Living Single in a Secular World

Growing up I had a fondness for top 40 music, and I have always enjoyed the seemingly innocuous croonings of any of the pop icons from Whitney Houston to Jewel.
However, as the years passed the meanings behind lyrics like “When can I hold you, when can I
touch you…?” became more poignant… and unsettling. After all, I was a single woman and had been given no spouse or even serious dating partner to hold (or touch).
The same thing was true of the novels I read. As a teen and young adult I read some books that I realize in
hindsight had scenes that were basically soft porn. As the lyrics of holding and kissing played through my mind and the scenes from these novels played through it, I had a
harder and harder time being content as a single. Images from books and novels, lyrics from
popular music, all brought about a deep loneliness, longing and dissatisfaction with my single state.
I believe we all experience loneliness as a result of being separated from God, and loneliness is
something we all must deal with at times. However, there is a difference in being lonely and
WALLOWING in your loneliness. I believe God created us to be sexual beings with a healthy desire to procreate and enjoy the act of love between husband and wife. However, there is a difference between being a healthy sexual single and being OBSESSED by sex… or the absence of it.
One day the realization dawned on me that I was my own worst stumbling block to living a pure
life as a Christian single because of the music I listened to, the books I read, the movies I went to
see, even some of the people I spent time with, or worse, chose to date.
I made the decision to give up my top 40 stations, to refrain from buying a book or viewing a
movie if it did not live up to “Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is
pure…” I have been told by some of my friends that I need to “lighten up” and that I am “too uptight” when
I ask them if there was nudity in a movie they are recommending. Perhaps dome singles can watch a person
of the opposite sex disrobe on the screen without having their thoughts suddenly take a turn away
from purity. I cannot.
I spent about four years of my life not listening to top 40 songs before discovering now I can
enjoy them again… but only for so much time before I need to switch the dial to a Christian station, classical station or talk show. After too much time spent with secular lyrics, I find I am lonely and
dissatisfied again. As for movies and books, I always make a concerted effort to stay away from
soft porn in my books and movies and to carefully screen what goes into my head. Like the old
computer saying: Garbage in; garbage out.
What is the result of so much “sacrifice” on my part? I am probably the most contented person in my singlehood that I know! I am not sure I was given the “gift of celibacy” but I have LEARNED it over time and after numerous willful mistakes.
I encourage my single brothers and sisters to use Philippians 3: 8-9 as a measuring stick for the
entertainment choices you make. Notice that after Paul gives the tools needed to equip us to live a
pure life he ends with the benediction, “And the God of peace be with you.” If you find no peace
in your single walk, try turning away from what the secular world offers in the way of lyrics and
book and movie plots. There is no peace there. Consider learning how to channel your thoughts
and desires by holding your entertainment and leisure activities up to “Whatever is true, whatever
is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything
is excellent or praiseworthy — think about such things.”
Written for “Expressions” singles newsletter, circa 1984
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