Through The Lens Of Celibacy

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I’m going on 33 years of singleness. It’s nothing to boast about and nothing to brood over — it’s just a fact. But when you’ve been doing the “eunuch” thing your whole life, you do start to notice how your perspective differs from other Christians, not to mention the world. Lately, I’ve been thinking about the ways celibacy has shaped me, and how I’ve come to view life through that particular lens.

I see family through the lens of celibacy.

Part of being a Christian is expanding the definition of “family” to include our brothers and sisters in Christ — our spiritual family. I imagine celibate people think about this more often than those who are married with children. We’ve learned — we’re constantly reminded — there’s more to family than genetics. As someone who’s not planning to procreate, “starting a family” means something very different to me; it means making every effort to embrace people as family who don’t share my genes, my last name, or my home. Loving them like flesh and blood, learning what it means to be adopted by God. Celibacy confirms what I already believed about the Church: whether or not I ever get married or have kids, I’ll never be without a family.

I see friendship through the lens of celibacy.

For many single people, friendship is a gateway to romance or marriage. But celibacy has taught me to value friendship for what it is, and not what it can become. I don’t feel burdened by the fear (or thrill) of friendship turning into “something more,” because I’m focused on celibacy as the end goal. I see friendship itself as something to pursue, enjoy, cultivate, and commit to. As a single person, I’m not previously engaged (no pun intended) with duties to spouse or children, so I have more time and energy to devote to friendship. Celibacy has shaped my theology of friendship, and I hope it’s also made me a better friend.

I see marriage through the lens of celibacy.

Having only observed marriage from the outside, I’ve managed to find ways that singleness is like marriage, which helps me identify with married people. But celibacy does remove me from some of the practical aspects of marriage — things that are hard to grasp as a mere spectator. This can be a problem. For example, if a married friend turns down my invitation to dinner because he wants to spend time with his wife and kids, I can have a hard time accepting that — not intellectually, but emotionally. I realize his family is a priority, but it’s hard to reconcile that with the idea of spiritual family in Christ. (I’m family, too!) This is one area where my head and my heart need to work it out, and I admit there’s still a lot of room to grow and mature.

I see singleness through the lens of celibacy.

Christian singleness looks and feels a lot different from its worldly counterpart. Outside church walls, singleness is often disassociated from celibacy and rarely considered GOOD. But I’m learning to uphold singleness as a gift from God. The Apostle Paul was single and hoped others would embrace that same “gift” (1 Corinthians 7:7). And, of course, Jesus led the single life, too — for about as long as I have! He encouraged those who were able to remain single to gladly “receive” it (Matthew 19:11-12). Because Paul and Jesus were pro-singleness, and because God himself is pro-happiness, I know it’s possible to be happy without also having sex. That’s why I’m so convinced that singleness is the HAPPY ALTERNATIVE to marriage!

6 comments on “Through The Lens Of Celibacy

  1. Andrew

    This is a great expression of how celibacy can truly look. Our world, both Christian and non, is so caught up in celibacy being a negative or pointing towards something being wrong with you. However, you so very well sum up what celibacy is really about! 🙂

  2. Sarah

    It’s been a tough transition for me to re-establish (or redefine) a lot of these relationships having once been married. Being single and celibate for 3 years has taught a sliver of what you have come to understand with 10x more experience under your belt; I’m so grateful you continue to share the truth so people like me can learn and appreciate all the beauty that there is in this new life. You’re the stinkin’ best! 🙂

  3. Jim

    As a married man, I have a lot to learn from you, brother Bryan. I love this post, and love your heart.

    Because of you and a couple other single guys in my life who are open to talking about this kind of thing, I am trying to figure out what it could look like to be looser with my idea of “family time”, to include single friends in the church intentionally. The church has truly fallen down on the job on this one.

    I want my family to be part of the lives of singles around me.. Don’t stop posting! I need the encouragement to be purposeful.

  4. Amanda

    I am overjoyed you refer to me as friend and family! I have spent 3 weeks pondering celibacy and realizing the purpose in it now as a newly single Christian gal. You CAN live a very happy life as a single celibate Christian. It’s hard but so worth it to be obedient, and to honor our saviour. I love you Buddy and you will always be a member of my family.

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