“Everyone I know is getting married or engaged!”
“I sure wish I had a “SPECIAL” friendship like…”
“I am already 19 (or 22 or 35) and I don’t even have a serious boyfriend or suitor!”
“I thought for SURE I’d be married right after graduating High School!”
“Maybe I should try E-Harmony or something so I can figure out where my friends are finding all these spouses!”
Dear Sisters in Christ,
Each spring and summer season seems to bring a bevy of engagements and weddings among our friends and acquaintances. While we rejoice with our friends we can find ourselves growing discouraged and discontented. Some of us may even be tempted to ditch the “wait-upon-the-Lord” program in favor of some “Instant Fix” sales pitch. I am deeply concerned by the prevalent: “Woe is me, I’m not married and I better do something about it!” attitude among Christian young ladies. When we respond in this way we are demonstrating that our hearts are discontented with God’s sovereign will and purpose for our lives! The purpose of this note is to encourage the unmarried woman to wait patiently on her God, with contentment and joy. “For godliness with contentment is great gain…” (1 Timothy 6:6)
Even in the church, we are continually assaulted with sensuality and the “I want what I want and I want it NOW!” condition of self-centeredness. Tingly-sensual, romantic books and videos face us almost everywhere. It is very unpopular to be “single,” at least in the sense of not having a serious boyfriend or girlfriend. We are programmed to think that if we aren’t in a wonderful sensually charged relationship we are in some way lesser than our peers. I believe this is one of the hardest areas for Christian young women to “swim upstream” and consistently think and act differently.
In my early teens the Lord impressed this verse from Song of Solomon deeply in my memory:
“Daughters of Jerusalem,
I charge you by the gazelles and by the does of the field;
Do not arouse or awaken love until it so desires.” (2:7, 3:5, 8:4)
Solomon was giving a command, or, according to one commentary, exacting an oath, from the unmarried women in Jerusalem that they will not alert, excite or stir up romantic love until the proper time. We understand from other sections of Scripture that the proper time and context is in marriage, which means that it will require a purposeful commitment to thinking and acting in purity to keep romantic affections “asleep” until that time.
My dad likens awakening romantic love to taking a runner sled down a steep, icy hill. It can be an exhilarating ride on a clear hill when you are fully committed to riding the entire way down. But if you pick a hill with trees or realize you got on with the wrong driver and decide to bail out part way down, there is going to be some serious damage…if you can get off at all. Similarly, in romantic love, the further you have gone before marriage, the more difficult it will get to bail out and the more painful it will be when you do… if you can. Obviously, the wisest course is to not get on the sled until you are committed to riding all the way to the bottom and in romance to leave well enough alone until you are in a committed marriage relationship.
But how can we avoid “awakening” the sleeping romantic desires both physically and emotionally? Sisters, we must commit to using wisdom regarding the things we read, watch, think, and talk about. It is just as silly and foolish to sit on the sled near the edge of the slippery hill and presume that you won’t end up going down unprepared, as it is to read books and watch movies that make your spine tingle with the sensual/romantic scenes and assume that it will not invade the purity of your thought life. “Out of the fullness of the heart the mouth speaks” (Matthew 12:34). What we fill our minds with and dwell on will be who we become. If we want to obey The Word and keep romantic love sleeping until the Lord blesses us with a husband, we will have to be deliberate in avoiding things that will give us an unhealthy view of “love.” We want to have God’s perspective, not man’s perversion, don’t we?
If there is anyone who is thinking, “It’s too late for me, I already have begun to wake up those desires,” let me offer some encouragement from the testimony of my own life. I am one of those kids who “fell off a rock” and knew how to read at 4 or 5. I didn’t just read books, I devoured them! My parents tried diligently to keep guard over the reading material I was consuming, but they hadn’t reckoned on one factor. An elderly “Christian” lady in my life that gave me books my parents disapproved of (behind their back) and said, “These are good things you need to read. Don’t worry; they won’t hurt you. Your parents are just being hyper-sensitive!”
I read many, many books as a pre-teen and very young teenager that no Christian should ever set eyes on. They perverted my mind, and for many years I struggled with sinful thoughts. Finally, in my upper teens, after struggling for years to stop reading those types of sensual books, I confessed my sin to my parents and several believing friends and through much repentance and prayer, the Lord began to give me victory, “bringing every thought captive to Jesus Christ.” (2 Corinthians 10:5) In His strength alone I have been able to resist the allure of reading books that cause me to stumble and rejoice in His rule over my thought life for the past six years.
In so many ways, the Lord Jesus Christ has restored my innocence and healed my soul’s diseased view of love, replacing it with a greater view of true, sacrificial, Christ-like love. It is a blessing with benefits far beyond the “tingles” of short-term sinful pleasure! It is never too late to repent and start fresh when the Lord is on our side! And there is a reward to pursuing purity: Song of Solomon 4:12 represents the maiden who has kept the command and is presented a pure, chaste bride to her delighted husband:
“You are a garden locked up,
My sister, my bride;
You are a spring enclosed,
A sealed fountain.”
She is special to her husband – set apart for him. Throughout the book of Solomon, we find that keeping sexual and emotional intimacy for marriage results in greater delight in one’s spouse. Purity in singleness is also a picture of the Church, the bride of Christ, pursuing Jesus Christ only and not allowing idols to creep into the affections of her heart. If we desire to glorify God and accurately represent Him to those around us, we must take this command seriously!
“Let us throw off everything that hinders
and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.” (Heb 12:1)
Dear sisters, if we profess Christ, it is time for us to joyfully embrace His calling in our lives. We need to devote our single years to whole-hearted service in the places where we have been put, contentedly trusting that God is able to bring a godly husband into our lives at the proper time. We need to stop chasing the world’s view of love and seal up our hearts and bodies for the one man God brings. We need Christ to transform our minds and our speech to please Him. May we be women who commit to keeping our romantic inclinations sleeping until it is appropriate for them to wake up, for the Glory of God! Amen.