Older Christian Singles and Celibacy (There Are No Consequences for Sexual Sin)
(click on the “more” link to read the rest of the post)
I am including in this post an URL to an interview with a Christian author regarding a book she wrote about Christian singleness and celibacy.
I will only be quoting portions of the interview, which I am chalking up to “fair use.”
If you want to read the rest, I would advise you to visit their site:
Every Older Singles’ Battle – Christianitytoday.com Article
I wanted to preface the quoted material by making a few comments.
For all my life, I fully agreed with and abided by the Bible’s teaching about sex being for marriage only. I thought, when I was in my 20s, and even into my mid-30s, that I would be married by the time I was 35. That did not happen.
My views on sex may be changing slightly now that I find myself over 40 and still unmarried.
I still believe that the Bible is clear that sex if for marriage only. I am not going to sit here and try to explain away biblical passages that tell readers sex is for marriage only, as I saw one 25 year old, liberal Christian female do on her blog.
To paraphrase this other female blogger, she said that the Bible is “not clear at all that sex outside of marriage is sinful or wrong.” I disagree. The Bible is pretty clear about the topic.
My stance, however, is that I think it’s unfair and unrealistic to expect any Christian over the age of 30 to remain perpetually chaste, regardless of the Bible’s teaching on the matter.
In the past few years, I have watched many, many Christian television programs where people are interviewed about their struggles in life, and how they believe God helped them with that struggle or delivered them from it.
Many of these people I am speaking of are Christian women who were very promiscuous in their 20s and some into their 30s. Some worked at strip clubs, appeared in X-rated films, and some literally worked as prostitutes.
Some of these women were Christians (they had accepted Christ in childhood but had drifted away during their teen years).
Some did not convert to Christianity until their 30s or later.
They all said after they repented of their sexual sin, God helped get them out of their sexual sins, and in every single one of these testimonies (except for one) that I have seen in the last seven years (and I have seen lots and lots of these testimonies), every single one of these women got married to “wonderful Christian men.”
Here I am, a godly Christian woman in her early 40s who has not slept around, have not appeared in dirty movies, or worked as a prostitute or in a strip club, and I cannot even so much as get a boyfriend (I was engaged years ago but the relationship did not work out).
Yet God is sending former sex club workers, former X-rated actresses, and women who were sexually active with many people “godly, wonderful husbands.”
I think it’s wonderful God bestows grace on former prostitutes and sends them husbands. My problem and bewilderment is not that God wants to grant nice things to formerly “bad” people – but that he will not bless a consistently good person with good things too.
At this point in my life, it appears to me as though God is rewarding women who have not followed the Bible’s instructions on sex and other teachings, and yet God is also with-holding and denying good things (a Christian spouse) from women such as myself who have spent a lifetime sincerely following his teachings (who have not been sexually active or worked in strip clubs, etc).
Certainly, I have seen, heard of, and known women who suffered negative consequences from sleeping around (such as sexually transmitted diseases).
I do not think it wise for women to sleep around with just anyone at any time. If a woman is going to be sexually active outside of marriage, I think she needs to use a lot of wisdom and caution.
The older I get, I am not seeing the overall benefit, or reward in, remaining abstinent (or chaste, or celibate, or whatever term one wishes to use).
I understand that the Bible is clear that sex is for married people, but as I said above, it’s quite cruel and unrealistic to expect adults over the age of 30 to remain sexless for the remainder of their lives.
I see no encouragement from the church at large to help older singles out – they don’t help us in finding mates and instead shame us if we admit to wanting marriage. They also do not offer encouragement from the pulpit along the lines of “way to go for remaining chaste in a sex filled culture.”
The closest thing we ever hear is (and this coming from married pastors who are having sex), “Remember, sex outside of marriage is bad, m’kay?”
Some pastors and Christian laypersons go so far as to tell Christian singles that masturbation is a sin, thus telling Christian singles they have zero honest outlet for sexual urges.
I note this anti-masturbation position is almost always spouted off by 40 or 50 year old married guys, or 40 year old married women bloggers, all of whom have two or three kids, who have been having sex for years.
I think I’m now more open to people having sex outside of marriage (and even though I know the Bible is against fornication), as long as they are not sleeping around frequently or on first dates, and that sort of thing. The older I get, it just seems so ridiculous to tell 35, 40, 45, and 50 year old people to remain celibate.
I’ve seen people who admit to being sexually promiscuous, and God did not strike them with lightning or with-hold marriage from them.
I even saw one Christian woman interviewed on a Christian television program who was married and had an affair, she became pregnant by the other man, her husband forgave her, and is now raising the ‘love child’ as though it’s his own son.
Sure, her marriage was strained by her indiscretion for awhile, but in the long run, everything worked out peachy keen for her. She apparently did not pay any sort of price for her sexual sin.
So what exactly is my incentive for remaining celibate? I see next to none, outside the obvious (such as not getting sexually transmitted diseases, for example).
Here are excerpts from the Christianity Today’s interview with the book author:
Every Older Singles’ Battle
Interview by Katelyn Beaty, 2009
Q. What prompted you and Bonnie to write Singled Out?
A. The two of us have been friends since college. As we went on with our lives and earned degrees, we had long conversations about our frustrations of being single in the evangelical church. So we started to look for good advice for older singles, because much discussion about abstinence [is for] high schoolers and college age people. But once you’re out of college, once you are working, there really wasn’t much of a discussion.
Much of the discussion around singleness is, “Just have enough faith, and God will provide a spouse.” And we started to worry about what that says about God. This idea of, wait a second, God hasn’t provided a spouse. What does that mean? Does that mean I’m not a good Christian? Does that mean God is not faithful? When you start going there, that’s dangerous. So we started to look for a better discussion.
Q. What are the sociological factors leading to so many Christians, particularly women, remaining single?
A. One factor is that we just have more singles in the U.S. The most recent statistic is from 2006, which says 46 percent of Americans are single. There’s just not the assumption that you will marry, you will marry young, and you will stay in that one marriage for life. But many churches have reacted to this by focusing on the nuclear family, and because of that, a lot of singles are uncomfortable in the church.
There have also been discussions about the feminization of Christianity, and how men don’t feel comfortable in the church. So when you have those factors working together, from our experiences and our friends’ experiences, single women in churches look around and are not finding anyone.
The other dilemma is “marrying down” — what does it mean to marry someone who isn’t as spiritually mature? That is a dilemma for many single Christian women.
I don’t want it to sound like we are ragging on all the single men in the church. Yes, there’s a problem of immaturity in the church, for men and women, but a lot of writers say, “It’s the men’s fault, and if they would step up and do their job, we wouldn’t have this problem.” And it’s far more complex than that. I feel for men in the church who say, “I also have reasons why I’m single, and it’s not because I stay home and play video games all the time.”