Prayer seems archaic when you could easily be one text, call, or car ride away from companionship. Wasn’t Jesus supposed to evict your feelings of rejection and loneliness when He moved into your heart? This post will confront the fourth lie that single women believe about sex with grit and honesty. “Is sexual purity really worth it?” Keep reading to find out.
Lie #4| Sexual purity isn’t worth it.
When God’s healing doesn’t immediately relieve our point of heartbreak, we tend to dismiss His “healing” as healing at all. On our best days, we have faith and confidence that “God works all things” –even abstinence– “to the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28).” But on our worst days…we’re thinking “God, do you even care that I’m struggling with sex, pornography, same-sex attraction, [you fill in the blank] at all?”
It’s easy to be optimistic about your struggle with sexual sin when your relationship with Christ is new, but in those familiar moments of weakness on the road ahead –when depression and brokenheartedness get the best of you– not so much. To my own disappointment, experience has taught me that a come-to-Jesus-moment won’t eliminate your inclinations toward sexual sin. I’m sure there are others who experienced that miraculous brand of instant deliverance, but that wasn’t my story.
My expectation was that over time as I grew spiritually and devoted myself to Christ, my desperation for a relationship would dwindle and die out. My relationship with Christ would function like a consistent, small dosage of poison to the passionate lusts that contested with me daily, and would inevitably kill them off for good. Hopeful days turned into hopeful weeks, weeks to months, months to years, and…”Still struggling here, God.”
While I wrestled with rejection and inadequacy, my best friends picked out wedding dresses. While I suffered from unrequited love, my coworkers started budding relationships of their own. I authentically celebrated those romantic wins with my friends. On the outside I said, “I’m so happy for you,” but on the inside I couldn’t help but wonder why the whole waiting for marriage thing was working out for everyone else, but me. Each new marriage proposal and courtship announcement felt like one more stinging reminder that I was not wife material, that I was too this or not enough that to ever have a handsome, respectable, Christian husband.
I suspect, Ms. Reader, that you too are acquainted with doubt: Doubt that God will faithfully deliver on His promise of abundant life and graciously provide you with the spouse you long to have. Maybe you’re feeling a little like the Israelites after God delivered them out of slavery to the Egyptians. On numerous occasions they grumbled against God and complained to Moses about how lackluster their experience as freed men and women compared to their experience as slaves to the Egyptians.
“All the Israelites complained about Moses and Aaron, and the whole community told them, ‘If only we had died in the land of Egypt, or if only we had died in this wilderness! Why is the Lord bringing us into this land to die by the sword? Our wives and little children will become plunder. Wouldn’t it be better for us to go back to Egypt (Exodus 14:2-3, HCSB)?’”
There’s no doubt that the Israelites had glamorous expectations for their lives as freed men and women following God’s mighty assault against the Egyptians. After four centuries of slavery, the Israelite nation’s top priority was chilling. Their ideal deliverance-lifestyle was a no-effort, move into the Promised Land. But when Moses informed them that God wanted the former slaves to conquer the neighboring nations in order to inherit that land, they were ready to surrender. When freedom didn’t quite meet their expectations, they were ready to throw in the towel and sink back into slavery.
Promised Land Wilderness Living
Rather than removing my struggle with sexual sin, God determined that his prescription for healing would be to supply me with the grace to endure through it. His way definitely didn’t live up to my expectations of “healing.” So naturally when practicing sexual purity got tough, I was ready to make a U-turn back into Egypt. I had anticipated the abundant, carefree life as a Christian, but that season of singleness felt more like a wilderness than a land flowing with milk and honey. I didn’t know if I wanted to take any more steps into that wilderness with God.
“Why should I go any further? I felt better when I was in those past relationships. I’m not sure if this is worth it, God.”
This would be the perfect spot for a theatrical story of how God convinced me that sexual purity was worth it. But I don’t have one. His tender response came as I persisted in taking the small steps of faith with Him day-by-day, despite my doubt. He supplied me with the grace to keep doing the hard things like reading His word every morning (not exactly something you want to do when you’re doubting God), which led to a beautiful discovery in Hosea chapter two, verse fourteen:
“Therefore, behold, I will allure her, and bring her into the wilderness, and speak tenderly to her (ESV).”
The book of Hosea is the scandalous biography of the prophet Hosea, who God instructed to marry a prostitute. Hosea’s marriage and family acted as a living portrait of Israel’s idolatry, God’s frustration with their spiritual unfaithfulness, and His own willingness to forgive and restore them. The Israelites are the figurative woman in this verse, which expresses God’s desire to lead them into a wilderness –a very barren place in life– and use that intimate alone time with them as an opportunity to remind them of the love they shared when they were first delivered from slavery and woo them back into right relationship with Him. I love these paraphrases of the verse as well:
“But once she has nothing, I’ll be able to get through to her. I’ll entice her and lead her out into the wilderness where we can be alone, and I’ll speak right to her heart and try to win her back (Hosea 2:14 Paraphrased, The Voice).”
“And now, here’s what I’m going to do: I’m going to start all over again. I’m taking her back out into the wilderness where we had our first date, and I’ll court her. I’ll give her bouquets of roses. I’ll turn Heartbreak Valley into Acres of Hope. She’ll respond like she did as a young girl, those days when she was fresh out of Egypt (Hosea 2:14 Paraphrased, The Message).”
Perhaps you’ve already tried and failed at sexual purity. Maybe you’ve experienced disappointment when God didn’t instantly relieve you from your struggle, or became disillusioned when you realized that freedom doesn’t equal “chilling;” that God’s desire was that you would wrestle and persevere through your struggle, so that He could see you through to victory. I get it. This wasn’t the “healing” you expected.
He Woos Us in the Wilderness
So often we’re so focused on trying to get out of the wilderness that we overlook all of the ways God is speaking tenderly to our hearts. When we obsess over the relationships we don’t have, we miss God’s passionate displays of affection toward us in our everyday experiences.
As a single woman you are faced with a choice: to view your singleness as a place of scarcity, or as a private getaway for you and God. Is sexual purity worth it? That is an entirely left to the decision you make. You can choose to believe that God is leading you into a wilderness to die, or to trust that God is ushering you into a secret place –where you’ll be able to more clearly hear Him declare His faithful love towards you.
Gracing the cover of our wedding album is a picture of a goofy girl with a tiny afro and a huge grin. She’s clutching the hands of a very composed, handsome young man, as a preacher glances down at his Bible and reads them both their vows. Looking back on the moments of doubt –when God seemed most apathetic and indifferent to my pain– I can’t help but laugh when I consider the careful calculation invested in each step that led up to that moment. Somedays I wish I could go back and tell the younger, hurting girl with the tiny afro that: “God knows what He’s doing,” that “God can be trusted.” I want to tell her: “Enjoy this season for as long as it lasts, because it will be worth it.” But in the end…I smile and conclude that things turned out pretty well God’s way.
“As a single woman you are faced with a choice: to view your singleness as a place of scarcity, or as a private getaway for you and God.”
Continue the Conversation
How did you expect God to help you overcome your sin struggles? In what ways can you shift your thinking into viewing singleness as an opportunity to draw closer to the Lord?