Relationships. Sex. The Church. Always headline grabbers, aren’t they!
The other night, my friend and I were having a really interesting conversation about the Church, relationships and people…errr… not in their teens! WARNING: extra items in baggage area!!
As a counsellor, she was coming at it from a psychological perspective and, as someone who teaches in Churches and in my writing, I was coming at it from a Biblical perspective, so you can imagine it was a fascinating discussion.
Basically, we’re both single. For different reasons. Me recently – again; while she has had relationships, but never been married. And yet we are both approaching the big 4-uh-OH in 2017. Neither of us are in the place we thought or hoped we would be, and while she was told she needs to have more faith (don’t even get me started!), the disappointment of life is being worked through in both of us. Separately. But together.
I could write so many blog posts based on this conversation alone!!
But I’m not sure how much people need yet ANOTHER relationship blog though!
So how easy is it for married leaders in the Church to talk to people who are not teenagers, who may even be older than they are, who may have been widowed or divorced, or who have never been with anyone, about sex and relationships? On the flip side – how easy is it for single people to hear about this from married leaders who may not have experienced being single for long? While many in the Church know about the “Don’t have sex outside marriage” rule, I have had a subsequent conversation with someone else whose late-twenty-something son didn’t know the “why” behind the Bible’s stance on sex and relationships, before he got married. I would imagine this isn’t a one-off, either.
Understanding God’s heart toward you, and about the situation you find yourself is probably as important – if not moreso – than knowing the rules themselves. And this is where I would challenge the person who told my friend she didn’t have enough faith because she was questioning God about why she is still single.
When we know the “why” behind what God is doing, it causes us to feel as though in spite of our frustrations and disappointments, we can still walk strong. When you look at the ratio of Christian men to Christian women in the Church, it can be so easy to feel despondent and feel as though we need to settle for less than. When we start to compromise, and settle for anything other than what God knows we need, we haven’t fully grasped the “why” of what God is doing. And then we learn the hard way. And then we have to go through the heartache of the hard lessons learned. And then we have to allow God to heal us. And then we can get back on track with God’s path. Trust me – I learned the hard way!
Until we deal with those root issues which causes us to make relationship mistakes, we are in danger of constantly nursing a broken heart – which becomes even more damaged when sex becomes a part of the relationship equation. But how do you tell people who are not teens, who may have been in marriages, or sexual relationships, to wait for sex when they are fully aware of the physical and sexual feelings which comes from opening that particular door?
It comes down to understanding the “why” behind the “don’t”.
Rather than telling older singletons with an air of condemnation, fear and judgement, isn’t it better to deepen our love for God so He can lead us into the right type of relationship when the healing process is complete? I’ve heard too many stories of people who enter into Christian marriage and have such a fear of sex, or there is judgmental perception that somehow, even in marriage, it’s not something to be enjoyed. But God created it for within the boundaries of marriage, and you only have to read Song of Solomon to know that, as with everything else He created, “God declared it is good!” (Genesis 1:31)
I actually can’t believe I am writing this!! The “S” word on a Christian blog!! But come on, we need to allow single people to be free to discuss in a HEALTHY way, their understanding of what God has to say about relationships. And there have been some occasions when what the Church teaches is actually quite different from what the Bible teaches. If a single person’s level of faith is judged by whether they have disappointments about still being, or becoming single, then this is not in line with what Jesus says about faith, surely?
I am currently wearing a necklace with a mustard seed inside it, and I know that over the last few years I had at least that much faith for God to heal the marriage; that He would bring M back to Him, that the abusive emotional and psychological warfare would stop, so I could be myself again instead of the shadow of who I was prior to marriage I had become over the years. I had at least that amount of faith to believe that in restoration would a future hope be built – that God’s healing would bring a stable and healthy environment, so the family I so desperately wanted could follow.
Did I not have enough faith -as was so lovingly (?!) suggested by one person who decided to call me this time last year and tell me I wasn’t praying hard enough? Not even close.
This walk out of the darkness WITH GOD has been as much about the faith I have in His plans and purposes for my life, than it ever was about trying to save face, and stay in a destructive relationship. This walk of faith, away from the hope I had for marriage and children I treasure in my heart, is far bigger than a tiny mustard seed. This walk of faith is as much about walking through the difficult challenge of dealing with root issues and disappointments as it is about the healing process.
And while I may come at it from a Biblical perspective, having my friend – from her psychological perspective – walking her own journey with me, I know God will use both of our perspectives to create a whole picture as we encourage and challenge each other, because we are travelling side-by-side.
When you have someone walking with you, you can’t slouch – even when the path you walk is difficult. When one stumbles, the other is there to uphold, so you can both stand strong when you reach the finish line.