Celibacy and the Decision to Marry or Not, for Single Christians
A girlfriend of mine sent me what I consider to be a very honest breakdown of why she is hesitant to marry. Growing up, she was an only daughter and the eldest of three children; the two younger siblings being brothers. She recalls her mother saying “You’re the oldest. You have to help mummy”, and “Where are your brothers’ socks?” All of her life she has taken care of others. She is now an independent, professional woman who enjoys taking care of herself and loving herself. It is not that this long-time Christian woman is opposed to marriage. No. Au contraire mon ami. She has never known a man, or been known by one, because she wishes to obey God. She adheres to the biblical principle espoused in 1 Corinthians 6:18-20: “Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body. Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.”
“It is just” she says, “that marriage has to be so much more than that. I’ve taken care of other people so much and for so long, that I can’t honestly promise a Christian brother that I will dutifully return home after work, clean and cook for him, and possibly for children as well. I’m at a point in my life when I would be rather pleased to pay someone to look after me: clean, cook, serve my meals, etc.”
I understood that my dear girlfriend would enjoy companionship in more ways than one, since she does admit that at least once every few weeks, her healthy body issues a cry to which she has no satisfactory answer. It appears that she desires a companion who can appreciate her point of view, and love her enough to divert from tradition and accept the brand of love that she can offer – one that doesn’t answer the question ‘what’s for dinner?’
Another single female, who is not short of suitors, tells me that she has no interest in being married at all. She has long since accepted that her sexual desires come and go. She really isn’t bothered. After I pried a little more, she shared that there was a period in her life when she really wanted to marry, but had no suitable options – suitable meaning no eligible brother of her faith with whom she shared a certain mutual interest. Now, she adamantly turns down every single one.
Churchgoers often hear that “It is not good for a man to be alone”. Yet, some single Christians feel they have no choice. Singles within this ‘category’ wish to marry. Such singles may be repeatedly rejected by the objects of their oft rebuffed affections. They too habitually dismiss brothers/sisters who do not match their tastes. After all, how far can one digress from true desire, with the aim of acquiring a spouse or a new name before becoming a bonafide hypocrite? And ultimately, a breaker of hearts? – Theirs and other hopefuls.
There was a gentleman of (unmentioned) descent whose proclamation of his ideal was a woman of black and white heritage. To my knowledge, he attempted to court at least two ladies of the said description. His peculiar rationale being that he would gain the supposed strength of a black women and the fabled finesse of her white counterpart. This, I thought to be an insult to both groups. He was firmly turned down both times. On the heels of the second rejection, he selected a very willing sister in Christ, who was almost at breaking point. She satisfied 50% of his criteria. She was black. They were married as soon as the pastor was available. One can only hope that they are now living ‘happily ever after‘. What do you do if you just don’t see what/who you want, or if the ones you want don’t want you?
Is celibacy really an option? There are myths, – some say ‘old wives’ tales’ – that a lack of sexual intercourse shortens the lifespan and results in questionable lumps behind the neck. is there any merit to this? Would you be surprised to hear that you would likely live longer if you have little or no sex? (Barraclough, 2017). Hey! We singles are going to outlive all those married folks! If we behave. LOL.
What does the Bible say about celibacy? The apostle Paul (a guy reputed for having great spiritual fortitude) says 1 Corinthians 7:8, 9 – “For I would that all men were even as I myself. But every man hath his proper gift of God, one after this manner, and another after that. I say therefore to the unmarried and widows, it is good for them if they abide even as I. But if they cannot contain, let them marry: for it is better to marry than to burn”. It is noteworthy that “Jesus never married or had sex…yet he embodied what it meant to be truly and fully human more than any other person who has ever lived” (Hardin, 2018).
While you’re ‘waiting‘, or simply going along life’s journey as someone who happens to be unmarried, or has chosen to remain thus, do you think that celibacy is realistic? Some contemporary spiritual advisors advocate relief that stops short of sex with another person, for example, masturbation. Can a Christian masturbate and remain pure, with a mind set on Christ? Some say it’s possible while others beg to differ. How much weight does Jesus’s example carry?
Not At All
What about choosing to live like Paul or Jesus Christ – never getting married? It may be argued that Jesus only spent 33 years on earth. Some singles have already lived longer than that and are still hopeful of marrying and starting families. What if you make the decision to remain single for life? What if you were married before, and you’re now divorced or have been separated long-term? It was earlier highlighted that being celibate is an honourable state, according to Paul. But how would you cope on a day-to-day basis? What would you do to ensure that you live a full, productive and unselfish life? Stay logged in for my next post.
Barraclough, C. (2017, January 16). WHIMM. Retrieved from My Body & Soul: https://www.bodyandsoul.com.au/sex-relationships/sex/the-sex-trick-that-helps-you-live-longer/news-story/46b412db43d4ca0287cdf076eca31d76
Hardin, N. (2018, July 18). ERLC. Retrieved from What Does the Bible Say About Celibacy?: https://erlc.com/resource-library/articles/what-does-the-bible-say-about-singleness-and-celibacy
STAFF. (2016, September 28). MAYO CLINIC. Retrieved from Health Lifestyle: Adult Health: https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/adult-health/in-depth/friendships/art-20044860