What do you think of when you hear the word ‘celibacy’? Do you think of monks, nuns, robes and rosary beads? Do you consider it the forced lifestyle of the ‘dateless’, or a relic of yesteryear morality? According to Wheaton College professor Christine Colon, all of our understandings of celibacy need a makeover:
Celibacy isn’t just about sex.
And singleness isn’t a life stage to be endured until the real thing (marriage) happens.
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With Bonnie Field, Christine Colon is the author of Singled Out: Why Celibacy Must Be Reinvented in Today’s Church. In this Open House interview, part of a larger series called The Single Life (see below), Christine and I discuss how both the world and the Church have misunderstood what celibacy is all about:
Society Gets it Wrong
When it comes to sexuality, mainstream culture tells the single person that:
- They’re incomplete without a partner
- Sex outside of marriage is normative, as sex is a biological imperative and restraining from it is damaging and repressive
And the consequence of these messages? Christian singles (and other singles) can feel like cultural oddities if they’re not sexually active.
Church Gets it Wrong
However, the Church can send confusing messages on sexuality too, telling the single person that:
- Sexual temptation can’t be resisted so flee from it or get married
- They need to be married to be happy
- If they are called to be single God will remove their romantic desires
And the consequence? Christian singles can feel like failures since they don’t have a spouse or the ‘gift’ of celibacy (as their continuing romantic desires obviously prove).
Throughout the interview Christine re-frames celibacy as an attitude of total dedication to God and offers some wonderful tips on how the single life can be lived well and how the Church can support Christian singles in this season of life. This was a frank discussion on sex, singleness and relationships that I hope you find helpful whether you’re single or married.
What have you found hardest about the single life? How have you learned to live it well? Leave a comment now or call me using the ‘Send Voicemail’ button. Please also rate and share this podcast on iTunes to help others discover it.
- I’ll be speaking at Chinese Church in London, in Soho, 11.30am Sunday September 7. Other events can be found here.
- Celebration Church in Raleigh, North Carolina, is the first stop on my US Resurrection Year speaking tour in October. There are a few dates available so please get in touch soon if you’d like me to speak for your church, conference or event.
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The Single Life Series
This interview was one of a 7-part series we ran on Open House called The Single Life. You might find the full series helpful too, so here it is. Click on each link to play the interview or right-click and choose ‘save target’ to download.
Part 1: Being A Contented Single
Sandra Cavallo, a 30-something single pastor and magazine columnist, gives insights on how to thrive as a single person.
Part 2: Being Single Again
Anne Hollonds, CEO of Relationships Australia, talks about the challenges of being single again. Some great advice for those who have experienced separation, divorce or the death of a spouse.
Part 3: Rethinking Celibacy for the Single Christian
Why celibacy is not about missing out or waiting around for marriage, but a chance to embrace God more fully.
Part 4: Single Parenting
Tips and advice for the single parent, with Deb Sorenson from Focus on the Family Australia.
Life 5: Sexual Purity
Dr Allan Meyer from Careforce Lifekeys lays the Biblical foundations of why sex should be reserved for marriage.
Part 6: Unrequited Love
You love someone and they don’t love you back. Laura Smit, author of Loves Me, Loves Me Not: The Ethics of Unrequited Love talks about why it happens, what to do about it and where God fits into it all.
Part 7: Marrying Well
Advice from authors Steve and Candice Watters on what you can do if you hope to one day be married. (Notice how this interview comes last!)