One of the greatest challenges for singles today is celibacy!
We live in a sex-saturated world which tells us over and over again that we need to have sex and if we don’t, there’s something wrong with us. We can feel the pressure in our university or workplace, social media, or even among friends and family.
Why should you stay pure in a time that does not value setting yourself apart until marriage?
The Bible is pretty clear that for those who are not married, we’re to remain celibate. But for those of us who have been waiting for longer than expected, celibacy can be harder than expected and sometimes even feel impossible.
Let’s explore what God-breathed and inspired Word has to say about keeping ourselves set apart:
1. Temptation is very real and God knows it!
No test or temptation that comes your way is beyond the course of what others have had to face. All you need to remember is that God will never let you down; he’ll never push you past your limit; he’ll always be there to help you come through it. (1 Corinthians 10:13, MSG)
The story of Joseph always comes to mind when I read this verse. He was relentlessly pursued by Potiphar’s wife until she made a physical move on him. He ran away from her knowing that He could not sin against God by entering into an adulterous relationship with her. Just like Joseph was mindful of what God was thinking, God is always mindful of the temptations we face and always gives us a way out of them. Don’t let yourself get into a situation where the temptation will overcome you. Know your limits and your boundaries!
2. Wait until the right time.
I charge you, O daughters of Jerusalem, by the gazelles or by the does of the field, do not stir up love until it pleases. (Song of Solomon 2:7)
Ladies, there is a right time and a wrong time to have sex. The right time is when we’ve said “I do” to the God-fearing man who is going to protect our sexuality and our hearts. Will there be times of temptations with that man? Absolutely! (see point one above) but a man who is pursuing God is going to understand that he’s working on God’s timing and not his own. A good thing done at the wrong time can still lead to misery and heartbreak. Spare yourself that and listen to the wisdom found in Song of Solomon by the Shulamite woman who found her true love. She’s not trying to make her friends jealous but warn them of what they don’t know: there’s a time for physical pleasure and they need to be mentally, emotionally, and spiritually ready for it.
3. Your body belongs to God (period)
Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s. (1 Corinthians 6:19-20, NKJV)
When it comes to our bodies, we can’t do whatever we want…not if we truly belong to God. We’ve been given the awesome privilege of having the living, powerful Spirit of God abiding and indwelling within us. There are so many women who want to have God move powerfully in their lives and yet quench the Holy Spirit because of what they ingest through their eyes and ears. Part of the reason we’re so tempted to sin is because we watch so many romantic movies that expect and celebrate sex before marriage or read books with sexually explicit scenes. Limiting or completely eliminating these things from your life will help you grow stronger in resisting the temptation when it comes.
4. Sex within marriage is God’s standard of “normal”.
Keep yourselves from sexual promiscuity. Learn to appreciate and give dignity to your body, not abusing it, as is so common among those who do not know God. (1 Thessalonians 4:3-5, MSG)
Being single and celibate in today’s age can make anyone feel “abnormal”, “undesirable”, or “unwanted” according to the world’s standards. The pressure we feel makes us forget how precious our bodies are when the norm is about “hooking up” and having one-night stands. Our bodies get used for the physical enjoyment and yet that is only momentary. The shame and guilt we feel afterwards lasts way longer. I’ve heard stories of women who disliked themselves less and less with every man they slept with and it became a never-ending cycle of abuse and self-hatred until they came to know the love and forgiveness of Christ. As a Christian, why go into that shame spiral again when you’ve been set free from it?
5. Trusting God now can help us avoid future mistakes later.
She is clothed in strength and dignity, and she laughs without fear of the future. (Proverbs 31: 25, NLT)
Celibacy, like the Proverbs 31 woman, may seem like an impossibility if we’re honest. But I love this verse because of one simple word “clothed”. On our own we are weak and shame-filled but God has clothed us with strength and dignity. You see, it’s what God does in us and through us and not what we do on our own. Singleness or celibacy isn’t something that we should idolize, but they are the mercies of God in a very broken world. None of us can predict if and when we’ll get married but we can trust that whatever the plans God has for us, they are good. We can laugh in the face of fearing the unknown because we know the character of the God we serve, which is so very good.
6. Celibacy teaches us self-control.
A person without self-control is like a city with broken-down walls. (Proverbs 25:28)
One thing I’ve learned the hard way is regret can be a cruel teacher. I’ve shared my story throughout my previous posts about losing my virginity after I came to Christ and God’s amazing grace but there’s a big part of me that wishes it never happened. I did it for all the wrong reasons like wanting to be loved and feeling like the person was my first and only shot of having a relationship. If I had known my worth in Christ, I would not have given in so easily.
Self-control is a fruit of the Spirit mentioned in Galatians 5:22, which allows us to say “no” to the things that will hinder our walk with God like sex before marriage. With the Holy Spirit living inside of us, we can refuse to go our own way and sin. When our spiritual walls are broken down, we become defenseless against our enemy who knows our weaknesses. We can become entrapped and enslaved, which Jesus died to free us from.
7. Changing your story changes your perspective.
And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. (Romans 12:2, NKJV)
The way you think about being celibate will determine everything I’ve mentioned above. If you think being set apart is a burden, you’ll seek the quickest way to get rid of it. On the other hand, if you think of it as reflecting the goodness of God and pointing to an intimate relationship He desires to give to everyone, the focus will be less on being celibate and more on Him. The voices of the world may loudly cheer for us to give our bodies away but the conviction of the Spirit must be louder if we’re to stay committed to serving God.
I chose these seven verses for a reason. The number seven is associated with grace in the Bible and it is only by His grace we are saved. It doesn’t mean that we’ll walk the narrow road perfectly. It means He gives us the strength and the resources that we don’t deserve.
Jesus is the ultimate example of intimacy
Ultimately, Jesus is our greatest example. He was a single man who lived a completely celibate life. His example on earth shows us we can go against the deceptive lies that tell us we need to be sexually active in order to be considered adults or wanted or a “real woman (or man)”. Jesus had an intimate relationship with the Father and with His followers. He saw beyond their physicality and into their hearts. Use your time of singleness to truly understand the difference between intimacy and sex (especially if you were sexually active before coming to Christ).
I pray these verses strengthen your resolve to stay focused on God and live a life set apart until He brings your spouse into your life. Until then, please know that you are not alone in your struggle!
Looking for a community where you can live virtuously and vulnerably? Join me on the Single Daughter Serving closed FB group here.