What The Gift Of Celibacy Is Not

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These points are from a Biblical perspective and not from the perspective of opinion polls, majority votes, church tradition, or doctrinal statements, etc.

First of all, celibacy is not a choice you make. It’s a supernatural ability (spiritual gift/charism) given by God to only a number of people. We can pray that we recognize and nurture it. But the choice we have is whether to accept it or not. Think of an athlete who was born with the body and balance for the high beam. She has the God given ability to win a medal at the Olympic games. But it’s up to her to start training and go for the gold.

Celibacy is not something that is instructed in the Bible. There is no formula and no special prayers. It is, however, affirmed as being a higher calling than marriage, in that heaven is higher than earth. It doesn’t matter whether or not your church respects it. It’s a Biblical fact.

The gift of celibacy is not the absence of sexual desires. It is the ability to control them. People who have it are able to remain unmarried without sex and not burn. However, they are not cold prudes with no appreciation for the mystery of sex.

The gift of celibacy (or singleness) is not what a person has while waiting for marriage. It’s not what a couple does before they get married. While God calls everybody to remain a virgin and celibate before marriage, the gift of celibacy is a long-term commitment, just like marriage.

Someone with the gift of celibacy is not going to fit any “life stage” group or similar gender/age/marital status-based group that a church may conjure up.

The gift of celibacy is not tied Biblically to the Catholic Church. It’s merely part of their church tradition. Considering the Protestant Reformation, this is probably the hardest truth Protestant churches will have to accept.

The gift of celibacy has nothing to do with monks, nuns, or any other religious persons. And it has nothing to do with living in communities such as monasteries and convents.

The gift of celibacy has nothing to do with homosexuality or same sex marriage. Many churches are simply replaying what they hear in the media because they don’t understand what the Bible says on the subject.

The gift of celibacy is not compatible with someone who has had sex. If we are to believe that a faithful marriage involves a husband and wife who have not had sex with anybody else during their marriage, we are compelled to believe the same about faithful celibacy. The Bible deals with ideals when it comes to sexual ethics. It does not deal with “should have beens.” Otherwise it would not contain the terms adultery and fornication. That does not mean a person can’t be forgiven and commit again to live without sex until marriage.

Celibacy is not a social status that affords people special privileges. It is not something given to only third world missionaries in order to do “ministry service.”

Celibacy is not perfection. If you believe that, you have fallen for a straw man.

Celibacy has nothing to do with having more time to do God’s work. Because there are so many things to do, it often results in less time.

A life of celibacy is not a life of failure. It is a life of faith and sacrifice that married life cannot attain.

Celibacy is not emptiness. It is a life that has been filled by something much more than sex.

The gift of celibacy is not a label you put on someone after their death and after a vote has been taken to determine their worthiness. If we’re going to do it that way, we should do the same for marriage – take a vote after both the husband and wife are dead to determine if they were faithful to each other and if they were really married.

Celibacy is not the denial of our maleness or femaleness and it is not the denial of our sexuality.

Celibacy is not a byproduct of some negative life experience, such as a troubled home life or a bad relationship with a mother or father.

Celibacy is not a life without commitment. It is a life with more commitment. Who is more worthy of sacrifice, a spouse or God himself? It reminds the world that there is more to commitment than the bells and whistles of a wedding ceremony.

Celibacy is not a default state a person enters when a single adult can’t find a spouse. It is an intentional choice and a positive response to God. It is made public for that very reason. It symbolizes our total dependence on God and eternal life in heaven for all believers.

Celibacy is not living selfishly for ones’ self. It’s just the opposite. It is living for everybody else. Marriage is about exclusion. Celibacy is about inclusion.

Celibacy does not lead to a life without children. That may be so from a biological standpoint. But from a spiritual standpoint, we have more children than anybody else.

Virginity – Beyond The Sexual

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I know my blog is about something very personal. Most of us wouldn’t discuss virginity in a Walmart checkout line or even in church. In this post, I want to talk about why it is not always about the sexual. Have you ever wondered why it was necessary for Mary, the mother of Christ, to be a virgin? Did Joseph choose her for his wife because she was the hottest girl in the village? No, God himself chose Mary. Was she a perfect woman? No. You can read the whole story in Luke 1. Pay particular attention to Mary’s response in verse 34 when the angel Gabriel told her she was going to have a miraculous birth: “Then said Mary unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man?” In other words, she asked how she could possibly have a child when she hadn’t had sex with a man. “How shall this be” tells us she had no doubt the birth would occur, only how it would happen. Her faith was much higher than the average woman at the time, or at any time. I think that was one of the main reasons she was highly favored. Gabriel summed it up in v. 37, “For with God nothing shall be impossible.” Sometimes it’s necessary to bypass the questions of how in order to reach a level of faith like Mary’s.

A seemingly ordinary young woman pulled off the impossible. She broke a cycle that had never been broken, as no one in the history of mankind had ever been born without a biological mother and biological father. So the origin of virginity, as spoken by Gabriel, had nothing to do with locker room graffiti or sexual gratification. It was necessary for the birth of Christ to prove to a skeptical world that he was the son of God as well as the Son of Man. Also notice that her response to Gabriel was not like Zacharias. She didn’t show any skepticism. She didn’t say, “Yeah, right Gabe, you go ahead and make that happen and I’ll still be here laughing tomorrow.” She didn’t ask for a sign – “If you could just make it rain for the next week, I might listen to you.” And did Mary get a big ego out of all this? Did she put on a new dress and crown herself as one who was “highly favored among women?” It was just the opposite. Her response could only come from the mother of Christ: “Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word.” She saw herself as a lowly servant and in no way sought to bring attention to herself. Couldn’t that serve as the definition of humbleness? As Herbert Lockyer said: “ Mary exhibited a true and genuine piety, as well as a profound humility—the accompaniment of holiness.” She was highly favored among women because she was following God’s will for her life, had a very unique beauty of character; and had the faith, disposition, and determination to carry out the mission of bringing Christ into the world. Even though she knew what pain and sorrow lay ahead of her, she calmly accepted her assignment, “Be it unto me according to thy word.” In order for Christ to come into the world as both a human and God, it was necessary for his conception to be miraculous and not involve the sperm of a mortal man. To do this, she had to be a virgin. And it had to remain an eternal mystery. Men have never been able to explain how a virgin could give birth and they still can’t explain it today. It takes faith to believe in the virgin birth of Christ. To discredit it is to reject Jesus himself. It is as crucial as the resurrection in substantiating His deity. It is not an optional truth.

Does any of this associate virginity with sexual pleasure? No. It marks Mary as a faithful follower of Christ. And it associates Christ with his miraculous birth, one of such gravity that it changed the course of time. It takes time for a person to draw closer to Christ. And I think the longer a Christian lives without marriage and a sexual relationship, the more their virginity becomes about what is not sexual and remaining faithful to God. It becomes more about relating to those who Christ called “the least of these.” And virgins are among those people today. Since about my 30s, I’ve looked at virginity as one of the strongest equalizing forces in the universe – far surpassing gender, race, class, age, etc.  When talking to others who are waiting on marriage or have the gift of virginity, I don’t have to worry about what their expectations of me might be or how I compare with other men.  I don’t have to worry about comments like, “You better get a move on or time will pass you by.” I feel freer to be myself. You can’t put a price on that. When I talk to people, I don’t check ages and birth certificates first, like the world does. If I feel like talking to women much older or much younger than myself, I just let the world point and gossip. I don’t feel bad about giving them something to talk about. Not only is it an equalizing force, virginity can be so thoroughly melded into the fabric of our everyday lives that it becomes just another part of who we are. It is, after all, very natural. At some point, the question about who was out there that God wanted me to marry turned into: What else needs to be done? Who has been forgotten? Who can I help the most? What can I guard that is susceptible to being stolen? Feeling the need to guard something may in fact tie us to the role eunuchs played in Old Testament days when they guarded royal harems and jewels. For me, this does include guarding young people from the tragedy of teenage births and poverty; something that parents are responsible for, but many of them are not.

So, do you still think virginity is all about not having sex? Do you think it’s just something men look for in a wife? I hope not, because I can’t think of too many things more important in the history of mankind than following God’s will, being faithful, and having the self control to make wise decisions. How many women and men are highly favored by God today?

https://books.google.com/books?id=0YrW3bxxGAsC&pg=PA94&lpg=PA94&dq=%22mary+exhibited+a+true+and+genuine+piety%22&source=bl&ots=QEQLXFEJzG&sig=M-FXaMMN-izaVP_7WrLh24R3P0I&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjylqXuzv7NAhWIHR4KHUmJBd4Q6AEIJDAB#v=onepage&q=%22mary%20exhibited%20a%20true%20and%20genuine%20piety%22&f=false

Dear 32 Year Old Virgin . . .

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There’s a recent article on Boundless titled “An Older Virgin in a Sex-Crazed World.” In it, a young lady complains about an “interrogation” she endured while undergoing x-rays to treat a ruptured lung. The technician asked her if she was on birth control, how she knows she’s not pregnant, and if there was any chance she could be pregnant now. She goes on to tell about her friend grilling her about her virginity in high school, how the world has placed pleasure before commitment, how fornication is everywhere, and how sex crazed society is today. What’s interesting is that the young lady who wrote it describes herself as a 32-year-old “older virgin.” Oh please. Do people not get out and meet each other anymore? Or are we wrapping ourselves up in our own little virtual cocoons? The 20-30 year-old young ladies who assume they are old enough to have the last word on virginity never cease to amaze me, and there are hundreds more on the internet. To quote Leslie Ann: “I’m no longer a naïve 19-year-old eager to spring into a relationship just to be romanced. I know the realities of married life by years of study and observance.” Well, gosh darn it, let’s go ahead and give her a Ph.D.  Or maybe she could write a book.  Let me just say this to Miss Leslie Ann and the hundreds of other young ladies who write on this subject – You are to be commended for making it to your 20s and 30s and still be a virgin. That does indeed put you in rare company. But there are much older virgins than you. As difficult as it is to believe, there are some old enough to be your fathers and grandmothers. I always find it quite interesting that they’re never discussed on your blogs. Honestly, I think arrogance is the fastest way for a beautiful young lady to become . . . not so beautiful. So in the big scheme of things, you are still quite a child and your opinions are not as important as you think they are. Some people may think I’m being cruel. But here’s why I think putting age in perspective is important: By making such assumptions about chastity and age and considering it only from the female perspective, we are reinforcing the age old stereotypes and double standards that cause such awkward questions as those Leslie Ann heard from her x-ray technician. When age is mentioned in the Bible, it is usually to break a stereotype – like the old ages of Elizabeth and Sarah when they gave birth. Imagine the people who scoffed when they heard about their pregnancies.  What was the purpose of them being old at childbirth?  Was it to teach them or their husbands a lesson?  Or was it to teach us a lesson today?  I tend to think it is the latter.  If 32 years of age is considered an older virgin, I guess I should see 54 years as one foot short of the grave. I could write an article and title it, “54 Year Old Virgin Calls For Priest During Last Hours.” While you may never meet me on the streets, you are able to read my story through the miracle of the internet. I do hope it inspires you. So even though the internet has brought with it a lot of bad things, I think our blogs and different ways of communicating can be very good things. Since I live in a very rural area, the internet has allowed me to get to know many people I would not have otherwise known. Plus, it allows me to stay in touch with my mentor, a virgin much older than myself. Yes, Leslie, they are out there. If we are only aware of the immediate world around us, like the people we go to school with and people we work with, then we will age much faster as virgins. At 30 we will look at ourselves in the mirror and see an old person who is odd and out of place. Sexual abstinence before marriage will indeed look very unrealistic.  But if we expand our realities with every means of communication at our disposal and humble ourselves enough to know there are older and wiser people out there, we will age much slower. Then at 30 we can look at ourselves in the mirror and see our younger selves with the confidence that comes from following God’s will and courage from knowing that others have come before us. I believe virginity is very much a relational issue on a social scale.  It’s not enough to tell someone, “We waited until we were married to have sex.  You can too.”  That rings hollow.  It takes real authentic people to pass this virtue to the next generation.  So when you put everything in perspective Leslie Ann, I hope being a virgin at 32 doesn’t feel so old after all. Let’s not bow down to the expectations of this world, but allow God to intervene in our lives beyond our wildest dreams.  He is still the same God who rescued Moses from the pharaoh and the same God who performs miracles today.

http://www.boundless.org/blog/an-older-virgin-in-a-sex-crazed-world/

Chastity Education

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Sex education in high schools has been an ongoing discussion in this country for a long time. It’s actually disheartening to think that parents would relinquish that responsibility to schools. But many of them do, I would estimate over 80%. Even Christian parents. I think the main reason for this is because so many parents have sexual baggage that prevents them from talking about it. They’d rather remain silent than face the ghosts of their past. The freedom and empowerment they experienced as teenagers is now an embarrassment they wish they could forget. But they can’t. They can’t start over again. It still comes back to haunt them. Now the single mom understands why her dad wanted her back home by 10:00. Now the single dad understands why his dad wouldn’t let him stay over at his girlfriend’s house. They know they can’t be role models for their children. Because the hard truth is that chastity can’t be taught. No amount of books can come close. It has to be modeled with the lives and legacies of adults in an exemplary environment of open communication and honesty. Chastity is a moral truth that has to be practiced, not learned. To teach a subject only requires knowledge of it – like history. It only involves the written word, symbols, and reasoning. To educate about a subject, though, requires a person to be something more than a teacher. It requires a mentor that can guide a person with personal experience beyond what books can teach. It takes someone willing to open up and provide examples of the right way to do things, not examples of the way things should be. Ideally, this role model would be the parent. Oftentimes it’s not. The parent may be able to teach on a lot o subjects.  But there’s a big difference between teaching and educating. It’s a fairly easy endeavor to draw diagrams of the human reproductive system and demonstrate how to put on condoms. Any sex education program can do that. It’s quite another thing for a teenager to make these decisions in the backseat of a car when hormones are raging.  What we know as sex education is really sex teaching programs.  They educate on nothing. The true influence of an educator does not consist of what he says, does, or teaches – but rather of what he is. They give themselves as living models, as real examples of how to live. Most of them volunteer their time. But we live in a time when a man’s worth is determined by his job title and credentials.  Not who he is.

We live in a time when young people are strictly segregated according to age and gender. Churches and schools have gotten this down to a fine art. Maybe one day we will come to a point when we realize that the information found in textbooks is not a fraction of the wisdom needed to live fulfilling Christian lives. If young people stay boxed in with people in their own demographic categories, that’s what will happen, very soon. Each generation thereafter will gradually devolve until we’re back at the hunter-gatherer stage, living on wild plants and animals, where men take multiple wives and become his property. To put a stop to all this and get us back on the road to Christian ethics will take people willing to take risks. Make a difference. Get involved in somebody’s life.

Marriage – Asking The Wrong Questions

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Autumn Colors by Autumn de Forest

Who has God picked out for me? When will I meet him? What should I do to prepare for my wedding? Should I save sex for marriage? Should I get married in church? There is a whole industry today built around preparing for marriage – books, magazines, newspaper articles, blogs, TV shows, conferences, etc. The list is endless. It’s taken for granted that everybody who is not married is looking for marriage. Singleness is a disease to be cured. Most church singles groups are set up for this very reason – to get you married as soon as possible. The only problem is that it’s not biblical. Take a look at 1 Corinthians 7:25-26:

25 Now concerning virgins I have no commandment of the Lord: yet I give my judgment, as one that hath obtained mercy of the Lord to be faithful.

26 I suppose therefore that this is good for the present distress, I say, that it is good for a man so to be.

“It is good for a man so to be” in verse 26 is directly referring to “virgins” in verse 25. Yes, believe it or not, virginity was defined in terms of both men and women in the Bible. What a stark contrast to the feminine based definition of virginity that permeates society today. Are you in shock? If you are, that’s not all. If it’s good for a man or a woman to be a virgin, why has marriage and family life been elevated to idolatry status? We first have to understand that marriage has become a means to an end. The golden calf of sex is what society worships today. Marriage is but a legal detail to this end. In a culture of greed and superficiality, marriage is but an artificial symbol of adulthood and responsibility. It becomes the substitution for self-control. The vocabulary of “premarital sex” has been used for quite a while in our culture. Does that mean when a person does get married that all the before sex becomes . . . okay? Does the marriage ceremony magically throw a person back in a time warp? I’m afraid not. “Premarital sex” is just euphemism for fornication. It’s supposed to make us feel better about those heavy biblical words. Biblically, marriage and sex should go together like a sunrise and sunset. Unfortunately, we have traveled light years from that ideal. Sexual purity has been separated from single life and sexual faithfulness has been separated from married life. And that adds up to moral decay. According to the latest numbers from the CDC, the average number of sexual partners in a lifetime for men ages 25-44 is 6.6 and 4.3 for women. When the scriptural definitions of marriage and singleness are obliterated and their distinctions disappear, it is only a matter of time before the world redefines both of them. Marriage you say? Would you like that adulterous, open, heterosexual, homosexual, or polygamous? Singleness you say? Would you like that cohabitating, playing the field, loving commitments, or test-drives before you buy? When viewed in light of the big picture, we can see how sexuality is much more than a private decision between two people. A biblical view of it is actually necessary for human civilization to survive. But it starts with each one of us.

It starts with a simple question. For singles waiting for marriage to have sex, I encourage you to take a step back and look at the big picture. Realize the significance of your lives in the world today. Instead of asking “who has God chosen for me?” ask yourself “is marriage right for me?” When a life of celibacy is considered as an option, the natural order of God’s creation is allowed to unfold. God’s concerns must be balanced with the world’s concerns in order for a Christian culture to survive. That cannot be done if everybody is married. Christianity has nothing to do with the majority opinion. When the default question has become “whom will I marry?” the inhabitants of a society will look inward to themselves and to their own pleasures. Self control will become a foreign concept in a land of unrestrained desire. Marriage will become a civil right, whether traditional or same sex. Everybody will have to have a slice of the pie. A baby’s cry will cause gasps of glorious anticipation. Sound familiar? The truth is that the love between a mother and child does not represent the pinnacle of Christian love. The love between Christ and the church does. Contrary to what Southern Baptists may believe, God HAS NOT ordained the family as the foundational institution of human society. No, there’s nothing wrong with marriage. But the sexual ethics overlying the scriptures require us to look forward into eternity while spiritually multiplying, not just backward into the Old Testament fruitfully multiplying with babies. That can only be done when both marriage and celibacy are seen as viable alternatives. That has not been done in 500 years.

The marriage/celibacy dichotomy is as much a part of God’s creation as night and day. It cannot be separated without disastrous consequences, like the Supreme Court’s legalization of same sex marriage. I realize there are many church leaders (especially Protestants) who echo the words of Martin Luther on celibacy: “But these are rare; not one in a thousand can do it: it is one of God’s special miracles.” The problem is that God never mentioned numbers and who are we to say who can do it and who cannot? Church leaders use this kind of worldly thinking as an excuse for not discussing the options of marriage and celibacy. And they use the “only a few” rationale as a reason to circle their wagons around traditional families, while trying to fight the onslaught of same sex marriage. “Us against them.” I guess putting God in a box does make everybody feel comfortable. But doesn’t every church have the same odds of having celibates in their congregation as well as marrieds? If you don’t expect faithful singles, how will you ever see them in your church? It becomes a tragic self-fulfilling prophecy.  Could somebody pass the Pampers?  When we’re contemplating God’s will for our lives, we need to throw away the calculators, toss out the statistical charts, and forget the majority opinions. They will mean absolutely nothing in heaven.  Look where the faulty logic of Martin Luther got us. Do we want to continue on the road of satisfying every sexual desire or realize that God’s will requires self-control, both in marriage and celibacy.

http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/nsfg/key_statistics/n.htm

http://www.sbc.net/aboutus/basicbeliefs.asp

Marriage And Celibacy – The Tragedy Of Hypocrisy

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What I’m about to say may make preachers uncomfortable. And in a way, I hope it does. I think much of the problem is that you’re too comfortable with your wives, two kids, parsonages, SUV’s, tax exempt statuses, and weekend retreats. As such, you can’t begin to relate to people who fall outside of your comfortable world, like adults who never married and Christ himself. Yes, I said it. I don’t even consider most church going people Christians. I consider them sex and money worshippers. One interesting thing about our sexuality is that God allowed us to choose between only two paths – marriage or celibacy. When preachers utter one sentence or do anything to affirm married life without a counterbalancing affirmation of celibate life, they are bowing down to the God of sex. When they celebrate wedding anniversaries, engagements, mother’s day, father’s day, childbirths, etc., without even acknowledging the existence of celibate adults, they are bowing down to the god of the nuclear family, not the family of God. There is nothing eternal about a nuclear family. There is nothing eternal about sex. Imagine if an alien visited your church and you told him all about how God made the sun and how it lights the earth during the day, but you didn’t tell him about the nighttime and the moon and stars in the heavens. You didn’t tell him about the delicate balance between night and day. That’s what you would call a misrepresentation of God’s creation. Imagine if a lost soul visited your church and you told him about the glories of family values, married life, and you introduced him to your wife and kids and all the deacons’ wives and their families; but you didn’t tell him about the never married in your congregation who subside only on Christ. You didn’t tell him about the delicate balance between marriage and celibacy. That is also a misrepresentation of God’s creation. The only difference is that it really happens every Sunday morning during every sermon, during every baby dedication, during every wedding anniversary, during every engagement announcement, during every family night, and hammered home with every “Family Life Center” plastered on your church buildings. By focusing on the greed of families, you are misrepresenting what Christianity is all about to those who don’t even know Christ. Since you hold out family life as the only option, is it any wonder that some of those lost souls wind up in the lifestyle of homosexuality? What alternative to the nuclear family and white picket fence have you offered them? When’s the last time you affirmed celibacy? You have focused on the family so long that your eyes have become crossed. When’s the last time you even mentioned celibacy in your pulpits? When’s the last time you visited Matthew 19? How do you even know who’s married and who is not married in your church? Would you have to go to your local courthouse and check the marriage license register? Would you have to inspect all ring fingers? What a comical thought. Would you call up your local community gossip line? If you take away the legal aspect, how do you even define what marriage is?

This will probably come as a shock for a lot of you, but the highest form of love on this earth is not between mother and child or husband and wife. It’s between Christ and the church. Since preachers have failed to communicate this and don’t see the world outside the comfort of their bedroom windows, we now live in a society that celebrates homosexuality, same sex marriage, adultery, cohabitation, and every other perversion known to man. Yes, it may be uncomfortable to talk about human sexuality on Sunday mornings, but look where silence has led us. If sex is just as part of God’s good creation as the moon and stars, why shouldn’t we talk about it? If you don’t feel qualified, find someone who can address these issues. You may be afraid of losing church members and their tithes to another church. Do you think God is going to count church membership and tithes and offerings at the gaits of heaven? Are you willing to pay that kind of price for comfort? What are you doing to integrate singles and celibates into your church and keep them from leaving?

Please keep in mind though that the opposite of marriage is not singleness. It’s not waiting on God to send a husband or wife. It’s not youth. It’s not college and career. It’s not waiting on a wedding day. It’s not a holding state. It’s not waiting on a marriage license. Singles are waiting on a spouse. Celibates are waiting on God and they represent the opposite of marriage. There’s a big difference between the two. I think it would help if we were consistent with terminology. I do not identify myself as a single person. The person who has been called to celibacy is not waiting for anything on this earth. That’s probably the most difficult truth for churches to understand. It’s hard to undo something that has been taught for over 500 years. Married people – Think about the commitment to your spouse and your wedding vows, “until death do us part.” Do you take your marriage and faithfulness seriously? I take my celibacy and commitment to chastity just as seriously. The big difference, though, is that death will not separate me from my spouse. I have the same lifestyle today as I will have in heaven. I encourage you take age, gender, and marital status completely out of the picture of your church’s vision. They will not be part of eternity. The higher the hedge you try to put around marriage and family without addressing faithful celibate people in your congregation, the higher you will fall from grace on the day of reckoning.

What Happened To Purity Culture?

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Really, the question should be what happened to the image of purity? What happened to the image of chastity? What happened to the image of virginity? Who took it upon themselves to change the meaning of these words in the first place? The short answer is that a culture of family idolatry derailed purity. Take a look at the intentions of the two men who created the whole idea of abstinence pledges and created the largest purity movement in this country, True Love Waits. The two family men who started it had one agenda – the future marriages of their teenage daughters. In all honesty, the name of the campaign should have been “True Love Waits For Marriage,” because marriage was assumed to be the ultimate goal. So what happens when teenagers wait and wait . . . and are still waiting past youth groups and pizza parties? Disillusionment. Do they wait? Why do you think the age of first marriage is increasing? In the absence of a Christian ethic, why would any man sacrifice his entire life for something he can get in 10 minutes on any street corner? Actually, what happened with all the “pretend” waiting is that the whole marriage/family worship culture came down like a house of cards, falling flat on its face in a cesspool of gay marriage, pornography, and Ashley Madisons. A single man waiting on marriage to have sex? Why, that’s funnier than a 40 year old virgin. But that’s where the family idolatry church culture has led us. While they kissed their babies and bowed down to the golden image of children, their single adult men were out on the streets putting more notches under their belts. After all, it’s not a marriage unless they make it official in a courthouse. Right? I always laugh when I hear church leaders say, “Oh, but marriage is not respected like it used to be.” “Look at all these good Christian women with no decent men to marry.” Churches – You killed marriage by placing it on a pedestal of idol worship. You killed marriage when you failed to show respect to people who chose celibate life. It’s a medical fact that a person can kill themselves by consuming too much of anything, even water. It’s also a fact that the church overdosed on sex and still doesn’t even know why it’s close to death. Even while congregations sit in “family worship centers,” they have no clue they are sitting in their own coffins.

So what’s left of purity culture today? What are people saying about it? Unfortunately, if a person is not Catholic and female, they don’t have a voice on the subject. So we are left with the same old age and gender stereotypes we have dealt with for the past 250 years. Have you heard of a Protestant conference on celibacy lately? As far as I know, there are no other 50+ year-old men “coming out” as virgins. Who wants that kind of disrespect? Honestly, it would have been easier for me if I had came out as a homosexual Mormon married to three men with a child by a previous marriage. Just think – If I were a 20-something Catholic girl, I could be lining up my next book signing tour, scheduling my next speaking engagement, mailing out T-shirts, writing my next advice column, etc.; all the while looking over my shoulder for Romeo. Oh, but I’m content with who I am. I know I make a lot of people uncomfortable. For those of us who have chosen the celibate life, I think challenging the status quo is part of our responsibility. Whose going to take the babies off the pedestals and put equal attention on people who are homeless, in prison, disabled, hungry?

Virginity – The Great Equalizer

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Virginity. I know it’s a word that’s not politically correct these days. Pedophiles get more positive press coverage than virgins. It’s unbelievable that we live in a world where virginity is ridiculed and homosexuality is celebrated, where “purity culture” is put down as condemning and and Ashley Madison is hailed as the next best thing since day after pills. And the ultra-religious right and chastity advocates are getting in on the action. For many of them, true love doesn’t wait any more, and chastity successfully integrates with whatever feels good at the time and what you need to be popular. Yes, we live in a time where a personal history does not exist. Whatever you did last week, just ask God for forgiveness and all is forgotten. After all, why should a pesky little thing like virginity get in the way of your self-discovery and the guy or girl of your dreams? Chastity doesn’t remember your past, right? It does for Christians. How can we learn and grow without a past? There are those today who are trying to remove any remnant of the Confederate Army from America’s history. They are comfortable with repeating all of our mistakes. As uncomfortable as it may be, all of us have histories. Just because a person has not had sex does not mean they are perfect. I am not trying to condemn anybody with my post, because I know that most people do not accept my belief that marriage begins with sex, regardless of the legal and social formalities. I am trying to point out that sex changes a person at all levels of their existence – physically, emotionally, spiritually, and intellectually. And that the state before marriage is just as important as the state after marriage. It doesn’t matter if we accept it or not. It doesn’t matter if we call virgins “holy rollies” or “40 year old fruitcakes.” God calls everybody to wait on marriage before having sex. And there are people who are waiting. That’s a biblical fact. The world hates the idea of sexual innocence and praises experience of all sorts, from bed post notches to orgy score cards. Its idea of sex has devolved into a cage of groping animals. The deeper it sinks into perversion, the more uncomfortable it will be with virginity. We don’t have to answer to straw men. The Bible stands on its own.

It’s always been interesting to me that the subject of Christian sexuality usually goes no further than what rules not to break, how far is too far, and what to do if you get pregnant – a two-part dumbed-down view of human sexuality. But what can we expect from a society that believes a wedding ceremony is the same thing as a marriage? It’s my belief that sex is a divine mystery, the magnitude of which we will not completely comprehend until we get to heaven. For me, over the years, virginity has become less and less about the physical – and more and more about the spiritual. That’s one of the reasons why it’s part of God’s plan for marriage. Virginity is the great equalizer that ensures two people take off on the same level and that leads to the greatest chance of a successful marriage. It neutralizes any male or female stereotypes and allows two people to interact on a spiritual level. It nixes objectification and doesn’t allow any baggage on board. It gives a couple comfort knowing that one doesn’t have any knowledge or experience that the other doesn’t have. It takes age off the table. That’s hard to believe for a world that equates virginity with adolescence. It also allows a level of communication and trust that cannot be reached if one person has already become one with another. In essence, virginity closes out the influences of the world and protects marriage from unseen calamities.

Virginity is also a paradox because inexperience becomes the one thing that results in the greatest chance of a lifetime experience with marriage. It’s also the one thing that orients a person with the celibate gift towards God’s concerns. It’s not a matter of “I think I’ll take a vow of celibacy and try to be about God’s concerns.” Those of us who have accepted it are about those concerns. It’s who we are. Just like a married person is naturally concerned about their spouse. We are naturally concerned about our spouse. Am I knocking you over the head with that? No. Am I saying celibacy is right for everybody? No. Read the Bible. Get your answers from the Bible, not from public opinion polls.

When looked at in light of God’s word, how can virginity just be about the physical? That’s where many of us have fallen to the world’s straw men. We have to articulate the divine mystery of sex. We have to explain the spiritual nature of sex, because we have separated it from marriage. For me, that involves telling the world that I have said no to sex. It involves telling the world that I believe every word of the Bible is true and that there is a life beyond the temporal pleasure of this world. My renunciation of marriage does not mean that I think marriage is a bad thing. It doesn’t mean that I’m any better than anybody else. It means that I have faith that there is something better beyond what this world has to offer. Since I do not have the sexual relationship that everybody else takes for granted, it equalizes me to be able to relate to any human condition, no matter what they have or don’t have.

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.

Boy Meets Girl

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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.

But God, I don’t Want To Be Single Forever!

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I’ve been single long enough to see how other people deal with it and to spot common patterns that seem to effect us all. When I see someone about to make a mistake, I want to shout “do you know what you’re doing!” We all handle singleness differently. So in this post, I’m going to give a rough outline of what choosing celibacy was like for me. First, let me reiterate something I think is key to understanding this: The state of being single is not the same as the state of being a consecrated single. Just like a couple out on their first date are not married. These false definitions persist because they originate from churches that practice marriage/family idolatry. For them, no other commitment or sacrifice exists outside of family life. I really believe the church has no business suggesting what the future holds for any believer. It should be up to that person and God. Churches are so marriage/family centric and operate so much under the influence of age stereotypes, how could they possibly be objective and give biblical advice on an issue like this? Idolatrous families look at an older single and say “so when are you getting married” without having a clue what they’re talking about. And I think this is having a devastating effect on the numbers of people who are called by God to the celibate lifestyle. When they don’t see support by their church, they turn to another lifestyle, one that is now sanctioned by the U.S. Supreme Court.

In actuality, accepting a life of celibacy has nothing to with age. Read over Matthew 19 again. Jesus did not insert age limits when talking about eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven. So if you ever feel you are being singled out for any reason in your church, you can rest assured that it’s because they are under the influence of the world, not scripture. When I first felt the tug to celibate life in my late 20s-30s, I continued to date some. My reaction was like “Okay, God, what are you trying to tell me?” I didn’t jump up in my Baptist church one day and shout, “I’m going to be a monk!” I started searching the Bible for all the passages that had to deal with marriage and singleness. I read a lot of books. More importantly, I had the support of my mom and dad and a very special mentor. The thing I had to do was sort out how much of my desire was physical and how much was spiritual. As odd as it may sound, those two things got intertwined in my mind. Yes, I did bring the subject up in some small groups in churches. But they just looked at me like they didn’t have a clue. They had nothing to say. Here’s what I say. Take a deep breath and don’t compare yourself with anybody else. When you first discern God telling you to remain as you are, don’t stand in front of mirrors and question your attractiveness. Get rid of them. Instead, concentrate on the reflection of your love in the eyes of Christ. Then ask yourself: Will my love for a spouse ever be greater than my love for God and those things I feel him calling me to do?

Take a survey of the things you are passionate about. I’m not talking about your favorite food – but things like homelessness, refugees, child prostitution, hunger, natural disasters, etc. All the things that you feel could be lined up under “God’s concerns.” They could be issues that you feel drawn too, but feel they are neglected. They don’t necessarily have to be things you know a lot about right now – because if you commit to the celibate life, God can equip you beyond your imagination. He can provide resources that you don’t have. The number one ingredient that has to be there is passion and willingness to commit your entire life to making a difference in the lives of other people. You have to be able to put yourself on the back burner, to put your priorities behind those of the people who need you. If you had any dreams of recognition or fame, you have to bury those. You have to be content with being anonymous. I had a real problem with attaching my name to this blog.

This may sound like a cliche, but you really must have a servant’s heart. I think this is especially true for ladies. For men, I also recommend thinking in terms of being a guard. Just as the eunuchs of antiquity had the responsibility of guarding the king’s possessions and harems, we have the responsibility of guarding God’s possessions, those things that are so fragile that they would be neglected or broken in a world of only nuclear families. For me, it includes protecting God’s plan of human sexuality, which is being broken by a family worship society.

So you see, committing to the celibate life is just as real as committing to a spouse in marriage. It’s even more. I look at it as getting an early start on the marriage feast in heaven between Christ and the church. In a very real sense, our eternities start here on earth. Of the three types of eunuchs Jesus explained in Matthew 19, I think those for the kingdom of heaven do have a unique calling that is much different than the other two. The main reason is because the entire commitment rests on our shoulders. A genetic or physical abnormality did not make the decision for us. A surgical procedure did not make the decision for us. We make ourselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven’s sake (Matthew 19:12). When we do that, we are going against everything this world understands, much the same as when Christ spoke these words. Just as the disciples stood there with their mouths agasp, we live in a world that is reacting much the same way. “There’s something wrong with her!” “He must be gay!” When the world thinks of celibacy, it thinks of only “no.” No sex. No marriage. No kids. No white picket fence. “Do you mean you refuse to consider this good Christian girl as your wife?” “You mean you’re that selfish?” “You’re willing to be miserable and lonely your whole life?” “Who’s going to take care of you when you get old?” They don’t think of all the things we’ve said yes to, all the needs that are more important than their own spouses. So if you come to a point in the discernment process and say “but God, I don’t want to be single forever,” ask yourself whose voice you are listening to. Are you listening to the world or to your heart? Is it about what you want or what God wants? As Paul tells us many times, there is nothing wrong with either mrriage or celibacy. But if God is knocking on that inner door of your heart, you need to at least listen to his proposal.

Ageism’s Hidden Role In A Lost Generation

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When most people think of segregation and discrimination they think of civil rights for minorities and employment rights for women. Those may make the news and catch the public’s attention. But are there other types of discrimination we’re not aware of? First, let’s look at the definitions. According to the Oxford Dictionary, segregation is: “The action or state of setting someone or something apart from other people or things or being set apart.” And discrimination is defined as: “The unjust or prejudicial treatment of different categories of people or things, especially on the grounds of race, age, or sex.” Usually the consequences of discrimination are visible before the lawsuits are filed; like not getting hired, not getting promotions, and not getting a pay raise. There has to be evidence. What about consequences that are not so visible? Does all segregation and discrimination have to involve lawyers and money? In my opinion, the most damaging segregation and discrimination occurs in secret with no documentation. A prime example is ageism and its invisible consequences.

Children spend the first 18 years of their life segregated with kids their own age in school. They study with their own age group. They eat in the cafeteria with their own age group. They socialize with their own age group. Many people don’t realize that the K-12 system of American education was patterned after the child labor practices following World War I. Assembly lines became the classrooms. Production units per minute became grades. The system we have today has nothing to do with the best methods of teaching or learning; but everything to do with factories, production, child labor, and quotas. Students are, in essence, still production units today. Parents accepted that system because they abdicated their responsibility as parents to teach their children anything, including moral values. And then enter divorce. Single moms with daughters felt safer because their little Suzy Qs weren’t being influenced by those big, bad, dirty, older boys. As foolish as that kind of thinking was, it was convenient. I still remember the talk in high school about how seniors did everything. Some of the senior boys in my school reached legendary status because of their sexual exploits. The lower grades were even kept from passing by seniors in the hallways. They were just that bad. That was 40 years ago. How are our schools doing today? They’re one colossal failure, not to mention the debacle of common core standards.

Marketers and social scientists now label each generation . . . in hindsight. “Traditionals” were born between 1901-45, Baby Boomers between 1945-1960, Gen-X’ers between 1961-1981, Millennials 1982-2002, and the current “Z” generation 2003 until who knows when. These generations are defined by their shared experiences, feelings, activities, music, and movies. The only reason they’re identified is to help marketers identify sales demographics. Unfortunately, churches adopted the very same failed practices because they too saw themselves as companies with a product to market. When people today ask me what happened to the youth, I tell them “the church.” If you sat down with a calculator and tried to figure the numbers of permutations and combinations for age ranges and groups, you’d be better off looking at your local church of size. You’d probably find them all. Here are some examples:

“Ages 12-18 to do mission work.” http://www.scnow.com/news/education/article_3e358974-dd89-11e4-b802-0710360d5014.html

“Children’s Church for students ages 5-11.” http://tbcgraymont.org/assets/trinity_baptist_church_history.pdf

“Wee Wow is for students ages 2-6 and WOW is for students ages 7-11.” http://www.limestonefwb.org/ministries/children-s-church/

“Glory Girls is for students ages 6 grade through 12 grade. Glory Gals is for all women who are 18 years or older.” http://www.mudcreekchurch.org/

JAM & JAM JR. makes learning about the Bible lots of fun for students ages 3 through 4th grade, with skits, singing, games and stories. Club 56 (Grades 5 & 6), Junior High E.D.G.E. (grade 7 & 8) Senior High Reach (grade 9–12) also start at 6:30 p.m. http://www.chisholmbaptist.org/ministries/family-night/

Enjoyers – 75 yrs and up – Sunday School. http://www.fbcterrell.org/#/adults/sunday-school

College & Career (ages 18-25), Median Adults (ages 40-56), Adult 3 (ages 56-70), Adult 4 (ages 70+). http://sandspringsbc.com/adults/adult-sunday-school-classes

A new class for young singles only (Age: 30-50). http://www.valleybaptist.org/pages/page.asp?page_id=173354

This class is full of singles and couples ranging from ages 25-40. http://alcoafumc.com/sunday-school-classes/

There are literally millions more. Walk in as a first time visitor into any church in this country and you’re going to be asked one thing: “How old are you?” And probably: “Are you married?” Acturally, some “worship centers” look more like bars and night clubs than churches with their ear-splitting sound systems and light shows. I wouldn’t be surprised if somebody walked up to a pulpit one Sunday evening and ordered a double on the rocks. They look and feel like the world. There are even churches like Edmond’s First Baptist in Edmond, OK that are proud of the fact that their age divisions replicate what is found in the world:

“For the purposes of Bible study and discipleship training, we divide into Connection Groups (small groups) according to age and grade. These divisions mirror those that happen naturally in life so that each class is comprised of small groups of peers who are facing similar joys, challenges, and experiences as others in the class.”

So, if anything happens “naturally in life,” well . . . glory hallelujah! It must be good!” I don’t naturally hang out with people my age. And who is my peer group? On the surface, it would seem that these kinds of age divisions in churches would be harmless. Most church members would probably say they just provide a way of dividing everybody up into neat little teachable groups. So innocent, they say. The problem is that the consequences of age discrimination usually don’t show up until years later, like the Millennials have shown up today. Only in the last 50-60 years have age groups become segregated and institutionalized. That may be because our country was not rallying around a common cause, like war.  Millennials, however, are rallying around one thing – sexual freedom and same sex “marriage.”  Why didn’t they get the same sexual ethics instilled in them as did the WWII generation?  It’s because the Millennials’ parents (Gen-Xer’s) and grandparents (Baby Boomers) didn’t have a legacy of sexual integrity to pass to their children.  And age segregation outside the home (i.e., church) prevented the few adults who did have sexual integrity from reaching them.  Their parents were too busy working and getting ahead. Children became unplanned mistakes, moms married their careers, and dads went missing in action. Parents turned over responsibility of discipline and moral guidance to the government and school system. That’s why age stereotyping became the norm. The school system became their parents, nothing more than a glorified child care service. How did the Millennials turn out? Age segregation outside school allowed them to become completely socialized by the surrounding culture instead of by parental discipline.  They learned nothing from previous generations, nothing about biblical principles and sacrifice. It became more about them, their education, and their personal goals.

So instead of generations lasting 50 years, like the greatest generation of WWII, we now have generations lasting about 15 years because values have not been passed from one generation to the next by parents.  And mentoring became a punch line for late night TV jokes, since it died at the hands of age segregation. Instead of a human touch, Millennials have grown up with the touch of a mouse, computer screens, and cell phones. That’s why they have no respect for authority or their elders. They look up answers to their most profound questions about life and the universe on the internet. They basically can’t communicate one on one. And the church has swallowed it all hook, line, and sinker. They typically have typically have youth classes, young adults, college and career, young marrieds, middle adults, senior adults, or some combination of those. It’s so bad now that some churches further segregate based on marital status and gender – “just to keep those old men from thinking bad thoughts.”

The idea of comprehensive age segregated discipleship and youth ministry is foreign to Scripture. It is not commanded by God. It is not identified as a godly pattern. It is not illustrated or legitimized by biblical principles. It is quite the opposite. It contradicts New Testament patterns and everything Jesus taught about the unimportance of age. Age segregation subverts the role of fathers, it turns the hearts of children away from their parents, it places youth in peer environments, it facilitates bullyng, and it leads churches to create offices that are not biblical. Even more tragic, it separates adults from the youth who need their help when parents refuse to be parents. And of course, it prevents mentoring, a biblical concept sanctioned in the Bible.  Consider what Moses told the people of Israel after he received the law. Deuteronomy 31:10-12:

10 And Moses commanded them, saying, At the end of every seven years, in the solemnity of the year of release, in the feast of tabernacles,
11 When all Israel is come to appear before the LORD thy God in the place which he shall choose, thou shalt read this law before all Israel in their hearing.
12 Gather the people together, men and women, and children, and thy stranger that is within thy gates, that they may hear, and that they may learn, and fear the LORD your God, and observe to do all the words of this law.

Moses wasn’t their father.  But he was a man led by God who knew where he was going. The children learned with the adults, men with women, even strangers with the local people. There was no children’s church. Comfort and entertainment were not high on their list of priorities. I don’t think they had movie nights and beech weekends. They were not segregated in any way. If groups must be formed in churches, there are better ways of going about it, like study topics. It all goes back to the definition of segregation, setting someone apart from other people. With ageism, there are two groups being set apart – the younger and the older. In school, children don’t learn at the same age. So the K-12 system should have been abolished years ago. In churches, you may not even see the different ages together. That makes it even more of a conundrum. And of course intellectual maturity has nothing to do with spiritual maturity. I was recently trying to explain this to an older man in my church. He looked at me rather puzzled and I told him, “In other words, if I have something to say that your grandson needs to hear, he will never hear it because I will never be in his presence. And if he has something to say that I need to hear, I will never hear it.”  When man intervenes in something without biblical guidance, especially something so critical to our survival, he always makes a mess of it.  Like Moses, now we are looking at generations that have been lost for years.

http://www.fbcedmond.org/age-groups

https://ncfic.org/resources/view/the-un-foreseen-consequences-of-age-segregation-of-youth

http://www.truthaccordingtoscripture.com/documents/church-practice/age-segregation.php#.Vbp22EXWSo8

Actions Speak Louder Than Words

Kim Peek, The Real Rain Man

I guess you could say I’m old school. While I do think we’ve made a lot of advances with high tech and the internet, I think we’ve also taken several steps backwards. One of the biggest steps we’ve taken backwards is allowing words to become more important than actions. We have, quite literally, allowed words to mean anything we want them too. Like the word chastity I talked about in the last post. There are many people writing about chastity today. They wax eloquently about chastity being both for men and women, for young and old, for those pursuing marriage and those who are not, and about it having a spiritual meaning. But when you look at the actions behind those words, their messages falls apart. Inconsistencies sabotage messages. That is especially true in Christian ethics because the unbelieving public is scrutinizing everything we do. For instance, I could write a book about chastity for men over 50, “Chastity For Gentlemen.” I could build it up on my blog and get the best publisher in the world. But what if I put a picture of a teenage girl on the cover holding a Bible under one arm and her boyfriend under the other? I think whatever message was in the book would be defeated by the cover, don’t you? It’s sort of like a politician you build up in your mind and then find out he had an affair with his secretary and paid her off to keep quite. Whatever image was in your mind is now history.

Consistency is a virtue that is integral to honesty and character. Yes, we grow and change as individuals and we love our freedoms and artistic expressions, as inconsistent as they may be. But the one constant that falls outside the world and must be defended is the Bible. God was the same a million years ago as he is today. He does not change. His word does not change. Not only are the virtues in the Bible consistently the same, we must be consistent in defending them. If you wrote a book on the value of human life, would you put Jeffrey Dahmer on the cover? You may say that the title of a book is still words. Yes, but those words speak louder than the words inside the book. The nonbelieving world is looking for inconsistencies in the Christian message. It’s one of their number one weapons. As a matter of fact, it’s the reason the U.S. Supreme Court just condoned same sex marriage. “Those hypocrites. They don’t have any room to talk. Look at all their divorces. Look at their live-in arrangements.” Church people preaching one thing from the pulpit every Sunday, but living another thing during the rest of the week. That is the fastest track to moral destruction. The same thing applies to barrier-breaking chastity. If we’re going to defend its biblical meaning and take down the divisions of age and gender, we must be consistent. That means it would be wise if we didn’t associate chastity with teenagers, girls, beauty pageant queens, dresses, purity balls, Cinderellas, Boazes, weddings, pink T-shirts, the Catholic church, priests, homosexuality, schools, or even marriage. You may be saying, “But John, chastity is mostly for teenage girls.” That’s the problem. We have GOT to take “most” out of our vocabulary. It is not part of God’s vocabulary. It’s a lame word. All it does is reinforce stereotypes. You may also be saying, “What’s wrong with encouraging girls to live chaste lives?” There’s nothing inherently wrong with it. But the bigger wrong is that, by leaving out guys, you’re not telling the whole story of chastity. Can you find anything in the Bible that narrows down that virtue to one gender? I can’t either. We all know that a partial truth is worse than a one hundred percent lie. That is especially true when it comes to children. You may be one who believes that young minds are not impressionable. I don’t believe that. There are many, many young people today who have no guidance on sexuality at home and turn to their friends and the internet to find out what is right and wrong. Even though it is the fault of their parents, that does not give us the right to turn a blind eye. All of us are having an impact on at least one younger person, whether we know it or not. It could be someone at your job, at church, at school, wherever. They are looking for truth and consistency. Once you do something, you can’t take it back. The same thing is true for stories. Once you put them out there, how do you control who hears them or reads them? You can’t. They become part of our legacies.

Consider other people who do not fit stereotypes, like Kim Peek, the inspiration for the character played by Dustin Hoffman in Rain Man. Even though he is severely disabled, scores well below average on IQ tests, and can’t button his shirts – he has read over 12,000 books and remembers everything about them. He reads two pages at once in about 3 seconds, one with his left eye and one with his right. He can recall facts and trivia in about 15 different subjects, from history to geography. He also remembers every musical piece he’s ever heard and can play them back on the piano. So, what pigeon hole would you put Kim in?  As far as his legacy, do you think his actions speak louder than his words?

Chastity And Role Models

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Brother Joseph Zoetti in his workshop at the Benedictine Monastery in Cullman, Alabama

According to Merriam-Webster, a role model is “a person whose behavior in a particular role is imitated by others.” I would add that a person’s values and standards, whatever they may be, define what those behaviors are and who models them. For example, I wouldn’t choose a terrorist to model the sanctity of life for my son. I wouldn’t choose a politician to model honesty (okay, there may be exceptions). But those are common sense values, or at least they have been. Other values and behaviors to model are not always so clear. Which brings me to chastity. Let me say up front that I’m not a saint, I don’t have all the answers, and this post is not meant to “condemn.” I really don’t think a Christian person can condemn anybody. In this atmosphere of hyper-political correctness, I think one of the biggest problems is that there has not been an ongoing conversation about sexual ethics. Everything to do with sex has been categorized as “dirty.” Then all of that silence seemed to end recently when the Supreme Court deemed same sex marriage was a constitutional right. Now everybody wants to join the conversation. From what I’ve seen, people discussing chastity, especially on the internet, fall into one of three groups: They’re looking for a mate, they’re selling chastity-related merchandise, or they’re trying to pass this virtue to the next generation. I fall in the third group. And that’s where the whole idea of role models comes in.

I think real role models don’t think of themselves as role models and don’t advertise themselves as such. I don’t. I really don’t like the phrase. One thing that makes it more complicated is terminology. We would not be able to describe values that are important to us without consistent terminology. Yes, I have been celibate for 54 years. Yes, I am a virgin. Yes, I have been chaste for 54 years. Yes, I am a eunuch for the kingdom of heaven. I’m sure there are a lot more words that have been applied to me. What it all comes down to is I haven’t had sex. Is that so complicated? Revisionists have tried to dilute these definitions over the years. Some words even have biblically-based meanings, but we are inconsistent in how we use them. For instance, chastity has come to mean just what everybody is doing when they’re not having sex – they’re practicing chastity – or at least some vague sense of its commitment. “Not having sex? You’re chaste!” “Would you like next day delivery with that?” Even the eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven in Matthew 19, which I identify with, are being redefined in some circles as homosexuals. I recently saw a headline that read, “Everybody is a Virgin!” Just think, Madonna is no longer like a virgin. She’s the real deal all over again! You would think virginity is a commodity being sold on the sidewalk along with all the books on the subject, purity programs, and jewelry. But I must say there are some very good books out there on the subject by authors who are conscious of their priorities. And forgiveness, it seems, has become but a delete button for our pasts. No consequnces. Just hit the pound key and continue. The reality is that, like all the other virtues, chastity cannot be modified with technology or dictionaries. Of course anybody can wait again on sex before marriage. That is what Christ calls for. But we have not been given the right to revise biblical language to fit the comfort level of contemporary political correctness. I think it’s one of our biggest mistakes.

The Roman soldiers who crucified Jesus knew the significance of words and symbols when they put a purple robe on him, crowned him with thorns, and put a sign on the cross that read “Jesus, King of the Jews.” But Jesus didn’t ask the soldiers to change the words on the sign. He didn’t try to revise the dictionary. He carried his cross, including those words, even while he was being mocked and degraded. And he told us to do the same in Matthew 16:24: “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.” Words and their meanings are more significant than we realize, especially when trying to pass values to the next generation. Ephesians 6:17 describes “the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” For some people, just the word “virgin” is a sword. It’s like chastity can’t even get off the ground. But it’s a biblical word. There are people today who question Virgin Mary’s virginity. “What makes you so special little miss virgin?” “Found favor with God? Yeah, right.” “You’re no better than anybody else.” “What’s your boyfriend’s name?” Now step into that scene and ask yourself what you would do to defend her. Put yourself in the shoes of virgin martyr St. Maria Goretti’s. How far would you go to protect your honor as a woman of God? Pondering these things has been critical in my wait for the kingdom of God. Remember, God invented virginity. Man didn’t. It was a requirement to be the mother of Christ. It was also designed to be the state before marriage between a man and a woman, and that standard is still in the Ten Commandments. I don’t think it’s our place to second-guess these truths or the reasoning behind them. Our responsibility is to follow them as best as possible. There are a lot of mysteries we will not understand until we get to heaven. Can we move past the “nobody’s perfect” and “that’s so judgmental” rhetoric? Chastity is just one of the many virtues. It is not a mark of sainthood. I’m working on humility. That one is difficult for me, as I have a tendency to see things in black and white and speak too bluntly and too fast.

I also tend to look at many things in life in an analytical way. I am a math and science geek. For instance, if I wanted to learn how to race at NASCAR, I would try to find a professional NASCAR driver who could teach me. I would want somebody that had been racing for years and had won some races to prove it. I would want to see the statistics. And I actually do have a good friend from high school who is a retired NASCAR driver who has won many races. I would choose him over someone who had never been behind the wheel of a stock car or someone who had never placed in the top 10. I would choose him over someone who hit a guardrail on the interstate last year and totaled his car. That does not mean that I hate all the other drivers. Even though the virtue of chastity is not even in the same universe as NASCAR, I do look at human track records or – as the old timers called it – reputations. Or, as the Bible calls it, honor. Everybody has been effected one way or the other by people in their lives. And if you’re an adult, you are affecting other people, even if you don’t know who they are. I think children listen more to our actions than our words. This is especially true when they are looking up to someone as a role model. “Divorce is wrong,” we tell them, but our actions say “as long as it doesn’t interfer with your NFL career.” “Having sex outside marriage is wrong” we tell them, but our actions say “as long as having a baby doesn’t interfer with your singing career.” Everybody makes fruit of some kind. You can’t hide it from children. This is what worked for me growingup. Something else may work for you. The few people I know today (thanks to the internet) who are remotely around my age and still waiting are a godsend to me. I wish I could transport them back in time to when I was a teenager at Chelsea High School. There were a few adults I looked up to as mentors – my dad, an uncle, a very good friend who wrote a book on purity. I personally knew these people. They weren’t just Facebook friends. There were no computers. I looked for more people, but couldn’t find any. The people involved in my life had track records I respected. Maybe it’s just me, but I have to respect somebody before I will emulate them. And I think self-respect plays a big role. As A.C. Green said “You need to have self-respect, values and a little bit of virtue in your life.” I saw him speak in Birmingham back in the 1990s. He remained a virgin until he was 38 and got married in 2002. He’s a man I respect. Of course, my number one role model is Christ, and I think it’s critical that we stay in contact with him everyday. Everybody tells me that nobody my age waits any more. I wouldn’t say nobody, just fewer. But wasn’t one of Christ’s main objectives to bring down ageism and sexism and marital statusism?

What I don’t understand is why sexuality, especially chastity, has become a divisive topic, more divisive than age and gender. We have our instructions in the Bible. They are not easy. For people who feel they are attracted to the same gender, we all have the same standards. Yes, I do have a sex drive, but I have not gotten what I want. That’s why I always feel a bit uncomfortable when I meet a stranger and their eyes go to my ring finger. I say to myself “oh gosh, I’m just another single dude.” As Olympic gold medalist Lolo Jones, who is still waiting at 32, said: “It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life. Harder than training for the Olympics.” I can relate to Lolo. She’s one of my heroes. I remember a time when waiting until marriage was something to be proud of. What has become all too common today is this: When a person says anything positive about virginity, they are automatically attacked as judgmental, condemning, better than everybody else, hater, full of pride, perfect, religious fanatic, and on and on. And so many Christian people think it’s their responsibility to make everybody feel comfortable. It is not.

When I was in my 20s and 30s, I wanted to relate to people who understood what I was going through, what it felt like to be a black sheep, what it felt like to be ridiculed because I wouldn’t do what everybody else was doing, what it felt like to be out of touch with society. Those years were excruciatingly painful. Then in my 40s, I wanted to relate to people who understood what it was like to be a “40 year old virgin” and the punch line of movie jokes. Without anybody else to relate to, I turned to other things, like the monastery of St. Bernard Abbey in Cullman, AL, which was about two hours from where I lived. It was the first place where I felt connected, where there were no stereotypes associated with being an older single guy, where I didn’t have to hide my ring finger, where I felt part of something bigger than my little world. I have spent hours in their cemetery, pondering the lives of those monks. I have studied the life of Brother Joseph Zoetti, who built their masterpiece known as “Little Jerusalem.” They were all role models for me. Especially Brother Joseph. One day I hope to meet him. Of course, my number one role model is Christ.

I think young people have the best chance of waiting until marriage with mentors who are still living and walking the same road – or who have walked it at their age and beyond. As harsh as it may sound, sometimes that excludes parents. My special friend and mentor is still very important to me. She probably does not realize how much impact she had on my life. But a lot of Christian youth today have no one. If somebody reads what I’ve written today or years from now after I’m gone, I hope it encourages them in some way. And I hope the stereotypes associated with chastity will disappear – things like it’s only for teenagers, only for girls, only for religious people, only for Catholics, only for people who can’t have fun, only for people with a low sex drive, etc. It would be nice for my legacy to be “age and gender won’t matter in heaven.” It would be nice to be remembered as the person I never found when I was a younger man. That’s all.

Thank you Julia.

http://www.avemariagrotto.com/

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/2012-heavy-medal-london/post/hurdler-lolo-jones-virginity-has-been-harder-than-training-for-london-olympics/2012/05/23/gJQAOQo7kU_blog.html

The Golden Calf Of Child Worship

colette-golden-calf

The crowd noise died down a bit. The spotlights hit the baby bottles that were meticulously arranged around the stage. Their warm glow lit up the outline of baby blue glass and yellow nipples. You could see stuffed animals and tree houses on stage with palm trees and images of children dancing all around. The speaker took to the microphone and blared: “Lord bless the children! Precious are the children! Oh, praise God for the children!” The people started chanting, “Oh bless the children.” Can I get a burp? This wasn’t during the time of Leviticus and graven images in the Old Testament. This was during a mainstream “First Baptist” church service last Sunday morning. I witness it firsthand. As a boy, I remember reading about graven images in the Bible. But I never thought I’d see them during my lifetime. Unfortunately, golden calves have become the norm in the majority of Protestant churches in the south. They have become centers of child worship. A nice diversion from their lives of perversion. As a matter of fact, many of them are in the childcare business, with “church” on their marquees just as good business strategy. For it is not God they are worshipping. It is children. Most of their budgets are allocated toward nursery and youth programs, with senior citizens sometimes getting a consolation of what’s left over. I refer to them as grandpa/grandson churches.

It’s not what a person says that matters – it’s what he does. And often it’s what people don’t do. Because we all leave a legacy on this earth, no matter if that legacy is good or bad. Churches also leave legacies. If you take away the Sunday morning rhetoric, what do you have left? A pizza party on the way to youth camp? Vacation Bible School? Praise band rehearsals? It all comes down to our priorities. Anything in our lives that takes priority over God is an idol. That includes youth. There are many more needs in our world than changing wet diapers. The Bible even warns about this: “He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.” Matthew 10:37. What has your church done for people with mental illnesses? For the people who can’t afford their next power bill? If there is a warning in the Bible against something, we should take it for granted that our human minds have the propensity to do it. Otherwise, the edge would be taken off of the sword of the spirit, God’s word, and it wouldn’t be in the Bible. A lot of time is spent in the Bible nullifying age, gender, marital status, children status, class – and pointing to a time when none of this will matter, when family will not matter. For example, when the Bible mentions age, it is only to shatter any stereotypes that we have about it. For example, these mothers in the Bible gave birth in old age: Sarah gave birth to Isaac. Rebekah gave birth to Esau and Jacob. Hannah gave birth to Samuel. The trend continued in the New Testament when Elizabeth gave birth to John the Baptist. Then Jesus shattered any stereotypes about age when he told us: “Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 18:3. The key word in this verse is “as.” Jesus is not talking about chronological age. He isn’t hanging a hanging a “3-5 year olds” sign on the nursery door. He isn’t hanging a 19-35 year old sign on the young adult door. Instead, he is telling us that we all should have the faith of children and that our birth certificates will matter very little in the long run. So why should they matter now? They shouldn’t.

But the church today has not heeded these warnings. It has carved golden calves out of youth buses, glitzy youth centers, extravagant youth budgets, and birthday parties. Everything the youth can’t find at home, the church tries to be for them – including family. Most youth in church today don’t even have parents who attend. They’re just dropped off or picked up and taken to church. Then when they graduate from high school, they disappear faster than a bird in a hat because they fall outside the age bracket on the youth door and there’s nothing to graduate to. Their only idea of adulthood is little old men wearing pants up to their chin and little old ladies with powder perfume and purple hair. There’s nothing in it for them anymore. Sadly, churches must face the fact that they’ve caused the problem. Because what do they have to offer them after graduation? Practically nothing, until they’re married. So really, the church’s only role in a young person’s life is to serve as a baby sitter and worshipper. After the youth wears off, the gold becomes tarnished on the golden calf. Then it’s time for more fruitfulness and multiplying. And the cycle continues. As far as learning how to be an adult, married or not, and communicate with adults older then them, that’s fantasyland. They don’t even have parents who are adults. Daycare with a cross on top and a golden calf out front. Life is so comfortable in church today – if you’re under 19 or over 65. Because let’s face it, that’s the only time when most humans think about God — just out of the mother’s womb or with one foot in the grave.

The Danger In Virginity

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“Christian Celibacy In The 21st Century – Straight Renunciation.” I thought it was a pretty clever title for my blog. But there is probably a bit that needs explaining. First off, my definition of Christian celibacy has nothing to do with homosexuality or same sex marriage. A more accurate title may have been “Christian virginity,” but since the definition of virginity today does not include guys, I went with celibacy. I may change it in the future. Straight renunciation was meant to be a bit of a pun on the word “straight.” If you don’t get it, don’t worry. I have a dry sense of humor.

So what’s the danger in talking about virginity on a blog? First of all, I am one. But I don’t fit the definition you’ll find in the dictionary. I’m a guy and I’m over 21. I’m 54. One of the biggest dangers is people misinterpreting the reason for my blog. I am not advertising myself as a man looking for a wife. That has nothing to do with my blog. I am not giving dating advice. I am not encouraging men to “man up” and get married. I am not telling single women that it’s their fault if they’re not married by a certain age. What I am trying to do is encourage three groups of younger people – those who are waiting until marriage to have sex, those who are discerning a call to the celibate life, and those who have accepted the call to celibacy. This blog is part of my renunciation of marriage as a Matthew 19:12 eunuch. That in itself probably puts it out there in a near earth orbit. It is not meant to demean marriage or to elevate celibacy to a level of celestial supremacy. I am trying, with my limited theological abilities, to balance those two lifestyles. Because, as it is now, marriage has been awarded idolatry status in our churches.

So how would anybody misinterpret my blog? Well, when most people see the word celibacy, they automatically think of homosexuality and the Catholic Church. The two are linked tighter than bark on a tree. And when people see the word virgin, they think of locker room graffiti and young women waiting for their Boazes. As I’ve discussed before, not defending the Christian vocabulary will have consequences that we can’t even imagine today. So with this blog I’m trying to reclaim the language of the Bible, to bring back the dignity of celibacy, and to support all people called to be eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven, whether male or female.

This blog has another connection to danger. I almost died in 2010 and spent about six months in the hospital. When I got out, I starting asking myself some serious questions. Like what are you doing with your life? Why are you wasting time? What are you doing for God? What have you done to help anybody? What do you want to be remembered for? I came to the conclusion that if I continued on my current course, I would be remembered at best as a big question mark in a lot of people’s minds and at worst as a bitter old single man who never found his pot of gold. I didn’t want either one.

Another danger I sensed was opening up about this part of my life. Outside my family, I had only discussed it with one other person – my mentor. It was really embarrassing for me to write about virginity and celibate life and still is. Not because I’m not content with this lifestyle, but worrying about opening myself up to needless attacks from people I don’t even know. And yes I have seen my fair share since starting this blog. On top of that is the fact that I have always interpreted no response as a negative response, whether out in public talking to people or on the internet. Most everything I had read on the subject had been written by young millennial women, the majority Catholic, who didn’t define virginity beyond its value in preparation for marriage. And sadly, that is still the trend. I read about the 20-somethings confessing their virginity to the world, the young ladies who had all but given up on waiting for their Boazes, and the ladies who saw all men as bug-eyed pigs – hunting for their next victim. If they were “coming out” as virgins in their 20s, what was I doing announcing my virginity to the world in my 50s? Confessing to a crime punishable by death? So, my questions were, how will I overcome these stereotypes and will anybody even read my blogs and respond to them? I’m not sure. But I do want people to know that I’m a regular guy. I don’t live in a monastery. I find all girls beautiful and just as mysterious as when I was a little guy. For me, celibate life is the only way I know to respond to God. If the world considers it dangerous to say no to sex, then I will live as a dangerous guy.

Emotional Chastity?

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Emotional chastity. It’s one of the new buzz phrases of our times. But what does it really mean? That depends on the person you ask and what you read. It seems to be a take off of an idea St. John Paul expressed in Love and Responsibility:

“The [emotional experience for a woman] may be connected with, for instance, an impression of ‘strength’, the [emotional experience for a man] with an impression of ‘charm’, but both are connected with a whole person of the other sex, not only with that person’s ‘body’. This susceptibility (which is different from sensual excitability) to the sexual value residing in ‘a whole person of the other sex’, to ‘femininity’ or ‘masculinity’, should be called sentiment.” (page 110)

The word “susceptibility” is a little confusing here because it generally means influenced or harmed by a particular thing. It’s used in our language as something negative. Susceptible to what? Rape? Is he saying that every male-female encounter is risky business? I don’t think St. John Paul was using susceptibility in a negative sense. “Awareness” might have been a better choice. It might have been clearer if he had said: “This awareness of our femininity or masculinity should be called sentiment.” I would just call it sexual awareness. I think it’s a natural component of wisdom and discernment. If you’re comfortable meeting people and are walking in God’s will for your life, you don’t have to stop and check your emotions every few minutes. You don’t have to whip out a rule book and wonder “did I cross the line here and there?”

It’s interesting that St. John Paul never mentioned “emotional chastity.” But rather defined an emotional experience with the whole person of the opposite sex as a sentiment. But sentimental does not mean the same thing as emotional. Later on in the book he referred to it as an “affection” and wrote that: “Affectionate love is not indeed focused on the body as is sensuality. For that reason it is so frequently identified with spiritual love.” Ah, spiritual love. Isn’t that a Christian virtue? Isn’t that the kind of love all celibate people should strive for? There has been much written over the years on the four areas of compatibility that are needed for marriage – Spiritual, emotional, intellectual, and physical. And of course the lines between these are often blurred. For example, some writers put the role of sex hormones under physical and some put them under emotional. Does it really have to be this complicated? It’s as if we have absolutely no control over our thought processes and we have to turn to sources other than the Bible to lay down the rules for us. Are men and women always “susceptible” to something happening every time they communicate with each other? Or is it just part of the larger ongoing public discussion that means nothing? To me, the mere phrase “emotional chastity” sounds like an oxymoron. It’s like saying “I’ll have a sirloin sunny side up. It makes no sense. Has mankind devolved to the point where we think all of our emotions are of a sexual nature? That all sexual thoughts are evil? The Oxford dictionary’s definition of chastity is: “The state or practice of refraining from extramarital, or especially from all, sexual intercourse: vows of chastity.”

I hope we haven’t devolved that far. It seems to me that “emotional chastity” is just an effort to put a Christian spin on distrust and suspicion. What would be its opposite? Emotional sex? Can a person have sex without emotion? Honestly, I think it’s a phrase used by cold-hearted single women to rationalize their fear of the opposite sex. For example, a gentleman could be talking to a woman in Waffle House over breakfast one morning about global warming. But to reinforce her superiority over him, she could walk out the door at the drop of a hat chanting “emotional chastity.” And he’s like “what?” It’s a phrase that acts as a sword in women’s battle for moral superiority. It’s so vague she can whip it out anytime. It’s so stupid who will even know what it means? Let’s not forget that a man’s capacity for love is just as great as women’s.

“Emotional chastity” also gives single women an excuse to act cold-hearted and to turn their shoulders on all men, including Christian single men. Is that doing unto others what you would have them do unto you? I’m afraid not. It’s the epitome of selfishness and arrogance. My image of femininity is one of acceptance and support. It’s not one of competition and pride. But I don’t know many real women today, especially single women in their 20s and 30s. Even if a woman was sexually abused, raped, assaulted, or whatever, that does not give her a license to treat every man she meets in the future with disrespect. I have seen these attitudes over the years. They reach 35-40 and all of their friends are girlfriends. Then they realize that men have memories too. I’ve seen a few of these attitudes change in older age when they realize God did not guarantee them husbands. Some men are willing to forget. Some are not. Christian guys who respect women don’t need to be taught sensitivity regarding rape. They don’t need sexual sensitivity training. I know I’ve said this before on my blog, but I will say it again – I do not believe a woman can “lose” her virginity through rape. The idea of forcing a woman to do something against her will makes me literally sick. So if there are any women reading this who have been through such trauma, don’t worry about a Christian man’s response to it. If it’s ever discussed, don’t think that he’s going to hold that against you. He won’t. And just think, we haven’t even brought in the question of whether or not a person is open to marriage. That’s the worst thing about this whole conversation. It assumes that all men and women are called to be married. It assumes that all single men are looking for sex. It assumes that all women are looking for sugar daddies. It especially saddens me when I hear “emotional chastity” because it tells me that the person is not capable of being my friend, only a date.

I think this bizarre concept of emotional chastity does explain a lot of the distrust I see today. It explains why the word date now means to have sex. It explains why asking for a phone number now means asking for sex. It explains why a simple “hello” can be construed as sexual harassment. It explains why the coldest single girls are often the ones sitting in church pews, wearing their chastity rings, guarding their precious hearts of every emotion that might come there way. Should they stop and help the dying man on the side of the street? It depends on how chastely they could do it. I mean, if he’s a good-looking dude, we can’t expect them to render any help. They might have an unchaste thought. Where in the world are we going? The differences between men and women are so much greater than anatomical variations. There are so many more things to talk about. Why are we stuck on sex? Why are we using sex to stop the progress of human civilization? So single ladies, remember that if you can’t treat the men in your lives with dignity today, you can’t expect a man with dignity in your future tomorrow. And if you are called to celibacy, you better get used to talking to other ladies.

What about emotional chastity in guys? Did you just ask yourself if there is such a thing? Guys? Chastity? I think that’s an underlying theme of this whole “emotional chastity” discussion, to reinforce the idea that only women are capable of chastity. After all, do an internet search and see how many chastity sites you find that are written by men. It’s less than 1%. See how many chastity books you find written by men. It’s less than 1%. So single ladies, yes I believe you should guard your hearts. But if you lock them up and throw away the keys, I guess you should pray that the Supreme Court rules in favor of same sex marriage. Because you will only have each other to marry.

https://books.google.com/books?id=TNRY9HkssDQC&pg=PA112&lpg=PA112&dq=sentimentality+love+%22love+and+responsibility%22+john&source=bl&ots=szZj_HxUC-&sig=HMMCP6_EewSgb5O5XdAbrcBAG8o&hl=en&sa=X&ei=foFsVYLHJsOyggSLlYHwCA&ved=0CD8Q6AEwBQ#v=onepage&q=sentimentality%20love%20%22love%20and%20responsibility%22%20john&f=false

What Is Love?

john waiving-web2

A lot has been written about love, from a romantic point of view. So I thought I would write something about my personal perception of love, from a platonic point of view. Actually, I prefer the term Agape – the all encompassing, sacrificial, love for God and neighbor, the kind of love God has for us. Back in my 20s and 30s, I pretty much took it for granted that everybody was aware of and respected those called to marriage as well as those called to celibacy. I took love for granted, whichever path I chose. I envisioned a Sunday School class door that read “eunuchs for the kingdom.” I had hope for acceptance. Since my background was Protestant, there was very little information in my church on celibacy. Everything centered on nuclear families – wedding anniversaries, birthdays, Father’s Day, etc. My dad kept telling me don’t worry about everybody else. From about the age of 16, he included something about singleness in our devotions at bedtime. “Apostle Paul. You can be like Apostle Paul. There’s nothing wrong with that.” I would read the scripture and he would explain. I listened. Okay, so I was taking a different path to love. I would be able to love everybody in a way that married people couldn’t. The only problem I didn’t count on was that the church would not love me back. I never dreamed that the Southern Baptists would ban single men from preaching or serving in the church. After youth group and college and career, whatever love they had turned into suspicion and “what are you waiting for,” “the right one will come along,” “you’ll know her when you see her.” And of course I didn’t have the money to put in offering plates to buy their love. I began to ask myself “does the Catholic church have a monopoly on the gift of celibacy?” I’m not sure you would call it a monopoly, but they are the only church I’m aware of that has any insight on the subject. That’s why I find myself in my 50s contemplating changing churches.

I have not give up on love, though. I can look back over time and recognize people that showed an uncommon love towards me. The key word there is showed. They went beyond just talking about it. For example, I put a high value on talking to people one-on-one, not on texting or emailing. But that’s almost unheard of today. “If you don’t want to be with her, what’s the point in calling?” What is shocking to me is how many church people have bought into this perverted mindset. We have a culture today where fathers warn their daughters at a young age to be leery of all men, especially older men. But when they end up barefoot, pregnant, and in the kitchen, the church asks “why couldn’t anybody reach out to her?” Truly sad. I would go as far to say that parents are the biggest obstacles in their children’s lives today, especially if those children are single adults and have chosen the celibate life. Once the child becomes older than they were when they married, they are in uncharted territory. Parents often think they can rely on their own judgment to lead them in the right direction. They think parents always know best. Breaking news: Parents don’t always know best. Their advice will mean very little at a certain age. While I’ve always loved and respected my parents, they were not qualified to counsel me on celibate life. Making the decision, yes. Providing guidance, no. So the big question for parents is what’s their definition of love? Is it limited to the family-centric romantic love that will bring them grandchildren? Or does it extend to the unlimited agape love found in celibacy? I’ve thought about this quite a lot. I’ve come to the conclusion that in order to faithfully travel the road of celibacy, a person must have mentors outside family. It is absolutely mandatory. I had one in particular who I related to like a sister and still do today.

So what is love? The world will tell you it’s about hooking up and having multiple orgasms. The church will tell you it’s about nuclear families and the maternal instinct of nurturing and the fatherly instinct of providing and protecting. The Bible will tell you it’s a balance of both. Most of my closest friends are elderly, widows and widowers, and people who have lived through tremendous tragedies. I can see how the loss of a spouse can redefine a person’s concept of love. And others like myself who have survived near death experiences have had their definitions of love altered and priorities rearranged. For me, love is about the small things. Things so small you would never think they matter. It’s about being sensitive and not making assumptions. Stop and talk to me, leave an empty chair for me in your family at church luncheons, call me, write real letters, tell me my life means something to you, tell me you love me, show me you trust me, ask me something about art or nature, invite me along on your next family adventure, invite me to your church, ask me to talk to your children. Treat me like a real member of your family and not like an unknown anomaly that requires an obligatory “singles sermon” every couple of years. Tell me you understand what celibate chastity is. All I’m leaving on this earth is a legacy of memories. Does my legacy of celibacy mean anything to your family? If so, what? Assure me that you’ll remember my life and that my love is just as significant as any member of your family. Show me that blood is not thicker than water. Is that too much to ask?

Celibacy – Time Out Of Season

bagrati

The ruins of the Bagrati Cathedral, pre-restoration, painted by Aleksandr Fyodorovich Peters

Those of us who grew up in church know that marriage is supposed to be a sacred covenant between a man and woman. Married people’s identities are wrapped up in commitment. They’re committed to each other, to their children, to their family, to their school, to their church, etc. And of course today with the same sex marriage controversy, the family values flag is held up higher and higher to represent the highest form of Christian values. But where do singles get their identity? What commitments have they made? What affirms their adulthood? What responsibilities have they been given? After college and beyond, I’m afraid singles get their identify from the same place married people do – from the county clerk’s office in the local courthouse. Indeed, the absence of a marriage license is what defines a single in today’s church culture. It’s the epitome of political correctness. However, people called to celibacy are the epitome of political incorrectness. They cannot be defined by something they do not have. They have been given a special charisma, a spiritual gift that is just as important as all the others in the workings of the Holy Spirit. Instead of being contained in seasons, it survives through eternity. And the gift of celibacy usually comes with other special abilities. It’s not just an empty vacuum floating around spreading sprinkles of love and contentment. Even though I’m not a Catholic priest and haven’t taken vows, my consecrated celibacy is just as much a commitment to Christ as a couple’s commitment to each other in marriage.

Consecrated virginity is the oldest recognized form of consecrated life in the Catholic Church. It’s much older than their religious orders. It was discontinued in the Middle Ages because of the rise of monastic communities. But it was revived again in the 1950s with Vatican II. I find it ironic that women who are members of the Catholic Church’s Order of Consecrated Virgins today do not live in a cloistered community, but out in the real world. They do not wear habits or veils and do not refer to themselves as sisters. So if Martin Luther were alive today, what would he be protesting against? He wouldn’t find them in a monastery. He couldn’t find them in churches. He couldn’t identify them on the streets. And if the Catholic Church believes all their priests have the gift of celibacy and are not forcing it on anybody else, what are Protestants protesting today? The idea of not marrying and having sex? That seems weird. If they are protesting extended adolescence and delayed marriage, then their theology is not grounded in the Bible. Martin Luther eventually left the monastery and got married. But one man cannot undo what God ordained. Does that sound like marriage language? It’s supposed to. What was a spiritual gift 2000 years ago is just as much a spiritual gift today. Unless a church has identified members with the supernatural gift of celibacy, they need to leave open its door every time they discuss the vague issue of “singleness,” especially if they refer to 1 Corinthians 7; even more so if they might have a member who is discerning a call to celibacy. I’m not aware of a church that has done this. Maybe it’s time they should. I dare think what would happen if churches expended as much energy on building up lifestyles that are biblical as they do on battling lifestyles that are evil. What would happen if they found out there were singles who lived holy lives outside traditional seasons of singleness of marriage? Who are doing what Martin Luther could not do? It would probably blow their minds. Look at it this way: I don’t argue with my spouse all the time.

My friend Justin Campbell, who blogs at More Than Don’t Have Sex, recently wrote a post about how celibacy is not a season. I completely agree. We should not use the word single as a catch-all for everyone who is not married. And this should be especially true for churches. Yes, single requires no thought. Don’t have a marriage license? That’s simple. You’re single. Single is easy. Comfortable. It’s politically correct, right? Everybody wants to be married, don’t they? The answer to that is no. That’s what makes sex the idol it is today. Our society makes room for nothing else but marriage. Young people who have the potential to live fulfilling lives of celibacy get no encouragement or counseling and end up drawn into the homosexual lifestyle. I’ve seen this firsthand. Yes, you can point to Paul in the Bible and go back to the Old Testament and read about Jeremiah. But their witness has all but disappeared from the face of the earth. The younger generation today have to see it to believe it. What they get in the church instead is another seminar on marriage and another sermon on the glories of children, with maybe a story about Lottie Moon thrown in every few years.

So churches, the fact that you don’t know who we are and don’t have a tidy label for us is not our fault. It’s yours. You have spent years decrying the evils of celibacy and linking it to homosexuality. You have spent years telling guys to man-up and telling girls to stay pure and procreate. In doing so, you threw all celibates under the bus, including Christ himself. You are the ones who need to grow up. You need to get your language together and be consistent. I’m as much a “single” as a husband is just a guy who is having state sanctioned sex. That’s right. Since my identity is just a pitiful old man who hasn’t found the right woman to turn him on, I consider marriage licenses no more sacred than a fishing license. There are a few exceptions, of course, like Justin Campbell who accurately points out:

“Paul essentially says that there are those who should get married and those who shouldn’t. He says some have one gift and others another gift. But the gift he is talking about is not the gift of singleness, he is talking about the gift of celibacy.”

Yes indeed, there are single people waiting on a mate. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that. In time though, that waiting could term into long term celibacy. It’s an important thing to discern, but I don’t think there are any age deadlines. And married people are not going to be able to help with that. What is critical is leading a chaste life. That way, you’re prepared if you say yes to marriage or yes to celibacy. It’s really a requirement for both lifestyles. I’ll never forget the day I met an elderly man in the grocery store. He was in a wheelchair and I was trying to help him get a carton of milk. He asked me where I went to church and if I was married. When I told him I thought the Lord had called me to single life, he said: “Really? Well, I am too. Yes I divorced my third wife last year I’ve been as content as all get out.”

I think the main thing people miss about 1 Corinthians 7 is that Paul is not describing a person’s present circumstances or pondering the merits of married life vs. single life. He isn’t hanging “singles” signs on Sunday School doors. He is describing the reality of the only two lifestyle choices God gives to every Christian – marriage and celibacy. Given by him and freely accepted by us. Marriage can’t be urged by parents at an early age because they’re afraid their children are going to fornicate. Marrying a particular person can’t be seen as a last resort because there are no other prospects. Marriage can’t be assumed the norm by youth pastors when they could have a student with the disposition to celibacy. Likewise, celibacy can’t be forced on priests who do not have that gift. I have several Catholic friends who have accepted the call to celibacy. I support them. Most everything I have read on the subject has been written by Catholic writers. The Protestants remain mute on the subject, like they have for the last 500 years.

I find it ironic that Protestants have forgotten that their entire identity is wrapped up in protesting celibacy. The only celibacy Christians of the 16th century knew anything about was institutionalized in the Catholic Church and expressed through vows taken by priests, monks, nuns, and other religious. Protestants today don’t even know what they are protesting about. They can’t fathom a commitment to something so radical as never marrying. It’s even more ironic that Martin Luther himself, the leader of the Protestant reformation, was a monk at one time and acknowledged those with the celibate gift:

“The third category consists of those spiritually rich and exalted persons, bridled by the grace of God, who . . . voluntarily remain celibate . . . Such persons are rare, not one in a thousand, for they are a special miracle of God. No one should venture on such a life unless he be especially called by God, like Jeremiah [16:2], or unless he finds God’s grace to be so powerful within him that the divine injunction, “Be fruitful and multiply,” has no place in him. (p. 21)”

Celibacy is a long term committment, not a season of short-term singleness. Those who have said no to marriage and have consecrated their lives to the service of Christ are committed for life. Even though we may never see it reflected in church ministry groups, there is more difference between the lives of married people and consecrated celibates than between male and female human beings. My unique committment to Christ is not just for a season. Are people committed to each other in marriage for a season? More importantly, is the only meaning marriage has in the 21st century derived from the county courthouse or does it have any more sacred meaning? If its meaning goes beyond a state-sanctioned marriage license, does the meaning of singleness go beyond the absence of such a license? Does it go beyond “extended adolescence?” Does it go beyond seasons of waiting? If sex can be consecrated to God in marriage, can chastity be consecrated to God in celibacy? I think it can. And I hope this encourages others who feel they have no identity in the church. Even though our biblical identities may have been lost with time, out witnesses continues to endure.

http://justinmcampbell.net/2015/03/24/celibacy-is-not-a-season/#comments

https://books.google.com/books?id=1bLvAQAAQBAJ&pg=PA227&lpg=PA227&dq=%22consider+early+marriage%22+%22denny+burk%22&source=bl&ots=6ReNLIpE2W&sig=ZwBrqATTjs2rnjnBfq_6DY4Sgog&hl=en&sa=X&ei=eF4ZVdXZFsilNun4gegP&ved=0CC0Q6AEwAg#v=onepage&q=%22consider%20early%20marriage%22%20%22denny%20burk%22&f=false

http://www.albertmohler.com/2010/08/23/why-arent-emerging-adults-emerging-as-adults/

http://consecratedvirgins.org/prepare-FAQ

Single And Breaking The Rules

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I have a few confessions to make:

Over my 53 years, I’ve never lived with anybody, but I’m not a lonely man.

I’ve never slept with anybody, but I can fall asleep on my own.

I’m a solitary man, but I know who my neighbors are.

I don’t have a family, but have lived a fulfilled life.

I’m an independent spirit, but I have more responsibilities than most married men.

I’ve never married, but have been successful and own my own house.

I will never “settle down,” but I’m not hitting the bars every night either.

I am beyond mature and have switched over to senior vitamins. But I don’t need anybody to care for me.

I’m not looking for a wife, but I don’t have a poor view of marriage.

I’m not looking for a commitment. I have a permanent commitment to Christ.

I’m not drifting aimlessly in a world of utopia. I know who I am and where I’m going.

I’m not waiting to finish school. I have a college degree.

I love all children, but I’m not a pedophile.

I don’t plan on having a family, but I do know what love is. My maternal grandfather had 17 brothers and sisters.

I can appreciate feminine beauty. But I don’t need a woman to affirm my manhood.

I have a roof, food, and clothes. And more. I’m not waiting on anything.

I’ve never bought condoms because I’ve never had to “protect” myself.

I’ve never “known” a woman sexually. But I haven’t figured out why that makes me less holy than married preachers who live adulterous lives.

I don’t have a better half. I am a whole person. I’m not bitter.

I don’t mirror God’s love for the church, but rather the church’s separation from the world and a new world order.

I’m not waiting on God to bring me “the one.” I’m secure in who I am.

I don’t go out on “dates.” I spend time with friends.

I don’t consider my singleness a problem or disease to be cured. I feel very well. Thanks.

I don’t bring home the bacon to anybody. I buy and cook my own.

I don’t mind talking to anybody, anytime or anywhere. But I won’t chase you.

I don’t expect to fit in. If that’s your definition of a loner, then that’s me.

I don’t expect anybody to relate to me. That’s okay. More than likely, I don’t relate to you.

I love married people. But I don’t listen to their advice.

I’m not always loving and kind. But that’s not something you can’t fix. It’s the way I am.

I have friends who fall under all three types of Matthew 19 eunuchs, including true hermaphrodites. God made them that way. Did he make you with a tongue ring?

I’ve been celibate my whole life, but I’m not gay.

I believe homosexuality is a sin. But that doesn’t mean I hate homosexuals.

I’m not “age appropriate” and never will be. Where did your mind go on that one?

My values do not adapt to a changing cultural environment. I believe biblical standards are the same today as they were 2000 years ago. If you don’t like me today, you won’t like me tomorrow.

I go to church to meet people, not to get more religious.

I do not guard my heart. I go where it takes me.

I’m somewhat of an expert on Praying Mantises.

John

Celibate Singleness? Can I Get A Witness?

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I’ve noticed a new trend lately. Some churches are amending their mission statements to include “celibate singleness” in addition to heterosexual marriage. Here is an example from the First Baptist Church of Monroeville in Pennsylvania:

“We believe that God calls us to either of two patterns He has designed for us: celibate singleness or a faithful heterosexual marriage. We believe that marriage was instituted by God as a sacred and permanent covenant between a man and a woman for the purposes of companionship, enjoyment, completeness, fruitfulness, protection, and illustration of Christ’s relationship with the church. We believe that parents’ chief responsibility is to raise their children to love and serve the Lord.” http://www.fbcmon.org/we-believe.html

Churches, I can go through your Sunday bulletins, sit through your sermons, read your announcements in the local paper – and give you thousands upon thousands of examples of “faithful heterosexual marriages” through wedding and death announcements. However, I can’t find one example of celibate singleness. I can’t find one living witness to the lifestyle Paul encouraged in 1 Corinthians. Do you think that is . . . odd? I do. Do you think a couple of obligatory words in a mission statement is enough to reverse the idolatry of marriage and family in this country? I find it interesting that when church leaders talk about the gift of celibacy, it is always in terms of some theoretical misionary serving Jesus in some dangerous far off land. It’s never a real person, just some rare individual that may exist . . . somewhere in the world. I guess this makes some churches feel better about themselves and more inclusive. Some of them probably look at the addition of this language as a defense against homosexuality. For some of them, their theology on celibacy gets no further than same sex unions. To them, celibacy is just “something gays do to get right with the Lord.” To see celibacy as a vocation of at least as equal proportion to marriage would take a major theological upgrade. Notice that the above mission statement from Monroeville only included the word celibacy. They did not elaborate on it as they did marriage. So in essence, 99% of their statement on family is . . . marriage and family.

My challenge to churches: For every wedding anniversary that you announce in your church, in your bulletins, in your local newspapers, on your local radios, find at least one celibate single, affirm the godliness of their lifestyle, and announce the number of years they have been celibate – just as you do wedding anniversaries. Who are they? Have you ever asked? Want that make some people uncomfortable? Look at the price you’ve paid for comfort so far – abortion, contraception, fornication, adultery, pornography, prostitution, homosexuality. In a few short years, every church in this country will be required to persom same sex “marriages.” Most churches have a repuation already as “just a bunch of hypocrits.” Words are but ink on paper. Witnesses serve as living testaments to the grace of God. If you can’t affirm celibacy as you do marriage, your not qualified to include celibate singles in your mission statements.

Ageism’s Effect on Virtuous Women

Sycamore Tree by John Morgan

Sycamore Tree by John Morgan

Isn’t it odd that virginity is not supposed to exist today after 30, especially for guys? The result is a lot of lonely girls looking for Mr. Right and the typical “I’m too good for you” man-hating language infiltrating the internet dating profiles. How does the virtuous guy interpret that? Not too good. Here’s a sample from a 23 year old girl:

“I’m a virgin and plan on staying that way till I get married. You shouldn’t message me if you’re older then 28. I’m not gonna date you. I’m really not even comfortable being your friend at that point. You better be ready for a conversation. None of this 20 question crap. It’s uncomfortable. I won’t play. You best be ready for a friendship first. That’s right, I only date from my friend zone pile. That’s how I know your character. You are fine with the fact that I will not be willing to meet up with you for a while. I’m wary and if you don’t get why, turn on the news. i don’t wanna hear you aren’t like that. How am I supposed to know that?”

I guess in her world those of us over 28 and waiting don’t exist. This is what happens when even the eyes of decent girls get fogged over with the ways of the world, when they spend so much time in front of TVs watching the rape and murder stories on the local news that they can’t discern reality. Fornication becomes a self-fulfilling prophesy. If you expect no better than that, you will see no better than that. If you expect all Mr. Wrongs, you will see only Mr. Wrongs. Have you ever come across a deer in the road at night? Have you watched it jump around in the glare of your headlights? I’m afraid this is what’s happening to girls today. They are running scared, afraid of men, hunkering down in front of computer screens. Then when they reach 30 or so, they panic and fall into a ditch, broken and battered – with not even a mentor to turn to for encouragement. No matter what the news stories or what the statistics show when it comes to waiting until marriage, you must allow room for impossibilities – for miracles that only God can perform. When you close your mind to the existence of Godly men, become so frozen with paranoia that you can’t say “hello” to a stranger on the street, and have a sign hanging out your window that says “how am I supposed to know,” you are going to reap what you sew – a dry field; or even worse, no mentor to turn to. Sure, there are guys who are jerks out there. But if you know what your standards are, ignore them. Why allow them to pour dirt over your expectations? This may be a surprise, but virtuous guys see the same thing.

How are you supposed to discern the good guys from the bad? First, watch very carefally what goes in your eyes and ears. As 1 Phillippians 4:8 tells us: “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” We cannot think about what is pure and lovely watching the evening news. Turn it off. We also have to fellowship with other unmarried believers. For most Christians, that means church. You can’t sit at home and pick out Mr. Right from an onlight catalog. And, most importantly I think, we have to be open to the guidance of someone older than ourselves. That is not possible when you put a world-defined age limit on virginity. Your parents may be able to encourage you up to a certain age. But if they married at 21 and you’re 25, it will not be too convincing.

This is why you see ages attached to virginity headlines, book titles, and movie titles. 21, 22, 23, 24 . . . 28 years old. It becomes more and more difficult. It is an accomplishment that is measured and valued in years. But like anything else, the glass can be half full or half empty. You’re either grateful that God has gotten you this far or your dreading another day without a husband. God did not promise us a spouse. In my opinion, chastity is more of an intellectual achievement than it is of controlling hormones. Can a 20 year old virgin authentically teach and inspire a 40 year old virgin? Not so much. Can a lady who doesn’t know how to ride a bicycle teach another lady how to fly the space shuttle? I don’t think so. And yes, I think that is a valid analogy. When the 20 year old that spent her younger years talking about how all men are jerks reaches 40 without a husband, she looks around and says “why am I the only one?” I wonder if the Godly man who she brushed off earlier would have stuck around a while longer if she had given him some encouragement? Plus, why am I the only one shouldn’t even be a question to ask. You’re only following God’s will, whether you’re the only one or the one-thousandth one. That’s right. If we did things God’s way, a 60 year old virgin would be as common as leaves on a tree, not even newsworthy.

I just think these choices in life should be made from a position of strength, not from a position of weakness – from a position of hope, not from a position of defeatism. The only time age is mentioned in the Bible is to shatter the early Christians’ expectations. How would people react today if a 91 year old woman gave birth? That’s how old Sarah was when she gave birth to Isaac. In eternity, where will all the clocks be?

Does Man’s Virtue Have Any Value?

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An interesting phenomenom I’ve noticed lately in the world of singleness is that nearly all personal testimonies include a sordid tale of sexual sin and redemption.  No stories about self control and righteousness.  And it seems the more selacious the story the bigger the audience.  It all falls in line with a morally corrupt society, one where a story of purity becomes more and more uncomfortable.  Where does purity fit in a society that worships sex and marriage?  Purity today is seen as emptiness, immaturity, self righteousness, lack of responsibility, adolescence.   Not worth much for the masses.  It won’t sell car insurance, can’t express your freedom, doesn’t need protection, and doesn’t sell on a street corners.  In short, it doesn’ have a story to tell a sin filled world that would rather hear about adultery, fornication, pedophilia, homosexuality, and all other kinds of perversion.  And unfortuately this trend has worked its way into churches and other religious circles.   Here’s a sampling of singles’ “testimonies” from the internet:

Then all of a sudden one day our eyes were opened and we realized that our bodies began to notice things about each other physically and that’s when sex happened.”

“I had PRE MARITAL SEX I AM CONDEMNING MYSELF and I can’t forgive the guy. After I gave everything to him , he dropped me and choose the other girl.”

“I’m pregnant and I don’t know what to do. I intentionally sinned when I made the decision to let my desire control me and have sex last month”

” . . . my boyfriend who i met in church is also active in church we have managed to remain pure until today the temptation was so much and we gave in . . . “

Apparently many people today think that a tragic story of downfall is required to become a Christian, that you’ve got to go through Sodom to get to heaven.  Of course that is not a requirement.  It is possible to accept Christ at a young age and live a life of self control and righteousness.  Consider the story of Joseph in the Bible.  He committed his life to God and purity at a young age.  Even after being sold into slavery to Potiphar, his committment to sexual purity did not change.   According to Genesis 39:12-20:

“When Potiphar’s wife “came and grabbed him by his cloak, demanding, “Come on, sleep with me!” Joseph tore himself away, but he left his cloak in her hand as he ran from the house.  When she saw that she was holding his cloak and he had fled, she called out to her servants.  Soon all the men came running. “Look!” she said.  My husband has brought this Hebrew slave here to make fools of us! He came into my room to rape me, but I screamed. When he heard me scream, he ran outside and got away, but he left his cloak behind with me.  She kept the cloak with her until her husband came home.  Then she told him her story. “That Hebrew slave you’ve brought into our house tried to come in and fool around with me,” she said.  “But when I screamed, he ran outside, leaving his cloak with me!”  Potiphar was furious when he heard his wife’s story about how Joseph had treated her.  So he took Joseph and threw him into the prison where the king’s prisoners were held, and there he remained.”

Three powerful words – tore himself away.  Imagine that, a man rejecting sex!   Notice though that Joseph didn’t get to tell his story.   Potiphar believed his wife with no questions asked.  Men’s virtue in those days didn’t have much value either.  Just as today, it was a woman/child worship society where women were expected to set the sexual standards.   How many testimonies do we hear from men today who tore themselves away from seducers and defended their purity?  Unfortunately, men of character today have to deal with false accusations just as well – from homosexuality to irresponsibility.  Not only is their virtue considered worthless, it has fallen onto the negative side of the balance sheet.   Virtuous Christian single ladies – I encourage you to listen to the stories of men of honor, set aside your suspiciousness and listen to the Josephs in the real world today.  Not all their testimonies sound like sex in the city.  There are men today who accepted Christ at a young age too and are saving sex until marriage.  Potiphar’s wife screamed to the masses and they believed her.  You are going to have to communicate to the world the value you place on virtuous men and stand up to Potiphar’s wife and say “shut up and sit down woman!”  Should stories of brokeness and forgiveness be worth more than stories of self control and righteousness?  Who have you listened too lately?  How much is a virtuous man worth to you?

Maidens Waiting For Marriage In A Fallen World

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This post is to encourage ladies who not only believe in saving sex until marriage, but are also living the life.  It is for those who have waited, are waiting, and will wait.  If you’ve made mistakes, are forgiven, and waiting again – that is perfectly fine and I tip my hat to you.  But this message is for those who are still waiting.  The difference in the support needed is like comparing apples to oranges.  It is in no way meant to be judgmental.

For those of you who have publicly identify yourselves, created blogs of encouragement for men and women who are still waiting, written books on purity, even spoken to groups on chastity and abstinence — Thank you so much.  My hat not only tips, it goes off to you.   I am very aware of your security concerns.  I had the same about a year ago when I started this blog.   I know many of you have had to deal with everything from email attacks to blog bombs – demonstrating perseverance and courage beyond the call of duty.  Your visible witness not only matters to a few men today, but it defends the future of Christian virtue for your children and grandchildren.  Silence in the midst of a dark world will always be filled with noise and decadence.  Thank you for speaking up.  It matters.

If you ever come to a point where you think “I’m the only virgin left in the world” or “there’s not a guy my age waiting anymore,” remember that you’re not the only one left and that there are still guys who treasure you.  In the world we live in today, I know that is difficult to believe.  When you look out a window that’s  layered with fog, specks of light become very difficult to see.   There are Christian guys looking out the same window, who see the same fog.  So no matter what the statistics tell you and when you want to throw up your hands and say “that’s a one in a million man,” be conscious of how you present yourself in public because . . . he could be there.  No matter if it’s a service station, grocery store, post office.  Real men live.  God still intervenes to bring people together.  You may have to decide which is more important – his career and financial success or that he is a man of God waiting with you, waiting to be equally yoked with you.

I do realize that for some of you publicly identifying yourself seems impossible – whether it be from embarrassment, security issues, privacy, etc.  You may find it more comfortable to graze from blog to blog, hiding in the shadows of anonymity.  But we are in a war and darkness needs to be exposed to light.  If ugly words hurled at you bring you to your knees today, you need to rethink your commitment to wait.  It’s going to take tougher skin than that.  In order to affirm something, you must be willing to defend it.  At one time in history, knights defended maidens at all costs.  It was known as chivalry.  So every chance we get, let’s show the world what it is missing.  Show men with dignity and self control that they are worth more than a distrustful glance, an anonymous email, or adolescent games.  There really is no gray area here.  You either build a guy up to what he can be or you tear him down to what he used to be.  It’s your choice.

So to all of you who are waiting – Carry your commitments just as strong into 2014.  It’s God’s design.  And it’s what’s best for us.  Be bold.  Be strong.  Wait.

John

Thank you to –

http://forteebello.com/

http://www.juliaduin.com/

http://www.arleenspenceley.com/

http://www.susanmires.com/

https://www.facebook.com/Godswomaninwaiting – Rachel Hamilton

http://www.silverringthing.com/

https://www.facebook.com/PrincessesPrincesPursuingPurity

https://www.facebook.com/abstinenceuntilmarriage

http://www.timtebowfoundation.org/

http://www.runlolorun.com

Sexual Purity And The Youth Stereotype

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In my humble opinion, it’s the biggest mistake made by today’s churches and is the number one contributing factor to our society of sexual immorality  — assigning the virtue of sexual purity to youth while dismissing its importance for never married adults.  This stereotype is so all encompassing that it makes me dizzy thinking about all the layers that have to be peeled off to expose the biblical truth.  There’s been a lot of talk about sex lately in the news which, unfortunately, shines a bright light on this hypocrisy — thereby weakening the church’s stand on social issues such as same sex marriage, abortion, adultery, etc.   The Bible never puts an age limit on sexual purity and never mentions youth groups, youth pastors, college churches, purity balls for teenage girls, sex education for teens, etc.  But they are so engrained in church tradition today that it’s hard for most people to separate tradition from obedience.  You may be tempted to ask:  “But does it have to be in the Bible to be used today?”  My answer is – when it comes to teaching and modeling sexual values in the 21st century, all of them have to be based on the Bible.  What this limitation does, in effect, is add to the bible.  God’s word clearly tells us we cannot do that:  For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book.” Revelations 22:18.  The addition of age-based purity is just as grave as adding another disciple to God’s word.  The consequences of this have been devastating over the last 20 years.  It reinforces the notion that sexual purity is not possible in adulthood.  It denies that many of the saints reached adulthood.  It denies that Jesus reached adulthood.  What we have left is strictly an adolescent Bible, one that is cute and cuddly and friendly to women and children.  One that is politically correct and comfortable to all.  A Bible as palpable as cotton candy.   What we don’t have is an adult Bible, the sword of the spirit, which is the word of God, slicing through contemporary debates.  God’s infinite wisdom and truth gets no deeper than children’s church, no deeper than the golden calf of marriage and family.  Standards are lowered, expectations are lowered, and the cycle continues.

Nowhere is this more evident than in the written word today.  The subject of sexual purity in books and magazines is almost always approached from the perspective of a concerned parent (True Love Waits, etc).  And in the blogosphere world, 90+% of all articles related to purity are covered by young emotionally charged Catholic girls, 20-somethings who see themselves as experts on all things purity.  Even the negative phrase “purity culture” has been coined to describe them.  It has it’s own language, mindset, and personality.  Since they don’t know what purity is in the adult world, these young writers are typically judgmental, distrustful of all older single men, and bash single men every chance they get.  Most pervasive is the distrust of older single men.   On these blogs, men have been reduced to no more than a drunken bloat sitting at a bar looking for his next skirt to chase.  The patience and self control of older chaste single men has become . . . fantasy.   There are exceptions, of course.  One blogger even remarked that:  “If we lower the bar, he doesn’t have to exist.”  In many ways, we don’t exist today.  Some of these young writers have even stated that it’s inappropriate for 50-60 year old single adults to date.   Many churches have left the job of setting standards of virtue to women.  That’s the main reason so many churches are feminized today, driving real men away, older single men who are just as pure as the purity ball queens.  If these double standards are brought to their attention, their number one defense is numbers – “There are just so few of these men.”  I know I’ve said this before — God’s power and faithfulness is not limited by statistics and numbers.  All of us who are living lives of purity must allow for the supernatural and number-defying workings of God.  We must respect and trust each other, whether it’s in day to day encounters or in the digital world.

Virginity – Don’t Be A Question Mark

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Even though we live in a culture that believes waiting until marriage is only for girls, please remember that purity is a two way street. Young ladies – If marriage is in your plans, you shouldn’t expect anything less than your future husband also being a virgin on your wedding night. I know most of the purity campaigns today are for girls only and will tell you that “boys will be boys,” and that it’s up to you to draw the line. That is simply not true. Real men know how to wait. Some people may tell you that’s being “judgmental” or “self righteous.” The fact is, that’s the way God intended it to be. Your marriage will have the best chance of surviving ’til death do us part if both of you start with no baggage. And even a one night stand is baggage.

Let everybody know that your standards are high. Our society today may tell you that you’re living in a fantasy world. Just remember that there are others who have gone before you who lived it in reality. Waiting until marriage before having sex has nothing to do with age. God does not put a stopwatch on virtue.

I’m just thankful this Thanksgiving 2013 for his guidance in my life – and knowing that I have not fathered a child without a dad or contributed to the number of unwanted children in the world. And I have peace of mind that I’m living in God’s will for my life. Stay strong, be patient. Encourage each other. And above all – Be bold. Don’t be a question mark. John Morgan, Virgin 52