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Would You… Are You… or Were You?

To be or not to be? To do or not to do? Our day to day lives are filled with making choices some of which we change more frequent than others. Some if not most of our choices are influenced by our experiences and or society’s view of certain concepts. 

Celibacy… would you… are you or were you? This post may sound like something for singles and or unmarried individuals. For the most part, yes it is! But there’s a little twist to this, depending on the word choice and or concept.So stay with me! This is not to suggest what people (married and or unmarried/single) should or shouldn't do, but rather to get us all to think beyond the physical.

First and foremost, the word celibacy, chaste and abstinence tends to be used interchangeably/synonymously. Celibacy according to Merriam Webster Google definition, is a voluntary choice to not engage in any form of sexual activity with the intention to remain unmarried, usually in order to fulfill a religious/priestly vow. On the other hand, abstinence would be refraining from sexual activity for a certain timeframe while chastity would be refraining from thoughts and actions related to sexual activity. 

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With that clarification, would you abstain or go celibate or be chaste until…xyz?If yes, why? If no, why not? People tend to shy away from making the choice and or owning/sharing it, out of concern for what people may think/say. For some, making the choice is guided biblically/spiritually by verses such as The body is the temple of the Holy Spirit...1 Cor 6:19. In addition to biblical/spiritual reasons, there are stories of people (not only singles/unmarried) who made the choice to abstain for varying reasons and durations as shared in the previous No Sex Zone post by RifleX.

Permit/Allow me to dare to be vulnerable… The choice to abstain wasn't always driven biblically/spiritually and there's a reason why I use abstain versus celibate. I grew up in a Presbyterian/Catholic household and went to church on most Sundays. I went to a Baptist boarding highschool for five years so I would say I had a fair share of exposure to the bible and or to religion. My parents; mostly my Dad who is very open to engage in just about any topic of conversation, during my teenage years, he frequently jokingly made statements such as; take care of yourself, be careful out there. There's early/unwanted pregnancy, STDs and HIV/AIDs. There are condoms for protection but since it is manmade, there is room for errors. Your best bet is to abstain till you are mentally/emotionally ready to handle the potential consequences but if you must, proceed with caution and protection. So guess what? Abstain I did. 

Later I moved to the US, after being here for about five years, I got into what felt like a 'relationship.’ One year later, the pressure and curiosity satisfied but the connection (if there was) disappeared. During this time, the biblical/spiritual context clicked. Then began my journey of self-discovery where I learned and continue to learn that physical connection in the absence of other forms of connection is fleeting. I’ve learned that, engaging in physical (sexual) connection prior to determining if there is compatibility in other forms of connections (spiritual, mental), could cloud the ability to proceed past the surface of an individual. It could be seen as unfortunate or fortunate that it took that experience for the biblical/spiritual context to click or make sense to me... I'm just grateful that His Grace is sufficient for me.

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A book comes to mind as I write this (Ha!). I know… I know… Why do I always mention books? Because other people's perspectives/experiences help navigate through the cracks of life. This book doesn't necessarily address the biblical/spiritual aspect but I believe that sharing another person's lived experience will help someone navigate through challenges. The interesting thing is, this is not a book I would typically read (wink) but I was asked to share my thoughts/opinion in a conversation. The book; Speak Fluent Man: The Top Things Women Should Consider Before Blaming The Man by Von Decarlo Brownmay sound like it is only for women, but it’s not. It addresses situations around entitlement, double standards, logic versus emotions and understanding how to have the courage to live your own truth. 

I do not necessarily agree with everything in the book but a couple of things stood out to me, one of which is a question which was posed to an audience. I will paraphrase… women, if you lost the ability to sexually please your man (be it boyfriend, husband to be or husband) what will you do to keep him? The women responded with all answers indicating how they will use their body in varying ways to please/keep their man. Patrice O’Neal’s response was “no one said learn how to play Xbox, learn how to watch sports intelligently or learn anything that your man likes to do. You just qualified yourselves as a series of ‘objects’ but you want us (men) to treat you special.” 

As I read along, I hoped this same question was posed to men to see what they said, but I don’t remember it being mentioned in the book… I’m curious to hear/read what men will say though... It could be argued that men pressure may women into getting physical/sexual, but I guess based on Patrice O’Neal’s opinion, men will get away with what they are allowed to get away with. Some women may say/think, well if he doesn’t get it from ‘here’, he’ll get it from somewhere else. True! But guess what? He can still get it from ‘here’ and go get it again from somewhere else.

Would we agree that the media/society has over sexualized/objectified the female body to the point that is seems like it is okay to be displayed anyhow and everywhere? Well, we (as individuals) can only live our own truth and not someone else’s. We can't be responsible for the actions of others.

So how does this connect to celibacy/chaste/abstinence? From reading other people's stories, having conversations and my personal experience thus far, I hear/learn that practicing abstinence helps develop the self to a certain level of mental and spiritual growth/strength, clarity and freedom. Between two people courting or in a relationship, it helps develop a certain depth/connection that goes beyond the physical which helps determine if someone will be able to sustain the long run amidst challenges. 

In the event that the physical ability to connect intimately in marriage is lost, if the people in question had found other ways to connect besides physically prior to marriage, would it be ok to guess that it may not be as challenging as it would be for those who solely/primarily connected physically? There are stories of couples who practice abstinence for short durations in order to build stronger connections in other ways. As Alli mentioned, author of the first No Sex Zone blog post, “intimacy is deeper than anything physical.” 

Are You… Would You… or Were You? What's your story, experience, perspective?