I am a single, 26-year-old Christian woman. I have never been in a dating relationship, but I deeply desire to be married and to be given the important role of raising children one day. I know that God is using this present time of singleness to refine my faith and shape my character, and I am taking the opportunity to grow in spiritual disciplines and in my personal walk with the Lord (as well as being actively involved in serving God and the church).
But my question and my current struggle is this: Just because societal norms are to marry later (whether due to personal choice or due to circumstances in this fallen world — the latter being my situation at present), doesn't mean our God-given sexuality is delayed along with the marriage plans. So how do we deal?
I know we are to seek accountability from other sisters and focus our thoughts on whatever is true, noble, right, pure, lovely and admirable (Philippians 4:6-9), but what should we do in those times when we don't want to be kept accountable, and would rather give in to lustful thoughts? In other words, should I just keep praying for God to take away the biological urges and desires until I can be married?
Perhaps you can direct me to articles that I might have missed, but I feel that this is a common struggle among Christian singles nowadays.
Like you, I was still single in my mid-20s and wondered how to channel my sex drive in appropriate, God-honoring ways. You're on the right path with your commitment to practicing the spiritual disciplines, being an active participant in a church body, meditating on Scripture (e.g., Psalm 119) and praying.
But I'm not sure it will do any good to ask God to take away your biological urges. After all, He created you to have them, and to have them for a purpose. Your biological promptings are linked to God's design. Your digestive system gives you hunger pangs to let you know your body needs more fuel. Your nervous system prompts you to remove your hand from hot appliances. Your sexual desires can be manipulated in many ways, but at their core, they are designed by God to prompt you to be united in the one flesh union of marriage.
There's good fuel and bad fuel. If, in our efforts to satisfy physical hunger, we eat only Twinkies and Oreos, eventually we'll get sick, maybe terminally so. Likewise with our desire for sex. If we satisfy it the way the world encourages us to (through multiple, extra-marital sexual encounters; pornography; self-gratification; etc.) rather than in the context of a monogamous, covenantal marriage, we will ultimately be deeply dissatisfied and risk psychological and even physical harm.
The prayer focus that I believe will be more fruitful is your desires. God tells us in the Bible,
Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart.
That's a common memory verse for the single years. I'm certain I had it written on a Post-it note and stuck to my bathroom mirror for months on end. But there's more to Psalm 37 than that one verse. And it's in the context of the rest of the passage that we learn the focus — and the key to our fulfillment — is the delighting. That's the part we're supposed to play. It's up to God how He'll then grant us those desires.
What does our part look like? The Psalmist tells us,
Trust in the LORD and do good; commit your way to the LORD; trust in him and he will do this: he will make your righteousness shine like the dawn, the justice of your cause like the noonday sun. Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him (3, 6, 7a).
The more we grow in relationship with God and spend time reading His message to us (the Bible) — the more our desires will conform to His will for our lives. And as our desires are aligned with His will — as opposed to our own sinful inclinations — the more we'll see our desires fulfilled. But it's not just what we do that matters, but also what we don't do:
Do not fret because of evil men or be envious of those who do wrong; do not fret when men succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes. Refrain from anger and turn from wrath; do not fret — it leads only to evil. (1, 7b-8, emphasis added)
We need to be constantly praying against our tendency to look longingly on the world's way of getting our needs met. If you desire marriage but have an idea in your mind that it's primarily about finally being sexually satisfied and never being lonely, you're setting yourself up for disappointment. As I've written before,
An old proverb warns, "Be careful what you pray for — you just might get it. ..." There's so much misinformation about what marriage is that lots of couples marry with unrealistic or warped expectations. The purpose of marriage isn't companionship, romance, or even sex. Marriage is, in the words of J. Budziszewski, "a divinely blessed and covenantally sealed procreative partnership." And the procreating has everything to do with being refined toward holiness.
With all the confusion about what marriage is for, it's possible that unanswered prayers for spouses have more to do with unrealistic expectations than God's power to supply mates. ... Asking God to help you find a mate is asking Him to take you from a place of single focus to one that will require selflessness. Far from being the answer to all your dreams and fantasies, marriage will be a crucible for making you more like Christ (Get Married, 152).
But that's what makes marriage, as God intended it to be, so worthy of our desire. God designed us for relational intimacy — when Adam didn't find a "suitable helper" among the animals, God created Eve. Marriage is a gift from His hand.
Just as it's unwise to give in to our every whim and desire, it's equally unhealthy to simply stuff them. Rather than asking God to remove your sex drive, pray that He would show you why He's wired your body for sex. Prayerfully ask Him to help you live toward fulfilling your sexual desires in a way that honors Him and brings Him glory. Let Him refine your desires, both in the waiting and should He allow, in getting married for His glory.
Copyright 2009 Candice Watters. All rights reserved.