What The Gift Of Celibacy Is Not

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These points are from a Biblical perspective and not from the perspective of opinion polls, majority votes, church tradition, or doctrinal statements, etc.

First of all, celibacy is not a choice you make. It’s a supernatural ability (spiritual gift/charism) given by God to only a number of people. We can pray that we recognize and nurture it. But the choice we have is whether to accept it or not. Think of an athlete who was born with the body and balance for the high beam. She has the God given ability to win a medal at the Olympic games. But it’s up to her to start training and go for the gold.

Celibacy is not something that is instructed in the Bible. There is no formula and no special prayers. It is, however, affirmed as being a higher calling than marriage, in that heaven is higher than earth. It doesn’t matter whether or not your church respects it. It’s a Biblical fact.

The gift of celibacy is not the absence of sexual desires. It is the ability to control them. People who have it are able to remain unmarried without sex and not burn. However, they are not cold prudes with no appreciation for the mystery of sex.

The gift of celibacy (or singleness) is not what a person has while waiting for marriage. It’s not what a couple does before they get married. While God calls everybody to remain a virgin and celibate before marriage, the gift of celibacy is a long-term commitment, just like marriage.

Someone with the gift of celibacy is not going to fit any “life stage” group or similar gender/age/marital status-based group that a church may conjure up.

The gift of celibacy is not tied Biblically to the Catholic Church. It’s merely part of their church tradition. Considering the Protestant Reformation, this is probably the hardest truth Protestant churches will have to accept.

The gift of celibacy has nothing to do with monks, nuns, or any other religious persons. And it has nothing to do with living in communities such as monasteries and convents.

The gift of celibacy has nothing to do with homosexuality or same sex marriage. Many churches are simply replaying what they hear in the media because they don’t understand what the Bible says on the subject.

The gift of celibacy is not compatible with someone who has had sex. If we are to believe that a faithful marriage involves a husband and wife who have not had sex with anybody else during their marriage, we are compelled to believe the same about faithful celibacy. The Bible deals with ideals when it comes to sexual ethics. It does not deal with “should have beens.” Otherwise it would not contain the terms adultery and fornication. That does not mean a person can’t be forgiven and commit again to live without sex until marriage.

Celibacy is not a social status that affords people special privileges. It is not something given to only third world missionaries in order to do “ministry service.”

Celibacy is not perfection. If you believe that, you have fallen for a straw man.

Celibacy has nothing to do with having more time to do God’s work. Because there are so many things to do, it often results in less time.

A life of celibacy is not a life of failure. It is a life of faith and sacrifice that married life cannot attain.

Celibacy is not emptiness. It is a life that has been filled by something much more than sex.

The gift of celibacy is not a label you put on someone after their death and after a vote has been taken to determine their worthiness. If we’re going to do it that way, we should do the same for marriage – take a vote after both the husband and wife are dead to determine if they were faithful to each other and if they were really married.

Celibacy is not the denial of our maleness or femaleness and it is not the denial of our sexuality.

Celibacy is not a byproduct of some negative life experience, such as a troubled home life or a bad relationship with a mother or father.

Celibacy is not a life without commitment. It is a life with more commitment. Who is more worthy of sacrifice, a spouse or God himself? It reminds the world that there is more to commitment than the bells and whistles of a wedding ceremony.

Celibacy is not a default state a person enters when a single adult can’t find a spouse. It is an intentional choice and a positive response to God. It is made public for that very reason. It symbolizes our total dependence on God and eternal life in heaven for all believers.

Celibacy is not living selfishly for ones’ self. It’s just the opposite. It is living for everybody else. Marriage is about exclusion. Celibacy is about inclusion.

Celibacy does not lead to a life without children. That may be so from a biological standpoint. But from a spiritual standpoint, we have more children than anybody else.

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Virginity – Beyond The Sexual

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I know my blog is about something very personal. Most of us wouldn’t discuss virginity in a Walmart checkout line or even in church. In this post, I want to talk about why it is not always about the sexual. Have you ever wondered why it was necessary for Mary, the mother of Christ, to be a virgin? Did Joseph choose her for his wife because she was the hottest girl in the village? No, God himself chose Mary. Was she a perfect woman? No. You can read the whole story in Luke 1. Pay particular attention to Mary’s response in verse 34 when the angel Gabriel told her she was going to have a miraculous birth: “Then said Mary unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man?” In other words, she asked how she could possibly have a child when she hadn’t had sex with a man. “How shall this be” tells us she had no doubt the birth would occur, only how it would happen. Her faith was much higher than the average woman at the time, or at any time. I think that was one of the main reasons she was highly favored. Gabriel summed it up in v. 37, “For with God nothing shall be impossible.” Sometimes it’s necessary to bypass the questions of how in order to reach a level of faith like Mary’s.

A seemingly ordinary young woman pulled off the impossible. She broke a cycle that had never been broken, as no one in the history of mankind had ever been born without a biological mother and biological father. So the origin of virginity, as spoken by Gabriel, had nothing to do with locker room graffiti or sexual gratification. It was necessary for the birth of Christ to prove to a skeptical world that he was the son of God as well as the Son of Man. Also notice that her response to Gabriel was not like Zacharias. She didn’t show any skepticism. She didn’t say, “Yeah, right Gabe, you go ahead and make that happen and I’ll still be here laughing tomorrow.” She didn’t ask for a sign – “If you could just make it rain for the next week, I might listen to you.” And did Mary get a big ego out of all this? Did she put on a new dress and crown herself as one who was “highly favored among women?” It was just the opposite. Her response could only come from the mother of Christ: “Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word.” She saw herself as a lowly servant and in no way sought to bring attention to herself. Couldn’t that serve as the definition of humbleness? As Herbert Lockyer said: “ Mary exhibited a true and genuine piety, as well as a profound humility—the accompaniment of holiness.” She was highly favored among women because she was following God’s will for her life, had a very unique beauty of character; and had the faith, disposition, and determination to carry out the mission of bringing Christ into the world. Even though she knew what pain and sorrow lay ahead of her, she calmly accepted her assignment, “Be it unto me according to thy word.” In order for Christ to come into the world as both a human and God, it was necessary for his conception to be miraculous and not involve the sperm of a mortal man. To do this, she had to be a virgin. And it had to remain an eternal mystery. Men have never been able to explain how a virgin could give birth and they still can’t explain it today. It takes faith to believe in the virgin birth of Christ. To discredit it is to reject Jesus himself. It is as crucial as the resurrection in substantiating His deity. It is not an optional truth.

Does any of this associate virginity with sexual pleasure? No. It marks Mary as a faithful follower of Christ. And it associates Christ with his miraculous birth, one of such gravity that it changed the course of time. It takes time for a person to draw closer to Christ. And I think the longer a Christian lives without marriage and a sexual relationship, the more their virginity becomes about what is not sexual and remaining faithful to God. It becomes more about relating to those who Christ called “the least of these.” And virgins are among those people today. Since about my 30s, I’ve looked at virginity as one of the strongest equalizing forces in the universe – far surpassing gender, race, class, age, etc.  When talking to others who are waiting on marriage or have the gift of virginity, I don’t have to worry about what their expectations of me might be or how I compare with other men.  I don’t have to worry about comments like, “You better get a move on or time will pass you by.” I feel freer to be myself. You can’t put a price on that. When I talk to people, I don’t check ages and birth certificates first, like the world does. If I feel like talking to women much older or much younger than myself, I just let the world point and gossip. I don’t feel bad about giving them something to talk about. Not only is it an equalizing force, virginity can be so thoroughly melded into the fabric of our everyday lives that it becomes just another part of who we are. It is, after all, very natural. At some point, the question about who was out there that God wanted me to marry turned into: What else needs to be done? Who has been forgotten? Who can I help the most? What can I guard that is susceptible to being stolen? Feeling the need to guard something may in fact tie us to the role eunuchs played in Old Testament days when they guarded royal harems and jewels. For me, this does include guarding young people from the tragedy of teenage births and poverty; something that parents are responsible for, but many of them are not.

So, do you still think virginity is all about not having sex? Do you think it’s just something men look for in a wife? I hope not, because I can’t think of too many things more important in the history of mankind than following God’s will, being faithful, and having the self control to make wise decisions. How many women and men are highly favored by God today?

https://books.google.com/books?id=0YrW3bxxGAsC&pg=PA94&lpg=PA94&dq=%22mary+exhibited+a+true+and+genuine+piety%22&source=bl&ots=QEQLXFEJzG&sig=M-FXaMMN-izaVP_7WrLh24R3P0I&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjylqXuzv7NAhWIHR4KHUmJBd4Q6AEIJDAB#v=onepage&q=%22mary%20exhibited%20a%20true%20and%20genuine%20piety%22&f=false

The Sacredness Of Celibacy

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No responsibility, no commitment, extended adolescence, wasting time. You can’t trust them. I know what the world – and the church – says about singleness. To understand the sacredness of celibacy, we first have to uncover the pretense of singleness. It all starts in church. Churches typically segregate members based on age and marital status, under the assumption that these criteria determine a person’s “life stage.” Division by age is pretty much a no brainer for kids. But things get a little more complicated with adults, especially adults who are not holding a marriage license. In a typical singles class, you could have a 20 year old virgin, a 30 year old divorcee, a 40 year old widow, a 50 year old transgender, and a 60 year old homosexual. How do they relate to each other? They don’t. It’s just more comfortable and more politically correct to pile everybody into the same boat. And it provides everybody with an equal shot in the dating game. You see, relating to each other and meeting each other’s needs doesn’t matter much to the church. What matters is that people keep coming back and putting more money in the offering plates.

But biblically speaking, what is marriage and what is singleness? According to Webster’s Dictionary, marriage is a legal contract between two people and singles are people who don’t have one. However we know in the Bible that sex initiates marriage, not a wedding ceremony or legal contract (1 Cor 6:16). Sadly, the church has adopted the standards of the world. It does not see sexual ethics as the responsibility of individual members, but of the courthouse. The courts define marriage, all types of marriages, and the courts define singleness. Sexual purity before marriage and faithfulness in marriage have been relegated to quaint old-fashioned ideas. So when Paul talks about marriage, he is not talking about our idea of a temporary living arrangement. When he talks about virgins, he is not talking about our idea of singleness. He says something else that is foreign to our ears, that everybody is either called to celibacy or to marriage between a man and woman. But if you choose celibacy, the U.S. Supreme Court will tell you that you’re doomed to loneliness. If you choose marriage, you’re expected to have kids and circle your wagon around the throne of the family. It may seem like a loose-loose situation. But it’s a decision that every Christian must make. If you enter marriage without considering celibacy, you are – in effect – denying the birth, death, and resurrection of Christ and casting doubt on salvation and spiritual rebirth.

When Paul talks about the gift of celibacy and remaining unmarried (a virgin), he is not talking about single people waiting on marriage. He is talking about a commitment between God and a believing Christian that is just as real as the commitment between any husband and wife in marriage. Matthew 19 and Jesus’ comment about eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven makes that a little clearer, I think. I know that many churches teach that if you’re single you have the gift of singleness and if you’re married you have the gift of marriage. That’s not true. When you consider the whole metaphor of the eunuch, it’s clear that choosing to be a spiritual eunuch concerned about the coming kingdom of God is much more than a default state of waiting on a spouse. Being any one of the three eunuchs in Matthew 19:12 requires an event; whether it’s a birth with genetic anomalies or an act of violence or a conscious decision. All of them preclude a sexual relationship required for marriage. In the case of a conscious decision to be a eunuch for the kingdom of heaven, it is intentionally chosen for a specific reason, much the same as husbands and wives choose each other in marriage. It is not the default state of singleness while waiting on a spouse. I would say celibacy is even a deeper commitment because it involves caring for the things that belong to the Lord, not the world. Notice also in 1 Corinthians 7 that Paul does not define those with the gift of celibacy based on their marital status and something they don’t have, but rather on something they do have. 1 Corinthians 7:32-33:

32 But I would have you without carefulness. He that is unmarried careth for the things that belong to the Lord, how he may please the Lord:

33 But he that is married careth for the things that are of the world, how he may please his wife.

I think it’s fair to substitute values for cares. The married person expresses his values for the world through marriage. The celibate person expresses his cares for the Lord through virginity. Viewed in this light, it’s easy to see why Paul considered it a better choice. So discerning marriage or celibacy comes down to a question of whom do you want to please – the world or God? That does not mean that a person cannot serve God in marriage. It means they cannot serve God with the same energy, insight, motivation, identity, or frame of mind that a virgin can. So in celibacy, a person remains totally devoted in Christ during his entire lifetime and his priorities do not change. However, in marriage, a person’s devotion is divided and his priorities do change. Change is consistent with the world. It’s not consistent with eternity.

Have you ever noticed how married people sometimes become so one flesh that they even look like each other? I have known people whose very identities are tied up with their spouses. It’s even hard for me to think of them as individuals. They’re couples. That’s a good thing and I think it’s what God intended for marriage. Think about the ramifications though when that same “oneness” occurs in the gift of celibacy. Instead of taking on the image of a spouse, we are called to take on the image of Christ. It’s our job to change the meaning of procreation from childbirth to spiritual birth. It’s our job to announce his eminent return and to bridge the time between the ages, between the Old Covenant and New Covenant. Yes, marriage is sacred. But celibacy for the sake of the kingdom of God is sacred and supernatural.

Just Friends?

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When I made the choice to remain as I am, one of the things that comforted me was the thought that I could claim all girls as my girlfriends. Then I could spend all the time I wanted with any of them and wouldn’t have to worry about neglecting a wife or children. For that matter, I could call up anybody anytime, man or woman, if I wanted to talk. The only problem is that men and women can’t be friends anymore. The fastest way I know of to ensure that a single woman will not speak to me again is to ask her to be my friend. Even faster, tell her that I don’t plan on getting married and that I plan on staying single. The simple reason is because we live in a world that worships marriage and family. Sex has become the be-all and end-all of human existence. With their fertile years slipping by, many women blame men, the world, and God himself. The only men they are willing to be friends with are potential suitors. Everybody else is a waste of time. That may sound like a logical plan of action. But it’s not biblical. All of us are called to love our neighbor as ourselves. We’re also told in the Bible that whatever we do for one of the least of these, we do it to God.

Over the last 30 years, I’ve watched how men and women relate to each other change drastically. It all coincides with the increasing use of the internet and other digital technologies for communication. The “friend” on a Facebook friend list is a far cry from a real friend from the 70s. This was brought home to me recently when I went to my 35-year high school reunion. What a feeling to be in a room with real friends I’ve known for many years, several of them since first grade. Since I never dated in high school, sex was never part of the picture with any of them. But I think I know them better than any other group of people in my life. To know someone today though requires sex, and I think it’s the one thing that makes me feel out of place. Men are expected to either be having sex on a regular basis with a wife or looking for someone to have sex with, preferably with a woman. But I think churches today accept homosexuals more than they do people looking for spouses or those called to celibacy. Friends? That requires too much self control. And most churches will tell you that for men that’s just not possible. They will point you to their pornography addiction groups, unwanted sexual behavior groups, sexual addiction recovery groups, substance abuse groups, same sex attraction groups, accountability support groups, etc. Women might find a body image support group. But if a single man and woman sit together, they automatically have a romantic interest in each other. The gossip line of the church will have them having sex before lunch is finished.

Taking sex off the table is just not possible for single women either because their biological clocks are running out. They’ve invested in their education, careers, houses, etc. Now they want their baby. And they want it now! If they don’t see an acceptable prenuptial package deal, most won’t even tell a guy hello. Friends just waste time. Does that sound Christian? Not to me. It actually is one more thing that gives the church a black eye. Single men – be careful whom you sit with in church. The grapevine may have you dating her before you get home. Of course, it could be a church where two “sit downs” are required for dating. And daddy could be watching from any pew. When a society reaches the point where they can’t confer adulthood on young adults and the differences between dating and courting become a theological issue, they’ve reached a point of sex worship.

With all the talk of “just friends,” I often think, “what else do I need?” And then I have to remind myself of how the world views my alternative celibate life, whether they know that’s what I’ve chosen or not. First, I have to be careful with the word celibacy because, for many people, it only means one thing – being gay and trying to live without sex. These family-only churches know of no other Christian lifestyle but family. The only way their preachers and leaders can relate to the word “single” is from a youth perspective. They’re experts on youth. They represent potential tithes for the church. They know how to do is prepare them for marriage and tell them to wait; because if they get married, they can give more money to the church. “Get close to God and he’ll bring you the right one.” When I feel like nobody in the church knows who I am, I have to remember that they really don’t me because they don’t know what celibacy is, that the days of honest friendships are long gone – and that the church only knows how to date, court, have sex, and kiss babies. There is so much more of me to get to know. My art, photography, short stories, mentoring, etc. It would really be easier for me to make up a story of how my wife died and left me to live as a widower for all these years. Then there would be no questions asked. “So sorry John. Let us know if there’s anything we can do.” They might bring me a donut.  Let us remind ourselves that there is nothing eternal about marriage, family, sex, and children. For me, that means the lifestyle of celibacy I have chosen on earth is the same one I will spend eternity with.

Chastity – Is It Worth Defending?

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Chastity speakers, chastity blogs, chastity belts, chastity vows, chastity education, chastity veils, chastity books, chastity jewelry, chastity T-shirts. Come one, come all, get your chastity now. If you didn’t know better, you’d think the world has gone chastity crazy. Has the world really gone crazy over a biblical virtue? What does chastity really mean in the world today? I’ll give you a hint. It’s not all about saving sex for marriage. Actually, it can mean anything you want it to mean. Both the words chaste and chastity come from the Latin adjective “castus,” which means “pure.” The word chaste is found in the KJV Bible three times. According to the 1995 Holman’s Bible Dictionary, chaste means: “Holy purity demanded of God’s people with special reference to the sexual purity of women.” We all know we can never measure up to the level of purity Christ set while he was on earth. But did he give special reference to women? I can’t find that anywhere in the Bible. The 2005 New Westminster Dictionary of Christian Spirituality includes men in the definition: “Chastity has been associated with a state of a celibate lifestyle, typically of lifelong virginity, as in the case of Catholic priests, monks and nuns. Historically and outside of the religious life, concern for the preservation of chastity, understood as virginity, most often arose with regard to unmarried women.” However, the current Oxford Dictionary’s definition of chastity reflects more the sign of our times: “The state or practice of refraining from extramarital, or especially from all, sexual intercourse: vows of chastity.” How can a person be in a state and practicing it at the same time? “I think I’ll practice dying, be right back.” Or “I think I’ll practice virginity. Tell me when I’ve perfected it.”

Somewhere around the 16th century and the reign of the Virgin Queen, Elizabeth I, it seems that virginity fell away from the definition of chastity and the word came to be associated with a vague notion of purity, void of any spiritual dimensions. The Renaissance also ushered in a new awareness of emotions, feminine beauty, and intellectual achievement. During this time also, history came to be associated with the written word, including sexual histories and romantic literature. An interesting and inescapable fact about virginity is that it requires a history. So what does a society do when they want to forget their history? They redefine the language to suit their culture. In Shakespeare’s Merchant of Venice, for example, female worth is connected with chastity and increased sexual pleasure, but not with anything of a spiritual nature. Indeed, with the advent of the printing press in the 15th century and creative writers like Shakespeare in the 16th century, histories became easier to record and stories became easier to tell. Thus, personal histories associated with chastity became as erasable as one of Shakespeare’s characters. Look at how we’ve devolved today. As Shakespeare said: “All the world’s a stage.” When the words become uncomfortable, change the script. When the world wants to tax you, change your identity.

Since all taxpayers are paying for abortions, contraception, STDs, unwanted children, etc., shouldn’t every one’s sexual history be public knowledge anyway? In Old Testament times, it pretty much was. If a man raped a woman, he was required to marry her. If a new bride was found to not be a virgin, she was stoned to death. Since chastity proved to be too heavy of a cross for pleasure-seeking man to bear, we find ourselves today with a definition of chastity that has been watered down to the point you can’t tell what the original definition was. Like a feature on a car, it has become but a specification on an object of pleasure, a value added bonus. Those who still associate a sacred element with sex (and thus chastity) are at constant odds with those who see sex as a recreational sport. As John Paul II said in 2009:

“A life of chastity, poverty and obedience willingly embraced and faithfully lived confutes the conventional wisdom of the world, because it is a proclamation of the Cross of Christ (cf. 1 Cor 1:20-30).”

It has confuted the world to the point to where those who do respect the human body and sexuality are fighting for every shred of authenticity that is left in the Christian vocabulary. Fighting for chastity to mean something more than “doing the right thing regarding sex.” When the world says the word chastity and means a device, we think of virginity. When the world says rainbow and means gay rights, we think of Noah and the flood. When the world says marriage and means a relationship of convenience between two people for sexual pleasure, we think of a lifetime commitment between a man and a woman. The devaluation of chastity has been on a progressive downhill path. When the dignity of marriage fell a notch, chastity fell a notch. Our sexual motivations went from a means to a higher spiritual end (i.e., propagation of the species) to a means of sexual gratification. And when biblical language was no longer passed to children, chastity became a smug idea that “only religious people understood.” Like a fog lifting off a hot drenched highway, teenagers could only see virginity in their rearview mirrors and exclaim “If only somebody had told me about that.” For those who have chosen chastity and the celibate life, it would be wise to keep Pope Pius XII words in mind: “Virginity is not a Christian virtue unless we embrace it ‘for the kingdom of heaven.'” Likewise, fidelity in marriage is not a virtue unless we embrace the goodness of procreation and raising children in Christian homes.

If we don’t embrace and defend the language of both lifestyles, all biblical vocabulary will become meaningless and Shakespeare’s characters will once again come to life today. From The Merchant of Venice:

“Gratiano speaks an infinite deal of nothing, more than any man in all Venice. His reasons are as two grains of wheat hid in two bushels of chaff: you shall seek all day ere you find them, and when you have them, they are not worth the search.”

http://people.ischool.berkeley.edu/~nunberg/chastity.html

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chastity http://w2.vatican.va/content/pius-xii/en/encyclicals/documents/hf_p-xii_enc_25031954_sacra-virginitas.

html http://en.radiovaticana.va/storico/2009/10/20/address_of_his_holiness_john_paul_ii_to_the_bishops_of_malawi_on_their/en3-327730 https://books.google.com/books?id=bPOft7krR84C&pg=PA189&lpg=PA189&dq=chastity+virginity+dictionary+-.com&source=bl&ots=RgRpC3ygTR&sig=E5fQqdfKP06qEmIfZsFlMbAR7B0&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0CDIQ6AEwBmoVChMI0-XX7fzyxgIVTymICh2TyQow#v=onepage&q=chastity%20virginity%20dictionary%20-.com&f=false http://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/hbd/view.cgi?n=1225

Eunuchs – What’s In A Name?

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I had some very colorful people in my family growing up. One was my Aunt Sudie. She had a different taste in books, food, furniture, and especially music. I always thought of her as more . . . refined, cultured, even more civilized. When I went to visit her, I could always here the soft background music of Birmingham’s only easy listening radio station, WQEN. Everything was slowed down in her house. Well, everything, but intellect. She was a thinking lady. Every response was measured. And even her clothes always seemed to match. I remember playing dominoes and chess with her on Sunday afternoons. You can guess how that went. My taste in music back in the 1980s leaned toward the Bee Gees, Boston, and Bob Dylan. One afternoon on top 40 WERC, I heard that our easy listening station was switching over to country format. I thought “poor Aunt Sudie.” The next time I saw her, it didn’t take long for her to bring up the subject. “How about that? Now I’ve got to choose between being a rock and roller or a honkytonk red neck.” I sympathized with her . . . a little. While I wasn’t an easy listening fan, I didn’t like the idea of someone being forced to listen to music they didn’t like.

Replaying that scene in my mind lately has given me pause because . . . I felt like I was being forced to choose between two things I don’t want – the virginity of bubble-gum popping teenage girls or the celibacy of black-robed Gregorian-chanting bread-making Benedictine monks. I wrestled a bit with that over the years. Who did I identify with? I knew no one who had chosen this life. In the Protestant world, there’s not much to identify with if you’ve chosen a life of celibacy, other than a cold pew in the back of a church. I know what their congregations think of single men. I won’t go there. Actually I identify with refugees, hostages, people with no identity, and others displaced from war-torn areas of the world. I relate to the people of Israel. But I know my real identity is in Christ alone. As Galatians 2:20 tells me:

“I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.”

It’s interesting that the word “crucified” in this verse is in the perfect tense. The crucifixion was in fact a past action that has present results. Like Paul, I have died to all the expectations and assumptions surrounding a single man in the 21st century. Or I should say, it’s an ongoing process. All Christians are called to do this. But I think people who have chosen celibate life more fully embody that reality. We are more dependent on Christ every day of our lives. So even though a social identity may be a natural part of the human equation, it’s something we have to die to, much more so that any other segment of the population. When you get down to it, we don’t live natural lives. Those of us called to celibacy live supernatural lives. I’m sure Paul went through an identity crisis. Living a life as Saul, he had the responsibility of living in obedience to Mosaic Law. But instead of trying to find acceptance with God through following a set of rules, the person of Paul was now living by a new set of principles based on the Holy Spirit living inside of him. Just as it was the rules Paul had to cast aside, we oftentimes have to cast aside our very own language, our very own social identities. Because in a very real sense we are living outside our time zone. The world sees clocks on a wall and the oscillations of a cesium beam in the form of an atomic clock. We see an ocean of infinity that doesn’t need time. The world sees children holding hands with mom and dad. We see spiritual children in the future that can’t even be counted. We have even chosen to cast aside family and children. But remember that the Bible tells us we will not be forgotten. Isaiah 56:4-5:

4 For thus saith the LORD unto the eunuchs that keep my sabbaths, and choose the things that please me, and take hold of my covenant;

5 Even unto them will I give in mine house and within my walls a place and a name better than of sons and of daughters: I will give them an everlasting name, that shall not be cut off.

When I have an identity crisis, these are my go to verses. So I don’t like the sound of virgin? It doesn’t matter. I don’t like the sound of celibate? It doesn’t matter. I don’t want to be a monk? It doesn’t matter. One day I will have an “everlasting name.” I understand that to mean only eunuchs will have an everlasting name. Not moms. Not dads. Not preachers. Not teachers. Only eunuchs. I have no idea what that everlasting name may be. When I’m watching all the other parents pamper their children in church and I’m feeling rather childless, I remind myself that I will have an everlasting name. When the church throws a Christmas party and invites all the families but does not invite me, I remind myself that I will have an everlasting name. When I’m trying to think of people to include in my will, I remind myself I will have an everlasting name – and that my children in the future will get more than that. I don’t look at it as a consolation prize. It’s a biblical promise. All I can do now is savor the mystery.

Do Men Exist Who Save Sex For Marriage?

man on road painting

“And what would you say to a single woman who is saving sex but struggles to believe that men exist who want to save sex, too?” That question was posed to Everett Fritz on Arleen Spenceley’s blog today. Everett, now 31, was a virgin until he married at 22, which I find interesting because aren’t all guys virgins before they have sex? I guess it’s odd to me because I consider sex itself marriage and not a church service or legal document. But that’s a whole different story. While I do agree with Everett’s answer, that everyone should read more books and articles written by Arleen, I thought I would offer my answer, in hopes of assuring single women that men do exist who are saving sex until marriage. Yes, I know I’ve made the decision to remain a virgin forever. But there was a time when I was open to marriage. I think guys who are waiting, whether for marriage or forever, have a few things in common. So here’s what I would say to single women, especially to those 25+, who are saving sex for marriage:

1. We adore you and are rooting for you, whether you want to marry us or not. We want the world to see what virtuous ladies are really like, that you stand by your principles, and that you don’t compromise in order to gain popularity or get a job promotion. And even more important – that God made you to be more than the sum of your body parts or objects of desire.

2. We like awkwardness, for lack of a better term. We like to think that we can pick you out of a crowd. And we’re depending on you to pick us out of a crowd. So don’t be afraid of being yourself. Don’t try to look or act like other girls, even your best friend. The NUMBER ONE thing that turns me on to a girl is originality. Is she marching to her own beat or is she trying to keep time with the world? Is her confidence in God or is it in her appearance and her ability to attract men? For a woman who is waiting, she should NOT know what it takes to please a man. If you try to copy the world with the latest fashion and trends, chances are great that a Godly single man will not notice you. It is very unappealing. Don’t be afraid to do things differently. Define your own style. But whatever you do, keep it modest. If you’re trying to attract attention with your skin, you will definitely get the wrong kind of attention. Then that bass player will definitely hit a note you will regret. Dressing modestly also speaks tons about your sensitivity to us. “This girl actually cares that I keep my mind focused on her as a person and not on her as an object of sexual desire.” I’ve always felt that truly beautiful girls, inside and out, do not know they’re beautiful. So don’t be afraid to stumble or appear different. When two awkward people come together, the word awkward ceases to exist and becomes something sacred. That’s the way God intended it. Yes, the world may point fingers and laugh. That’s okay. We’re awkward too. Isn’t there a right time and place for everything? So what does it matter what the world thinks? We live in a world that tells us we have to have sex to be men. Show us that you think differently. The biggest compliment I have ever received is when someone told me me, “John, you would have made a good dad. But I know God led you down a different road.”

3. Ask questions, about anything, no matter how personal. It tells me a lot of things about you – that you’re brave, you’re straightforward, you know what your priorities are, you’re open to being friends, and – most importantly – you’re confident in who you are. It tells me you are more than skin deep. “So where did you grow up” to “where do you go to church?” Ask your friends about us. Investigate us.

4. We don’t know what you’ve been through when it comes to guys. Has someone tried to take advantage of you? Lied to you? Arleen had a bad set with a bass player. We’re sorry. We want you to see that we’re different. While your trust may have been violated, let me say this very tactfully – We’re not responsible for what happened in your past. And you shouldn’t have sole responsibility for laying down rules and “boundaries” in future friendships. That’s not to say that guys can be insensitive to any trauma you have experienced. They can’t. But they don’t want to see you hurt anymore. When I see a girl that I care about hurt, I hurt. That’s called being friends, not emotionally dependent lovers. It may be hard to imagine in this day and time, especially since most of the chastity blogs are written by women, but there are indeed guys who know what the rules are – and live by those rules every day of their lives. There are actually guys too who do not date girls who are “willing” to save sex for marriage, or even have them as friends. And brace yourself for this shocking reality: There are actually guys who have said no to sex. Do you respect that? You need to tell us.

5. While you may be awkward, some of us are sensitive. Affirm our sensitivity. If I’m rescuing an animal from the middle of the road and you happen to be following me, turn on your hazard lights. Thanks. Tell us it matters. Defend us when necessary. It works both ways.

6. Let us know that we’re appreciated, even if you know you’re not going to marry us. Not every guy is easily “led on.” Not every guy is a sex animal ready to pounce on whatever warm-bodied female moves in front of him. Spend time with us. Talk to us. Let us know we’re doing something right. By doing so, you’re telling the whole world what kind of man you value. By staying silent, you allow us to wonder who YOU really are.

7. Trust us. I know this is a big one, because many of you have already had that trust violated. But as best you can, please make peace with your past and move on. An attitude of revenge and “prove yourself” will not build up a legacy that you want to leave on earth. Don’t allow yourself to be brought down to the level of the world. Learn to trust again. Pray for the discernment to draw you to Christian men and to avoid non-Christian men. I think virgin guys can pick up distrust a million miles away. Sometimes we are willing to ignore it, like if we think you are recovering from abuse, etc. But most of the time we interpret it as your attempt to be part of the feminist “man-bashing” crowd. And in our minds, that gives us a good reason to avoid you.

8. Treat everybody you meet with respect. If I want to meet you, it will probably be when you least expect it. I can be a clown and have been known to put on quite a show just to watch people’s reactions. “But you’re not going to marry, so what does it matter?” Yes, but I’m still a human being who needs social contact. Until you see or hear something that tells you otherwise, treat every guy like he could be the guy you spend the rest of your life with – no matter how old/young, rich/poor, simple/sophisticated, Catholic/Protestant, etc. This is especially true when you first meet a guy. I’m not saying jump in the car of the first man who shows you attention. That wouldn’t be using wise discernment. What I’m saying is be civilized and don’t be partial with your time and attention. Even the person you snub could be the friend of a friend . . . you never meet.

9. Break free from the chains of mom and dad. For some of you still living at home, etc., I know that’s near impossible. But learn to think for yourselves, to trust your own judgment, to discern the good guys from the bad guys. We’re not afraid of your mom, dad, or anybody else in your family. Have us over for lunch. A lot of older single guys probably wouldn’t mind if your family adopted us.

10. Don’t be afraid of letting people know you’re open to marriage, even in your church; because while we may not know each other, we may have friends in common. Usually, girls have more verbal skills than guys. Most guys appreciate that. I know I do. So if a guy is really interested in you, it will not matter to him how he meets you.

11. Put down the texting and social media and talk to us face to face; or if necessary, ear to ear on a telephone. Computer text does not convey 1/10th of what is communicated in a conversation. You can’t hear the other person’s tone of voice or inflections and you can’t see their body language or eye contact. Just place one step in the guy’s direction and say “what’s going on” and let God take care of the rest. Try your best to make eye contact with him. That is so important. But don’t knock him over the head if he glances at your body a few times. God made sexual desire. If he’s like you and has never had sex, then your desires are evenly matched. Introduce him to your brain. Can you solve an unbelievably difficult puzzle? Show off a little bit.

12. Understand what the guy who is saving sex has said “no” to and the self control it took him to be available to you today, whether as a friend or as a potential husband. This is especially true for an older guy. Think about all the times he has been ridiculed and laughed at and still had the will power to say no to even one night of pleasure. Consider his age and think about how many nights that involved. Think about all the friends, or would be friends, he has lost because he would not have sex. Think of the people who have turned their backs on him because he does not “fit in” with the ways of the world or have a wife and family. Think of the embarrassing questions he’s had to endure at work, church, and out in everyday life. “So, how many grandchildren do you have?” Then you should see just how little it takes to give him one ounce of encouragement.

http://arleenspenceley.com/everett-fritz/