I hosted a forum on gender differences in sexual relationship some months ago that included a segment on celibacy (if you want a copy of the CD, please contact me). I invited a fine brother, a former college athlete, to stand up and give his testimony on how he and his wife waited until their wedding night to KNOW each other,which is how the bible describes sexual intimacy. His standards far exceeded those that I usually recommend and left everyone in the room intrigued, encouraged, inspired, and awestruck by the sincerity of his delivery. He also helped the ladies understand the subtle nuances that push the temptation button for men as he described his steadfast walk of celibacy. It required EVERY ounce of God in him to make it work over the course of an 18-month courtship while he was in his late-20s. He was not a virgin by the way; she was. His directives looked like this:
1. Set your sights on the woman or man that is WORTH waiting for—a man or woman that inspires a vision for your life’s plan with whom you can build a PURPOSEFUL life. Not everybody should or will captivate your heart in this way. Moreover, does it really make sense to share your precious body with anyone who doesn’t?
2. Maintain vigilant boundaries regarding the time and context of meeting up with your significant other. Cleve shared with us the obvious things like: avoid EVER spending the night (even in the next room). Then he rattled off a list of other things he COULD NOT do with his bride-to-be if he was going to remain celibate. They included: No kissing on the lips, no listening to certain romantic music, no talking about sex, no movies with sexual scenes, going home by 11:00 p.m. at the latest from each other’s residences, and she had to be mindful of what she wore (i.e., not exposing too much skin in sleeveless tops or shorts when she was with him). He had us all cracking up as he described his utter panic the day before they were scheduled to meet up with some friends at the beach, knowing that he’d be SET BACK by all her lovely skin on display in a bathing suit. He had to call in extra reinforcement from a friend the night before who prayed with him.
3. Piggybacking on that last part of number two, he described inviting a community of people into their experience for support (i.e., his parents and her parents knew what they were trying to do along with CLOSE friends and relatives, all of whom were called upon for reinforcement of their walk so that they had others to hold them accountable). They knew that the walk of celibacy absolutely could not be done in their own strength.
4. Cleve and I summed up his message by emphasizing the importance of discerning whether someone was hiding sexual dysfunction, lack of sexual desire, or promiscuity with other women or men behind the cloak of celibacy. I’ll have to say more on that next time, but for now suffice it to say that it SHOULD be difficult to walk this out. There SHOULD be sexual tension between the two parties involved because if it’s WAY too easy to do, SOMETHING is wrong. Stay tuned to Part II on this subject. In the meantime, be mindful of what it means to make your body a LIVING SACRIFICE as the bible instructs us to do. I can’t think of a better teaching to apply to this difficult task of remaining celibate before marriage, regardless of your age or knowledge of the word.