So a couple of years ago I was hanging out with a group of men that I respect a lot including one man who has mentored me for the last 15 years, which is how I got the invite. One guy, who actually mentors my mentor (following still?), cornered me and started a conversation. He wanted to know how I was handling my sex drive as a single person.
Now here’s the thing, this is a big deal and something that we need people to hold us accountable for. If we are dating someone we need someone who knows what we are doing. No matter what, we need someone who can ask what we are doing in that area of our lives because guess what – you probably have a sex drive. But here’s the thing – it’s kind of a tricky question and sometimes it’s frustrating because half the time when a married person asks it you want to say – hey you just don’t get it.
But the beauty was how he asked it. Here’s how it went. He said basically, “I’m curious about something. First let me say that I respect you a lot. I mean I really do. It can’t be easy being single and dealing with that. I don’t understand it because I’ve kind of always been married. But I respect you, and you are a complete person without marriage. I believe that. But tell me, what do you do with your sexual energy. I’m seriously asking because I have no idea what you do with it? Do you look at porn? Do you masturbate? Are you able to use that energy in a way that honors the Lord? Do you just work out? What do you do? When you are dating someone, how far do you go?”
Now there is so much right about the way that he asked me. First of all he treated me as someone going through something that he wasn’t. He didn’t pretend to have the answer and in fact assumed that he didn’t. Second he honored me as a person. Finally he asked specific questions but in the context of the first two points and without judgement. This of course is just a good way to ask questions but it can be especially helpful for married and single people holding each other accountable and walking together.
If we are going to walk together as marrieds and singles (which again as the church we’d better start figuring out how to do) then we need to start with humility. Here’s the thing. As a 39 year old single guy I’ve had several mentors in my life. All of them – every single one – has been married. In fact none of them got married any later than 25. But they have had huge impact on my walk with Christ as a single, and one of the reasons is that they don’t pretend to completely know what I’m going through. Many times they’ve said, “Justin, I just have never been where you are but here’s what I think.” At the same time I have had the privilege to pour into and mentor many married people – but I start with the premise of I don’t exactly get it. I would say I have had impact on some of those marriages.
What if as marrieds and singles we started out with more humility? What if instead of assuming that we get it all we assumed we didn’t? What if as a married person you didn’t give your single friends all the easy answers but instead were genuinely interested in how they lived? What if as single people we were genuinely interested in our friends’ marriages? What if we didn’t blow off each other’s thoughts just because we aren’t in the same demographic?