Celibacy…It’s Not Just For Waffles Any More

As much as I’d like to leave that title as it is, I suppose I owe you a brief explanation:

Some of my friends from one of our sister floors made an enormous waffle one day. A pizza-sized waffle, as I heard it, and liberally festooned with whipped cream, Nutella, and other delights. Through a small slip of the tongue, this “Celebratory Waffle” became “The Celibacy Waffle”, and thus was born the edible symbol of sexual purity.

*     *     *

They say the average man thinks about sex every six seconds. They also say that chewing gum takes seven years to pass through the digestive system, people can get pregnant from swimming pools, and pigs have 30-minute orgasms, so forgive me if I wear my skeptical hat for this one.

Nevertheless, I would say that just about all guys think about sex at least a few times a day. And some more than that.

Anyhoo, I’ve been thinking about it lately…specifically, the lack of sex that will likely arise from my becoming increasingly like Henry Higgins: “a confirmed old bachelor and likely to remain so.”

Now, I’m really not looking for “Oh, you’re a great guy, you’ll find the right woman, blah blah blah” kinds of responses right now. I appreciate the sentiments, but that’s not what this post is about.

Because, honestly, though I may whine from time to time, my self-esteem is pretty healthy. Perhaps too healthy, if anything. I know I’m a pretty good guy, and if I put my mind to it, I’m sure I could wend my way into a relationship without too much difficulty (Let it never be said that a Psych minor isn’t good for anything.).

The thing is, I’m not sure I want to.

For one thing, I’m worried that if I jumped into a relationship, I would be using the girl to fill some sort of temporary emotional void, a relationship marked by co-dependency instead of love.

But perhaps the bigger reason is that I am a hideous commitophobe.

I don’t like committing to things…sometimes not even my own opinions. I used to be a planner. I would plan things out to the minutest detail, and then things would come crashing down left and right. Now I tend to throw organization to the wind, doing things on a whim, and somehow…somehow everything always works out. God showing mercy to fools, maybe.

But relationships, as far as I can tell, are non-stop planning. Planning dates, planning meals, planning weddings, planning homes, planning children, planning jobs, planning days, planning weekends, planning LIVES. Planning, coordination, structure…all the things I’ve come to avoid.

So these things have convinced me that I don’t want a relationship as much as I once thought I did.

But then there’s the whole sex thing.

Yeah, you thought I forgot about that, didn’t you? Thought I forgot about sex in all the self-analysis? Well, looks like another six seconds have passed, because sex is back on the brain.

I am of the probably fairly small minority of people that believes in keeping sex within marriage. Or, as an alternate way of looking at it, that sex is the initiation of a sacred bond between two people, and that marriage is a legal construct to enforce it. Too much to talk about on that…I’ll save it for another post.

Anyway, I don’t really feel like judging people who have different views on the subject, but that at least is the standard that I have for myself. What this means, though, is “no marriage, no sex.”

And that’s kind of scary. I never thought I’d be particularly good at sex, but I’d always hoped to at least give it a try. The thought of never ever having sex is intimidating, and it’s not an eventuality that anyone in the church ever prepared me for. Everyone told me to “Save sex for marriage,” but nobody told me I might have to “Save sex for NEVER.”

They probably know most teenage guys will commit suicide if they hear that.

Marriage is taken as a given in Christian circles, though I’m pretty sure it was never ensured in the Bible. “Blessed are the abstinent, for they shall have hot honeymoon sex.”

The upside to this is that Christian guys are very strongly driven toward marriage. However, the downside may be that Christian guys are very strongly driven toward marriage.

I’m not saying marriage is bad, but I’ve seen a lot of relationships that zoomed from “kinda hanging out” to “here comes the bride” without much downtime. And most of the Christian relationships I’ve seen start out at a level of commitment on par with engagement in the secular world. Only time will tell if these relationships will stand the test of time.

All this is to say, maybe we shouldn’t look at marriage as the only worthwhile state of the Christian. A celibate lifestyle is one that should be acknowledged and, when it is embraced, respected.

I, for one, have a growing respect for monks. I’m sure they have days when they think, “Man…I wish I’d gotten to have sex at least once.” After all, the pipes don’t stop working just because you don’t use the faucet.

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20 Responses to Celibacy…It’s Not Just For Waffles Any More

  1. Chris says:

    Move over! One more getting on board this ever enlargening boat you’re on. Actually, I was probably on it already and just too preoccupied with too many distractions to mention to notice. Thanks for saving me a seat!

  2. through a glass darkly says:

    Wonderful post. Do, however, remember what happens to Henry Higgins. Perhaps Sherlock Holmes is a better Victorian/Edwardian role model for celibacy?

    • Nelda says:

      Well put, a &#;6128kiss from God’. That is beautiful, and just how I feel immersed in my garden, feeling blessed to be surrounded by such incredible beauty, all a gift to us if we choose to see it that way. Warmest thanks for sharing. Blessings, Gina

  3. Erin says:

    What is planning for? Many millennials see planning as a wet-blanket on spontaneity. (I’m slightly older than this age group). The older I get, the more I understand planning as a method of respecting OTHER people’s time. By not committing, one can decide to go for the better offer. Honoring prior plans, and thus other people’s time, is a virtue. Not that you need to plan every moment of your life- no-one should do that- but making plans and keeping them is NOT about you. For me, respecting and giving to others is at the heart of Christianity. Planning is a way of giving and respecting.

  4. savvyxian says:

    Awesome read. Wow there’s someone else on earth that feels the same way? Truly amazing, cynically and sarcastically speaking 😜

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  8. Jorfer88 says:

    Since I self-promoted myself in your most recent entry. I gave you a shout out in my most recent article (http://jorfer88.blogspot.com/2012/06/singleness.html). Thanks for that Nathan. We should form a “League of Ordinary Single Guys”.

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  10. Rachel says:

    Nice post; I read your blog periodically, and always enjoy it. I am also considering a life of celibacy, so I was particularly curious to hear your thoughts on the matter. I have several comments, but they aren’t in any particular order.

    I’ll start by saying that, as a female, while sex (and whether or not to get married and thus have sex) does still play a role, but not as big of one (at least personally.) In that sense, I think perhaps it is easier for women to be celibate than men. On the other hand, what plays a rather large role for women that (I’m guessing) doesn’t particularly effect men, is the way marriage affects our relationships. When a woman gets engaged, people treat her differently; the same is true again when she gets married. The popular (if possibly subconscious) assumption/opinion is that a woman is not fully an adult/mature until she is married. Now, most people will say they do not believe that, but it doesn’t take long to see that, in fact, that is the way people act. Sadly, this seems to be especially true in the Church, but I’ll get to that in a moment. So the bigger question for a woman is not “Can I go my whole life without sex?” (still a question, just not as big of one,) but rather “Am I willing to have to do the extra work (socially, but especially emotionally) to convince my peers and others I encounter that I am in fact mature despite being unmarried?” Now, I’m not sure how men will react, but in case you think that is a trivial thing, it’s not for a woman. Because women are more relationally-focused by nature, even the introverts among women are heavily effected by how others view them; thus, when society tells you in a multitude of ways (from media, to the frequent “you’re not married yet?!”) that you are not complete or mature without marrying, it can take a heavy toll.

    I also wanted to comment on your statement “Marriage is taken as a given in Christian circles, though I’m pretty sure it was never ensured in the Bible.” True, it was never a guarantee. However, I have been reading “Redeeming Singleness” by Barry Danylak ($2 for the kindle edition on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Redeeming-Singleness-Storyline-Scripture-ebook/dp/B0042XA362/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1328104155&sr=8-2) and she points out that in the old testament, not only were marriage and children a requirement to survive in that day and age (as in all agrarian societies,) but even within God’s chosen people where God’s laws made provisions for those who found themselves widowed or orphaned, all of the promises of God relate to or require offspring, and many of God’s promises state that being widowed and/or barren (intentionally staying single was unthinkable) were signs of God’s displeasure towards you. Anyways, comment if that doesn’t make sense or if you have questions about that and I can go into it some more.

    Next I’d like to piggy-back off of what I was just talking about while expanding a bit on your comment of how the Church should be more supportive of the decision to remain celibate. I agree with everything you said, however I’d like to get to what I (and Barry Danylak) think is the root of *why* the Church acts that way, and why it’s a bad thing. As I mentioned, in the old testament marriage and children were not only an integral part of survival, but also of God’s promises. However, in the new testament that is not the case. In the old testament, many of God’s promises were conditional upon Israel obeying His commands, but in the new testament, the Christ fulfills the old covenant, allowing God to make a new covenant for all people that is conditional only upon accepting the sacrifice of the Christ for the covering of your debt; the new covenant is in no way dependent upon our actions, and the blessings associated with the new covenant are spiritual rather than the physical blessings of offspring as in the old covenant. Therefore, when the Church pushes people to marry, many times it is acting out of an old-covenant mindset, rather than a new-covenant mindset by attaching intrinsic worth to marriage.

    Alright, I’ve already written way more than a sane person for a comment, so I’ll conclude by saying this. As a Christian, I think that while all of the reasons you mentioned for remaining single are valid, if or when it comes to a matter of remaining intentionally celibate for life I would argue that that is in fact a spiritual matter. Personally, I think very few (if any) decisions to remain intentionally celibate for life will be beneficial unless they are based in prayer and direction from God.

    Sorry for the verbose-ness, and I hope I have not offended in anything I have said (and I sincerely apologize if I have) but since this is something that I’m am currently praying through, it is currently very near and dear to my heart and I have a hard time being succinct discussing it. 🙂

    Blessings!

    • Thanks for your thoughts, and no, you didn’t offend (at least not me…the internet is full of easily-offended people).

      Let me say, first, that I don’t plan on making a life-long vow of celibacy any time soon. I agree that it would be foolish to close off potential futures based on personal feelings…plus I don’t like the concreteness of making a promise that lasts my entire life (there’s that commitophobia again).

      That being said, I’ve just been thinking about the issue, and my personal feelings and motivations in regard to relationships. I’m trying to accept a marriageless life as a possibility, and to look at any future relationship as a blessing, instead of an entitlement.

      You’ve got some good points about the male/female issue. I think you’re right that it may be a little easier for women to do without sex, but I certainly wouldn’t assume that it is easier for them to forsake being in a relationship. I think most women have a stronger desire for a long-term relationship than most men do. Thank you, by the way, for a woman’s perspective!

      • “The internet is full of easily offended people.”

        I object to that remark very strongly!

      • Anonymous says:

        Hi. Thank you both for sharing those indeed very nicely put thoughts. I am sort of in the same situation, even if not entirely, probably partially due to the fact that i am Swedish and thus do not experience the same expectations on the subject sex-within-marrige or simply the whole getting married-thing as you do, whom i expect are americans? (And I don’t mean that in a bad way even if i realize it may sound so, its just that I can’t seem to find the right Words.) However, apart from telling you that you both seem extraordinary wise and are skilled writers, what i wanted to tell you is that for most women, i Think, and probably lot’s of men too, kids are also an aspect. Beacuse for me that’s really the only thing that prevents me from choosing that Life-style, i Think. I do not want to commit (or perhaps what it is, is that i am unable to), but i do want to become a mother some day. Anyway, to what extent do you think my wish to become a mother, your wish to gain the respect every woman deserves regardless of her being married or not, Rachel, and your fear of dying having lived your Life in celibacy exists due to social standards and Cultural norms? I mean, do you think people’s urge to get married or at least having a partner is the only thing that is largely nothing but a cultural norm, or do you think our motives behind it is also a result of this? And if you do think that this to is largely nothing but a norm we have been raised to accept and believe, do you think there are ways to come at it, and if you do, what ways? Sincerely

  11. Rebekah says:

    I’m proud to say that I live on the floor of the celibacy waffle. Some of the guys from the dorm posted this article on facebook and I had to check it out. The confines of the celibacy waffle have been making me behave myself for the past couple years now. I went to Ecuador for a semester and was afraid I was going to ravage some poor, unsuspecting Latino man without my weekly installment of sugar-coated libido diminution. I think you raise a good point here. The Christian community just assumes that everyone is going to get married. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with dating, although there is that whole messiness with having to pay attention to the needs of another human being when you’re not even responsible enough to not eat that second donut…or waffle. I definitely don’t think I’m meant to be celibate for life seeing as our God is a loving God and wouldn’t torture me in such a cruel way, but until I find a guy who looks tastier than my waffles I think I’ll stick to plain old carbs and whipped cream – even if it means not having a ring on this finger by Spring. (I think I was just blasphemous. Forgive me.) I do hope that not ALL women are “jealous, exacting, suspicious and a damned nuisance” upon meeting you though. That would be quite unfortunate. =D

  12. hashamayim says:

    On a slightly different note, I kind of wish that waffles weren’t celibate. Wouldn’t it be awesome if they reproduced?

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