How desperate are you to fall in love?
What does God think about your sexual desires?
This groundbreaking book takes you on a journey away from highly sexualized media and "expert" advice, challenging you to turn inward and discover God's answers to the most essential questions about sex and dating.
Written primarily as a guide for unmarried Christian women, A Space Called Chastity is a tool that will help you identify and evaluate the sexual desires and intimate relationships that impact you spiritually. This refreshing new work gives practical insight into the most common situations unmarried women find themselves in, relating them to biblical principles and, ultimately, God's love. From helpful solutions for coping with sexual urges to testimonies from women about their relationships with men, A Space Called Chastity serves as a word of encouragement for you to go out, reclaim your passions, and move forward into your purposeful future.
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About the Author
A Space Called ChastityA Message for Unmarried Women on God, Sex, and Relationships
By Ivy Julease Newman
iUniverse, Inc.Copyright © 2010 Ivy Julease Newman
All right reserved.
Chapter OneOld-School Word, New-School Meaning
If I asked you for a definition of chastity, I can almost bet you would associate it with waiting until marriage to have sex. Is saying no to sex what chastity is really all about? Absolutely not!
Sure, chastity involves renouncing sexual intimacy-but it's about so much more than that. Chastity is a space you enter-a space God wants to occupy with you as He guides you to discover the purpose of your life. It's also about finding out who you are-about getting to know yourself at your innermost core, on the deepest levels. In this space, He asks for your undivided attention. He requires that all your energy be focused on Him, and that your heart be open to receive a word from Him without any distractions-especially from sex and intimate relationships, which are usually the most distracting of all our carnal desires.
In the most general sense, chastity is something that could benefit anyone (even married couples for brief intervals of time). However, chastity is a special space for all unmarried women to enter with God-regardless of whether they are in a committed relationship, dating around, or flying solo. Why?
Unlike marriage, singlehood gives you the opportunity to explore who you are without catering to anyone else's needs. It also allows you the freedom to make choices about relationships and the path you want to take in your life. Whereas some societies force or coax women into marriage, motherhood, and a career, women in America are fortunate to have the opportunity to take our time with making decisions for our future. Also, an unmarried woman can use chastity as an opportunity to find her identity in God. For these reasons, the choice to be in chastity while unmarried is a privilege.
Unraveling Confusion About Chastity
Every so often, I meet a woman who says she is waiting to have sex until marriage, because she is worth waiting for. Other women walk around proclaiming sexual abstinence, because their bodies are precious. While these claims seem noble, they aren't part of chastity-and these attitudes toward chastity are limiting and self-indulgent.
The narrowing of the definition of chastity to "waiting to have sex until marriage" implies that sex and marriage are more important than walking with God, because that definition, in a way, idolizes marriage. Many women believe that their lives are incomplete without a husband. But chastity isn't about waiting for the fulfillment of a desire. Chastity has less to do with idolizing your body as a holy temple, or with revering marriage, and more to do with surrendering all intimate relationships as you seek the most intimate relationship you can have with God. Sex is just the first physical attachment to the intimacy that you let go of in order to get closer to God in chastity. Yes, refraining from sex is a prerequisite to letting go of a driving need to be intimate with men and is mandatory for entering into chastity, but there's more to chastity than abstinence.
Before you came into this world, God prepared a wonderful life for you and set aside blessings to bestow upon you throughout your life. However, when you seek out your own path to happiness and put things and people before God in your daily living, you are blocking yourself from receiving what God has for you. A premarital sexual relationship is a major blocker that allows you to hear only a part of God's voice and receive a fraction of the blessing He has set aside for you. But when you willingly sacrifice physical intimacy, your eagerness will be an indication to God that you have chosen to prepare yourself to see and receive all that He has for you.
Nothing can save you from yourself or spiritual stagnation like letting go of any behavior that keeps you from dealing with whatever compels you to act out that behavior. This includes sexual behavior. Chastity is the space in which you give up sex and deal with the underlying thoughts, fears, and longings that sex covers up. No matter how well put together you think the rest of your life is, you need to uncover what lies behind your driving need for sex, because that underlying driving need may be the very thing that blocks you from hearing God.
Chastity is one of the most personal spaces you will occupy in your life. For this reason, no one can say what chastity will or should look like for you. Some may convince you to believe that chastity is all about waiting to find the right man. However, there are plenty of women who are not out looking for and waiting for Mr. Right, but have never experienced the fullness of God and are still searching for their identity in Him. Others may suggest that chastity is about reaffirming a commitment to virginity, but many women make this claim without ever understanding the purpose of their existence. Numerous women practice celibacy, but many of them do not and will not have a deep personal relationship with God.
Getting a Glimpse of the Chastity Experience
As God begins to reveal all that He has for you, you will experience the complete love of God, and your spirit will be in agreement with God. If you choose to mature in chastity, you will begin to reject the outside distractions (including men) that don't look and feel like God-and once you've tasted God's goodness, you won't be able to accept any less than God's best for your life. You will better understand who you should date and who you shouldn't in order to be the best you that you can be.
In chastity, your faith and endurance are tested, and refraining from sex is one of the first of many tests. If you cannot get past the first test of physical detachment and patience, you will have missed the point of being in chastity. The whole point of entering into chastity is to focus on one thing and one thing only: God, our Creator, and our Beloved. If your attention is elsewhere, you aren't practicing chastity; you may have one foot inside the door, but you aren't really in the room. Your attention is divided, so you don't reap the benefits that you otherwise would.
Once you are comfortable in your space with God, He will give you clear instructions on what to do in that space. One of His instructions is hide-hide in God's love. Although this expression sounds like a cliché (and I know you are probably tired of clichéd Christian expressions offered to help you understand what you're supposed to do with God in your life), hiding in God's love is not a clichéd suggestion. It is a command for your own good. As the treasure He created, not only are you supposed to hide as you wait on God to reveal your purpose, but you also must hide in God's love to protect yourself from Satan's attacks.
In chastity, there's only room for you and God. But this won't keep Satan and his agents from trying to get into your space of chastity or push you out. Satan is any adverse force that is in direct opposition to God's will and love. It is in chastity that you will experience the realness of Satan's power. As God begins to restore your life, Satan will make any attempt he can to prompt you to give up on God's promise. Satan will try to make you believe that he has something better for your future. He will attack in cunning ways that will attempt to persuade you that he has what you need. At other times, when your faith is strong, Satan will attack you with challenges and misfortunes that will make you feel as if you are fighting an endless battle and the world is against you. Oh, yes-the devil is going to try to break his way into your new space.
But God is awesome. He has claimed chastity as your resting place so that you might experience the joy of obeying Him in the here and now, walking with Him moment by moment and gaining a better understanding of your purpose as He prepares your heart and mind for the future He has created for you. As you take rest in God, He also takes rest in your heart (Hebrews 4). Always be mindful that while you rest with God, He is omnipresent, working behind the scenes to set up your future, so that when you understand your identity and purpose, all you will have to do is walk into what He has already prepared for you.
As for the testing of your endurance, the amount of time you must spend in chastity will remain a mystery until you are in that space. Wondering when you can leave chastity before entering into it is pointless. If you are asking "How long?" before making the decision to enter chastity, you are demonstrating that you don't really want to discover all that God has in store for you in chastity and that you prefer the lifestyle you have.
Chastity and its timing are different for every woman. What you experience in chastity may be very different from what another woman experiences while pursuing the same type of intimacy with God. Every woman must choose to discover the uniqueness of her relationship with God. One thing is for sure: while every woman's experiences in chastity will be different, every experience will be purposeful.
Chastity Is a Choice-a Moment-by-Moment Act of the Will
It's important to remember that God will never force you to take anything you do not want. Your willingness to give up sex and relationships for God is an acknowledgement of your commitment and obedience to Him. In chastity, God is going to ask you to give up far more than sex and relationships, so be prepared. He may ask you to change your attitude and behavior, give up other types of relationships, let go of material possessions, and even let go of your profession. God has to know that you trust Him. The only way to be sure of your trust is to see how willing you are to give up the things He has already blessed you with.
As unnerving as chastity may seem, do not be afraid. Try not to look at chastity as God asking you to give up everything in your life. Instead, look at your current life as a room that needs to be remodeled. The first step to remodeling is realizing that your current space is unsettled, because it is cluttered with stuff you have collected over the years-some good, some bad. In chastity, once you've sorted through the clutter, you and God will begin to clear out that space. That empty space that was once cluttered will become the heart of chastity for you. This clean and empty space will provide you and God the opportunity to discuss possibilities for transforming it into a new space. In chastity, you and God will remodel that space and furnish it with all that you need. He will replace clutter with order. He will restore what was salvageable from the cluttered space and furnish the space with newness outfitted for your purpose. And as you settle into chastity, that sacred space will become the comfortable dwelling that you share with God.
Chapter TwoPremarital Sex ... Good or Bad?
So is premarital sex right or wrong? Is it good or bad? I'd like to suggest that attempting to answer these types of questions does not benefit us in our understanding of our relationship to God. It is better to identify and question the dependencies and repercussions that result from premarital sex and examine how they ultimately push us further away from God. Anything that separates us from God, keeping us from being able to hear Him speak words of assurance, love, and guidance to our hearts, is sin.
God wants us to recognize our dependence on sexual relationships that offer attention, affection, and affirmation. He is tired of seeing women go from person to person and relationship to relationship, seeking out attention and approval. Don't believe me? Check out what Ezekiel writes to the Israelites-if this doesn't sound like the frustration and sadness of a weary lover, I don't know what does!
What a sick heart you have, says the Sovereign Lord, to do such things as these, acting like a shameless prostitute.... In fact, you have been worse than a prostitute, so eager for sin that you have not even demanded payment. Yes, you are an adulterous wife who takes in strangers instead of her own husband. Prostitutes charge for their services-but not you! You give gifts to your lovers, bribing them to come and have sex with you. So you are the opposite of other prostitutes. You pay your lovers instead of their paying you! (Ezekiel 16:30-34)
All of Ezekiel 16 is about God's love for His people and His sadness at their distraction and their lovesickness. The whole chapter comes from the voice of a lover who's so sad that His beloved is running all over the place, trying to find the perfect love He offers. He sees her need, and He knows that He offers what she's looking for (and He even calls Himself "her husband"!)-but still, she looks elsewhere, essentially whoring herself out in exchange for what she thinks is love (and yes, some versions of the Bible actually use the word "whore"!).
Now, offering this Scripture is not an attempt to beat you over the head about premarital sex and relationships, and I don't believe that God intended to do so in that passage. But it is important to demonstrate that this is an area of our lives that God is concerned about-and you may want to be just as concerned as God. At the very least, you need to examine premarital sex and relationships from a spiritual perspective.
Many men and women choose to handle relationships on their own terms, and they believe everything God created is good for their consumption. Some believe that premarital sex is the only real way to get to know a person-and, more important, know whether they want to marry that person. Then there are the people who swear premarital sex will send you straight to hell. But regardless of what we claim to believe, at some point in our lives, most of us have been confused about sex and relationships, whether it's been when we're deciding whether to give someone our virginity, determining what we are willing to do sexually and with whom to have sex, or making the decision to enter a committed relationship. But this confusion doesn't have to lead to making bad choices.
The apostle Paul teaches in 1 Corinthians 6:12a, "You say, 'I am allowed to do anything'-but not everything is good for you." Paul's advice to us is supported in truth by the story of Adam and Eve. The two young lovebirds had a choice-and the choice they made eventually spelled their demise. The same thing happens today, all the time. Yet, plenty of women and men have never accepted this truth; in theory, unmarried sex is bad news, but in practice, it's natural and excusable ... or so we often think. Eventually, though, disobedience catches up with us in one way or another-even if we don't put two and two together when our actions finally do come back to bite us.
Can't Get No Satisfaction? You're Not Alone!
Many women find themselves running from relationship to relationship in search of emotional and physical satisfaction. In our search for affection, affirmation, and attention, we find ourselves depending on our sexual desires to bring those feelings to us, rather than depending on God's love to satisfy our hearts' cravings.
I often find myself talking to women, young and old, about sex. This usually leads to hearing about their personal relationships and sexual experiences. Over the years, I have learned that very few unmarried women are pleased, sexually or emotionally. They also seem to know that their behavior is not pleasing to God. In addition to their sense of dissatisfaction, this knowledge adds a layer of disappointment that makes these women feel somewhat like failures. The pressure of trying to please themselves while pleasing God eventually frustrates them to the point where they begin to tune out God altogether, just as a means of emotional survival. Here are just a few stories that women have shared with me about their journeys through the unsettling space of being single and female.
I go out on dates with men I wouldn't usually date, because I feel like I need affection and physical touch, or just someone smiling in my face. My need for affection keeps me from being choosy-especially after a breakup, when I am feeling lonely and unwanted, even if the breakup was of my choosing. I always need affirmation to feel pretty, which often leads to being physical. It's sad that I'd rather be out and about on a date with a man I'm not interested in, rather than waiting on God to send me my husband. It's such a time waster, and I know better. -Real-estate investor, twenty-seven years old, Los Angeles, CA
Excerpted from A Space Called Chastity by Ivy Julease Newman Copyright © 2010 by Ivy Julease Newman. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Table of Contents
ContentsIntroduction: Why I Wrote This Book....................1
Chapter 1: Old-School Word, New-School Meaning....................7
Chapter 2: Premarital Sex ... Good or Bad?....................12
Chapter 3: Re-envisioning Relationships....................17
Chapter 4: Using Sex to Control Your Situation....................27
Chapter 5: Using Sex to Control Your Inner Experience....................34
Chapter 6: Hiding in Chastity....................45
Chapter 7: Dealing with Ongoing Desires and Pressures....................51
Chapter 8: Healing a Broken Heart....................57
Chapter 9: My Space....................69
Chapter 10: Recognizing the Man God Has for You....................73
Chapter 11: Understanding the Role of Faith in a Relationship....................78
Chapter 12: Honoring God While Dating a Spirit-Filled Man....................87
Chapter 13: Anticipating the Companionship that Follows Chastity....................95