THERE are countless issues surrounding being a single Christian and having sex. People often ask how far they can go before marriage, what to do if they have already crossed that line, and especially, if fate doesn’t dictate that a partner will be in the picture, whether all biblical rules can be thrown out the window.
The latter issue is versed in scripture which explicitly states in 1 Corinthians 7, that not everyone will receive the gift of marriage; that singleness is, in fact, a higher calling.
So when you find yourself in a position where marriage isn’t on the table, or is unlikely to be, is it OK to engage in outside relationships and even have children?
“An emphatic yes,” says 44-year-old Christian Mary M, who stepped out of the ministry two years ago to have a child by IVF.
“I was positive that I would not find a mate, ever; that I was among the persons who were not to be married. So what should I have done? Preserved myself for what? For whom? All the while denying myself the happiness that comes from having a family?”
She says she did not engage in sexual activity, but she does know of other sisters who have been intent on experiencing its pleasures and then asking for forgiveness, because they refused to “go back to God untouched”.
Reverend Karl Johnson, general secretary of the Jamaica Baptist Union, terms this “willful disobedience”, and asks whether or not there was any moral standing worth disobeying that the Bible exalts us to observe. He says individuals who really think about his question will get an understanding of the answer.
“We can make mistakes, we will make mistakes, and the very scripture does assure us of how God handles all of us who fall short of those moral markers that we all subscribe to. But since we know this [fornication] is wrong, is it OK if we know we won’t get married? That will then take us into the realm of what is our understanding of marriage, because marriage is not just legalised sex, marriage is much more than that,” he said,
It’s a complex issue for Patricia B, now 35, who is certain that she will not marry, and is convinced that, like Paul, she is destined for a life of celibacy. But she wants children, and as a Christian is conflicted.
“I understand that not everyone will get married — the Bible says so, and I believe I am one of those people. I have accepted that. However, am I also destined to be childless, and to return to God in my virginal state? Or is it OK, since I will be among the unmarried group, to still make a push to have at least some happiness with a family?”
Johnson stands by the premise of what the scripture teaches, but holds that for non-Christians, the church cannot impose its standards on the world.
“People can choose and have chosen other ways,” he said. “We cannot dictate to Jamaicans, we can only urge, encourage, show another way, and pray they will come into the light with God’s enabling and by God’s grace.”