A friend of mine recently complained about how long it took to find the right song using CDs. I told him it could be worse- try digging for a song using those marvels of the 1980s: cassettes. When CDs came along, it was as if you could find the song you were looking for instantly- and it sounded spectacular! No doubt as more people bought CD players for their home and cars, cassettes were soon to be obsolete.
There are many who would say that celibacy is also obsolete.
So, is celibacy a gift or a discipline? The practice of celibacy is a honing of your self-control, which is empowered by the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23). Your decision to be celibate is the practice of growing discipline meant to reflect an inward decision to demonstrate sexuality in a righteous way as an unmarried individual.
Is celibacy punishment? The Bible says, “You shall not commit adultery.” (Exodus 20:14) In other words, “Don’t fool around with someone who is not your spouse.” That includes the married and unmarried alike. Jesus even expanded it to mean that even thinking about adultery somehow becomes as strong a reality as the act!
Let’s face it. Feelings can be so strong they overwhelm you. It’s obvious that if we ignore the feeling of hunger long enough, we die. While there is no evidence that abstaining from sexual acts is fatal, many would say it feels just like that. They might also say abstaining from sexual acts while unmarried simply is neither reasonable nor rational. Yet Jesus’ mention of the thought of adultery being in the same realm as the act puts it solidly into the area of reason.
There are no celebrations that I’m aware of for faithful celibacy outside of marriage. It is unfortunate that the church at large simply ignores the issue most of the time, leaving many singles feeling like they are less valued than they would be if they were married. That’s why you see very few of the never-married in churches today. And, that’s one of the reasons why many churches do not consider it an issue compelling enough to address. The church does not think enough of us exist!
But, does that make celibacy unreasonable, irrational, outdated, and obsolete? Isaiah 40:8 says, “The grass withers and the flowers fail, but the word of our God endures forever.” (NIV) If He valued sexual faithfulness when these words were written thousands of years ago, He continues to value it – to value us!