1 Corinthians 6:18

Celibacy: Two Things To Keep In Mind While Waiting

I recently started to share my journey with celibacy. Back in 2012 when I rededicated my life to Christ, I made the decision then that I wanted to remain celibate until marriage. Of course, my newfound sisters in Christ were happy for me because they were in the same boat. But when I told my longtime friends, they were confused. Instead of praising me, they questioned me. They asked, “Why are you doing that?” “How are you going to abstain?” “What if you never get married?” All questions I never thought of and never had to answer.  All questions that were difficult for me to answer at the time. So after that, I decided not to tell anyone about me being celibate. I remained quite. If it’s not out there, no one will know and I won’t have to explain myself. No harm done right? Wrong!

In 2013, I got in a relationship with Joe and if you’ve read my previous post, you know what happened. I fell. I never told him so he didn’t know. Then when I told him I wanted to be celibate again, he didn’t believe me because I kept falling. “Flee from temptation.” 1 Corinthians 6:18. Instead of fleeing I stood around thinking I could handle my feelings. I thought since I was now going to church and reading the bible, I was stronger than my flesh. The Bible says, “For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want” Galatians 5:17.

Sex and lust were two things I struggled with greatly and being in a relationship with a man that wasn’t a believer in God did not help. When I finally had enough courage to break things off with him and walk in my purpose, the decision to be celibate and remain celibate became a reality.

Celibacy

Now, I am not afraid to share my testimony with believers and nonbelievers. Believers are usually happy for me and understand I am doing this because I respect God with my body. Nonbeliever’s reactions vary. I still get the same confused looks, but surprisingly I receive admiration from non-believers as well. They call me a “strong woman” or “strong-willed.” I recently spoke to a girl who is an atheist. She was so amazed at my testimony of celibacy. She said I was awesome and told me she admired my stance of abstinence. Then I realized she considered my testimony not a resemblance of God or my Christian faith but a symbol of feminism. I explained to her that it was solely for my faith and knowing God’s purpose for me. My explanation didn’t sink in because in her mind it was a feminist act. This made me think: how many other people think of celibacy is a feminist movement rather than God’s word? Well, I found out a lot of people think this way. From TV shows to reality shows and social media. Celibacy is a resemblance of a strong woman rather than a kingdom movement.

This kind of thinking can be confusing and make people believe celibacy is an independent act and you can abstain on your own- meaning without God. This is absolutely false and you need God to get you through this season.

Here are two things I learned while remaining celibate:

1. Guard your heart! Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it. Proverbs 4:23

 We must guard our hearts at all times. If you’re trying to abstain, you have to watch what you’re feeding your spirit. One example is music. Don’t listen to baby making music if you’re not making a baby. I love R&B music. So it was a hard to let it go. I went without it for months. Because at the beginning of my walk with Christ, I still struggled. Now I can listen to it here and there but I know if it takes me to that place I have to turn it off. Next example: TV shows and movies. I used to watch shows that portrayed adultery, lust and fornication. I thought it was just harmless entertainment. The plot was intense and engaging. I would justify the show or movie by telling myself that it’s ok to watch because everyone else is watching it. Well that planted bad seeds and soon I had to turn that off too.

This is not to say you can’t listen to music or watch TV. I’m just saying be aware of what you are watching and listening to. If the entertainment is not bearing fruit — then it’s not of God, which can hinder your walk in celibacy.

2.) Flee from Temptation! “Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body.” 1 Corinthians 6:18 

At the beginning of my walk, I thought I was Wonder Woman. I didn’t think I needed to flee from sexual sin. Before I would have remained silent about my faith until the guy came over. Then I would have tried to fight my flesh and my feelings, thinking that I could handle it on my own. The Bible also says:

“The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure.”  1 Corinthians 10:13

 There are many opportunities for a way out. It can be just as simple as- staying away from the person that tempts you.

An example: Last month, a guy texted me from my Before Christ (BC) days. He said he wanted to come over and watch a movie. At first I thought – Sure. It’ll be cool to watch a movie and have some male attention. Then God convicted me and discernment kicked in! Immediately, I knew, he didn’t want me; he wanted my body. So to confirm this revelation, I asked the guy “What are your intentions?” He boldly and nonchalantly texted me exactly what he wanted to do. (Hint: It wasn’t just to chill and watch a movie.) My first reaction was to send him an angry text message telling him off. But I didn’t. I sat in my living room with my phone in my hand and I began to pray. I asked God for the words to put in my response. I responded something like this:

“I appreciate your honesty. I assumed that was your intention… I don’t do movie nights… I’m saved now so I don’t invite guys over to my house to chill. When I see you around we can catch up…”

 Once I let him know, he respected that.

I’ve come a long way. I had to learn these lessons over time. I hope my testimony and my celibacy journey will encourage you all. Walk in purpose, know God’s truth and continue to Strive for God’s Excellence.

By Patrice McKenzie
patrice@areyoushe.com

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20 Things My Twenties Have Taught Me.

It’s a decade like no other. Our twenties can be some of the craziest, most transitional times of our lives. We graduate from college, land a full-time job and hope to find love along the way.

Even though I’m over my mid quarter-life crisis and still have three years to go until I hit 30, my twenties have been quite the spiritual journey. And since I turned 27 over the weekend, I thought what better what to celebrate my birthday than to share the wisdom God has given me.

Here Are 20 Things My Twenties Have Taught Me:

1. When doors close, let ’em. There’s no need trying to open a door when God has clearly closed it. “What He opens, no one can close; and what He closes, no one can open.” Revelation 3:7 (NIV) If you’re not walking into something you really want, there’s a reason for it. Christian film executive Devon Franklin explained it in this way in his book, Produced By Faith: “If He prevents you from getting something that you were aching for, it’s because it would not have turned out to be the blessing you expected.”

2. Not everyone can go where you are going. If friends fall off, it’s okay. The process isn’t easy but it’s necessary. People come into our lives for a reason, a season or a lifetime. Sometimes we have to let people go because they are not on board with our vision or plan God has for our lives. Just like Gideon’s 300 men, God chooses certain sister-friends for the battlefield. “The people are still too many; bring them down to the water, and I will test them for you there.” Judges 7:4 (NKJV)

3. No one has life figured out. If you don’t have it together, you’re not alone. Somewhere along the way, we’ve believed the lie that we’re supposed to have life mapped out before we turn 25. But that couldn’t be farther from the truth. We’re all in this boat of life together, trying to figure life out. That’s why it’s important to put your hope and trust in God–not man. “Trust in the LORD with all your heart; lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.” Proverbs 3:5-6 (NKJV)

4. The devil attacks your identity. We all know the enemy is about low blows. And if you ever noticed a pattern with spiritual warfare, he always goes after your identity. He’ll tell you you’re not a great writer or your business plan is terrible. But that’s when you have to turn off the chatterbox going on inside your mind and remember all the great things Jesus has said about you instead. “The thief comes only in order to steal and kill and destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.” (John 10:10, AMP/NKJV)worship

 5. Worship is your weapon. There’s no greater way to fight than on your knees. Singing praises and giving adoration to God sets a ring a fire around you and protects you from your enemies. This scripture lays out the battle plan so beautifully: “You will not need to fight in this battle. Position yourselves, stand still and see the salvation of the LORD, who is with you…and Jehoshaphat bowed his head down with his face to the ground, and all Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem bowed before the LORD, worshiping the LORD.” 2 Chronicles 20:17-18

6. We’re all addicted to something. Addictions aren’t just physical. They’re also spiritual. We’re all quick to point out the alcoholic or the drug addict without really taking a good look at ourselves. Addictions are things that take a tight grip on us, causing us to fall short of the glory of God. (Romans 3:23). It’s important for us to recognize the things that try to pull us away from walking with Christ. Addictions nowadays can look like pornography, lust or the need for continuous monogamous relationships. “Someone may say, “I’m allowed to do anything,” but not everything is helpful. I’m allowed to do anything, but I won’t allow anything to gain control over my life.” 1 Corinthians 6:12 (GWT) .

7. The wilderness is inevitable. “You’re either going in or you’re out.” That’s how one of my spiritual mentors explained the wilderness to me. The Israelites went through it. And Jesus experienced it too. So don’t be surprised if the wilderness is right around the corner for you. The process can be painful but the breakthrough is one of the most beautiful experiences of your life. It’s in this place where tragedy and tribulation turns into triumph. “Behold, I will do a new thing. Now it shall spring forth. Shall you not know it? I will even make a road in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.” Isaiah 43:19 (NKJV)

8. We have to come to the end of ourselves before God can begin. Caterpillars shed many layers before they become a butterfly. And the same thing happens to us. God has to strip us from hate, doubt and fear. When the Spirit comes upon us, that’s when the miraculous metamorphosis begins. Shedding dead mindsets gives us the ability to spread our wings and fly. Rebirth allows us to walk into the revelation of the promise. “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, [she] is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold all things have become new.” 2 Corinthians 5:17 (NKJV)healed

9. We’re called to birth spiritual things. Women don’t just birth babies — they push out promises. In Hebrew, Eve’s name is Chavah which means “to give life”. According to an article written by Sara Esther Crispe for Chabad.org, chavah embodies both the essence of life itself and the creative ability to grant life to others. Women are called to birth both joy and pain, new realities and revelations. As females, we are constantly delivering things naturally and spiritually, both within ourselves and for those around us.“Adam called his wife’s name Eve, because she was the mother of all living.” Genesis 3:20 (NKJV) 

10. God is our first husband. Our relationship with Christ is a marriage more than anything else. All throughout the bible, the word tells us we are the bride of Christ. Jesus died on the cross for us so we would be presented without blemish or wrinkle. (Ephesians 5:27). He wants to spend the rest of our lives with us in holy matrimony. But before we even get this revelation, we’re more caught up with getting a man. How can we be faithful to a man if we’re not even faithful to God? That’s what God put on my heart one day. God wants us to make a covenant with Him first before He gives us away to another man. “For your Maker is your husband. The LORD of hosts is His name.” Isaiah 54:5 (NKJV)

11. The right one will wait for you. That’s what my best friend Shannon from college told me when I wanted to give up on waiting to get married. Her words not only encouraged me, but sparked a new mindset in me. Waiting doesn’t just come from your end; the guy you’re with has to be willing to wait for you too. The one God has purposed for you will be convicted of this truth before he even meets you.“Promise me, O women of Jerusalem, not to awaken love until the time is right.” Song of Solomon 8:4 (NLT) 

12. In sexual sin, we violate the sacredness of our own bodies. That’s the translation from The Message version of the bible for 1 Corinthians 6:18. That scripture is not only potent but powerful. I would meditate on those words day and night during my seasons of singleness. No matter how jacked up my relationships with other men would be, I would speak those words of truth and love over me. It changed my whole way of thinking. It challenged me to view sex as something sacred — not just something to do to validate a dating relationship.

13. Marriage is supposed to make you holy not happy. That’s the greatest lesson I learned from Pastor Brian Edmonds while taking pre-marital classes with my man at Macedonia Baptist Church in Pittsburgh. Even though I’m not married yet, I know my pastor’s words are key for a successful and godly marriage. We spend more time planning for the wedding than actually preparing for the marriage. God’s purpose for marriage is for the couple to reflect Christ and be a living example of God’s love.“Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.”- 1 Peter 4:8″

14. The word of the LORD gets tried. If you receive a prophecy, you best believe it’s going to get tested. When words of life are spoken over us, the enemy will do anything and everything he can do to choke out the seeds of our destinies . That’s why it’s so important to stand on the word of God and use it as your weapon during prayer and intercession. When we declare and decree the promises of God, it’s one of the ways that helps us win the war. As for God, His way is perfect; the word of the Lord is tried. He is a Shield to all those who trust and take refuge in Him.” 2 Samuel 22:31 

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15. He wants us healed and made whole. Therapy and inner healing doesn’t mark the end of our journeys. They’re just a sign of the beginning. I received the revelation many women are healed but not yet whole during a night of worship for women. During my own season of life coaching, my mentor taught me healing isn’t a point, but a process. God doesn’t just want to mend our hearts; He wants us to discover completion comes from Him.  “And [Jesus] said to her, ‘Your faith has made you whole.” Mark 5:34 (AKJV) 

16. God revives dreams that have died. We can be our own dream killers because of fear and doubt. But God is always on standby, preparing for our planes to land. No matter whether you’ve given up or lost hope, the LORD will bring dreams back to remembrance. What God put in you, no one can take away from you. It’s up to you to give your dreams a fighting chance.“For the gifts and calling of God are irrevocable.” Romans 11:29

17. Life and death are in the power of the tongue. I had to learn this lesson the hard way. Anytime I argued with my man, I saw how my words would hurt and not help the progression of the relationship. Over and over again, the Spirit would remind me of Proverbs 18:21. We can either speak life or speak death into our situations and over our lives. If we’re not careful, our tongues are like a flame a fire, threatening to destroy the blessings God has put in our lives.

18. Watch out for little foxes. Boundaries are essential for maintaining healthy and godly relationships. My accountability partner, Rev. Dionne Edmonds taught me you can’t just let anyone come into your garden. It’s up to a couple to water it, till it but more importantly, protect it. That’s why it’s important to have a conversation with your partner about past relationships with the opposite sex and set up guidelines for certain situations. When you’re courting and called to be married, you have to protect the relationship from tactics the enemy may use to destroy it. “Catch for us the foxes, the little foxes that ruin the vineyards, our vineyards that are in bloom.” Song of Solomon 2:15 (NIV) 

19. Put it on the altar. There’s no use holding on to something God doesn’t want you having anyway. Even though it hurts, sometime you have to pray, asking God to take it away to make sure your will isn’t getting in the way. So many times I’ve put relationships and job opportunities on the altar just to make sure I’m walking in alignment with the Father. “Father, if it is Your will, take this cup away from Me; nevertheless not My will, but Yours be done.” Luke 22:42 (NKJV) 

20. Our scars are what makes us beautiful. The ugliest things become part of our destines. I never thought my story of surviving sexual abuse would become such an integral part of my testimony. But like my pastor and friend Shirly Lyle once said so eloquently, the pain pushes us towards our purpose. It’s through the scars where vulnerability never looks so beautiful. God gives us beauty for even the most darkest ashes.

“…bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.” Isaiah 61:3 (NIV) 

By Sydni Grant
sydni@areyoushe.com