Saturday, December 29

Having a Celibation!

A friend in college, a Christian girl from a "mainstream"
Pentecostal background, said one time that she was afraid the Lord
wanted to give her "the gift." Her idea of a fulfilled life was a
husband in her bed and a house full of babies, and she did not
want to miss out.

She was talking about a part of 1st Corinthians that says,

For I would that all men were even as I myself. But every man hath
his proper gift of God, one after this manner, and another after that. I
say therefore to the unmarried and widows, It is good for them if they
abide even as I. But if they cannot contain, let them marry: for it is
better to marry than to burn. (ch. 7:7-9)

To tie up the story, after finishing college she did marry. Her friends
were upset at the way she was going about it, her groom's best man and
ushers were trying, up to his walk to the altar, to dissuade him. A
visit to their home two years later showed her nursing and pregnant in a
cluttered apartment with a depressed, exhausted husband. Was this the
fulfillment she struggled for?

We tend to think that "celibate" people spend their lives fighting off
loneliness on one side and sexual desires on the other, all in an
attempt to "be good." This makes about as much sense as painting
Christianity as a suffering lot of "fun-suckers." What Jesus said, "I am
come that they might have life ..more abundantly," was conditional, but
/He/ is the condition. Not marriage, or house, or cars, or indoor
plumbing. Paul later wrote that "Christ is our life," and David wrote,
"In Thy presence is fullness of joy!"

Knowing God in Christ is a joyful, splendorous, thing. To
want to belong wholly to Him is the norm of Christian life. Would a
desire to be free of worldly distractions in order to better serve and
enjoy Him then be a sad and miserable existence? Never in a million
years! As hard as it may be for young people, and for anyone brought up
on Hollywood movies and sitcoms to comprehend, marriage is not the
summum bonum the "highest good." God did not create us just so
we could make families, but rather so that we could be His family, and
if we even take a look at our own makeup, the drive for relationship and
intimacy that even marriage can't quite meet, and our drive to know the
"Other" that no science can satisfy, we realise that we are made,
ultimately, for Him. There is not higher joy, no greater good, no more
intense pleasure!


  1. "the unmarried woman and the virgin are anxious about the affairs of the Lord, so that they may be holy in body and spirit; but the married woman is anxious about the affairs of the world, how to please her husband" (1 Co 7:34). I read these words as a teenager and they resonated deeply in me. After much prayer and reflection, I chose to make a private vow of life-long celibacy so I could focus more fully on spiritual priorities.

    I have kept that vow throughout my life and now as I enter middle age I recognize the value of that decision more than ever. I can state from deep personal experience that remaining unmarried does indeed enable a deep, rich spiritual experience. That experience has been enhanced in part by my feeling of total dependence on Him for every aspect of my life. He has provided me with a very simple, modest, quiet lifestyle that enables me to focus much on prayer and Scripture. He has truly been my Husband and my Provider--with me in every step I take.

    The other outcome of the decision to remain celibate is a sense of expectation. My eyes truly are turned toward Heaven, and toward the "life eternal". I keenly feel that this life is only the beginning of a great journey. "One thing I asked of the Lord, that will I seek after: to live in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to inquire in his temple. For he will hide me in his shelter in the day of trouble; he will conceal me under the cover of his tent; he will set me high on a rock" (Ps 27:4-5).

    Those who are called to this life can enjoy a deep intimacy with God that is free from the concerns that a wife might have in trying to please her husband. The energy and attention she would quite naturally focus on her husband can be focused completely on God. I clearly recall the day I knelt down and asked God to keep me wholly for Himself. I remember speaking to Him as if to a close friend, telling Him that my love for Him was so deep that I wanted to be His alone all the days of my life. I also remember telling Him how frightened I was by the prospect of being alone all my life, and earnestly asking Him to be my protector and provider. At times when I have felt utterly alone and afraid, I have cast myself at the feet of my Beloved and He has given me the guidance and protection that I would have otherwise sought from an earthy husband.

    As a young girl I held fast to the dream so common to all little girls of a husband, the Prince Charming of fairy tales, who would love me, care for me, protect me -- the ideal companion one naturally hopes to find in a husband.

    My Beloved has been all of that to me, and so very much more.

  2. Amen, holy Sister!

    (So few realise how unscriptural and dangerous that "Prince Charming" myth really is!)

    It seems like we all need to re-think that "gift" mentality, as if the deeper life itself is something for some "chosen few," and get back to what Jesus said about choosing that "better part."

    Thank you for sharing that doorkeeper passage. That was a God-send!


So what's your take?