The fastest way I know of to ensure that a single woman will not speak to me again is to ask her to be my friend. Even faster, tell her that I don’t plan on getting married and that I plan on staying single. The simple reason is because we live in a world that worships marriage and family. Sex has become the be-all and end-all of human existence. With their fertile years slipping by, many women blame men, the world, and God himself. The only men they are willing to be friends with are potential suitors. Everybody else is a waste of time. That may sound like a logical plan of action. But it’s not biblical. All of us are called to love our neighbor as ourselves. We’re also told in the Bible that whatever we do for one of the least of these, we do it to God.

Over the last 30 years, I’ve watched how men and women relate to each other change drastically. It all coincides with the increasing use of the internet and other digital technologies for communication. The “friend” on a Facebook friend list is a far cry from a real friend from the 70s. This was brought home to me recently when I went to my 35-year high school reunion. What a feeling to be in a room with real friends I’ve known for many years, several of them since first grade. Since I never dated in high school, sex was never part of the picture with any of them. But I think I know them better than any other group of people in my life. To know someone today though requires sex, and I think it’s the one thing that makes me feel out of place. Men are expected to either be having sex on a regular basis with a wife or looking for someone to have sex with, preferably with a woman. But I think churches today accept homosexuals more than they do people looking for spouses or those called to celibacy. Friends? That requires too much self control. And most churches will tell you that for men that’s just not possible. They will point you to their pornography addiction groups, unwanted sexual behavior groups, sexual addiction recovery groups, substance abuse groups, same sex attraction groups, accountability support groups, etc. Women might find a body image support group. But if a single man and woman sit together, they automatically have a romantic interest in each other. The gossip line of the church will have them having sex before lunch is finished.

Taking sex off the table is just not possible for single women either because their biological clocks are running out. They’ve invested in their education, careers, houses, etc. Now they want their baby. And they want it now! If they don’t see an acceptable prenuptial package deal, most won’t even tell a guy hello. Friends just waste time. Does that sound Christian? Not to me. It actually is one more thing that gives the church a black eye. Single men – be careful whom you sit with in church. The grapevine may have you dating her before you get home. Of course, it could be a church where two “sit downs” are required for dating. And daddy could be watching from any pew. When a society reaches the point where they can’t confer adulthood on young adults and the differences between dating and courting become a theological issue, they’ve reached a point of sex worship.

With all the talk of “just friends,” I often think, “what else do I need?” And then I have to remind myself of how the world views my alternative celibate life, whether they know that’s what I’ve chosen or not. First, I have to be careful with the word celibacy because, for many people, it only means one thing – being gay and trying to live without sex. These family-only churches know of no other Christian lifestyle but family. The only way their preachers and leaders can relate to the word “single” is from a youth perspective. They’re experts on youth. They represent potential tithes for the church. They know how to do is prepare them for marriage and tell them to wait; because if they get married, they can give more money to the church. “Get close to God and he’ll bring you the right one.” When I feel like nobody in the church knows who I am, I have to remember that they really don’t me because they don’t know what celibacy is, that the days of honest friendships are long gone – and that the church only knows how to date, court, have sex, and kiss babies. There is so much more of me to get to know. My art, photography, short stories, mentoring, etc. It would really be easier for me to make up a story of how my wife died and left me to live as a widower for all these years. Then there would be no questions asked. “So sorry John. Let us know if there’s anything we can do.” They might bring me a donut.  Let us remind ourselves that there is nothing eternal about marriage, family, sex, and children. For me, that means the lifestyle of celibacy I have chosen on earth is the same one I will spend eternity with.

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What Happens During A Wedding Ceremony That Makes Sex Okay?

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The Wedding Ceremony of Andrea Kastner and Thomas Morton by Thomas Thorspecken

The good old American wedding. It’s as comfortable as applie pie. So steeped in tradition we accept it as God’s word. Wedding dates, wedding planners, wedding rehearsals, rehearsal dinners, invitations, announcements, wedding ceremonies, wedding vows, engagement rings, wedding rings, legal witnesses, marriage licenses, preachers, money for the preachers, wedding cakes, bridesmaids’ luncheons, buttercream icing, buffets, entrances, preludes, interludes, processionals, recessionals, receptions, wedding dresses, tuxedos, ball gowns, veils, headpieces, open stocks, bridal registries, place settings, bridal showers, what to toss, flowers, garter belts, trains, corsages, boutonnieres, cascades, fillers, freeze-dried petals, pomanders, English garden arrangements, Tuscan arrangements, beveled edges, deckled edges, embossed, engraved, suits, proofs, sets, albums, escorts, place cards, overlays, pickups, sweetheart tables, first dances, honeymoons, best men, bridesmaids’ dresses, maids of honor, grooms, grooms’ mothers, ushers, wedding songs, ring-bearers, flower girls, father’s left arm, wedding parties, formal photographs, guest books, rose ceremonies, thresholds, frogs, spiders, black cats, rice tosses, stag parties, toasts, tin cans, five sugar-coated almonds, candlesticks, thirteen coins.

The problem is, none of it is in the Bible.  There is absolutely no description of a wedding ceremony in scripture. And there is nothing about weddings that make them innately biblical. No vows. No marriage licenses. No punch. Did you just did dizzy? If weddings are considered spiritual events on the same order with births and deaths, at what point during the wedding does God say, “Okay, you can have sex and become one flesh now”? Does a preacher become a stand-in for God when he asks, “do you take this woman/man to be your wife/husband?” Protestant churches would have you believe that.  So if marriages don’t start with wedding ceremonies, when do they start? Maybe we should consult the Bible. Take a look at Ephesians 5:30-32:

“For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones.

For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh.

This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church.”

I cannot think of a more dignified and accurate metaphor for the sexual union than a man and woman becoming “one flesh.” Leave it to the genius of Apostle Paul and his way with words. Am I saying we’ve had it wrong all these years? Yes I am. The church slipped off the tracks when marriages became separated from sex with pomp and circumstance and assumed it could take on the role of God and unite two people forever.  Of course, all of this was done to allow and legalize divorce.  The church can’t do that. A preacher can’t do that. A thousand bowls of coconut-pineapple punch can’t do that. Even more sobering is the fact that man’s vocabulary can’t superimpose itself on top of God’s vocabulary. A classic example is “premarital sex.” If all sex before marriage is premarital, what do you call sex after marriage? Postmarital? Does all that bad sex before marriage suddenly become good when a preacher says, “You may now kiss the bride” in front of two witnesses and a gaggle of onlookers? Most churches will tell you it does because they routinely marry “cohabitating partners.”  I just don’t think so. Does that mean there are millions of people walking around today who are married through fornication and don’t know it? I’m afraid so. God’s word and commandments are so far removed from today’s reality that they’ve become unrecognizable. The church didn’t defend them and the congregants tossed them out the window in favor of comfort and pleasure. Instead of conforming our lives to God’s word, we have conformed God’s word to fit our lives.

Notice what Paul says in verse 32. I think it’s one of the most overlooked passages in the Bible. In very plain language, he is telling us that marriage is a mystery we will not understand on this earth. Could it be that sex actually bonds a man and woman beyond our comprehension so that they are more “one flesh?” than we even realize? Could sex chemically change our bodies permanently so that a man does become one with a prostitute when he has sex with her? Those are uncomfortable questions. And the world today doesn’t want the discomfort of a mystery. Every answer is in the palm of our hands. Just Google it. Is there anything science cannot explain? It tries. But, “The foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength (1 Corinthians 1:25).”

Marriage And Celibacy – A House Divided?

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Here in Alabama, the one thing that is worshipped almost as much as sex is football. Actually, most guys make it a weekend package deal with beer and sex thrown in on the sidelines. And the Alabama and Auburn game is one of the biggest rivalries in college football. People like to talk about their “divided houses,” where one spouse is an Alabama fan and the other spouse an Auburn fan. They let the world know about it by painting half of something of insignificance red and white and the other half orange and blue. Or they have both teams’ colors represented equally in some way. For instance, some “divided” automobiles have an Alabama flag hanging out one window and an Auburn flag hanging out the other window. Who would have thought football would be hit with such political correctness? If you asked them though, most fans would tell you that they root for both teams up until the Iron Bowl when Alabama takes on Auburn each year.

Isn’t it a shame that the same can’t be said about Christian lifestyles? Just like the world, churches today have bowed down to the god of sexual desires or, as they call it, God-honoring marriages. They flaunt their families with more gusto than any football fan could imagine. What’s really remarkable about this is, unlike football where there are many teams to choose from, the Christian lifestyle only has two choices – marriage and celibacy. If you ask a preacher about singleness, he’ll probably say something like “that’s okay too.” The only problem is that actions speak louder than words. Is his church flying both the flags of marriage and celibacy while cruising down the lanes of Sunday morning worship? I’m afraid not. Chances are his church has a marquee out front that reads “nursery provided.” The affirmation of singleness is only as good as the time and energy a church puts into it. That means it not only has to be talked about, it has to be demonstrated. In other words, how does the three words “that’s okay too” balance out with the thousands of hours of marriage and family seminars, premarital counseling sessions, baby dedications, weddings, marriage sermons, one flesh sermons, be fruitful and multiply sermons, youth retreats, family worship centers, missionary children, etc?  It doesn’t balance.  The truth of the matter is that the emphasis churches place on family values is in direct opposition to the emphasis the Bible places on it. Instead of the church hanging two flags out their car windows, they have one great big sign that reads “Family Comes First!” Since the same sex marriage controversy, family wagons have circled tighter around churches and the family banner has been hoisted higher and higher. Churches may be willing to occasionally talk about singles faithfully waiting on their spouses, but you won’t hear anything about a committment to celibacy that is on par with marriage. You might be saying, “but just because a church doesn’t talk about celibacy doesn’t mean they disregard its importance.” Yes it does.  If you’re talking about a football team, that may be true. But this is a matter of Christian lifestyles where silence can sometimes speak louder than words. Where silence breeds assumptions. This is even more true today because sex has socially been separated from marriage and making babies. What so many churches don’t realize though is that every time they talk about family they are talking about sex. Every time a preacher talks about children, he is talking about sex. Every time the women’s gossip line talks about weddings, they are talking about sex. As hard as he may try, man cannot undo human nature. That is difficult to grasp in an era where children have become a choice and life itself hinges on how convenient babies are. Every time children, husbands, and wives are discussed, a choice has been made, whether they acknowledge it or not. They have chosen to raise another flag in salute of marriage and hide the dignity of celibacy under another joke about gay marriage.

Respecting celibacy requires church leaders to take a look at a picture that’s bigger than the love between husband and wife and mother and child. It requires them to take a closer look at their relationship with Christ, which can be very uncomfortable. They can easily say, “but, there’s no one in our church called to singleness.” The question of course is how do they know that? Have you ever been in a church service that called for a show of celibate hands? Think of all the younger singles who passed through their doors and did not feel called to marriage, but never saw any support for celibacy. Instead, they heard about the Song of Solomon one Sunday and Daniel in the lion’s den the next. Since celibacy was never discussed, they assumed marriage to be the norm. Why shouldn’t they? Human nature will always choose support over neglect if no viable option is apparent. Many young people today are trying to discern marriage and celibacy.  They hear nothing in the sermons, read nothing in the literature, and they don’t know where to look in the Bible. They see no exit sign on the freeway of life.  If your neighbor had his radio up loud while you were doing yard work and you kept hearing “roll tide roll!” – you would probably assume he was an Alabama football fan. It’s even worse in churches, which have become more or less social support groups. What is preached and discussed is what is affirmed. What is not discussed is what is wrong. If the church operated under the same rules as the business world, preachers would have been found guilty of malpractice years ago, not to mention sex discrimination. They would be gripping their families tightly through the cold steel bars of a prison cell. The Bible actually has very little to say about families beyond husbands loving their wives, wives submitting to husbands, and children obeying their parents. Just a very few verses. That ought to tell us just how unimportant family is in the long run. It has nothing to do with eternity. On the other hand, the Bible does have much to say about virginity and how those called to celibate life are concerned with the Lord’s affairs. It also has much to say about our spiritual family and being fishers of men. It has nothing to say about a nuclear family.

It’s my opinion that the number one reason biblical marriage has failed and same sex marriage has been accepted is because the church reinforced the world view that marriage is needed to be a responsible adult, that sexual desire cannot be controlled, that marriage is nothing more than legalized sex, and celibacy nothing more than lack of sex. Instead of a one flesh union between husband and wife, marriage became a trip to the courthouse to pick up a marriage license. Celibates? “Well, those are the poor miserable people who haven’t found an outlet for their sexual desire yet.  They’re too greedy, too picky, too hung up on themselves.” “Adolescents who will never grow up.” Sexual ethics have become no more than the identification of the haves and have nots, those who have sanctified their sexual desires from those living in sin, and those who have found their sexual partners from those “condemned to live in loneliness.” That’s what happens when only one lifestyle flag flies from the steeples of churches. It allows one lifestyle to take over the house of God, which ultimately leads to the whole house being destroyed.  You can see and hear it in everything they do. The absence of visible celibates within churches and communities makes one clear statement, that marriage and sexual pleasure are idols of worship and that singles are less than whole people. We cannot recognize the goodness of God’s creation in the Old Testament unless we can recognize the goodness of Christ’s sacrifice in the New Testament and those willing to sacrifice their whole lives for him today. We will not be able to balance both marriage and celibacy if we can’t transform “Be fruitful and multiply babies” in the Old Testament to “Be fruitful and multiply God’s children” in the New Testament. As a matter of fact, only celibate people can truly represent complete love for Christ and total dependence on him. Only their witness can herald an eternity where there will be no marriages and no babies. A church without visible eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven leaves its doors wide open for sexual idolatry and every abdomination known to man. There are many people who think the opposite of a one man/one woman marriage commitment is singles who are waiting on marriage or same sex marriage. That is absolutely false.  The opposite of marriage is a commitment to celibacy.  If you can accept that there is an opposite to marriage and the committment between a husband and wife, then you have to accept that it involves a sacrifice. If a man is not committed to a wife, what is he sacrificing for? It has to be Christ. If it’s Christ, then he’s committed to celibacy. That is logically the only answer and the only answer found in the Bible. What happens to a society that chooses to only fly the flag of family values and neglect Christ? Read the news headlines from the last six months.

Letting Go Of Double Standards In The World Of Chastity

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The Planet of Armless Women by Yanidel. Paris, 2011.

I was recently listening to an interview and this question was posed to 29 year old chastity guru Arleen Spenceley:  “Do you desire to only marry a virgin man?”  I was sort of taken aback because I had never heard that question asked or answered before. What an opportunity to give some encouragement to the faithful virtuous guys who have been waiting their whole lives for that one special girl. For young men out there to hear that their virginity is valued and not ridiculed and that their patience and integrity still means something. In an age of cohabitation and sexual perversion, an opportunity for young men to be reminded that there are exceptions. And to make it even more significant, the girl who was about to answer the question was a self-professed virgin, a supporter of all things chastity. I mean, if she didn’t place any value on virgin men, who would? It was a simple yes/no question, do you desire to marry a virgin man or not? Unfortunately, she said no.

“I don’t know yet for sure that I’ll ever get married, as I’m still discerning my vocation. But I do date, and I don’t require the men I date to be virgins just because I am. I’ve dated men who are virgins and I’ve dated men who aren’t. That’s part of the beauty of chastity. A person can start practicing it now, regardless of whether he or she always has.”

Yes, that’s the beauty of feminism.  Nobody has a past.  If a woman wants it, by George she can have it, if it’s ripe for the picking.  If he’s got the money and the right color sports car, why should a pesky little thing like a sexual history get in the way?   By dodging the question, her answer in effect became louder than an actual no. It’s interesting how she turned the word “desire” in the question to “require” in the answer. I guess it would have been too dirty or unseemly for a woman to acknowledge desire of a sexual nature. Women don’t have sexual desire, do they?  It is strongly implied by the answer. And that’s all that counts. By saying it didn’t matter and not letting her yes be yes on a question of this magnitude, she denigrated all men who are waiting on marriage and put them at the back of the line with all the playboys. The question was not “do you value the lives of single men who have had sex as much as you value the lives of single men who have not had sex.” But that’s how she twisted it to avoid the question. “A person can start living a life of chastity now.” The question was not about chastity, but about virginity. I mean, there was so much dodging in this interview that you would think you were watching dodgeball. I do understand that in the Catholic Church these two words have apparently been blurred enough to mean the same things (to leave the door open for homosexual chastity?) So inclusive and so politically correct. But such a grave mistake. Ladies, if you can’t respect men enough to publically acknowledge their virginity while you place yours high up in your castles of purity and altars of marital idolatry, you can’t expect them to be your knights in shining armor. I would suggest you remain quiet on anything to do with Christian sexual ethics. All you’re doing is reinforcing the age-old stereotype that men can’t control themselves and the double standards that have existed between men and women for millennia. A good answer might have been: Yes, a Christian virgin guy is what I desire. But that’s not what I’m guaranteed.” Take a look at what Apostle Paul said in 1 Corinthians 9:24-27:

“24 Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. 25 Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. 26 Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air. 27 No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.”

What prize are you running for ladies? Are you willing to settle for second best? As long as there are virtuous single men in the world, that’s what you’re doing when you give the playboys a nod and a wink.  That’s what you’re doing when you tow the party line of feminism.  You’re witness then becomes one of compromise and defeat. Apostle Paul didn’t want to do anything sinful with his body because he didn’t want to be seen as a hypocrite. As he said, he didn’t want to be “disqualified for the prize.” Today that would be considered divisive hate speech. A person can’t be disqualified from anything today. Everybody has a right to everything, especially radical feminists.  Should we edit Paul’s disqualified to requalified?  It’s more inclusive, more loving, more forgiving . . . but oh so much more unbiblical. I think we underestimate the impact of everything we say and do on other people. And I think there are two things we’ve lost sight of: 1) Sex is not something dirty. It’s okay to have sexual desire. Got created it within us. I have sexual desire. But I have chosen not to express it and not to marry.  Are there any women left who are willing to say they desire to marry a man with no sexual history? What I find interesting is that women have been complaining for years about being objectified and valued only for their bodies. But when they have the opportunity to express what they want in a man, they become deaf. When given the chance to hold men accountable to the same standards they have been subjected to for years, they go quite. When given a chance to raise the bar of expectations in men, they slink back to the old “boys will be boys” mantra. Are there any women who know what they want and are not running aimlessly? Are there any who can show virtuous men a little respect or even recognize their existence in the world? 2) Living virtuous lives is not going to win us any popularity contests. It will make us enemies. Christianity is both inclusive and exclusive. It’s inclusive in that God gave his only begotten son to the whole world. Everybody has a chance to believe in him and have everlasting life. But for those who have already accepted Christ, our relationship to him is exclusive in that we put no other Gods before us. If you are not an enemy of the world, you are not a friend of Christ. If we are going to bring sexual ethics up to a higher level, we’ve got to leave the double standards behind. Your parents might have handed them down to you. But it’s your responsibility to let them go.

http://btscelebs.com/2014/10/27/interview-author-arleen-spenceley-we-are-created-to-love-part-1/

http://arleenspenceley.com/

What Is A Virtuous Single Man?

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Socrates first posed the question, “What is a virtuous man, and what is a virtuous society?” As a matter of fact, the word virtue comes from the Latin word man. First and foremost, a virtuous single man has to know Christ and has to be striving everyday to be more and more like him. He doesn’t compromise his standards to fit any particular political or corporate agenda. The man who has standards of virtue in private life carries those same standards to every aspect of his life. Hence, I think it’s fair to sair that a man’s work can never be greater than his virtue. He picks up the Bible for his reading pleasure instead of Car and Driver Magazine. He is a man who is conscious of everything he does and is aware of the impact he has on other people. That means he is sensitive to things that a lot of guys are not. He would rather cry than pretend everything is okay. Even though his personal virtue will stand at odds with the surrounding culture, he stands his ground and is willing to be persecuted for his beliefs. He respects God’s creation and is kind to all living things. He protects life. He treats others like he wants to be treated. He’s a good steward of everything in his care and takes what he needs and gives away what he can.

He has compassion for those who are weak and hurting and risks his life to help them. He is humble enough to not see himself as better than anybody else. That means he has compassion for all people who have been treated badly, including women and children who have been abused. He’s familiar with local shelters and safe houses and knows how to go about ensuring someone’s safety. He is generous with his time.

He is a responsible man. He owns up to his mistakes, pays for what he buys, does what he says he will do, and takes care of those who are weaker. He is concerned about the future of young people and tries to be an example for them. He’s not afraid of playing the role of a dad when called to.

He is self-disciplined. He is aware that everything his eyes and ears take in has an impact on him, and he knows about the traps of easy sex, pornography, dishonesty, etc. He is self-controlled. He does not have sex outside marriage. For the single man, that means he saves it for marriage or is an eunuch for the kingdom of heaven. For the married man, that means he is faithful to his wife. Even though the world glorifies anger and short fuses, he is slow to anger and would rather think things over than make a decision he will regret. The virtuous man has standards that are the same whether he’s alone or with a group of people, at home or on a business trip, in a church or in a crowded mall. Consistency is his middle name. He is the same today as he will be tomorrow. He doesn’t flap in the wind. If you want a good gauge of his virtue and integrity, observe what he does with his free time. Does he do anything that he wouldn’t do in public? Is his idea of pleasure all about himself or does he try to bring a smile to everyone he meets?

One thing that separates a virtuous man from others is that he holds the same standards for both men and women. He treats everybody with dignity. His vocabulary is different than the world’s is. He does not objectify women. The virtue of a single man does not depend on whether or not he is pursuing women. The older he gets, the more he is aware that this world is slipping away. He does all he can to rid the world of ageism, sexism, and classism. That is the biggest hindrance to him making friends.

It’s common today to associate the success of a man with his ethical values. The prosperity gospel has reached into every nook and cranny in society. The world looks at a prestigious job, social status, five-column mansion, six-figure salary, golf course membership, and comes to the conclusion, “He must be living right!” The simple life of a virtuous man stands in stark contrast to that. He doesn’t compare himself to anybody else and is content to have Christ. He doesn’t care about instant upgrades.

Of course, the image of a virtuous man depends a lot on how a man is defined. In the world today, a man is defined mostly by his sexual exploits, appearance, job, and money. If he’s not married, he’s expected to be “in pursuit” of women. He’s got to be climbing the corporate ladder. He’s got to have the confidence and enough notches under his belt that he can get any woman he lays eyes on. That’s where the virtuous man who is content to remain celibate falls under the radar because he is trying to cultivate spiritual friendships while the world is trying to cultivate sexual perversion. It’s unfortunate that so many Christian singles bought into Harry’s lie that men and women can’t be friends because the sex part always gets in the way. But that’s been the operating principle of every church-based singles group I’ve ever been a part of. Their idea of “fellowship” is to land their next date. “Just friends? You must be joking.” The world’s idea of a man is but a mere shadow of what a real man is.

Virtuous single men, I encourage you to stay strong. Resist the temptation to blend in with the world. Step out and be different. Hold the word of God out in front of you as your guiding light and understand the importance of self control in everything you do, whether its in your dating relationships or how you handle your money. Every little thing that we do says something about us. And you would be surprised at what people remember. So what is a virtuous single man? He’s out of this world.

A Note For Chastity Writers And Speakers

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Much is being written about Christian singles and chastity these days. A lot of it is from concerned parents, religious leaders, and singles themselves. The popular chant has become: There are too many single people and the sky is falling. Since I’m a single person who is waiting myself, that’s the standpoint from which I approach the topic, a single guy. But one who has not had sex. I’m sure that narrows down my audience a bit. BTW, my personal boundary has always been anything below the neck is off limits. When I write an article supporting chastity, I try to imagine myself reading it to a crowd of singles who have gathered to hear someone talk about sex. Then I watch their reactions as I read it and answer their questions. In my mind, I’m just trying to determine how my blog post will be received. There is one really big problem that I’ve never found a solution for: How do you talk or write about chastity and encourage those who are waiting on marriage without discouraging those who did not wait or have made mistakes or have even been abused? I have come to the conclusion that it’s very, very difficult, if not impossible. The main problem is that there will always be people who have had sex and some who have not. That’s the way God made us, not with 50 shades of gray. This is probably the biggest dividing line for an audience. It’s like mixing explosive chemicals. Sparks start to fly as soon as the first person yells “Hey! I feel like a dirty piece of chewing gum!” And the heckling escalates. The same thing happens with blogs on the internet. Any intent of supporting those who are waiting deteriorates into a debate about obedience versus grace. Since we virgins are generally more sensitive people, we concede first. And I’m talking about guys and girls. If you want to be politically correct, you then try to make everybody comfortable. “Oh, I’m really not a virgin. I’m just trying to practice chastity and do the right thing sexually. Here, let me get you a chastity button.” Then the whole discussion turns into an apology for chastity or its entire definition gets twisted. This problem is multiplied when T-shirts, book deals, and money get thrown into the mix. Would you like a cup of virginity or a Diet Coke?

Of course, another problem is that there will be Christians and non-Christians in the audience. It’s only natural for a non-believer who did not wait to lash out at those who are waiting. They can’t be expected to have an accurate concept of what virginity is. It’s only natural for them to feel guilt and shame and try to pass that off to everybody else. Another problem is that we can’t know everybody’s backgrounds. That includes their family histories and how or if their parents discussed sexual standards with them when they were younger. Did they ever even have “the talk?” Did they get sent out into the dating world without even knowing what sex is and what their boundaries should be? There is a huge difference in need between the person who needs counseling for rape or past mistakes and someone who needs encouragement to continue to wait. A big, big, difference. Those two support needs cannot be met in the same room and in the same setting.

Since it’s not possible to know all of these things in advance, how does a person maximize the effectiveness of their blog/talk and minimize the chances that it will deteriorate into a shouting match? I suggest making it clear upfront what the topic will be and that it will be approached from a Christian standpoint, regardless of whether the setting is Protestant or Catholic in nature. Make sure SEX is in huge bold letters. Make sure they know it’s going to be about more than relationships. And make sure that the definition of marriage as being between a man and woman is out front. That’s why the title of my blog is “Christian Celibacy in the 21st Century” and my about page describes me as a lifetime celibate (i.e., virgin), with a subtitle of “straight renunciation.” I may be wrong, but I think guys may be more open to talking about celibacy instead of virginity. That’s because virginity, thanks to all the writers and speakers before us, has been tied so closely to the female gender. A classic case is blogger Samantha Pugsley who concluded: “I’m now thoroughly convinced that the entire concept of virginity is used to control female sexuality.” More unfortunate is the fact that so many chastity writers took her seriously and moderated their messages accordingly. Many even have personal stories that start out with being abused by a man. And their writing never rises above the level of man bashing. Most of them are women, after all. Even being as intentional as I try to be, there are still many who look at my life and scoff, “Lifetime celibate, yeah right. It will last until you meet the right woman.” I receive many comments and emails that I do not make public. So even if it causes stones to be tossed initially, I still recommend that you state your intentions up front before any blog or talk dealing with chastity – or any sexual ethics issue for that matter. Whatever we do to make chastity more comfortable and palpable to the masses will put us one step further away from Christ. If you don’t have enemies, I recommend examining your life to see what you’re doing wrong.

Boy Meets Girl

22-Gardner-by-Andrew-web2

When I think of first becoming aware of girls, my mind goes back to about the sixth grade at Chelsea High School. So in this post, I’ll be talking strictly about heterosexual attraction. Her name was Lisa and she sat behind me. I tried to toss little wads of paper down the front of her dress. Yes, it was all innocent fascination. I didn’t even know what sex was at that point. It was 1973 and the topic of sex wasn’t what it is today. Needless to say, I spent most of the class talking to her. As I got older and entered high school, it seemed that every guy was supposed to have a girlfriend. Boys would talk about who they thought the prettiest girls were. Because every boy was supposed to go for a certain “type.” Football players got first bids. Girls talked about who they were “going” with. I never quite figured all of that out. But I did find certain girls more attractive than others and went out of my way to be in their proximity. What really bothered me though was that it seemed the prettiest girls were going with the baddest boys and doing the baddest things. Sometimes I feel I should have spent more time with the girls who didn’t turn my head.

In college, everything that I suspected in high school turned out to be true. Frat hangouts every weekend, beer keg parties in the library, and girls wearing more skin than clothes. So, these are the new rules? Now I’m glad I commuted. I didn’t have time to think about all that extra fun. What I found sort of odd was that some girls who I didn’t find particularly attractive were attracted to me. Because in my mind I thought the only ones who would talk to me were the ones I thought were cute. I just thought girls could read all of that stuff. For instance, there was a girl named Cynthia in my sophomore statistics class. She was very and even sat next to me. But she seemed very plain. No glitz and glamor. I’m not sure if my eyes were conditioned to see beauty in an artificial way or if it was the college atmosphere where girls were expected to sparkle for all the guys. But looking back, many times I think to myself “Duh, John, what were you thinking? That girl was meant for you.”

I don’t know if this is true for all guys, but my perception of beauty changed as I got older. My elementary school fascination turned to sexual desire. But I thought it was just me. So embarrassing. Over the years, my desire turned to longing. And my longing turned to despair. In a way, the coin was flipped. The girls who dressed up to get boys attention and who I thought were attractive in my younger days no longer looked so attractive. They started to look artificial. The more makeup they put on and skin they showed, the more I felt it was all an act. However, the plain Janes looked prettier and prettier. Just a smile and willingness to talk to me became very, very beautiful. “I’ll look at your hair tomorrow. Just talk to me right now.” I grew up in an age without computers or internet. No texting and no googling. If I wanted to talk to a girl, I got her number and called. Ah, the good old days. So simple. That was back when boys and girls actually talked to each other, when you could hear the other person’s voice, when you could see their smile, when you could read body language.

Today I find beauty in all girls of all ages. Yes, I still appreciate physical beauty. But I feel it’s been way overrated. My preference went from petite brunettes to finding every girl attractive. And now that I’m an older guy, that is very . . . awkward. The girls who were old enough to be my mother yesterday are now too young to say hello to, because it might be “inappropriate.” Girls that I find attractive today have mothers I dated in college. There should be a new English word invented to describe that. Yes, I’m content with the celibate lifestyle. But now that I can look back on my life and how God has “changed” my vision, I can say without question that human desire for social interaction for outweighs sexual desire. I know that’s true for me. And from talking to other older singles, I think it’s true for all of us. Think twice before you deny a phone number or turn and walk away from someone. Because, chances are, they will still be around when you get old. They will remember how you reacted to them. How you were not there when they needed a friend. Will you still have dignity? Guys, I know she looks hot right now and you may want a piece of her. But remember that more than likely she will be somebody’s wife one day, and you may not be her husband. Her husband may be your boss. Would you want someone trying to get a piece of your wife today? I think it’s a paradox that our sexual desire seems to be greatest when we’re young, but at the same time our sexuality forces us to think long term.

The bottom line is that everything we do and don’t do is more important than we think. The competition of yesterday and superficial nature of sexual attraction eventually gives way to universal attraction, human kindness, to just a walk in the park. By universal attraction, I mean that if you live long enough and remain chaste, you will be drawn to nearly every member of the opposite sex. But if you remain focused on God, he will help put things in perspective for you and sex will become far less important than you thought it was. Young men, the short skirts of today will eventually become not so attractive and a smile will turn your head a lot faster than a pair of curvy legs. So concentrate more on whom she really is. What are her passions? Do you want to wake up to a pair of legs or someone to help get your kids to school? Young ladies, the chiseled muscles of today will eventually become not so attractive and the guy available to change your tire will turn your head a lot faster than ripped abs. His sports car will look very lame. I’ll throw this in as well: Remember that guys talk and gossip just as much as women. Over the age of 20-30, good guys tend to hang out with other good guys at work and in church. They talk about girls. They talk about the good girls. And they talk about the easy girls. Older guys talk about the younger girls with attitude problems. They talk about parents. You really don’t need to add or take away anything from yourself to get the right guy’s attention. I would even say that the more you change, the more likely it is that you get the attention of the wrong kind of guys. See be yourself. If you think it takes a certain weight and dress size, what does that say about the authenticity of his attraction? Do you think guys should be ranking girls according to their waist and chest size? Do you think girls should be ranking guys according to their muscle mass? Let me give you a hint: What difference will it make when you’re 70 years old and praying that your bones don’t ache so bad that you can’t up the next morning?

So the choice is yours. You can either see your life as one of God’s beautiful creations along with all the natural sexuality he built into you or you can see yourself as a half dressed manikin that has to step on scales first to be weighed and then be decked out in the latest fashion hoopla. I choose to be myself. When a boy meets a girl, it doesn’t have to be complicated.

The young lady in the photo is my mom on her 78th birthday.