By: Beca Bruder
4 min. read
For many years, I believed the lie that I should not learn about my sexuality while I am still single. People always encouraged me to read books on how to remain pure for marriage, develop friendships that provide accountability, and understand why God calls single Christians to a life of celibacy. These were all good things that served me as healthy boundaries on my path to follow Jesus. But any Christian resources that went above the “what not to do” list and instead affirmed and celebrated my sexuality seemed to be off-limits. More than once, actually, people explicitly told me not to learn about my sexuality because I would awaken desires I could not fulfill before marriage.
In reality, these desires were already in me, whether I was learning about them or not. Trying to ignore them was harming me in my walk with God. And learning about the purpose of my sexuality as a single person only brought me closer to him.
Sexuality Goes Beyond Sex
Sexuality is much broader than what happens in the bedroom. It involves gender, identity, social roles, beliefs, and experiences. When we suggest that singles should not learn about their sexuality, we are indirectly telling them to not be sexual instead of simply telling them to not have sex. We are telling them to shut down their impulses and desires, and we are disregarding their social roles and sexual identity. We are expecting marriage to be the path that will turn them into mature sexual beings. As if simply walking down the aisle would flip a switch in them, clarifying to them how God wants to use their sexuality.
The truth is: sexuality is not tied to marital status. Whether you are married or unmarried, we are all sexual beings who need to learn sound principles about our sexuality.
Silence is Deadly
There is a deadly silence at churches and Christian homes when it comes to conversations about our sexuality. We shy away from these topics either in embarrassment or ignorance, leaving a vacuum secular voices are quick to fill. Pop culture is not afraid to consistently and relentlessly engage in these conversations.
As followers of Christ, we have the word of God that brings life to the most desolate places of our soul. Speaking God’s truth into our sexuality is not about reacting to culture but taking back territory that belongs to Christ. Jesus provided life in perfect wholeness, even sexual wholeness, when he sacrificed his body to save his bride. We can only understand the redemptive implications of his sacrifice for our sexual lives if we keep learning about the cross.
This is not a one-time talk but a life of growing in the knowledge of him. We must have open and consistent conversations with our children at home. And we must sexually disciple each other at church. The teaching of healthy sexuality shouldn’t be kept to one yearly sermon or only tucked into the annual men’s conference. It should be a regular occurrence in all sorts of teaching spaces at church.
Related: Discipleship, Sexual Integrity, and Community
Talking about our sexuality matters because it is intimately connected to our spirituality. It is a powerful tool that allows us to know God more fully. When our vision of sexuality is distorted, our vision of God also becomes blurred. That is why many people leave the faith, angry with God as a consequence of sexual sin – theirs or another’s.
On the positive side of the equation, the correct understanding of sexuality leads Christians to intimacy with God. Sexuality is a bodily experience that God uses to show us our need for intimacy that only He can fill. Sexuality matters not because it is ultimately fulfilling in itself, but because it points us to the true “knowing” that only Christ satisfies. Our sexual desires, ultimately, are a desire for closeness – physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Christ is the only one that can fulfill our deepest need to be known and loved. As John Piper puts it, “Knowing the supremacy of Christ enlarges the soul so that sex and its little thrills become as small as they are.”
Closer to Christ
Learning about God’s intentions with my sexuality brought me closer to Christ instead of “awakening a desire I cannot fulfill as a single person.” After all, my desires cannot be ultimately fulfilled by a spouse in marriage anyways. Marriage and sex are not meant to be the final human experience but simply an analogy that points to the real substance – our relationship with Christ.
As a Christian, I already experience a relationship with Christ today and am assured that I will experience it all the more when I finally see him face-to-face. This is the assurance for every believer, regardless of marital status. The experience of sexual longings is not exclusive to married couples. It is just as important that the single person understand and acknowledge this too.
Talk to God today about your sexual desires and allow them to draw you closer to him. May our sexuality continue to teach us more about being loved by and loving Jesus.
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Beca Bruder is a follower of Christ, in a journey to learn to trust Jesus with all things at all cost. She holds a master’s in Public Policy and is most interested in Biblical sexuality and public theology. Beca is the happiest when she gets to read and write, host friends at her apartment, and bike the Mount Vernon Trail. She was born and raised in Brazil and now lives in Alexandria, VA.