As followers of Christ, we know that catering to our flesh isn’t a pillar of our faith, plus, it’s a hindrance to our growth. Where ever you are on your walk-in Christ, you’ll discover how fulfilling God is. He provides for every area of life, but the thing is that we have to give up what we’ve deemed acceptable for his preference, which is him. When it comes to the topic of abstinence most people are curious as to how and why someone would sign up for that kind of life. I get it, in today’s time where limitations and discipline seem few and far between, it does seem ridiculous. As valiant as it may seem, there are valid reasons why abstinence is the way to go. Before jumping into anything, I feel it’s always good to research or at least know why so that you can lean on it when distractions arrive. I’ve been on this journey since 2015 and in these past 6 years and counting I’ve learned a few things I’d like to share, let’s get into it.
Abstinence isn’t a reward based system
Sexual abstinence isn’t necessarily a huge accomplishment, it’s how we were meant to live before marriage. ( What I’m about to say next seems contradictory, Just a heads up!) I will say, depending on your personal trials, addictions, and propensities, abstaining from something that’s a weakness is an honorable thing and I commend you! Sin has tried to redefine God’s law as an option and those lines have allowed us to put praises on daily responsibilities. What I’m getting at here is that we aren’t rewarded by God for choosing abstinence, if anything, it’s for our own benefit. It’s not like a saving account where we’ll gain interest in avoiding sex.
When I first began, I didn’t begin with the thought of “I’m not having sex anymore.” I came to a point where I wanted God more than anything else, so, after I received salvation I realized, “Oh shoot, I need to set myself up for success in this space.” So, I decided to delete numbers, change mine and delete text threads and didn’t give thought to it anymore until I was tempted. In my mind, surviving these temptations were added up in heaven and I was guaranteed a husband and all that comes with it. Couldn’t be further from the truth. While it is God-honoring and pleasing to him that we abstain from sexual immorality, it’s not a passport to great sex in the safety of marriage later on. We may never have sex again! (I know, take a breather, it’ll be ok)
Take a moment and think about if the last sentence above was your reality. How would you feel? What would you do? Would you still live a life of abstinence? If not, that’s your choice, but it shows where the foundation of your choice is made of. Think of this as a permanent state of life until the Lord sends your spouse. It can be difficult to see it this way, but that’s what it means to live a life pleasing to Christ. If you happen to mess up and fall, get up, pray, repent and continue your walk. The most damaging thing any of us can believe is that we’ll never fail, that primes us for the fall and it hits our self-esteem incredibly hard. Be honest with yourself and with God and you’ll be fine. So, no, there isn’t a reward for avoiding sex.
It’s bigger than abstaining from sex…
On some level, we’ve all been guilty of this. Abstaining is great! It takes work to remain in the will of God, what makes it a little easier is surrounding ourselves with things that redirect our focus back to God. Music, movies, environments, activities, all of it can influence us. I’m definitely guilty of this because I LOVE secular music, to be frank, but I’ve noticed how my mood changes depending on what music is playing in the background. Imagine listening to “Knuck if you buck” by Crime Mobb, then hearing “Pony” by Ginuwine followed by “melodies from heaven” by Kirk Franklin….yep, major shifts happen, in mood, thought, and dances. See how all of that merge together? It seems odd that all of that can occur in the same environment, I know firsthand, I’ve been in clubs where they’ve played all three in one night!
Purity is the goal. To steer clear of consuming sin indirectly by not actively participating in it, just being near it. This is where some of us tend to invent new rules, for example, watching porn and masturbating is ok because I’m not actually having sex. I’ve heard people say this. Yes, they’re not participating in sexual intercourse, but the spirit of lust is still operating. We tend to make allowances for sin because the action varies but the same thing is motivating both. When trying to find satisfaction in something you’ve put a limitation on, look at what draws you. For me, music is a huge player in my life and I reach for specular music out of nostalgia and trying to stay awake and energetic, but if I reach for a song that doesn’t honor God, what am I soaking up ultimately? What spirit am I flirting with? It’s almost like teasing a lion behind glass. We feel comfortable mishandling something stronger than us when we feel we’re protected by what we believe is stronger than our enemy.