Christian Singleness Find a Partner, Attraction, Eros
Dealing with Dysfunctionality Christians & Divorce
Christians, Homosexuality, sexual dysfunction
It may be the case that you are happy being single and actually choose to not marry. If this is the case, there are still challenges that you will face in the area of friendships and relationships. It is usually the case that “permanently” single people are still attracted to the opposite sex and so temptation will still be a challenge to face. As well as this, there may be pressure on you from people who have an expectation that you should have a relationship and marry.
Today’s Western society expects it of people to have a partner or marry. It is the thing to do if you are “normal”. Whilst we know that those who are unmarried are perfectly normal, Genesis 2:18,24 does teach that it is not good for us to be alone and that we are made to be with a marital partner. Alongside this point we certainly accept the fact that some are called to godly celibacy.
Sometimes practical dynamics do not always promote coupling in our churches. In some countries, for some reason, the number of Christian women seems to be greater than the number of men. As well as this problem, it is sadly often the case that churches are quite closed units. If you go to a certain church, you are stuck with a usually limited choice of potential partners (unless you go to a very large church!).
Getting really practical, it may be a good idea to try and visit some other churches. There is an obvious danger that you could spend quite a lot of time doing this, and get no where in this quest, whilst also potentially damaging your spiritual well being. This is not to say that you should not consider this idea. Also, be prepared to be humble and examine yourself, considering if there is any character trait or other trait [that] may put people off you as a partner. Dating agencies can be useful, but they are not ideal, as they may be less likely to provide people who live close to you. It is safest to stick to a rule of focussing on friendship first and to get to know a person before you start to commit yourself to a relationship. If there is any distance between yourself and a contact, enjoying friendship first is made much more difficult.
Finding a Partner, Attraction & Eros
Attractiveness and classic beauty
Many people feel insecure about the way that they look physically. Those who feel that they have been left “on the shelf” because of their lack of good looks need comfort and hope. The reality, which is seen all of the time in the relationships that we see all around us, is the fact that beauty is indeed in the eye of the beholder. We can all find different types of look or physical build attractive. Having said this, it is the case that some people may be less classically attractive than others and therefore may be less likely to be noticed by members of the opposite sex because of this. People who lack a self confidence in their physical appearance need to maintain their sense of self respect. They can have hope because it is clear, simply by looking anywhere around us, that people with vastly different physical features all can and do find a suitable partner and a happy marriage.
Finding the right Partner
Finding the right person to marry is essential. When you marry you are in many ways placing your life in someone’s hands, and so time and real consideration must be taken. Knowing when we have found the right person sometimes takes time and experience. It is all too easy to be caught up in the romance and novelty of a relationship, but fail to really carefully assess if a person is suitable for us in the long term.
There must be a presence of a deep respect for the other person and something about them that we deeply value. Essentially we must genuinely love them, without any doubt. If there are issues that would plainly undermine hope for a lasting relationship, the relationship should be assessed to make sure that the bond is really strong. If the relationship has unmendable areas of weakness (for example, perhaps each partner has a very different cultural background, which is causing constant problems in communication), it should be stopped as soon as possible. There is no sense in risking continuing on in relationship, as the risk of later unhappiness or even of divorce is far too great.
As well as a chemistry in character and a compatible vision for the future, a relationship must also have a healthy sexual chemistry. It is quite possible to find someone attractive, but not to actual be stimulated by them in physical, sexual terms. It is important to assess this factor early on in a relationship. This is not to say that it is OK to take physical intimacy very far - no, not at all. But it is essential to be aware of this aspect of the relationship and to question whether you are really enjoying some of the physical aspects of being together.
It can be hard to know how to deal with singleness in terms of how we see our need in relation to our faith in God. We will probably be aware of scriptures such as Psalm 37:4, “Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart”. We need to maintain our faith and trust in God, praying for His provision. However, it is also often important to be practical about finding a partner. It is clear that God knows our needs and wants the best for us. However, it might be suggested that despite these truths, things do not always go exactly as we for hope in life. The challenge of our faith is to trust in God’s love being present with us, despite any unmet physical needs.
A problem that one or both of the couple can have is a lack of genuinely putting God first in the relationship. There is always a danger of idolising our husband or wife and looking for the affirmation or affection in them which we can only truly find in God. Because of this, partners should ensure that they do spend time in prayer and in worship of God on their own and not always together. They also need to examine their own insecurities and attitudes to make sure that this problem is not a factor in the relationship. If such a problem is present, it can have an affect of weakening the potential of God to use the couple in Christian ministry and service, which is obviously a disaster. Apart from this, such an idolatrous attitude is, of course, sinful. A fear of the Lord’s judgement should wake us up to avoiding this problem.
Dealing with dysfunctionality in Relationships & Marriage
Before we commit ourselves to starting a relationship, and certainly before we marry, we must have as full an awareness as possible about any areas of weakness in a relationship. Is there any specific emotional vulnerability, or even any mental or physical condition that exists on either side of the relationship? Baggage should be dealt with before greater commitment, as far as is possible. Whilst accepting that our emotional wounds do take time to heal, and that some mental or physical conditions are long term in their duration, we do need to have a peace and assurance that our relationship is mature and strong. We need to know that we will be able to survive the long term challenges of marriage, and that we can realistically live with any particular emotional wound or clinical condition.
We might consider a practical example of this assessment. We consider that one person in a certain relationship is suffering from clinical depression. Before they commit themselves to marriage, both members of the partnership should have found a confidence that they can cope with this condition together in the long term. The condition must not put the relationship under too much stress. Ideally there should be some indication that treatment taken for the depression does stabilise or at least help the problem.
This type of confidence can only be found after quite a significant period of healthy friendship before a couple “date” or “go out” with one another. This should then be followed by a similar learning period whilst a couple “go out”. Both periods of time should give practical experience for the couple in dealing with the condition together. This way the two can confirm that their relationship is actually being strengthened over time despite the depression. If the relationship is being weakened and strained by the problem, it is probably a fair comment to make that it is a bad idea, indeed irresponsible, to marry at that point in time.
If you are already married
If you are already married, and facing emotional or other issues that are putting a strain on your marriage, it is important to look for outside help and advice. The person who has the problem, whatever that problem is, needs to come to a place of admitting their need for help. Personal problems in marriage need to be faced and managed by both partners as a united team, and never ignored or denied. Unless the personal problem is very severe, for example, a serious mental disorder, then as long as both sides of the relationship are committed to persevering in love and dealing with the problem, it should be possible to hold the marriage bond in place.
Where the party with the problem is unwilling to deal with the issue (or perhaps in the case of serious mental disorder unable), and the problem is causing unsustainable strain to the partnership, it may be justifiable to have a period of separation or even to divorce. This, of course, should never be taken lightly and every effort must be made to keep the marriage together.
Christians & Divorce
Looking at the Bible, Matthew 5:31,32, and Mark 10:2-12 clearly teach that divorce is wrong, except for marital unfaithfulness. However, when we look at the Bible as a whole, and without undermining these passages, it seems fair to say that there may be other grounds for divorce. Marital unfaithfulness is one extreme example of a breaking of the marital bond of commitment. However, if, for example, a wife is experiencing physical abuse on a consistent basis from her husband, serious betrayal is present in the relationship. It may be argued that this is more than adequate grounds for divorce, Biblically speaking.
It may be suggested that Matthew 5:31,32 and Mark 10:2-12 describe Jesus animating the point that we should not take divorce lightly. It is only when there are extreme breaches of the marital bond that divorce is allowed. Apart from adultery, another example where divorce may be seen as reasonable might be when one partner in a marriage is seriously mentally ill, and normal relationship is not only impossible, but also dangerous. Also, if a wife discovers that her husband has been abusing their children, then it may be actually irresponsible to not divorce.
Divorce is a terrible consequence of failure in marriage. Failure in marriage may be due to one or both partners and can be for varying reasons. Where divorce is either necessary or inevitable, those who experience it, and who still seek to cling to their faith in God, need support and help. Where there is fault, and confession of this, the Lord forgives. The Church should not judge, but should accept in love those who have received grace, so that children of God are not driven away from the Lord’s presence.
Divorce can be the culmination of abuse and rejection dealt by one partner in a marriage. Where this has happened, the pain of this rejection, and in the case of adultery, the sting of betrayal, can emotionally crush victims. It can be hard to trust people again after this. It is certainly wise for those who have been hurt to guard their hearts in any friendship or relationship, to save themselves further heartache. However, it is certainly not good, or the Lord’s will, for sufferers to be shut off from contact with others. This Christian contact and the sharing and praying for burdens and hurts can be so restoring and healing. The fact that a person has let us down does not mean that God has let us down. We may feel very much a victim or life and our circumstances, trying to somewhere mentally position a loving God, in the midst of the emotional turmoil in our life. We may have felt that God was very much with us in the marriage, and even perhaps that He guided us to it in the first place.
We know that a loving God would not guide us into something that would turn out so badly. Therefore, we may have to assess how we gauge sensing the Lord’s guidance. There is hope for the divorced. God absolutely cares for our well being, and sees the way our lives develop and change. He is with us and involved in our lives. Whilst He cannot stop our marriage partner (or perhaps now ex-partner) from hurting us if they choose to, He does care about our hurt and our circumstances. God can heal our hurts and restore our self confidence. The reality that He is loving towards us can bring us comfort and the hope that He can reveal Himself to us in real ways can help us further. The Bible is clear that God can heal our emotional wounds. For example, Psalm 34:18. Jesus himself said,
“Come to me you who are weary, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28).
Christians, Homosexuality, sexual dysfunctions
Homosexual practise is clearly stated as being sinful in the Bible. For example, see 1 Romans 1:27, 1 Corinthians 6:9, and Leviticus 18:22, which says, “Do not lie with a man as one lies with a woman, that is detestable”. This command is later followed by a warning of judgement in verse 25, “so I punished (them) for their sin”. How should Christians who have such sexual temptations view these deviant desires? How can they deal with this problem? Homosexual activity is sinful, but should sufferers feel guilty about their deviant desires, as long as they do not put them into practice?
Homosexual urges are not good, as what they would ultimately lead to if put into practice is sinful. Some Christians experience this type of sexual temptation. They do not seek it and they cannot help it coming over them. They are also often uncomfortable about these feelings and recognise that they are not good.
The cause of such misdirected hormonal feelings may be varied and are often debated. Very briefly, this problem may be viewed as having a number of causes: perhaps a genetic deformity causes it in some. For others, perhaps a certain dynamic might cause a freak, and hopefully temporary, imbalance to a person’s hormones - confusing their sexual orientation. Perhaps certain environmental factors may encourage or contribute to homosexual feelings (for example, the hormonal imbalance that can be quite common in adolescence or young adulthood, or the experience of an upbringing starved of a father figure or normal male contact). Perhaps in some cases demonic forces can give rise to such sinful feelings by having a spiritual foothold in a person’s life for some or other reason.
Sufferers should seek help and get prayer in order to gain wisdom about their problem. We urge those afflicted in such a way to resist their temptations. Sufferers need Christian friendship support. They also need personal courage to fight temptation and to be truly victorious in their stand against forces that deny the truth about sexual relationships. Long term sufferers may well view their problem as an established anomaly in their emotional and psychological makeup. With both outside support and Godly personal devotion, hopefully they will be able to come to terms with this problem in a way which enables day to day life to be tolerable.
Such individuals require significant faith to deny their sexual and emotional feelings and to trust that God will, at least in the long term and certainly in eternal terms, emotionally restore them and provide for all of their needs. Such strength takes courage, sacrifice and a true heart of spiritual devotion. It will not go unrewarded by the Lord.
Cross Dressing and Desire to Change sex
There are other issues related to gender and sexuality that some Christians struggle with. Some people may be tempted to cross dress, whilst others may long to actually change their sex. These problems are complex. Christians who do experience such emotions and feelings should dare to share them with other Christians who they absolutely trust. They will need support and unconditional love. They will also need tremendous courage and strength to deal with the internal sexual confusion that is present within them.
It is conceivable that in some cases the evil influence of the enemy, the Devil, could be at work behind problems like this, either by some way causing the problem or aggravating it. For many there may be a complex chemical imbalance in occurrence or perhaps some genetic deficiency. The Lord is close to all who are suffering and He is able to help us with our problems in miraculous ways. Sufferers must reach out to the Lord who cares for them, asking for His dynamic intervention and help.
www.glaco.com/APlaceForRestoration - warning about Internet romance.
www.diskbooks.org/bsf.html - Bible facts about sex. Warning: very frank and explicit, and potentially controversial.
www.atthefence.com - answers to tough relationship questions.
www.mastershelp.com/about.html - resources for singles and couples.
Link to a funny picture about the difference between men and women!
Homosexuality and other sexual dysfunctions
www.christians-in-recovery.org/links/Links/Christian/Homosexual - lots of links about homosexuality.
www.messiah.edu/hpages/facstaff/chase/h/ - Christian Resources about Homosexuality and AIDS - lots of links.
www.gospelcom.net/mlm - helping those with sexual brokeness.
Christian Singleness Sites
www.singleness.org - very good site.
Single meeting points
A Warning about Using Internet Singles Services
Internet Singles Services can vary significantly in quality. They can also be expensive. You should perhaps consider other possibilities of meeting people, possibly including visiting some new Churches. An obvious point to make is that you should look for a person who lives relatively near to where you live, so that any later meeting is practical.
Never include your last name in your Internet profile and first correspondence, or your correct e-mail address, home address, phone number, place of work or any other identifying information. If you meet a contact, meet only in public places initially. Also, make sure that the person does not pick you up at home, or bring you home initially. Finally, always make sure that a friend knows about your date, and arrange to check in with them on returning. These rules are as sensible and applicable for men as they are for women.
www.christian-cafe.com/index.html - free singles service!
www.syncet.com/christsingles - All Christian Singles Network.
www.netministries.org/see/charmin/CM01550 - Cabarrus Christian Singles (USA).
www.christian-cafe.com/chat.html - singles chat.
Christian Marriage Relationships
www.gnfc.org.uk - hope and help for troubled marriages
www.lifepartners.org - divorce proof marriages.
www.staywed.com - strengthening and even restoring marriage using Biblical principles.
Christians and Divorce
www.frankcaw.com/divorce.html - When divorce and remarriage are biblically permissible.
www.brokencircle.com -supporting Christians facing divorce.
www.web.net/science/doctrine/divorce.htm - Divorced Christians marrying again.
www.divorcecare.com - DivorceCare support group.
www.members.aol.com/blestiam/engagedcouples/cana.htm - CANA Marriage Preparation.
www.marriagebuilders.com/graphic/mbi7100_counselor.html - how to Find a Good Marriage Counsellor.
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