Single and Celibate: The Beautiful Struggle
“Single and celibate…this day and age? You must be crazy!” That’s usually the reaction when this topic comes up in conversation, or when you mention that you’re a virgin or you’re celibate.
We live in a society where being a virgin or abstaining from sex isn’t necessarily the popular thing to do, let alone encouraged. When Eric and I were dating and decided to be celibate, there really wasn’t anyone “waving the flag”or speaking out about their celibate journey. Today, it’s inspiring and encouraging to see so many others, including celebrities, who are sharing their personal experiences and encouraging others. Although I can imagine that celebrities may have even more temptations and obstacles to overcome, I can’t lie and say it was the easiest thing for us either.
So, how did we start? How did we come to this decision?
Quite honestly, I had tried many times before, but it wasn’t until Eric and I met that I really got serious about it, and it all started with one question…
Do I glorify God with my body?
1 Corinthians 6:20 says “Do you not know that your bodies are temples 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 bodies.”Note: that verse isn’t a call to action merely for women; rather it’s for men and women; and it doesn’t just mean sex, but it’s for all areas of our lives.
Based on that simple question and this particular verse, and once I reflected on my past experiences, I realized that I hadn’t honored my body. Instead, I basically dishonored it by allowing others to have a piece of me. Russell Wilson recently stated in an interview, “I wanted to honor God in all my life.” I, too, wanted to honor God in this area of my life, but instead of treating my body like a holy temple, I was making careless decisions and treating it as if it was an abandoned shack.” I was more concerned with pleasing my boyfriends than pleasing God.
I used to equate love with sex.
I talk more in-depth about this in my book, Don’t Be a Wife to A Boyfriend: 10 Lessons I Learned When I Was Single, but as I got older, I noticed that I did something that a lot of us, as women, tend to do. I used to equate love with sex. In other words, I used to associate a sexual exchange with the exchange of love. Yes, sex is in an important component when it comes to love and marriage, but it’s so much deeper than that. I could no longer assume that a casual sex exchange with someone would automatically cause them to exchange their heart with mine. I could no longer think that the presence of sex automatically meant love was present.
Sometimes, big blessings require big sacrifices.
When I first met my husband, there was an instant connection and attraction between us. What can I say? He was chocolate, muscular, and a delight to look at. So, there we were – starting our relationship off just like every other relationship that came before it. It didn’t take long, however, for us to realize that something was different. We weren’t quite sure what it was, but we knew it felt unlike anything we ever experienced before. Needless to say, we knew in order to get something different we had to do something different. Plus, we didn’t want our relationship to be like every other relationship, because clearly all of those failed anyway. So, we decided to be celibate.
I’ll be honest…even though we talked about it and Eric was open to the idea of waiting, it didn’t stop me from thinking, “There is no way he’ll want to be with me knowing I want to be celibate.” Trust me, there was still some hesitation and fear of rejection. I knew very few men, and even women, (if any) who were willing to make this commitment…BUT anything is possible with God especially when you trust Him to provide exactly who or what you need, when you need it. We weren’t trying to be the “perfect couple” because that’s not possible, but we knew if we wanted things to change we had to change.
No, it didn’t sound realistic, let alone possible, and most people thought we were crazy. But guess what? We weren’t concerned with pleasing everyone else. We were more concerned about pleasing God and getting to know each other on a more intimate level beyond just the physical attraction. This time, we were willing to put God’s plans before our own. This time, I didn’t rely on what was between my legs to get and keep a man, and obviously Eric had reached a point in his life where he was willing to try and get to a know a woman beyond what was between her legs.
Like my Pastor (Pastor Craig Oliver, Sr.) recently said at church, “Most people make a decision based on visuals, not value. You have to focus on something more and deeper.” He went on to explain how when you’re shopping for diamonds at a jewelry store, the items out front are usually on display in the case, or if you’re at Macy’s then most of it is easily available to practically anyone who comes into the store. However, the real diamonds at a fine jewelry store – the ones that have way more value – are often locked up in the vault, and they’re not accessible to the general public. That was me – I no longer wanted to be that accessible to just anybody or the general public. This time, I knew and believed in my value as a woman, as a child of God, and I believed that I was worth the wait based on my personal morals and beliefs.
It wasn’t easy, but it was worth it.
Was it easy, and were we perfect? Heck no, but that’s because our bodies and hearts had been conditioned to believe that sex was a synonym for love, but it wasn’t. We were used to putting our sexual desires before everything else. We know that it was nothing but God that helped keep us focused, because our flesh wanted to do something totally different!We had to constantly pray to keep our minds clear and to prevent us from taking things too far. Thankfully, Eric was kind enough to purchase a ring for me to help affirm our commitment. So, the ring served as a nice reminder especially during those times when things started to get hot and heavy. I still have the ring to this day.
What made it worth it? Besides the fact that we grew to know each other on a deeper and more intimate level, I can definitely say that it made a difference in our relationship. Often times before in my past relationships, I noticed that sex often complicated things, or it created unnecessary issues. I didn’t realize it until later that what I used to think made my relationship stable had actually made me emotionally unstable, because I was connected to someone that wasn’t supposed to be connected to me. For instance, if I was sexually involved with someone and they did lie, cheat, or mistreat me, it made it that much harder for me to let go and move on merely because of the physical connection. Trust me, “soul ties” are a for real thing.
Not to mention the fact that I used to be extremely paranoid. Clearly I had issues with trust, because I didn’t want someone else to have what I thought “belonged to me.” Crazy, right? With my husband, however, since we didn’t make sex the foundation for our relationship I wasn’t consumed with thoughts about what he was doing and/or who he was doing it with. Did he have to earn my trust? Absolutely. But I also knew he was committed to me, our relationship, and the commitment we made. This helped us bond even more, and obviously the sacrifice paid off. We knew and believed there was a greater purpose for us, and considering it’s been almost 10 years later as a married couple, clearly there was a reason why God brought us together.
Listen, I know it’s tough and it’s not easy especially in today’s society, but coming from someone who’s been where you are or where you want to be, I can tell you that the decision to remain celibate definitely helped steer my relationship in a different direction. Every relationship isn’t the same, and everyone’s spiritual journey isn’t the same, but trust and know that you don’t have to sacrifice your commitment to God just so you can be committed to a man; nor do you have to risk your spiritual peace and values for anyone.
There are people who are willing and choosing to wait both male and female. or male. You’re not crazy, and you’re not being unreasonable. For those times when you get a little discouraged, just remember Galatians 1:10: “For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.” At the end of the day, you’ll have to answer to Him, not them. So, be encouraged, and if you want something different, be willing to do something different.