“Like a city whose walls are broken through is a person who lacks self-control.”
On a cold winter night, it is a mathematical certainty that many men, Christian or otherwise, will find a sense of satisfaction through certain distractive measures… For many (though they may not admit to it – and you may not appreciate me mentioning it) this will involve a tub of lube and some “adult” video material, or was it only me that diarised my time to include this particular type of interruption? Porn sandwiched between midweek church attendance and Friday night prayer meetings is not as uncommon as you might think amongst church goers! Needless to say, this has not featured on my calendar or to do list for quite some time…
1 Corinthians 7:8-9
“To the unmarried… I say that it is good for them to remain single as I am. But if they cannot exercise self-control, they should marry. For it is better to marry than to burn with passion.”
If you cannot “exercise self-control” if you are “burning with passion” then apparently you should get married! Is this really the best idea? As for me personally, I would not want to be married to somebody tussling with this two pronged Goliath! What a great opening line for a proposal to your prospective wife! “I am unable to control myself – I can’t stop looking at porn and playing away, my penis is permanently grafted into my hand , I have sex on the brain – let’s get married!”
As the soon-to-be wife, aren’t you just brimming with confidence about the opportunity for success in this relationship!
There are probably some people who actually would find misplaced confidence in the elevated sex drive of a potential spouse! Those under the misconception that the lack of self-control evident in their partner is due to the animal magnetism being projected by themselves! The obvious irresistible beauty on display is sufficient explanation. This is a misplaced confidence indeed. The truth is, if your partner has a self-control issue, getting married to you is not going to change that!
Though the Apostle Paul makes the concession, for people struggling in this way to get married I wouldn’t recommend it! My opinion would be that it makes more sense to find self-control in intimacy with God before you say “I do”!
Self-control is not as elusive as some might think! Self-control is actually something that grows on us as we exercise it. As far as the bible is concerned, this is a “fruit of the Spirit”. So perhaps we should not be lazy in our flexing of this muscle!
As you draw near to God, he will draw near to you. This is good news because it means that we can expect him to develop us in areas that have become stagnant and require attention. For most of us, self-control fits this bill!
Self-control is not something only required for someone single or celibate. You need this tool in married life too! It is a key part of your moral inventory! It is not only limited to sexuality! It has far wider reaching benefits! – This is a holistically beneficial fruit! My experience has become that self-control is “tangible”, am i overly optimistic? I don’t think so!
Please discuss your own insight about this topic… I certainly have not written an extensive post here:
Very well written!
SD, Thanks for coming by, reading the latest entry and leaving some feedback! Hope all is well.
All is well thanks 🙂
‘Self-control is actually something that grows on us as we exercise it’. Wow! I love that line. As we seek more of Him then what is of Him: His character and the fruits of the Spirit just grow on us and this way his will becomes easy and our struggles become less & less. Thanks Dave for this and for the bible references too. Very well written:)
Keep flexing your self control muscles Caroline!
Thanks for your insight!! Yes, I think it’s right that self-control is required in marriage too. Marriage is not the “sexual paradise” that some single Christians expect it to be, but has its own boundaries too. By its very nature it must be exclusive — there is no room for anyone else neither in the marriage bed nor even in the sexual thoughts of a godly man or woman!! In addition, it carries with it a degree of respect and “oneness” that is not present in the majority of “adult” videos!! Finally, we can often be led into believing the lie that once the sexual appetite is satisfied it will no longer cause us any problems. I am sure you have experienced before the way that the sexual hunger only grows with fulfillment, and often the greed along with it!!
What I do think though as I’ve shared with you before is that the gift of celibacy is not a gift meant for everyone. To some it is a blessing and I believe that you have this gift. But to others the self-control can be there but the underlying desires are still very strong. I think one of the ways in which we can maintain our self-control is by being intentional about moving towards marriage! By doing this we see the hope in our future that God will provide for us and we look forward to that day rather than dwelling in our despair at being single, which can lead us away from God and into sin. The example you give is quite an extreme one but I think that what I am saying is also a way in which the words of Paul can be used in a powerful way. In short, I think it is possible to burn with passion but still keep the fire under control until the time is right for it to be unleashed!!
Joshua Harris puts it like this:
“Unless God has removed your desire for sex and has given you a clear vision to serve Him as a single person, then assume that you’re supposed to get married and either make yourself ready or begin pursuing it.”
And then later in the same section he says simply “Don’t follow the world’s pattern. Pursue God’s gift of marriage.”
In general I agree with him. God has the power to give us this gift and our burning passion is just an reminder that the day we will receive it is still ahead!!
I think many are caught up in the idea that sexual paradise awaits them in marriage! This could be an anticlimactic expectation! Ideally we need to take up the gauntlet of sexual purity, and move “intentionally towards marriage” or simply move forwards in the confidence we have in our single experience. We also continue building a healthy thought life too (Im glad you brought that one to the table!)
I really liked the Joshua Harris quotes you used, it certainly brings a balanced contrast to the comments that i made. I think pursuing marriage in an intentional way is a great idea. Though some people will have extremely different ideas about what that looks like!
Once again, Adam your comment is worthy of being a blog post in it’s own right! Please keep pouring your ideas into these blogs!
Thanks for your clear thinking!
I’m glad to have found this! Self control is a fruit of the Spirit, and sadly, not one we value very highly in our overly sexual, self-centered culture. I wrote a post today about masturbation, how it nearly destroyed me, and why it is sin, if you are interested:
Thanks for your comment Chad and your recommendation, I will definitely check out your blog… “The M Word” has certainly stirred up some controversy over the years and I’m interested to read your thoughts!
Very interesting, thought provoking blog Chad.
Thank you so much for your bluntness and honesty. Porn and masturbation are enormous today in our society, and yes, even in our Christian society. When Christians are so scared of even saying the words porn and masturbation, how on earth are men ever to confess their secrets and overcome the chains of sin that are tying them down? This sin is present, this sin is real, and we should not be quiet about it. So I thank you for your wonderful post.
I’m glad you have found this helpful. I sometimes think I am too blunt! But I feel it is important to for me to keep talking about these kind of subjects. God bless you!
Good post. You have a way with words that makes me not know whether to blush or smile knowingly to myself. So I did both while reading this post. These things are not easily talked about, generally, and I’m glad you dare.
However, for the avowed lifelong celibate, as well as for the ‘celibate until married’ single person, I believe issues of sex and self control, though important, are secondary. I wonder whether there is a danger of focussing on these things too much.
In my experience, the times when I’m most free from the trappings I might want to avoid are the times when I’m too busy serving God and people to even think about those things. A dog trying to run away from its own tail will just go round in circles, but if it focuses on chasing something else, it will forget about its tail altogether.
It would be great to read about the things you are freed up to do, being single/celibate, i.e. what you can/should/will do rather than what you can’t.
What’s great about a single life given to God? Inspire us. 🙂
THanks for your thoughts Soupy,
Im glad on some level you resonated with my writing!
I agree that the self-control thing shouldn’t become the focus, its so much better when it actually becomes the overflow. In this particular blog i felt it important to mention it. I think most men attempting to pursue purity in our oversexed culture struggle with it and need to go on a self-control treasure hunt!
In contrast with yourself, I found that my own journey revealed that trying to keep busy serving God and others and “doing more” did not seem to distract me from my “tail”, rather it caused me to focus more on it!
The best thing I have done in my journey is to return to the deepest desires that i have… desires to invest in and nurture my relationship with Jesus. THis has become my greatest blessing and joy!
I hope that in the course of time I can touch more on some of the practical things as you say “what you can/should/will do you with a celibate life”
Thanks for the reply. Great stuff.
I agree that the important thing is to keep close to Jesus, and also to lay down our lives for people.
I like the term you used here: ‘self control treasure hunt’. Kind of sums it up!
Thanks for the post. 🙂
If you don’t have faith, you can’t even begin to achieve self-control. It’s just the way it works.
Welcome to the discussion! People without faith can try to demonstrate self-control “in their own strength” and some succeed partially but its not the same as the fruit of the spirit that God gives as a free gift! Nice to meet you May, and thanks for commenting!
Some very good points made. I particularly like the statement: The truth is, if your partner has a self-control issue, getting married to you is not going to change that! Sadly, so many Christians think marriage will deliver you from sin. I once read about a Christian woman struggling with masturbation and she said “If only God would give me a husband, then I would stop masturbating!”. I can only believe it was her immaturity in Christ leading her to believe such a lie. God’s body is so oblivious of His power they would rather justify sin instead of walking in His deliverance and healing. Every time I hear “Christians” proclaiming that masturbation is not sin my heart is grieved. This sin is prevalent in both singles and marriages. Many Christians carry pornography and lust into their marriages and it is eating away at their marriages because now it is not just one person’s issue, it is two. What God is revealing to me is that sexual sin is just as much about receiving a false comfort than as it is about lust. We go to various things, food, sex, excessive shopping, to receive comfort and when these things don’t fulfill us we go to them again, and again until we are entrapped in bondage and addictive behavior. Only Christ can fulfill us and I am in a journey to receive His comfort in every area of life. As I’m sure you are as well 🙂
I found your comment in the spam section of my blog!!! What was it doing there?! I would not want to deprive the world of your insight so i posted as soon as i saw!!
It’s not easy to break away from habits, and this though deemed as “healthy” by many is a habit whose grip is particularly tight and destructive.. So many are under its rule. I think your description of sex as a “false comfort” is brilliant. Misplaced sexual expression is certainly nothing less than that!
If Jesus overcame the grave then he can certainly overcome any “chain” including sexual bondage that seems so tough for believers to shake off…
Regarding porn: it’s not just between you two, it’s not just a ‘self-control’ issue. It’s the expectation there will be a class of women whose “work” it is to be serially raped for your pleasure. Anytime a woman would not have sex without being paid, or fearing pain or punishment, she is being raped.
I found it appalling that someone who wishes to portray himself as a leader in Christian thought, good and spiritual living, ETC. should use porn.
Do you still sexually abuse women? That is what using porn does. The women in the pictures are being abused for your pleasure. When you foster porn you foster abuse of women.
I doubt, I would lay money down, that the woman priest/minister, does not watch porn.
God bless you doublevez! I fear you have misread this post! I do not watch porn any more, Though I once had a regular intake of it! I agree with the negative implications of porn that you mention… I like to talk about porn to encourage people against using it…