Thursday, December 6, 2007

Celibacy revisited

I posted about celibacy as on option for gay Mormons earlier this week. To be honest, I was a bit disappointed at how it was so readily disregarded as a valid option.

So, I want to follow up with some random thoughts about celibacy, in no particular order.

  • I do not consider celibacy to be synonymous with being single or being alone. The dictionary defines celibacy as: Abstinence from sexual intercourse, especially by reason of religious vows. There is nothing in that definition that says you have to remain single and alone the rest of your life.
  • All other things being equal (education, income, etc.), a single celibate man, being free of family obligations, will likely have more free time and more disposable income than his married counterpart. Perhaps it could become ones calling in life to use these towards the betterment of mankind (i.e. philanthropy).
  • Celibacy does not preclude fatherhood/motherhood. I believe many, if not all, states allow single men and women to adopt.
  • I've blogged about the Gay Christian Network before. The members of GCN divide themselves into two camps which are called, for lack of better terms, Side-A and Side-B. The Side-B folks believe that God calls gay Christians to lifelong celibacy. Side-B consists of Christians from all denominations (Baptists, Catholics, Methodists, Presbyterians, etc.). These are not ex-gays (often referred to as Side-X on GCN). They are not in denial; they acknowledge their sexual orientation and choose to not act on their attractions. Not surprisingly, Side-B is the minority group; but, at last count there are 300 people on GCN who identify as Side-B; enough such that celibacy should not be dismissed so easily. Side-B has their own forum on GCN; but, it's private. You have to join GCN and then request access to the Side-B forum to even be able to see it. But, in that forum they discuss topics that might also be of interest to celibate Mormon's, such as: Committed friendships, gay identity, porn and masturbation, how churches can do better, etc. Email me if you would like more information. Or, better yet, just go join GCN, it's free.

I'm sure we can all agree that celibacy is probably the most difficult of the options I discussed. We might even agree that it's not the right path for most. But those who choose this path deserve our respect and support. I see this on GCN, Side-A people (those who believe gay relationships are blessed by God) who support, even encourage, their Side-B counterparts. We need more of that here in the Mormon queerosphere.

Other resources
(much of the information on celibacy that I could find is directed specifically at women; however, most of what is discussed applies equally to both genders)

Is celibacy the new virginity? Living the single life without sex

Does Abstinence Make the Heart Grow Fonder?

How to Live a Life of Celibacy

The New Celibacy: A Journey to Love, Intimacy, and Good Health in a New Age

Platonic Partners


Therapevo Ydata said...

Sorry! I'm sort of catching up on blogs and I really need to comment on a few posts. I thought this would be a good one.

I have met some celibate people (my bishop introduced me to some of them). They are some of the coolest, sweetest, and happiest people that I know. They replace the need for sex with other things and they find their life fulfilling.

I can attest that they are not lonely and they have many relationships that make them whole. I am sure that sometimes they do get down and wish they had a significant other, but they still have faith and hope that someday, whether it be in this life or the next that they will have that significant other. This allows them to continue on with their life and it is a fulfilling life.

Abelard is right saying that there are a lot of perks. You just have to fend for yourself. You have a lot of extra money. This means traveling, new toys, good cars, or whatever else you want.

I think that it is a good option for some people, even if they don't consider it. I suggest that everyone should at least consider it and think about it (not just once but many times throughout your life). It might prevent a lot of pain and suffering in this life and the next.

MoHoHawaii said...

Successful celibates are born, not made. In other words, if you have a certain kind of personality or sexual make-up, then celibacy can be a good option. For these folks, it may still take effort, but it's at least possible.

The trouble is that very few people are wired for celibacy.

This is the problem with celibacy as a catch-all solution-- it only works for a few people. For most people it's misery.

Max Power said...

When you talk about the celibate life, are you talking about the person who goes their entire life without slipping up with someone else? Is it someone who wears oven mits when they pee so as not to even approach the threshold of self-arousal? Or is it someone who abstains from sex with others but goes ahead and, pardon the crudeness, "rubs one out" every once in a while to relieve stress? What's our definition of celibacy here? I consider myself to be living the celibate life, although once upon a time I slipped up with another person. Does a brief period of impropriety negate your ability to claim celibacy?

I disagree with MoHoHawaii in that I think many people are able to choose to live a celibate life. They are made, not born. I am the horniest person I have ever met, and I'm doing okay. That's not to say I'm never sexually frustrated, but I guess that gets back to what our full definition of celibacy is.

MoHoHawaii said...

Hi Max Power, I agree that for almost every celibate person (except for a few asexuals), it takes real effort and occasional slip-ups. In that sense I can agree with you that celibates are made, not born.

It's really hard to predict who can survive as a long-term celibate. It's not that those who fail at it don't try as hard. They're just not cut out for it. That's why I said that celibates are born, not made. I was trying to capture that sense of "just not built that way."

I think a bit of compassion is in order for the people who aren't cut out for celibacy. My experience is that, as a percentage, a lot more people can't manage celibacy than can. I know I couldn't. Of course, this is just a subjective perception from my life experience; your experience with people you know might be different.

Neal said...


Another great post. Ty Mansfield also posted some related thoughts on Northern Lights a couple of weeks back that I thought were excellent.



Abelard Enigma said...

What's our definition of celibacy here?

A very good question.

First of all, I don't think celibacy necessarily implies virginity. It's a commitment you make starting now and going forward.

As far as what is and is not allowed for the celibate, my personal opinion is that is between the celibate and God. Regarding a little [ahem] self pleasure, My post titled The "M" word gives my thoughts.

Is the celibate who slips up still a celibate? Everyone screws up once in a while. It's a matter of intent IMOHO. Repentance - it's not just for heterosexuals.

Max Power said...

Everyone screws up once in a while

No pun intended? :P