Wednesday, January 11, 2012

For my Sisters: Called to Celibacy


This post comes after listening to a video from Desiring God on Biblical manhood, in which Doug Wilson explains that if a man is like the Apostle Paul and has the gift of celibacy, that's great, but most men in the church don't have that gift. If they did, they wouldn't struggle with sexual addictions--the remedy for which ought to be marriage. Mr. Wilson explains that he would counsel young men to find the right girl quickly and ask her to marry him.

I want to say, "Amen!" But this naturally got me thinking--what about women? We aren't called to seek a mate, so how do we deal with our desires?

I thought of several things, which seem to logically follow from Scripture:


1. God calls unmarried women to be celibate.

1 Corinthians 7:2, KJV - "Nevertheless, [to avoid] fornication, let every man have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband."

"Fornication" here is the Greek word "porneia" which means illicit sexual activity, and includes any and every forbidden sexual act: homosexuality, adultery, sex before marriage, etc. To avoid all of these things, Paul called for men and women to marry.


In Paul's day, marriages were arranged. And still are in many parts of the world. A woman knew in many cases who she was betrothed to. She just had to wait until he came for her. 

In our society, marriages are not arranged (by parents) but they are arranged by our Father who is in Heaven. Therefore, it is right for a young woman, though she might not know her betrothed as she did in the old days, to wait for him to come for her. This demonstrates trust in God and submission to His will. Also, it is an early demonstration of a willingness to submit to the authority of the man to allow him to pursue her.


While she waits for her "betrothed" to come for her, she is called to remain celibate for as long as she is unmarried.


"How long might that be?" you want to ask. I do not know. For as long as God sees fit. This leads us to the next consideration...


2. There are some questions we don't need to ask ourselves.

I don't believe as unmarried women we need ask ourselves: "Do I have the gift of celibacy?" If we are not married at the moment, then we are expected to be celibate. Plain and simple. Only God determines when your call to celibacy ends. It is not something that only some women are given the gift of...it is an expectation for women in the season of not being married...no matter how long it lasts.


3. Unmarried women need to cultivate celibacy.

This is so important! It is so difficult to be sexually pure in our sex-addicted culture! But we are called to this, and with the help of the Helper--God's Holy Spirit--we can do this!

It will take great strength and fortitude, but God has not left us powerless, He has given us some great weapons in our fight against sin:

Weapon #1: The Gospel - Our single greatest weapon against temptation is the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ! When the Tempter comes, tell him what Jesus gave to save you (Galatians 2:20)! Tell him how much you are already loved (Romans 5:8)! Tell him that nothing can separate you from the love of Christ (Romans 8:35-38)! Tell him that you are satisfied and have every blessing in Jesus (Romans 8:32)!

Weapon #2: The Bible and The Holy Spirit - It is the Spirit who sanctifies us and makes us more like Christ (1 Peter 1:2) and He uses the Word to do that (John 17:17). Being consistent in Bible reading and responding to what you read will keep sin at bay and grow you in Christ-likeness (Psalm 119:9).

Weapon #3: Prayer - Prayer is direct communion with God. It's where sin is dealt with--confessed and forgiven (1 John 1:9) and it is where the Christian receives supernatural strengthening (Matthew 7:7). By recognizing that we cannot do it alone, we humble ourselves under God's mighty hand so He can lift us up (1 Peter 5:6).

Weapon #4: Fellow Sisters-in-Christ - We don't have to go alone! We have each other for accountability and love. We ought to help carry each other's burdens and learn from one another (Galatians 6:2).


Weapon #5: Separation from the world - Separating yourself from the world will cut off avenues of temptation. Being careful of what movies or television you watch, what songs you listen to, what books you read, and what websites you frequent, can do a lot to helping you avoid temptation.


4. Find your purpose and your fulfillment not in one day being married, but in God.

This is the conclusion I hope this post was driving to. As unmarried women, we don't find our fulfillment or purpose or satisfaction in one day being married, we find it in God. And since it is not in our hands to provide ourselves with spouses--God places it in a man's responsibility to pursue his bride--we are not to make this our focus. We are to make God our focus.

Do not misunderstand me--it is not wrong to desire marriage! And it is even wise and good to pray for your future husband and prepare to one day be married. But, just like any desire of our hearts that competes with God, it is not to be an idol--a thing that we worship in place of God by finding our ultimate joy and fulfillment in it. We are to delight ourselves in the Lord, and He will give us the desires of our hearts (Psalm 37:4). That is the right and prerogative of God. Only He has power to give or to withhold. Seek Him! Find your satisfaction in Him! And you will indeed be satisfied!


I pray this post is an encouragement to my Christian sisters who happen to be unmarried at the moment--live for Christ!

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