I think it’s funny that the Church condemn ‘the world’ for being obsessed with sex, when they, at times, are no better. I grew up in the church (sorry, that’s churchspeak for ‘I’ve been going to church every Sunday for the past 22 years’) and it was certainly a hot topic in my youth group; every topic under the sun would mysteriously morph into a lesson concerning sex and relationships
(I am slightly exaggerating). We were informed at an early age (about 12) that sex outside of the boundaries of marriage was abhorrent. I understood and internalised this truth; scripture substantiated it and I knew no better. My young mind took it, ran with it and I became a young evangelist. My friends that were having sex kept that side of their lives away from my condemning stance while I revelled in my purity and abstinence.
The lessons learnt at a young age stay with you forever, especially those learnt in a religious environment, and the ‘Don’t Do It’, ‘Sex Is Wrong’, ‘Anything Can Lead To Sex’, and ‘If It Feels Good, It Can’t Be Right’ campaigns have had a series of harmful consequences. For many, it has resulted in them equating sexual feelings with guilt and shame. Any activity that causes them to feel aroused is met with self-condemnation and immediate repentance; some people battle with these feelings even after they are married. The Church is well aware that they need to change the dialogue surrounding sex; it should be celebrated because it is indeed a gift and when shared in the right context leads to life.
While the Church continues to talk and obsess about sex, I would like to shift your attention to The Grey area before sexual intercourse, the area that the Bible isn’t so clear about. Its vagueness (and arguable silence) on matters such as kissing, touching etc. have led many down a long road full of misdemeanours and tempestuous encounters where it nearly happens. However because they don’t go all the way/hit a home run/insert-euphemism-here, they brush the guilt they feel to the side, eventually become desensitised to what is occurring and drop into that ghastly sin-on-a-Saturday-night-repent-on-a-Sunday-morning cycle.
Disclaimer: I’m not saying kissing is wrong, I am just saying that it usually leads to the grey.
The truth is that you know better. You know that if he/she comes to your house for a sleepover, it is unlikely that you will spend the entire time forcing him to watch the latest episode of Scandal (which is amazing this season!) or forcing her to watch Match Of The Day. The likelihood is that you will find yourself in a compromising position, feel guilty the next day and wonder whether you should remain in a union that continues to cause you to fall.
Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body.
1 Corinthians 6:19-20
Oh, it is tricky. It is. No one ever said Christianity was a walk in the park. We are told to take up our crosses and follow Jesus (Matthew 16:24) and that the road to heaven is is narrow (Matthew 7:14). Have you ever tried carrying a cross on a narrow road? I’m not here to preach to you, nor am I here to condemn you; I’m not even here to tell you that this road gets easier, because in all honesty, I don’t think it does. What is required from us often seems beyond what we can achieve but through prayer, supplication (Philippians 4:6) and being practical (James 2:26), anything is possible.
1. Public is better than private
Yeah, I know going out can be long (and expensive), being a hermit is my default setting and may be yours too, but being in public limits what you can do. It’s also fun to spend time with your partner
(why did I use that word? I hate that word) in a variety of contexts. Visit a museum, go ice-skating, have a picnic. Get out more, create some memories!
2. Group dates can be cool
Being around other people may also help; it once again limits what you can do and if the group of people are cool, it should be
a hoot fun.
3. A mentor wouldn’t hurt
Someone you can be accountable to, someone you can be completely honest with, someone older than you who can help you stay on the right path.
4. Be on the same page
If their end goal is sex and yours is not, there will always be a mismatch and a pushing of boundaries. Ensure that you are unified in your approach to this matter.
5. Discuss how you feel when you fall short
In the event that you do get carried away and things do happen, do not avoid the subject the next day because it’s awkward and you feel guilty. Approach the situation head on and discuss how to do better next time.
Always. Always. Always.
7. Be careful what you watch
As a Christian, you really shouldn’t be watching porn, especially if you are trying to be celibate. Filling your mind with images and scenarios which are so far from the truth that you are trying to live is quite deadly and will only cause you to think on those things long after you’ve left the comfort of your room.
And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honourable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.
No shade to the porn industry, but their work does not fulfil the above criteria. Do your best to steer clear.
8. Don’t let anyone drag you down
There’s working together to try and overcome the obstacle, then there is drowning in the sea, trying to swim while holding hands. Your relationship with Christ is paramount; it is more important that your relationship. If the temptation is becoming overwhelming, don’t be afraid to take a break and work on yourself. If the person is meant for you, they’ll be there when you return and hopefully the both of you will have a renewed sense of purpose and be able to navigate this situation more effectively.
Have you got any practical tips to avoid ‘The Grey’?
Let me know!!