I guess the first question should be: What am I waiting for? My life has taken a different course. I’m not waiting for an earthly marriage, but for Christ’s imminent return and the marriage feast in heaven. At 53, I know that puts me off of any statistical chart. But I decided that in my 20s. It’s a done deal. I’ve walked down the isle. The unending challenge for me has been – How do I live a celibate life outside the walls of a monastary and the Catholic church? How can a guy be a monk in a Protestant world? How do I relate to a world that worships marriage and family? A deeper question: Why is sex even necessary to define who I am? Is it necessary for a deep sea creature to be able to define air to all the other fish he encounters? No, God designed him without a requirement for air. God designed me without a requirement for sex. So why should I describe myself as “celibate,” a word that is associated with homosexuality and catholicism? I’m afraid it’s the best word we have. What word would Apostle Paul use today if he were alive? Would he be in your church’s singles class planning the next movie night out? Where would you put him? Answers to these questions would probably take a book. I would LOVE to hear my readers answers.
Over the years, I’ve heard many reasons why sex should wait until marriage. And I’m sure you’ve heard them too: STDs, unplanned pregnancies, it’s what my parents expect, to avoid heartbreak, because I signed a pledge, the Bible said so, preacher said so, etc. Some of those reasons helped me through the early years. But today I’d say there are two main reasons:
1. I know God created my body and knows what’s best for it. Sex without marriage would be a disaster for my entire being, especially emotionally. It was harder for me to understand that when I was younger and testoserone was raging through my brian. But I’ve come to the realization that God’s ways are beyond my reasoning. He created every cell in my body. I don’t need to know the how and why behind every function. I’ve always liked mysteries. Really. Books, movies, stories – all mysteries. I grew up reading Agatha Christie and Orson Welles. I can live without knowing a woman’s body. It’s unfortunate that’s not respected today.
2. The words Paul used in 1 Corinthians 7 have become a part of who I am. I’ve freely chosen the concerns of the Lord as a completely solitary man instead of the concerns of the world as a married husband. I definitely don’t feel single or incomplete. In some ways, I don’t think “waiting” is an accurate word to describe my life. That’s because the world associates waiting and sex with one thing – marriage. Celibacy takes it to a more spiritual level. The biblical word “eunuch” (Matthew 19) is better – but the masses wouldn’t be able to define that without a scalpel. I do know for sure that I’m content with who I am. And for those of us who are called to this life, I really don’t think it’s necessary for the world to understand these things.
Am I completely void of desire? No.
Does a celibate life require some sort of supernatural intervention? Yes.
Does it re-arrange every cell in your body? Yes.
Does it alter the priorities in your life? Yes.
Do I have a heart as cold as ice? No.
Can I appreciate feminine beauty? Yes.
Do I value marriage? Yes. It’s just as biblical as celibacy.
But all of this has been trumped by the glimpse of what I’ve seen on the other side of eternity.
One of those concerns of the Lord that I care deeply about – Making sure Christian young people today know that it is possible to wait until any age to have sex, that sex is not as important as food and water, and that God does not promise everybody marriage.