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There is one area where single Christians are stuck wrestling with an issue that is specifically related to their singleness: it’s not community or ministry; it’s sex. While all Christians are called to chastity, for married couples that means forsaking all others besides their spouse. For the rest of us, it means forsaking sex, period. This is tough enough when  you’re re a teenager. It’s an even greater challenge if you’re still single—or single again. Our society has a tendency to make adults feel as if they are not normal if they are not “sleeping around”. When someone says they are chaste they are laughed at and ridiculed.

As more Christians are single longer and longer, we need to think about sex. The issue is not whether we want to cave into cultural pressures and toss the church’s teachings about sexual morality out the window; instead it’s why many single Christians do not give those teachings the time of day, and what we can do to help people live chastely.

What we need, it seems, are at least three things.

First, we need venues for frank communication. A single Christian ought to be able to sit down with her pastor and say, “I am  finding it harder to only go as far as kissing, and I’m not sure what to do about that,” without fearing that he’ll never again take her seriously as a committed adult Christian.

Second, we should not act like sex outside of marriage is the unforgivable sin. A sin, indeed, but one of many that Christians struggle with. It is likely that more Christians ignore the biblical prohibition against gossip than are engaging in premarital sex, but the church is more exercised about the latter issue than the former. When we place too much emphasis on one sin, we risk not only hypocrisy, but we also make it harder for those guilty of that sin to come openly to the church for help.

Finally, we need to do more than just point to a couple of verses in Paul’s Epistles that warn against fornication; we need to present single Christians with a whole theology of chastity and sexuality that is relevant tyo their station in life. Sex inside marriage, is a mere shadow of the higher reality of oneness in the Trinity—but you don’t hear a lot about that on Sunday mornings. If we want people to give up premarital sex, we’ve got to do more than just getting into the preaching and scolding with the advisement, ‘No, don’t.’  Singles need to feel as if we are viable and have support. Chastity is not just something that we should push onto the teenagers as a benefit if we do not show it as a grace with adults. We should support adults who live a chaste lifestyle as well.  There is no shame or stigma that should be placed on someone because they live a chaste life.

{For more from Oretha Winston follow her on Twitter}

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