The Social Status Of Celibacy

solitude

When the world talks about celibacy today, their minds focus on one thing – not having sex. They see us as cold-hearted, indifferent, unlovable people. Their minds conjure up images of priests, pedophiles, and homosexuals. I have prayed years for that to change. When I first accepted the call to celibacy about 25 years ago, I resisted anything I read that said all humans are social creatures. “I can do this on my own,” I thought. “What do I need people for? It’s just me and God.” Well, on some levels I was right about that. But on other levels I was wrong. Some of my concerns require me to be around people. There are many other people I would like to know. I have found very few married people that have time to get to know me. And I have found even fewer single people who can tear themselves away from the dating scene to get to know me. I’ve even signed up for some dating sites just to meet people. Is that odd or what? On some levels I have considered my aloneness to be part of the celibate gift and for people to see just how insignificant marriage will be in eternity. When Jesus spoke of not everyone being able to accept celibacy (Matthew 19), I think he was including our capacity for solitude. The world doesn’t accept solitary people. They are viewed as loners, drifters, and suspicious people to stay away from. I’m very comfortable with solitude and couldn’t live without it. It’s like a well-worn baseball glove. It fits me. I think there’s a difference between being lonely and being solitary. Lonely implies that something is missing. Solitude implies that the time alone has been filled by something of greater significance – like getting to know God, pondering the mysteries of the universe, and coming to understand how God can use me in the world. If we are eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven, doesn’t than mean that our roles have already begun on this earth? What are we waiting for? Wasn’t Christ himself a solitary man? He spent a lot of time alone in the desert, on mountaintops, in the temples, and in the gardens. Look at how far we’ve drifted from him. The word Celibacy is actually Latin for “alone” and Christ set the standard for it. It bears witness to the fact that we are all solitary people and that we will stand before God alone in judgment one day soon. We will not have a family to stand by us and give a testimony. There will be no jury and only one judge. But we are not called to defeat.

I think we severely under-estimate what God can do and how much he loves those who seek his will. I can testify to that firsthand. I think we tend to think of God as either a party-pooper or prize-giver. Neither of them could be further from the truth. God created us and knows what makes us tick. He knows what’s best for us. And he can align every cell in our body to do his will, including our brain cells. He can change your way of looking at something you thought was unchangeable. He can reroute destructive desires so that they build up instead of tear down. God is the ultimate social planner because he is concerned about our relationships with our neighbors. In Mark 12:31, he plainly tells us to love our neighbors as we love ourselves. So no matter who we are, where we live, whom we know, or what we consider our social status to be, we are called to treat everybody with decency and respect. Isn’t that how we would want to be treated ourselves?

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