This excerpt is taken from Dr. Sean McDowell’s book Chasing Love: Sex, Love, and Relationships in a Confused Culture. We hope it blesses you!
Scripture teaches that God made human beings for relationships with Him and with other people. Adam walked with God in the Garden of Eden. He had perfect health, a perfect environment, and could work and play with the animals, and yet God declared that it was not good for Adam to be alone (Gen. 2:18). Why? The first reason is because God gave humans the task of multiplying and filling the earth (Gen. 1:28), and Adam could not do this without Eve. But second, God also made humans to be in relationship with other human beings. We are not meant to live in isolation. We are made to live in families and communities with other people.
Only free through commitment and faithfulness
Thus, since we are made for relationships, we can only be free through commitment and faithfulness. This may strike you as backwards! After all, we live in a world of endless options. From consumer products, to music, to streaming television, you can seemingly have what you want, when you want it, how you want it, and with whomever you want. So, in terms of marriage, why commit to one person for life? Why limit yourself?
I live in Orange County, and it often seems people have little commitment to anything. People switch schools, sports clubs, and churches with barely a second thought. The philosophy seems to be: If you find something better, take it.
Having options can be good, but when there are unlimited options, people become less willing to work through conflict—especially in something as important as a marriage or relationship. After all, there might be someone better out there.
Our commitment gives us confidence and freedom
As I mentioned earlier, my wife and I have been married more than two decades. I love her dearly and cherish our relationship. Yet there have certainly been times of frustration, conflict, and disagreement where it felt as if it would be easier to walk away. Yet no matter how I may feel, walking away is not an option. I meant my vows when I first gave them, and I stick by them today. And so does my wife. Our commitment to each other gives us the confidence—and freedom—to know that we can and will work through difficulties. Commitment helps us transcend conflict.
Free to experience the joy of sex
The value of commitment is also true in the dimension of sex. Our world proclaims endless options as the path to sexual freedom. But in reality, sex is actually most satisfying when there is trust, love, and commitment. In a committed, loving relationship partners don’t have to be anxious about sexual performance, worried about comparison, or concerned about contracting a sexually transmitted infection (STI). Instead, married couples are free to experience the joy of sex as God designed it.
Singleness as freedom
But if sex requires the commitment of marriage, what about singles? If they can’t have sex, how can they possibly be free?
A single person who wants to honor the Lord will not be sexually active. But singleness offers a different kind of freedom than marriage. In fact, the Apostle Paul says it is good to be single! He even wished others would be single like him (1 Cor. 7:7-8).
What freedoms do single people have that married people don’t? For one, they are free from definitions and expectations culture forces on them about sex and relationship. Second, married people are anxious about pleasing each other, says Paul, but singles can be free to focus on serving the Lord and loving other people.
A young single man named Roberto likes to compare himself to Gandalf. Why? He said, “I am not married, so I do not need to stay in one place. So, God can send me wherever He needs me to go.” Rather than seeing his singleness as a curse, he sees it as a blessing. Like Paul, he views being single as a kind of freedom rather than a restriction. Thus, he finds his joy in loving and serving others.
Freedom through relationship
The point is not that singleness is easy. It’s not. Neither is marriage. The point is that God invites us to embrace a different kind of freedom than the kind offered by the world. God invites each one of us—whether male or female, single or married—to the freedom that comes from committing our lives to loving other people in relationship. This is the only path to experiencing the truly rich life Jesus proclaimed.
Excerpted with permission from Chasing Love by Sean McDowell. Copyright 2020, B&H Publishing.
Have you heard of the The 31-Day Pursuit Challenge?
Every marriage begins with passion, purpose, and pursuit, but few stay that way. That’s why we wrote Husband in Pursuit and Wife in Pursuit Together, they make what we’re calling the 31-Day Pursuit Challenge. Couples are encouraged take the challenge together. We’re already starting to hear stories of transformed marriages! Are you up for the challenge?