You can have it any time you want….
“You are lucky. You can have it anytime you want.” Words of perception. Words of longing. Words of freedom.
Living as a single woman in the Middle East opens up doors for discussions on a myriad of subjects. Coming home from an excursion into the countryside, my friend opens the topic of sex. I think being enveloped in the darkness of the evening gives her added courage to discuss this subject with a foreigner. She has been married to an older cousin for 20 years. Her wedding was on the eve of the 1991 mass migration, and her honeymoon was spent fleeing over the mountains into a safer country. It was a grueling seven-day walk, only to spend a month or two in a refugee camp before being able to return home.
This is a woman who has told me, more than once, that she would quickly and easily divorce her husband if she even hears that he has spent time with another woman. An interesting outlook, considering that Muslim men are legally allowed more than one wife. This is providing, of course, that the prior wife agrees to the union and that the man can provide for them equally. Nice legal jargon, but it rarely works out to any form of “equality.”
As we continue driving, we discuss her notions about American women and the obvious sexual freedom we appear to experience. Where did she come up with these ideas? From American movies, of course. From the various sitcoms and dramas shown on her English-speaking TV channels. From the tabloids and internet news agencies.
I tell her not every woman in America is like that. In fact, as a woman of 45, I have never slept with a man. Surprise. Incredulity.
I am an anomaly to most around me.
“But you could if you wanted to. You are free.”
“Yes, I am free to make choices. To choose when and where I will have sex. Of course, if I would even think about having sex with men here, everyone in town would know. Above that, God would know. He asks me not to do it for my protection—because He loves me.”
“So you also believe like me that you must be married before having sex?”
“Yes, and that man must be a Christian.”
“Not a Muslim?”
“But you could change.”
Women in a culture that does not always value them envy those who can make choices and decisions about their own bodies and lives. They do not realize, though, that making the right choice is not always so easy. It requires denial to self, it demands discipline, and it sometimes results in separation, loneliness, and misunderstanding.
As we continue to talk, I bring up the fact that even though I want to get married and have sex, Jesus is the source of my life. Until He brings a man into my life who fits His “requirements,” I will discipline myself to wait, no matter how difficult it will be.
I can have it anytime I want? Sure—but I choose to wait. I am very lucky to have a choice, no matter how difficult the struggle will be.
Oh, to be wanted…
Settling for what is not best because you cannot possibly imagine that the best will ever come; this is what crosses my mind as I write. The trouble is, one slip-up changes everything. Just read the Scriptures. I mean, Moses could not go into the Promised Land because he hit the rock instead of speaking to it. One moment of disobedience affects the rest of your life. Sure, the Lord forgives, but consequences remain.
I have struggled again this past week. Not just one, but three men want to be with me. They want to spend time with me, dine me, and treat me like royalty. They are not overly attractive men, but they are “interested” men. There is really only one hang-up, one glitch—all these are Muslim men who are married with children. They have no intention of leaving their wives but are looking to gain a mistress or possibly a second wife. Yes, I know what the Scripture says…yes, I know what my response should be….but the struggle remains.
So when a very bold text message comes from one of them, I hand the phone to my roommate and ask her to respond for me, to say all the things that I know I should say but am unable to say. Even though I know what is right, I need my sister in Christ to do it for me; to be the buffer between me and the chasm of sin. Accountability. Humility.
I am in the season of recognizing Jesus as my Bridegroom, the Lover of my soul. As I read the Scriptures during this time, I more often than not feel more like Gomer, a woman who has failed to understand the faithfulness of her Lover, than like Solomon’s bride. I write this through tears of repentance, from a heart that has once again chosen the path of least resistance. It is a heart that desires to believe the best of human relationship and yet, every time, comes away wondering, Now, what causes me to believe these lies again?
My Bridegroom invites me back every time, even though I have proven my unfaithfulness time after time. He woos me, forgives me, speaks tenderly to me. The temptations of the enemy are designed to pull me down to the pit so I will believe I am of no use to my Savior. My Lord allows me to go through the trials of the fire to refine me and make me more like Him. I am strengthened through it all because of His unconditional love.
I do not share this to boast about anything, but to give some straight talk regarding the struggle on the field. For some reason, locals do not know what to do with older unmarried women who remain chaste and keep good morals. The local men cannot fathom that a foreign woman is not constantly waiting for sex and therefore needs to be pursued by them.
The truth is, I want to be wanted. I have heard all the “war” stories about relationships of the unequally-yoked, and yet somehow I think it will be different for me. In the midst of this conversation in my head, what do I choose to believe?
It comes down to one thing: Jesus. He tells me not to for my own good. For His glory. Blessed are those who believe and have not yet seen.