How to Live a Celibate Lifestyle
But if they cannot exercise self-control, let them marry. For it is better to marry than to burn with passions. I Corinthians 7:9
God not only made us spiritual beings but also sexual. God created sex between one man and one woman in the beginning and called it good. Sex was created for procreation and for our pleasure. Therefore, your desire for sex is a normal biological behavior given to you at birth. There is nothing wrong with you spiritually because you have sexual desires.
But God confined sex within the context of marriage. This means as a single follower of Christ and single you’re supposed to abstain from sexual intercourse until you’re married. You are called to live a life of celibacy. Most Christian singles struggle with living a celibate lifestyle. Especially if they were sexually active before they committed their life to Christ. Your body craves to continue having sex. I call this “sexual recall.”
You may be one of those struggling Christians. You have been strong, but fighting the urges for sex is getting more difficult. You just do not know if you can hold out and you can’t see marriage in your foreseeable future. Is it possible to live celibate within a sexually orientated culture? The answer is yes.
We will discuss the following topics: fornication, masturbation, and sanctification in order to help you live a celibate lifestyle with joy and not grief.
Fornication is having a sexual relationship before marriage. Fornication is a sin before God because it dishonors marriage. (Hebrews 13:4) God made sex for one man and one woman confined within the context of a marriage. I know you probably have heard some of the more simple solutions we teach in our churches concerning this issue of dealing with sex before marriage such as:
Just Don’t Do It! But that leads to the question, “How do you not do it when you have always done it?”
Stay away from it! But that leads to the question, “How can you stay away from something that is working on the inside of you?” You cannot live outside of your body.
Don’t think about it! Now you know you do not have to consciously think about “it” for the sexual urges to start burning from within.
Read your Bible! But that leads to the question, “How long do you have to read the Bible before the sexual feelings go away?”
Give it to God! But that leads to the question, “How do you give back to God what He gave to you as a gift to use at the appointed time?”
These simple solutions do not work within themselves; they lead to more frustration. The church is full of sexually frustrated Christians. Everyone around them is doing it but they can’t. When Christians struggle with fornication they usually turn to masturbation to help them overcome sexual temptations.
Masturbation is a sin. Masturbation is when a person manipulates their own body for sexual pleasure. The bible teaches against this sexual act because it is not God’s original intentions for sex. Masturbation is one of the quiet sins the church usually does not like to address.
Though the bible does not directly address the issue of masturbation, it does address lustful self-gratification. Jesus was clear that if a man looks at a woman with lust in his heart, that man has committed adultery. (Matthew 5:28) You cannot separate masturbation from lustful thoughts or desires. Even though some will say they do not fantasize when masturbating, what caused you to masturbate was a strong desire (lust) to fulfill your fleshly sexual appetite.
I know you say, “Well it is better than getting involved with another individual.” This is not a biblical stand but human rationalization. Another objection to masturbation is that it is a solitary act. Sexual intimacy is meant to share the deepest expression of love between a husband and wife, not with oneself.
When a person masturbates, he/she is essentially seeking personal sexual relief. It is a self-centered act. If it becomes an addiction, then it becomes even worse. It is like saying, “In the absence of a partner, I will fill that role myself to fulfill myself sexually and because it is with myself, it is all right.”
Paul wrote, “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore, honor God with your body” (I Corinthians 6:19-20). Our bodies belong to God, not ourselves. Masturbation is not using our bodies to glorify God.
If you do not take care of the issues of fornication and masturbation, you will soon join the growing underground of the “Sexually Frustrated Fellowship” within the Church. This Fellowship is formed by those like-minded members of our churches who are sexually struggling with fornication and masturbation and feel ashamed to seek help because of their continued failures in this area.
You really do feel convicted by it all and you know it is wrong, but you just cannot overcome it. I have good news: you can be empowered to live a celibate lifestyle through our sanctification in Jesus Christ.
Sanctification means to set apart for holy use. When we accept Christ, we become instantly delivered from sin and its power within our bodies. But when it comes to our sexual desires, you must understand one important truth – there is no cure for it. It is a God-given biological response in us for the opposite sex.
Every human being born comes with it. It is called our “sexual nature.” There is nothing wrong with you. You are having a common, natural hormonal response from your body’s sexual nature. The problem is you can only act on your sexual nature within the confines of marriage. So how are you supposed to handle your sexual nature before marriage? Paul never said fast, pray or read your bible: he said get married. What are you supposed to do when you’re not ready to get married or you want to get married but you don’t have any prospects?
Here are three biblical suggestions on how to live a celibate lifestyle:
Sanctify your body to God. Sanctify the instruments of your body unto God for His use (Romans 6:13). Your body belongs to God and should be used to serve Him so you can bring Him glory. The key to sanctification is the more you grow in love with God, the more you will personalize your relationship with Him and not want to be unfaithful to Him with your body. The Scriptures say, “God bought you with a high price. So you must honor God with your body.” (I Corinthians 6:20)
Also, make a faith commitment to dedicate your body to your future spouse. By faith, be faithful to your future spouse before you meet them. You keep your body by faith for your future spouse so you can be pure in spirit and body when you marry them. Even if you have been sexually active or divorced, purify yourself and keep your body from sex for your future mate.
Learn to walk in the Spirit. The Scriptures say, “If you walk in the Spirit you will not fulfill the desires of your fleshly passions.” (Galatians 5:16) Walking in the Spirit means growing in the character of the Spirit. (Galatians 5:22-23) The Spiritual character of longsuffering and self-control will help you outlast the sexual urges when they come. Your sensitivity to being led by the Spirit will keep you from compromising situations and relationships that are not good for you.
Discipline your body to obey you. Paul said, “I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should. (I Corinthians 9:27a). To discipline your body means to regulate it by a strict regimen to make it do what you want it to do. This will take time to get used to, but your body will begin to come into subjection to your spiritual desires and the urges for sex will come under the control of your discipline.
Here are some self-disciplines to enable you to discipline your body so you can live a celibate lifestyle in order to give glory unto God:
- Your EYES: You discipline your eyes by not exposing them to anything (movies, magazines, website, or books) that would arouse your sexual nature.
Proverbs 4:25. Let your eyes look right on (with fixed purpose) and let your gaze be straight before you. (Amplified Version)
2. Your HANDS: You discipline your hands and not use them to manipulate your body or someone else’s body for sexual use.
I Corinthians 7:1. Now concerning the things of which you wrote to me; It is good for a man not to touch (to manipulate the body to arouse the passion) a woman.
3. Your MOUTH: You discipline yourself not to kiss and arouse your sexual nature.
Ephesians 4:29. Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them.
4. Your MIND: You discipline your mind to think scripturally so you can resist your sexual thoughts practically when they arise.
Romans 12:2. Do not copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.
5. Your HEART: You discipline your affections from falling into premature love so you can avoid a premarital sexual relationship before marriage.
Proverbs 4:23. Keep your heart will all diligence, for out of it spring the issues (literally, the course you take) of life.
6. Your FLESH: You discipline your flesh to suffer through your sexual desires so you can bring it under subjection. As you’re feeling the sexual urges, you must suffer until they subside.
I Peter 4:1. Therefore, since Christ suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same mind, for he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin.
7. Your FEET: – You discipline your feet to move out from compromising places and positions. The bible says run from fornication. You cannot overcome your sexual nature; therefore, you must remove yourself from the place of temptation.
I Corinthians 6:18. Flee sexual immorality. Every sin that man does is outside the body, but he who commits sexual immorality sins against his own body.