As you may or may not have noticed, I’m fairly comfortable talking about sex. I know a lot about it, because I have to in order to do my job well at the pregnancy medical center I work at. I do presentations about sexual integrity (ie. reserving sex for marriage) in public schools, Christian schools, and church youth groups. Nothing about the topic particularly intimidates me or makes me squirm. Yet I’m a single woman who is committed to sexual integrity, and therefore I have no personal experience with sex.
You may wonder how I balance that. What does it look like to walk in sexual integrity and also be highly educated about sex? How do I handle my own desires and temptations while helping others with theirs?
I’m going to get more personal here than I usually do. But I’m sharing this for 2 reasons:
First, I’m sharing because I know that many Christian parents are concerned about giving their children too much information regarding sexuality. I’d like to challenge that concern.
Parents, I’m all for sharing at age-appropriate levels, but quite frankly, the chances of your children finding porn and/or getting an unhealthy interest in sex are much higher if you tell your kids too little rather than too much. We’re surrounded with easily accessible sexually explicit material, and if they haven’t been prepared to handle it, they will get hooked long before you realize they’re old enough to care.
Does information alone pervert? No. The manner that it is shared, who is sharing it, when it’s being shared, the context of the information, and the reason for sharing it do have a huge impact, though. Here’s another post I wrote on talking to your children about sex, along with some resource suggestions.
Second, I’m sharing because sexuality & singleness are topics that don’t get addressed nearly enough. Too many Christian single women are struggling and keep it hidden. It’s time for light. The rest of this article is addressed to them.
Sisters, it’s time to acknowledge the real challenges of living purely as a single woman. Keeping things hidden, pretending that there is no struggle, or avoiding the whole topic won’t work. The devil loves to work in the dark. Don’t give him any opportunity, but instead pursue God’s beautiful design for godly sexuality, starting today.
Don’t let your past define you. Don’t think that you’re the only one struggling with porn, or masturbation, or impure thoughts, or sexual sin. You’re not. But God doesn’t want you to live in bondage or in shame. He offers forgiveness and redemption and power to live a victorious life.
So what does it mean to live in sexual integrity in today’s world as a single woman? I can’t speak for all of us, but I will share my story.
I was blessed with parents who did this well. My mother took time to talk with me, invite my questions, and kept open conversation over the years. I had enough information, and I knew where to go if I needed something. When I was 15, my parents gave me a purity ring, which was a tangible reminder of the choice that I had made by then.
Yet, how much did I really know at 15? I’d never dated, never had a boyfriend, and honestly, I was still pretty awkward around guys and there wasn’t much danger of my getting involved with one at any level.
I’ve now been wearing that ring for 10 years. In that time, I’ve make lots of good friends, including guys, but I’ve still never been in serious relationship. I’m still “waiting”. And I’ve also been working at the pregnancy medical clinic for over 6 years.
Walking in sexual integrity is different as you get older, at least it has been for me. I’ve had to work harder at keeping every thought captive to the obedience of Christ. Boundaries have to be maintained, especially when I’m around really good, attractive guys. Relationships are different when I realize that if it gets serious, marriage could be on the table within a year, unlike at 16. Doing my part to not defraud my brothers is different when they’re coworkers rather than friends I saw infrequently. I’ve had a new realization of my own capacity for sin and just how powerful sinful desires can be if not submitted to Christ.
But sisters, hard as it may be, this is a battle that’s worth fighting. Living in freedom from sin & guilt is worth it. Walking by the Spirit without hindrance is worth it. Finding victory and learning dependance on the Lord is worth it. Having God-honoring friendships/relationships is worth it. Knowing you are forgiven is worth it. Living without regrets is worth it.
I do want to point out, we don’t choose sexual integrity just because it’s a beautiful gift that we’ll give to our husbands one day. It is that, but that’s not the point. We’re not guaranteed a husband or a good sex life within marriage or anything else. No, we choose sexual integrity because God calls us to it. We live in radical obedience to Christ because He died to save us and empower us by His grace to live a life that pleases Him.
Here are some things that have helped me in this journey:
- Pursue truth. The deeper I’ve dug into God’s design for sexuality, the more I am in awe at His good design. Science only confirms Scripture. Get educated about things like STD’s and other consequences of sexual sin, the power of neurohormones like Oxytocin, the real impact of porn on the brain & relationships, and most importantly, find out what God really says about singleness and sexuality and marriage. This has hugely grown my passion for sexual integrity.
- Make a commitment. Sexual integrity isn’t something you just hope to attain, it’s a choice you make. While I may not have known everything at 15, I knew enough. And as I’ve learned more, my commitment has grown. Some people find it helpful to wear a ring or write letters to their future husband as part of their commitment (I do both). A word of caution: don’t forget why or for Whom you’re pursing sexual integrity.
- Set boundaries. I’m not going to tell you exactly where to set your boundaries, although this post does address that question. Wherever you set them, stick to them. Get stricter if you need to, but don’t allow sinful desire or pressure from others make you compromise. Also, adjust with experience. I personally have found it helpful to keep some non-negotiable boundaries (ie. saving my first kiss for my wedding day) along with noticing potential struggles and using caution in those areas (ie. messaging guys, especially late at night, and sharing more than I would in person).
- Invite friends into your journey. This includes both single & married ladies.With single ladies, encourage each other, pray for each other, & set up accountability with each other. With married ladies, also ask for advice (ie.what helped them when they were single, or what might they do differently?). If it’s someone you trust and know well, you may even ask them to share in appropriate ways from their own marriages to help you gain a godly, realistic perspective. I have a number of married friends who have trusted me in this way, and it’s been helpful.
- Check your heart. What’s your motivation for choosing sexual integrity? This is probably the biggest thing. Am I doing this because I want the identity of a “good girl”? Am I expecting a “reward”, like a good marriage? Or am I truly doing this to honor Christ? Am I expecting my reward to be from Him who sees in secret, and allowing the knowledge that I’ve obeyed Him to be enough? Am I looking to myself for the strength to do it, or am I looking to Christ? In my own strength, I cannot. By His grace, I can.
I will close this (long) article with a verse that has been encouraging me lately in my own journey:
For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need. Hebrews 4:15-16
Sisters, whatever stage of life we find ourselves in, may we remember that Jesus Christ was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let’s go boldly to the throne of grace! There, and only there, will we obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need. Only by His grace can we choose sexual integrity.
Grateful to be His daughter,