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When teaching about sexual purity, churches tend to target teens and college-age students. But what about Christian singles in the postcollege years? Steve Tracy is a professor of theology and ethics at Phoenix Seminary who specializes in sexual issues. In his role as an associate pastor, he spent many hours in ministry to singles. CT associate editor Edward Gilbreath spoke to him about the sexual challenges facing single Christians. In many cases, singles have been redefining what sex is and what's appropriate.

Name: Elyse
Age: 31

Views: 47993

I think what you're hitting on is a huge problem. I have never heard anybody Christian singles and sexuality about single sexuality besides saying unhelpful things like sex is great, don't do it. I don't even really like the term celibacy because it has such a sense of permanence to it, when for many of us, sexuality has seasons.

I'm not sure what the answer is, but I would like to see someone radically rethink the way we approach sexuality from many angles, including singleness. And maybe we should start by questioning the assertion that the call to celibacy is so clear after all. Yet, these people tend to be relatively invisible. Often times the woman partner in a marriage has been the social organizer, arranging dinners and events.

Made for intimacy

After divorce many men drift, not knowing who or how to connect. After being intimate with someone for 20 years and suddenly finding yourself alone, it feels unnatural. I struggle with this almost every day. One of my best friends, a strong faithful Christian guy, former Christian college professor and recently divorced who has known the Lord for 30 years told me that if the situation Christian singles and sexuality it self, he fears he would go to bed with an interested woman.

Few people consciously choose celibacy though some do and I salute them. The sociology of how men and women fare in divorce is fascinating. But the reality is that our pews are full of single adults. Or adults that have for whatever reason never married. One of my best woman friends is 51, unmarried and really hoping to be married one day.

Most pastors imagine that everyone is like them, married, and regale the congregation with marriage anecdotes and family teaching.

Single persons and sexuality

They need to deal with reality. After all, Jesus, was single. Paul, author of most of the New Testament was single.

I completely agree with Bethany. Take seriously that it is difficult being a christian single in a sexually charged culture. A lot of messages targeted at single christian women feel really patronizing because they make it sound like it is only the guys that really struggle with sexual issues and that once we make a decision to be pure it will be easy.

Lots of women struggle seriously in a variety of different ways. I think that sexuality is a normal part of being human.

What’s the purpose of sexuality if i’m single?

The real task, as a Christian, is acknowledging one has those desires. As Chamen said, redirecting those desires by doing things that are pleasing to the Lord will help us to grow in our faith and become stronger Christian singles and sexuality overcoming temptations. Even married persons have issues in their lives where they are not living out their sexuality with their God ed partner. In such cases, resisting temptation and instead doing things God's wayby putting down the flesh, is what will satisfy in the long run, and not lead to guilt, conviction, condemnation.

We must be careful though in thinking that a piece of paper marriage will allow us to lawfully in God's eyes to have sexual relationships. God's Word teaches that those who are divorced from an original spouse are not to have relations with others besides their spouse. They are to remain "unmarried" or be reconciled with the one God ed them to, otherwise they commit adultery if they "" with another.

Singles and sexual desire

Thanks for being sensitive this issue. I think the biggest thing is to accept and celebrate singleness as a viable Christian lifestyle and not just as a condition to sympathize about. I personally hate the term "gift of singleness". I think the gift that God gives to single people is the gift of self control.

Also, I don't think sexuality is a topic for a sunday morning sermon.

We are bombared with sexual references all week long, it's not necessary to hear about it on a Sunday morning as well. Keep it as a topic for small groups or as a seminar subject. As Christians I think we need to think and formulate a biblical view of sexuality that allows us to talk about it in and free and open way in the appropriate contexts and venues.

I think that churches can best minister to me by treating me as a person and not focusing on my marital status. Also, if people do come for counselling and as a pastor it's hard to understand the issues then try pairing them up with other older single people in a mentoring type program. Often an older single has figured out a lot of the issues and has a lot to give in terms of support and advice.

That marriage is a protection from sin.

That's all well and good, but I'm not married and I'm tired of being ignored. I'm a woman, I'm a Christian, and I struggle with lust.

More from this issue

Telling me to depend on my husband is a pitiful response to a growing issue in the church. Christian singles and sexuality me how I'm struggling. Stop ignoring the temptation of masturbation. Treat me like a woman, not who doesn't understand. But only in the context of marriage, so singles don't do it! One big problem is that the church is struggling to cope with the 2 main "types" of singles - those that are single but clearly unhappy with being single, and those that are single and are happy with it.

I've been interested to hear how Mars Hill in Seattle encourage their young singles of both types to "embrace" their singleness, and recognise that they have more time and money at that time in their life, and to focus their resources into ministry, rather than purely "selfish" pursuits.

They also encourage singles of the first type to spend time with couples, learning about the realities of marriage and parenthood, rather than relying on the false images in the secular media. I know this isn't even your main point, but it reminded me of something else I should bring up: I am pretty tired of hearing that single people have so much more time and money. Maybe more than people Christian singles and sexuality children, but childless married people, I think, have more flexibility with time and money because they share these responsibilities.

We need to stop imagining single people as being so free and available.

In many ways being single is a lot more stressful. If I can't keep my job or get another one that also has health insurance, I don't have a backup. If I don't do the shopping, cooking, laundry, I'll be hungry and dirty. Difficult subject in general, but why must sexuality and christianity be mutually exclusive? I see what you're saying, but logically my statement is true.

Leaving out for the moment the "not single, but not married" group, married people have to dedicate a portion of their time each week to each other for the relationship to succeed.

Sex and the single christian

Plus there are twice as many relatives to connect with. Christian singles and sexuality, married people, for the most part, do not share accommodation with others, and usually look to buy rather than rent anyway. I realise that this is a generalisation. Money is one of the key things that married couples fight over. I'm not saying that being single is easy, nor that all singles are magically rich and have hours of spare time.

What I am saying is that the statistics point towards single people having more time and money, on average, than married people. And, as someone who has been single, married without children, and now married with children, I agree with the stats. I have a question for you concerning this. My first husband and I were married by a rabbi in a catering hall he was Jewish, I was Catholic. There was a priest there to say a prayer, but he did not officiate the wedding.

Nine years and two children later, my husband left me for another woman. I was 33 at the time. I am now remarried, have gained two stepchildren, and both my husband and I were baptized Christian last year. We pray together, go to bible study every Christian singles and sexuality, attend church every Sunday, and do volunteer work for the church all the time my husband is a painter, so use your imagination. I mostly stick to hospitality and mailings, although I did mow the church lawn last Saturday.

Most importantly, we are both caring people who like to minister to those in need, especially spiritually. Our marriage is a wonderful partnership full of love, responsibility, fun, and best of all, fantastic sex. So my question to you is this I know I'm not perfect, I accept that I am a sinner and that I will continue to make mistakes