It’s hardly a news flash.
But it bears reminding all the same.
We single evangelicals live on the front lines of the war against sexual purity. Our society wants fornication to be a civil right, as unfettered as religion. And if there’s any doubt, just look at how America’s pro-choice lobby is changing its dialog on abortion.
By now, perhaps you’ve seen the shockingly sexist commercial by the Center for Reproductive Rights “celebrating” the 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, with former Calvin Klein underwear model Mehcad Brooks flaunting his uninhibited lust at women’s expense.
Then there was the brazenly inhumane op-ed by Salon.com editor Mary Elizabeth Williams, entitled “So What If Abortion Ends Life?” Williams tried to turn the tables by agreeing that life begins at conception, but maintaining that until a human comes out of her uterus, its mother should still have the right to kill it.
Historically, the pro-choice movement has cloaked its dastardly objectives behind arguments about preserving the life of the mother, or protecting women who’ve been sexually abused. Sure, we’ve known all along that abortion-rights advocates – of both genders – really mostly want the ability to have irresponsible sex. They don’t want to be held accountable for any consequences from one of biology’s most basic activities.
We’re told only wild animals have sex and are forced to accommodate its results. Human beings should be able to take advantage of tools at our disposal to, well, dispose of what nature produces. That’s the thinking behind abortion advocacy, but it hasn’t been quite as blatant.
Instead of taking the standard line where abortion is all about women, the Center for Reproductive Rights had Brooks revel in how abortion frees up guys like him to get all the sex he wants by objectifying women. How bizarre for the same feminists who years ago emasculated men via Madison Avenue to commission something so chauvinistic! It's as if the female empowerment we're told is so crucial to society, and for which abortion plays a crucial role, really is the charade America's powerful, accountability-phobic men have secretly contrived it to be.
Then there’s Salon.com’s Williams, who, at the end of her barbaric editorial, attempted to make the murder of pre-born children virtuous: "I would put the life of a mother over the life of a fetus every single time,” she crowed, “even if I still need to acknowledge my conviction that the fetus is indeed a life. A life worth sacrificing."
Doesn’t her hubris send chills up your spine? What kind of mother "sacrifices" what she readily concedes is life inside of her – just so she can accommodate what Williams blithely defends earlier in her article as her "circumstances?" When a pro-lifer identifies abortion as a mechanism of convenience, we’re called “intolerant.” When a pro-choicer does it, however, she gets lauded for her bravery.
Talk about your double standards!
And to whom do you think is marketed all of this increasingly brazen propaganda about how abortion frees us up to have uninhibited sex lives?
Consider that 83% of women getting abortions are unmarried. And don’t assume that Planned Parenthood and other abortion provides have written-off the evangelical demographic among American women. The Alan Guttmacher Institute says twenty percent of women seeking abortions identify themselves as born-again or evangelical.
Which means that, as uncomfortable as it may be, talking about this on Crosswalk.com is vital to our constituency. We may say we oppose abortion, but when we find ourselves in a sexual dilemma, more of us in our faith communities buy the lie of abortion than we want to admit.
It’s at this point where Christians start trotting out lists of rules and regulations for how we’re supposed to act to reduce our exposure to sexual temptation. But we already know the rules, don’t we? And even if we pretend to get caught off-guard by sexually immoral predicaments, don’t we usually have only ourselves to blame? You’d have to come from a heavily cloistered background to be ignorant about what our culture teaches and expects about sex.
Instead, what’s often missing in these conversations are basic facts about God’s love for us despite our sin, and how the Holy Spirit can develop our faith as we battle against our flesh. Because it’s hard to imagine a “crisis pregnancy” that’s evolved from an act of love. Usually, pregnancies that are a “problem” are the result of lust, not love.
So let’s start with reminding ourselves that God’s love for us is the type of love we should be demonstrating towards – and expecting from – our sexual partner. We know that God designed sex exclusively for married couples, and that virtue isn’t so much what we deny ourselves before getting married, but what we’re saving ourselves for. Sharing something this intimate with only one other living person may seem passé these days, but it’s God’s provision for marital unity that can be used in a way no other demonstration of love can be. It’s not just that there are negative consequences for having sex outside of marriage. It’s that our society doesn’t value the positive consequences God intends for sex within marriage to produce.
Remember, too, that God isn’t tempting us with sexual sin. It’s the devil, who has corrupted our culture and wants us to forget that God knows we’re mere mortals. Sure, resisting sexual temptation is hard, but it’s even harder the more we don’t avail ourselves of God’s promises to reward our contentment with His providence. He knows we’re not married, and He knows the sexual drives He’s built into each of us. But He’s not torturing us with unfulfilled urges, is He? Instead, might He be building our faith so that even if we never marry, and never experience sex, we can still find our satisfaction in Him?
In terms of our witness and opportunities for discipleship, being sexually pure represents a particularly dynamic expression of fidelity to Christ’s gospel. Since so much of our culture is saturated with sexual themes, being able to demonstrate the Fruit of the Spirit – in particular, patience and self-control – in that part of our lives society tells us is uncontrollable provides direct testimony to God’s power in our lives.
Not that we won’t make mistakes, or that it will be easy, or that we’ll be able to successfully insulate ourselves from our society’s ubiquitous sexual suggestions and opportunities. But here’s the kicker: we don’t value sexual purity because we need to jump through hoops to please God. We value sexual purity because we love God. He first loved us, and has rights over our bodies by virtue of His salvific work in our lives. But when we love somebody, we want to please them, and honor them. It’s not a law, or a rule; otherwise, the recipient of our affection wouldn’t know whether our love was genuine. With sexual purity, we not only please God by acknowledging that His ways are best, but we also get to benefit from the rewards inherent in them.
We evangelical singles may be on the front lines in our culture’s war on sex. But God has already won the war for us, through Christ.
Whose bride, as a matter of fact, we believers are.
How’s that for incentive?
From his smorgasboard of church experience, ranging from the Christian and Missionary Alliance to the Presbyterian Church in America, Tim Laitinen brings a range of observations to his perspective on how we Americans worship, fellowship, and minister among our communities of faith. As a one-time employee of a Bible church in suburban Fort Worth, Texas and a former volunteer director of the contemporary Christian music ministry at New York City's legendary Calvary Baptist, he's seen our church culture from the inside out. You can read about his unique viewpoints at o-l-i.blogspot.com.