Overcoming Sexual Sin When You are Single

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I am writing tonight from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

I have talked to more than one single Christian, who told me, “When I promised God I would wait until I was married, I figured I would be married by now.” Other singles, even in the church, seem to think no sex before marriage just means no sex while you are a teenager. Age isn’t the issue.

Today there are more and more divorced Christians, and people who have other ambitions, who are putting off marriage until later in life. Being single, I find myself in single circles, where single Christians, both men and women voice their sexual frustration. They are not trying to be provocative or seductive. They are just being real. They want to be Christians, but they are still sexual. We are not made sexual at marriage. We are made sexual at birth.

Being made sexual at birth, how do Christians control sexual appetite until they are married? How do Christian divorced people control their sexual urges? How do Christian widows and widowers satisfy their sexual needs? I don’t imagine after 60 years of healthy sex, that the desire dies when your spouse dies. Does God meet the sexual needs of all these single people?

And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from his glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:19 NLT

If it says God will supply all our needs, we have to understand that includes sexual needs of single people. If we can trust God to provide for our financial needs, we can trust Him to provide for our sexual needs as well. We can go to Him and tell Him about all our needs. Then we can trust Him to provide in a way that is best for us. We are familiar with a phrase in Desire of Ages,

Our heavenly Father has a thousand ways to provide for us, of which we know nothing. Those who accept the one principle of making the service and honor of God supreme will find perplexities vanish, and a plain path before their feet. –Ellen White, Desire of Ages, Page 330.

Was sex the context here? No. Am I taking things out of context if I say God has a thousand ways to provide for our sexual needs, when we serve and honor God? Maybe, but please hear me out. First, we need to understand that marriage does not guarantee sex. Sadly there are celibate marriages for various reasons we won’t get into here. Having said that, sex does not guarantee intimacy. I once read in a sexual purity book long ago, that some people will have sex to avoid intimacy! Instead of talking and being intimate with their hearts and emotions, they will just be physical to avoid being intimate. Now that’s not good either, because sex should involve intimacy. But here is my point: Many of us think we crave sex when we actually crave intimacy. All sex should be intimate, but not all intimacy has to be sex.

I think we crave healthy relationships more than we crave sex. I think Mary Magdalene found something in Jesus that satisfied her desire for sex, even though it wasn’t sex, and Jesus was the perfect Gentleman with her. I think she found something in Him greater than sex. She found true love and intimacy. She needed true love and intimacy more than she needed sex. So do we.

God does not require us to give up anything that it is for our best interest to retain. In all that He does, He has the well-being of His children in view. Would that all who have not chosen Christ might realize that He has something vastly better to offer them than they are seeking for themselves. –Ellen White, Steps to Christ, Page 46.

I have to believe this passage includes sexual activity. If God has not given you a Christian sex life right now, it is only because He has something vastly better for you right now. He knows all your needs, not just the needs of your bank account. He knows your sexual needs too. He cares for you in all your ways.

The Lord will withhold no good thing from those who do what is right. Psalms 84:11 NLT

If sex was good for single people God would give it to them, but sex is not good for single people, which is the only reason He does not give it to them. But love and intimacy is good for single people, and He gives that to them, through church, family, and a personal relationship with Him.

Though I don’t have all the answers, I believe God can supply the sexual needs of His single people, with pure love and intimacy, and a thousand other ways we know nothing about. The solution is to trust God with your sexual needs just like any other need.

Please let me paraphrase a popular passage.

Keep your [sexual] wants, your joys, your sorrows, your cares, and your fears before God. You cannot burden Him; you cannot weary Him. He who numbers the hairs of your head is not indifferent to the [sexual] wants of His children. “The Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy.” James 5:11. His heart of love is touched by our [sexual] sorrows and even by our utterances of them. Take to Him everything [including sex] that perplexes the mind. Nothing is too great for Him to bear, for He holds up worlds, He rules over all the affairs of the universe. Nothing that in any way concerns our [sexual] peace is too small for Him to notice. There is no chapter in our experience too dark for Him to read; there is no perplexity too difficult for Him to unravel. No [Sexual] calamity can befall the least of His children, no anxiety harass the soul, no joy cheer, no sincere prayer escape the lips, of which our heavenly Father is unobservant, or in which He takes no immediate interest. “He healeth the [sexually] broken in heart, and bindeth up their wounds.” Psalm 147:3. The relations between God and each soul are as distinct and full as though there were not another soul upon the earth to share His watchcare, not another soul for whom He gave His beloved Son. -Ellen White, Steps to Christ, Page 100.

God loves single people just as much as He loves married people, and He makes single people just as happy as married people.  God can appropriately meet the sexual needs of single people as easily as He can meet the sexual needs of married people. Believe in His love, and He will meet all your daily needs.

You can study this week’s Sabbath School Lesson here.

Modesty: It’s Not About Sex, It’s About the Holy Spirit

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I am writing today from beautiful Chattanooga, Tennessee.

Then they came to Jesus, and saw the one who had been demon-possessed and had the legion, sitting and clothed and in his right mind. Mark 5:15 NKJV

When the demoniac became converted, he was clothed and in his right mind. So today, the closer we come to Jesus the more appropriately we dress. In Genesis 3 when Adam realized he was naked, he tried to make a garment of fig leaves, and work out a way to cover his nakedness. As always man’s works failed. God covered Adam’s nakedness with animal skins, meaning an animal had to die to cover his shame. This pointed Adam to the cross, where Jesus would die to cover our nakedness. I believe we grieve the Holy Spirit when we refuse to acknowledge our nakedness physically and spiritually. The demoniac was physically naked (Luke 8:27) and so was Adam (Genesis 3). When they both met God they both became clothed. So physical clothing is a part of the gospel. One way we show the Holy Spirit has convicted us of our need of a Savior is by dressing appropriately.

When we let Jesus’ righteousness cover our naked souls we also cover our naked bodies. This is what happened in the Bible with Adam and the demoniac.

Jesus’ message to Laodicea draws a close parallel between physical nakedness and spiritual nakedness.

… you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked— I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich; and white garments, that you may be clothed, that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed. Revelation 3:17-18 NKJV

When the Holy Spirit convicts us of the need of a Savior, to cover our spiritual nakedness, we dress appropriately physically as well. By dressing inappropriately what we are saying is “I don’t need a Savior.” This greatly grieves the Holy Spirit!

While the Bible uses men illustrating the need for modesty, we usually use women today. We talk about how men are stimulated by sight so women need to be careful how they dress. In discussions on modestly, you can always count on a woman saying she dresses modestly to keep men from lusting at her. It doesn’t sound modest at all. It sounds arrogant and assuming. It takes the focus off of the cross, placing it on sex instead. I have listened to Christian people talking about modesty, in a way, that would make you think sex was the focus of their life instead of the cross of Jesus.

When we accept the Holy Spirit, and acknowledge our need of a Savior, we dress appropriately, because we sense the presence of God. Truly modest people don’t assume their beauty is a stumbling block. When we are truly modest, meek and poor in spirit, we cover up, because we realize people need to see less of us and more of Jesus. Our dress is not in response to who may or may not be turned on. Our dress is in response to the Holy Spirit telling us we need a Savior. After all, the Holy Spirit glorifies Jesus, those who have the Holy spirit, glorify Jesus in their words, actions and dress. When we do so we make the Holy Spirit happy!

You may study this week’s SS lesson here. 

Sex is one of the Greatest Evidences There is a God

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

In light of recent debates on creation or the existence of God, here are my thoughts, I am sharing simply because I have not seen them shared anywhere else and I believe they are important.

  1. Its infinitely impossible to believe we came from a big bang or just evolved. Its infinity times infinity impossible to believe that we just evolved or came from a big bang, and oh by the way, we just happen to be able to reproduce with each other.
  2. If the Biblical guidelines for sex are not real, then why does sex outside of those guidelines leave us with emotional scars that can only be healed by the forgiveness and agape love found in the Bible? (An unbeliever may say the scars come from our  man made “religious hangups”  about sex, yet unbelievers are scared by immoral and sexual abuse too, so it has to be more than just our own man made “hangups.”)
  3. At creation we were given the Sabbath and marriage/sex. Satan has done his best to make us forget we have a Creator by making a counterfeit Sabbath and counterfeit (immoral) sexual relationships which lead us back to number 2.

Married People say the Darndest Things!

I am writing tonight from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

I am writing tonight from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

While this post is intended to be lighthearted, it does concern me to see young and old people pressured by society into marriages that are not healthy. We live in a culture that seems to think that a bad relationship is better than no relationship at all. This simply is not true. It also concerns me that many people spend more energy trying to find a spouse instead of finding God! Now onto the lighthearted (yet true!) stuff……

Most of my friends are married. I don’t do singles groups for the simple reason that I don’t think of myself as a “single person”. I think of myself as a “person”, and I hang out with married and single people who think of themselves and me as people, and not labels. A lot of singles, like myself enjoy mainstream life because we don’t make a big deal about being singe. We just live our normal lives. My church is a multi-racial church and we all get along great because we simply don’t think of each other as a certain race. We just think of each other as people. I not only worship with other races, I work with and play with people from all races and cultural backgrounds. We don’t ignore our differences. We just don’t label each other anything other than “people.” To me, having a singles social is about as silly as having a white peoples social. Why don’t we forget our skin color and marital status and just have a people social? Well by George that’s what we do.  I don’t think a lot about being single. I don’t run home from work each night and pray, begging God to send me someone. Instead I just live a normal life with normal friends.

After all, if I do find a wife I want her to be normal, and what better place to find a normal mainstream woman than in mainstream society, instead of a group of singles trying to avoid mainstream life?

Now even though most people can live normal mainstream lives in a multi-racial culture, you will still occasionally hear people say silly things about other races. They are not so much racist as just ignorant. Likewise, while I enjoy living my single life with normal married and single people I have still heard some silly things over time.

Anyway all this is just an introduction to my personal top ten list of things I have actually heard married people say over the years. Please remember these are all exceptions to the normal mainstream things I hear from normal mainstream people.  I want to stress again that I live in a mainstream society that treats people like people and does not label them, single or married, black or white, rich or poor, Yankees fan or Rays Fan. Okay maybe we isolate the Yankees fan, but everyone else gets treated normal. What makes the list below so funny is that it is so non-mainstream, random and just plain weird!

Top Ten Darndest Things I Have Heard Married People Say.

10. “How can you preach about sex while you are single?”

This was a comment from a lady about my blog post about sexual purity. Apparently the lady commenting did not realize that single people are sexual. Yes, celibate people are still sexual. You don’t have to be sexually active to be sexual. Therefore, any person who is either male or female has a gender, and is authorized to preach about sex. After all, I am a sex.

9. “How can you be an elder since you are single?”

I was only asked this one time, but I have heard about other people being asked the same thing. 99.9% of the protestant world understands that when Paul mentioned that an elder should be the husband of one wife (See 1 Timothy 3) that he was not making marriage mandatory but was speaking against polygamy. For the other .01% let me explain it this way. When you tell your child they can go to the candy store but only get one piece of candy, you remind them as they leave, “get one piece of candy!” Now you are not demanding they get one piece of candy are you? No. You are just meaning only one. It’s that simple folks. It really is.

8. “Don’t worry, you will find someone.”

Who said I was worried, and who said I was looking, and who said “someone” needs to be found?

7. “Why have you never married?”

Possible answers to this question might be, “I guess I am too ugly” or, “I didn’t know I was suppose to get married.” I just scratch my head and wonder why they asked me that, instead of not asking me why I have never been scuba diving. Both questions are just as relevant in my mind.  By the way I have never asked a person, “why are you married” or “why are you divorced?” Such questions about marital status never cross my mind. I guess it’s the introvert in me, only wanting to think and talk about important things, that are relevant to mainstream society. Instead of wondering why people are married or not, I wonder about important things, like “Why doesn’t Cincinnati have an NBA or NHL team? No seriously! I am asking! Why not?

6. “I can see why they have never married!”

This is usually said when a single person exhibits a quirk in their personality. They forget that married people have their quirks too. The saying does not bother me. Actually, single people use that same phrase all the time too. We just apply it to other singles and not ourselves.  Ha ha

5. “Sure! That’s what normal people do.”

That was the response I got from a friend, when I mentioned that I heard his niece was getting married. So, was he insinuating something and I was just too dense to get it? This same friend also has the number one comment at the end of my list. By the way, while normal people get married strange people get married too, and vice versa for singles.

4. “We would like to invite you to Thanksgiving dinner if you have no place to go.”

No thanks. I’ve already had several invites from families who invited me because they like me.

3. “We would invite you, but you would just feel like a third wheel.”

Really? How do you know? And why would I feel like a third wheel? Because you all are purple and I am white? Or because you all are Catholic and I am protestant? Or because you all were born in New England and I was born in Oklahoma? Please help me with that one. I don’t know what to feel like a third wheel about. That’s okay. I’m not a wheel anyway. I’m going to go hang out with people. I’m a people.

2. “Wow! How did you know that? You’re single!”

A lady asked me this, years ago, when I asked if she was expecting. She was a casual drinker and made the comment she could not have alcohol right now. I asked if she was expecting to which she said she was and then acted shocked and dismayed that a single man would know that a pregnant woman should not be drinking. Seriously people? Do we need to go back to the top of the list?  (By the way I believe in abstinence from alcohol  for everyone so no need to write to me about that.)

1. “If you never get married and have kids, then when you die, it is like you’re whole life was all about nothing and you never existed.”

I was told this by the husband and father of a family I was having dinner with, in their home, at their invitation. I don’t think that one even deserves a rebuttal, but it is good for laughs whenever I remember that a real person actually said that! And no, he was not joking. It was a very serious and earnest comment.

See, married people really do say the darndest things!

Meaningful Relationships or Time Wasting

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

In her post, Life-Changing or Time Wasting, Lillianne Lopez cites that only 31% of Americans believe the Bible is inspired. Why do you think that is? I received a clue while I enjoyed reading Lillianne’s post.

A lady friend of mine instant-messaged me, saying she was frustrated with the singles websites, because the men contacting her were only after one thing – sex. She was disappointed she could not find anyone interested in a genuine relationship. I am sure they are out there. God has wonderful people all over the world. Still the question crossed my mind, is that why so many people don’t accept the Bible? Because, like the men contacting my lady friend, 69% of Americans are just looking for ways to gratify themselves instead of giving what it takes to make a meaningful relationship?The Bible does not do much for the pleasure seeker.

Then he [Jesus] said to the crowd, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross daily, and follow me.” Luke 9:23 NLT

The Bible does not do much for human pride.

 And I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. Romans 7:18 NLT

The Bible does not do much for those wanting to be in the elite social circles.

You will be hated all over the world because you are my followers.Matthew 24:9 NLT

Hence, the temptation – since the Bible does not tickle our fancy we cast it aside as uninspired and navigate towards those who flatter our pride and cater to our whims. We flatter those who flatter us, calling them inspired and profound, while they flatter us by assuring us we are on the right track, or as Jesus puts it, the blind leading the blind. Many mega and not so mega churches, have dropped teachings about self-denial and commandment keeping from their teachings, because they learned they are just not good marketing tools. Some call this being “progressive,” while their strategy is really nothing new. It was used by the apostate church way back in the Dark Ages.

Little by little, at first in stealth and silence, and then more openly as it increased in strength and gained control of the minds of men, “the mystery of iniquity” carried forward its deceptive and blasphemous work. Almost imperceptibly the customs of heathenism found their way into the Christian church. The spirit of compromise and conformity was restrained for a time by the fierce persecutions which the church endured under paganism. But as persecution ceased, and Christianity entered the courts and palaces of kings, she laid aside the humble simplicity of Christ and His apostles for the pomp and pride of pagan priests and rulers; and in place of the requirements of God, she substituted human theories and traditions. The nominal conversion of Constantine, in the early part of the fourth century, caused great rejoicing; and the world, cloaked with a form of righteousness, walked into the church. Now the work of corruption rapidly progressed. Paganism, while appearing to be vanquished, became the conqueror. Her spirit controlled the church. Her doctrines, ceremonies, and superstitions were incorporated into the faith and worship of the professed followers of Christ.  -Ellen White, Great Controversy, Page 49

What a clever marketing scheme! It really made the church grow by leaps and bounds. By worldly standards it was brilliant. Yet we cannot gauge the success of the church or our personal lives by worldly standards. I don’t think I told you earlier, that it was Christian websites and – may I dare say it – Adventist Singles websites my friend was visiting, while everyone was trying to get with her for their own sexual gratification, instead of a meaningful relationship with her.

God would be better pleased to have six truly converted to the truth as the result of their labors, than to have sixty make a nominal profession, and yet not be thoroughly converted. Ellen White, Evangelism page 320

See friends, God is a lot like my lady friend. He is looking for meaningful relationships, instead of a multitude of people seeking their own gratification. While I am happy being single, I think I could also be happy married. Meanwhile, I have my family, friends, church and people in all my study groups, to keep me so busy I don’t have time to be lonely. (I didn’t even tell anybody that last Thursday, on my day off, I actually sneaked down to the Florida Everglades for some alone time!) Meanwhile I meet single people who are lonely. They are not seeking sexual gratification. They are seeking meaningful relationships. One told me, “I know they say marriage takes a 50-50 effort on both sides to make it work, but I would be willing to give 90 and only take 10 if I could just share my life with someone.” My heart broke with sympathy when I heard that. I knew they were telling the truth.

Friends, if you are looking for self-gratification I can see why you would toss the Bible aside. Yet if you are looking for a meaningful relationship, let me share with you Someone who has already given, not 90% but 100%.

Since he [The Father] did not spare even his own Son but gave him up for us all, won’t he also give us everything else? Romans 8:23 NLT

Are you still hesitant because of the verses I shared with you earlier?

But what do we give up, when we give all? A sin-polluted heart, for Jesus to purify, to cleanse by His own blood, and to save by His matchless love. And yet men think it hard to give up all! I am ashamed to hear it spoken of, ashamed to write it.

God does not require us to give up anything that it is for our best interest to retain. In all that He does, He has the well-being of His children in view. Would that all who have not chosen Christ might realize that He has something vastly better to offer them than they are seeking for themselves. Man is doing the greatest injury and injustice to his own soul when he thinks and acts contrary to the will of God. No real joy can be found in the path forbidden by Him who knows what is best and who plans for the good of His creatures. The path of transgression is the path of misery and destruction.  -Ellen White, Steps to Christ, Page 46

To all those who are looking for something beyond superficial self-gratifying relationships offered by the world, and would like a more meaningful and deeper relationship, may I introduce to you Someone Who is willing to give 100% to have a real relationship with you? May I introduce to you a God who loves you more than life itself? He has written a very eloquent and inspired love letter for you called the Bible. If you appreciate real love instead of superficial self-gratification, I know you will agree it is inspired.

You may study this week’s SS lesson here.

Marriage and Sex, Sacred or Sinful?

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I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil…Isaiah 5:20

I occasionally hear people, both single and married,  tell demeaning jokes about marriage. For example, a Three Stooges fan told me about an episode where Moe asked someone, “Are you married or happy?” That’s a sad joke. Marriages should not be known for unhappiness. Marriage is a sacred gift from God. How would we like it if people made jokes about our valuable gifts?

While many of us are happily single, we can still appreciate happy marriages, and hurt with those in unhealthy marriages, instead of making jokes.

Marriage reminds us of the creation and our Creator, just as the Sabbath and the weekly cycle do. Even married atheists must somehow recognize that there must be some validity to the creation story in Genesis 1 and 2. Where else does the weekly cycle and marriage come from, except creation?

Let me share something else that concerns me. Sex also goes back to creation and is a gift from God. I often hear people refer to sex as bad when in fact it is a blessing from God. I am not being sacreligious when I say I don’t think anyone appreciates sex more than God. He invented it, and I believe He is happy when married couples enjoy good sex. There are many spiritual lessons to be found in healthy, sexual relationships. Some of these are seen in the book Song of Solomon. Just the fact that the Bible says that “Adam knew Eve his wife; and she conceived” Genesis 4:1 gives us an idea of what it means to really know someone, and how intimate a relationship Christ wants with us.

While the Bible is quite open and even graphic about sex and passion, in many of the cultures of today we are not comfortable with that. We focus more on pure Biblical love being a principle instead of a passion. I submit to you that pure Biblical love is both principle and passion. After all it was not just principle that made Adam and Eve conceive. When they knew each other it was a combination of principle and passion. When those combined, Adam and Eve produced more people. Do you think that if our church would add a little passion to our principles we also could produce more Christians? Our God is a God of principle but He also created us to be passionate! He is passionate. We don’t call the week before the crucifixion passion week for nothing. God created passion and sex to help us understand God and His love. He also gave us marriage, so we could see that passionate love also has principles and faithfulness. While Solomon wrote much about the principles of a Godly wife, He also wrote unashamedly, “ let her breasts satisfy thee at all times; and be thou ravished always with her love.”  Proverbs 5:19

It may not seem like a big deal to you, but I think we give kids the wrong message about sex when we say, “That movie is bad because there is sex in it.” I think instead we should say, “That movie is bad, because there is immoral sex in it.” This way we make a distinction between God-sanctified sex and immoral sex.

People complain about the sex in today’s sitcoms. To me, what makes something appropriate or inappropriate is not just the subject, but how often the subject is addressed. The Cosby show was appreciated by many Christian homes. The subject of sex was rarely discussed, but there were a couple of episodes where it was discussed quite openly. Many Christian homes appreciated those episodes too because it was discussed tastefully and it was not discussed in every episode, so when it was introduced it was appreciated. The Cosby Show demonstrated how sex can be wholesome in its proper place.

We don’t need to be afraid of sex, nor do we have to be obsessed with it. Sex becomes inappropriate, like anything else, when it is discussed too much or in an inappropriate context. Like sex, death, money and other topics, it should be openly discussed, while keeping in mind that different people have different comfort levels when these things are discussed. One comfort level is not better than the other, but people are just different and react in different ways.

The way Paul writes about circumcision tells me this was not really a private matter at all to him. He even mentions Timothy by name as not wanting to be circumcised. Today some people would freak out if a person’s name was mentioned in such a discussion. In reading my Bible I have never found anything to make me believe that sex was a taboo subject as far as God is concerned. Moses wrote quite frankly about it, and I find no reason not to believe these words were read to the people in mixed company with children present.

A couple of years ago, a well known speaker by the name of Nancy Van Pelt, came to our church to speak about sexual purity. Parents had their children present to hear the much needed presentation. During the presentation I overheard an older gentleman sitting in the pew behind me, say to his wife, “They need to get the children out of here! She is talking about sex!” I chuckled to myself, because I knew children were her target audience.

A few years before that, a friend invited me to attend a men’s ministry seminar on sexual purity. The pamphlet said you had to be at least 17 to attend. I was a few decades over that. When we arrived at the seminar, we both were surprised to find that it was way more than a simple sexual purity seminar. It was more like a workshop for recovering sex addicts! During the seminar I listened to men talk about when their addictions began. Many began at age 11 or 12 or sooner. I remembered the brochure saying you had to be at least 17 to attend. I thought to myself, this does not make sense. The problems begin at 11 or 12 but you have to deal with it on your own until you are 17? No wonder there is so much sexual dysfunction in the world and church today!

Some people talk about how dirty shows are today, and say back in their day, Lucy and Ricky did not even sleep in the same bed. I have to be honest with you, and say that I don’t think that is practical either. I don’t think that really sends an appropriate message about sex and marriage to our young people. Like I said in an earlier post, we must avoid extremism. Taking sex to either extreme is from Satan, not from God.

There is a difference between sex and inappropriate sex, and there is an appropriate way to discuss sex openly and an inappropriate way. Sex is a part of life, and to me, a sitcom that pretends sex does not even exist is not any more healthy and just as extreme as a sitcom that obsesses on sex. When my parents told me about sex, they did it as easily and openly as when they told me how to change the oil in my car. Talking about car maintenance should not be awkward, and neither should talking about sex be awkward.

Back to marriage now. Marriage is a gift from God. While I am happily single, I am definitely open to being married some day. Meanwhile, I hurt when families hurt, and I am happy when I see happy, healthy marriages. I have observed that people in healthy marriages seem to be more outgoing and social, thus creating a greater blessing for the church and community, while unhealthy marriages tend to isolate the couple, thus robbing the church and community of the blessings they could be to it, and it cuts the couple off from receiving the blessings the church and community could be to them.

While God has given us the gift of marriage and sex, let’s not speak of them as bad or negative. Paul says that marriage is honorable, and sex within marriage is undefiled. See Hebrews 13:4  Do not call evil what God calls good. God has designed His gifts to be great blessings when properly appreciated.

Enjoy this week’s SS lesson on marriage at SSNET.

Living Holy Single Lives

I am writing tonight from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

I don’t usually make a big deal either way about being single. I don’t think of myself as a single person, I just think of myself as a person. While I have heard other single people complain about married people treating them differently, I can only count on one hand the number of married people who have treated me differently because of my single status. 98% of the people I come in contact with treat me no differently than if I was married. I don’t believe in discriminating between marital or single statuses any more than race or anything else. I simply think of myself as a person regardless of single status or race or religion, and I simply think of other people as people regardless of their statuses.

I understand that celibacy is not the norm. I also totally agree that being single does not make you more holy. (Of course being married does not make you more holy either.) Yes, the Scriptures tell us that Peter was married. However the scriptures also tell us Paul was not married at the time of his ministry and even more so Jesus was never married. While Jesus and the scriptures never forbade marriage, Jesus and Paul both have given us enough counsel to see that celibacy has many spiritual advantages. (Matthew 19:12, 1 Corinthians 7)Satan always takes things God says to extremes. For example Satan suggested to Eve that God told her she could not eat of “any” of the trees when in reality He only told her not to eat from one. While the Bible clearly suggests that it is good for some people not to marry, the Bible never forbade marriage and even warns us in 1 Timothy 4 that the antichrist would be the one who forbids marriage. Clearly extremism is to be avoided. No one has to get married and no one has to remain single. I will gladly admit that being married can and should lead one to be a better Christian, and also admit that being single is a very convenient way to be selfish. There is no one as free as a single adult. You answer to neither spouse nor parent. You just do whatever you want whenever you want. While marriage calls for self sacrifice there are many wonderful single Christians who crucify self every day while there are many married people who never think of their spouse or children. While many people say that you have to be married to understand what it takes to make a marriage work, I somewhat disagree. I do know exactly what it takes to make a marriage work and maybe that is why I have chosen to remain single to this point in my life. On the other hand you find some married people who are married only because they did not know what it took. I know of many single people who have sacrificed to care for the needs of neglected children who are not their own, even though they never made a vow to. There are many single aunts and uncles, “big brothers” and “big sisters” out there who will never get a Father’s Day or Mother’s Day card though they are quite deserving of one. There are those who believe an elder must be married to give counsel to families. While I have never been a husband or father, I have been a son, brother, uncle, nephew and grandson. So I have been in a family and I do know how families work. Also please don’t slaughter Paul’s counsel to Timothy to mean that you have to be married to be an elder. As Bible scholars clearly understand, Paul simply meant no more than one wife. Not that you must have one wife. It’s like when your child goes to the store to buy a piece of candy, and you tell him, “get one piece of candy.” You are not demanding he get a piece of candy but only one. It’s as simple as that when Paul said “one wife.” He was not demanding elders have a wife, but no more than one wife, as polygamy was the issue.  Is one’s ability to be a spiritual leader dependant upon being married, or being anointed by the Lord? I had someone tell me once that I could not be an elder because Paul says that an elder must rule well his own home. Well I do rule my own home well, by not marrying anyone who would corrupt my home. I heard someone say once that I could not be an elder because I can’t counsel with married people because I don’t know what it is like to be married. So if married elders are the only ones who can help married people then wouldn’t single elders be the only ones who could help single people? But single people don’t need or deserve elders who understand them? Only married people deserve elders who can relate to them? See how illogical we become when we slaughter Paul’s teachings?

Okay now I am going to talk about an obvious issue here- sex. Single people long for intimacy just like everyone else. However not all sex is intimacy and not all intimacy has to be sex. As a matter of fact, I read a book once about sexual purity that stated that many people will have sex to avoid intimacy! Intimacy takes place in the mind and heart, not the sex organs. I know married people who are still very lonely, and some even celibate. In the 5th volume of the Testimonies Ellen White writes of a man who had sexual issues that not even marriage could cure. Marriage is not the sole solution for intimacy. Neither is marriage necessarily the solution for sexual desires. What I long for is a woman that I can sit and talk with for hours while it only seems like a few moments. A few years ago, I lost a friend to breast cancer, who had a double mastectomy. When I started visiting her in the hospital, we quickly became friends and could talk and laugh together easily. I really enjoyed her company and while I don’t know what was going on in her mind, the day she died, she told me that she really wished we could have known each other longer here on earth. I’m not sure, but it seemed she was implying that she may have liked me for more than just a friend. If she had lived, the fact that she didn’t have a perfect body would not have gotten in the way of our relationship. She and I could talk together forever, and I loved every moment with her. Please understand that marriage does not guarantee intimacy and being celibate does not prevent it. The Bible condones marriage or celibacy. Married people can be beautiful Christians, and their marriages can be a living example of what a true self sacrificing Christian ought to be. On the other hand single people can be very devoted to their families, church families and most of all to Jesus.

I really appreciated a recent men’s ministry convention I attended. For years our church’s preaching and teaching has centered around married people and the message to single people has been, “Listen to this message – it will help you when you get married.” But this time, while they talked about married men and their ministry to their family, instead of telling us single guys that we could apply these teachings later when we get married, they taught us how to apply them now to our church family and our friends who are all around us. They emphasized that even though we are single, we make a significant impact on the lives around us today, and not just later whenever we get married. By God’s grace, we can be living single, holy lives.

To study this week’s SS lesson on Holy Living click here.