Archive | Singles

Is Fornication Really a Sin?

I spent seven years as a singles pastor.  Can you imagine the issues I had to deal with regarding sex? How far can we go before marriage? What if we are engaged? What happens when we have already crossed that line? Is it okay to try living together if we don’t have sex? As well, I knew the issues of lust and temptation that come from magazines, internet sites, and promiscuous thoughts in general. While I was at seminary, I remember the head of the counseling department saying that by his estimation, half the male students were struggling with internet pornography. Half! If half this body of guys sold out to Jesus, selling everything they own to go to seminary, were this deeply involved in sexual struggles, how much more so the singles at my church?

Many of these are difficult questions. More difficult than one realizes, until pushed for an answer. We are dealing with sexual sin among sexual people. We are bound to attempt to find as many loopholes as possible.

One day I was blindsided by a question that, before then, I had considered a softball. A man walked up to me after my lesson and said that he had some good Christian friends (and by “good Christian friends” I mean he considered these friends to be good Christians), who questioned him about the issue of sex before marriage. They had suggested to him that, contrary to popular thought, the Bible does not anywhere condemn what is known in our language as “fornication.” They said that the word “fornication,” when it is used in the Bible, does not mean sex before marriage, but sexual immorality in general. According to their studies, the sexual immorality condemned in the Scripture does not include fornication.

After some quick research, I discovered that what they said was true . . . at least part of it.

Now, let me be up front here. Before I married Kristie, I did not do to well in the sex before marriage department. I regret it quit a bit. I don’t think I ever actually committed adultery, but for the most part I worked on a “don’t-ask-don’t-tell” basis. I was a Christian at the time and the guilt was bad. However, I took some comfort in thinking that I had not crossed the actual adultery line (at least as far as I knew). Why? Because I knew that the Bible had a lot to say about adultery. You know, it was all that “take them out and stone them” stuff. But, while the guilt was bad, it was not as bad as it could have (or should have) been. After all, who was I hurting? God made me a sexual being. I was not coloring outside of the lines that much. After all, what does he expect? It is quite a killjoy to create sexual desire and then say, “You cannot touch.”

So, back to my question: Is fornication really a sin? Continue Reading →

Gospel-Centered, Too

(Lisa Robinson)

As a follow up to my last post in which I described the qualities of a gospel-centered man (which I believe is the quality of gospel-centered people – male and female), I was reminded of this video.  It’s nice to know I am not the only one.  Hopefully, this will be some encouragement to single ladies (and men too!) as you wait.

 

Single Compensation

(by Lisa Robinson)

In my attempts to completely ignore Valentine’s Day, the last thing I intended to do or thought I’d be doing is writing a post about singleness and V-Day.  Well, it’s not really about the day but more about singleness, that was prompted by something I heard on a Christian radio station this morning from a single mom regarding Valentine’s Day.  The mom started a tradition with her sons when they were young whereby the sons would go out on a date with mom.  She would even slip them money under the table so they could play the role of paying.  I gathered from the boys ages (now 18 and 20) and the length of time that she had been a single mom, that she started this ‘tradition’ fairly early.

Now, I did not get enough information to assess what exactly the motivation was for setting these ‘date nights’.  So I can’t make judgments on whether the mom was looking for her boys to meet an emotional need that was missing from the absence of a significant other, whether she was trying to instruct her boys in the art of dating or whether she just thought it would be a cool thing to do.  While I can maybe see some positive motivation, overall this did not sit right with me and I realized it is indicative of a much deeper issue in the Church – how we handle singleness.

Unless you are truly content with your single status, for must of us, including myself, there is a sense that something is missing.  It doesn’t matter, how content you are with yourself, how devoted you are to the Lord or the work of ministry, how social you are, how busy you are, to varying degrees there is something inside of us that wants a mutual, loving relationship with another person.

I am going to suggest, the reason we feel that loss is because we were designed to be in communion with the opposite sex in ways designed by God.  When God said it is not good that man should be alone,  he created male and female with the intent of the highest form of an intimate relationship through oneness by the marital union. (Genesis 1:27; 2:18-25).   It is a reflection of the love Christ has for His church (Ephesians 5:25-27).  The desire to love and be loved, is endemic to our humanity.  Is it any wonder why those cited in Romans 1 who have rejected the revelation of God,  end up with inordinate affections towards one another (Romans 1:24-27)? Continue Reading →

God Never Promised Us a Mate

This is one of those rare personal posts from me.  But having written about my singleness here and here, I thought this was a good place to share some more thoughts on the subject, especially given this particular point in my life and the fact that I know I am not alone.  There are many like me are in the predicament of desiring marriage yet maintaining contentment in singleness, a task that I have personally found challenging at times.

This is also one of the posts that I would always find myself hating to read.  The kind that slaps down lofty ideas of future nuptials, strangles the notion of granted promises and spotlights the idolatrous inclinations of wandering hearts.  For many, there is a desire to mate and find that lifelong partner.  In our evangelical churches, marriage is touted, promoted and honored and rightly so.  But I fear that so much attention can forge existing eagerness into a penetrating need that so grips our being, no other solution would proffer.  For sure, I have experienced this.

The bible makes much of marriage and the fact that mating should be endemic in our nature.  God saw to it that the first man would not be lonely and created a very special creature just for him, citing the oneness that would be foundational for that marital union (Genesis 2:18-25).  The apostle Paul indicates that singleness is a gift not shared by all, inferring that desire.  He describes a beautiful parallel of husband and wife with Christ and the church (Ephesians 5:22-33).  Unless one was inclined towards singleness, who would not want that?  The author of Hebrews indicates that marriage is to be held in high esteem by all (Hebrews 13:4).  And then there is the Song of Songs, but let’s not go there.  Yes, it does seem that desires are validated by scripture.  I myself have considered these passages to be proof that internal desires matched with prayerful expectation should eventually yield that godly mate I have so desired.

However, the bible also presents scenarios where this is not the case.  There are widows and virgins.  Paul tells Timothy that widows should focus on fulfilling their duty to their children (1 Timothy 5:4).  He also  told the church at Corinth that marriage will necessitate divided attention (1 Corinthians 7:32-35) and that one should look to be content in the place where God called them (vv 21-24)  .  While not explicitly stated, I have to imagine that in the early NT church, there were many who desired marriage or like me, were widowed and freed from unpleasant choices made apart from Christ and desiring a marital scenario that was Christ centered and personally satisfying.  Nonetheless, the encouragement is the same –  be content in whatever state you find yourselves in.

It is not pleasant when the deepest yearnings of your heart go unfulfilled and especially if we’re surrounded by others who are granted the privilege that we long should fall on us.  Proverbs 13:12 has resonated with me quite often, about deferred hope.  But that’s where examination must take place, and how tightly desires have wrapped themselves around the heart.  Idolatry is an insidious odor in the nostrils of God who longs to breathe sweet sacrifices of worshipful lives devoted to Him.  It is not because He withholds, but because what He grants is fitting for his purpose, glory and honor.  That might make us earthly losers but precious heavenly winners.

There are no guarantees to the believer in Christ only that they belong to Him and can expect enjoyment with Him forever.  My fellow blogger, Daniel Eaton over on Theologica reminded me of that with his post here, that life may not turn out as expected.  And that takes us to the place of hard choices, to examine, confront and let go, to say if we have food an clothes, that shall be sufficient.  Whatever is gripped tightly has to be held loosely lest the noose of expectation lead to a self-consumed occupation, or worse disastrous decisions that would undermine the very fabric of our Christian life.  That prison is a far cry from the freedom that Christ has provided through his sacrificial death and resurrected life.  Besides, marriage is not the panacea for discontentment, a fact I’m sure many married couples can attest to.

The bottom line is that I don’t know if God will ever grant my desire, but I do know I should not worry about it any longer.  What he has granted must be embraced, Himself, His son, the guaranteed indwelling of the Holy Spirit who provides spiritual gifts to demonstrate what He has provided, His provision and His people.  I may not find happiness with a mate but there is sure to be joy with attention paid towards Him.   And that is where it behooves us to focus, because God never promised us a mate.

Where Should You Search for a Spouse? or “I Am Ashamed About Where Kristie and I Met”

At church, you numbskull!

Numbskull, n

“Thick-headed, dumb, oblivious to the obvious”

Many of you know, but some of you don’t. I spent the early years of my ministry (wait . . . these are still the early years!) doing many things. As a pastor at Stonebriar Community Church, I spent time in various departments: small groups, missions, evangelism, and singles. In fact, the primary role I settled into for many years was in the singles dept. While I don’t necessarily miss being a singles pastor, I miss all my singles tremendously (many of which are now married). I performed over thirty weddings in the a five year period. I saw a lot of “hook-ups.” I oversaw a lot of hook-ups!

While my philosophy of singles ministry was limited, it was very focused. I did not want our ministry to be a “meat-market.”

Meat-market, n

“A gathering with the primary purpose of hooking-up”

Therefore, when I taught, I taught too singles, but I intensionally did not speak about singles issues. (FYI: Single’s ministries can quickly become a self-help group—then it belongs in the counseling dept). This created an environment where there would be a timidity necessitated for those who only came for one thing—looking for a spouse. If people were to meet and “hook-up”, it would be “along the way” of their discipleship. We focused on their relationship with God, which is the most important aspect of preparation for “hooking-up”.

I am incredibly encouraged by the outcome the relationships that had their genesis in that ministry. All the marriages that I was a part of are still strong and moving in a very positive direction. In fact, if I did not have this as an anecdote for my thoughts, I might be very discouraged about the prospects for any marriage now days. Why? Because, outside of this environment, I have seen so many marriages that did not last.

Most of the time it seems that people are just not prepared to get married. They don’t take it seriously. They simply don’t want to be alone and they will search for solutions in the most unhealthy of places. Specifically, they look in where I would consider the worst of all places: the bars.

You may or may not be familiar with this phenomenon, but it effects more people than you think. It effects more Christians than you think. The bar, nightlife, drinking situations, and the like represent the default place to find that someone special. It is either churches that tailor to the meat-market ministries (usually because it brings in the beloved numbers) or the bars. Those of the defaults. I don’t really know which of the two are worse, because they are not that much different.

The pastor in me says this: Singles: Don’t look at either place. Neither are good. Both are filled with desperation. Both are filled with those who are misrepresenting themselves in order to accomplish their goal. For the most part, both are filled with selfish people who are wearing a mask. Both are filled with immaturity. Neither represent the “best-of” when searching for true character and someone who is truly following the Lord.

Wait…put on the brakes. Put it in reverse and go back to the fork in the road and come again Michael.

It was Sunday night at my favorite sports bar, the “Dug-Out.” It was five dollars all you could drink. I was 21. Perfect age for spouse hunting. That is where I met Kristie, my wife. Was I following the Lord? I was trying. I was praying. I was reading my Bible. But…I was at the bar. I wanted a Christian girl, but the local church meat market Tuesday nights was not providing the necessary environment nor the prospects. Let’s see how the meat was at the Dug-out. It was good that night. Kristie was there! Continue Reading →