Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Having sex can be like a splinter in your finger

That seems like an absurd statement, I know. How in the world can I relate having sex to getting a splinter?

According to Dictionary.com, a splinter is “a sharp, slender piece, as of wood, bone, glass, or metal, split or broken off from a main body.” Normally we experience splinters when we run our finger or hand across the object (most often wood) and a piece breaks off under our skin with just a little bit barely sticking out to grab and remove it. It’s the most painful little thing. As a matter of fact, when someone is trying to get a splinter out for someone else, the person with the splinter injury is often flinching because they’re anticipating the pain.

If we thought of having sex outside of marriage as a splinter in our finger it may assist in our ability to withhold until marriage. Think about: For a lot of people having sex outside of marriage – especially if they’re a person who is committed to God as a born-again believer – can be just as painful as that splinter.

Getting a splinter occurs quickly. Normally when we aren’t paying attention or giving any regard for our safety and well being. It gets stuck; we try to get it out and often can’t do it without assistance.

It’s kind of the same with sex. You get caught up in the moment without regard for your spiritual safety and well being. You can get stuck in it; meaning that no matter your personal resolve you continue to have sex again and again. Having sex outside of marriage results in guilt, personal and spiritual condemnation, pain and that doesn’t even take into account the soul ties (if you have questions about soul ties, let me know) that result.

But there’s a way to avoid this, which we’ve already talked about: making a covenant with God to stay celibate until marriage. Regardless of whether you’re tempted, making the covenant will help to quicken your spirit and remind you of your commitment. The covenant is also your help and assistant to avoid sexual situations.

So, the next time things get hot and heavy with a love interest remember the painful splinter in your finger.

“It’s never too late – in fiction or in life – to revise.” – Nancy Thayer


Anonymous said...

I appreciate what you're saying here, but I think the word you are looking for here isn't "celibate", but ABSTINENT. The term "celibacy" carries with it far too much baggage, the worst being "the gift of celibacy". Contrary to popular belief, the Bible mentions no such gift or "calling", and God has initiated no such vows (which are about church TRADITION).

1 Corinthians 7 in the NRSV reads "I wish that all were as I myself am. But each has a particular gift from God, one having one kind and another a different kind." Scholars have debated for years whether Paul was referring to celibacy or singleness, but you can see from this passage that he is simply stating his own preference and making a aside about the uniqueness in how God gifts us. Paul may be recommending celibacy for those who have self-control for "the sake of the present distress" (v.26), but he does not identify it as a gift, per se.

Likewise, Matthew 19 is often used to promote "the gift of celibacy", but you can see from the Greek text (as per the Blue Letter Bible) that "some make themselves" eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom...note: the onus is on personal choice, not a divinely initiated calling or vow.

Augustine and Jerome were early propogators of the idea that celibacy is more holy than marriage, Jerome taking a particularly shaming view towards sex that proclaimed that the only redeeming feature of marriage was that "it produced more virgins". Think of the scandals that have rocked the Catholic Church because it is assumed that becoming a priests have "the gift of celibacy" as if someone God removes their sex desires and supplants them with self-control. Even in Protestant churches there have been remnants of the idea that celibacy is more holy than marriage, with 1 Cor 7:7 being twisted in modern biblical translations such as The Living Bible and The Message to read "God give some the 'gift of singleness' and others 'the gift of marriage'".

These heretical twisting of biblical texts has led to the creation of rogue doctrines that have left many singles fearing that the pursuit of marriage is sin, as if the godly thing is to just wait passively for whatever gift that comes to you, marriage or singleness. Prior to those modern biblical tranlations, Christians pursued marriage with much more agency and much less trepidation.

Again, I support your upholding of abstinence from sex outside of marriage as a command from the Lord, as difficult as that may be at times for many people who may never marry. But to call what you are promoting "celibacy" is to prepetuate centuries of confusion and bondage. Few things are as personal as sexuality. It's a sensitive topic because how it is handled can have lasting impact on an individual. As such, we need to choose our words both carefully and prayerfully.

Petula Wright said...

I respect your point; however, just a glimpse at how the dictionary defines the words will clarify why I choose to make that distinction.

The definition for celibate is: One who abstains from sexual intercourse, especially by reason of religious vows. One who is unmarried OR abstaining from sexual intercourse, especially by reason of religious vows. Unmarried; unwed.

The definition for abstinent is: The act or practice of refraining from indulging an appetite, as for food. Abstention from alcoholic beverages.

From a defining point of view; abstaining has nothing to do with sex. I believe my bishop said it best and I will pull out my notes to see if I can find his exact quote and post it later.

Saying someone is "celibate" may be uncomfortable for some, but it shouldn't carry any baggage. All we have to do is look at the definition to see it is an accurate description of what is, or in this case: is not, happening.

I in no way want to comment -- or have I ever -- as to whether celibacy is holier than marriage. All I am supporting is the commitment to a celibacy covenant with God who will assist in upholding the covenant (the most important thing here is covenant anyway because always honors His covenant with man). If it makes you, or anyone else, feel better or more comfortable then they can call their covenant an "abstinence covenant."

Anonymous said...

The dictionary definition of a word is a good place (perhaps even the best place) to start, but not necessarly the best place to finish. For example, the word "crippled" might be more precise than "disabled", but over time the latter has replaced the former for obvious reasons.

You may feel that the word celibacy "shouldn't" carry any baggage, but it does. Covenant is also a pretty heavy word. There are plenty of things Christians must abstain from that don't require covenants, which are reserved for special circumstances such as marriage or induction into a religious order. Singling out sex this way only adds to the shame and guilt that many Christians already feel about it.

"Celibacy covenants" and virginity pledges for ordinary single Christians not affiliated with a religious order are modern fads, with no biblical or historical precedent. They haven't proven to be helpful and have caused harm for some people. Simple and unceremonious support to humbly refrain from sex outside of marriage is all we need, thank you very much.