Celibacy

We’re praying and fasting tomorrow for God to change us and change men to bring about redemptive relationships that lead to oodles of good, God-honoring marriages.  And as we pray, here’s a thought: wherever you are in your fasting journey, consider taking the next step.  If you haven’t ever fasted, try skipping lunch.  If you usually fast lunch, try fasting breakfast, too, and break your fast with dinner. And if you fast breakfast and lunch, you might venture into an all-day fast, from dinner Sunday night until breakfast Tuesday morning.

We’ve been blogging about sexuality the past few weeks, so I wanted to carry on with the topic.  In particular, I’ve been thinking about what to do with our sexuality when we’re “not getting it.”  Choosing to remain celibate when we are not married really is a form of suffering.  Our bodies were intended for sex, probably starting somewhere in the teens, and denying that drive without knowing if we’ll ever get to satisfy it is often frustrating, hard, and downright painful.   It takes a lot of faith, and nose-to-the-grindstone obedience.  We aren’t promised a life without suffering, and part of the suffering we are called to endure might be abstinence – whether for a season or, for some, a lifetime.

So what can we do in the meantime?  Here are some thoughts, not in any particular order of usefulness:

1)   Find someone who is hurting more than you are, and do something for them. Caring for others is healing, and can take your mind off your own circumstances.  So, make a meal, help with a household chore, run an errand – find a practical way to serve somebody else.

2)   Stay away from romantic movies and books for a while.  There’s nothing wrong with a chick flick, but if you are struggling, it probably will only fuel your frustration.

3)   Sweat it out at the gym.  Exercise can be a helpful release of tension, you’ll get in shape, and you’ll get some endorphins, too.

4)   Pour your angst and frustration out to God.  I have a ritual I call “carpet time” — I close the door, turn off my cell phone, get face-down on a rug, turn on worship music (or stream the prayer room at ihop.org), and cry it out before God, praying until I feel better.

5)   Resist the urge to masturbate.  Self-centered sex may feel like a release, but it can leave you in bondage, and it’s not a healthy path to walk down.

6)   Find ways to remind yourself, and the world, that you are a sexual being.  You are a woman, whether or not there is a man around, so dress like one.  Wear sexy underwear.  Let men open doors for you.

7)   Enjoy a good glass of wine and some chocolate with a trusted girlfriend.  A fun night out and a new outfit never hurt, either!

Like all suffering, celibacy can work good fruit in our lives if you let it.  “And we rejoice also in our suffering, knowing that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.”  (Romans 5:3)  It can also make us bitter and hard if we let it.  God promises help, and hope, in the midst of our suffering, whatever it is.  May we all press into him, in faith.

Anne

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17 Responses to Celibacy

  1. Rebecca says:

    This has been a blessing to me and my walk with Christ. Thank you for sharing.

  2. Glenda says:

    I started my celebacy in 2009 and this is 2016. I decided having unsafe sex with men and asking God to fulfill my needs, because I wanted change in my life. I feel clean and safe and loved. I don’t feel I have to please a man. Because I am confident I don’t need a man to make me happy. I can rely on God for that. And I am given respect from men. They find it pleasing that I am confident. I don’t want to get married again. I have made up my mind that God is all I need. He has taken care of my finances and helped me get through emotional storms. I never feel alone and lonely. I have come closer to Him and I know for once in my love he truly loves me unconditionally. He held my hand ,when I lost my daughter and saved me from losing my sanity. He let me get angry with him and showed me all things are possible through the Lord Jesus Christ. He understands more then we understand ourselves. We won’t be married in heaven. Men and women must understand that we will be in spirit. It is the flesh that is weak but the spirit is willing.

    • fast. pray. says:

      Hello Glenda,
      Thank you for sharing how God has transformed your life. It’s amazing what He can do in and through our lives when we allow Him.

      Michelle

  3. Daniela says:

    What I wanted to add to this discussion is a thought that came into my mind when I read the words of Amy: “Our bodies were intended for sex”. Of course this is a true statement. The Lord created male and female according to His image, and He formed them with His mighty hands – and yes, He even formed our sexual organs with His hands! Have you ever imagined this? And yet, there are some people in the world who never have gotten “it” or will ever get “it”, and yet they still live productive, fulfilled, and happy lives. I would like to quote from Walter & Ingrid Trobisch’s book “My beautiful feeling” (a chain of letter correspondence between a teenage girl struggling with masturbation and this counselor couple):

    “The responsibility of becoming complete men and women belongs to married and single people alike. When a single woman has achieved this goal, then she can pour out her whole self – her femininity, her motherliness, her ability to devote herself to others (in other words – her sexuality) more fully into her work and calling.” (“My Beautiful Feeling” Quiet Waters Publications, p. 61)

    I think this is very important to notice. Our sexuality is more than the mere physical expression between a man and a woman. I remember my former voice teacher telling me: “We sing with our sexuality”. Yes, even when we sing, this is a kind of a sexual expression!

    And I also think it’s very relieving and liberating to know that we don’t need sex to survive, like we need food, sleep, etc. (although many people act out as if!). Yes, it is a desire, a need if you will, but you can live a fulfilled life without “gettin’ it” – otherwise the last 16 years of my life would have been totally unfulfilled – which is definitely not the case!

  4. Niki says:

    @ anonomous lady I think the answer as to whether or not masturbation is wrong can be found by asking whether one would do it if God were physically in the room with you. Even now, knowing that He is watching and sees EVERYTHING, do you feel convicted?

    There are scriptures on masturbation though the Bible doesn’t literally mention the word masturbation such as Romans 6:12-14;

    “12Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. 13 Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness. 14For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.”

    I came across the following blog the other day aimed at single women. I like and agree what the writer wrote about masturbation: http://becomingahopefulromantic.blogspot.com/2011/07/secret-struggle-being-mastered-by-your.html

    I like the idea of the sexy underwear and I don’t believe its mandatory that every woman reading this forum has to wear sexy underwear, those that can should but for those who don’t feel comfortable shouldn’t.

  5. Bethany says:

    I want to thank you so much for voicing the struggle that many of us go through and providing a forum to help us think about what it means to be a single, Christian woman. Reading the comments I admit I too was a little shocked at your suggestion to wear sexy underwear, but I totally get the idea of reminding yourself of your femininity. It’s so easy to just throw on a pair of jeans and be “androgynous”. One thing that’s always helped me is to dress like a lady- wear a skirt or a dress, put on a pair of nice shoes, etc. – this always reminds me (and others I think) that I am a lady and not just a being waiting to become a lady when or if I get married.

    I also wanted to suggest something that has been very helpful for me. Like many people (I would guess) for whom most of your friends have gotten married, my accountability partner is a married woman. We talk openly about lust and how it affects each of us in different ways. And, I’ve asked her to read this blog with me so she can pray with me and for me as I find you often said the things that I want to say, but don’t know how.

    Thanks for your honest sharing

  6. Karis says:

    I appreciate addressing this issue. The word “celibacy” jumped out at me this time because of a good book I’m reading. It seems the word “chastity” was replaced with “celibacy” during the sexual revolution… celibacy implies a suffering, a lack, while chastity implies something more positive. It was encouraging for me to thing of being “chaste” rather than “celibate” because chastity can be a way of life with or without marriage, a wholesome way to be obedient to God AND a sexual being at the same time both as a single woman AND as a wife. The book that seems to address this whole issue (not just the terminology!) very well is The Thrill of the Chaste by Dawn Eden. I recommend it!

  7. fast. pray. says:

    Ah, there are many good comments about the relative merits (or demerits) of sexy underwear or masturbation, etc. As Anne and I were praying this afternoon–and we prayed for each person by name or e-mail address who commented 🙂 –we were reminded again: all of these areas are not simple to navigate. We live in a hyper-sexualized culture with more relational weirdness between men and women than seemingly ever before. So, we want to encourage each of us to keep talking to friends, praying honestly, reading God’s word, keeping our hearts and bodies in the light, and knowing, most of all, that we are his beloved daughters on whom grace is lavished.

    A lot of the issues we face are not given explicit directives from Scripture. We simply commit ourselves to obedience as best we understand it (and if in some areas, we’re messed up, we trust him to show us–Phil. 3:15 & 16).

    God is for us, and he does and will continue to lead us through the morass into goodness in the land of the living, until Jesus returns or we go to be with him. That–we decidedly know!

    Blessings~
    Connally

  8. Thanks, as always, for writing these meditations! For what it’s worth, I, too, found the juxtaposition of 2/5 and 6 slightly odd. And, as a previous commenter noted, the latter, in particular, seems like it could cause more trouble than help. I think what you were getting at was the idea of continuing to care for and celebrate your body, but focusing on sexuality can so easily lead down unhealthy roads (not that sexy underwear is inherently bad, mind you!). In my journey with this, it’s been more helpful to think in terms of engaging the various senses, rather than focusing on sexuality per se. So I cook a lot, I walk barefoot in the grass (when I can), I touch interesting textures, I smell many of the flowers I pass and I go to a lot of live music shows. Engaging my body in that way is also a good reminder, I think, that we’re enlivened by more than just sex! (Even if, as a professor once observed, it’s one of few acts that can engage all the senses at once, probably part of its power.)

    As to masturbation, there’s a longer discussion here, representing a number of views on the subject: http://blog.christianitytoday.com/women/2011/06/the_cult_of_the_orgasm.html

    • anonymous lady says:

      thanks, I will look this up after work (ha, not on work computer) I should clarify that I don’t have a STRONG view one way or the other, but I just know a lot of Christians beat themselves up over it, and I am not sure thats necessary. I look forward to reading tonight.

      • Daniela says:

        Dear anonymous lady, I understand your argumentation. Masturbation or self-pleasure for Christians is really a difficult subject, and you can get whatever kind of counsel you would like to hear (from Christian counselors). Unfortunately, I don’t really have the time to elaborate on this, but one of the issues standing out to me is the fact that masturbation is a purely monosexual act – i. e. it’s definitely NOT how the Lord intended it! Marital sex is all about making the other person happy (yes, it’s a ministry), but how can you do this if you are by yourself?

  9. anonymous lady says:

    OK, i will be the one that addresses the white elephant in the room…why is masturbation wrong? I have read different views from different Christians that say different things.

    I think lust and pornography is wrong, but I think it can be done, particularly by women, as a release of tension, not a lustful, pornographic event. I guess I have always viewed it like anything else — a vehicle to sin, but not sin itself. I know some Christians see it as God’s provision for those who are celibate. And, as women its hard, but as men, its even harder – especially since they will have a release one way or another… I personally would be okay knowing the man I end up marrying has chosen to masturbate, as opposed to having sex.

    Like anything else, a lot of it would probably be idolotry or a misuse or perversion of it would be bad, but I am not sure I can biblically support that the act itself is bad. Certainly if I am a person who requires lust to do so, then I would need to quit.
    Whats your views?

  10. RLynn Dennis says:

    Thanks for articulating (very well) what many of us must live with–some for a period, many of us for a lifetime. Our congregation is wrestling with the fact that our denomination has voted to ordain persons involved in same sex relationships and often, the arguement is: “You can’t expect people to live a life of celibacy!” which makes those of us who are single (women, at least) feel like chopped liver. Thanks again for the practical words of encouragement.

  11. Lucie says:

    By no means do I want to sound like a legalist, especially as I understand the spirit behind the suggestion, but I couldn’t help wondering if the advice to “wear sexy underwear” might not cause difficulty for some, for what I hope are obvious reasons. I would never tell anyone outright not to do this unless I specifically knew it would make them struggle, but let’s face it – sexy lingerie is designed to make you FEEL sexy, particularly for a sexual partner’s delight – and for those who don’t have one, that might awaken feelings they’re already trying to deal with in an acceptably Christian manner. Of course, the opposite side of the coin is attempting to suppress that side of one’s personality to the extent of feeling like a eunuch – something I don’t think is God’s intention, either. Seems like a simple issue, but for some it will not be.

    • fast. pray. says:

      Yes, of course, we don’t want anyone to do anything that adds to their struggle… just wanting to make suggestions that have helped some of us! Thanks for your thoughts.

  12. Samira says:

    these words are practical and therefore very helpful…attainable. most suggestions have not been. so thank you.
    from bangladesh.

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