Tim Keller on Sex, Singleness, & Marriage

I’ve had the privilege of listening to Tim Keller’s messages on the topic of sex, singleness, and marriage over the past few days (in all of my free time). It has been helpful, I’ve laughed, I’ve seen some new things, and some things I’ve heard before. A friend sent them to me and I’m glad he did (thanks DJ). These messages included talks by Tim, fill-in by Kathy, his wife, and Q/A with the audience they were speaking with during the recording.
Here are my random thoughts from it:
1. Living communally. We were created to live in relationship. Not only relationally with God, but also with others, and as God said it in response to Adam’s alone-ness “It is not good for man to be alone” (Gen. 2.18). We were made to live selflessly, giving and living with others.
2. Sexual relations in marriage between a man and a woman is about giving pleasure to the other person. People who have experienced it know it to be true. The Mahaneys talk about this in their book Sex, Romance, and the Glory of God. Loneliness is not an outcome of pure, biblical, sexual relations.
3. Singleness: you can either view it as a gift or as a duty. I wish the church could see this. It is very difficult even in churches with great singles’ ministries. I have always thought that the world views singleness higher than marriage, and the church views marriage higher than singleness. We are all fully human (Jesus was fully human and he wasn’t married). We are fully human because we are created in the image of God and are the pinnacle of His creation. Our status does nothing for that. Our marital status is a gift from God. We are taught and commanded to view singleness as gift, and rightly so as Paul says in the NT. But, I have a hard time viewing marriage as a gift (used to, not now) because it never feels that way. It is something we work toward, we achieve, all these things. Marriage is a grace gift – for our sanctification and our good. But, if we aren’t married, it is for our good too (Romans 8.28, and Ps 84.11).
4. Marriage is a great thing. Under the influence of sin, marriage is a painful thing. One of the best books I’ve read on marriage is When Sinners Say I Do by Dave Harvey. If you haven’t read it – please do, whether you are about to get married or not. It is good to help break some of the idols of marriage that we think, some of those expectations that come with every new relationship.
5. Starting a relationship: wow, this is fun. I hate this aspect of relationships, really. But, Tim says that the first thing should be a friendship love (the person you are to marry should be your best friend, your greatest human counselor, the one you would rather spend time with than with anyone else). Then move to a romantic love (note: not a eros love – not sexual). Then move to marriage. Then move to eros. Sexual relations must follow marriage. CS Lewis writes more on this subject in his book The Four Loves. a great read I highly recommend. We so often get it wrong and backwards. Most don’t follow this order. Most won’t talk to another person of the opposite sex who could be construed as a possible mate if that person doesn’t fit their “designer spouse” mentality.
6. Paul wrote on marriage in the context of the Roman Empire. Not much different from our culture today. So…here is what Tim says, “Sexual intercourse is for a man and a woman in the context of marriage. Period.” Love it. Plain, simple, no discussion.
7. Most of the single men and women I hang out with want to be married. Tim offers some questions that we can ask and ponder in light of that:
a. Does this person have the potential to be your #1 friend, counselor, and confidant? There are people who annoy the tar out of you – he probably isn’t going to be the one you marry. If you spend a day with the person and are so ready to get away from him – again, maybe a good sign that you aren’t going to marry the person. If you, on the other hand, hang out with a person and say, “you know, I’d like to get to know him more” or there is an instant chemistry/relationship/communication – that is a good sign (not the only sign).
b. Are you heading in the same direction? Especially in seminary people would ask this. What do you want to do when you grow up? Do you want to be a pastor/missionary/teacher/computer programmer/yard worker, etc? Do your life callings fall in line. For women, I say this. We spend way too much time thinking about this. My mentors – she was always a homemaker and he read meters for the county. They both loved Jesus and the church. I know of a couple who started out their marriage as missionaries, both knowing that is what God called them to do, now they are living in America, raising their family, and corn on a farm, only doing “real missions” a couple of months out of the year. Things change. If you are called to be a wife, than you are called to be a wife – of the man who God puts in your life – who can love you, challenge you, sanctify you, lead you to the Cross, provide for you, protect you, and point you to Christ in all things. Those are the crucial things – not what the dude does for a living.
c. Do you love them enough to marry them? That is a “being” commitment in front of everyone and more importantly in front of God. You may really love a person – but not enough to wake up beside them and their bad breath for the rest of your life? Are you ready to commit forever to them and to God?
8. Fear of marriage. I think in my circles more people fear this than being alone. Different for different people. But, if we fear marriage, what if it fails, what if I marry the wrong person, what if he doesn’t love me enough forever, what if the sex is bad, what if… We don’t trust in the grace of God. In the words of Beth Moore, every what if in our life has to end in “God.” If we have a what if ________, then God. God is our gracious answer to every what if.
Loved this series – I would encourage you to listen to it. Any other feed back I would welcome.

About kimddavidson

I am bought with the blood of Christ and being graced every day to know Him more. I am a writer. Love to read, run, hang out, watch movies, cook, bake, work hard/play harder. God is so abundantly good to me.
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4 Responses to Tim Keller on Sex, Singleness, & Marriage

  1. Lauren Dyson says:

    OK. Perhaps I’m cheap, but I was ready to listen to them until I learned it would cost $7 to download them! I suppose I’m used to getting sermons for free, even though I know it costs ministries money to provide them. I’ll have to think about this one

  2. Tamara Thompson says:

    I have really grown through studies and sermons by Timothy Keller! Our church is currently doing a body wide class of The Gospel in Life study Sunday mornings and it has been wonderful! That being said, there have been a few comments about “community” that have sent me back into the Bible to study more thoroughly, and I think that number 1 above may be one of those moments. It is true that the body of Christ functions in community and Paul is very clear about our unity. God’s response to man’s alone-ness was to create a woman, His provision to Adam. At that time, He didn’t create a “community” so to speak. In fact, if was a “community” that God saw necessary for Adam, I would think He would have created that community instead of just Eve. Instead He created a beautiful picture of Christ and His bride, the church. I really think it is important that even though sin has entered into mankind and marriage has become so skewed, this fundamental truth is so important. I even think that this truth makes the gift of singleness that more glorious! This gift is something bestowed on those that have it by God! That to me is so amazing to me and so full of grace!
    I’ve learned so much this past year about how Christians view marriage and dating just by the responses that Josh and Alli received about getting married so young! Their faith spoke volumes to my husband and I and though we “knew what we believed”, we have spent hours and hours and hours studying. God is good and has amazing ways to grow us through our circumstances. Steve and I need to write our thoughts down, and when we do, I’ll share them with you!
    In the meantime, this is a great topic Kim, and a great resource. Christians need one another to keep each other focused on the right answers when it comes to singleness, dating, and marriage! The enemy has a great hold on the world around us on this topic!

    • kimddavidson says:

      Thank you Tamara. you right right, God did create Eve in response to Adam’s aloneness. God was gracious in that provision.
      Would love y’all’s thoughts when you get them done! :)

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