After years of being in ministry to youth, college students, and single adults, I’ve long lost count of how many counseling conversations were centered on the topic of sex. Somewhere along the way I realized that by teaching purity through a list of Don’ts and platitudes instead of teaching a theology of sex, marriage, and singleness, we were setting young adults up for failure.
In the Christian culture many of us grew up in, there was little framework or anything other than “Sex is wrong and if you have it outside of marriage, you are sinning.” It tainted our view of sex, even sex within the marriage bed. Not to mention that mindset is centered on how good or bad one can be instead of focusing on the love of Christ that compels us to pursue holiness.
Yesterday, Hafeez Baoku of The Urban Gospel Mission released a book, Sex, God, and the Single Life: An Honest Journey to Satisfying Intimacy. Of course the title attracted my attention; not many people put those words together in the same sentence. And, if they do, usually the conversation is on the careful side.
What I found when I read Sex, God, and the Single Life was a commitment to keeping it real. Baoku shares his personal story of coming to Christ, and the struggle to figure out how the sexual urges he had before his salvation are dealt with in light of the Cross and his sanctification.
As someone whose life had been oriented around sex 24/7, one of the hardest things for me after giving my life to Christ was to learn how to live without it. The first couple years of my Christian walk, I thought I was going to explode from all my sexual frustration. After learning that I could only have sex in marriage, I went from wanting to have sex with ‘every girl in the world’ to wanting to be married to every girl in the world…” (pg. 101)
In line with the humility he reflects throughout the book, Baoku defers to a host of Christian counselors and therapists to give him Godly insight and wisdom on a topic so many people deal poorly with, their sexuality. As he talks frankly about the struggles that few admit—pornography, homosexuality, masturbation, lust–he also addresses our warped understanding about our human sexuality and how the Bible speaks to it.
At first I didn’t believe that my sexuality was selfish, and especially not that it was sinful, because I didn’t have a good understanding of sin or selfishness. I thought of sin as an act that was destructive, violent, wicked, vile, and malicious. When I looked at my sexuality and didn’t see it as violent or destructive, I didn’t believe that it was sinful. When I thought of selfishness, I thought of doing something that didn’t take others into consideration. Since I didn’t see that my sexuality was entirely inconsiderate, because the women I slept with enjoyed it too, I did not see it as selfish…Yet I was missing the whole point, because sin isn’t always something that is violent or malicious. Sin is believing that our own ways rather than God’s ways will satisfy us…When I started talking to more of my friends about this idea, I discovered that at the core of their sexuality and sexual decisions, most people were like I had been: they did not believe in their hearts that God knew what was best in their lives—even though they would never say it out loud.” (pg. 48-49)
If you’ve never struggled with a healthy, Biblical view of sex, it would be easy to dismiss Baoku’s book as one less book you need to read. But that would be a wrong assumption. He devotes chapters to male and female motivations, friendships with the opposite gender, as well as what a joy-filled single life looks like.
I know that some people may think that an overemphasis on male-female friendship could lead people to engage in illicit, unhealthy relationships. This is not true. Our opposite-gender relationships in Christ should be more than just casual friendships but examples of brothers and sisters loving each other ‘in all purity’ (1 Tim. 5:2). Just as we should pursue deep, affectionate relationship in healthy ways with our biological siblings, so we should do the same with our brothers and sisters in Christ.” (pg. 109)
Perhaps one of my favorite parts of the book is the testimonies at the end. Baoku hands the mic to a married couple, as well as a single woman. All are over 50 years of age. To hear the stories of people who have fought for sexual purity in their own lives—both within the marriage bed and without—and are still experiencing the joy and faithfulness that only Christ can bring in this area is truly touching.
Baoku’s journey is one that so many Believers can identify with. He’s using his journey to teach all of us what healthy, Christ-centered intimacy should look like—and reminding us that it doesn’t take place solely within a marriage.
Nothing in this world can completely fulfill us, because it’s God, not sex, in whom our hearts desperately desire to be fully satisfied.” (pg. 79)
Order your copy of Hafeez Baoku’s Sex, God, and the Single Life: An Honest Journey to Satisfying Intimacy.
If you know someone who struggles with viewing their sexuality in light of the Gospel, will you email them this post?