On Mondays, we pray—asking the Lord to raise up marriages out of seemingly impossible circumstances. We ask the Lord to build men up, to encourage them, and prepare them for leadership in relationships and in the church. We ask God to make women tender to the leading of the Holy Spirit—making us more like Christ.
If you’re a FastPray regular, you know that we have frequently written about being single and fully alive—without growing bitter; having hope when dreams haven’t panned out; and, acknowledging our natural sex drives—without lusting. In this post, I want to revisit that last one.
In the last few years (and even months), there’s been a growing chorus of people rejecting the extremes of the purity culture of the 80s and 90s. And, I’m not putting my head in the sand. I know that many women walked away from signing True Love Waits pledge cards have felt like any sexual sin in a relationship has been on their heads because they are “alluring” women and that losing your virginity is akin to losing your soul.
Because of all this purity culture baggage, some—even from inside the church—want to jettison the Bible’s call to sexual purity for any number of reasons. Purity culture hasn’t equipped us to deal with an extended season of unintended singleness. People feel ashamed about their sexual sin. Christians are sleeping around and getting divorced anyway.
I’m not condoning the ills or praising the virtues of the “True Love Waits” movement, but I don’t want FastPrayers to get caught up in believing the lie that because living a celibate life is difficult that it’s not healthy, not fully alive, and frankly, not possible.
Living a celibate life is a full life.
The world says that you have to have sex to be alive. Turn on the TV, pick up a Nicholas Sparks novel, talk to girls during a bachelorette party—the lie that sex equals life itself is everywhere. When I am caught up in this lie, I am full of self-pity, complete with a side attitude of “woe is me.” I look at my unmarried friends—both inside and outside the church who are “getting some” and assume that their lives are more abundant, more fun, and full of chocolate-covered strawberries.
The wellspring of your life is not whether or not you are sexually active—but instead is in your redeemed, Holy Spirit-filled heart. Sex cannot restore your soul. Even if you’re celibate, your life can be full of passion, energy, fun, and joy.
Living a celibate life is spiritually and emotionally healthy.
The world says living without sex if you are unmarried is unhealthy. Purity culture may have shamed too many people into openly talking about sexual sin and real temptation, but don’t believe for a second that having sex outside of marriage is your lost key to health for your body, mind, or heart.
I’m not saying extra-martial sex always comes with an immediate consequence, but believing the lie that it will make you more emotionally stable, happier with yourself, and more satisfied with life is going to leave you wanting.
When you are feeling blue or lonely or fill-in-the-blank, the Lord wants to fill you up, to be near you, and to walk beside you. Clamor, noise, and sex may fill some emptiness, but it can’t build you up, answer your questions, or stop up the hole in your heart.
Living a celibate life is possible.
Movies, books, and pop songs are full of scenes of people being overcome by their passions. Our inborn biological desires are powerful and intricately designed, but you are not a slave to them. Your body does not have a mind of its own, but instead, your body has been bought at a price. Your heart has been redeemed, and you have been called to self-control and self-sacrifice.
It costs to be celibate. It’s awkward. There’s that niggling gray line that runs right through the middle of our desire to build intimacy and to be holy. God hasn’t left us in a place of despair or shame over our desire for sex, but I have to remind myself that God hasn’t called His people to impossible tasks just to watch us squirm. We are fighting this battle from a place of victory.
The Lord sees your imperfect struggles and your desire for holiness—and He will bless you. Regardless of past sin or shame, the Lord has paid for it at the cross and will give you what you need to walk in holiness.
Grace and peace,
And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved. Ephesians 2:1-6
For you know what instructions we gave you through the Lord Jesus. For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality; that each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor, not in the passion of lust like the Gentiles who do not know God; that no one transgress and wrong his brother in this matter, because the Lord is an avenger in all these things, as we told you beforehand and solemnly warned you. For God has not called us for impurity, but in holiness. Therefore whoever disregards this, disregards not man but God, who gives his Holy Spirit to you. 1 Thessalonians 4:2-8