I can’t say that my journey has been easy, spotless, or absent of pain, but I am 100% better of a person, friend, one-day wife and follower of Christ than I would have ever been if I hadn’t made the commitment to stop looking to sex outside of marriage and physically-based relationships to fill a God-shaped void in my life.
The lessons I’ve learned over the last 10 years have helped me get through some rough seasons, avoid the wrong types of guys and enjoy healthier relationships.
Whether you’re thinking about waiting, ready to end your current situationship, or just curious about the idea of delaying sex in a relationship, the “aha!” moments that follow are sure to challenge the silent belief that you or the person you’re dating isn’t worth the wait or capable of making the commitment of celibacy.
1) You won’t be the only one.
Just in case you’re wondering, celibacy is not an isolated trend reserved for just spiritual reasons. The Archives of Sexual Behaviour reported in 2017 that Millennials are much more likely to be sexually inactive after age 18 and for longer periods of time than earlier generations.
I have a few guesses as to why that may be (debt, student loans, the complexities of dating in our generation, mental health discovery and treatment and not feeling ready to settle down), but it’s still worth noting that not everyone is getting down and hooking up as often as you think. Taking your time to figure out what you want, what you need, and who you are can be a journey within its self. There are many benefits to excluding non-committal sex (outside of marriage) from that process.
2) Once God heals this area of your life anything is possible.
One of the hardest things about falling into bad habits or sin is finding the strength to get back up again. Whether I was wrestling with depression, fighting to start forgiving and loving myself, or the ducking jabs from the enemy in my battle for my purity, failure has a way of laughing and waving the, “you tried it,” finger in my face. There were so many times that it didn’t feel possible, but over time, God began to show me that deliverance is not a one-day thing – it’s a process and it’s possible. God can do the impossible in a blink of an eye, but He will also teach us to trust Him by allowing our breakthrough to take a little more time than we’d like. The beautiful thing is, the longer it takes, the more refined and empowered we come out in the end. Bottom line: don’t rush your miracle.
3) You will learn that sex isn’t always about sex.
It took me a few years into my journey to understand that celibacy wasn’t just a spiritual or physical choice. Getting from point a to z was deeply psychological. I had to learn how to have a celibate heart. I was getting into relationships based on internal needs I didn’t even know I had. The need to feel wanted, loved, or needed is all human nature, but taken out of context can often lead us to think that sex is really the only thing to help us forget what we can’t fix. Instead of running to sex, I learned how to start facing my needs head-on through prayer, research, and therapy. Sometimes, your body is trying to tell you that you’re hurting. Listen.
4) Co-pays add up. Period.
When you consider how many times you’ve worried you were pregnant, paranoid that your pap smear would be positive for some ending with, “…TD” and aware that every choice to keep doing the same things over and over only makes your journey to recovery ten times harder, it gives you the mental space to consider that maybe your way isn’t – and never has been the best way. I was over the drama – and the $35-65.00 co-pays that followed.
5) Soul Ties don’t exactly go away, but celibacy helps.
If you’re not familiar with the term soul ties, there’s a great spoken word poem I recommend to give you a good definition. Soul ties are the remnants or leftovers of the internal workings of other folks that can be exchanged when we have sex outside of marriage. Have you ever noticed that over the years you’ve become a little more short-tempered? Maybe less patient, more controversial or find it hard to maintain interest in monogamous relationships? That could be soul ties. I realized that a lot of the characteristics, habits, and mindsets I found myself faced with over the years, have come by way of soul ties. Soul ties that I constantly fight with prayer, intentionality, and renewing with the Word of God. Every time we engage in sex with a new person, it’s like a piece of them goes with us into every relationship and encounter we enter into later. Be wary of letting go of too many pieces of yourself or inviting other pieces into yours.
6) Celibacy builds your faith muscle.
I made the decision to be celibate a few times before it stuck. There were a lot of tears, stress, and self-condemnation for not getting it 100% right away. There were times when I wasn’t sure how to sustain my choice with so many opportunities to do the wrong thing or slip back into that lifestyle, but I knew God’s plans were better for me. I knew He expected more from me and wouldn’t leave me hanging as I tried to the best of my ability to stay the course. I had to study my failure. Ask myself the tough questions. Get some accountability in my life and stop beating myself up for making a mistake. Your “get back up,” is proof that winning is an option – if you keep trying.
7) God has a greater design for sex, and you’ll be ready to experience it.
Over time, I’ve discovered that God isn’t anti-sex; He’s anti-perversion. The act of a man and woman coming together under the umbrella of the sacred covenant is the true design for sex. Multiple partners, broken hearts exchanging one temporary bodily home for another isn’t how sex is supposed to work. You should be with someone who treasures you and treats your body like their own. Wives should be loved and husbands should know that we support them. It’s not rocket science. It’s God’s best for us.
8) The desire to have sex is not going to disappear, but it doesn’t have to control you.
For all the folks who will read this post and still walk away thinking celibacy is impossible because sex is always on the brain: I get it.
I really get it.
God made us sexual creatures and as I get older, it doesn’t seem to be getting any easier. I don’t have a magic answer for you or any guarantee that God will, “take the desire away temporarily,” as I have heard many authors, friends, and spiritual teachers say, but I can guarantee that your sex drive can be useful for many different things that can help you prepare yourself to become and find the right person. I’ve had to learn how to turn sexual energy into expendable energy. I work out, get serious about my goals and find other ways to exert access to energy that won’t leave me feeling guilty or disconnected from God.
9) You will find joy in finally being able to share a bed of grace instead of a bed of shame.
One day, I will roll over to a kiss of: “congratulations, we made it,” instead of condemnation. God’s anger at sin is but for a moment, but His love and grace is for a lifetime. I wipe back tears because that grace isn’t just for me. That grace is yours too. We don’t have to wait until marriage to receive that grace, it is readily available.
No matter what part of the journey you’re on, I pray you will be encouraged to move forward in confident expectations that He is in control of both the light and dark sides of our stories. If you want to stop having sex, but just can’t seem to stay celibate, try using some of the techniques I shared above to jumpstart your journey. Remember, this is a journey, not a sprint. You will mess up, but you can do this. It is God’s grace that has brought me this far and there’s grace for you too.
10) Celibacy Creates Space for Healing
One of the biggest rewards of choosing celibacy while single has been the process of discovering, unpacking, and beginning to heal from wounds that
I refuse to relive that moment of being hypocritically confronted by a guy who didn’t deserve me, blatantly disrespected me, and confirmed for me what I already knew to be true: in the world of casual sex and the absence of covenant relationships, nobody wins.
…And my dear, God (and I) want YOU to win!
Are you currently celibate, ever thought about celibacy or waiting to have sex until marriage or a defined commitment?
Share your thoughts with me in the comments below!