When sexual intimacy is ultimate in our mind, every other intimacy feels superficial. Friendships won’t suffice; we feel we need a husband or wife, or a girlfriend or boyfriend. But, as William Struthers states in his book Wired for Intimacy, “[Our] need for intimacy is like the need for a complete diet. It has many dimensions that are best satisfied through multiple means, not just the sugar of sexual relations.”
If there’s one thing we can do without, it’s sweets. We won’t die if we don’t taste “the sugar of sexual relations”. We all have a desire to know and be known, but this doesn’t happen through sexual intercourse alone. Intimacy is not essentially sexual. But, again, our culture has done its best to convince us that we can’t go without sexual intimacy.
Sex Was Still Ultimate
And I was convinced. Sex was still (subconsciously) ultimate in my mind, so my wait for sexual intimacy began. As a Christian, I would have to wait until I was married to experience “true” intimacy. I would have to wait for a wife.
Maybe you can relate. Some of you reading this might not share my experience with porn and acting out sexually (see previous post). But I’m sure many of you know what it feels like to wait. Waiting for a husband. Waiting for a wife. Waiting for the “right one”.
Marriage is Good…So Singleness is Bad?
But I’ve slowly realized God’s grace in giving me this gift called singleness. It is never punishment. The goodness of marriage does not make singleness bad. Yes, God did say, “It is not good that man should be alone.” But this was at a time when God’s goal was building a nation that would be His people, which required Adam to have a partner with whom He could procreate. And, Jesus and Paul remained single (not bad company).
Singleness is good, sex is good, and marriage is good. But neither singleness, sex, or marriage is ultimate. But, as a Christian, as long as sex remains an idol in our mind, it’s likely that an idolatry of marriage will saturate our thoughts and desires. Because, again we are making a good thing into God. Sex was never meant to be ultimate, and it’s not ultimate. God is ultimate; satisfaction and fulfillment can only be found in Him.
A Warning on Waiting
But I want to end with a warning to simply say that we should watch our hearts closely. While I want to make it clear that it is not wrong to desire to be married, what we call “waiting” on a husband or wife can be dangerous. I realized this one day as I read Titus 2:11-14:
For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ…
Paul uses the phrase “waiting for our blessed hope”. Have you ever considered the connection between hoping and waiting? The connection is this: If you want to know what your hope is, ask yourself what you’re waiting for. So it could be said that, if you’re waiting on a husband or a wife, your hope is finding a husband or wife.
This might not sound that bad at first, but consider what it means to make something your hope. Your hope is what stands out in your mind as the best possible thing that could happen to you. It makes sense when we hear Paul say, “…our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ.” So, to Paul, the best thing that could happen to him was the return of Christ. Christ’s return was Paul’s hope; it was what he was waiting for.
What Are We Waiting For?
And this should be our hope. This is what every Christian should be waiting for—Christ’s return. We should be waiting to see him face to face.
Lying side by side, face to face with your spouse is undoubtedly a gift. But standing face to face with your Creator and Savior is the unmatched reward of everyone belonging to Christ.
So my burden of singleness was lifted with the realization that my hope should always and only be Christ himself. My hope is His embrace, not the embrace of a woman. I also realized that I wasn’t looking for a woman that would hope in me, but a woman that would hope with me. Not a woman whose heart is set on finding a husband but a woman whose heart is set on seeing the glory of Christ.
Remember, sex is not ultimate; God is ultimate. Intimacy is not essentially sexual. There is a void in your heart that only God can fill; neither a spouse nor sex will ever do it. And if you desire to be married, what you’re longing for is only the shadow of a greater reality—the gospel. May our hope always rest in that reality.