BY PASTOR T. O. BANSO
“Now about the questions you asked in your letter. Yes, it is good to live a celibate life. But because there is so much sexual immorality, each man should have his own wife, and each woman should have her own husband” (1 Corinthians 7:1-2 NLT).
The word celibacy is derived from the Latin caelibatus meaning the state of being unmarried. But in its contemporary usage, celibacy is defined as a state of (1) not being married and, therefore, not having sex, especially for religious reasons such as in priestly celibacy; and (2) abstention from sex.
My focus in this message is the second aspect of the definition. But if anyone is reading this message who has taken the oath of not getting married or intends to take this oath, this message is not to discourage you. Just make sure you understand what you’re doing.
Paul says in 1 Corinthians 7:7, “I wish everyone could get along without marrying, just as I do. But we are not all the same. God gives some the gift of marriage, and to others he gives the gift of singleness” (NLT). That means some people have the gift of marriage and some the gift of singleness. I don’t know your gift but if you have a desire to get married, it means you don’t have the gift of singleness! If you get married, following the Word of God, you have not sinned.
From the dictionary definition, there are two kinds of celibacy but in Christianity, there are three.
1. Celibacy without marriage. These celibates have taken the oath of celibacy for religious reasons such as in priestly celibacy. They are not married and, therefore, should not have sex. Jesus talks about this type of celibacy in Matthew 19:12.
2. Celibacy before marriage. If you’re not yet married, God expects you to be a celibate until you eventually marry. You must avoid sex before you get married. It is a sin not to be married and have sex. God permits only sex within the confines of marriage – not sex before marriage (premarital sex) and sex outside marriage (extra-marital sex).
God created sex as a means of reproduction to fulfill His mandate to humans to be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth (Genesis 1:28). Sex is for reproduction. It is also for pleasure or enjoyment but within the marriage context only.
3. Celibacy after marriage. These celibates are to enjoy sex within the confines of marriage. This does not fall within the dictionary definition, but for this message, we shall regard this as a form of celibacy. As a Christian, you must continue as a celibate, after you get married. That doesn’t mean you don’t have sex with your spouse, but with him or her ONLY. You must remain faithfully committed to your spouse. Sex outside marriage is a sin even for widows and widowers. Widows and widowers are free to remarry.
The Bible condemns all forms of sexual immorality, including premarital and extramarital sex, bestiality, incest, self-masturbation, pornography, rape, homosexuality (and female homosexuality – lesbianism), etc. God forbade all these sexual activities in the Old Testament (Exodus 20:14; Leviticus 20:10; 18:6-18, 22-23). He still does today.
Although masturbation is not specifically mentioned in the Bible, self-masturbation is a sin because it is self-seeking rather than sharing love with one’s spouse. It is self-stimulation of the genitals to achieve sexual pleasure usually leading to orgasm. And orgasm outside the context of marital intimacy is a perversion of God’s purpose for sex. Self-masturbation shows a lack of self-control. It emanates from impure thoughts. It doesn’t glorify or honour God and it has negative consequences. The sexually immoral has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God (Ephesians 5:3-5).
1 Corinthians 6:18-20 says, “Flee sexual immorality. Every sin that a man does is outside the body, but he who commits sexual immorality sins against his own body. Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s” (NKJV).
Jesus raised the bar for the definition of sexual immorality by saying that mental adultery is a sin and not just the act of sex alone. He said anyone who even looked at a woman with lust in his eye had already committed adultery with her in his heart (Matthew 5:27-29). Kissing, caressing, etc. someone you’re not married to constitute sexual immorality even if you’re already engaged. Avoid such things. Engagement isn’t the same as marriage. Engagement is just an agreement between two people to marry. It may not lead to marriage. Emulate Job who said, “I have made a covenant with my eyes; why then should I look upon a young woman?” (Job 31:1 NKJV).
Benefits of celibacy
1. It helps you not to forfeit eternity with God. The Bible says the sexually immoral, including fornicators, adulterers, homosexuals, etc., shall not inherit the kingdom of God (1 Corinthians 6:9; Galatians 5:19-21).
2. It helps you to keep your body holy and safeguards your life from spiritual pollution or defilement. According to Matthew 15:19-20, adultery and other forms of sexual immorality are among the sins that can defile a man. Your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:19).
3. It helps you to be faithful to your spouse and delivers you from strange women and men. It keeps you away from the sexually immoral and keeps away sexual trespassers from your marriage. This preserves your home from the marital crisis caused by unfaithfulness and lack of trust. “Stolen food may taste sweet at first, but later it will feel like a mouth full of gravel” (Proverbs 20:17 NCV).
4. It saves you from the guilty conscience and shame that those who break their oath of marriage often experience. This also affects such people’s relationship with God and others. They are usually not bold to come to the throne of grace to receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need, as Christians are asked to do in Hebrews 4:16.
5. It protects you against sexual diseases, including STDs, HIV/AIDS, etc., and premature death (Proverbs 5:3-14).
6. It preserves your destiny. Many destinies have been ruined on the bed of sexual immorality.
7. It closes the door of your life against demonic operations that result from sinful sexual activities, including bestiality, incest, fornication, adultery, and masturbation.
8. Staying unmarried or in a state of singleness helps you to serve the Lord with few distractions from earthly responsibilities (1 Corinthians 7:33-35).
9. Abstinence from sex before marriage increases your chances of having a happy and enduring marriage. Studies have shown that those who engage in premarital sex have an increased risk of divorce.
10. Abstinence from premarital sex helps you to keep your virginity until marriage, which is still a virtue despite the lies the devil has told many youths today.
11. Abstinence from sex before marriage protects you against the painful experience in the hand of insincere suitors who just want to have sex with you without any plan for marriage. Many women who have been exploited sexually and dumped by their ‘hit and run’ partners suffer serious heartbreak, emotional crisis, etc.
12. Celibacy protects you against the risk of accidental pregnancies and unwanted babies plus the pressure of procuring abortion, which is another sin. Unwanted pregnancies have caused some teenagers to drop out of school or have interrupted education.
13. Celibacy saves you from the risk of marrying someone just because you have impregnated her or you’re pregnant for him through premarital or extramarital sexual affairs. Many have, in addition, become accidental polygamists.
14. Celibacy makes you experience less distraction in your relationship with the opposite sex because you don’t see them as sex objects. Because sex is not your focus, during courtship, you can relate well and show sincere love.
Conclusion: Sexual immorality has serious consequences, which, unfortunately, those engaging in it fail to consider, ignore or trivialize. They’re usually deceived by the devil and blinded by lust. Sexual immorality sends sinners to hellfire, and destroys fellowship with God, making the sexually immoral unacceptable to Him. It defiles the body and opens it to demonic possession and oppression. It also robs the sinner of peace and joy and destroys their destinies and the home. Furthermore, sexual immorality causes sicknesses and diseases, including STDs and HIV/AIDS, and opens the door to all kinds of tragedies such as premature death.
If you’re involved in sexual immorality, this message may be God’s last warning to you. Therefore, take the following steps:
1. Repent and confess your sins now “A wise man fears and departs from evil, but a fool rages and is self-confident” (Proverbs 14:16 NKJV).
2. Surrender your life to Jesus. “Jesus answered, ‘Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God’” (John 3:5 NKJV).
3. Ask God for forgiveness and the power and grace to live a holy life henceforth. “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us” (1 John 1:8-10 NKJV).
4. Quit all sinful relationships, hangouts, and practices immediately. Isaiah 52:11 says, “Depart! Depart! Go out from there, touch no unclean thing; go out from the midst of her, be clean, you who bear the vessels of the LORD” (NKJV). Obviously referring to this scripture, Paul said, “‘Come out from among them and be separate, says the Lord. Do not touch what is unclean, and I will receive you’” (2 Corinthians 6:17 NKJV).
5. Return to your spouse, seek forgiveness, and be faithful. “Therefore take heed to your spirit, and let none deal treacherously with the wife of his youth” (Malachi 2:15b NKJV).
6. Feed on the Word of God daily. Study and meditate on it. “This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success” (Joshua 1:8 NKJV).
7. Flee from any temptation. 1 Corinthians 6:18 says to flee sexual immorality. Also, Acts 15:20 says you should abstain from sexual immorality or fornication.
8. Make yourself accountable to a servant of God or a mature Christian that you can confide in, who can minister the Word of God to you, pray for you and with you, and monitor your progress.
It is better to marry and have sex within the confines of marriage than to mess around. “Now about the questions you asked in your letter. Yes, it is good to live a celibate life. But because there is so much sexual immorality, each man should have his own wife, and each woman should have her own husband” (1 Corinthians 7:1-2 NLT).
If you’re not married, be a celibate until and after you get married. In other words, don’t have sex until you marry and have sex only with your spouse. Premarital sex or extramarital sex is a sin. “Drink water from your own cistern, and running water from your own well. Should your fountains be dispersed abroad, streams of water in the streets? Let them be only your own, and not for strangers with you” (Proverbs 5:15-17 NKJV). Lead a celibate life.
If you are not born again, you need to give your life to Jesus now. I urge you to take the following steps: *Admit that you are a sinner and you cannot save yourself and repent of your sins. *Confess Jesus as your Lord and Saviour. *Renounce your past way of life – your relationship with the devil and his works. *Invite Jesus into your life. *As a mark of seriousness to mature in the faith, start attending a Bible-believing and Bible-teaching church. There they will teach you how to grow in the Kingdom of God.
Kindly say this prayer now: O Lord God, I come unto You today. I know I am a sinner and I cannot save myself. I believe that Jesus is the Son of God who died on the cross to save me and resurrected the third day. I repent of my sins and confess Jesus as my Lord and Saviour. I surrender my life to Jesus now and invite Him into my heart. By this prayer, I know I am saved. Thank You, Jesus, for saving me and making me a child of God.
I believe you have said this prayer from your heart. Congratulations! You will need to join a Bible-believing and Bible-teaching church in your area where they will teach you how to live your new life in Christ Jesus. I pray that you flourish like the palm tree and grow like the cedar of Lebanon. May you grow into Christ in all things and become all God wants you to be. I will be glad to hear from you. The Lord be with you.
T. O. Banso is the President, Cedar Ministry International, Abuja, Nigeria.
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