Perhaps you look at married couples with envy. It seems they get to express themselves sexually any time they want, and you wish you could do the same. Surely God couldn’t have meant for you to survive long-term without getting your sexual needs met, could He? How far can you go? What can you do? How do you handle your sexuality as a single Christian?
God created you as a sexual being. Your biological urge to be intimate with another human being was built into you by God. If the desire, the need, and the capacity for sexual intimacy is God-given, what do you do when you don’t have a spouse?
Regardless of your marital status, the sexual messages in popular media, from your friends, or always-easy-to-get pornography keep calling you to “express your desires more fully.”
God created sex to be ravishingly enjoyed between one man and one woman within the covenant of marriage. Sex outside of those boundaries is outside of God’s plan. This article is not a Bible study or defense of that position. Instead, this addresses how a single person who believes that can deal with their sexuality in their current season of life.
I was single for 48 years before I married my loving husband. I’m single again since he passed away. I know what it’s like to wrestle with these feelings and questions.
Here are some things to know and some things to do if you want to live with sexual integrity while single. (And FYI: many married people struggle with these same questions. Marriage does not guarantee a mutually satisfying sex life.)
What to Know
We live in a broken world. Things are not all as God intended them to be. He will make all things right when Jesus returns, but in the meantime we cannot assume that our desires and needs – as legitimate as they may be – are a reliable guide to what is good, healthy, and righteous.
We may have a “need” to consume a half-gallon of Blue Bell ice cream while binge-watching Game of Thrones. We may have a “need” to ease excruciating mental or physical pain with alcohol or pain pills. We may have a “need” to lash out in bitterness and anger at people who betrayed and wounded us deeply. Our “needs” feel overwhelming.
But seeking to fulfill those needs in unhealthy, ungodly ways only eases the desire for a moment. And when the sugar high wears off you feel guilty, sluggish, and worse than ever. The withdrawals from alcohol or pills leave you hurting even more. The bitterness and anger eat away at your insides, creating a larger and larger hole.
God created you with a need for sex. Seeking to fill that need outside of marriage may seem satisfying for a time, but it will lead to unintended destructive consequences in the future. God is not trying to deny you something that would be good for you; He wants to prevent you from having to experience unnecessary heartache and pain.
A few things to know:
- You have a choice in how you deal with your sexual desires. “Giving in” to meeting them in illegitimate or ungodly ways is not inevitable.
- You will not suffer any ill effects from refraining from sex. Is sex a need? Unlike food, your body can go without sex and do just fine.
- God understands your needs. If you’ve messed up in the past He loves you just the same. He offers you cleansing and forgiveness.
The choices you make going forward will impact how well – or not well – you handle your sexual desires.
What to Do
So how do you handle the urges? How do you live with sexual integrity even when it’s hard?
Remember that it’s God you are accountable to, not society, or me, or your church. This is a journey of continuing spiritual maturity and transformation. Your choices and behaviors will have consequences, but it’s not a one-time thing. It’s a decision you make about how you will live before God, and then a decision you keep on making every day.
Here are a few things you and I can do that will help in dealing with sexual needs:
- Stay physically healthy. Your mind’s ability to choose, focus, and see the big picture is affected by your physical health. Eating a healthy diet of unprocessed foods, getting adequate physical exercise, and getting adequate rest will do much to help your mind make healthy decisions.
- Find healthy ways to deal with stress. Sex is much more than a way to relieve stress, but when your feelings are swirling it may feel as though it’s the only way that will work. That’s not true. Find what fills you up, and do more of that; time in nature, healthy hobbies, fulfilling work, etc.
- Stay connected to other growing believers. You are not meant to battle alone. Choose to spend time around other believers who are growing spiritually, and who can be mutually supportive in choosing sexual integrity. Struggling with pornography? Check out www.xxxchurch.com. For a broader perspective, check out Every Man’s Battle and Every Woman’s Battle.
- Choose your mental diet. Eating one potato chip will not remove your food cravings. Similarly, just one look will only fuel your sexual fires. Be honest about what makes you vulnerable, and choose to spend time in other places. Choose entertainment that helps strengthen your desire for sexual integrity.
- Pray about it. A lot. God understands your feelings. He also understands that intimacy is much more than physical, and that the God-shaped hole in your heart can only be filled by Himself. Give Him the chance to fill you, speak to you, satisfy you, cleanse you, guide you, mature you. He will not let you down.
You can survive without sex, but you cannot survive without intimacy. Other godly friendships can fill some of those needs. Your deepest needs for intimacy, however, can only be met by God Himself. Don’t discount that without spending lots of time with Him and giving Him a chance.
Give God the opportunity to meet your deepest needs. And He will.
Your Turn: How have you dealt with your sexual needs as a single Christian? What are you going to do differently going forward? Leave a comment below.
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- Being single and Christian does not mean your sexuality goes away. It’s possible to live with sexual integrity as a single Christian. Here are some things to know and do. Tweet that.
Want Resources for Singles?
Living the single life as a Christian is challenging. We want to help! Periodically (about once a month) we are making a new article or similar resource available specifically for you as a single Christian. We’ll talk about relationships, heart issues, and sometimes the possibility of marriage.
If you’d like to join us each month with these resources, let us know.