Dating after recommitting my life to Christ terrified me – ‘cause I didn’t know how I was gonna handle the sex question.
I was newly divorced and while I was not rushing to date again, I knew that I would eventually. I also knew that I had always had a healthy libido. What would I do now as I was just as excited about my fervent commitment to living out my faith with all of my decisions and actions? Well, I did what most of us do when we’re conflicted inside to the point of paralysis, I delayed a decision. I denied that I even had to make one. I pretended there was no issue . . .
. . . until one evening in Bible study when a classmate shared her testimony with us along with beautifully vivid color copies of a Celibacy Covenant. “G~d, you’re kidding, right?” The timing couldn’t have been more . . . providential. Thankfully, neither she nor our facilitators led us into any kind of public declaration of abstinence. As I tucked my copy into the inner pocket of my vinyl binder I hoped that my distress wasn’t showing on my face. Again, I attempted to dodge the entire issue . . .
. . . until I realized that I had x-ray vision. No, really. Each time I looked at the binder I could see the covenant clearly through the opaque vinyl cover. Everything inside me compelled me to sign it. But I desperately did not want to sign it and then break faith with G~d. My newly recommitted faith walk was soooo precious to me. I feared that I would destroy it by making a promise I’d never been able to keep in 12 years or so of sexual activity.
I became paranoid each week in class, thinking that everyone else was looking at me, wondering if I had signed my covenant or not. LOL. Eventually and willingly I signed it. Then I broke it, repented, and tried again. From that point I maintained a commitment of celibacy for a number of years, like 12. (After so long, I do not know if the actual number matters.)
My season of celibacy was challenging and rewarding, but a year or so before it ended I learned that it was indeed a season – and not one that would necessarily only end once I married again. I realized that celibacy is not the only ethically acceptable sexual choice available to single Christians who are passionate about remaining faithful to G~d. Furthermore, choosing sex in singleness while being saved is not a matter of being tired of waiting or settling or giving up – or even breaking faith. The availability of more choices is all about agency, autonomy, and authority. These issues are directly connected to issues of freedom and justice and this perspective propels us into realms of greater importance than doctrine, dogma, ritual, and rhetoric.
I am totally aware that such assertions completely conflict with the Church’s traditional teachings about sex and sexuality – and I am excited about that! After listening to the cries of women who trusted me with some of their most intimate struggles with love and dating, I cherish the opportunity to help provide meaningful information and tools so that they may make their own decisions in this area – not just settle for outdated and out-of-context guidance that has been passed down over generations. Dating no longer has to be a Christian’s six-letter word!
Who Told You That You Were Naked? Black Women Reclaiming Sexual & Spiritual Goodness, recently released, provides this information and these tools. I write with women in mind because we have a particularly difficult time reconciling our sexuality and spirituality. Now, we can get off that incessant merry-go-round of desire, guilt and shame. We can live fully into our whole selves and enjoy life more completely.
And me? Loving G~d just gets sweeter and more potent each and every day! Yeah, it can be a bit scary at first, to be so consciously naked before G~d, but there is no greater freedom. I am fully me and fully free, the highest form of reverence and worship, huh?
© 2012 candi dugas, llc