Sex and the single Christian

Single Christians are not allowed to have sex.  Not even with themselves.  They can’t even think about it.  Period.

That is the message the church gives us.  If we’re lucky, they’ll explain that sex is a gift for married people only because we believe strongly in marriage.  It doesn’t help those of us singles who live in a sex mad world which continually bombards us with sexually-explicit images and references.

It’s rather like handing round ice creams at a children’s party and then saying to some kid “You can’t have one.  Because.  Don’t ask questions.  Just be obedient.”

We are very seldom instructed how we can live in sexworld without sex.  We’re just told to do it.  Which is as helpful as those signs saying ‘Keep off the grass’.  It only makes you want to stray into forbidden territory.  And even if we don’t literally stray, we often can’t stop thinking about straying.  We’re not given support and encouragement.  We have to struggle on in silence, dealing with our own guilt and condemnation if we don’t get it right, because we know we won’t get a sensitive response if we ask for help.

Syzygy has developed a number of ways over the years to help single Christians in this predicament.  These will be part of our new resource for successful single living which we hope to publish over the winter, but here’s a taster.

One of the key tools is to get sex back into perspective.  We call it the relationship model, but you’ll probably recognise it as a counter from the board game Trivial Pursuit.  We use it to confront society’s lie that humans are sexual beings.  The problem with thinking you’re a sexual being is that if you are not able to legitimately have sex, who are you?  That can lead to significant identity issues for single Christians.

Syzygy believes that we are actually relational beings.  God is relational, expressing this in relationship within the Trinity and with creation.  Genesis 1 and 2 relate how humankind was created in the image of God to relate both to God and to one another.

We have an array of ways in which we can relate to each other.  Sexually is only one of them.  Others ways include socially, spiritually, physically, emotionally and intellectually.  Each of us will use a blend of several of these modes of relating to each other person.  So for example, we might relate to our mates at the rugby club physically and socially but maybe not intellectually.   With our college professor we’re probably being intellectual, with a bit of social.  We probably don’t use all these modes at the same time.  We don’t use some of them at all in some of our relationships.  We may use most of them in our closest friendships.  And although single Christians are encouraged never to use one of them, we still have five other modes to express our relating to other people.

By understanding ourselves in this way, we have removed the frustration that comes with seeing ourselves as sexual beings.  We are in fact relational beings, who have the capacity to relate sexually, but we don’t have to.  Investing in fulfilling relationships which are non-sexual is a way of finding fulfilment and focussing on the positive aspects of being able to relate constructively and accountably to so many other people.

Now, who’s still thinking about sex?