“So I say to those who aren’t married and to widows- it’s better to stay unmarried, just as I am. But if they can’t control themselves, they should go ahead and marry. It’s better to marry than to burn with lust.” 1 Corinthians 7:8-9 NLT
While in a meeting about my upcoming initial sermon, I was surrounded with those I considered godparents who were now like coworkers in the gospel. I was the youngest there and at the end of the meeting where I asked for advice, one lady said something completely unexpected! To go ahead and get married ASAP!! I looked around the room and saw heads bobbing in agreement. I asked “why?” She quoted the above scripture and began to tell me how she couldn’t imagine being abstinent at my age. (24 at the time.)
To be honest, that set me off… when I got home!! Who said I was burning?! Why do I have to run off and get married just to have sin-free sex but end up possibly damaging marriage?? All the advice, love and encouragement I received that day went to the back of the bus because I was floored at this advice. (Mind you, I chose to focus on that, but I was done!) Not to mention, some comments on getting on birth control because getting pregnant after an initial sermon and before a marriage would be scandalous! Yet, when it comes to other single, young women it’s celebratory. The only difference between them and is that I’m a minister, but we all go to the same church and claim the same Christ.
Teaching a truth that you didn’t follow can be hard.
This isn’t to bash anyone in life, as we all sin and fall short, but to place expectations on some and not all because of personality, character or title, isn’t viable to God. We all have to live the same guidelines to abide by and I have seen this kind of rhetoric confuse my teens that’d come to bible study. They believe clergy has a superior complex that makes them invincible to sin..LIE!! or that if you’re not a preacher, you’re not required to live holy. While clergy does have a certain responsibility to God, we are all still one body, expected to fulfill purpose.
Outside of selective expectation, the topic of abstaining, Christian dating, sex and marriage hasn’t been properly communicated to our kids, even to our adults. We become sold out to our emotions in these areas, since these are some of the most personal, intimate parts of life, then bring the damage to Christ to fix. I had never gotten so much dating advice ( some salvageable and some just plain wrong) until I became a minister and while I understand their hearts and intentions, I do feel this is a problem, especially in our churches. to prepare ourselves and our children well, we should:
#1. stop undercutting what the bible says out of guilt or fear of faliure.
#2. Desire authentic deliverance and not “get -saved quick” schemes.
#3. Teach dating, sex and marriage and what does that look like from a biblical perspective.
#4. Be transparent and tell your story to show the successes and flaws in life.
#5. Teach the grace of God without condemnation yet set an expectation, for both our boy and girls.
#6. understand that Young doesn’t necessarily mean “sex- obsessed”. Don’t confuse age for sexual immaturity. Just because you were focused on sex at ___age doesn’t mean anyone else is.
#7. be willing to have tough conversations and to admit to the “IDKs” of life.