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Read Dr. Tony Rapu’s “This Single Life” – “Remember, it’s not the sinless person who makes it to the end; rather, it is those who pick themselves up after they stumble.”

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Tony RapuWe read this in ThisDay Style on Sunday and now it has been published on Dr. Tony Rapu‘s official website. Click to check out the site.
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Dear Dr Tony,

Thank you for your last article “Who Stole My Wedding Gown?” I am currently in my late thirties and still single. But how do I deal with my physical needs? Am I supposed to pretend my sexuality does not exist? I think about it a thousand times a day; how do I get it out of my mind? Sometimes I am so ashamed of my thoughts. How can I have a relationship with God when He makes impossible demands of me? I feel He threatens me with judgement when I fail. I used to be an advocate for waiting for sex until marriage, but as the years have gone by, I no longer feel this way. I think it’s all well and good for teens and those in their early twenties to strive for such a goal, but as someone who has entered her late thirties, it seems like an outdated and irrelevant idea. If I do date a man now I cannot promise we will not have sex outside of marriage. I just know that waiting is not something I am personally interested in anymore.

Dee

***

Dear Dee,

You are certainly not alone in these struggles. There are thousands of people going through the very same thing you are talking about. Leaders are often unable – or perhaps reluctant – to publicly address these issues satisfactorily. The reason for this may be the fear of controversy over questions of sexuality or a lack of understanding of the key challenges you have noted or possibly because sometimes there are no easy answers when it comes to faith and sexuality.

Remember that we were created as sexual beings. Sex was God’s idea in the first place and it was a part of His creation He called “good.” So keep one thing in mind as you read this; your sexual desire is a good thing, and a part of God’s wonderful plan for humanity. Free yourself from feelings of self-hate, shame and accusation as far as your sexuality is concerned. You are loved by God and you have natural sexual desires which are propelling you in the direction of marriage. We are not dirty and sinful because of our God-given sexual urges. It is how we manage and channel these desires that often poses the problems. The clincher is that God gave us marriage as He intended so we would be free to celebrate our sexuality in total, complete and satisfying freedom.

However, even when you do get married do not think your struggle to remain pure will end with the wedding ceremony. Sexual purity is a battle throughout adulthood. It just takes a different form in marriage. Your married friends may be free to have sex but that does not mean they are not struggling with porn, fantasies, images from their past, extramarital flirtations and affairs. There are often other unspoken and very personal areas of conflict over sex in marriage, where for instance, physical infirmity in a partner, incapacitation or illness prevents sexual intercourse. Single or married, yielding your sexuality to God will always be a battle.

Is it really possible to control our sexual desires as single people? The answer is ‘yes’ and ‘no’. In one sense as long as we live in a broken world we will continue to struggle with many things in life. Controlling sexual desire is one of them. Perhaps that is why we need a Savior. I believe singles (and married people) can understand something deeper about God through their sexuality. I believe the ultimate reason for sexuality may be to reflect the deepest desires that exist between us and God. Our sexual longings and desires somehow point to a deeper intimacy beyond what even the best marriage can provide. This reference is often made at weddings where the bride and groom are compared to Christ and the Church.

If we are created as sexual beings and then asked to wait an excruciatingly long time for sex only in marriage, perhaps this is where we learn to meet our very deepest desires in God alone. I know that’s easy to say but incredibly hard to live out. Sometimes it is in those moments of deep longing and frustration that we discover the truth about intimacy with God and discover pathways toward that long journey of knowing Him. Ask God to help you in this battle, which is really what it is. Ask for grace in the areas of self control and discipline. Do not allow your frustrations to turn into bitterness, cutting you off from the God who understands you best and can help you the most.

There are some practical steps we are often encouraged to take. I know it may sound trite and boorish but spending time in scripture is one. God’s Word strengthens, sustains and convicts. Unless you are constantly standing on truth it is very easy to fall for other narratives. You also need accountability; find trusted people to be open and honest with about your feelings and failings. When issues are brought to light, they often lose their power to condemn.

It is wise not to feed your fantasies. Evaluate your recreational habits. With the way advertising exploits sex, it would be impossible not to think about sex even just watching TV. So choose your entertainment carefully. Certain songs and books, TV shows, movies and websites only turn up the sexual pressure. Movies are now more graphic than ever. Feeding your thought life with sexual images only makes it harder to remain pure in your actions.

Remember, it’s not the sinless person who makes it to the end; rather, it is those who pick themselves up after they stumble. If your struggle seems relentless, remember this; when you commit yourself to sexual integrity, you commit yourself to a direction, not to perfection. You may stumble along the way – that’s no justification to do the wrong thing, just a realistic view of life in this fallen world of ours. What determines the success or failure of an imperfect person (and who isn’t?) is their willingness to pick themselves up, confess their faults, and then continue in the direction they committed themselves to.

Finally, what’s your passion? What’s your calling? How clear are your goals? Get a life! The one who doesn’t have a life – a passion, a sense of meaning – is the person with an emptiness tailor-made for sexual sin. Life is more than keeping yourself sexually pure. As important as purity is, life is also about knowing who you are and why you exist, where your priorities lie, and where you’re headed. Commit yourself to developing your life as a good steward of your gifts and opportunities, and make that the context in which you seek to maintain your sexual purity.

Sexual purity for its own sake is a good thing; sexual purity for the sake of a higher calling is even better. So pursue your goals in life with zeal and with passion. Make the most of your time; encourage new friendships, find new hobbies, join a study group or exercise class, serve in your local assembly. If you answer the call to be ‘set apart’ it will require you to think a little differently from the way others think. Being a follower of Christ has never been easy. Our call is to surrender some of our desires. It is all part of building faith and character. We should actually view the challenge of managing our sexual desires as an opportunity to develop godly, healthy character and habits that please God. The best news though is that you can win this battle.

28 Comments

  1. Californiabawlar

    July 18, 2016 at 10:59 pm

    Hmmmmn!!! My heart went thump when he mentioned that she shouldn’t let this drive a wedge between her and God. The way I’ve been lately is almost like I want to draw away from God and then open the floodgates…at least if I’m not a sisteh, it won’t be a sin right? Let me ask just wakapass on this one for now and then reread for better comprehension later.
    One thing is for sure…no human experience or even thought process is unique to just you. Shoutout to the lady who wrote in!
    ***Walks away grumbling***

  2. Tincan

    July 18, 2016 at 11:31 pm

    Lol @ CB and walking away grumbling. Of a truth “E no easy o” ? That said, with husband and 2 kids, this piece spoke to me very deeply. When he says “Sexual purity is a battle all through adulthood, it just takes a different form in marriage”, had I not been too lazy, I would have stood up and clapped. It reminds me of a [married] friend of mine who casually in conversation mentioned that there were times out of curiosity she’d like to go on that married cheaters website, I don’t recall the name right now. I know certainly, there are times when my mind has flirted back to ex, started to wonder, and then I catch myself… I am glad Tony Rapu shared that perspective. Also, interesting when he talks about finding your purpose – single or otherwise, if you don’t find that, there’ll always be a void, a dissafaction, that is sometimes inexplicable. And lastly, about immersing yourself in the word – the song with the line, “Oh what needless pain we bear”. Anyway, thank you Mr. Rapu for the wisdom shared. It sure is profitable to direct.

  3. New_Woman

    July 19, 2016 at 2:55 am

    I used to be very sexually perveresed until I gave my life to Christ. I believe God blesses us with wisdom when we truly become a part of him, I was thinking about why I did what I used to do and realized that it was the enemy pushing me or using sexual perversion as a tool to destroy my life because I honestly never felt good after It and I knew that I didn’t love these people…. Anyway I think the writer has said it all, refrain from anything too sexual, watch your thoughts and read your bible regularly, I only watch PG 13 movies as in seriously…. May God help us

  4. Dr. N

    July 19, 2016 at 4:00 am

    Well-answered

  5. emmy

    July 19, 2016 at 4:11 am

    A really inspiring and uplifting response. Thank God for the wisdom of this man that will and has saved lives!

  6. Ogun_Pikin

    July 19, 2016 at 4:18 am

    Abeg, forget dis ting sef wey oga Tony dey talk. You no see how easy e dey for Pope, Pastor and so forth to gi advice on “sexual purity” wen they get dia own supply for corner, weda na wifey, gf, or reverend sister wey dey “come bring soup”. Missionary come Naija dey shout “Sin, sin!” but for Yankee, na dem dey enta strip club pass and watch porno tire. Google dem!

    Forget matta, my sista, form activity for yuasef joor!

  7. lacey

    July 19, 2016 at 8:22 am

    Thank you Pastor Tony! Its not just about trying to keep yourself! Its feeding your spirit with the word of God! Being in your late 30s, is very key you should understand by now that having indiscriminate sex at this stage of your life will even be more disastrous!
    I am 40 this year and I have been celibate not because, I do not meet guys,but because I made a covenant to God that it is my husband! All the men that come my way are like o,are you a virgin,sometimes even the ones that profess to be Christians! My dear being celibate by your strength can be draining, for God’s grace, as until you get to that point where you submit to God it will be difficult! The truth is 1 man will appreciate you for keeping yourself,it is the useless ones that will try to frustrate you because you are celibate! I have that one man who loves me deeply,we have had sex when I was in the world and he used to be a chronic womanizer! Right now he is soft pedalling and trying to walk with God as well! The word of God says we should not be equally yoked with unbelievers,so I still need to be careful that he is changed! I have reached that stage in life where nothing puts me under pressure and I have married friends who do not see me as deficient,as God has blessed me with Every Spiritual Blessing in heavenly places in Christ!Ephesians1:3, so my dear sister,anything you say with your mouth, you receive it!What you need is strong faith! Most of our African preachers always stay in the old testament to hold people in bondage!Even God himself found fault with the law Hebs8:7,his law now is your heart! We are saved by grace and not by works!Please go and read the books of Romans and Hebrews and see how strong faith will bring you your heart desire and Romans 12 :1-4says we should not be conformed to this world,but be transformed by the renewing of your mind,so you can have the perfect will of God. Stay on your own lane and be content with your life and with supplication and thanks giving let your request be made known Philippians4:6 !My dear like Pastor Tony said guide your ears and eyes gate!even the friends you keep too,i really do not have friends that are not believers that will come and tell you that your biological clock is ticking!Even before time begun,God is!He is the “I AM THAT I AM” God cannot be defined!He is who He is! And He will be What you Want Him to be for you! So my dear ladies believing God for miracles for a partner,stop begging and crying! Just continue to Thank God for answered prayers anytime the devil reminds you,tell it God has done it! I use it for satan,because it is irrelevant! it is a toothless bulldog!

    • G

      July 20, 2016 at 9:45 am

      Your words are very encouraging and this is in my understanding is what is expected of us as Christians :Colossians 3:16: Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. and Ephesians 5:19: Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord;

      Thank GOD for those who have gone ahead of us to share with us wisdom and insight gained. Thank the heavenly Father for His Word sent to fulfill and satisfy our innate longing as human beings, to keep us away from self destruction. This piece is encouraging and I empathize with lady, sending her my support..

    • G

      July 20, 2016 at 10:12 am

      Na wa o! Has it been that long sotey I no fit add reply for BN?!

      Anyway “My point got lost in the text, what I was trying to say is that your encouraging words and encouraging ourselves as Christians is what I believe is required of us as Christians and that’s exactly what you did. I tried to add in scriptures to supplement it”

  8. Ela

    July 19, 2016 at 9:27 am

    I am married with two kids and this ministered to me seriously., being married doesn’t cure you, you have to do is focus on the right things and be mindful of our thoughts, the mind is very powerful. Most importantly ask for God to help and strengthen you.

    • G

      July 20, 2016 at 10:10 am

      My point got lost in the text, what I was trying to say is that your encouraging words and encouraging ourselves as Christians is what I believe is required of us as Christians and that’s exactly what you did. I tried to add in scriptures to supplement it…

  9. Golden babe

    July 19, 2016 at 9:28 am

    Dear Pastor Tony, thank you very much for your words of encouragement.

    Dear Dee, as has already been stressed, you are not alone. I would also be 40 this year. I have fooled around here and there but somehow (in ways I cannot even explain) I have never had sexual intercourse. I gave my life to Christ when I was ten, grew up a Christian and was taught to shun premarital sex. How I have made it this far without having sex still amazes me. In any case, It has nothing to do with me.

    As I entered into my 30s, I no longer cared about guarding my sexual integrity. What was the point? After all, those who were not keeping theirs were getting married. The guy I was dating at the time (who was also a Christian), told me he did not want to marry a virgin. I felt like he had slapped me in the face a thousand times. Years later, I still feel the sting of that conversation. He knew I was a virgin.

    Well, still, it did not happen. I began to believe that God Himself was keeping me away from premarital sex, for my own good.

    My thinking has since changed. I no longer view marriage as something everyone has to have. Marriage is potentially a blessing but being celibate and unmarried is also potentially a blessing. It all depends on how we make the most of the life situations that God, in His own wisdom, places us in. Nothing happens by accident.

    I would never have chosen to remain unmarried for this long. I always saw myself as “wife material” (lol) but I have since learnt that these things happen. God’s ways are not our ways. He knows my end from the beginning and if being unmarried is what He wants for me at this time, being unmarried I shall remain.

    The good thing is that I am learning to make the most of my being unmarried and “unencumbered”. I am maximising my free time by doing things that would have been difficult or even impossible had I been married with Children.

    A few years ago, I resigned a job I had become bored with and decided to pursue my dreams of living as a global citizen. For me, that means working more flexibly and travelling to different parts of the world for several months at a time. Sometimes I get consultancy assignments that take me to a country of choice. At other times I just go to a country of interest and volunteer my skills with organisations of interest.

    I have never felt more fulfilled in my life. One of the advantages of not being married is the 100% control I have over my money, my time and my movements. Being unmarried also enhances my ability to survive on limited resources. The little money I have can go a long way, doing things I enjoy doing.

    At this point, getting married (even to a good man) would be difficult. I have learnt to “fly” and can no longer imagine my life any other way. In the last five years or so I have shifted from the extreme of desperately wanting to get married, to indifference about marriage to finally embracing my unmarried state and making the most of it.

    All of this is to let Dee and my fellow sisters out there know that you are not alone. Make the most of where you are in life. If you are married, enjoy it. If you are unmarried, enjoy it too. God is always mindful of us all.

    Finally, sex is good when it is practised in a loving marriage but being celibate also has its benefits, just ask google… ; – ).

    • Rer

      July 19, 2016 at 11:15 am

      Wow, I am really moved by your story, God be with you . Could you share how you went out about being a global citizen, I luv what you do for a living and wouldn’t mind doing same. I’m a young lady who is fighting to remain sane in a world where bad deeds are seen as good deeds, nothing makes sense to me anymore.

    • Cookie

      July 19, 2016 at 11:41 pm

      @Golden babe hi,please can i have your email address,that’s if u don’t mind..Thank you..

    • Golden babe

      July 23, 2016 at 8:42 am

      Please provide yours. I’ll be more than happy to send you an email.

  10. Art

    July 19, 2016 at 10:05 am

    Wow such an insightful response I must say. The pressure us single Christians face whether male or female is real, but the solution to living sexually pure is to fix our minds on what the word of God instructs and to resist the devil constantly. When you allow the devil play tricks on your mind you begin to loose the battle over the flesh gradually. We are commanded to be good soldiers of Christ by putting on the whole armour of God by which we’ll be able to withstand all the fiery darts of the devil. We always triumph over the schemes of the enemy When we guard our hearts with all diligence and think only on those things that are pure, honest and praise worthy. As a Christian there’s no other option than living in the will of God, to do otherwise is to expose yourself to many sorrows. I pray that until God gives us the right person, us singles will continue to receive grace to live a victorious single life in Jesus name amen!

    • D

      July 19, 2016 at 10:44 am

      Amen! “As a Christian there’s no other option than living in the will of God, to do otherwise is to expose yourself to many sorrows.” That is so true. Having known the sweetness of true fellowship with God, we can’t afford to give it up for momentary pleasures that can never truly satisfy but will eventually lead to emptiness and pain. We have to continually rely on God for the grace and strength to overcome. We definitely can’t do it without Him, but with Him all things are possible. There is always a price to discipleship – as you said, there is pressure all around us – but it’s so worth it.

  11. Mrs O

    July 19, 2016 at 10:20 am

    wow… this spoke to me greatly… Thank you Pastor Tony. I almost scrolled past this post but I think God directed me to it specifically to open my eyes and draw me back to him. Married people don’t have it easy I can assure you…

    Marriage doesn’t cure sexual impurity… Before marriage I battled with porn and it continued especially with my husband always denying me of sex. Then as an act of revenge and bitterness I cheated. I feel so separated from God…

    There is a huge gap and for weeks now I have literarily felt God calling out to me.

    I miss God so much and I’m on my way back to Him…

    • D

      July 19, 2016 at 10:45 am

      God is good! There’s nothing better than knowing Him. God bless you.

  12. Ranyinudo

    July 19, 2016 at 10:47 am

    This is so apt. I recently found myself struggling with sexual sins after I got really deeper in my relationship with God. It so depressed me cos I almost threw in the towel to actually live like an indifferent wordly sister. I thought if only I’m in the world, I ll feel less ashamed and guilty.
    Luckily Romans 8 came to my rescue….knowing that nothing can ever separate me from the love of God is enough encouragement.
    Thank u Pastor Rapu…I ld more embrace my sexuality knowing it’s God given while also maintaining discipline and self control with what I allow my senses respond to.

  13. Mr. Egghead

    July 19, 2016 at 1:07 pm

    The last four paragraphs are golden!!

    His point on personal evaluation of recreational habits is so important. I always felt uncomfortable watching Spartacus and Game of Thrones but the shows were so damn interesting. Even music videos, advertising and even comedy are so laden with sexual imagery that to dodge all these things becomes impossible.
    If you don’t want to see it, it will come and see you.

    “Remember, it’s not the sinless person who makes it to the end; rather, it is those who pick themselves up after they stumble.”
    This is worthy of remembrance and it always give me great hope

    I think I like this Tony Rapu, does he have a blog/vlog?

    • Hello

      July 19, 2016 at 2:24 pm

      Yes. tonyrapu.com

    • Bobosteke & Lara Bian

      July 19, 2016 at 3:01 pm

      So true @Mr. E. I used to love watching Shameless. Nobody told me before I stopped. I thought detective and investigative stories were safe until I realised how debased that was as well. I barely even watch cartoons or animation anymore, that path is so cunning.

      Comedians have now turned the things of God to objects of joke. “Call me back. I’m in the Spirit” Really? Even so-called christian comedians make your ears flame in embarrassment with the sort of things you hear all in the name of christianizing these activities.

      I remember watching I’m in Love with a Church Girl and thinking I just watched some kind of very soft porn. I saw the ad for Yes I Don’t and I could not believe it had been endorsed by a church. These days, Nat Geo Wild, TBN, Daystar, Faith and KingdomAfrica are all I watch and even those, I still censure. Truth is your options become very limited.

  14. Bobosteke & Lara Bian

    July 19, 2016 at 2:20 pm

    .My major problem has been that whenever I have an interest in something or someone, God takes second place. Knowing who God is, that formation cannot work. Until I learn to put Him first above everything else, from giving in to the blinking red light on my phone when I’m talking to him or He’s talking to me, to reading about a new hair regimen when I’m researching a scripture online, or chatting with my friends before speaking with Him in the morning, real growth is impossible. It’s always in the little things. Until we learn to want God more than anything else, we are very unlikely to be satisfied with what we want. This is because we have attached our happiness or satisfaction to something that is transient. After your satisfaction, it is only natural for your desire to give birth to other needs.

    • Okeoghene

      July 19, 2016 at 10:56 pm

      Bobosteke &Lara Bian,I like you…You are a woman of the Spirit…I found your honesty refreshing.I agree with all you have said.Indeed,our options are limited and that is because a great deal of what is shown on TV,comes from the world(darkness),and we are the light.This is why we need to be big,so that we can own television stations and broadcast things born of the Word.

    • D

      July 20, 2016 at 9:58 am

      So true…

  15. Anon

    July 19, 2016 at 8:05 pm

    Thank you Pastor Tony. First for answering the question. then doing so with intelligence and scriptural backing. Sadly we do not have enough Christian leaders who are equipped to guide and support through deep and seemingly controversial issues such as this.
    I perfectly understand the writer. I am in my early thirties, been born again since I was 12, grew up not believing in premarital sex and believing I would fall in love, get married to my heartthrob and walk into a world of everlasting sexual bliss. Lol. I was too busy with school to bother about sex and sexuality. Didn’t even experience sexual stirrings till I was 24.
    Then I started ‘searching’. Discovered that a good number of guys are not interested in friendship and getting to know a person, just sex. Had a horrible rape experience at 25, dated 2 or 3 people I wasn’t really interested in, then met this man I knew was wrong for me at 29 but was sexually involved with him because the chemistry was electric and by then I had started thinking what did my Christianity fetch me and what does God expect me to do with my need for sex and love.
    Meanwhile my career was going up and down. I yearned and aggressively sought for a job that will pay better and enable me meet my needs and explore my passions. I felt nothing was working for me. I looked at my friends with their accomplishments.
    Now, all that is past. I am still single, still searching for that opportunity that will enable me become a global citizen [email protected] Babe. But I do not fret over being single anymore. Sometimes I am actually grateful that I am free and don’t have to take care of anyone. I know that God loves me in spite of my imperfections. .I try to believe that he has a plan for me. I pick what I read and watch so as not to be consumed by sexual desire. And I tell God conversationally that I am sure he knows I intend to put the amazing body and loving heart he has given me to full use, and if he insists it must be within marriage then he berra bring my man fast. I agree that enjoying life, travelling, meeting people, exploring your passions, etc help to keep one sane. Those cost money to a large extent though and where money is also a problem, then it is extra difficult. My focus now is on being the best I can be and enjoying my life. Thanks for sharing Poaster

  16. Idomagirl

    July 20, 2016 at 10:14 am

    Good read! Thank you Dr Tony.

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