Hebrews 13 and Sexual Fidelity for Married and Single Christians

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Marriage is honorable among all, and the bed undefiled; but fornicators and adulterers God will judge. Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” Hebrews 14:4-5 NKJV

About 5 years ago I wrote an article about single people resisting sexual temptations. A married person commented and told me the article was also very beneficial for married people as well. So in the light of a Scripture in this week’s lesson study, here goes my version for both married as well as single people.

Hebrews 13 is making Christian living practical. Verse 4 is teaching about practical living when it comes to sex. So how does this relate to single people? Some may think that it has nothing to do with single people. After all what do single people have to do with keeping the marriage bed undefiled? Well, sadly there are single church members who get propositioned by married church members. When this happens we keep the marriage bed undefiled by turning down those propositions and reminding the married party about Jesus and their commitment. Verses 4-5 also talk about being content with what you have. As single people, we can be content with meaningful relationships that don’t include sex. After all, even if you are married, life is not all about marriage and sex. The Christian church at large is learning it has made mistakes in the past by stressing sexual purity and purity rings, and talking about how great sex will be once you are married. Now teaching sexual purity is no mistake! it is right on with the Gospel. The problem is the church made such a big deal about sex and marriage that it caused two problems. 1. It built up so much unrealistic anticipation for sex, that once those with purity rings finally got married and had sex they found it disappointing. It just didn’t live up to all the hype. 2. Focusing on sex and marriage all the time encourages people to think that life is all about sex and marriage, while it clearly is not. Jesus, who was single, endorsed the gift (notice its a gift not a curse or burden)  of celibacy in Matthew 19:11-12. Paul joins Jesus in lauding the blessings of single living in 1 Corinthians 7. By reading Scripture you would never get the idea that life is all about being married, as some have preached and taught in recent years. 

I believe instead of teaching young people to keep themselves pure for marriage, I believe we should teach them to keep themselves pure for Jesus. Instead of encouraging young people to constantly occupy their minds with waiting for marriage, I believe we should encourage them to occupy their minds on waiting for Jesus to come. 

Today there are more and more divorced Christians, and people who have other ambitions, who are putting off marriage until later in life. Being single, I find myself in single circles, where single Christians, both men and women voice their sexual frustration. They are not trying to be provocative or seductive. They are just being real. They want to be Christians, but they are still sexual. We are not made sexual at marriage. We are made sexual at birth.

Being made sexual at birth, how do Christians control sexual appetite until they are married? How do Christian divorced people control their sexual urges? How do Christian widows and widowers satisfy their sexual needs? After 60 years of marriage, I don’t imagine sexual urges die after your spouse dies. Does God meet the sexual needs of all these single people?

And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from his glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:19 NLT

If it says God will supply all our needs, we have to understand that includes sexual needs of single people. If we can trust God to provide for our financial needs, we can trust Him to provide for our sexual needs as well. We can go to Him and tell Him about all our needs. Then we can trust Him to provide in a way that is best for us. We are familiar with a phrase in Desire of Ages,

Our heavenly Father has a thousand ways to provide for us, of which we know nothing. Those who accept the one principle of making the service and honor of God supreme will find perplexities vanish, and a plain path before their feet. –Ellen White, Desire of Ages, Page 330.

Was sex the context here? No. Am I taking things out of context if I say God has a thousand ways to provide for our sexual needs, when we serve and honor God? Maybe, but please hear me out. First, we need to understand that marriage does not guarantee sex. Sadly there are celibate marriages for various reasons we won’t get into here. Having said that, sex does not guarantee intimacy. I once read in a sexual purity book long ago, that some people will have sex to avoid intimacy! Instead of talking and being intimate with their hearts and emotions, they will just be physical to avoid being intimate. Now that’s not good either, because sex should involve intimacy. But here is my point: Many of us think we crave sex when we actually crave intimacy. All sex should be intimate, but not all intimacy has to be sex.

I think we crave healthy relationships more than we crave sex. I think Mary Magdalene found something in Jesus that satisfied her desire for sex, even though it wasn’t sex, and Jesus was the perfect Gentleman with her. I think she found something in Him greater than sex. She found true love and intimacy. She needed true love and intimacy more than she needed sex. So do we.

God does not require us to give up anything that it is for our best interest to retain. In all that He does, He has the well-being of His children in view. Would that all who have not chosen Christ might realize that He has something vastly better to offer them than they are seeking for themselves. –Ellen White, Steps to Christ, Page 46.

I have to believe this passage includes sexual activity. If God has not given you a Christian sex life right now, it is only because He has something vastly better for you right now. He knows all your needs, not just the needs of your bank account. He knows your sexual needs too. He cares for you in all your ways. By the way, a while back I heard a married Christian say, “sex is not a need. It is a want.” That would apply to married as well as single people. I am in no way implying that married people should limit sexual activity. I’m just saying when dealing with temptations and urges it is important to know the difference between needs and wants. 

The Lord will withhold no good thing from those who do what is right. Psalms 84:11 NLT

If sex was good for single people God would give it to them, but sex is not good for single people, which is the only reason He does not give it to them. But love and intimacy is good for single people, and He gives that to them, through church, family, and a personal relationship with Him.

Though I don’t have all the answers, I believe God can supply the sexual needs of His single people, with pure love and intimacy, and a thousand other ways we know nothing about. The solution is to trust God with your sexual needs just like any other need.

Please let me paraphrase a popular passage.

Keep your [sexual] wants, your joys, your sorrows, your cares, and your fears before God. You cannot burden Him; you cannot weary Him. He who numbers the hairs of your head is not indifferent to the [sexual] wants of His children. “The Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy.” James 5:11. His heart of love is touched by our [sexual] sorrows and even by our utterances of them. Take to Him everything [including sex] that perplexes the mind. Nothing is too great for Him to bear, for He holds up worlds, He rules over all the affairs of the universe. Nothing that in any way concerns our [sexual] peace is too small for Him to notice. There is no chapter in our experience too dark for Him to read; there is no perplexity too difficult for Him to unravel. No [Sexual] calamity can befall the least of His children, no anxiety harass the soul, no joy cheer, no sincere prayer escape the lips, of which our heavenly Father is unobservant, or in which He takes no immediate interest. “He healeth the [sexually] broken in heart, and bindeth up their wounds.” Psalm 147:3. The relations between God and each soul are as distinct and full as though there were not another soul upon the earth to share His watchcare, not another soul for whom He gave His beloved Son. –Ellen White, Steps to Christ, Page 100. 

God loves single people just as much as He loves married people, and He makes single people just as happy as married people. God can appropriately meet the sexual needs of single people as easily as He can meet the sexual needs of married people. Believe in His love, and He will meet all your daily needs.

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