Sex and the Single Adult
"Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry."1
Having worked for a number of years with singles in the area of divorce and grief recovery, a question raised by some had to do with sexuality. As one person asked, "How far can an unmarried couple go regarding being intimate sexually without compromising their integrity as a Christian?"
I heard one teacher say that sex for single adults wasn't a problem because if you aren't having sexual relations, you lose your desire for it. That makes about as much sense as saying if you aren't getting food, you lose your desire for it. I heard a well-known teacher state that the answer for sex and the single adult was discipline. Both of these teachers were married!
True, discipline is certainly needed but discipline alone isn't sufficient. Having been single myself for a number of years, I can understand the struggle and the challenge.
But why does the Bible teach that sex is for married couples only? There are a number of good reasons. It is so unwanted babies will not be brought into the world—or babies without both a mother and father to care for them. It is a protection against disease ... including the deadly disease of AIDS. Also, when a couple gets involved sexually too soon, they can become physically bonded without becoming bonded in a healthy manner emotionally and spiritually.
Also, sexual intimacy can blind a couple to reality and cause them to ignore major character weaknesses in their partner. It can stop them growing as whole persons and easily become an addiction. It can leave committed couples guilt-ridden and destroy what could have been a wonderful relationship.
For a couple that chooses to live in harmony with God’s will and save sex for marriage, how can they cope with their powerful sex drive?
First, it is advisable to keep yourself accountable to a trusted friend of the same sex.
Second, it is wise to have interests so you can sublimate much of your sex drive by pouring your energy into creative and fulfilling pursuits such as serving others, having a hobby, or a work into which you can put your heart and best efforts.
Third, be sure to get legitimate needs met in legitimate ways. For example, we have a need for several areas of intercourse (besides sexual intercourse) such as the following:
These needs can all be met outside of marriage and can be a big help in waiting for marriage to get one’s sexual needs met. However, if we don't get these needs met in healthy ways, we open ourselves to temptation in a vain attempt to get our needs met in unhealthy ways including through sexual intercourse. Big mistake!
- Intellectual intercourse—a mutual sharing of ideas.
- Social intercourse—being with and sharing social times with friends of both sexes.
- Emotional intercourse—an honest sharing of feelings with safe, trusted friends and developing healthy non-romantic relationships.
- Spiritual intercourse—relating to and staying in fellowship with God and living in harmony with His will.
Fourth, most importantly, be sure that your partner is committed to the Lord and to His will. This will include being committed to celibacy until marriage. Pray together often and, above all, commit and trust your life and your relationship to the Lord every day.
Fifth, don’t allow yourself to be in compromising places and situations where you know you will leave yourself wide open to temptation.
Sixth, if you have already given in to sexual temptation, ask for God's forgiveness and start again determining, with God's help and wise planning, not to give in to sexual temptation.
Suggested prayer: "Dear God, thank You that You created us male and female, and for the gift of sexuality. With Your help I choose to live in harmony with Your will. I surrender my sexuality to You. Help me to get legitimate needs met in legitimate ways so that I will not set myself up for undue temptation and fall into sexual immorality. Thank You for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully, in Jesus’s name, amen.”
1. Colossians 3:5 (NIV).