Fulfilling Sexual Desire Keeps You Single

I’ve talked here many times about the fact that less and less people are getting married. Right now 50% of adults in the U.S. are unmarried.  Only 20% of those 18-29 have ever been married.  People are waiting longer or just not getting married at all.

There are a whole host of reasons for this and I’ve talked about many of them here before. But one of the biggest reasons is that we as a culture (even in the Church) have separated sex from marriage.  And to go a step further we’ve actually made sex only about physical pleasure.  And because of it, we are really, really jacked up.

Now I get, and have pointed out before, that this is not “new” to the world.  I mean there have always been jacked up cultures and there has certainly always been sexual sin.  But never has the overall impact on marriage been felt the way it is now.

What we have now is a combination of a lot more ways to meet the physical desire for sex, and a culture that is ok with all of it.  It’s killing us – individually and as a culture.

Sex was not created to be just physical.  It is a part of it, but not all of it.  From the very beginning it was to bring two people together to become one flesh but only those two people.  It is an important part of the marriage covenant.  When we take it out of that context or when we make it just about physical desire, we are devaluing everything about it – both within and outside of marriages.

Here’s the reality.  One of the surest ways to stay single is to have your sexual desire met some other way.

This plays out all sorts of ways.  First off, all sorts of people are obviously having sex. Some of it is purely for the physical desire.  Some of it is in “relationships”.  But either way people are not having less sex today than before.  They just aren’t doing it within marriage. People sleep together, live together, and even have children together, without marriage.

But now there are even more ways to meet my physical desire.  I can just go on the internet.  When I was a kid, you at least had to risk hiding the magazine with pictures. Now you can watch it, heck even interact with it, and then just hit delete.  If it’s just physical, why work for it.

No matter how you look at it, it is easier than ever to get your physical desire met.  And everyone is telling us this is what it’s about.  All the media, our leaders, even some of our parents.  And at some level even the Church.  We spend so much time focussing on what not to do.  The basic message is don’t look, don’t touch, sex is bad until you are married then it’s good.  Bury your desire and then flip the switch when you get married.  But the problem is not only is the act of sex bigger than just physical, so are the questions that surround it.

Sure we are told that married sex is better – but what does better mean?  We automatically assume that means more physically pleasurable.  But sexuality isn’t just about that.  It’s about being bonded to the other person.

If we make sex only about pleasure and sexual desire, then I don’t have to get married to have it.  And, even if I get married, I could still be stuck in it only being about the physical. That can lead to less intimacy and ultimately less sex.  If you don’t need it that day, you don’t do it.  Or maybe the computer is still easier.

If we make sex about only the physical then why does it matter how you meet the need. You can meet it at the bar, at the computer, or even with the same sex.

I don’t say all of this to turn it into a lecture on how sex outside of marriage is sinful.  That’s a no brainer.  I say it because I think we as believers have to go way beyond that.  We have to understand that it isn’t just some sort of physical discipline.  There is way more on the line than that.

My pastor has often said that we need the single people in our church to have less sex and our married people to have more. I agree with that, but we need more than that.  We need sex to not be just sex – just physical pleasure.  “Not having sex” is a start, but it isn’t enough.  We need to understand that meeting the physical desire for sex outside of marriage hurts both our chances of getting married and experiencing sex the right way within our marriages.  We need a whole lot of repentance and relearning.

Do you view sex as primarily physical?  What is your view of sex based on?  Do you have your physical desire for sex met already?  What do you do with that desire?

Sexual Immorality Leads Away From Marriage

C.S Lewis once said, “It would seem Our Lord Finds our desires not to strong but too weak.  We are half-hearted creatures, fooling around with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he can not imagine what is meant by a holiday at sea.  We are far too easily pleased.

Nowhere is this more true than when it comes to what we have done with sex and marriage in our culture.  We have created a mess.

The problem is not desire.  The problem is that when we try to fill the desire the wrong way (not just sexual desire), it get’s in the way of the right way of fulfilling it.

Sixty years ago 60% of people aged 18-29 were married.  Today only 20% of that same demographic has ever been married.  That is a dramatic change. We are typically entering puberty earlier (there’s not space here to go into why) and yet waiting longer to get married.  So where as we used to say, “just wait 5 years or so to be married”, now we basically say, “just wait 15 years to have sex”.  Thats crazy!  The problem is cyclical because in one sense it’s harder to wait that long, but in another sense because people are giving up and meeting that desire other ways, it is making people have less desire to get married.

Paul writes in 1st Corinthians that if you want to have sex, get married.  He basically says, “rather than burn with unmet desire, get married and meet it the right way.”  But this is a far cry from where we are at today, even in the Church.

We mess this up a lot of different ways and none of them help us when we are single or even later when we get married.

One plan often offered is to kill the desire.  This is where we just basically tell people sex is bad, don’t have it.  We may not say it but we essentially end up leading people there.  This is a horrible idea because desire for sex isn’t bad  Being controlled by it (or any other desire) is but the desire for sex and intimacy is a huge part of the reason for marriage. Worst of all, if I get married, I won’t be able to just flip a switch that all of a sudden makes sex good.

But more often what we do is go out and meet our desire for sex in some other way. Sometimes this means having sex outside of marriage. This does not lead down a path to marriage.  That’s not to say that people who do this don’t get married but it doesn’t increase the chances.  This is why so many people who live together end up not getting married.  Playing house and being married are not the same thing.  Sex before covenant is never beneficial.

But the biggest problem in the church right now is what I call Lazy Sexual Immorality. This is where I don’t meet my sexual need with another person at all.  Instead I just watch, read or think about someone else doing it and “meet” my need that way.  Tony Campolo once said, “If you are going to sin, at least do it boldly.”  These are the opposite of bold. They are gutless.

If you are under 30 you have seen internet porn.  It’s just the truth.  You have.  The average age a person first sees it right now is 11.  Read that again.  Now this screws us up in all sorts of ways.  But fantasy and habitual masturbation are right behind it.  They are all ways that we can meet our needs without having to “involve” someone else.  And they are killing us.  I have a friend who says that every guy thinks marriage is going to be a porn movie and every girl thinks it’s going to be a romance novel.  It’s not either.  It should be better.  But that is what we are expecting, and when it doesn’t happen we bail.

When we meet our sexual desire outside of marriage it leads us away from marriage.  Either we get our desire met, and therefore don’t want to make the sacrifices to meet them in the right way, or we get wrapped up in our shame and guilt and therefore either can’t engage the real thing or feel like we don’t now “deserve” it.  Usually some sick twisted combination of all of the above.

It’s a nasty cycle and a lot of people are in it.  I’ve been in it many times in one form or another.  Fortunately, you don’t have to stay in it.  I’m going to write more on that soon.  But for today the question really is this: What are you doing with your sexual desire?  How are you meeting it?  Do you see how that affects you from engaging the real thing?

 

Unmet Desire Is Good

When I was a kid, I really, really loved basketball.  I wanted to be good.  I would pretend to be the Missouri Tigers in the driveway.  You know the drill – down two with time running out, you shoot, and. . . if you missed – well you were fouled.  Haha.

In high school I wanted to win, and I wanted to be the star.  Now the truth is I was good but not a star, but that didn’t keep me from working at it.  I would practice a lot.  I bought the “strength shoes” to improve my vertical. I did endless drills.

I had a good not great career.  But I loved the whole thing.  But what drove me was the chance to win.  I had a desire to win.  It wasn’t always met – but it drove me to be better.

We have a huge problem in our culture and it has a crazy impact on us as singles.  We think that unmet desire is always bad.  If I have a desire, then it should be met – right now!  This is America damn it!  Meet My Desire!

Desire is good.  In fact in Psalm 37:4 God promises to give us desires (not give us what we want, but give us what to want).  Desire drives us to do incredible things.  Desire makes us want to grow, to change, to become better.  Without desire we would be dead.

Desire drives us to act.  Always. The question becomes where do we let us drive us.

We all have a desire for love. Now obviously we need to take our desire for love to Jesus first.  This is critical for everything else in life.  The best part is that God will meet us and He does love us.  In fact he is the only person who can meet that desire.

But what about other desires.  Can God meet our desire for sex?  Can God be our spouse? Can God physically hold our hand or give us physical intimacy?  No.  And yet God created sex.  He created us with the desire for physical and emotional intimacy and partnership with another person.  That’s awesome . . . and frustrating!

So what do we do with unmet sexual/intimacy desire?

We can go out and meet that base desire by having sex with someone.  I mean we have needs and they need to be met.  A lot of us don’t want the work involved with that sin though so we settle for what I call “Lazy Immorality”.  By this I mean, porn, masturbation, romance novels, whatever.  (I’ll define this more soon).

We can also just try to kill the desire so we don’t have to feel it.  Just focus on work, or school, or a hobby.  The more extreme the better.  Whatever works.  Ministry works well here.  Just focus on other stuff.  Shove that desire down deep.

We can get religious.  Just be content where you are.  We can drop in some misused Pauline quotes.  The favorite is in Philippians 4 where Paul says, “I have learned the secret to being content in any and every situation.”  So just don’t want.  “Just Be” is how we take that.  But that isn’t really what Paul is getting at.  The “secret” isn’t to kill desire.  It’s not to be ok with whatever.  Paul gives us the secret in the next verse – through Jesus “who gives me strength”.

Paul had learned that regardless of what he felt, Jesus would meet him and sustain it.  His identity, joy, or overall life was not wrapped up in unmet desire or circumstance. That is the contentment Paul was talking about.  He wasn’t saying, “Don’t feel.  Don’t try to make things different. Stay as you are it’s fine.”  No Paul was saying Jesus was bigger than all of that.  He is saying let whatever your situation is let it drive you to Jesus.  I don’t need to kill my desire or have it met the wrong way.  I need to walk straight into unmet desire – with Jesus.

We can’t just tell people to not worry about it.  We don’t do this in other areas.  The church doesn’t say to the poor – just stay poor and be content.  It doesn’t say to the sick, just stay sick and be content.  No, we step up and step in.  We act.  (Or at least we are supposed to).  All the while pointing out that no matter what the circumstances Jesus has to be desired first.

The truth is that these desires we have are natural and good, and from God.  We need to engage Him and we need to move forward.  It’s hard.  Unmet desire is a part of life to the full.  We need to feel the tension.  It drives us to the things that God has for us – if we let it.

What do you do with your unmet desire?

40 Year Old Virgin

This weekend I turn 40.  I have never had sex.  That’s right.  I will be the 40 year old virgin.  Now that stirs something in you. Some might think I’m some sort of hero.  Some might think I’m a wuss or haven’t really lived, or that I can’t get a date.  Some will wonder how the heck I haven’t exploded.  Still others might feel guilty of their own sin.

The truth is, I’m neither proud or ashamed of it.

On the one hand I’m glad that I haven’t had sex outside of marriage.  I know that’s not what God would want.  On the other hand I’ve given into sexual immorality in other ways. At some point in the last 25 years I’ve struggled with having lustful thoughts,  viewing porn,  fantasizing about women, and masturbation.  I’ve gone “too far” with women here and there.

I’ve also messed up dating.  Part of the reason I’m a virgin is I’m not married. Ha!  What I mean is if I’d dated better or learned what the heck I was doing maybe I would have gotten married sooner.  I could have been less selfish or arrogant at times.  Other times I shouldn’t have been passive or afraid.  I’ve helped make myself single many times.

So I’m not here to say “yeah me”.  I’m not here to beat myself up either.  I’m here to say that just because you are single doesn’t mean you have to give in to sexual immorality.

The last couple of blogs I’ve talked a lot about principles we need to hold.  We need to have the right view of sex, we need to have the right view of desire, and we need to desire Jesus most of all. These are all essential.

But today I want to talk about some things that have helped me over the last 20 plus years practically speaking.  These are not THE answers necessarily, but as I look back and think about how I ended up not having sex or being completely dominated by the drive to, these are some keys.

I‘ve read the Bible.  Being in the scriptures makes us love God more – which fills us up. It also shaped my view of sex.  As a new believer at 17 we read in a small group about fleeing from immorality and why.  I had never heard it before and it shaped my view at an early age.  What we take into our minds and hearts helps to shape our desires.  We need to take in scripture and worship etc.

I’ve never seriously dated anyone who didn’t know Jesus.  Its not that I never wanted to.  I just knew I couldn’t.  This is so huge. It means both people might at least try to abstain.  I can’t count the people I know who have had their walk shaken by dating someone who isn’t following Jesus.  If you are the only one who is going to say no, you’re in trouble.

Along those lines, I’ve always predetermined that I would say no.  Sometimes this has meant literally avoiding certain situations.  But this is what Paul means when he says flee. Stay the heck out of the scenario to begin with.

To further that thought, for almost as long as I’ve had a computer, I’ve had Covenant Eyes.  This service sends everything I look at online to a friend.  I think this is by far the best approach.  I would say every guy should have this. Why not?

I’ve chosen to have people in my life who know everything I’m doing.  They have permission to ask me anything.  Here is a trustworthy saying.  If it’s secret it’s wrong. Even if it’s not technically wrong.

All of the above have helped me but as I’ve thought about this the number one helpful thing is that long ago I realized that it’s not just about me.

From early on I’ve been doing ministry.  I don’t mean that I’ve been in full time ministry although for much of it I have been.  What I mean is that when you are trying to show others Jesus and leading people, what you do matters more.  Others are looking at me.  I can’t count the times that this has stopped me.

Times when I would have gone to the strip club, or met someone at a bar and had a one night stand.  There were other’s hearts at stake.  I remember early in my career someone said that is not very good accountability.  I would submit that it’s actually damn good accountability.  If it’s just about me or “saving myself for marriage” then I might be willing to compromise. If it’s about God and His kingdom, that’s a whole other thing.

Jesus said the most important thing is to love God and love others. Sexual immorality gets in the way of that.  I truly believe if our focus is ourselves, or even our own little life with Jesus, we are screwed.  But if we are focused on loving Jesus and loving others, we have a chance.