Monday, August 30, 2010

A Widow's Unspoken Desires

Monday's topic is about dealing with grief. The process, the twists and turns, the questions, the hope . . . Today's topic is a tough one--very personal, and not talked about too much. Maybe I'm stepping over the taboo line, but let's try to bring this out in the open.

There are run-of-the mill temptations--to lash out in anger when hurt, to lie to protect yourself, to covet your neighbor's belongings, to be selfish and unloving when tired. They're almost as familiar as the air we breathe. And so is the temptation of sexual immorality.

All of the sudden you're in Camp Celibacy when you didn't volunteer to go. It's not a fun place to be when memories of intimacy with your husband, or in-your-face pictures from our sex-saturated culture, or the undeniable physical urges rise up from within to parade through the mind.

Guilty feelings pin us down as we expect the imaginary camp counsellor to come barging through the door at any minute. What can we do with the closet full of desire and adult needs?

First, understand the fine line between facing temptation and sin.

Temptation happens; we live in a fallen and polluted world. Temptation's fruit hangs in front of us as clearly as it did for Eve (Gen. 3) and Jesus (Matt. 4). Temptation also arises from our appetites, cleverly disguised as needs and yearnings. They're so, so secretive that part of the attraction is "No one will ever know."

Temptation promises satisfaction, fullfillment and entitlement: "You're only human; you owe it to yourself." It advertises a small cost compared to the supposed benefit--"give in just this once to the romance novel, the lingering touch, the suggestive movie and you'll never have to think about it again." That's the ultimate in false advertising! This onslaught, whether it be loud and blatant or anonymous and seductive--these thoughts, yearnings and bargainings--these are temptation.

Sin, on the other hand, is born from temptation when we don't immediately look away, resist, or even flee. Start to toy with the scenarios in your mind, fantasize the next step closer to that man, breathe in another smell of aftershave--and the hook of sin is set, the trap has sprung, the seed has sprouted. (James 1:13-15)

Yet, like Jesus, it's possible to be tempted and not give in to the situation. So we need to call on Him; He can give us the strength and wisdom to resist.

No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.  (I Corinthians 10:13 NIV)

Second, strengthen yourself with these five ways to counteract sexual immorality.
1. Understand that sex outside of marriage is sin. Our culture laughs at that thought. We used to think hippies were counter-culture; now the sexually pure woman is counter-culture! Understand God's view of sex by understanding what God's Word says so you don't conform to the world's attitude. (Romans 12:2) God invented sex; He thinks its great. God condones the pleasures of sex in marriage but God did not intend the body for sexual immorality. (I Cor. 6:13) Learn what God has to say about Christians taking part in the sexual sins of fornication or adultery.
2. Practice confession and receive forgiveness (I John 1:9); put off the old self and put on the new (Gal. 4:17-5:20). Mourn over your loss of this physical ability, and then press on to the new lifestyle and new adventures God has in store for you.
3. Find a female accountability partner--but NOT someone who wants to play "Matchmaker." She should have respect for single women and understand the privileges and challenges of being single. This woman can pray for you and help you walk through dating situations. You should have her cell phone number and permission to call her 24/7. This won't last forever, but she should be willing to be available. If she is single, too, it should be a mutual accountability. If you can't find anyone near you, email me and I'll give you my number.
4. Take thoughts captive. (II Cor. 10:5) Run to Jesus in prayer with the temptations you face. Say, "Lord! Look at this!" Such tempting thoughts evaporate under the truth of God's gaze. You'll find they weren't worth the attention for which they clamored when you pray about them.
5. Don't worry. There will be battles, but they will diminish and you will be surprised at how quickly freedom arrives and the struggles get less frequent. If you don't feed the sexual appetite within you it will lie down and rest. It won't die. If you enter into marriage again it will wake up with prime vigor and the joyous freedom of a clear conscience.

This is just a quick snapshot of how God can help us deal with celibacy. Be sure to look into Scripture for yourself and find other resources to help you overcome. God doesn't give us more than we can bear. We can depend on Him for strength and help today!
Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted. Hebrews 2:18 (NIV)

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