My thoughts went in about four different directions when I began to write my follow-up to A Righteous Anger. I could (and will at a later date) address the consequences for the negative reactions of anger. I could dive right into my journey as Ms Proverbs 31 (I need a name). But then I realized that I left Christ in the grave! Oh no I didn’t!!!
If you’ve been a Christian for any length of time, you understand the cost of righteousness – especially when it comes to sex and the single Christian. In fact, the battle can quickly turn your righteous anger toward Satan’s perversion of a covenant relationship into a selfish anger toward a holy God who is trying to protect you and your future (or current) spouse. But mostly, you’ll experience both… at the same time. After all, we’re only human. But for now, we’ll focus on doing the right thing. We’ll discuss pride next week.
Merriam-Webster defines righteous as “morally good: following religious or moral laws.” When I see the moral decay of God-designed sexuality, it breaks my heart! People are becoming more and more deceived into thinking that sex their way will satisfy. How many relationships must they destroy until they return to God’s fail-proof design perfectly laid out in scripture. Not only does God show us what sex should look like, he even gave examples of every imaginable failed attempt. That alone should add to the validity and relevance of the scriptures! There really is nothing new under the sun!
Not only am I heart-broken for those still deceived into thinking that their sexuality is to be treated like some sort of science experiment, but it breaks for those of us who refuse to succumb to the deceit. Will we be the forgotten ones of society? In a society where it is simply understood that you will have sex early, or there will be no Facebook update of “In a relationship,” how much righteousness is too much righteousness?
The obvious cost to righteousness in 21st Century dating, is a lifetime of singleness. Let me share some words of Paul.
“Now for the matters you wrote about: “It is good for a man not to have sexual relations with a woman.” But since sexual immorality is occurring, each man should have sexual relations with his own wife, and each woman with her own husband.”
1 Corinthians 7:1-2 NIV
As I’m writing this blog, I think this passage finally makes sense to me. First, Paul is not the one saying the quote that gets taken out of context to promote singleness. The church of Corinth wrote that to him. I’m not sure if it is an inquiry or a statement of piety. But Paul responded by saying that the marriage bed should remain, um, active. Notice that the marriage bed is active, not the prior-to-marriage bed.
Paul then pens this radical challenge a few phrases later:
“Now to the unmarried and the widows I say: It is good for them to stay unmarried, as I do.”
1 Corinthians 7:8 NIV
What?! It’s good to stay unmarried?! Is he crazy?! Well, if the alternative is to lower God’s standard on intimacy for the 21st Century counterfeit, then yes. It is good to stay unmarried. Or…
There is a cost to righteousness. Jesus paid the ultimate cost for righteousness. He experienced the execution of one leading a rebellion because he wanted to erase away the sin of the world. But the story doesn’t end there. It begins. He rose from the dead to defeat death! His death paid the penalty for our sin, but his resurrection gives us hope and a new life in Christ. Hope.
Dating by God’s standard can lead to extended (and very rarely permanent) singleness. But we have the hope that our standard can save us otherwise devastating marital conflicts later on. And if Christ can defeat death, I’m pretty sure he can defeat the the darkness of dating. After all, we all know at least one couple who dated God’s way; even if we have to think really, really hard!
My Personal Call to Action
I asked a seemingly rhetorical question earlier, “how much righteousness is too much righteousness?” I often let pride get the best of me when I’m doing something right. I may not say that I’m better than the girl who’s sleeping with her boyfriend, but I definitely think it. Is that being too righteous? Let’s see:
““Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’ “But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’ “I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.””
Luke 18:10-14 NIV
If that isn’t a clear answer to your question, Paul reminds us in Romans 3:10 “there is none righteous, no not one.”
So when I want to pat myself on the back for not lowering my standards, I must remember that I am not righteous. I too have made many mistakes in the dating game. And it’s only by God’s grace that He lets me get back up and try again.
I can also hope. Hope that the wait will pay off. And in the meantime, be the change that I want to see in the dating scene.