Remaining a Virgin in Today’s Hook-Up Culture (A Theocratic Essay)
By Rock Kitaro
Date – May 31st 2019
When I was 20-years-old, I made a vow before God to remain a virgin until I get married. For the longest time, I used to think this was the dumbest decision of my life. It wasn’t until recently that I discovered that it was in fact the best decision of my life.
For those who don’t know, a hookup culture is one that accepts and encourages casual sex encounters, including one-night stands and other related activity, without necessarily including emotional bonding or long-term commitment. It is generally associated with Western late adolescent behavior and, in particular, American college culture. However, when it comes to Millennials, this behavior has carried well into our thirties, mostly thanks to apps like Tinder.
The purpose of this piece isn’t to belittle the world. It’s to encourage my brothers and sisters who haven’t given into the world. I’m talking about the ones who endeavor to do what’s good in God’s eyes, to put him first, while sometimes feeling like…what’s the point?
Right now, I’m seeing a lot going on in the news when it comes to the abortion argument, the right to choose, a woman’s body, and where does life begin. I’m hearing these arguments and it feels like…it feels like I’m an alien who’s only visiting the planet earth. This isn’t my home. I’m seeing calls for a sex strike, pro-choice feminists pushing for women to forego sex to champion their cause.
The thing is…once upon a time, I used to be like them. Once upon a time I called myself a feminist. I called myself a Democrat. I used to admire Obama. I was so happy to at last have a black president. I believed in the LGBTQ cause and the greater push for equality and inclusion. I believed in acceptance and tolerance.
In a perfect world, there wouldn’t need to be a push for equality and inclusion. But alas, this world is not perfect. That is the reality. The reality is, the United States is a conglomerate of different cultures. The reality is, a lot of those cultures clash, they conflict. What’s acceptable to you and your ilk, might not be acceptable to another’s.
To say that they’re wrong and you’re right…I’ve heard these arguments before. I asked long ago… “Is there no right or wrong, only popular opinion?”
And many said there is a right and a wrong.
When I asked, “Based on what?” (says who?)
Many said it’s based on the Bible. Others said, it’s based on the community. If the community says it’s okay to fornicate and indulge in immorality, while the Bible shows that God views such actions in a bad light…what do you do if you’re a God-fearing Christian? What do you do if you’re a God-fearing Christian with a homosexual inclination? In my case, specifically…what do you do if you want to get married, but you’ve made a vow before God to wait until marriage, while living in a culture where sex seems to be a pre-requisite to marriage?
As I rise from the precipice overlooking the city, I can’t help but think, “Why did I ever make that stupid vow in the first place?”
In 2006, I was 20-years-old. I wasn’t a super religious. In fact, I hated it. I harbored so much resentment to religious organizations due to the guilt trips they used on people. They’d tell me, “if you’re not part of our religion, then you’re part of the world.” This false-delimma fallacy was the epitome of my hate and rage. But still…I don’t think I ever blamed God for that. Just the people. It’s strange, but in my heart of hearts…ever since I was a kid, I always believed that Jehovah God was a God of logic and reason.
Why was I even born in this stupid, messed up world if I had to join a specific religion or be deemed an enemy of God? Not to mention, there’s soooo many religions. A lot of them are relatively new, having sprung up within the last 300 years or so whilst humanity has existed for well over 5,000.
Either way, in my heart, I never turned my back on God and Jesus Christ. I just needed time to find my way. I needed time to forgive and forget the past. But during that time…in 2006, I ended up missing the Memorial of Jesus Christ’s death. That’s one tradition, one practice I truly believe in.
Jesus Christ died for our sins that we may be forgiven and have the hope of everlasting life. At any point, he could have gone the route of Satan. He could have seen all the sexy ladies and indulged. He could have gotten a taste of power and took control. He was beaten, spat on, and crucified by worthless humans that aren’t but a breath from God’s nose, while Jesus Christ was there since the beginning, who aided in creating the heaven and earth.
How could I recognize that Jesus Christ did all that for us…and not honor him by attending a memorial service? In 2006, I missed that service. And on that night…I closed my eyes and prayed for forgiveness.
Looking back, I’m sure I had no idea what I was doing. But the words came straight from my heart. It’s how I felt. And in that moment, I swear I felt God’s presence. There was nothing special about me. I’m not Jewish, not from God’s chosen people. I was just a black film student in the midst of my sophomore year, but I felt God’s presence. And I said:
“Jehovah, please forgive me. I swear on this day, that if you forgive me, I promise that I’ll wait until I get married to have sex. I’ll keep my virginity until then…”
In that moment, I felt I was forgiven. I believed it in my heart, right then and there. Thus, the vow was official. I was uplifted, and relieved, and glad.
But still, Rock…why make a vow of chastity in the first place? You could have made a vow to do anything. Why that?
It’s a valid question. Which takes me back to one my opening paragraphs about the ladies going on a so-called sex strike. You see…the thing was, back in 2006, I weighed 378 pounds. I always wore this oversize blue vest to cover up my man-boobs. I saw how detestable I was to my classmates…I believed I was a monster. I believed I was the ugliest man on earth and no woman in her right mind would ever want to be with me or ever see me as desirable. I’m not lying. This is an extremely cringy video of me dancing for a student film project. FAIR WARNING…it is cringy.
So in short…in 2006, making that vow of chastity was something I thought would be the easiest thing in the world to keep. Hence…it’s easy to go on a sex strike if you believe in your heart that nobody wants you in the first place. Of course, I could be wrong about the feminist on that account, but speaking on behalf of myself, that was my reason. I believed I was forgiven by God, and I thought that vow would cost me very little.
Hahaha! Was I ever wrong. Because flash-forward 5 years later…whelp. Solid steel and sex appeal, my boss calls it. After years of busting my ass in the gym, cutting down on food portions, discipline and commitment to bettering myself with this intense drive that I carry to this day, I ended up losing 178lbs for my 6’3 frame.
The vow I made when I was 20-years-old, suddenly became somewhat difficult. What most people experienced in high school and college, I didn’t experience until my mid to late twenties. I’m talking about having an actual girlfriend, fielding attention from multiple love interests at once, the temptation to throw that right vow out the window.
And this was all while I still hadn’t truly reconnected with our heavenly father. This was still during a time when I believed in the feminist call and the rallying cries of the left.
And perhaps…sometimes I really do imagine God watching over me from on high, in a slightly comical sense. He sees what’s going on. He sees my eyes lusting after these women. He sees the women crossing my path. He sees my hormones stirring, the heat flushing. Back then, I wasn’t afraid of rejection or asking a woman out, complimenting her, or getting her number.
My confidence was cranked up to ten and I was beginning to compromise on that vow, thinking to myself, “How about this, instead of waiting until getting married to have sex, I’ll give up my virginity to the woman I love. So long as it’s truly love that I feel for her, it’s acceptable to give up my virginity to this woman.”
I think God saw all that from on high and put into motion a series of unfortunate events that definitely changed my life. I was 25 when I was accused of sexual harassment and it rocked my world. It’s like, if you had been told your whole life to treat a certain race with respect and adoration due to what they’ve gone through. You adhere to that teaching and indeed admire that race and their culture. And then one day you make a comment, while innocent in your eyes, you meant no harm…but a person took offense and called you a racist.
It happened one after another all around that age. First, I was accused of sexual harassment for laughing when a co-worker told me that she had a particular surgical procedure, which I get was bad taste, but sexual harassment? Then, a woman who I truly was in love with…in retaliation for my winning a philosophical debate against her, she told my bosses that it felt like I was stalking her, when in fact, every time we hung out it was her who asked me out. And then, another woman told co-workers that she felt I was a creep for “following her out to her car and asking for her number…”. It’s true that I did ask for her number after we flirted with each other…but here’s the kicker…when she gave me her number, she told me she had a boyfriend. Needless to say, I never called her, which I think was the source of her resentment and the catalyst to her spreading malicious rumors about me.
All of this really did wreck my world. It took years to let go of the offense, but the resentment still linger…especially since that Cat-Calling Video Controversy, then the MeToo Movement, then the Brett Kavanaugh scandal… When a man like me sees all that, knowing very well how it feels to be accused of such allegations, seeing how it’s wrecking other men and how our mainstream culture doesn’t seem to give a damn…it really does diminish the ambition of even wanting to find a potential mate. And more and more, I’m beginning to think that’s the point, less people getting married, more people reliant on the government when it comes to old age and health.
Just a brief aside — It wasn’t until later that I’d learn about Joseph’s sexual assault allegations and his unforgettable quote when speaking to his brothers who sold him to slavery. It’s in the last chapter in the book of Genesis. He told them, “Do not be afraid. You intended it for harm, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is being done now, the saving of lives.” In context, Joseph was talking about how he prepared for a famine after a prophetic dream where God revealed there would be a famine throughout. That famine was what prompted Joseph’s brothers to come to Egypt for food where the brothers were united. —
Despite the calls for equality, the chants of, “anything a man can do, a woman can do,” we still live in a world where the man is expected to make the first move. How is a man like me supposed to do that when anything I say in the effect of asking her out could land me in hot water?
I’ve heard advice for online dating. And I’ve tried those options. I couldn’t do online dating because inevitably, it only caused me to lose respect for women. Why? Self-respect. It messes with my reality. I know I’m a good-looking guy with a lot to offer. I know my value. So when I approach women who don’t even have the courtesy to reply back with a “no thank you, or sorry not interested.” It messed with my reality. It forces me to think, maybe there’s something wrong with me.
There’s this narrative that men need to get right. Men need to improve. Men need to step up. Which was odd because I thought it was all about equality. You see the confusion here? It’s like…what am I supposed to do? Nothing’s making sense. Down is up. Up is down. What’s right is wrong. And what’s wrong is accepted as right. Alone on an island. Isolated. Drifting. Casted away and utterly disregarded.
If it wasn’t for this innate rebellious drive to never stay down, to never give in no matter how much you spit in my face, no matter how many obstacles you throw before me, no matter how much you try to make my life miserable…
It wasn’t until I was 28 years old, when I was visiting my aunt in Colorado for my cousin’s graduation that I learned the crux of such confusion. I hit her with the logic that I truly believed in at the time…I said, “I don’t get it, Auntie. I’m doing exactly what I was taught. I’m not looking for someone to lead. And I’m not trying to follow anyone. I’m looking for someone I can walk hand-in-hand with as my equal.”
And she said, “Well, I think that’s part of the problem. Because as Christians, we’re taught that men are to be the head of the households. Men are supposed to lead. They’re to honor their wives. But wives are to submit to their husband.”
Boom. Like lightning. I’ll never forget that day. I remember the gray overcast sky. I remember the red shirt I was wearing. And I remember how cold it was on that balcony when she said it. At the time, I still a novice when it comes to finding my way as a Christian. I had only recently come to the point where I could finally bring myself to pray on a daily basis for the strength, patience, and wisdom.
My older brother had been telling me, “Well, it’s good that you talk to God. But wouldn’t you want God to talk to you? In order to do that, you have to read the Bible. It’s God’s word.”
This should go to show how much I truly love and admire women. When I say in many essays that women really do have more power than the Feminist give them credit for, I mean it. It was my desire to attract the most beautiful woman I could find, which drove me to lose weight. It was/is my desire to find a loving, faithful, and virtuous wife that finally prompted me to pick up the Bible and see find out what’s what. Do they exist? What do I do to find one? How would I know when I’ve found her?
You might read that and say, “SEE! It’s not about how much you love women. It’s all about what you want!”
Well, you’re not entirely wrong. In fact, why would it be wrong for a person to consider what it is that they want in a mate? If the answer is because I should be thinking to myself, that I should live my life and mold myself according to what’s good in the eyes of the other person, of another human…There, I’d disagree. And if I hadn’t picked up the Bible and committed two years to finding out what it says on the issue…you might have me dead to rights. You might have had the logic to beat me, like a sniper shooting “guilt” for ammunition to put me back where you think I should be.
“Seek first the kingdom of heaven and all things will be added onto you.”
Man seeks to do what is good in their own eyes, leaning upon their own understanding. As Christians, we must not be like this. Putting God first means considering him in everything we do, especially major decisions that could affect the rest of our lives, such as choosing a mate, a career path, where to live, what action to take.
In fact, it was in talking to another Aunt just last night that helped me realized how far I’ve come. Now at the age of 32, I told her that I was interested in this woman I know. I love her smile and I think she might be interested in me…but I’m concerned she might be Hindu, a religion that worships many gods.
This is a problem for me, not just because I know very well how Jehovah feels about the worship of other Gods, but also, my concern goes towards the potential children we might have. The job of a parent is to raise their children and prepare them for this world as best as possible, not just in this world but the next. To bring children into this world, a household with two drastically different world views, where their mother could very well have a greater impact on them than I do, thus ruining their chances of everlasting life…I know for a fact that I’d bear that responsibility. The blood would be on my hands all because I so selfishly wanted to be with this gorgeous woman who worships many Gods.
Mind you, this woman isn’t a girlfriend or even a friend. Just someone I know who smiles at me, and yet, that’s how far ahead I’m thinking. (Side note, thankfully, I just found out she has a man. This is a relief for single men like me, because as I’m sure most single men can attest, when you’re put in a position where you’re looking for a mate and a woman gives you signs that she’s interested, there’s a bit of pressure on you to make a move lest regret settles in.)
And what makes me proud, what shows how far I’ve grown…is that God is the first person I think about when I see a potential mate. Is she a Christian? Does she endeavor to do what’s good in God’s eyes. She doesn’t have to be on the same level as me, but we do have to have that same worldview, or else our marriage…it’s like a house built by two different architects who disagree on its design and structure.
And I know…you might think to yourself, “But Rock, you might change her. God might be putting you in her life to save her.”
Maybe…but that’s a chance I’m not willing to take when it comes to marriage. I can save someone like that without the bond of marriage where I stand before God and say, “to death do us part.” Not to mention, the Bible is chalk full of examples of men far better than me who have been led astray by lusting after women who didn’t believe in the one true God. Most notably, King Solomon, who was one of the wisest men who ever walked this Earth. It’s straight up hubris to think I can do better than him. You wanna talk about “arrogant.” That would be arrogant.
“But still…What are you going to do? You’re clinging to that vow of celibacy. Have you joined a church or a congregation?”
Sadly no. For two reasons…1st off, congregations bring back bad memories, especially if I’m attending the congregation by myself without a close friend or loved one. Joining a church service as a single man is an abysmal feeling. First and foremost, you’re there to learn and worship our heavenly father. Having in the back in your mind, “Where all the hunnies at…” really would/did make me feel like a creep.
Secondly, from what I’ve seen…and forgive me, this is based on my own personal experience…the beautiful women I’ve seen attending church are all already married or single mothers. Maybe it’s not like that in all congregations, but from the ones I’ve attended, it’s like that. Leading me to believe that God has something in store for me and attending congregations to find a mate, ain’t my best bet. (Prov. 30:10)
I know. You could very well say, “you just gotta keep going!” That might work for other people, but it isn’t for me. And when you reach a certain age like over 30, when you’ve put yourself out of your comfort zone, and stumbled enough times to know what you can and can’t do, what you like and what would tick you off, I believe a man has every right to stick to his guns when they hear such logic. Everyone’s different. Knowing who you are and making decisions based on your strengths and weaknesses is part of your confidence and competence. Anyone telling you otherwise, might be of good heart, but they can really be insufferable…as if you haven’t heard that advice before and friggin tried it. Here’s where stubbornness can very well be a virtue.
“You made this vow when you were 20. You just admitted that you didn’t know any better.”
Yes…but now I do. Reading the Bible is like taking the red pill in which I can no longer claim ignorance. And once, as a teen, after looking around the congregation and seeing nothing but old people, I asked:
“How bout this? Why can’t I live life the way I want to, and once I got it all out of my system, I’ll pray for forgiveness and spend my elderly years attending church regularly like these people.”
My parents said that it doesn’t work that way, but I don’t remember them really diving into an in-depth answer. Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter flashes before our very eyes everyone having fun, attending music festivals, surrounded by sexy people, showing off their flashy cars, visiting popular tourist destinations. We see everyone bragging about their money and status. Everyone’s smiling, having the time of their lives.
But that’s all we see. We don’t see their hearts. We don’t see their anxieties. Their pain, their concern, their tears. We don’t see their futures. We don’t see what happens behind closed doors.
Psalms 73 is a good chapter to read if you ever find yourself feeling depressed based on the “fun” everyone else is having. In particular Verse 2-5 resonate with me, saying “as for me, my feet had almost strayed. My steps had nearly slipped. For I became envious of the arrogant. When I would see the peace of the wicked. For they have no pain in their death, their bodies are healthy. They are not troubled like other humans, nor do they suffer like other men.
Verse 13 goes on to say, “Surely in vain, I have kept my heart pure and washed my hands in innocence. I was troubled all day long. Every morning I was chastised. But if I had said these things, I would have betrayed your people. When I tried to understand it, it was troubling to me. Until I entered the grand sanctuary of God. And I discerned their future.”
Verse 22 continues with, “I was unreasoning and lacked understanding. I was like a senseless beast before you. But now I am continually with you. You have taken hold of my right hand. You guide me with your advice. You will lead me to glory. Whom do I have in the heavens? And besides you, I desire nothing on earth.”
God’s Sanctuary isn’t confined to the walls of a church or building. God’s presence is everywhere. Even as I type this I know he’s watching and I hope and pray that I’m not misrepresenting a single word. I know…it’s tough living in this world. The advent of social media, with many of our jobs dependent on the internet and such instant information, we have no choice but to see it. It’s everywhere flashing before our eyes, that which we are missing, that happiness, the joy, the fun that we could be having if we did what others were doing.
Does doesn’t mean that if you’re having fun, that if you are full of happiness and joy then clearly you must be doing what’s bad in God’s eyes. On the contrary. In my personal experience, I believe a lot of the spite and envy my own peers have towards me is the fact that I am full of joy and happiness despite my refraining from such indulgences. I don’t get my fulfillment, my love and happiness from the same things they get it from. And again, this isn’t to say I’m better or worse! I’m just different and I like who I am.
Last Memorial Day weekend, I spent all four days off writing, working out, and watching documentaries. I visited my spot by the water and tried a new restaurant and that was it. That’s all I needed. I am a healthy, able-bodied 32-year-old male who lives life like an 82-year-old. I’m not materialistic in the slightest, I don’t care about proving to others where I’ve been and the money I make is just the fruit of my labor. It’s God blessing the work of my hands.
Sometimes it feels that I exist in a world where people like me shouldn’t. And I don’t believe I’m alone in that regard. I’m willing to bet there’s millions of us out there, men and women. We’re not most. We’re not the majority, for the Bible already foretells that the path of righteousness is a narrow one, most people sadly will not be saved. The reason why we feel so alone is because of the lack of representation in the media we see.
And instead of rising up to our level, people will try and knock us down a peg, to bring us down to their level. I don’t blame them. I understand why. Our very existence, the fact that we can find joy as Ecclesiastes says, in the work of our hands, that is our blessing from God. The only fulfilled live is one lived in proper recognition in God and service to him. Any other kind of life is frustrating and pointless. (Eccl. 2:24)
These lessons among many are all found in the Bible. I know people think of the book as some antiquated rule book where we’re given commandments for the sake of being told what to do. But it’s just as I always suspected when I was kid. God is indeed one of logic and reason. Everything he’s telling us we should do, it’s for a reason. This wasn’t conveyed to me as a child, as a student. When you’re a rebel at heart, the last thing we want to hear is, “Do this because I say so!”
God created us. All of us. He knows our hearts, our flaws and imperfections. If you truly believe that he loves us and cares about us all, don’t you think he would have provided instructions on how to navigate this twisted world? He gave us free-will so that we have the option to choose for ourselves whether we can have a relationship with him and obey his commandments…or do what’s good in our own eyes and disobey.
The Old Testament is chalk full of wars and massacres and unspeakable acts…but just because it’s written in the Bible, it doesn’t mean God condones the action of men. He’s showing you how corrupt and wicked men can be and if you READ IT you’ll learn that he gave us the tools, the wisdom, the warnings, the prophets to avoid such catastrophes. What I just said here…this is pivotal. Because after every school shooting, after every terrorist act, after ever heinous crime committed, you always hear the same cry,
“Why, God, why!”
If you really want to know…seek the answers and mold your heart with a humble attitude. You have to know that you’re but a single grain of sand on a massive beach and yet God knows you exist, just as he does the billions of stars mankind has yet to discover. And if you start on verse one, chapter one of Genesis, “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth…” and go from there…your eyes will be opened to the truth. You’ll learn the answer to the “Why God why!” Whatever you think you’ve suffered, I dare you to tell me it was worse than Job.
“But still though! Is it really so important to keep your vow? It almost sounds like you’re just hiding behind it. Like, I bet you really do want to have sex but you’re just an Incel. So you’re using the Bible as a…”
As a shield? A lot of things to point out in that line of questioning, if any of you have ever been on the receiving end of it. First off, detect the cynicism. There’s no love in their question. They might think they’re trying to help you, but this is just one of many tactics Satan and his wicked demons use to break down your defenses, to break down your barrier, to pull that shield away from you and penetrate your heart. Especially with the advent of the term “Incel” (Involuntarily Celibate). I knew right away that this was a wicked word that would be used as ammunition against virgins, particularly male virgins. Thankfully, I’d come to learn the truth long before it entered the mainstream vernacular.
When I look out and see half of humanity’s problems…most of them could be eliminated by refraining in such indulgences like immorality, excess, and false worship. So I frame a question, “Why is it so important to you to push those who have no such inclinations into partaking in such indulgences?” If you’re answer is that you want to show the person that they’re missing out on “life”…and in many cases this is the answer…I’d posit that unless the person asks you to introduce them to such vices…you’re really doing more harm than good.
It’s very much like rich Americans going to third world countries and showing them how we live here in America. Without the American’s interference, the third world native would have never known about air conditioning or fast cars or sexy pop icons. All you’ve done was show them what they’re missing out on when really…they were happy and content all along. Showing people what they’re missing out on when that person has no means to attain it, it’s an injection of inadequacy and the ignition to depression. That’s why the good prayer says, “lead us not into temptation.” (Matt 6:13)
And lastly, when it comes to the importance of “keeping one’s vows…”
Once upon a time, lol…we all know that right now, men are taking a beating. They throw around terms like the dreaded “patriarchy” and “toxic masculinity…” And yet, so many strong female characters are portrayed to be more…masculine. Odd.
My point in mentioning society’s brow-beating of males is…I’m glad I was born a man. I am masculine. I have pride. I have an ego. I have ambition and its to do what’s good in God’s eyes. A huge part of that pride, ego, and masculinity is this antiquated term known as “honor.” I am a man of honor. If I make a commitment to you or anyone or anything, I will follow through to the best of my abilities unless it’s damn near impossible. If I say I’m going to do something. I mean it. For me to break a promise to anyone is about as devastating as losing a loved one. Nothing makes me feel less of a man than that.
When I picked up the Bible…I read a number of scriptures stressing the importance of keeping one’s word to God. Like, breaking your vow to a human being is devastating enough, but breaking your word to God is a sin, a betrayal to the one on High. (Deut 23:21-23)
A vow of celibacy in today’s age of the Hook-Up Culture, in an era where sex is expected, where men and women will see this as a “deal-breaker”…where your boyfriend or girlfriend is likely to cheat on you if you don’t “put out”…it’s extremely difficult to find a mate. But that’s why I’m glad to have known about God’s character. The New Testament tells about Jesus Christ and the hope of everlasting life. But the Old Testament really connects you with all of Jehovah’s abundant qualities.
He’s not solely the bringer of destruction and genocide as Hollywood actors and apostates would have you believe. Everything he does, he does for a reason. Could it be that he’s warning against immorality and adultery to spare us from things like single-parent households, poverty, a spike in crime, heartbreak, depression, inadequacy and many of the arguments we see in the abortion debate?
He provides ample warning. He forgives over and over again. His patience is unlike any other. Why do you think the Great Tribulation hasn’t come yet? Many Christians believe we’re living in the Last Days, but they’ve been thinking that for well over a hundred years. God sees the persecution of his people, he sees wickedness and corruption galore, but still Christ hasn’t returned to wash away all wickedness.
Could it be that in his loving undeserved kindness, God is exercising patience with us? Could it be that God’s patiently waiting for sinners to turn aside from their evil ways and receive his salvation?
Because, my friends, it is salvation. When you’re a virgin committed to a vow you made to God in the midst of your own naivety, when you’re a young man who’s looking for acceptance, a place to belong, looking for one potential mate who’s willing to wait till marriage to have sex, who’s refrained from having children out of wedlock, who’s endeavoring (like you) to do what’s good in God’s eyes, while keeping themselves physically fit and pleasing to the eye the way God described Rachel and Rebekah (Gen: 24:16) …Without God, this world is a barren wasteland.
God is my salvation, my refuge, my rock, my king, my shepherd, my judge, my fortress, my vindicator, our creator and deliverer. He knows what we’re going through. He knows how difficult and challenging it is. If you pray in earnest, asking for the strength, patience, and wisdom, he will deliver such attributes to help us navigate this world. And more importantly, remember the words of Matthew 6:33, “Seek first the Kingdom of God, and all these other things will be added onto you.”
Honestly, I was at the gym when a fellow Christian reminded me of that. I was having a bad day because people at my job complained about my saying something that made them feel “uncomfortable,” yet again. And this Christian told me, “Hey brother! Seek first the kingdom of heaven and all things will be added onto you.”
If you have this attitude, you really will be happy. You lose your job, your car breaks down, your girlfriend or boyfriend breaks up with you…it doesn’t matter. Keep seeking first the kingdom of heaven. So long as you always seek him, God will never abandon you. Everything… EVERYTHING happens for a reason. Put your trust and faith in him forever and always.
And while I was reading the Bible, I discovered two stories that would forever strengthen my resolve to keep my vows. It’s the story of Jephthah and Hannah.
The story of Jephthah touched my heart due to the vow he made and how painfully tough it was to keep it.
Way back before Israel had kings, they had judges. One such judge was a mighty warrior named Jephthah, the son of a prostitute who was driven out from his father’s household for pretty much being a bastard. He was driven out of the land…until a rival warring tribe of Ammonites started wreaking havoc on the Israelites. That’s when the people asked for Jephthah to come back and lead them to victory.
Starting at Judges Chapter 11 verse 29, we learn that Jephthah led a force to face off against the Ammonites and there, he made a vow to God that makes my own vow pale in comparison. He said, “If you give the Ammonites into my hands, 31 whatever comes out of the door of my house to meet me when I return in triumph from the Ammonites will be the Lord’s, and I will sacrifice it as a burnt offering.”
Jephthah was indeed victorious. And when he returned home…the first person to come out of his house to meet him was his own daughter, an only child. Verse 35 says, “When he saw her, he tore his clothes and cried, “Oh no, my daughter! You have brought me down and I am devastated. I have made a vow to the Lord that I cannot break.”
36 “My father,” she replied, “you have given your word to the Lord. Do to me just as you promised, now that the Lord has avenged you of your enemies, the Ammonites. 37 But grant me this one request,” she said. “Give me two months to roam the hills and weep with my friends, because I will never marry.”
38 “You may go,” he said. And he let her go for two months. She and her friends went into the hills and wept because she would never marry. 39 After the two months, she returned to her father, and he did to her as he had vowed. And she was a virgin.
Now, there is some dispute as to whether he actually burned his daughter in sacrifice to God, because we know God hates human sacrifices…But from what I read, I believe he did. I believe after two months, he burned her in a sacrifice, all due to the extremely reckless vow he made. I say, reckless, because I don’t know what was going through his mind. The Bible doesn’t explain why he did what he did. But the important message here is that you keep your vow to God. If Jephthah could keep this most painful of vows by sacrificing his own daughter…what kind of man am I to give in to the temptation of giving up my chastity?
I remember actually crying when I heard Jephthah’s story because I understand. People say, that unless you’re in their shoes you can’t possibly begin to understand, but those people don’t f**kin’ know me. They know not of my intelligence, my imagination, or my involuntary muscle of empathizing.
One of my main purposes in life is to become a devoted father and a loving husband, to provide and protect. For me, who’s wanted this ever since I was at least 15…once I get it, I know I’ll definitely be a monster to anyone who threatens my family’s safety and security, whether it’s the government, a neighbor, some pedophile or intruder…you hear about she-bears all the time…I pity the fool.
However…there is some encouragement when it comes to the virtues of honoring your vow. As was the case of Hannah.
In 1st Samuel Chapter 1, we learn about a man named Elkanah who had two wives, Peninnah and Hannah. Peninnah was able to produce multiple children while Hannah had none. Verses 6&7 tell us that Penninah used to torment Hannah relentlessly about her inability to reproduce, so much to the point that Hannah would weep and couldn’t eat. This went on for years. Every winter and summer would pass and Hannah had to endure such heart-wrenching persecution.
Then, during a visit to Shiloh where Hannah’s husband came to make his sacrifices to God, Hannah wept bitterly to our Heavenly Father in the presence of Eli the priest. And she said, “Lord Almighty, if you will only look on your servant’s misery and remember me, and not forget your servant but give her a son, then I will give him to the Lord for all the days of his life, and no razor will ever be used on his head.”
God heard her prayers and in a year’s time…Hannah gave birth to Samuel. After she had weaned him for a period of time, Hannah fulfilled the vow she made to God and dedicated him to God’s service with the Priest Eli. Samuel had a special relationship with God. This is the same Samuel who would go on to advise and anoint the first kings of Israel, King Saul and King David. And it all began with Hannah keeping her vow to God.
While this would have been a gut-wrenching vow to keep, Chapter 2 shows how Hannah rejoiced. And every year she’d return to Shiloh and give Samuel a robe she made. And the most encouraging thing about this story was that God rewarded her honor. Verse 21 says, “And the Lord was gracious to Hannah; she gave birth to three sons and two daughters. Meanwhile, the boy Samuel grew up in the presence of the Lord.”
How can I not read of such a story and not feel gladness in my heart? While I made the vow of celibacy when I was 20 years old, foolishly because I saw myself as ugly and undesirable…I’ve long since bettered myself and I’m improving ever still. In the 12 years since, I can’t begin to tell you how many times I’ve been tempted to break that vow. I can’t begin to tell you how many times I lost out on the most beautiful women I’ve ever seen…because of that vow. No lie. I have been tested beyond measure. That’s why I cringe when people tell me, “well, people are going to have sex no matter what you tell them! There’s no getting around it.”
And of course, I’ll never forget that conversation I had with a couple of my peers in the parking lot when I was 28. They were like, “dude, you’re closing in on thirty! You gotta have sex. You really don’t know what it’s like to be alive until you have sex. I’m telling you, everything about you just changes after that. You’re missing out!”
You should have been there. I was/am so proud of myself to be able to take all of that, be tempted by the most beautiful woman I’ve ever seen, and still held firm to my vow. Just like in the case of Hannah, I know God will and is rewarding me. Whether he blesses me with a wife or not is irrelevant. He owes me nothing. He’s already blessed me with so much.
I say that to encourage others as well. When the world hits you with all the things you’re “missing out on,” remember God’s grace and generosity. Seek first the kingdom of heaven and consider everything he’s already done for you. Your safety, your security, your prosperity, your friends, family, your strength, your beauty, your wisdom. There’s so much and if you’re like me, we aren’t vain. God knows what we’re doing. The people who matter know what we’ve accomplished. Consider the words of Jeremiah 9: 23-24:
This is what the Lord says: “Let not the wise man boast about his wisdom; Let not the mighty man boast about his mightiness; And let not the rich man boast about his riches.” 24 “But let the one boasting boast about this: That he has insight and knowledge of me, That I am Jehovah, the One showing loyal love, justice, and righteousness in the earth, For in these things I take delight,” declares the Lord.
So in closing, If I die tomorrow having never known what it’s like to love a woman…I’d have no regrets so long as I’m in good standing with Jehovah God. I believe in the Kingdom of God. I believe in Christ’s Millennial reign where sin, sickness, and death are washed away. I dream of the day where I am free to explore this beautiful green earth without worrying about pain, politics, wars, beasts, or disasters. Where my children can wander without a care in a world. Where my wife and I can embrace each other in peace, whilst watching lightning strike the waters of the Catatumbo from the grassy hills of Venezuela.
Anyone who says, “You can do all of that right now” is either a fool or they’re trying to fool me.
Regardless…I submit myself to God’s judgment. Even if he doesn’t resurrect me for everlasting life, I put my trust and faith in him. It’s his ways that are righteous. Good or bad. Justice or injustice. I accept his judgment.