Sex and the Single Christian

Young Couple

Young Couple, by Richard Foster (Flickr), Creative Commons License

“In a recent study conducted by ChristianMingle.com, Christian singles between the ages of 18 to 59 were asked, ‘Would you have sex before marriage?’ The response? Sixty-three percent of the single Christian respondents indicated yes.” [1]

In a sobering reality check, Kenny Luck points out that “These are our adults who populate our weekend services, attend our Bible studies, download our podcast messages, pray often and who have Jesus Culture, TobyMac and Maroon 5 in their playlists.”

At this point, the full weight of Jesus’ statement begins to sink in: “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it” (Matthew 7:13-14).

Jesus wasn’t just predicting that people who profess no faith in Him will outnumber those who do. His prophecy goes much deeper than that. Unfortunately, even among those who do profess faith in Jesus, there are “few” whose faith actually makes a difference in the way they choose to live their lives. It’s a narrow road, even among “Christians.”

The Bottom Line

Through thirty years of ministry, I’ve seen volumes of statistics concerning each generational demographic—the Baby Boomers, Gen-X, the Millennials—and have been exposed to numerous philosophical infrastructures such as situation ethics, postmodernism, and moral relativism, to name a few. I’ve read authors who wring their hands in frustration trying to figure out how to help these various groups with their various philosophical slants understand the absolute truth of God’s word, and who ponder out loud how the church needs to change its message (or at least its approach) to reach out to each successive group of “new thinkers.”

The bottom line is this: God’s word is truth. You can hold a postmodern view of the Bible if you want. You can accept it as a good book but deny its relevance in a 21st century world if you want. You can be all Zen and see the Bible as one of many equally-important spiritual narratives. You can even flat-out deny God and the Bible as mere fairy tale fodder. Each person is free to choose his or her own belief system, but none of that changes the bottom line: God’s word is truth. Period.

Sex and the Bible

God’s word tells us that He designed sexual pleasure to be enjoyed in a heterosexual, monogamous marriage relationship for the purpose of strengthening the bond between a husband and wife, helping them faithfully keep their lifetime commitment to each other, “until death do us part.” That is absolute biblical truth. Each person is free to accept that truth or reject it, but by rejecting it a person also denies the authority of the one who established it as truth. Rejecting God’s truth is the same as rejecting God.

Such a position (the rejection of biblical moral principles concerning sex) is to be expected from people who do not accept that God is real and that His word is truth. And each person certainly has the freedom to choose his own worldview: Christian, Jewish, Atheist, Muslim, Buddhist, Agnostic, Rastafarian, Pastafarian, etc., etc., etc. That worldview will determine whether a person accepts or rejects the Bible as authoritative in determining which behaviors are moral and right, and which behaviors are immoral and wrong. If you choose to be a Christian, you choose to accept that God is real and that His word is truth. Therefore, you cannot claim to be a Christian while rejecting God’s authority to dictate what you can and cannot do in your (or anyone else’s) bedroom. If you reject God’s authority, you cannot be a follower of Christ.

I realize that it is very non-postmodern of me to think that way, but that actually speaks to the point I’m trying to make. It doesn’t matter what label you put on a particular way of thinking, a particular worldview, a particular philosophical approach to life. Rejecting truth is rejecting truth. Period.

The Christian Response

So, as Christians, do we just thumb our noses at people who are struggling to align their behaviors with their beliefs? Do we laugh our evil laugh as we condemn to hell anyone who does not follow our understanding of truth as perfectly as we do? Do we adopt Westboro Baptist Church’s “God Hates Fags” approach as we look down our noses in disgust and kick dirt on anyone who doesn’t practice what we preach?

ABSOLUTELY NOT!

“Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ” (Ephesians 4:15).

As in all areas of life, here we must seek to achieve balance.

Here’s the balance. Truth is truth, and we cannot compromise truth or deny God’s authority to speak truth into our lives through His word. But if our approach to sharing truth is to shove it down people’s throats and stomp on their faces until they swallow it, we are completely missing half of the picture. Speaking the truth is essential, but if we don’t do it in love, we are doing it wrong. Love is just as much a part of truth as truth is.

The reality is that life can get messy when you are an imperfect person trying to live up to a perfect standard. I am just as guilty of sin as any of those sixty-three percent of Christian singles surveyed who said that sex before marriage is not a moral issue for them. They are wrong about that, but I am wrong about a lot of things as well. Love dictates that I deal with the moral issue without looking down on them or thinking that I am better than them. (Remember that pesky little verse in Philippians 2:3? That’s truth, too!) I once heard someone say, “You aren’t any better than me just because I sin differently than you do.” Wow.

So Now What?

Kenny Luck draws the following conclusions regarding how those of us in Christian ministry should respond to the crisis of disconnect that is represented by the survey statistics quoted above.

“We must do our work in the midst of this attack on the body of Christ and fulfill our ministries in the midst of this spiritual battle. We must faithfully and directly speak into the relevant spiritual and practical themes that are at the root of the issue instead of wasting our time bemoaning the symptoms these statistics represent. We must graciously but prophetically call out the shortsightedness of Christians who are borrowing trouble sexually and sinning against God and others in the process … We must confront ourselves and our brothers and sisters with the veracity, authority and loving transparency of Scripture, which reflects God’s love and wisdom in life-saving and marriage-saving ways. That is, we must point out the truth that if I am undisciplined sexually before marriage and willing to compromise my convictions before marriage, a wedding ring will not make me disciplined after marriage.”

That last statement is powerful.

God’s position on sex before (or outside of) marriage has not changed in the last two thousand years. He has not adjusted His moral mandates to align with postmodern thought, nor has He established a focus group to seek input on the relevance of His ideas as they relate to this or any other generation. He has clearly stated His rules. You are free to accept or reject those rules. Each of those choices has eternal consequences.

Paul O'Rear Signature

 

 

Sources:

  1. Luck, Kenny. Charisma Media, “Sexual Atheism: Christian Dating Data Reveals a Deeper Spiritual Malaise.” Last modified April 08, 2014. Accessed April 9, 2014. http://www.charismamag.com/life/relationships/20129-sexual-atheism-christian-dating-data-reveals-a-deeper-spiritual-malaise.

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2 thoughts on “Sex and the Single Christian

  1. I find it interesting that so many preachers put all single adults in the same boat with no room to respect those who have and are living lives of purity. I think there are actually more married people who live sexually adulterous lives and there are just as many statistics to prove that. The root problem is that we have a society that idolizes marriage and family. How do you think Apostle Paul would fit in this discussion? Are you ready to call him and all of his brothers and sisters today athiests?

    • Thanks for sharing your thoughts, John. Please forgive me if I gave you the impression that I think all single adults are “in the same boat,” or that the problem of sexual sin is confined to the singles community. I do not, nor did I intend to insinuate such with this article. I have utmost respect for anyone who lives a life of purity, whether single or married. You are absolutely correct that sexual sin is not just a problem for singles. Any statistic that reveals any percentage of adultery among Christian couples would be just as disheartening as the ChristianMingle.com statistic mentioned above.

      The whole purpose of this article was to respond to that particular statistic, and to the huge underlying problem that it reveals: there seems to be a disconnect with a lot of Christians between what they profess to believe and how they live their lives. This is certainly not just a problem among Christian singles (nor is it a problem inherent to all Christian singles), but among Christians in general. I guess I should have been more clear that the remainder of the article wasn’t designed to pick on singles, but rather to examine the larger underlying problem as a whole.