“Not everyone can accept this statement,” Jesus said. “Only those whom God helps. Some are born as eunuchs, some have been made eunuchs by others, and some choose not to marry for the sake of the Kingdom of Heaven. Let anyone accept this who can.” ~ Matthew 19:11-12
- abstention from sexual relations
- abstention by vow from marriage
- the state of being unmarried
Soooo, recently, I entered my eighteenth year of celibacy. My eighteenth straight year of singleness. I’ve been unmarried all my life, but I’m counting from the season I became a legal adult – my eighteenth year.
I admit I did not go all out for the celebration. No candlelit cake, no special dinner. I didn’t even make a big announcement for this milestone (with the exception of this post).
I never planned on being celibate. I still don’t even want to be celibate really. But I prefer celibacy to dishonoring my body, which is a temple of God’s Holy Spirit. Through the process of walking out God’s instructions, celibacy has become my preferred choice in my singleness and I say this with all sincerity: God has made me keep to it.
I would much rather be married and surrounded by my happy, accommodating husband and our brood of joyful, plump babies.
But what I want only matters when it lines up with God’s will for my life. That is still a concept that’s evolving in my mind. I struggled against the seed of it for a number of years. In my rebellion, I tried to uproot what God had planted in my spirit and nurture the seeds the world was dropping in my ear. The conflict caused by God’s seed and the world’s seed led to recurring bouts of depression and seasons of feeling unattractive and unwanted. As God’s seed blossomed, those bouts and seasons got shorter and shorter and shorter. It took a long time to appreciate that my life will never be representative of what the world values, nor should it be. My life is not meant to be wasted on unclean thoughts and derogatory acts.
It took many years to become proactive in God’s Kingdom, but when I got to that point, I began nurturing the seeds God planted in my spirit and began actively uprooting the seeds the world sold to me. I began by digging up the seeds that ideas about my self-esteem, body image, beauty, sex appeal and sexuality germinated from. Then I took everything that the world told me about myself and I held it up to God’s Word. I am telling you the truth: Nothing in the world can stand up to God’s Word. Nothing. As every single seed that was meant to degrade me and lead me to forfeit my citizenship in God’s Kingdom and my status as His child went up in smoke next to the empowering glory of God’s Word, the seeds God planted in me from the beginning gained strength. With each lie that was demolished, the truth of God’s Word grew stronger in my life. The very short version of this story is: Each year of celibacy has been easier than the last.
So, yes, though I would have married some time ago had it been up to me, I am so very happy that God saw fit to infuse my life, my body and my soul with Himself first. What a wonderful blessing that He saw fit to strip me of so much worldly refuse before joining me to the man who will receive the overflow of God’s blessings on my life.
“But blessed are those who trust in the Lord and have made the Lord their hope and confidence. They are like trees planted along a riverbank, with roots that reach deep into the water. Such trees are not bothered by the heat or worried by long months of drought. Their leaves stay green, and they never stop producing fruit.” ~ Jeremiah 17:7-8
What I have learned from my celibate singleness
I would like to share some things I have learned in the process of being celibate in my singleness. This is not an exhaustive list at all, but it is a summary of the blessings, lessons and principles that have purified my walk and strengthened my faith. May you be blessed and strengthened as well.
- I have a better understanding of God – His order and His will.
- I’ve learned to let go of the reigns. God is ultimately in control. When I repeatedly surrender my heart and life to Him, He will repeatedly cleanse me and restore me to a state where I want what He wants to give me.
- I have learned to expect more of myself and for myself.
- I have gained a very keen awareness of my body and my sexuality – both are blessings.
- I have a deep desire to maintain my own purity and to maintain purity in my relationships.
- I have an increased aversion to sexually promiscuous men. I have come to realize that joining with such a man would pollute my body and my life as if I had never sought to keep either pure.
- It is possible to fight temptation and win; however, it is important to not go out seeking temptation.
- Everything that God has made to be important to me immediately eliminates most of mankind from my “husband-possibilities” list. I’ve learned to look through a narrow lens for my mate – a lens that focuses on one, not many. I am not looking for many types of husbands. I only need one; to his life I will be a perfect complement.
- I have acquired a fuller appreciation for the marriage bed (and a ridiculous anticipation for my husband!)
- Discernment – the many shades of gray I used to see have sharpened into the starkness of God’s “yes” and “no”. I have become very aware of what constitutes “life choices” and “death choices” for me.
- Honesty: the art of naked conversation. When you’re not trying to impress people with your sexual prowess, you feel incredibly free to speak your mind about who you are and where you are in life.
- Patience – I used to pray for patience; it is now firmly scratched off my “I Need” list. Seriously, when you’ve waited over a decade for anything, it takes a while to get riled up about much of anything.
- I have a great appreciation for quality over quantity in most situations.
- Being celibate has made me more aware of the “little” sins – the small offenses that can pollute a relationship. I am generally very quick to accept correction (or correct myself) and offer my apologies and reparations.
- Compromising my principles is not an option. One wrong decision can destroy not only my life, but the lives of my children for generations to come.
Oh, the joys of those who do not follow the advice of the wicked, or stand around with sinners, or join in with mockers. But they delight in the law of the Lord, meditating on it day and night. They are like trees planted along the riverbank, bearing fruit each season. Their leaves never wither, and they prosper in all they do. ~ Psalm 1:1-3