Identity and Singleness

By Peter Ould

Author’s Note: I’ve been a Christian for seven and a half years and the majority of that time I’ve struggled with, fallen into, and slowly overcome homosexuality. As God has freed me from the pain of the past I’ve drawn on those experiences to provide support and encouragement for others struggling with the same issues. I have also grown in my desire to share the lessons I have learnt with the wider Christian community and beyond just the scope of the struggle with homosexuality.

At the core of our humanity is the desire to be in relationship. This stems from our very essence of being relational beings, both as humans to God and as male to female. As much as there is a longing in our heart to reunite with God (a longing that can only find it’s ultimate fulfillment in Jesus), there is a longing to unite and be at one with another human being. The sexual urge in our life is often a biological manifestation of that emotional and spiritual basis to our existence.

Because this strikes at the core of our identity, the lack of a partner seems to leave us incomplete. In light of this, some have theologised that any partner is desirable and fulfilling. We know however that God’s model for partnership is male and female, as we are the complement to each other, not just physically but also emotionally and spiritually.

The Choice of Singleness

Given the above (and in light of Scripture on homosexual acts), the choice for me was to stay single until such a time as I became heterosexually orientated. This meant a possibility of life-long singleness.

Now, if I needed a relationship with another human to be fulfilled, this would represent a conscious acceptance of a “second-rate” life. But Scripture shows us that being single is absolutely fine. The key here is identity. If I need a relationship to form my identity, and my life choices mean that I don’t have a relationship, then I can be said to have chosen a “second-rate” life. But if my identity is formed elsewhere and on different terms then this is not a problem.

Having said all that, this was an extremely painful choice to make. I was actively choosing a life (as I saw it) of loneliness and non-sexual fulfillment. Just because I had chosen to be single didn’t automatically mean that my emotions went along with me. Sometimes on a daily basis I felt deep pangs of loneliness and despair. At moments when I saw little change in my condition I would literally be in tears with the absolute unfairness of the position I was in.

Being Single — Dealing with the Pain

As I began upon the road to recovery, the first step was to understand the reasons why I was the person I was. In my case, it was understanding the underlying root causes of my homosexual desires and the factors that had led to their manifestation. In the same way, the first step in dealing with the pain of singleness is to understand the reasons for the pain. Why are you lonely? This may seem a simple question to which the answer is “because I haven’t got a partner” but the follow up is “Why do you need a partner?” What are the emotional and physical needs that you need to be fulfilled in having a partner? Why do you have those needs?

As I got to the core of the emotional factors behind my homosexuality, I discovered that the real issue wasn’t sexual desire or lack of relationship, but rather the damage to my identity that had caused the desires to emerge. The key to healing was not removing the homosexual desires per se, but rather healing and restoring my identity. This is the key also to handling heterosexual singleness. One needs to address the underlying emotional issues and hurts that have formed the need for relationship. Yes, a part of us naturally needs a relationship and that is a good desire, but that desire has been twisted by our experiences.

The real issue a single person needs to deal with is identity. One’s identity as a Christian is not formed by what clothes you wear, where you live, what job you do or who you sleep with. My identity comes from Christ. If this is so, then the most important relationship in my life is not my lover or my friends, but my Saviour. It is this relationship most of all that I needed to work on.

Because the prayerful examination of my emotions and actions had revealed relational issues at its core, it was in a relationship that I needed to find healing. That relationship was of course with Jesus.

Actually Doing It

What did I actually do to deal with my singleness? The following is a list of areas without any order of priority.

  1. Catch a vision for the future — If I was going to start on a journey, I needed to know where I was going. So I read books on Christian relationships so that my mind would have a healthy view of where I should eventually be. The books I read centered on two areas, scriptural examples of correct relationship between male and female, and practical experience of day to day living in relationship. From this I established a picture of what kind of relationship God wanted me to be in, which isn’t necessarily the same as who He wanted that relationship to be with. Also, God gave me a specific verse, Proverbs 23:18: “Surely there is a future hope for you and your hope will not be cut off”. God was going to bring me through but it would be in His time and His planning.
  2. Work on my relationship with God — If God was going to bring healing into my life I was going to have to get to know Him better. You don’t go up to a complete stranger and tell them your life story and all the deep personal issues involved. These are things that you share with good friends. In the same way, as we develop our relationship with God we learn how to share more of our lives with Him. I built up my relationship with God in the following ways:
    • Prayer — Seems obvious, but I was so bad at it. My chief desire was to get to know God more. In particular I prayed three things: for Him to build up my relationship with Him, for Him to show me the areas of my life that had affected my emotions and desires and to bring healing into them, for Him to protect me during this process.
    • Doctrine — The Bible is in part a biography of God. There are many passages that tell us specific attributes of God. The Psalms and the Prophets are full of descriptions of God. I would take a passage that describes an attribute of God and then ask Him to turn that from just a dry piece of doctrine into a real and tangible knowledge of Him. This wasn’t just an exercise in learning the Scripture by rote, but actually letting God supernaturally impart it on my heart.       One key aspect of building my relationship with God was to slowly give Him more and more control of my life and to trust Him more and more. It’s one thing to say “Trust God, it’ll all be OK in the end” but to actually do it when stuff isn’t happening and you don’t seem to be getting anywhere is tough. So I asked God to teach me how to trust Him, and He started with small things and built it up slowly.
  3. Specifically not look for a relationship — I made a choice that I wasn’t going to look for a relationship at all until God told me unequivocally that I was ready. I asked for God’s strength to help me with this. Once I had made this decision I was slowly liberated from the need for an intimate relationship. I was freed to concentrate on my relationship with God.
  4. Get help! — There are times when you simply can’t deal with the issues on your own. God graciously provided friends and support who could pray for me and help me deal with specific issues as they came up. Ecclesiastes says, “there is nothing new under the sun” and the practicality of this is that there are people out there who know and understand your struggles, whatever they are, and can offer support, wisdom and advice. Praying with people and sometimes just simply talking to them helped enormously. Sometimes just knowing that people were there if I needed them was a help.
  5. Build up non-sexual relationships — Very simply, I had to start making the kind of friendships that I hadn’t had in the past. I had to specifically avoid close friendships as a defence mechanism to prevent other people from hurting me. Once again God provided a starting point and a social circle to move into, and slowly I did just that, and God protected me in it. I made mistakes on the way as I learnt some very basic social skills. But God used these friendships to help restore my identity as a relational being and to affirm that in others.
  6. Expect it to be tough and seek God through that — Life is not fair. We live in a fallen world and the consequence is that there is suffering. Instead of rebelling against the suffering, I sought to find God in it. Philippians 3:10 says, “I want to know Christ, the power of his resurrection and to share in his sufferings”. Well, most of us are pretty happy about the first two but want to call “Time Out” on the third. I discovered that through being real about my suffering I was drawn closer to Jesus on the cross. By suffering myself I came to understand more of what Jesus went through.       Furthermore, I started to change my views on suffering around me. I became open to the suffering of the world. By accepting and then slowly handing to God the huge scar of homosexuality on my life, I became much more aware of the scars that everybody carried. God gave me a compassion for other people’s sufferings through a recognition of my own. Not that I am now a male Mother Teresa, but rather that God gave me an understanding of other people’s pain which only came by really understanding mine, a process which really hurt.
  7. Let God use you elsewhere — At the same time that I was dealing with my homosexuality, God provided me with an outlet for my work- evangelising Mormons! At the same time that I was struggling, I was also helping to lead people out of a cult and to Christ. God gave me a focus, to see that despite being fallen and dealing with pain I could still be used by Him. God will use anybody who wants to be used by Him, regardless of your particular circumstances. Through working with Mormons God led me to one of my best friends, a man in the States who was witnessing to Mormons and yet going through the same struggles that I was. The support and encouragement that we were able to give each other was tremendous.
  8. Understand that it is God who will deal with you and that you will not do it by yourself — I don’t think there’s anything more to add to this! This realization however is crucial to dealing with coming to terms with pain.
  9. Letting go of the past — The biggest moment in healing came over the issue of identity. Although God had healed many aspects of my hurt past and was awakening heterosexual attraction, I still wasn’t getting over a final hurdle. The turning point was suddenly realising that I was holding on to some form of identity in homosexuality. I was still identifying myself in this way because I didn’t want to let go and embrace what God had for me. Quite simply, I was stubbornly holding onto the past. The crucial point was a friend asking another friend in my presence, “how do I pray if someone comes to me and says that they’re gay”. My second friend’s reply was, “we remember that someone’s identity is in Christ and not their sexuality”. At that moment God supernaturally lifted this whole blockage from me and the release was tremendous. I was free to embrace all that God had changed in me. Others need to recognize that they may be holding onto things from the past to form their identity. We need to be able to let go and that will likely involve asking God to help us.

Summing Up

I think I can summarise my advice with dealing with the suffering of singleness as: a) Recognize you are suffering; b) Bring it to God; c) Bring it to others; d) Get a vision from God and others and have that as a long term goal, without setting up time limits; e) Get into God and let Him get into you; f) Stick at it for however long it takes (which is of course the easiest thing to say and the hardest thing to do).

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Lust, Excuse Me

By James Johnson

It is a thorn to many persons in the young adult generations. It preys upon the hearts of many young men in the disguise of advertisements, movies, and sitcoms. It turns its ugly head at the click of a mouse on the internet. It exercises its poisonous rituals at local bars on weekend nights. It’s lust.

I cannot begin to list all the Bible verses that speak out against lust. Some of them are Job 31:1, Matthew 5:28, 1 Thessalonians 4:5, and Hebrews 13:4. These just scratch the surface. Lust feeds into sexual sins and can lead to bondage to such things as pornography and masturbation. There are many excuses to lust and feed a sexual sin. These excuses are out of self-deception or the enemy himself.

In this article, I will mention the excuses and challenge them with the TRUTH. Next, I will list consequences to lust and benefits to purity. Finally, I conclude with exhortations and encouragement. The following words are applicable for men and women and for more than just the sin of lust. Yet, this document focuses on lust and is written from a male perspective and geared towards men.

So, what are the excuses that are used to give into lust?

Excuse #1: It’s biological, I’m made that way.

TRUTH: God supplies you His grace and calls you to holiness. See Leviticus 11:44-45, Leviticus 19:2, Leviticus 20:7-8, 2 Corinthians 12:7-9, and 1 Peter 1:13-16. God loves us too much to leave us just as we are. Leave what is behind and press on in Christ (see Philippians 3:13-14).

Excuse #2: (for those private sexual sins): I’m not hurting anybody. No one else is involved.

TRUTH: You are hurting your relationship with God. You are involved. God is involved. Your mind and how you relate to others is also involved.

Excuse #3: I can’t help it.

TRUTH: All things are possible with God (see Matthew 19:26 and Mark 10:27). And again, He supplies you His grace (see 2 Corinthians 12:7-9).

Excuse #4: I don’t have a wife (with whom I can exercise my passions).

TRUTH: Is that all a wife is good for? Isn’t there much more to marriage than sex? Marriage does not remove sexual struggle. 1 Corinthians 7:5 speaks of how the married couple can be tempted. Seek to submit your sex drive to God before you are married and while you are married. Marriage is not a free reign to unlimited sex. Marriage is not about self-gratification, but about selfless love (i.e. A wife’s submission and a husband’s willingness to love the wife as himself even to the point of dying for her. Refer to Ephesians 5:21-33). A husband and wife are a model of Christ and His Church. Did Christ just see what He could get out of the Church for His own selfish pleasure, or did He nurture her and love her selflessly? Even though she would cheat on Him by entertaining worldliness in centuries to come, He died for her! A wife is worth dying for, not to be lowered to be a piece of meat used for self-gratification. Sex is reserved for marriage and sex in marriage is an act of love for the other glorifying to God, not selfish love that glorifies self.

Excuse #5: I’ve got to get it out of my system.

TRUTH: Does that mean when you feel like killing someone, you should just do it? Does that mean when you are mad at someone, then you are not to manage your anger? Are we to act just on our impulses and our own wills instead of submitting our wills to the way of God? There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads only to death. Refer to Proverbs 14:12 and 16:25 (Twice within a couple of chapters of one another! That calls for emphasis!). Galatians 6:22-23 lists the characteristics of the fruit of the Spirit, one of which is self-control.

Excuse #6: I’m imperfect; I have a sinful nature.

TRUTH: Yes, these are true, but just as Satan tried to tempt Jesus in the wilderness with true statements in deceitful ways, so these can be used to allow giving into temptation. There is struggle, but Christ overcomes. See John 16:33 and 1 John 4:4. Further, no temptation is so great that there is not a way out of it. See 1 Corinthians 10:13.

Excuse #7: It’s OK to be attracted to women.

TRUTH: Yes, it is very much OK for a man to be attracted to a woman. Yet, attraction is not lust! Remember also Job 31:1 and Matthew 5:28.

Excuse #8 (pornography): It’s just a picture.

TRUTH: Why waste time with just a picture? Do you know the woman? How lost she must be! Trust God to meet your needs and if it be His will, He will provide a real relationship. God created sex and it is only fulfilled as He intended in a Christian marriage. If a spouse is not God’s will, He can and will meet your needs. He’s God! He has your BEST interest in mind!

Excuse #9: I’ve messed up already, so I might as well go ahead and sin.

TRUTH: Why should you not go ahead and sin? Because of the CONSEQUENCES! Consequences may be disease, guilt, hardened heart, hurt fellowship with God, self-condemnation, unwanted pregnancy, and opening up avenues for evil to have control in your life (bondage). It’s not too late to turn to God. Even if a candle is already lit and halfway melted, it is not too late to blow it out before it sets the table on fire.

Excuse #10: I will go ahead and do it, because God will forgive me.

TRUTH: What an abuse of His grace! He gives grace that you may freely live for Him, not as a license to sin. If one is truly repentant, then he or she is forgiven. Planning to do it and just ask for forgiveness is an unrepentant heart. Repent, really, of your unrepentance and ask for forgiveness. Shall we sin more and more so that God can pour out His grace all the more? NO WAY!!!! Paul literally wrote about that in Romans 6:1-2. God deserves your devotion and gratitude, not sin in return for the gift He has given you in Christ.

So there are some of the excuses a man might use in committing sexual sins (lust), but each one is exposed by the Truth. Consider again the consequences as introduced in confronting Excuse #9. What are the potential painful consequences if one continues in lust and sexual sin?

  • To future marriage (God-willing): A development of unhealthy relating and expectations. Betrayal of one’s spouse (Hebrews 13:4).
  • To family: Allowing shame and embarrassment to enter the family.
  • To one’s job: Think about sexual harassment (not to be politically correct, but really think about the consequences such as loss of trust or job).
  • To mental health: Psychologically, one might become divided and tormented in his or her mind.
  • To one’s reputation: This should be self-explanatory. What happened to Michael Jackson and Pee Wee Herman during their escapades of alleged sexual sin?
  • To one’s self-image: Shame and guilt and decreasing conformity to Christ-likeness.
  • To finances: For those who invest in pornography or prostitution, there is a loss of finances.
  • To time due to time wasted on sexual sin.
  • To one’s future: It would be a painful disappointment if the any or some or all of the aforementioned consequences occurred.

Now, what are the benefits of purity? That is, what are the consequences to abstaining from sexual sin?

  • To one’s relationship with God: More trust in God, more freedom to serve and live for God.
  • To one’s spouse (God-willing): Healthier relating, better intimacy, considering the spouse’s needs and seeing the spouse as a child of God.
  • To one’s children (God-willing): Being a true model, not a deceiver who puts up a good front. See Proverbs 22:6.
  • To one’s mental health: Peace of mind.
  • To one’s reputation: Sustenance for one’s witness by saving it pure for the marriage bed (Hebrews 13:4) and walking the walk, not just giving lip service.
  • To one’s friends: Not fearing them and thus not withdrawing due to the sin and shame.
  • To one’s self-image: Self (deception and sinful nature) can be denied and instead be conformed to be more like Christ. See Luke 9:23 and Galatians 2:20.
  • To one’s finances: You are not wasting it, such as squandering on a picture of a surgically-produced lost woman or a phone call with a person who could care less about anything but the $2.99 you spent on the call.
  • To time: A more constructive use of it — not losing time to hours of rituals and activities centered around and leading to sexual sin. To the future: Encouragement, hope, spiritual growth.

With all of those potential negative consequences of lust and all of the benefits of purity, it makes sense to seek purity. Submit yourself to God and resist the devil and his temptations in lust (see James 4:7). Take every thought captive to Christ! This is only possible by walking in the Spirit (God’s leading). You cannot do it on your own. This war is spiritual. Refer to 2 Corinthians 10:3-5 and Ephesians 6:10-18.

Even Paul struggled with conflict in his mind over wanting to do one thing, but doing another. Read Romans 7:7-25. Paul feels wretched. Yet, in the very next chapter, he writes that there’s no condemnation for those who are in Christ; that if God is for us, none can be against us; that all things work together for the good of those called according to God’s purpose; and that nothing can separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus (Read all of Romans 8). God loves you as you are. You don’t have to have the act cleaned up perfectly for Him to love you. Trust Him to change you. No one is worthy of God’s love, but He loves you anyway. Commit to Him and rededicate your life to Him. Serve God, not your lust. He is the only One who can change you. Don’t settle for cheap imitations of what God wants for you. There is a reason He is called a jealous God. He doesn’t want you to squander your efforts, time, and emotion on cheap imitations.

“Sinful sexual behavior always leads to despair” writes Bill Perkins in When Good Men Are Tempted (p. 133). Call on God to help you stop the sin at the rituals that lead to it. What God offers is much better! Confess and repent now. You don’t have to give in. Even if the door to your girlfriend’s or boyfriend’s bedroom is open, it is NOT too late to say, “NO.” Have a date where you don’t leave feeling guilty. Offer your body to God and be transformed by the renewing of your mind (See Romans 12:1-2). A mindset is one thing, but a heart sealed by the Holy Spirit is another. Call on the Name of Jesus!

If you have already sinned or are in a state of sinning, read the above paragraph again and then read this one. God does not want you to walk around defeated. If you are a Christian, you have victory in what Christ offers you. Trust God to supply the grace in your striving for repentance. You cannot do it on your own accord. Repentance and short accounts are needed now, yet change may take time. No change and lack of conviction are problems. Remember not to sin with the motive of increasing grace. Yet, know that even after the sin, the conviction you feel is the work of the Holy Spirit. Know that there is one unforgivable sin—blasphemy of the Holy Spirit (Mark 3:29) which in context implies denying who Christ is (which means leaving this life without knowing Christ). That is not the sin of lust. Lust is not the unforgivable sin. That is not to make light of lust. Sin is still sin, but remember God’s forgiveness. Remember the blood of Christ. Don’t make light of His sacrifice by sinning or by saying it is not good enough to cover your sin.

A co-worker once asked me if being a Christian meant I felt guilty all the time. By no means! There’s freedom in Christ. Use freedom not to sin, but to know you can walk in victory because of the work of Christ! Jesus has set the Christian free. You don’t have to serve your old master any more. You don’t have to give in to lust (None of the excuses above seem valid!). Take the following with you:

“I remember my affliction and mywandering,
the bitterness and the gall.

I well remember them,

and my soul is downcast within me.

Yet this I call to mind

and therefore I have hope:

Because of the LORD’s great love,

we are not consumed,

for his compassions never fail.

They are new every morning;

great is your faithfulness”

-Lamentations 3:19-23, NIV.


“[I]f we are faithless,

he will remain faithful,

for he cannot disown himself.”

-2 Timothy 2:13


New International Version (NIV). (1988). The Holy Bible. Grand Rapids: Zondervan Corporation.

Perkins, Bill. (1997). When Good Men Are Tempted. Grand Rapids, Michigan 49530: Zondervan Publishing House.


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Overcoming Lust: Victory in a Widow’s Story

By Anonymous

I was approaching middle age when my husband passed away. Several months later I found myself struggling with my sexuality like I never had before. What had been a beautiful part of married life was no more. I became almost obsessed with thoughts of sex. I had to learn how to handle these thoughts.

Knowing God made us with sexual desires and that what He made is good helped me to not feel guilty for having those desires. I realized it is what we do with them which determines whether they fulfill God’s purposes, or whether they lead into sin. Realizing this helped me to put things into perspective.

I finally learned I had to keep a tight rein on my thought life and not permit myself to indulge in sexual fantasy. It is a whole lot easier to turn away the first thought than to get rid of them after I have indulged in them for awhile.

I discovered that what I feed my mind is essential in this battle. I don’t own a television, but reading is one of my hobbies. I had to learn to be careful about what I read, especially during certain times of the month. Anything that made it easy to fantasize about sex gave me problems. I found I even needed to avoid some Christian novels if they focused too heavily on romantic relationships.

The turning point was when I finally decided to make myself accountable to the ladies in my small prayer group. They were very understanding and this accountability helped me to gain control of this area of my life. I knew that I could not keep my mind pure if I continued to indulge in it.

When my husband died, I had determined that I would not indulge in self pity. Some years later I was having more difficulty than usual in missing the sexual part of marriage until I realized that the source of my struggle was self pity rearing its ugly head.

There were times when I desperately missed a husband’s companionship, and there was nowhere to go with it, except to the Lord. He somehow filled that emptiness with Himself in a way I had never experienced before. He became much more real to me. I would not take anything in exchange for the personal relationship I now have with the Lord, born out of my struggle.

But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfill the lusts thereof. (Romans 13:14)

Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfill the lusts of the flesh. (Galatians 5:16)

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Battling Online Temptation

By Eric Sellin

Perhaps you’ve been walking with the Lord for years, and have become quite strong in your walk. Perhaps you’re a new believer and can see nothing ever coming between you and Him.

If you’re like me, the very medium you are using right now, the Internet, presents potentially the strongest temptation around. There are simple possible causes for this. It is anonymous, it is private, it is a time vacuum. Many, whether Christian and not, who would never walk into a store and pick up a pornographic magazine, have unimaginable images, sounds, and chats readily available for virtually free in the privacy of their own room. Changes in your thinking can occur gradually, and before you know it you can find yourself ensnared. And keyword searches on how a “Christian” deals with “cybersex” prove to be less than fruitful.

Satan wants to take your testimony. He wants to destroy your perception of God’s wonderful gift of sex. And believe me, I doubt there are better ways he can use to subtly accomplish this.

As a brother who has been there I can say that the best advice I would offer is not to start in the first place, at all.

Take every thought captive — make a point, a conscious effort, to block lustful thoughts before they fester.

Do not create a screen name or moniker for yourself, just to “play around”.

If you need to justify actions, or you ever think, “just this once”, you should probably think twice.

Don’t follow that link in your junk e-mail just to satisfy your curiosity.

Ephesians 5:3: “But among you there must not even be a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity…because these are improper for God’s holy people.” Easier said than done I know, but “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.” (1 Cor 10:13)

You may have already stumbled and fallen. Remember that a righteous man falls seven times — but he rises again. Take note of when you are vulnerable. You may notice that you can seemingly withstand anything when you first log on, but after 15 minutes or so of chatting or surfing you find this is not the case. Play Christian music while online. Check out the wealth of Christian resources available.

The best book I have found on the subject is When Good Men Are Tempted, by Bill Perkins. Much of it is aimed at married men, but still valuable to all who struggle with the subject.

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