I’ve been single long enough to see how other people deal with it and to spot common patterns that seem to effect us all. When I see someone about to make a mistake, I want to shout “do you know what you’re doing!” We all handle singleness differently. So in this post, I’m going to give a rough outline of what choosing celibacy was like for me. First, let me reiterate something I think is key to understanding this: The state of being single is not the same as the state of being a consecrated single. Just like a couple out on their first date are not married. These false definitions persist because they originate from churches that practice marriage/family idolatry. For them, no other commitment or sacrifice exists outside of family life. I really believe the church has no business suggesting what the future holds for any believer. It should be up to that person and God. Churches are so marriage/family centric and operate so much under the influence of age stereotypes, how could they possibly be objective and give biblical advice on an issue like this? Idolatrous families look at an older single and say “so when are you getting married” without having a clue what they’re talking about. And I think this is having a devastating effect on the numbers of people who are called by God to the celibate lifestyle. When they don’t see support by their church, they turn to another lifestyle, one that is now sanctioned by the U.S. Supreme Court.
In actuality, accepting a life of celibacy has nothing to with age. Read over Matthew 19 again. Jesus did not insert age limits when talking about eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven. So if you ever feel you are being singled out for any reason in your church, you can rest assured that it’s because they are under the influence of the world, not scripture. When I first felt the tug to celibate life in my late 20s-30s, I continued to date some. My reaction was like “Okay, God, what are you trying to tell me?” I didn’t jump up in my Baptist church one day and shout, “I’m going to be a monk!” I started searching the Bible for all the passages that had to deal with marriage and singleness. I read a lot of books. More importantly, I had the support of my mom and dad and a very special mentor. The thing I had to do was sort out how much of my desire was physical and how much was spiritual. As odd as it may sound, those two things got intertwined in my mind. Yes, I did bring the subject up in some small groups in churches. But they just looked at me like they didn’t have a clue. They had nothing to say. Here’s what I say. Take a deep breath and don’t compare yourself with anybody else. When you first discern God telling you to remain as you are, don’t stand in front of mirrors and question your attractiveness. Get rid of them. Instead, concentrate on the reflection of your love in the eyes of Christ. Then ask yourself: Will my love for a spouse ever be greater than my love for God and those things I feel him calling me to do?
Take a survey of the things you are passionate about. I’m not talking about your favorite food – but things like homelessness, refugees, child prostitution, hunger, natural disasters, etc. All the things that you feel could be lined up under “God’s concerns.” They could be issues that you feel drawn too, but feel they are neglected. They don’t necessarily have to be things you know a lot about right now – because if you commit to the celibate life, God can equip you beyond your imagination. He can provide resources that you don’t have. The number one ingredient that has to be there is passion and willingness to commit your entire life to making a difference in the lives of other people. You have to be able to put yourself on the back burner, to put your priorities behind those of the people who need you. If you had any dreams of recognition or fame, you have to bury those. You have to be content with being anonymous. I had a real problem with attaching my name to this blog.
This may sound like a cliche, but you really must have a servant’s heart. I think this is especially true for ladies. For men, I also recommend thinking in terms of being a guard. Just as the eunuchs of antiquity had the responsibility of guarding the king’s possessions and harems, we have the responsibility of guarding God’s possessions, those things that are so fragile that they would be neglected or broken in a world of only nuclear families. For me, it includes protecting God’s plan of human sexuality, which is being broken by a family worship society.
So you see, committing to the celibate life is just as real as committing to a spouse in marriage. It’s even more. I look at it as getting an early start on the marriage feast in heaven between Christ and the church. In a very real sense, our eternities start here on earth. Of the three types of eunuchs Jesus explained in Matthew 19, I think those for the kingdom of heaven do have a unique calling that is much different than the other two. The main reason is because the entire commitment rests on our shoulders. A genetic or physical abnormality did not make the decision for us. A surgical procedure did not make the decision for us. We make ourselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven’s sake (Matthew 19:12). When we do that, we are going against everything this world understands, much the same as when Christ spoke these words. Just as the disciples stood there with their mouths agasp, we live in a world that is reacting much the same way. “There’s something wrong with her!” “He must be gay!” When the world thinks of celibacy, it thinks of only “no.” No sex. No marriage. No kids. No white picket fence. “Do you mean you refuse to consider this good Christian girl as your wife?” “You mean you’re that selfish?” “You’re willing to be miserable and lonely your whole life?” “Who’s going to take care of you when you get old?” They don’t think of all the things we’ve said yes to, all the needs that are more important than their own spouses. So if you come to a point in the discernment process and say “but God, I don’t want to be single forever,” ask yourself whose voice you are listening to. Are you listening to the world or to your heart? Is it about what you want or what God wants? As Paul tells us many times, there is nothing wrong with either mrriage or celibacy. But if God is knocking on that inner door of your heart, you need to at least listen to his proposal.