By Liz Lampkin, Crosswalk.com
Living life as a single Christian is an amazing journey filled with ups, downs and invaluable lessons learned to guide and enhance our daily existence.
As we walk through each day, we’re often faced with several obstacles that test our faith and challenge many of our beliefs that can often make this beautiful season taxing. For instance, we’re often plagued with how to date and maintain holiness or trying to live a life set apart from the world while simultaneously trying to fit in.
While these and other obstacles plague single Christians, there's one struggle that frequently comes about that's often overlooked and goes unaddressed; The struggle of remaining sexually pure while waiting for the one God's created for us.
Living in an over-sexualized world can pique the curiosity of the strongest Christian and often cause them to act on their wonderings.
While the feelings are natural, when one is trying to live pure and holy, it's hard to ignore sexual desires and they may try to find an alternative route for satisfying those needs that they may believe is an acceptable alternative to engaging in intercourse: masturbation.
Many Christian singles choose masturbation to alleviate sexual tension and believe this is an acceptable way to address those needs simply because the Bible does not address or even mention it. However, there are some truths Christian singles need to know about masturbation and maintaining purity.
Here are a few that may be eye-opening and a bit disheartening, but they’ll definitely help clear up any misconceptions we have about this and identify practical ways to successfully handle our sexual desires.
After all, just because we’re single Christians doesn’t mean we don’t have sexual desires.
Masturbation Is a Sin
Masturbation is a sin for several reasons:
1. It is outside of Gods design for sex. God created sex for pleasure, procreation, and covenant between man and woman to indulge in when married. Masturbating individually or on someone else defies God’s purpose for sex.
2. Masturbation calls for imagining, watching or listening to sexual acts in order to achieve physical satisfaction. All of these are lustful actions that taint our thoughts which lead to intentionally committing this sin.
3. It demonstrates a lack of self-control and sexual immorality. Giving in to our desires for solo sex shows that we choose to satisfy our physical needs rather than seeking guidance and help from God on how to control our desires.
It Doesn’t Replace Intimacy
Masturbating does not replace the intimacy that comes along with sacred intercourse between a husband and a wife.
It simply provides temporary physical gratification that can lead to an unhealthy desire for more which in turn leads to consistently committing this sin against God. The momentary pleasure this provides robs you of the true intimacy God designed for you to indulge in and enjoy.
It’s a Self-Centered Act
It’s done alone, typically in secret and only focuses on the physical pleasure of one person. Sex is an experience designed for intimacy between two people for the pleasure of both people involved.
You don't want to develop a habit of selfishness when it comes to physical intimacy. Although you may be waiting for your mate in marriage and you find it difficult to control your desires, giving in to masturbation will create a sense of independent intimacy which in turn can build an egocentric attitude towards sex in your relationships.
This means that you can fall into the belief that you don’t need your partner to achieve intimacy or orgasms which in turn can produce hostility and conflict within your relationships.
Now that we’ve cleared some things up about masturbation, let’s address how to handle these desires in a manner that honors God.
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Acknowledge Your Desires
Taking time to recognize your desires for sexual intimacy will allow you to become comfortable with who you are. It’s natural to have desires for sex, after all God created it and the feelings you have are a part of who you are.
Failing to acknowledge your desires can mean you have been shamed for having them. As Christians, conversations, sermons or teachings are rarely centered around sex.
The most it's mentioned is to discourage singles from engaging in premarital sex because it is a sin against God, and help maintain purity. It’s also a known fact that sex is often considered as a taboo topic in the church because people don’t want to acknowledge their desires, or they’re uncomfortable engaging in conversation about it.
In order to become comfortable with acknowledging your desires take the following steps:
1. Pray and ask God to help you understand them and why they exist. Take some time to reflect on why your desires for sex have come about and note your feelings to discover what your needs are before you think about taking this step. There is an underlying cause for your desires and it’s best that you reflect on what they are without judgment.
2. Accept your feelings. Take time to acknowledge why your desires are there. There are many reasons why people have sexual desires and one reason is because God created those desires in us, so it’s inevitable that they arise!
Avoid the pitfall of suppressing your needs in an attempt to prevent partaking in sexual activities, but face your desires head and heart on. Doing this will help relieve the pressure many Christians feel about having sexual desires and alleviate unnecessary guilt for having them.
3. When acknowledging your desires, ask yourself the following questions:
- Do I have unresolved issues with a former mate?
- Am I attempting to substitute my feelings of loneliness with masturbation?
- Am I seeking a deeper connection with myself through physical interaction, rather than connecting with God to discover who He created me to be from every aspect?
As you answer each question, take some time to deeply reflect on your responses and begin taking conscious steps toward making necessary changes to become aware of your desires in order for you to take preventative actions to avoid sin.
4 Ways to Control Your Sexual Desires-Controlling Your Fleshly Passions
1. Pray, not to have the desires removed, but for help in controlling them. Remember God created sex, therefore He gave you sexual desires and the will to control them.
2. Stay in God’s Holy Word! When you're feeling weak and tempted, take some time to read and meditate on God’s Word to help you curve your desires. Here’s one that will encourage you to know that there is no temptation you can’t overcome with God’s help.
1 Corinthians 10:13 tells us "There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.”
3. Stay away from people and actions that may tempt and mislead you. You are not the first person to be tempted and you won’t be the last. Just be sure to keep your thoughts clear and seek guidance from those who love God and can offer guidance to help strengthen you.
4. Regulate your thoughts and what you pour into your spirit. Things we read, watch and listen to have an influence on our minds and actions. Being mindful of what we pour into ourselves can help avoid the temptation of sin, so let's be intentional with what we choose to engage in.
Develop a Level of Comfort
Learn how to become comfortable with your sexuality and your desires. Sex and sexuality are often taboo topics in the church because no one takes the time to acknowledge the fact that sexuality is a part of human existence and it’s presence is unavoidable, especially for Christian women. Sexuality is more than simply acknowledging or suppressing your sexual desires.
It is understanding your desires for what they are and why they exist. Owning this knowledge will empower you to know that you are worth waiting for, you’ll know what you deserve from intimacy and you’ll know what to give to your mate.
It’s about accepting your attractions from every aspect. Attraction is multifaceted. Knowing what you’re attracted to builds your confidence as a woman. In turn, that confidence allows you to understand what you deserve from your relationships and avoid the pitfall of settling for a commitment that does not honor God.
It includes how we view and feel about our bodies. As Christians, our bodies are deemed as temples made to be kept holy. If we take time to understand what this means and view ourselves as God created us, we would become comfortable in that knowledge and develop a newfound sense of assurance in who we are as women of God.
Encourage Candid Conversations
Sex and intimacy are topics that are often shied away from in the church. It is imperative for Christians to become comfortable with who they are, address the desires they have and understand that sexual desires are natural.
These conversations are necessary for all to understand the beauty of intercourse and its purpose in order to know what’s right and wrong in the eyes of God. Not only this, but Christians need to be comfortable expressing their concerns in these areas without judgement.
I encourage you to go to your church leaders with suggestions on how to have these conversations with the congregation in order for people to learn the truth about sex from a biblical perspective.
As you continue to walk on your path of discipleship, I pray that you receive the intimacy you deserve with a God-honoring mate. It is also my prayer that you are strengthened with God’s grace and mercy to recognize and resist your urges in the manner in which God directs you.
Last, I pray that you embrace all of who God has created you to be and walk boldly in that knowledge.
Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/AaronAmat
Author Liz Lampkin is an experienced writer, teacher and speaker. She is an advocate for singles who encourages them to live their best life God’s way. Follow her on Instagram @Liz_Lampkin.