The title of this post may sound contradictory. After all, how can a person be celibate and still sexual? The problem is that we have simplified human sexuality to mean one thing – intercourse. We have dumbed down male/female relationships to mean one thing – romance and pursuit of marriage. When I say dumbed down, I mean that the intelligence and culture of mankind has indeed been held back because marriage and the affairs of the world are valued more than celibacy and the affairs of the Lord. I’m not saying that the IQs of married people are necessarily lower than celibate people. But I am saying that a married person cannot reflect the omnipotent glory of God like a celibate person can. The immediate needs of a wife and children will always trump eternal aspirations. The Bible tells us that. The role of the monastic artists during the Middle Ages and Renaissance was to “transform the desert into paradise.” Rather than create art for a museum, they created art to transcend the everyday aesthetics of the monastery and bring glory to God. They defined beauty beyond the human figure. Their artwork made men think beyond tomorrow and into eternity. Hence, there is an entire field of study devoted to monastic arts. Monks didn’t lose any sleep worrying about their unmarried status or how old they were. They were monks – not husbands. At one time in the ancient world, these two ideals were given equal respect. But after the Protestant Reformation, the role of the monk was decapitated and the role of the parent was catapulted higher than the stars in heaven. Now, the very idea of a person living a chaste life without sex has been bastardized with an ongoing “national conversation” on homosexuality and pedophilia. Have you heard a sermon lately defending celibacy or the monastic ideals?
I know a lot of people probably look at my 54 years of age and think: The pressure is so great, he’s going to explode any day now.” Some people may think I avoid all contact with women and that I’m sitting at home all day taking cold showers and singing chants to myself. That’s the farthest from the truth. I enjoy talking to women – married/single, young/old, Catholic/Protestant/Jewish, whether neighbors in my community or friends in another country. I’m just as much in awe and wonder of them today as I was when I was 10 years old. In my mind, I have put the mysteries of women in the same category as Fermat’s Last Theorem. They’re not for me to understand. But that’s not what the world expects of a 54 year-old “mature” man. At my age, I’m expected to have been married at least twice, hold some kind of grievance toward all women, and have a passel of grandchildren back at home. I’m supposed to be wise to the ways of the world and know how to get what I want sexually. In that regard, I guess you could say I’m quite uneducated. Sometimes I’m embarrassed about that. That’s why I put a high a value on single women who don’t make those assumptions and who value me as a friend – not a romantic interest. Those are few and far between. Will they still accept me if I don’t pursue them romantically? Can they have an intelligent conversation with me without worrying about seeing me again? Can they enjoy a moment for a moment’s sake? Will they be able to look past my age or will they ask: “So you’re 54 and never married. What’s up with that?” Will they make me feel like a leper or a real human being? A loser or a man with dignity? Will they ask what I do for a living or delve deeper into the art I’ve been working on lately? I think human sexuality without sex is one thing that keeps us sensitive to the needs of the opposite sex, whether married or not. It brings us together and facilitates civilization. Yes, I’m attracted to the appearance of beautiful women. But I’m more attracted to kindness and gentleness, softness and gracefulness, and all things that make a woman a woman. I try to stay focused on what I can learn from them, not what I can get from them. I am more attracted to virtuous women, but not in the kind of sexual way that the world associates with virginity. I want my legacy to encourage young people to understand the value of virginity, whether waiting chastely on the right person to come into their lives or living celibate lives for the glory of God, and I want them to understand that marriage and sexual relations are but a blink of an eye in the long run. I believe patience is still a virtue and that there are still men and women who understand the importance of waiting.
I’m still waiting too. Not for a wedding on earth, but for a marriage in heaven with Christ. So my celibacy is not about avoiding women, avoiding responsibility, getting ahead in my career, playing the field, extending my adolescence, getting the milk without paying for the cow, or getting the perks of a husband as a single man. It’s about renouncing marriage, sex, and family as the world knows it today in favor of an eternal kingdom where no one is given in marriage and no babies are born. Imagine a world with a stable population with no abortions, adoptions, birth control, infanticide, child support, deadbeat dads, or stay at home moms. I don’t just imagine it. I see it. All I can do is hope my friends see that in me and respect my renunciation as just as sacred and serious as their pursuits of romance and marriages.