As a follower of Jesus Christ, I certainly want to please Him and be “concerned about pleasing the Lord in all respects.” For quite a long period of my life, however, I didn’t live in that reality. Loneliness and disappointment brought me to an angry place where God seemed to be ignoring my deepest heart cries. I knew Scripture was true when talking about His love, but it seemed to be only for others. Not for me. Conversation with friends rarely brought comfort. They simply did not know what to say. The church didn’t know what to say, either. The “single” label was applied to anyone from college age through old age who hadn’t found a soul-mate, or to widowed and divorced folk or to single parents. Singleness was painted with a broad brush stroke with one color, “one size fits all.”
There are a number of books and articles telling us that “singleness is a calling,” and “celibacy is a gift.” Personally, I have never felt “called” to singleness, and I see celibate faithfulness as a result of consistent and continuing practice of the spiritual fruit of self-control, with constant training from the Holy Spirit. A gift? Not so much. Possible? Absolutely! Reasonable? Perhaps not! Difficult? Yes!
Celibacy is reasonable only when it is taken out of the realm of “what you cannot have,” or abstinence by the gritting of your teeth. Abstinence is “all up to you.” Celibacy is a relational issue! It is “up to God and you!” Celibacy points to relationship you can have! This makes it not only possible, but eternally reasonable. It is a faithfulness which not only enhances the unmarried life, but is meant to move seamlessly into an earthly marriage should that occur, and certainly to move seamlessly into our eternal life in heaven where Ephesians 5:21-32 talks about this mystery between Christ and the church, and he uses marriage terms. Celibary for the Christian unmarried person is never a waste!