Occasionally people ask my opinion on various personal or church issues. I recently received the following question which I have reprinted below, followed by my response.
My relationship with Jesus has grown since losing my husband several years ago. I’ve had amazing support through my church, community, family and friends – including a grief support group. I am now in my mid sixties and have been dating a 75 year old, divorced Christian man off and on for about a year.
However, as is common to most men his age, impotency issues prevent “one flesh” intimacy. Yet, the desire I have to be held close, unclothed, has been overwhelming for me so I’ve come to believe that it’s okay. Neither of us wants to get married for several reasons – I don’t want to give up 1/3 of the pension my husband left with me nor do I want to take care of him if he became sick. I did that for my first husband but don’t think I have the emotional energy to do it again.
I explained all of this to a close Christian friend who told me she couldn’t see how God could condemn me for wanting affection, which made me think it is okay. However, I am still unsure because I know she’s not God and maybe because my friend loves me she thinks I should have what I want. I’ve googled every preacher I respect and trust about this and I seem to get the same answer. I would really appreciate your thoughts on this.
It’s good to read about how The Lord has sustained you through your grief. I very much appreciate your transparency about your loneliness and your struggles. As a pastor I try to love people and as a preacher I try to be true to the Word of God. That’s not always an easy balance to maintain but I try.
The Bible says, “There is a way that seems right unto man but there end thereof are the ways of death”. (Proverbs14:12) Christians are not to be emotionally driven or even rationally driven but our behavior is to be determined by the Word of God. In light of that truth there are several Scriptures that I think should be taken into account as you make your decision.
I John 3:20 says there are times when our hearts condemn us. Romans 14:13 says that if we violate our conscience it is sin. Is your conscience convicting you about the rightness of lying with a man just for the sake of physical satisfaction? Why else would you continue to seek counsel after some of your Christian friends apparently gave you a green light? Could it be that God is speaking to you through your conscience?
The marriage covenant
Ephesians 5:31-32 talks about the sacred covenant of marriage. After stating that the two will become one flesh, The Apostle Paul writes, “This is a profound mystery – but I am talking about Christ and the church.” Marriage is more than just a couple having sex. Marriage is a man and woman making a lifelong commitment exclusively to one another, which is to symbolize God’s faithfulness to us.
Marriage is the sharing of body, mind, soul and spirit. That unique relationship is to be reserved for two people who commit to a marriage covenant where both agree to put the well-being of the other ahead of self.
You express a desire for physical gratification without a marriage commitment. If you don’t love this man enough to make a financial sacrifice and to care for him in “sickness and health”, should you share your body (the temple of the Holy Spirit) with him?
Ephesians 5:3 reads, “Among you there must not even be a hint of sexual immorality, or any kind of impurity”. Are you concerned about your witness to friends and family? If others see you spending the night or they become aware of your physical relationship with this man will they question your Christian commitment and character?
Preventing God’s Best
One other verse I’d like for you to consider is John 10:10. “Jesus said, ‘I’ve come that they may have life, and have it to the full.’” God wants the very best for you. By seeking physical fulfillment from a man you don’t intend to marry could you be negating God’s best? What it if the Lord has someone else in mind for both of you -perhaps someone you will love enough to commit to in marriage, someone with whom you can be totally fulfilled? If you get into a relationship such as the one you have described will it block an opportunity of meeting someone better suited for you?
Jesus promised, “For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it.” (Luke 9:23-24) In other words, if we deny our carnal desires to follow Christ, He will honor our sacrifice and grant us peace, joy and fulfillment in the end.
I pray you will make the right choice and God will richly bless you.
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