Hearing stories from friends struggling in their marriages, one day I thought to myself, what’s the point of marriage? I enjoy coming and going as I please, not having to clean up after someone else, going to see any movie I want and not having to compromise. My life is rather uncomplicated. Then I started to think, what if I just keep a lover–someone who I can have sex with to satisfy my loneliness?
Shortly after this thought I met someone. (See how quickly we can get into mischief if we’re set on it?) We flirted a bit, had a few quasi-intimate conversations, and could tell that we liked each other. Soon I stopped caring about what his conversation was like because I couldn’t keep my mind off of his triceps and biceps and how he looked in his grey slim-cut suit. I had it made up in my mind about a month into flirting that I wanted to kiss him and nothing was going to stop me, not even the Holy Spirit telling me to leave this man alone. In hindsight there were other signs that the relationship was going nowhere. He had my personal and work email addresses, my cell number and still hadn’t contacted me. On the day that I planned to kiss him, I asked if he was single. Note: Ladies and gentlemen, ask this before you exchange numbers and ask about their relationship with Jesus Christ. He told me he had a girlfriend overseas and they were in an “open” relationship. He wasn’t going to stop her from “dating” anyone and she wasn’t going to stop him. So this really couldn’t go anywhere. He was already committed to someone so much so that even being over 8,000 miles apart, they were still together. But I had to satisfy my curiosity and see if I could keep a lover. We fooled around a bit without having sex. In the moment I kept thinking, why am I doing this? I barely know him. Not to mention that the whole time leading up to this encounter I knew that I should leave him alone and that he didn’t want a relationship. I knew better, but indulged anyway. This is how sin becomes a part of our life and gathers traction. Our hearts are seeking something good, but we go about getting it in the wrong way.
Afterwards not only did the experience leave me feeling confused, empty, and used, but thank God it left me with a new understanding, for which I am deeply thankful. To keep a lover is neither what I want nor what I need; it was just what I was seeing around me. But we can’t go by what we see around us. As the redeemed of Christ we are to live by a higher standard. God often reveals the depth of his Word and the truth of his Word when we experience it. After we endure challenges or life situations we come out of these with a deeper understanding of who God is, how he works, and the true meaning of the scriptures we read in the Bible. Kind of like an “a-ha” moment. Not only did this remind me of God’s promise in Isaiah 40:31 that, “they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength” (in my case strength to wait until marriage), it also reminded of Romans 12: 1-2 where we are told to “avoid conforming to this world and commanded not to use our bodies as instruments of sin and uncleanness but to set them apart for God and put them to holy uses being devoted to God in service.” (from Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible) Jeremiah 1:5 also tells us that God has set us apart which means that he’s pulled us out of the crowd and kept us as his own and that we no longer blend in and shouldn’t try to. In essence we are now called to go against the status quo. Peer pressure shouldn’t govern us but the love of God and the delight of God’s law should.
Jeremiah 1:5 tells us that God has set us apart which means that he’s pulled us out of the crowd and kept us as his own and that we no longer blend in and shouldn’t try to. We’re special, we’re his own. In essence we are now called to go against the status quo. Peer pressure shouldn’t govern us but the love of God and the delight of God’s law should.
We have to be aware that hooking up is often glamorized by the media and Hollywood, like in the film He’s Just Not That Into You and other movies like Friends with Benefits. Teacher Akira Atkins, age 30 and single says, “Hollywood always uses their best looking stars to shack up and have amazing guilt and disease free one night stands. Who wouldn’t want that? We never hear much talk about Christianity and its standards when watching these shows and movies. It’s easy to “think” this behavior is all right. I know though as a woman growing in Christ that this sort of behavior is not what God wants for me.” Although we see hooking up being celebrated in films and media, we have to remember these fictional movies are sexed up and over-dramatized to sell more tickets. What we go through as Christians is real life, a life of guaranteed struggle, sacrifice, and refraining from sin, but the good news is that we are no longer slaves to sin because the Holy Spirit gives us a way free from sin (Romans 8:2).
“Hook up” defined by UrbanDictionary.com is “to engage in any type of sexual activity; a purposely ambiguous, equivocal word to describe almost any sexual action; a hook up can range from a make–out session to full out sex.” Today’s culture pushes against the standards of past culture (i.e. no sex or living together until marriage). We hear the words hook up multiple times a day and rarely hear the words faithful marriage, although many couples are committed in this way. My parents were married in 1970 at 24 years old. My aunt was married at 22 in 1967. My grandmother was married at 16 in 1944 (divorced in 1948; remarried 1950). Young marriages in this time seemed to be the trend. In 1960 nearly 72% of Americans were married, that’s now dropped to 51%. In the article “Marriage Rates in America Drop,” from The Huffington Post, one of the reasons why people aren’t getting married is because “there are other kinds of living arrangements that are socially acceptable now that may not have been in the past, such as living with someone without being married, living on your own, or even living as a single parent.”
Phillip Olive, 38, an architect who’s single, makes an interesting point about how the topic is really chastity in a hook up culture: “Christians often take their cues on the validity of God’s word from what they see around them instead of what they read. I’ve dated Christian women who were shocked that I wouldn’t have sex with them. I think that they see premarital sex as a pervasive thing in Christian culture and don’t think that anyone is being hurt as long as no one is cheating. They put it in the category of minor sins like white lies. I think that some think of premarital sex as inevitable so they don’t try very hard to avoid it.” This real experience serves as another reminder that as believers in Jesus Christ we cannot live by the standards of the world or by the world’s flawed way of thinking in reference to relationships or sex.
Other people I talked to also had insights into not hooking up on their dates. Helena Fils, 26, an entrepreneur in a committed relationship, shares a little bit about her dating life after accepting Christ as Lord. “Once I declared I was going for this walk with Jesus, he showed me many things I did not like, and how I handled myself in this hook up culture was one of them. After five years of being single, I recently met someone and we have decided to take things very slowly. We talk, we hold hands, we watch movies, we laugh and we are genuinely getting to know each other.”
“If you get into something and then realize it’s not from God, get out as soon as you can,” says single writer, Alexis Davis, 32. “We are all going to make mistakes, but as Christians we are to acknowledge that we are broken humans that have real temptations and real sins, but have been offered salvation.”
You Are Not Alone
The Christian way of life goes against the flesh and fleshly desires like hooking up. This isn’t to say that in this journey, and that’s what this Christian walk is, a long journey, that we won’t have some setbacks. Do not beat yourself up. Ask God for forgiveness, forgive yourself, move on, and don’t fall in that sin again. The good news is that when we take measures to change our actions and ways of thinking, God will help us to get to where we want to be when we pray earnestly.
When we endure to the end we will see our reward in having accomplished life well. I once heard a missionary say that true wisdom, Godly wisdom, is living life well. Just because we live in a world where the culture and things that are both acceptable and unacceptable change every day, it doesn’t mean that we have to change with it. Jesus said I am the same yesterday, today, and forever more (Hebrews 13:8). With his faithfulness, steadfastness, and grounding in our lives we can get to that point where we have unshakable conviction in him and where God-centered faithful marriage is our standard. Do not settle for less because our Savior died and came back to life so that we can have the best, his best. Be encouraged.