Sex Series: Sexy Single Women

Aug 01, 2012 |Mary A. Kassian
Sex Series

Femininity intentionally cultivated and displayed brings God glory. Learn how to value and cherish your sexuality as much as the One who created it does.

PART 2: Sexy Single Men »

If there's one thing that our society characterizes as integral to the life of a single woman, it's sex. Lots of sex. From the fabulous sex lives depicted by the gals in Sex & the City and the frustrated sex lives depicted by HBO's Girls to the perverted sex depicted in the New York Times' bestselling book Fifty Shades of Grey, woman's sexuality is at the forefront of the story.

Today's single faces a culture that condones a hook-up, one-night-stand, friends-with-benefits, try-before-you-buy, if-it-feels-good-do-it, pleasure-is-paramount mentality about sex. Sleeping with dates and living with boyfriends is the rule rather than the exception. Indeed, if you haven't lost your virginity by the time you've hit your mid-20s, people start to wonder whether there's something seriously wrong with you.

So how is a single woman, who's seeking to live out Christ's call to purity and holy living, to deal with her sex drive? Is it possible to live a truly celibate, pure life? Does chastity require a denial of sexuality? Are there consequences to stuffing your libido? What about the Boundless reader who argued, "It is unnatural and arguably unhealthy for people with average [sex] drives to go without sex for a decade or more during their sexual prime"? So if her 20s and 30s are clicking up on the odometer with no husband and no legitimate outlet for sex on the horizon, what's a Christian girl to do?

These are valid questions. And singles in this generation aren't the first to face them. Mary and Martha, Lazarus's sisters, were single. Jesus was single. So was the Apostle Paul. All of them must have wrestled with what it meant to live with unfulfilled sexual desires. As I see it, a woman's success as a single (regardless of how long her singleness lasts) will boil down to her making three important commitments: a commitment to good theology, a commitment to faithfully tell the story, and a commitment to embrace her femininity.

Start with Good Theology

Given the modern-day obsession with sex, I'm going to say something that may sound radical: We don't make as much of sex as we should. Most of us don't have a strong, compelling, God-breathed, theological vision for what sex means — and for the sanctity, wonder and mystery of it all.

In the first article of this sex series, "State of the Sexual Union," David and Amber Lapp point out that the best motivator for right sexual behavior is right thinking — we can't hope to get our sexuality right until we get our theology right.

God created manhood, womanhood, marriage and sex because He wanted us to have symbols, images and language powerful enough to convey the idea of who He is and what a relationship with Him is all about. These symbols point to profound truths about the Godhead and to Christ's relationship with the church. Without them, we would have a tough time understanding concepts such as desire, love, commitment, fidelity, infidelity, loyalty, jealousy, unity, intimacy, marriage, oneness, covenant and family. We would have a tough time understanding the Gospel. The Lord gave us these images so that we would have human thoughts, feelings, experiences and language adequate and powerful enough to understand and express deep spiritual truths. The visible symbols display and testify about what is unseen. That's why the symbols are important. That's why sexuality and sexual conduct are important.

Sex is the act that defines marriage. It consummates (completes) the marriage covenant. It is the act of ultimate significance because it represents the essence of what a covenant is all about. Through sex, a husband and wife affirm in the private realm what has taken place in the public and heavenly realm. They tell and re-tell the covenant story. Sex is the testimony. Sex bears witness that God has made two one. That's why God restricts sex to marriage. If unmarried individuals are physically intimate, they tell a lie with their bodies. They testify that a covenant union has taken place, when in fact it hasn't.

The Bible's principles for sexual conduct take the issue of sex a lot farther than a written list of do's and don'ts. The Lord wants you to cherish and value your sexuality as much as He does. He wants you to understand the cosmic, amazing meaning of sex, and to honor that meaning with all your heart. He wants you to delight in your sexuality. Honor it. Think His thoughts about it. He wants you to live in such a way that your sexuality puts His glory on display. He wants you to be so familiar with the awesome meaning of sex, that you will be able to spiritually discern when any thought or behavior contradicts or detracts from that meaning. The more you embrace why God created sex, the more readily apparent what constitutes appropriate sexual conduct will become to you. Understanding the theological reason for this amazing gift will help you honor it in the right way.

Aim to Tell the Story

"Wait a minute," you might say. "Sexuality may be a great gift for people who are married, but what about me? I don't get to have sex. My sex drive is something I have to manage, not something I get to enjoy." It may surprise you that the Bible refers to both marriage and singleness as gifts (1 Corinthians 7:6–7). Your sexuality and your singleness (temporary or permanent) are gifts from God.

Now maybe you think that singleness is not a good gift — kind of like getting an ugly knitted sweater from a frumpy aunt at Christmas; so ugly that you wouldn't even dream of re-gifting it. Or maybe you wish the gift came with a receipt so you could exchange it for the one you really want. But whether or not you're happy about being single, it's important for you to understand that though this gift is given to you, it's not given for you. The gift is ultimately for the church. God gives gifts so that we might faithfully steward them "for the common good" (1 Corinthians 12:7). Therefore, as long as you hold the gift of singleness in your hands, the Lord wants you to steward it for the for the benefit of others.

How can you do that? To begin, the Apostle Paul explains that an unmarried person can focus on the things of the Lord in a way a married person can't (1 Corinthians 7:32–35). Singles have more time and energy to serve the body of Christ and further the kingdom. But that's not all. Singles have a unique role to play in telling the story of Jesus. When, by your sexual chastity, you display the story of the church faithfully waiting for her coming Groom, the whole community benefits.

Singles demonstrate that the things to which marriage, sex and family point are more important than the symbols themselves. Singles testify to the fact that the temporary will give way, in the end, to the eternal. They remind the church that spiritual fruitfulness, spiritual family and spiritual union with Christ are more permanent and precious than their earthly counterparts. There are truths about Christ and His kingdom that can be more clearly displayed by a single woman than a married one.

The way you conduct yourself sexually is much bigger than your own personal life. It has meaning that connects to the cosmic, unseen, eternal realm. To manage your sex drive and delight in sexual continence, you need to understand that sexual restraint is as much and as valid of an expression of the meaning of sex as the sexual act itself. Your sexual chastity contributes to the cosmic story. It testifies to the astonishing meaning of it all.

Understanding that sex symbolizes the covenant union of Christ and the church, that single women tell the story of the bride-in-waiting, and that sexual chastity is vital to the script, should help guide your sexual choices. Things like masturbation, oral sex and sleeping around with your boyfriend don't line up with the covenant story line. Viewing pornography, reading smutty romance novels and watching movies that exalt immorality don't either. So put up boundaries, and do what is necessary to guard your purity. Aim to be a good steward of God's gift. "Your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you . . . You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body" (1 Corinthians 6:19-20).

Embrace Your Femininity

The Lord wants you to make healthy, holy choices about sex. But He doesn't want you to repress or deny your sexuality. You are a sexual being. God created you to be a woman, and that means something different from being a man. In reflecting on the meaning of womanhood, author Elisabeth Elliot wrote her daughter:

Yours is the body of a woman. What does it signify, is there invisible meaning in its visible signs—the softness, the smoothness, the lighter bone and muscle structure, the breasts, the womb? Are they utterly unrelated to what you yourself are? Isn't your identity intimately bound up with these material forms?Elisabeth Elliot, Let Me Be a Woman (Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House, 1976), 61.

Elliot wanted her daughter to take note of the "invisible meaning" of the visible signs. Scripture supports this idea. At creation, the Hebrew name with which the male identified himself was ish, (from the root word "strength"), while his name for the woman was ishshah (from the root word "soft") (Genesis 2:23).

Your physical body testifies to a spiritual truth: Softness is at the core of what it means to be a woman. If you look up the dictionary definition of "soft," you'll find that it means not hard; yielding readily to touch, flexible, pliable; delicate, graceful; not loud; quietly pleasant; calm, gentle, kind, tender, compassionate, and sympathetic. The world has programmed women to disdain "softness." It pushes a far different ideal for what you should be. But God's Word tells women to aim for "the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God's sight is very precious" (1 Peter 3:4).

The Lord also created women with an incredible capacity to form deep relational bonds. Having a welcoming, responsive spirit, and creating a place to beget and nurture life are important aspects of what it means to be a woman. So is being a helper — fulfilling our role to labor and serve as counterparts to men in the body of Christ and the mission of His kingdom. Every woman has a deep (but sometimes unperceived) bent to "nest" and to nurture "kids" and to welcome and receive the strength of men. The more you understand your sexual identity as a woman, the more apparent it will become how you can address the longings of womanhood in satisfying ways during your season of singleness.

You are not one of the guys. To glorify God with your sexuality, you need to embrace your femininity. Don't balk. You don't have to become a girly girl. But you do need to understand and step toward (and not away from) God's design for you. And as you do, you will "grow into your skin" and truly discover who you are.

Getting it Right

Sex is a big deal to God. Paul warned some new believers who lived in the sex-crazed Roman and Greek culture of Thessalonica not to underestimate or disregard the importance of their sexual conduct:

For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality; that each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor, not in the passion of lust like the Gentiles who do not know God; that no one transgress and wrong his brother in this matter. . . For God has not called us for impurity, but in holiness. Therefore whoever disregards this, disregards not man but God, who gives his Holy Spirit to you (1 Thessalonians 4:1-8).

In this culture, it's easy for single women to get their sexuality and sexual conduct wrong. But a commitment to good theology, a commitment to faithfully tell the Jesus story, and a commitment to embrace your femininity will go a long way in helping you get it right.

PART 4: Waiting While Dating »

Copyright 2012 Mary A. Kassian. All rights reserved.

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Sex Series

A six-part article series on gaining a vision, anchored in good theology, of the body, sex, marriage and chastity

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