For starters, let’s discuss what this is NOT.
“I would like you to be free from concern. An unmarried man is concerned about the Lord’s affairs- how he can please the Lord.”
(1 Corinthians 7:32)
I love love. I love romance. I love unity. The desire for this is natural and innate. I am NOT against relationships, nor am I against marriage. If you know me well, you would know that it is in fact one of the strongest desires I hold. But here, in this season, I am merely a mirror of the apostle Paul in his teaching of singleness, offering up the choice of singleness as a way of life (many times just for a season!) to seek a more important purpose for our life and to stand in PEACE at the center of God’s will. There is nothing like it in the whole universe.
Before reading this, I give you one ‘warning’:
If your hearts utmost, FULL desire is to work for the Kingdom, you will naturally take heed to these words. If you are still on the fence in faith, squabbling between your desire for the world and your desire for Jesus, you will naturally not find anything here helpful. You may find a sentence or two useful for a moments time, but once your emotions or the temptation of the world begins to squeal and yearn for your attention, you will feed that lion the very meat it was asking for. Sitting on the fence gives you leeway to move in either direction, depending on what your emotions are screaming for loudest. I pray in faith that any person reading these words is filled with the all-consuming Fire, drawing you into total submission and dependence upon the Word.
We must understand that there is always means for a renewal of the mind and a guidance by the Spirit.
Dating, sex, love… we each have a definition for all three that has come from experience, readings, or things observed. We can be honest here and admit that much of the molding of our definitions are from the world, for we are IN it. We MUST renew if we are believers in our glorious Lord, Jesus Christ.
“…if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body (worldly ways of thinking, actions that aren’t ultimately to magnify the name of Jesus Christ, etc.), you will live, because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.”
I believe the very first step to this rides on verse 8:4 in Song of Songs (also known as Song of Solomon), which says, “…never [again attempt to] stir up or awaken love until it pleases.”
As humans with such a strong desire to do this, we repeatedly stir it back up on our own time and as our desires and cravings ask of us. This is dangerous to our purity. Not just sexually, but the purity of our Spirit in dividing its’ attention between working for the Kingdom and working to appease ourselves. Again, awakening this love is not a bad thing, if it is in the proper timing; the only timing that will bring peace and blessing, God’s.
Seasons of singleness are crucial. I believe our God is intolerant to wasted time. Ephesians 5 talks about seizing the most out of every opportunity in every season. As believers, our focus should not be on becoming someone worth marrying, but our focus should be on the will of God, which is becoming like Christ. In complete focus on this, we lose sight of our tiring efforts on relationships and finding someone. A season of singleness is a time for full attention, full focus, full admiration, and eyes for the only true Romance, that of Jesus Christ.
This romance story teaches us a few things about the REAL definition of love.
Let’s first understand that the world’s belief is that love is primarily for the fulfillment and comfort of self. We seek for someone to go through life with to fill an inner craving and desire- to fill US. The world’s view is a deception by focusing first and foremost on meeting one’s own needs.
“…He began to be deeply distressed and horrified…[He] fell to the ground, and began to pray that if it were possible, the hour might pass from Him. And He said, ‘Abba, Father! All things are possible for You. Take this cup away from me. Nevertheless, not what I will, but what you will.'”
(Mark 14:33, 35-36)
The second deception I have come face to face with is that the world has fed the lie that love is an emotion. It is not. At least not fully. Emotions are not wrong, and they aren’t even bad. But when we use them as the measurement of love, we put ourselves at the center of importance. Our feelings, by themselves, don’t do others one bit of good. Christ showed us that true love is not measured or governed by feeling. He went to the cross when every emotion and instinct in His body told Him to turn back. “…Then an angel appeared to Him, strengthening Him. Being in anguish, He prayed more fervently, and his sweat became like drops of blood…” (Luke 22:43-44).
Jesus’ example shows that love is in our control. He CHOSE to love us. Love is not some strange force that tosses us around against our will. We cannot justify our wrongdoings by saying that loved grabbed a hold of us and “made” us behave irresponsibly. That’s not love. That’s what 1 Thessalonians 4:5 actually describes as passionate lust.
Christ, through the Redemption story, taught us that love is not for the fulfillment of self, but for the glory of God and the good of others. So here poses another factor in finding the right significant other. We may have good connection with someone, we may even both love Jesus Christ and serve Him and others well together. But God has a purpose for each individual, and if the other does not fit the bill of His will for you, then they are not for you. So our question then is, how do we KNOW who is then? Scripture tells us that the Spirit searches us and knows us, so with faith we have the freedom to wait on Him and not search for ourselves. The Spirit is faithful in revealing wisdom to those who ask in faith (see James 1:5-8).
Sexual purity is one of the biggest struggles and factors when dealing with desires and relationships.
“‘Sex is pleasure,’ a movie tells us. And on the radio, ‘Pleasure is all that matters’ is sung sweetly into our ears. In the midst of this harangue from the world, God’s quiet message of true love still speaks to those who choose to listen.”
–I Kissed Dating Goodbye
This is a subject that is touchy and uncomfortable. Not because it’s a bad thing, but because often times we crave this intimacy and yield to the craving outside of its intended purpose. Blessing and peace are not found outside God’s purpose. The Word repeatedly talks about the union of two people, and each time inside the covenant of Marriage. But why? What is the intended purpose of sexual intimacy if not just to show mutual affection?
The main and original purpose of sex is to “become one flesh,” meaning a complete union. Tim Keller quotes in his blog ‘The Gospel and Sex’, “Romanticism considers emotional happiness to be the main condition for marriage; if there is interpersonal happiness, sex is warranted, and then comes marriage. But when love dies, it is also allowable to walk away from the marriage. In the biblical view, however, the main condition of marriage is a binding covenant. In the romantic view, sex is self-expression; in the biblical view, sex is self-giving.”
Sex is a God-invented way to say to another person,“I belong completely and exclusively and permanently to you.”
That cannot be said outside the permanent, exclusive covenantal commitment of marriage.
“Purity consists of more than remaining a virgin… Where, when, and with whom you choose to spend your time reveals your true commitment to purity.”
So now, all you who read, take it and go. Remain pure in body, mind and Spirit. Take hold over your hearts desire for a significant other. We have the Spirit of Power, our flesh does not control us. These inner desires may be a working of the Lord, but we must not arouse it before due time. Go do what you are called to live for.
We are sent to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion- to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.
[alert style=”info”] Sound Off: Singleness, marriage, and purity are all one intertwined mess of God’s love and how we (sometimes poorly) interpret it. If single, how can you focus on pursuing holiness in advance of marriage? If married, how are you balancing your commitment to God and your spouse? Let us know in the comments below.[/alert]