Sunday, April 26, 2015

I said sex in church

I've written before about how I told God that if He wanted me to speak publicly, I would do it because I knew that I could, with His help. What I haven't written about was the time that He made it clear to me that I was going to be talking about some difficult topics and I said, "Okay, but not about sex. I don't want to stand up in front of people and talk about sex."

If you ever feel the need to tell God what you don't want to do for Him, 
be prepared to hear Him laugh at some point, 
when He sets you up to do precisely that thing. 
Today's Christian church has a huge lack of understanding and support when it comes to single parents, especially single mothers.

In twelve years of attending various single-event single mom ministries, I have heard two messages, if any message is shared at all. Either we are given the salvation message or a message about how we should focus on our children and lean on Jesus. In other words, "don't even think about dating or marriage. Jesus is your husband now."

And who would deliver these messages? It was either pastor of the church or a happily married woman. While we always appreciate those who give their time, it is honestly difficult to accept encouragement from someone who hasn't walked in our shoes.

As my friend Tina and I prepared to speak at the conference from this weekend, we knew we needed to present topics that women like us needed to hear about. This is what we came up with:

Living Victoriously
     The stereotype isn't accurate (You are normal.)
     Our weaknesses are our strengths
     Enjoy your children while you can.
Know Your Worth
     God wants more for you than you want for yourself.
     God will meet you where you are, but He doesn't want you to stay there.
Battle Strategies
     Save yourself first (Take care of yourself.)
     Keep your focus on God
     Be vulnerable
     Be prepared for the comments. (This was fun. lol)
New Relationships
     Desperately want to remarry or the thought makes you want to hurl, which perspective is healthier?
     Forget all the advice you have heard before.
     How to know if you are being respected once you are in a relationship.

We are both so excited about the feedback we received from our sessions. We were able to speak freely, from our hearts, about what God has shown us over the years. Because of that, we had to talk about some things that don't often get talked about in church. 

Tina and I both brought up sex a few times during these sessions. Much to Tina's surprise, we did not get struck by lightning. Much to my surprise, we didn't get kicked out before it was over. 

It wasn't until afterwards that I remembered I had told God I didn't want to speak about sex publicly.

When I shared about my past over lunch, I danced around the topic a bit. I talked about how my distrust of men grew because they "only wanted one thing" and "would get it and not call" (and how I didn't take any responsibility for my bad choices at the time.)

I also alluded to the times God rescued me from the brink of REALLY stupid and dangerous decisions... but I didn't ever say the word... sex.

When I did say it later, I didn't give a whole lot of time to it. I didn't dwell on it. But I did tell the single moms in that room some things that I've needed to hear in the past.

When talking about being respected and not settling for less than what God wants for us in new relationships:

"Sitting at home on the couch and watching a movie is nice, but it is NOT a date. 

Coming over to do his laundry while you cook him dinner is NOT a date. 
Sleeping over is NOT a date. (Even if it's just sleeping.)
Sex is NOT a date."

Then, I later told them this,

"We have to talk about sex a lot because we have to deal with it a lot. Those of us who choose to abstain until we are married are up against a great struggle, both internally and externally.
God makes it clear in His Word that sex outside of marriage is a sin. But I am going to tell you something you won't hear often enough. I want you to know that if you choose not to abstain, or if you fall into temptation, God still loves you. God isn't angry with you. 
God may be disappointed with your choices, but you aren't going to Hell for having sex. 
Are you living your best life? No. 
Are you experiencing the relationship God intended for you? Nope.
But God still loves you. 

If you slip up and end up having sex, you can not let yourself be pulled into a downward spiral of guilt and shame and let that pull you away from your relationship with Him."

For a woman who could barely speak in public at all a couple of years ago... saying that from the pulpit is a huge step.  I have a feeling this is the first of many times this subject will come up. There are a lot of things about sex that need to be talked about among single moms. And frankly, I don't think God is going to let me get away that easily.

I am sure this is not the last time that Tina and I will address a group of single mothers, encouraging them to live their best lives, the ones God wants for them. I am looking forward to letting Him use us to help them find their way.  
Speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.
~Ephesians 4:15-16

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