Celibacy & Abstinence: How The Vow Leads To Spirituality & Great Healing
Okay..let's talk about sex. Well, actually let's talk a little bit about sex and a lot about Not having sex lol...in a good way. I'll even get into a few personal experiences and the advantages and disadvantages that come with abstinence or a vow of celibacy.
"The Vow"... I know, just reading the words can seem heavy. It is a Big stepfor a lot of us... and how it looks varies from person to person. That is because celibacy and abstinence are practiced in different ways for different reasons. For me, a celibacy vow is a spiritual endeavor. I think people who embark on this journey should do so with intent to self-manifest in some way...to align oneself with faith and develop deeper love and respect for self. Otherwise it's not really celibacy to me, but instead just being withholding without valuable cause. Celibacy or abstinence may start out as involuntary for some but ultimately becomes a choice. It is a life changing commitment, and one that can be rewarding!
What's The Difference Between Celibacy & Abstinence?
Celibacy literally is to abstain from all forms of sex. This means no sexual penetration whatsoever. For some it also means remaining unmarried by choice. Celibacy is this and more because there is a deeper meaning to the term. Let me explain. Often celibacy is tied to religion or spirituality and is a vow carried out for a longer predetermined amount of time. Both celibacy and abstinence have overlapping definitions. Some even use the words interchangeably, but there is a difference. Abstinence can be long term but many people think of abstinence as shorter term and solely based on personal health, proximity, or maybe social or cultural reasons. You can voluntarily or involuntarily abstain from sex for 4 weeks or even a year and this would not be considered celibacy unless there is a religious, spiritual, or self-healing committment element involved.
WHY I CHOSE CELIBACY
This topic may be uncomfortable for some. Surely there are tons of people who are abstinent but they choose not to share that information with anyone except maybe their partner, religious figure, close friends, or family members. I personally don't mind sharing my experience now because I am proud of myself and comfortable with being more open at this stage in my journey. I think it is an experience that could be helpful to someone. Lovely reader... I'll let you decide.
Alright, so here's my story...the very short version. I never thought I would choose celibacy. My celibacy journey, like many others, started out by chance. I grew up with a strong belief in a higher power and Christian influences from both Northern Evangelical and Presbyterian to Southern Black Baptist Churches, but just like almost all the people I knew growing up, I was not a "wait for marriage" type. I was more of a "go with the flow; go with my emotions at the time; does he make me feel loved and safe; let's have fun; and I want to try before I buy" type. C'mon it's the 21st century. Women have thoughts, wants, and needs too and we sometimes speak and act on them...no shame. I think most of us can agree that it's common for some teens and 20 somethings to be highly sexually active. Those earlier years are the puberty, crazy hormones, clueless doe-eyed Bambi, reckless, testing the waters, and making multiple mistakes because you don't know ish about ish Years. Are they not?... and truthfully anyone who decides to have pre-martial sex.. that is their body, their business and No, those guys and gals are not d@mned evil wh0r3s. I suggest some rewiring if you think that. God is thee ONLY judge.. Okay continuing.... My first boyfriend came from a more Conservative family and his friends seemingly too. When a couple of people close to him found out about he and I being intimate outside of marriage they weren't thrilled to say the least. The disgust, by at least one of them, may or may not have been exacerbated by the fact that the ex is White and I am Black. *Eyeroll... people not okay with interracial relationships at this point are beyond ignorant. Anyway, Let's fast forward now 6 years. Life experiences and changes occurred and by the end of an on-and-off again emotionally abusive relationship, I was completely spent. I don't even think I had much of a sex drive by then. Which for a pretty young woman in her twenties that is almost unheard of. I had become insecure and fearful in my relationship, felt fatigued all the time, was alienating myself from friends and family, gaining weight out the wazoo, and completely embodied an anxious and frustrated workaholic mess really. Feeling used and abused, metaphorically tossed like trash and left for dead doesn't exactly make a lady wanna dart for the bedsheets or get hitched, if you know what I mean. I needed a serious break from men, especially THAT man. You know, just a recuperation period to get back to myself in all ways. For those of you who have been in a relationship with someone with highly narcissistic traits you know how you become conditioned to only serving the needs of that person while your wants and needs fall by the way side. I remember times where he and I were intimate but I was not really "there" mentally. I was empty and disconnected like an old shell or faulty robot. Since then, focus has been on ME and my healing and growth. In the words of the great Eartha Kitt “A man has always wanted to lay me down, but he never wanted to pick me up.”My vow includes not having sex with any one who is not capable of "picking me up" if ever needed. In other words be a good person, evolved, and able to give not just take. Choosing celibacy was like my BIG reset button. It was my blank slate opportunity to restart, heal, cleanse, and reconnect with not only myself in spirit, identity, and purpose, but to strengthen my relationship with God.
10 PROS to being celibate...
Remember those rewarding aspects I mentioned before? Well, here you go!...
1. Enlivening Religion and/or Spirituality
Reprograming myself to not focus on a toxic boyfriend and his sexual needs but instead shifting focus to rebuilding a healthy relationship with God, myself, and family allowed me to reconnect with my own spirit. Life became lighter and clearer. Genuinely I can say you'll feel worthy, empowered, and enlightened. Some spiritual steps I took while on my celibacy journey that you can try if you want were... PRAY, speak to God, speak to lost loved ones and to ancestors, speak with a spiritual advisor or religious figure, engage in servant leadership, read spiritual or religious text, watch motivating videos and listen to motivational and spiritual speeches or sermons, meditate, take long walks in fresh air, stargaze, and really just appreciate the beauty of Nature and all that is around you.
2. Achieving Personal Growth & Recovery
This point encompasses a lot but just know that abstaining from sex, if done for the right reasons, gives one an opportunity to achieve a massive BOOST in personal growth. Not just physically but mentally and emotionally as well. Once you've gotten married or have reached the end date of the period of abstinence you will surely feel accomplished and proud for not breaking a vow to yourself. Plus, it will mark the start of a new fresh and exciting chapter of your life!
3. You'll Have More Time for Other Things
Let's be real, for some of you cutting out sex means you'll only save yourself a few minutes a day..no shade. But hey who doesn't like a few extra minutes to put to good use elsewhere. At times it does seem like there just isn't enough time in the day. Some people may also spend a bit too much time in their day thinking about sex or making efforts to find a sexual partner. It's important to realize there's so much more to life than sex. Think, now you can spend more time on your goals, a project, a hobby, a diet/exercise or additional self care regimen. Personally, as a single and celibate individual, my graduate school work and work I did for my job became of better quality. I also started revisiting old hobbies that bring me joy and began trying new things. I signed up for belly-dancing classes. Belly-dancing can allow one to stay in touch with femininity, sexuality, and sensuality. Which brings up a good point... Being celibate does NOT mean you have to put on a metal chastity belt, cover yourself up from head to toe, and keep your nose in a Bible. Still be you! If that means you like to dress up and show skin from time to time, do that.
It's ok to be attractive and want to feel sexy without actually having sex.
4. You Can Learn More About Yourself, Your Passions, Your Purpose
If you have more time to yourself and are engaging in new activities you'll inevitably strengthen individualization skills and learn more about YOU... and that's something special! Some people go their whole lives never really knowing who they are and why they're here.
5. Women Can Improve Their Vaginal Health
Having sex according to most doctors is good for you, but not having sex for some time can be good too. Did you know that intercourse can alter a vagina's pH? That's one reason why it is so important to wash yourself after sex. The wrong type of condom can cause irritation. If semen comes in contact with a vagina it can disrupt a vagina's natural chemistry and acidic pH balance. Women's bodies adapt quickly, and vaginas change all the time. During intercourse they adapt in order to protect traveling sperm. This biological phenomenon exists to successfully help continue human life... by giving a man's "seeds" the best chances of planting. If you aren't planning on procreating then there's nothing for those seeds to do except die...which leaves a woman potentially susceptible to vaginal odor, discomfort, or infection... especially in cases where the sexual act causes microtears, which are normal. You can check out more details in the article here or by reading an e-book. The e-book I share in this second link has great info. It is typically used for Med students but if you want to sift through and review select sections like I did, I think you'll learn a lot of valuable info about women's health that can be applicable to your new vow of abstinence.
6. There's NO Risk of Contracting an STI or STD
To piggy back off of vaginal health there is also men's health too. Both men and women can choose celibacy or abstinence and both men and women can contract or transmit an STI or STD. Basically, if we run it back quick to High School Sex Ed., No Sex = No STD. & That's the end of the lesson for today class.
7. You'll Get to Know Your Partner on a Deeper Level
If you are in a relationship at the time of your vow, ideally your partner will haven taken a vow too. You'll connect through the shared experience. To remind you again, there's so much more to life than sex! Spend quality time with your partner. Go on dates and do non sexual couple's activities. If you can happily maintain a bond and enjoy each other's company without sex being a core focus, then a strong foundation for a long-lasting relationship is in reach. Of course there will still be attraction and sexual urges. The experts recommend kissing, cuddling, light petting, or mutual masturbation as an alternative "4th base" during a celibacy or abstinence journey.
8. Can Help Combat Addiction
For some sex can be intertwined with addiction. This could be addiction to drugs, alcohol, the act itself or some type of abuse of the aforementioned. A choice to abstain from sex can be a remedy or supplemental aid to combat some addictions. Consult a doctor or healthcare professional for the best advice if you may fit into this category.
9. You'll Save Money
Generally celibacy and abstinence are easier on the wallet because there's no need to pay for birth control or contraception. Which brings me to number 10...
10. There's A No Pregnancy Plus
If you don't want to or aren't planning or considering to have a child then "no pregnancy" gets added to the pros lists for sure.
5 CONS of being celibate...
It's not a cakewalk folks! Take the vow seriously. It comes with a few potential disadvantages.
1. It Can Be A Challenging Journey
Of course this choice can be tougher for some than others. Maybe you think "it just seems like everyone is 'doing it'" right?! Everywhere you look there is sexual imagery or sexual innuendos. You see people in relationships who show PDA (public displays of affection) and are #CouplesGoals. We can't go a day without hearing about sex or seeing it on social media, TV, news, etc. I get it. For you guys who may struggle with this, the best advice I have is to keep busy and take it a day at a time. Practice self discipline and remember this vow is about retraining the brain and acquiring the spiritual and mental benefits of abstinence.
2. A Vow Might Cause Tension In A Relationship
The celibacy vow does not have to put a damper on a relationship. Explore other ways to be intimate! I listed a few earlier. There are plenty of ways to be physically close without actually doing..you know, IT. If your partner respects you, he or she will honor your committment to self, be loving and maybe a little creative, and work with you. You two may become moreconnected. Once you finally have sex, the event will be special and worth cherishing.
3. You May Feel Like You're Missing Out
You're NOT missing out...next. lol Just kidding. You are only missing out if you tell yourself you are. If you think that you are being deprived of sexual freedom and super fun escapades..then this journey may not be for you. Maybe it is not for you right now at this time in your life..and that is okay. I personally do not feel like I am missing out because I derive happiness, pride, and spiritual growth from my journey of celibacy & I know it is not a life long committment. There's plenty of time left for the "best I ever had"...
4. There's Fear Of Judgement Or Criticism
People who tease, tempt, judge, criticize you, belittle your vow of abstinence or celibacy, OR actively try to cross your boundary lines are probably not the best people to be around. This journey for some will be challenging so it is imperative that you surround yourself with supportive people. Like-minded individuals will also make this an easier process.