I had a new girlfriend over to my home a few days ago. We met a few weeks ago in a social setting, and after learning that we had quite a bit in common, particularly that we were both single and fairly recently divorced after long-term marriages, we decided to get to know each other better. My friend is a Christian and involved in her church.
As our discussion turned toward men, she told me about the men she’d met and had relationships with since her separation and divorce. She had chosen to go onto a popular dating site to meet men, and after dating around a bit, has been seeing a man for about six months.
I told her that I haven’t yet met a man I’d like to date, or who would like to date me. I seem to either meet married men who want to flirt with me (as I talked about in a previous blog) or those who are in relationships—neither of which are appropriate.
As I talked with my friend, I told her that I really desire to not engage in sex with another man until I get married again. Granted, that’s no easy task, especially as adults, since society assumes that sex closely follows the second or third date. My friend then revealed to me that the man she’s dating did not pressure her to have sex, but said they could proceed “when she was ready.” Eventually, she told him she was ready—only a few months after they met—and their relationship now has that extra layer of complexity (not to mention sin). She was quick to point out, however, that she feels conflicted engaging in premarital sex as a Christian.
As our discussion went on, my spirit began to feel sad and disheartened. She certainly didn’t intend that; she was simply being honest with me. But after she left, I wondered: Is it really possible to do what God asks of us in today’s dating world, and maintain a relationship with a man and truly get to know him without muddying the waters with sex and the accompanying guilt?
I pondered the thought throughout the evening. If God tells us to avoid fornication, why, then, do we automatically assume our carnal desires will always get the best of us, and therefore believe we are incapable of doing His will? Why is celibacy the one thing in our lives that most of us, as previously sexually-active adults, immediately assume we will fail at, and therefore, we give in to fornication before getting God involved? Did we ever stop and think that if God expects us to be celibate while single, He will also equip us to do His will?
And here’s the most important question:
Do we believe in our hearts that God’s will is intended for our ultimate joy?
That’s the crux of the matter. The world seems to think that we know what’s best for ourselves. We want immediate satisfaction, whether it’s in our fast food, our fast computers, our fast cars, or our fast sex. But when we dash to the end game–sex–we miss out on the journey of romance that God intended for us.
God is the author of romance. He created us, our sexuality, and our desire for true romance. God is also One who does not hurry things. Have you ever noticed that? So when we engage in a relationship and skip quickly to sex, we miss out on a beautiful opportunity to become friends with that other person. We pass over that wonderfully exciting time when we flirt with the other person, admire them, laugh with them, talk with them about our deepest heart’s desires, and slowly build up the sexual tension.
I was recently watching the movie version of Phantom of the Opera. That movie is a brilliant example of sexual tension slowly building between Christine and the Phantom. If they were to have sex within the first ten minutes of the movie (they never do have sex at all), it would have been a complete let-down, because it’s the development of their relationship and the subtle (and sometimes sensual) ways they show their love for each other that holds you spellbound. And when at last Christine kisses the Phantom, it is truly one of the most incredibly charged and romantic love scenes ever filmed. I’m not kidding you–I’ve replayed that scene many times.
This is what God wants for us. He wants us to experience true romance to the fullest, without skipping the slow build-up that makes our story so romantic, unworldly and interlaced with complete joy, happiness and intrigue. And many of our personal, incredible love scenes like the one with Christine and the Phantom would not be so incredible if sex were already a part of the picture. It’s only after the long, slow build-up in a celibate relationship that sex can be the explosive, climactic and utterly satisfying God-given culmination of romance that it was intended to be–within marriage.
I want that kind of romance, without skipping a single scene. And I’m going to trust God to give it to me.