What Does the Bible Say about Asexuality and Singleness?
- Dr. Roger Barrier Preach It, Teach It
- 2019 6 Aug
Editor's Note: Pastor Roger Barrier's "Ask Roger" column regularly appears at Preach It, Teach It. Every week at Crosswalk, Dr. Barrier puts nearly 40 years of experience in the pastorate to work answering questions of doctrine or practice for laypeople, or giving advice on church leadership issues. Roger will respond in as timely a manner as possible. Due to the large volume of questions, patience is requested. When questions involve mental health issues, no part of any response to an “Ask Roger” question should be interpreted as a substitute for seeking professional counseling from a licensed mental health professional. Email him your questions at email@example.com.
I identify as asexual. An asexual person is a person who has no sexual feelings or desires for another person. Some asexuals can experience emotional attraction, but it isn’t sexual. Asexual people may choose to be asexual due to: spiritual reasons, sexual anxiety, or even a history of abuse (and other reasons). Some say that they have naturally been asexual all their lives, from birth (in this case, I fall into this category). Currently, I have decided that if I chose to get married, I prefer to marry an asexual man since we would be ‘sexually compatible.’ Although, I am very content living in singleness. What does the bible say about asexuality and singleness?
I want to assure you that God loves you deeply and has carefully created you.
David penned these words in Psalm 139:13-16:
“For you created my inmost being;you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.”
God also created specific genders in Genesis 1:27:
“God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.”
I can also promise you that if you have fully committed your life to Christ, He promises to give you right desires. Psalm 37:4 teaches:
“Take delight in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.”
A cursory reading of this verse in Psalm 37 might infer that God promises to give you everything you want. Instead, the promise emphasizes that God will give you His desires when you delight in Him.
I appreciate that you have studied asexuality and understand that some medical issues can cause a lack of sexual desire, such as hormonal imbalance, brain chemistry issues like depression, or side effects from medication. A good example of a congenital condition would be Asperger’s syndrome. One of the features of the Asperger’s syndrome is a difficulty connecting with social context, reading social cues, and interacting straightforwardly. In these cases, it make sense that one might still be confused about who they are and where they fit into the matrix of things.
Abuse and trauma can affect sexuality and ability to form close commitments.
Also, sexual abuse and other traumatic events can greatly affect us. Attachment Disorder begins in the most impressionable years of childhood and manifests itself over time into adulthood. The reason for this may be neglect by parents, separation from parents due to death or divorce, or physical or sexual abuse during childhood.
Due to these circumstances, children may develop feelings of detachment, in that they fail to form long and lasting relationships and find trusting even their close ones difficult.
I would encourage others who struggle with the issue of asexuality to consider consulting with a physician or psychologist to address any underlying issues that may be present.
What about sexual attraction in committed relationships?
Let’s address your question about sexual attraction and committed relationships. John Piper suggests that marriage is fundamentally based on commitment:
“Sexual attraction doesn’t belong to the essence of marriage. The essence of marriage is the making and keeping of a covenant between a man and a woman to be husband and wife to each other as long as they both shall live. That is the essence of a marriage: covenant making, covenant keeping — to be a husband and a wife. And to be sure, that covenant includes the promise to give one’s self to the other in sexual relations. (1 Corinthians 7). The husband should give his wife her conjugal rights, and likewise the wife her husband. But there is nothing in the Bible that mandates any particular degree of physical pleasure in that relationship.
And there are two other reasons for this — why I don’t think sexual attraction or sexual pleasure is of the essence. One is cultural. Throughout most of history, I think, and in most cultures, marriages have been arranged by parents. Couples did not look around to see who made them sexually aroused. They accepted the cultural pattern, and this means that most marriages in history have not started based on a sense of sexual attraction. That had to come later, if it came at all. And those were real, essential marriages.”
Singleness and marriage present different issues. If you choose to marry, you should have the same kind of pre-marital counseling that all singles should have before they get married. Sex is one of at least 20-30 important issues that often come up in typical premarital and marital counseling.
Marriage is hard enough even when two people are very well matched. Sometimes extremely hard for what seems an ideal combination of people! Therefore, if one person wants to have sex in marriage, my experience as a pastor causes me to think that the marriage would struggle unnecessarily if someone with a sex drive marries someone who has no interest in sex. I have counseled enough married couples, as well, in which one partner no longer wants sex. I’ve seen heartache and even divorce result between people that began the marriage seeming to be very well matched! Many difficult issues besides sexual ones can cause problems. So, why enter a marriage with what may automatically become a problem?
Biblically, in marriage, “the two shall become one flesh.” Sex is usually considered part of the marriage covenant.
Other issues may occur such as, “What if your husband says he does not want children, but later decides he does?” You’ve seen that happen before, too. Your prospective husband might be more tempted to immorality than men are tempted – as a given – in this fallen world and declining culture.
Remember, above all, that remaining single is also a gift and a calling.
Paul teaches in 1 Corinthians 7 that there are great spiritual benefits to a life unencumbered by family responsibilities. A committed single person can be focused on ministry, free from worldly distractions and able to devote more time to worship and prayer.
Finally, let me conclude with a quote from Jesus and from Paul. Jesus said in Matthew 19:9-12:
“Not all men can accept this statement, but only those to whom [the capacity to receive] it has been given.For there are eunuchs who have been born that way from their mother’s womb [making them incapable of consummating a marriage]; and there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by men [for royal service]; and there are eunuchs who have made themselves so for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. He who is able to accept this, let him accept it.”
Some are born without a need or desire for sex, some are made that way, and others may renounce marriage for spiritual reasons.
Given the question, it is likely that Jesus was not talking solely about eunuchs here – but was rather using the concept of a eunuch to describe anyone who has been given the gift of celibacy, including those with no need or desire for sex. Indeed, some are born without a sex drive (asexual), some are made that way by men (renounce sex due to bad or traumatic experiences, or due to the lurid way in which sex is portrayed in present day society), and others have renounced marriage (and therefore sex) because of the kingdom of Heaven.
Paul and Jesus agreed that celibacy is to be treasured and that we should support and encourage those who choose this path, especially considering the sexual climate we live in today, in which virginity is seen as taboo and something to get rid of as soon as possible rather than something to be treasured and cherished.
Thank you for your question, Kay. Remember, God created us to live in community. I encourage you to enjoy the fellowship and support of your church, family and friends!
Dr. Roger Barrier retired as senior teaching pastor from Casas Church in Tucson, Arizona. In addition to being an author and sought-after conference speaker, Roger has mentored or taught thousands of pastors, missionaries, and Christian leaders worldwide. Casas Church, where Roger served throughout his thirty-five-year career, is a megachurch known for a well-integrated, multi-generational ministry. The value of including new generations is deeply ingrained throughout Casas to help the church move strongly right through the twenty-first century and beyond. Dr. Barrier holds degrees from Baylor University, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, and Golden Gate Seminary in Greek, religion, theology, and pastoral care. His popular book, Listening to the Voice of God, published by Bethany House, is in its second printing and is available in Thai and Portuguese. His latest work is, Got Guts? Get Godly! Pray the Prayer God Guarantees to Answer, from Xulon Press. Roger can be found blogging at Preach It, Teach It, the pastoral teaching site founded with his wife, Dr. Julie Barrier.
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