Today’s blog is a guest post by Justin Campbell. Justin is a 40 year old single guy living and working in St. Louis. You can read more by him at his blog More Than Don’t Have Sex, where he writes about singleness, Jesus, the church, and how we can all be in it together.
Previously I wrote about our view of sex. The main two points were that sex was created by God and therefore desire for sex isn’t bad in and of itself. Secondly was that this desire was to be fulfilled so to speak, only in the context of marriage. In the Bible sex is always talked about either in marriage or in sin. A pretty fair definition of sexual immorality is the fulfillment of sexual desire outside the context of marriage.
But this leaves singles in a very tough spot. We have a desire that is good but no “good” way to fulfill it.
Now some married friends have wisely pointed out that you can be married and still struggle with sexual immorality. There is no doubt that this is true. There are all sorts of ways that married people can struggle with this. Single people need to get a clue that marriage doesn’t instantly solve all of this. But at the same time, married people need to think about what it would be like to have no fulfillment of that desire . . . ever.
So, what are we as single people supposed to do with this?
Well all of this raises a bunch of questions actually. What is the point of desires that God gives us? What are we supposed to do with unfulfilled desires? What should we do with sexual desire? When does desire become sin? What do we do practically to deal with sexual desire in a culture that says, “Just Do It”. We need more than “Just Say No”.
Let’s tackle a couple of these today and then we’ll tackle some more next week.
At the end of the day I believe the number one thing we desire is to know that we are loved. Now this desire can get messed up quickly. It can become the desire for approval from people. It is also one of the main emotional drives for sex. Sex was created to bond us to the other person so it feels like a lot like love. But at the truth is our desire to be loved can only be totally fulfilled by God.
What our desires show us is that something is going on in our heart. They are the voice of our heart. When I have a strong desire I need to ask what is going on inside. Where is that coming from?
I don’t believe that desire itself is sin. Paul is clear that even temptation (which plays on desire) is not sin. Giving in to it is. Now we can have desires that come from our sin. In other words the more I live in (abide in) disobedience, the more I will desire the wrong stuff. This is then compounded when I fulfill that desire in a sinful way.
Psalms 37:4 says, “Delight yourself in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart.” This scripture is misapplied all the time. Often people assume it means that if I delight or abide in the Lord that I will get what I want, as if to say, first I want something, I go delight in God, and He gives it to me. That would be wrong.
What it means is that first I delight in the Lord. When I do that He gives me my core value and love and then my desires (remember they are the voice of my heart) start coming from Him. He literally gives me my desires – my desires become His desires. The point is that depending on where my heart is at, my desires will follow.
Just because I have a desire doesn’t mean I should fulfill it. I mean I have good and bad desires all the time. But I can’t be mastered by my desires. Instead I need to submit them to the Lord. I need to let my desires (most of which at some level come back to the desire to be loved) drive me to the Lord. Sexual desire is no different.
Now all this sounds really nice. But let’s put it in context. If I’m going to have any chance of handling my sexual desire as a single (or married for that matter) I’m going to have to be walking closely with the Lord. This is true of every desire but I do think sexual desire is a little different. Sex is one of the most powerful forces in our world and we shouldn’t discount that fact. It was made that way on purpose.
Monday I will dive into what we can do practically to deal with it. But none of that will matter if I’m not going to allow it to drive me towards Jesus. Without Him it will be like putting bandaids on gaping wounds.