Many years ago (so long ago that none of you should try to figure out whom I’m talking about), a married couple were struggling to stay together. I had several conversations with them trying to help them resolve their differences. One day, he gave up and moved out. She called me in a panic and had to meet with me right away. When we talked, she cried profusely, telling me it was all her fault and she’d do anything to get him back. I told her that it wasn’t all her fault, and no matter what changes she made, the relationship would be hopeless if he didn’t change at least as much. But she persisted in taking all the blame, crying even more profusely. At one point I stopped her and said, “You’re so pathetic right now that no man would want you!” (My actual words were a lot kinder, but that’s what I was thinking!).

I thought of that conversation when I recently came across the country song, “I’m Waitin’ in Your Welfare Line.”* This is actually an oldie, written by singer Buck Owens in 1966. Some of the lyrics are:

Well, I ain’t got nuthin’ but the shirt on my back and an old two-button suit. I walked outa my job about a week ago, and now I’m sleepin’ in a telephone booth.

And the refrain is:

I got the hungries for your love, and I’m waitin’ in your welfare line; (Gimme a hand-out!) I’m waitin’ in your welfare line.

So, ladies, isn’t that a turn-on? I mean, who wouldn’t fall for a guy that needy? The truth is, groveling and begging for love is a sure way to remain unloved. Ironically, the best way to attract a lover is not to need love. For a believer, already aware of being loved by God, this is more of a possibility than for one who is unsure about God’s love. That quality of emotional security is a reassurance to a potential lover that they won’t be used up by the relationship.

Which brings us to casual sex. More and more people today think of sex as just another bodily need that has to be met regularly.** I’ve been observing people throughout the sexual revolution, and I can state with assurance that sex is never casual. It always involves a person’s soul and spirit, as well as his/her body. The Bible establishes this as a principle built into our nature as humans created in the image of God. There’s no way to detach your inner self from a sexual encounter with another person. It may seem to be superficial, involving only your body, but it inevitably affects all of who you are.

The Genesis account of the relationship between Adam and Eve speaks of them as clinging together and becoming one flesh (Genesis 2:24). In that time and place, it was assumed that the joining couple would be a man and a woman, marrying for life. In our day, most marriages do not last a lifetime, and there is also an increasing acceptance of same-sex unions as marriages. However, we should be aware that any sexual encounter between two individuals is, in some way, life changing. None can be treated as casual. Ask anyone who has been raped or abused. Ask a person whose marriage has ended in divorce. On the other hand, ask one of those lucky people who is celebrating the 25th anniversary of an idyllic relationship with the love of their life. For better or worse, every sexual union changes us.

But here’s a good word from the same Genesis account. In the very next verse, the text tells us,

The man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed (verse 25).

I take that as a promise that the God of grace and salvation can and will redeem our most closeted sexual secrets, so that we can stand before him naked and unashamed. That’s grace!

– Pastor George Van Alstine