WHAT I LEARNED ABOUT SEXUAL ABSTINENCE

First I want to say there is a difference between celibacy and abstaining from sexual relations. Celibacy is usually a lifestyle where people do not engage in sexual relations because of religious reasons and a certain calling on their life to abstain. Abstinence from sexual intercourse can also be for religious reasons, but it generally isn’t because a person feels called to abstain from sex throughout their lives: it usually is because they abstain until they meet and marry the person they feel God has chosen for them to share their lives with.  I want to share what I have learned about abstaining from sexual intercourse because I feel it may help others who struggle with choosing this as a lifestyle until they marry.

  1. God is ever-present with you and knows the difficulty of your choice and is there to comfort you. Sometimes we may feel that because Jesus Christ was God, that he can’t possibly understand what we are feeling. Jesus was all man and all God. It says in Hebrews that he knows our weaknesses and infirmities and understands them all. God created us and he created us with the desire to be with the opposite sex; he understands better than anyone what it feels like and what it means to a man and woman to be united, sexually.
  2. Abstaining from sexual relations until marriage guards and protects our emotions. I know this has been said numerous times, but there is an assurance that we have when our mind, soul, and bodies are in God’s hands and subjection. We have the knowledge that no matter how  relationships go, God is honoring my devotion to him and the entirety of my being is covered. There is a peace that comes from knowing that I’m  not dishonoring my body and God honors that. Hebrews says that “Marriage is honorable..” This means that it is good, whole, righteous, and that the sexual act within marriage is pure, not defiled or dirty.
  3. When you are filled with God’s spirit, a sexual relationship outside of God’s covenant  of marriage is grievous.  I learned this when I was in a sexual relationship and not married. I thought that because we loved each other, and we were faithful to each other that God would somehow overlook the fact that we weren’t married. God never overlooks, sidesteps, or walks around his word and the truth of his word. No matter how much God loves you; he doesn’t love you enough to make any exception for you and your situation. For him to do so, for God to go back on his word in any instance he would cease to be God. Also while in this relationship, I began to feel myself becoming distant from the things of God: this means that I couldn’t listen to someone preaching God’s word, I couldn’t read my Bible or pray. My conscience was being violated, because I was breaking one of God’s principles, and I was in a sinful situation that was causing me to be separated from God.
  4. Even though I tried to justify sexual relations outside of the marriage covenant, the Holy Spirit in me never gave me peace about it: also I didn’t know it at the time, but I was cutting myself off from the blessings of God: in this present life and the eternal ones.  It’s true that those who play house, never get the real house. When we settle for less than God’s plan, we cut ourselves off from the very thing it is that we want. Also, settling for someone who is unwilling to marry you, could be standing in the way of someone who would be willing and able to make a holy committment to you. Abstaining from sexual relations shouldn’t be something you do seeking a reward or a husband; it should be something you do because it is right. The man who I was with wasn’t just unwilling to marry me, he was using me to satisfy his own selfish and self-centered needs, whether he realized it or not. And this fact alone was enough for my heavenly father to want to protect me from such manipulation.
  5. I was sinning against my own body. In twenty-four years of marriage and living with a man who was consistently unfaithful to me, I never contracted any sexually transmitted disease (other than a yeast infection): however, in the span of two years, I contracted a virus  that placed me at risk of developing cancer. Also, in the two years I was sleeping with this man, I was always sick with some type of persistent cold or bronchitis. When I stopped sleeping with him, I still have colds, but the persistence of  sickness  isn’t there.
  6. Sexual immorality in the form of fornication continually opens the door for sexual obsession or even possession by sexual demonic spirits. What most people fail to realize is that sexual sin, is sexual sin. When we knowingly disobey God’s word and sometimes unknowingly, we open the door to a flood of demonic influence from whatever demonic powers that are out there. When we have the power to control our desires and inclinations and choose not to do it, we open ourselves up to things that we don’t have control over. Nothing is worse than feeling you don’t have control over your sexual desires; when something else comes that has power over you. This is where sexual deviation comes from in the form of child molestation, rape, bestiality, homosexuality, and the list goes on.
  7. When you don’t have your sexual desires and feelings under control, there is some element of emotional immaturity. I realized that I desperately wanted love and intimacy with a man, and I did so at the expense of my relationship and peace with God. After traveling through the maze of loss of self-esteem, loss of peace, and a general feeling that I’m doing something wrong, I began to so value the lost elements of my personality that I felt no temporary attention a man could give me was worth losing my self-respect: and my friend, that is personal growth and emotional maturity. I allowed myself to be manipulated as a child, to obtain something that I felt I couldn’t live without. Emotionally mature people are able to delay self-gratification for something much better that is long-term.  There are sixty year-old people who are still immature emotionally. Age has little to do with how mature someone is emotionally.
  8. Lastly, waiting for the commitment you want in marriage is taking the moral high-ground. People who compromise themselves sexually will eventually compromise themselves in other things also. Taking the moral high ground says to yourself, and to others, “I am worth the very best that is available.” It says that even if I have to live the rest of my life alone, it is better than being with someone who de-values me, or gives me less than what I want, need, and deserve.

THE PAIN OF THE EMPTY NEST

My grandmother gave birth to twelve children, and of those twelve she lived to bury three of them. Two died as children, and my father passed away as an adult. Of the remaining nine, all left home, married and settled in various areas of the country. She survived my grandfather by fifty years, which wasn’t uncommon for women in the South over seventy-five years ago. The one child who remained was my mentally challenged uncle, Curtis Quince.

As a child I would go to “Mama Lula’s” house with my brother, Patrick; we would sashay into her front door, sit down and talk for a few minutes, then get up and run outside to play. I loved escaping to her house because it was a breath of fresh air from the noise of my seven brothers and sisters. I’m sure the quietness and refuge that I cherished, she had come to hate. There were days I would come by and see her sitting on the porch with a forlorn look on her face: it wasn’t only a look of loneliness and despair, the look said, “no one is going to rescue me from this.” Even as a child, I sensed “Mama Lula’s” relief when Patrick and I would show up, I sensed her thankfulness, and I was equally grateful for the sense of history and peacefulness she had given to me.

It is true that we can spend all our lives as employees, parents, and productive citizens, and one day wake up to realize we are in the house alone. I realized my “nest” was empty after I dropped my youngest daughter off at college. My ex-husband had left a year earlier to build a new nest with a younger, new wife and two other children. I didn’t have time to be bitter; the time that I possessed was spent trying to find a career in post-mid-life and trying to keep two daughters in college.

I joined several meetup.com sites, became an avid hiker, a prolific dancer, and began to explore the singing skills that had lain dormant for a long time. I found the self who had been buried beneath the needs of children and the expectations of a neglectful spouse. I returned to school and acquired a certificate as a drug counselor. I got a job working at something that required skill and thought. It was a great accomplishment. My days were filled. The nights and the weekends became the gaps. I suddenly realized the children had filled the nights and the weekends until now: they had filled the gaps for ten years plus. Overwhelmingly, I began to crave sharing the most insignificant events. A sunset, a cup of coffee, a walk in the park, a walk anywhere; these things became monumental events set against a backdrop of emptiness.

The gaps are here and I refuse to fill them with minutia. I refuse to fill the gaps with things that I’m not passionate about. I spoke with a woman  I met and is in a similar situation with the children and the spouse gone;I said, “It’s amazing how much space another person takes up in your life, and when they are no longer there how much space is left.” So I must fill the gaps with Joan. I must fill the gaps with whom I choose to be with and what I choose to give my time to. Time is the most precious commodity of an “empty nester”; use it wisely, make it work for you and you will see the valuable return of your investment.

 

The Power In Trusting God

     Trust isn’t easily earned especially with the issues we are confronted with today. There are some people we trust most of the way or part of the way; but Jesus Christ is the only one I know who we can trust all the way.
The first scripture that comes to mind on trusting God is Proverbs 3: 5,6… “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart, lean not unto thine own understanding, in all thy ways acknowledge him and he shall direct thy paths.” The idea of trusting God is rooted in faith in God. We drive over a bridge that spans miles with tons of water beneath it because we have faith that the bridge won’t collapse. We turn the ignition to a car expecting it to send power to the engine so the car will move; all done in faith in a mechanical process. If one can have faith in man-made machines and technology,why shouldn’t we have faith in God who created the heavens and the earth.
There are three reasons why trusting God makes perfectly good sense:
1. Trusting God brings about peace. Psalm 56: 3,4 states, “What time I am afraid, I will trust in thee. In God I will praise his word, in God I have put my trust, I will not fear what flesh can do unto me.”
At a time in history where nothing is certain; whether it is our jobs, our health, relationships that go awry: God gives us a sense of stability that whatever else fails, God will always be there and the promises of his word to us also.
2. Trusting God extends your life. Psalm 25:1,2 says, ” Unto thee O’ Lord do I lift up my soul,O my God, I trust in thee: let me not be ashamed, let not my enemies triumph over me.” When faced with the perils of this present life, we don’t always know who our enemies are. When our trust is in God, he not only can show you plainly who is a “backstabber”, but he can deliver you from the snare of those who pretend to be your friends. This is important not only physically, but more importantly spiritually.
3. Trusting God keeps us from making serious mistakes in judgement. ” As for God his way is perfect, the word of the Lord is tried, he is a buckler to all them that trust him.” Listening to God’s spirit and studying his word carefully is more than enough to direct us to where we should go and away from where we shouldn’t. Many times people have made life choices that were detrimental, which could have been avoided had they sought God and his word. You can not separate God from love, nor from his word. God would never lead us into anything that would cause us irreversible harm.

This post will be continued.

Why Online Dating May Not Be a Good Idea

For those who are looking for love this post may or may not be useful, and to be upfront, this post is an opinion; there may be other opinions out there and if you have one you are certainly free to voice it. However, since love is such a motivating factor in the lives of human beings, I think there is much to be said as to how we  search for it and in maintaining it. That said, here is my take on online dating.

1. Online dating is a player’s playground. In the land of online dating, it is quite possible to be involved with 2,3 or more people at the same time; especially if the contacts are long distance. While this is possible off line as well, it becomes even more feasible in an online environment. Conversations can go back and forth in chat rooms with multiple people, namely people who are interested in knowing each other better. Depending on what you are looking for, online dating can cheapen the meaning of intimacy; and can be devastating for someone who may come to realize that the person they are involved with, is also involved with many others.

2.  Online dating can be misleading and can lead one to believe that finding love is as easy as opening the cook book to find a new recipe for lasagna. It is very easy to portray yourself in a flattering depiction across a computer screen and through charming conversation. Pictures can be misleading, (not what a person actually looks like in person), and conversation can be tailored to what the other person seemingly is looking for.(the tell them what they want to  hear mentality). Also, discarding people becomes easier, because after all, you won’t have to hear from them again, all you have to do is delete them from your list. Sometimes people find themselves dating someone they would not have looked at twice in person. Deception is all too easy in this forum, and sometimes can be harmful or deadly; which brings me to the 3rd point.

3.  Predators abound in an online environment. The news is full sad stories of women or men who have trusted someone they didn’t know, believed that they were who they said they were, and later found upon meeting them  to be rapist, thieves or murderers. You have to be careful in any dating situation however you meet someone. But, most people you meet online  are complete strangers with no tie to a community of people one knows or without any accountability to family, friends or anything. Trusting someone under these circumstances is  like playing at your own risk.

3. Online dating leaves you poorer and the dating website richer. Online dating sites are there to make money. The sell is that they want you to find your perfect match; but the reality is you may or may not find a perfect fit. However, some people may feel the more I spend, the more sites I look into, the better my chances.(nothing could be further from the truth, love is not a crap shoot) It works something like insurance companies; you are paying the insurance company hoping that you don’t have an accident, yet while they empty your pocket book you don’t have an accident; yet they have your money just the same.

4. These next 3 ideas go together. Online dating is not for the emotionally vulnerable. Because of the easy way people can be discarded, one’s heart can be broken without any place to go for remedy; and it can be a quick cure for a deeper problem. (The problem of loneliness and social isolation. ) This type of dating environment  creates a feeling of being  warehoused; like so much of society today. People’s feelings shouldn’t be open for sale to the highest bidder or to a first come, first served basis. This diminishes or even obliterates individuality, uniqueness and the sacredness of a person’s emotions.

While the human heart is complex and multifaceted, online dating  can leave one with the feeling that emotions are as easily discarded as old clothes which no longer fit. With each new contact that doesn’t work, the heart is supposed to program itself  to discard those feelings and move on to the next ” love object.” Online dating creates the illusion that love is as easy to find as the click of a button,  and the world of fantasy easily becomes real. Dating online can become a fantasy world gone wild.

Finally, because the people one encounters for the first time online is not in person; in other words,  when you  meet this person  you don’t hear their voice, see them, read their body language  or make any kind of eye contact, you could be missing very important clues as to who they actually are. If we as a people have been reduced to meeting possible mates in this manner, it says something about society in general and humanity in specific. Our humanity has been reduced to the level of mechanization and a type of robot existence where people’s feelings can be easily manipulated and shifted about on a computer or telephone screen. It diminishes our humanity, it diminishes our humanity, it diminishes our humanity.