Has being celibate become the latest trend? All the hottest radio shows, magazines and celebrities are now speaking up and having the conversations about celibacy. More and more men and women have jumped on the celibate bandwagon and are taking to social media to proclaim vows of celibacy. With all the hype about celibacy, I can’t help but wonder has celibacy become the new sex?
So what does it really mean to be celibate?
First things first, let’s clear up the confusion between abstinence and celibacy. Although the words abstinence and celibacy are often used interchangeably, but are not necessarily the same thing. Sexual abstinence is defined as choosing to abstain from some or all sexual activity for a period of time, regardless of martial status. Sexual abstinence also usually implies that a person who’s choosing to practice may be open to engaging in sexual actives sometimes in the future. Whereas celibacy technically refers to an unmarried person who has chosen to not to marry and to avoid all forms of sexual activity for religious beliefs or spiritual reasons; such as a nun or priest.
To break it down even further…
If a person is “saving themselves for marriage” or sexual abstinent until after getting married then that person has taken a vow of chastity. The difference between celibacy and chastity is that the person who is celibate does not plan to get married whereas the person who is chaste eventually plans to someday marry.
So let’s clear up the confusion…
There is much debate around the question whether or not a person is truly celibate if they are using sex toys, self-pleasure, watching porn or other forms of sexual activity that do not include a partner. The answer to the question is no. Celibacy in its authentic form is an unmarried person who is avoiding all forms of sexuality for religious or spiritual reason. Once a person marries and/or engages in sexual activities including: anal, oral, vaginal intercourse, self-pleasure/masturbation, using sex toys, watching porn, hugging, kissing and for some individuals, it may also include thoughts and words, they are no longer considered celibate but rather abstinent. Even if a person divorces or separates from their spouse and decides to stop engaging in sexual activities, they are still considered to be practicing abstinence.
Aside from religious or spiritual reasons, why do people choose not to partake in sexual activities?
There are many reasons an individual may decide to make a vow to abstain from sexual activities. Here are some of the most common reasons:
*Cultural, moral and religious beliefs
*Experienced a trauma
*Reproductive health conditions
*Reconnect with self
*Tired of unhealthy relationships
*Saving self for marriage
Benefits of Abstaining
For those who choose to sexually abstain, the benefits are plenty and well worth the commitment. Below are some of the benefits.
Sexual encounters can have lasting effects which may include the inability of a person to form strong emotional bonds of love, intimacy, attachment and/or trust. Often people engage in sexual activities because they are longing to have a connection with someone, however, having sex for the wrong reasons can leave a person feeling emotionally emptier than before the encounter. Choosing to abstain from sexual activities helps to clear the mind and balance the emotions.
Protection from sexually transmitted infections and unintended pregnancies
There is no such thing as “safe sex.” The only “safe sex” is no sex! There is always the risk of sexually transmitted infections (STIs), including HIV and unintended pregnancies whenever a person has sex. Even though condoms and dental dams are considered effective, when used consistently and correctly there is always a chance for failure especially if there is alcohol or some other substance involved. Abstinence is the only way to be 100 percent safe from STIs and unintended pregnancies .
Sex clouds judgment and can sometime create a barrier to achieve true intimacy in relationships. Choosing to abstain from sexual activity helps to remove that preoccupation of sex and allows you to develop a true mental, emotional, spiritual and physical connection with your partner.
Cut the Soul Ties
Soul ties are real! Sex is emotional, mental, spiritual and biochemical. Sex conjures up all sorts of powerful feelings, and it’s impossible to be immune to them. Every time we have sex with someone, exchange those energies, chemicals and hormones that keeps us tied to that individual indefinitely. Abstaining from any kind of sex play, helps us to cut those soul ties and allows us to begin to cleanse those energies and spirits from our being.
Channeling Your Sexual Energy
When two people have sex, there is an exchange of energy. While it can be life affirming if enjoyed in a healthy way, it can also be very draining. When it comes to sexual intercourse the receiving partner literally receives something inside of their body. In addition to the fact that every time you have sex with someone, you are having sex with everyone that they have sex with as well and that energy transfers from person to person. Channeling the energy that you would otherwise put into sex into your creative endeavors can be a profound impact on your the quality of your life.
Learn to focus Yourself
When you’re partaking in sexual activities, it is very easy to lose focus and become lost in the other person. Practicing abstinence is a great way to reconnect with yourself. A sex-free lifestyle frees up a tremendous amount of mental and emotional space that our sex lives often fills. Without the distraction caused by sex, you will be able to focus more on yourself and the things that matter most to you.
Control of Sexuality
Choosing whether or not to do something gives us a sense of control and purpose in our lives. Our sexuality is no different. When we make a conscious decision to become sex free, it can be liberating and empowering. When we feel a sense of empowerment, we are more likely to make healthier choices, in and out of the bedroom, that will increase the quality of our lives.
Here are some tips to keeping the vow?
- Understand why you want to take this vow before you do so. There are many reasons why people take this vow. You have to remain intentional with your decision and remember why you made the vow in the first place. Desires aren’t going anywhere. They’re natural. We were created as sexual beings and will have desires from the time we’re born until we die. So it’s important to keep your mind focused and stay busy.
- Talk It Over with Your Partner, if you have one. Making the decision to stop knocking boots can definitely create some serious tension between you and your Beloved! Taking it over with your partner and creating a “transition” plan can help to reduce the drama in your relationship. Spend time focusing on different types of coupled activities that are not sexual or physical in nature will help to strengthen the relationship, build trust and enhance intimacy. You might just find out how much you really like each other. However, if your partner is not supportive then perhaps you may want to reconsider the relationship.
- Choose Your Dates Wisely. Take time to get to know your partner. What is the rush? Sex, especially casual sex, does not come without a cost and that cost could just be your life. Be selective with whom you choose to date. Trying to abstain from sexual activities while dating someone who is sexually active is a recipe for disaster. It’s probably best to consider dating someone who has also made the decision to be abstinence, this way you both can support each other in maintaining your commitment.
- Know Your Triggers and Avoid Temptation. This may be really difficult especially if you’ve been sexual before. However, its extremely important that you learn to avoid temptations. Do not put yourself in situations that might tempt you to give in to your sexual desires such as being alone with someone to whom you are attracted. Even hugging and kissing can lead to much more, therefore it is extremely important that you avoid putting yourself in situations that may trigger your sexual thoughts, feelings and behaviors.
- Get New Hobbies. This period of sexual abstinence is a great time to reconnect with yourself! Pursue your favorite hobby activity. You may avoid people and things that may turn you on sexually. For example, if you know that when you hang out with friends and go to the club that you’re likely to have a few drinks and end up leaving with someone to have sex, then you need to replace that club and perhaps those friends with a more healthy hobby that less likely to incite sexual thoughts, feelings and behaviors.
- Find Support. The decision to be abstinent can be challenging at times. Having support from people that have embarked on similar journeys can be really helpful and encouraging, especially on those days when you feel like giving into those sexual urges.
- Control Your Thoughts. Remember the brain is the biggest sex organ! Now, is not the time to go back down memory lane and reminisce on your ex-beloved. This is the time you must filter your thoughts! Our thoughts can produce vivid memories which can sometime lead us down the wrong path, because out thoughts become our actions. If you find yourself wandering back to how it used to be, take control of your thoughts and decide to think about something different like watching paint dry! Boring, right! But you get the point.
- No Popping Bottles. Hold off on the substances! Anytime we over indulge in substances, prescription, legal or illegal, our mental state becomes altered. When we are not in our sober frame of mind, our judgment may lapse. We tend to make decisions that we would not normally make if we were not under the influence. (i.e. having unprotected sex or even having sex with someone we normally would not). In addition, our hormones are more active after a night of drinking or drugging and partying therefore we are more likely to give in to the animalistic urge to have sex.
At the end of the day whether a person decides to use the term abstinence or celibacy, or both is a personal choice. Nevertheless, both abstinence and celibacy are a serious commitment that requires will-power, self-awareness and self-control. When making the vow to sexually abstain, remember why you made the commitment in the first place and that will help you to be more successful on your journey.