Coming to Terms with Sexual Desire as a Single Woman

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“Just wait for marriage,” so I’ve been told. So I’ve waited . . . and waited. And as I’ve waited, I’ve begun to wonder, If marriage doesn’t come, what am I waiting for?

I remember the True Love Waits talks in middle and high school. The message was that sex was bad outside of marriage, but once I found “the one,” sex was going to be incredible—amazing even. I was encouraged to find “the one” fast so that I didn’t burn with lust and fall into sin.

The conversations I had with my friends—Christian and non-Christian alike—were the opposite of True Love Waits pamphlets. They freely shared about who they were dating and what they were doing. So I started to wonder if having sex outside of marriage was a big deal. But it became a big deal when they ended up brokenhearted, ashamed, and sometimes pregnant.

In light of teen pregnancy, STDs, and a world brimming with promiscuity, the message I heard was sexual desire had to be in the off-switch until I got married. Once the right guy came along, the on-switch could be turned on and stay on. Marriage sounded like it was about sex and little else.

These mixed messages and my confusion about my desires and sex made my twenties confusing. Especially when I wasn’t dating, let alone on the road to engagement or marriage. I struggled with feeling ashamed for even wanting physical intimacy in relationships. I couldn’t shake the feeling that I was disappointing the Lord because I wanted things that were clearly only good in one context.

The turning point came when I turned 21. I was struggling with many things in life: health issues, my lack of relationships, and wondering if God had called me to be single. I was trying to figure out what to do with the overwhelming desire that seemed to burn through me. I finally sat down and opened up to my mom. As I explained through my tears and embarrassment what I was dealing with, she listened patiently.

When I was finished telling her why my life was the worst and why I felt lame for having never had sex or for not being married before I turned 30, she squeezed my hand and said, “Carrie, Jesus isn’t afraid, surprised, or even offended by your desires. But he expects you to deal with them the same way you deal with everything else: in the truth of his Word.”

It was a truth so simple, but it turned my world on its head. You see, I never considered that I should abstain from sex outside of marriage because I loved Jesus more than I loved or wanted to fulfill my own desires. I bought into the lie that sexual desire outside of marriage was a sin. And it’s not. Sin is born when I act out of those desires rather than surrendering them to God.

If I choose to let sexual thoughts and images stay in my mind, leading me to lust or have inappropriate fantasies, my desires usher me into sin. I have learned that the issue isn’t my desires but whether or not they rule me. To keep that from happening, I must go to Jesus in a state of confession and repentance. He wants me to ask for help, to learn how to hear his voice and know truth from a lie. I need to have women in my life who I can talk with and who will hold me accountable.

I’m 33 now and not married. There are days when I struggle with being single. I often feel bombarded by all of the mixed messages of the world and the church about relationships, marriage, and sex. But I’m continuing to learn how to walk in the truth of the Word, not just in these areas but for my whole life.

So, what am I waiting for? Although I choose to stay sexually pure, I’m not waiting for anything. I’m allowing God to use even my sexual desires to teach me what it means to depend upon his strength and love every day.

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  • Raeesa Javed

    Raeesa Javed

    Its beautiful. One of my friends has struggled from same thing. I would suggest er to read your story. I also struggle sometime from the desire to have sex with someone who is meant for me, although I don' have any boyfriend. I dream about having someone special in my life. My need is companionship and yes I believe God will provide that for me. I have to surrender myself each day into his presence so he would control my thoughts and actions.
  • Hiker Girl

    Nancy Freund

    Carrie, it's so good you came to that conclusion at a young age. I am 50 (never married) and have no Christian family to guide or encourage me. It is a daily choice to keep our eyes on Christ and trust him with our futures. So hard some days, even bewildering. I try to set my hope on heaven (2 Cor. 4:16-18) and ask God to give me delight to fill my heart. I remind myself that it's okay to ask, seek, and knock, but a "wait" or "no" answer is still God's great kindness to me. It's great wisdom to use the long wait to learn and grow spiritually, as you have been. Cooperating with God causes a harvest of joy!
  • Lord.I.Need.You

    Lord.I.Need.You

    Awesome. Thank you for you openness. I thought I was the only struggling 30 yr old virgin out there. That last sentence hit home. I need to focus on the fact that God is using this to teach me how to "depend upon his strength and love everyday." I need to take those cravings for sex (masturbation) and realize what I am really desiring is intimacy (worship and time) with God...Just like when I am insatiably hungry it's not natural food I'm craving but The Word of God.
  • Cynthia Waka

    Cynthia Waka

    Thank you for sharing this Carrie. God bless you and grant you the desires of your heart. May He be enough.
  • Laura Polhemus

    Laura Polhemus

    I'm 36 and in the same single boat...except it often feels like one I'm rowing by myself through uncharted waters with no land in sight. I do get that I must go to Jesus, and I get that He needs to be my true desire. We're working on that together. I just often wish I had others who were going through the same thing with me. A community of women striving to love God first while living out our singleness the best we know how. It's hard to be the oldest 30+ single in my community and to figure out how to do it well on my own.
  • Molly S

    Molly S

    Thank you so much for this. I have bought the lie that the finish line or the next step for me as a single woman is to get married. It's so hard to think that for whatever reason, some of us just never find someone to marry while others are blessed with that quickly in their lives and go on to have children. It's hard when it seems like everyone else in your life is married and having kids and you are a single woman. I want to know what it looks like to delight in God so much that my longings for marriage and intimacy with a man are so small in comparison. It seems cliche that we should be satisfied in God. Then why do I have these aches sometimes? How can God truly meet our longings by who he is.. Through His love, faithfulness, and promises? It seems like a product of my thoughts and not something tangible... I will keep wrestling and asking God for peace with this.
  • Richsonia Hamilton

    Richsonia Hamilton

    Thanks for sharing. I can totally relate. I love this line "I’m allowing God to use even my sexual desires to teach me what it means to depend upon his strength and love every day." I am 29 years old and I am just learning this.
  • kw

    kw

    What excellent mentoring: “... Jesus isn’t afraid, surprised, or even offended by your desires. But he expects you to deal with them the same way you deal with everything else: in the truth of his Word.” And thank you for the practical second truth, which I am having to apply to other areas. I could give a few examples, just one --20 years of chronic illness with a deep desire for relief from its effects in every domain of life. Every day is so hard. I hunger to accept it with finality (though more ramifications continue to arise). Instead of that, I must follow what you described, “I’m allowing God to use even my sexual [fill-in-one's-own, long-standing, deeply felt] desires to teach me what it means to depend upon his strength and love every day.” Sometimes I feel weary of this. Sadly, that is probably my sin nature which wants to take care of this on my own rather than in complete dependency upon Christ. Dear Jesus, help me every day, hour by hour sometimes, to humbly turn from dependence upon myself and give me the fruit of faithfulness to rely on you. With sincere thanks for the reminder I truly needed again today!
  • Sombra

    Sombra

    Thank you so much for this article. I am also single, in mid 30s and struggle with sexual desires a lot. Especially when ovulating and my body is naturally more easily aroused. It's so easy just to fantasise and give in. I need daily strength from God to help me. I found Juli's ministry so helpful. Not only in understanding sexuality as a single but listening to her podcast helps me learn what healthy marriage is like. I've fed so long on movies for this that I have warped image of what sex and marriage is like. Thanks be to God for He's transforming my mind and heart on this.
  • Similoluwa  Taiwo

    Similoluwa Taiwo

    Thank you so much for this. I'm 18 and single. The sexual desire took an upturn but I turned to God. There is a standard set by the society and it seems impossible to find someone who shares the same values and faith with me. I believe God will guide me. I love this part of 'sin is born when I act out of those desires rather than surrendering them to God.' Thank you for this truth. God will honour you.

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