By Brian McClincey I could feel her lips touching mine as we began to kiss–she was quickly becoming extremely desirable. A voice in the back of my head was screaming, “You need to stop. Is this the type of relationship you want to have for yourself, one based on lust and desire instead of God?” I slowly and reluctantly pulled away and whispered, “I don’t want to start our relationship based on physical attraction and desire for each other. I want to base it on our mutual respect for one another and love for God.” We stopped for that night only to find ourselves in the same situation a few nights later. This time she pulled away first and saying she didn’t want to compromise our integrity.
Eventually the relationship ended when we realized we weren’t right for one another. Even though committed we were both committed to our morals and maintaining our Christian values, it was difficult to put the brakes on my strong sexual desires. Part of me wanted to have sex with her, but another part of me, something deeper, brought those desires to a screaming halt. Suddenly, I realized there the danger of being single, in ministry, and struggling with sexual desires.
First, I need to start out by defining sexual desires. When I used the term “sexual desires”, I am referring to the physical act of having sex and sexual actions–participating in acts that fulfill the physical side of sex. Being a single youth pastor can be a breeding ground for sexual temptation because ministry is often lonely and isolating. Like all people, single ministers want to feel the love, caring, and intimacy that should come along with sex. And some even begin to seek after sex/love in other ways.
Compassion plays a big part in ministry and can be easily misread it and taken for love or desire, even in this context. When someone shows a single, lonely, youth pastor that same compassion, it actually may tempt the person into putting himself or herself in a situation that is dangerous. While the same temptation also exists for a married person, he or she has a spouse to help defend against it against desire. But a single minister feels solely alone. I was with an attractive, caring, and loving girl, who I had to walk away from; I knew I needed to walk away from her because what I desired what not what God desired in our relationship. I had to make a choice, and it was hard.
There are so many complex desires that go along with being single and in ministry. One of these is the perpetual desire to be emotionally involved with someone. I have found myself on many Sunday afternoons longing for the emotional support that would come with a wife. I would begin my drive home from church and suddenly become overwhelmed with emotions of isolation, loneliness, and seclusion. This wasn’t deliberately done or sought after; it just happened. We humans long after healthy, responsible relationships.
Fortunately, I have found ways to actually overcome those desires. Whenever those unhelpful feelings began to surface, I sought the counsel of wise people who would talk with me to help prevent me from seeking after sex/love/compassion in unhealthy ways. Once I was able to predict when this would happen, I would schedule social times during those times that I desired love the most.
God has really challenged me through being single and in ministry. I needed to find a good outlet to communicate my desires about being intimate with the opposite sex. I have developed healthy relationships with people who allow me to express and fulfill my desires of emotional intimacy. Through service, my need for physical intimacy has lessened because it is being fulfilled in meeting the needs of others. I have been fulfilled through loving others as Christ loves me. There is something extremely satisfying about allowing the love that I seek to offered to those around me, rather than seeking after others to love me. I have instead focused on showing others God’s love. My complete emotional and sexual satisfaction lies solely on God. I realized that the desires He placed on my heart need to be fulfilled first in Him. We have to be proactive in looking out for ways to keep that isolation from happening.
An accountability group—some close friends—help keep me accountable in the ways of sex, intimate relationships, and compassion. I have been blessed with people with whom I have been willing to share this part of my life. We have developed a healthy relationship with one another and feel comfortable enough to talk about the issue of sex and the desires that come with from being sexual beings. We are willing to be vulnerable with each other to help protect ourselves from being tempted in many different ways. This willingness has largely paid off. We are at a point where we can share anything. We are completely vulnerable in front of one another. I have never experienced anything so amazing in my life.
I want to encourage those who are single and in ministry and dealing with sexual desires as a youth pastor. It is not an easy place to be, but I would challenge you to seek after an accountability group who can support you in your purity. Find fellowship among others who are in the same place as you. But don’t limit yourself to singles; enjoy fellowship and intimacy with the variety of people God has placed in your life. And remember, true emotional and sexual intimacy is first found with the God who desires us as His Wife.