I didn't know how deep in trouble I was until the words spilled out during a debate at a party. Friends from church were discussing the old evangelical emphasis on "relationship, not religion"—disputing its merit—when I suddenly snarled, "Well, I wouldn't still be practicing chastity if it were only because of [expletive] religion." There was a pause, then after one woman laughed, the conversation moved on, leaving me to ruminate on my forceful reaction.
I've never thought of singleness as especially easy or fun, but now that I'm in my middle 30s, it feels harder. Some days I find myself saying to God, "I want to keep obeying you, I want to make it as long as I can, but I don't know what is in me. I don't know how I would handle certain situations."
Childbearing isn't exactly a race, but sometimes it feels like most of my friends have lapped me multiple times, while I'm still at the start line, trying to overcome a stalled go-cart engine. And that's not all. Even if I weren't having babies, I could still be practicing.
A circumstance like mine is not the sort of thing the abstinence campaigns of yesteryear prepare you for, however well-intentioned they were. As one blogger noted earlier this year, efforts like the "True Love Waits" campaign often hinge on promises that may not be fulfilled and implicitly fault the waiting one when delays happen.
Wait in obedience, and God will bring you a husband.
Wait, and the sex will be better because you obeyed.
Wait, and once you're satisfied with God, he'll provide a spouse.
Whether or not any of these represent official slogans is beside the point; these false promises are the upshot of countless good-hearted assurances offered to single teens and adults by friends and mentors ...1
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