This excerpt is adapted from Hafeez Baoku’s new book, Sex, God, and the Single Life: An Honest Journey to Satisfying Intimacy (CLC Publications).
If you’re at all familiar with romantic comedies of the modern era you’ve likely heard of or watched the 1996 hit film Jerry Maguire. Many of us can recall the scene when Jerry walks into the middle of a women’s “divorced and lonely group” and divulges to Dorothy how meaningless his life is without her. His speech crescendos with the words “You complete me,” finally proving to Dorothy that he loves her. The movie ends with the two living happily ever after.
If you’re anything like me, romantic stories like Jerry Maguire can lead you to start contemplating Jerry’s philosophy, thinking there’s someone out there who could “complete you.” As you look on your singleness you can feel dissatisfied and even begin thinking of yourself as a second-class citizen because you lack your true soulmate. In an attempt to fill the void you spend months, and sometimes years, searching for the mythical “one” who will supposedly meet your needs and give meaning to your life.
But here’s the problem, I learned, with my search for “the one”: I was looking for wholeness in all the wrong places. There isn’t a human being on the planet who has the capacity to complete me and make me whole. By putting all my hope for a “happily ever after” in a spouse, I made singleness my problem and marriage the solution. Yet this is not what God intended. Sure enough, the more I searched for fulfillment in others, the more miserable I became. In my singleness, my heart was longing to be satisfied with something greater than a relationship. I just didn’t know what that could be.
Problem with Our Attitudes
I once heard something helpful from a Christian counselor regarding sexual wholeness. He explained that since most people falsely think of marriage as the addition of two people, they operate with this equation:
½ of me + ½ of him/her = 1 happy, satisfied relationship
Instead of the addition of two incomplete people, however, marriage is more like the multiplication of two incomplete people:
½ of me x ½ of him/her = ¼ bitter, frustrated relationship
If we’re longing for another person to complete us we will enter relationships looking for them to perfectly meet all our needs—a job that only God can do.
This counselor went on to explain that relationships are primarily about giving, not getting; serving, not being served; pleasing, not being pleased; loving, not being loved. Therefore, he suggested, we ought to live by a new formula—God’s formula—which says:
1 satisfied me x 1 satisfied him/her = 1 satisfied relationship
Such sexual wholeness only occurs when you’re satisfied in Jesus Christ and made whole through him. As you follow him, you begin to experience the overwhelming grace of God that alone frees you to serve others with self-giving love.
Only when we’re made whole in Christ can we enjoy truly healthy relationships with others, because only then will we desire to give love as much as we desire to receive it since we’ve already been satisfied by the God who created love.
When single people experience wholeness, they are content within their own sexuality—a contentment that knows and values God’s design for sex in marriage as the only way to experience true sexual satisfaction. Though this contentment isn’t void of the desire to experience sexual intimacy, they trust that God is a good Father who has given them everything in their current season of life to be fully satisfied.
Not only do they experience contentment with their sexuality, they also experience peace with their sexuality. This peace with self comes from being comfortable in our own masculinity or femininity; this peace with others comes from experiencing life-giving relationships with people of both genders; this peace with God comes from finding our ultimate fulfillment in him and knowing he is pleased with us in Christ.
Such contentment and peace are gifts from God that we can all experience in our singleness. This is the beauty of trusting God in all areas of life and laboring to finding our true meaning in him.