We are in a sermon series right now at Gateway entitled Marriage, Sex & Singleness. Christianity presents a revolutionary view on each of these topics. It is a view that was as controversial then as it is now. CS Lewis wrote that the Christian teaching on sex has always been the most unpopular of all the Christian virtues.
There is no getting away from it: the old Christian rule is, “Either marriage, with complete faithfulness to your partner, or else total abstinence.” Now this is so difficult and so contrary to our instincts, that obviously either Christianity is wrong or our sexual instinct, as it now is, has gone wrong. - CS Lewis, Mere Christianity
Of course he argues the latter but today the Christian ethic of abstinence outside of marriage is considered at best laughably unrealistic, and at worst pathological and abnormal. In fact, the primary reason Christians do not have the conviction to challenge our present-day culture on these issues is that a growing number of Christians now doubt the entire Christian teaching on human sexuality. They feel it is wrong to condemn any consensual sexual behavior.
The challenge for Christians in the 21st century is not to use the same old arguments to try to persuade our culture, yet neither should Christians blindly or reflexively adjust theology just to accommodate the sexual revolution of our day.
The church needs to, first of all, reexamine the biblical teaching to see if modification or rediscovery is in order. And then, maybe even more importantly, wrestle with how we remain faithful to this most unpopular Christian virtue in the midst of the sexually saturated, individualistic, and consumer-driven culture we find ourselves in.
Additionally the church must do a much better job of understanding, resourcing, and supporting those who whether by choice or by circumstance, for a season or for life, find themselves called to singleness. Here are a few books that would be a great place to start (HT: Anna Broadway)
Sexuality and Holy Longing: Embracing Intimacy in a Broken World
Lisa Graham McMinn (Jossey-Bass)
McMinn provides a helpful framework for single-Christian sexuality that reckons equally with the reality of embodiment, the Bible, and our cultural moment. She's especially insightful on subtler dynamics, such as the ways women compete for men's attention.
Singleness often means keeping one eye open for romantic prospects. But the American church has provided much conflicting and confusing advice on the search for love. Counselor and Christian Van Epp has the best advice I've read on finding a partner.
Passion and Purity: Learning to Bring Your Love Life under Christ's Control
Elisabeth Elliot (Revell)
Some books on singleness and chastity downplay the strength of desire one may face, but Elliot grapples candidly and boldly with both her sexual and romantic longings and the God she loves. Rightfully a classic.
Hinds' Feet on High Places
Hannah Hurnard (Wilder Publications)
Though not a traditional "singleness" book, anyone struggling through a protracted and unwanted romantic dry spell may draw strength from this memorable allgory about the painful but worthwhile journey of following Jesus. This encouraged me to trust him more deeply.
Additionally, Washed and Waiting by Wesley Hill is a must read to understand a homosexual Christian's understanding of this issue.
Part memoir, part pastoral-theological reflection, this book wrestles with many areas of struggle that many gay Christians face: What is God's will for sexuality? If the historic Christian tradition is right and same-sex behavior is ruled out, how should gay Christians deal with their resulting loneliness? Author Wesley Hill is not advocating that it is possible for every gay Christian to become straight, nor is he saying that God affirms homosexuality. Instead, Hill comes alongside other gay Christians and says, 'You are not alone. Here is my experience; it's like yours. And God is with us. We can share in God's grace.'