Archive for June, 2014

June 25, 2014

God does not promise to rid your life of affliction and difficulty. He does, however, offer to give you the grace needed to suffer well, and through grace to discover the riches and beauty of the gospel. It isn’t wrong to ask God to relieve you of your pain, but it is more important that in the midst of the pain you rely on the promise of God to work such experiences for his glory and your good – to use these times as a means of perfecting your faith, strengthening your spirit, and transforming your life in such a way that you are becoming more like Jesus.

– Joe Thorn, as quoted by Matt Chandler in To Live Is Christ. To Die is Gain.

June 11, 2014

Linky Love: Dating, Sex, and the Single Christian

Gentle Reader,

Surely it comes as no surprise to you that I think sexuality, like everything else, has an awful lot to do with theology. And while I appreciate what is at the heart of the abstinence movement of my youth, many folks have struggled with this formulation of waiting – and understandably so. It turns out that treating sexuality like something you can just shove down into a tiny corner of your soul and then magically let loose when you get married is unhealthy and, frankly, absurd. To focus on abstinence is to focus on inactivity – almost hoping our sexual natures can somehow be rendered comatose until the wedding. But chastity is something different. Chastity, you see, always says “YAY MARRIED SEX!” (even when neither party is remotely good at it yet). It looks at sexual desire and says, “Aha! I know what you are for!” Chastity is both protector and celebrant of the marriage bed.

I feel like this something a lot of Christians in my generation, especially women who were raised in the Church, struggle with understanding. But the only way we can get any kind of handle on this sex stuff is if we are talking about it in its real-life contexts – marriage, dating, and pining for a spouse. In fact, I would argue that our sex drives ought to act as another motivation to pursue marriage – and we should let them!

Below are some recent articles and blog posts that I found helpful as I’ve recently again though through all this sex, dating, and the single Christian stuff. Hopefully you’ll find some wise and significant thoughts here to mull over, whether you’re single yourself or just walk faithfully with those of us who are as our friends.

“Should I Be Content with My Singleness?” – I think about this a lot – that sometimes God works through unmet desires. Childs does a fantastic job taking this sort of musing further and deeper, connecting my story as a single woman with the greater story of what God is doing in the world. I love it. (I also really appreciate Childs’ conceptualization of abstinence before/until marriage as fasting. I find it encouraging and affirming: This waiting is an active thing. There is love in my abstention.)

“What If She’s Not the Right One?” – This is an excellent article on fighting against a consumer-attitude in dating, one that I found full of helpful reminders and cajoling. Sure, it’s aimed at the gentlemen in the crowd, but I found it convicting too.

How to Respond to a Man’s Pursuit” – I have a lot of respect for Carolyn McCulley, especially because of the way she is so careful to regard men with respect and a desire to understand. This is a heartening piece, and one that serves as an excellent reminder to love our brothers well, whatever the awkwardnesses in our relationships. Key premise: “While we women exercise trust in God by waiting to be pursued, men exercise trust in God by risking rejection.”

“How to Pick a Life Partner: Part 1 (and Part 2)” – Need a little reality check in your daydreaming? (Who doesn’t?) I think this is cleverly written common sense, but as a “hopeless romantic” (so described since 3rd grade), I still need these kinds of reminders.

“Sexual Desire and the Single Woman” – Though I wish this post went further than it does, it is encouraging to read someone who is open about the strong sexual desires many single women deal with, and who sees the application of the transformational effects of the Gospel to the hearts of women in this area. Here’s the truth: If we belong to God, we have Christ. That radically impacts everything, including how we understand our sexuality and what we do with it.

“5 Lies That Make Sexual Purity More Difficult” – This article is a nice corollary to the one above, but hits home for men and women alike.

“4 Lies the Church Taught Me about Sex” – This is so outstanding and really needs to be heard and absorbed, especially #4.

“Why I Didn’t Wait” – This woman walks us through 10 lies that informed her ideas and practice of her sexuality during a long phase of her singleness.

“Walking the Aisle Without Your Virginity” – Piper has some good, Gospel words for a fellow who is struggling to know how to offer himself to the woman he will marry. Absolutely beautiful.

June 11, 2014

Paul tells the church to work out its salvation with fear and trembling (2:12), but he won’t disconnect that difficult command from its gracious empowering: ‘For it is God who works in you’ (2:13). The sin you do? Natural. The good you do for others? Supernatural. Always remember the gospel, so you won’t forget that God will not expect something of you that He won’t both empower you to obey and forgive you for not obeying.

– Matt Chandler, in To Live Is Christ. To Die Is Gain, pages 77-78.