I was excited when my Youtube notification told me KevOnStage Studios posted a new video with a really amazing poet by the name of Jackie Hill-Perry!
When Jackie talks about having a correct view of God and being a Christian as it relates to temptation – I AM FOR IT!
Even if I can’t eloquently state it in words, this is what I try to convey to my friends and family…..well, really PEOPLE for that matter….when it comes to the practice of celibacy. Being celibate doesn’t mean you’re not tempted…. just like being in a heterosexual marriage after you’ve left a lifestyle of homosexuality doesn’t erase the thoughts that might present themselves……in the very same way being clean from drugs or alcohol doesn’t translate that you have absolutely NO vulnerability to the temptation to drink or do drugs again.
LISTEN. The supernatural HELP and STRENGTH to flee temptation is one of the MAIN BENEFITS of knowing and believing in God! Life on earth is tough for ANYONE. This is why I am so confident that God is real. I have experienced His power in my life PERSONALLY and no one can take that away from me! I know what life is like going to church just because your parents make you go. I know what it’s like sitting through sermons and VBS every summer without truly understanding that the words on the pages in front of you actually have POWER in real life!
It is NO coincidence that I’ve been celibate for about 10 years. It’s a matter of being intentional not to give in to the temptation that presents itself to me daily.
I have to put parameters in place and UTILIZE the spirit of self-control God has given me in order to stay on the right path. The God path for my life. There are few things tougher than going from being sexually active to doing nothing at all (I’m sure there are but for the purpose of this blog I’m going to say so.) Like many of you all, when I dated in the past, it was expected: you date a guy, you have sex with him because you like him, all is normal. That was until a terrible ending to a bad [relation]ship made me realize that my life was a hot mess.
When I made the conscious choice to change and really live for God, I did so because I loved Him. I wanted to know HIM, and the decision to be celibate was one of the things that came along with it. God’s Holy Spirit revealed to me, in my quest in knowing Him, that in addition to all the practical reasons to abstain from sex as an unmarried [young] woman, sex was preventing me from truly connecting with Him. I can honestly say that this was a seriously wise move. In the years since I made the decision to be celibate, so many blossoms of creative ideas, businesses, authentic ministry, friendships, blessings, spiritual intimacy have unfolded in my life.
Like Jackie expressed in this video, it wasn’t like overnight I had no sexual desire at all and experienced no temptation; but as time progressed, grew closer to God, and utilized his Word living a celibate life got EASIER. To this day, the temptation is still there because I’m human, but I use self-control to suppress it because I know it won’t do me any good to give into it. If I give into sexual temptation right now as an unmarried woman, I risk harming not only myself but being pulled further away from God.
So if you’re out there and you’re feeling defeated or are contemplating giving up on your commitment to abstinence because you still struggle with temptation– DON’T! Temptation is always going to be there, it’s a matter of not letting it win. Here are some things that have helped me and will prayerfully help you in some way!
Tool # 1 — Strategically avoid people and things that are overtly sexual in nature.
This goes for movies, Youtube videos, music videos, music that’s overtly sexual (sorry Meg and Trey fans), and books. No lie, it took me 1 ½ years to watch Girls Trip because I knew at the time it was released in theatres, I wouldn’t be able to handle seeing at night. (I’ll leave it right there. I don’t think I need to explain myself any further about that.) I also had to distance myself from a few friends because we used to cut up with and I knew that I had to back away from all of that if I was going to really be able to give this celibacy thing a shot. I made it known [to friends] when I finally made the decision to be celibate why I was always declining their offers for ‘girls’ night’ or club or kickbacks. I wasn’t strong when I first started this journey. Now, that I’m basically 10 years in, I’m stronger, but I still have to be careful of what I watch and what events I attend. As time passed, certain ‘base level’ temptations no longer tripped me up like they once did because I learned to recognize them for what they were.
Tool # 2 — Get you some accountability partners!
This one is right on up there to the top of the list. One point Jackie made in the video was regarding the importance of ‘community’. We were NOT made to ‘do’ life alone. We have no real strength simply in and of ourselves; we need God’s strength first, but also the support of a trusted community member. This can be a parent, a sibling, a friend, a church friend – someone who will help you in your weakest moments. When I decided to be celibate, I was about a month or two out of a toxic [relation]ship and needed peeps who wouldn’t judge me if I called them to talk/distract myself when I was feeling like scrolling my cell phone for an ex to call. Accountability partners kept me from making some choices I would’ve seriously regretted! But let me tell you all, I didn’t truly see the benefit of accountability partners until I got into my first relationship since deciding to be celibate. It was one thing to deny temptation as a single person but when I actually had a partner PHYSICALLY THERE and available to enjoy – whewwww I was constantly texting my folk just to help keep my mind straight.
Tool # 2.5 – If you are in or get into a relationship, be up front and set boundaries up front!
I wanted to say that when you do end up in a relationship, you need to make sure your partner knows up front what the deal is. Don’t leave things up to assumption and don’t hang your celibacy wholly on them. Your partner may not have been practicing celibacy as long as you have (or even at all) so it’s not fair (or wise) to say to yourself, “…okay, in my weak times I’ll just leave it up to my partner to tell me no because they know that I want to stay abstinent.”
No no no baby, what is you doinnnn?! lol
True, you need to make sure your partner is on the same page as you are, but you have to utilize YOUR self-control and they have to use THEIRS. There will be plenty of times where you’ll have close calls, and when this happens (because it will), YOU have to physically stop yourself, back things up, verbally express to your partner that things are getting too heated, and reach out to an accountability partner to let them know, “…look we almost went there, pray for me!”
Overnight trips, sleepovers, Netflix & Chillin’ is not wise. If you’re going to spend time alone, let it be during the day. If you’re going to go out at night, keep things public and don’t go back to one another’s house. If you’re going to have a chill night at home, do it with a group of friends. If you’re going out of town, get separate hotel rooms or bring another couple. If you’re up front with your partner and set boundaries, the chances of you slipping up will be slim to none.
Tool # 3 – Never let your guard down.
This isn’t a tool so much as it is a tip. Depending on how long it is from the time you decide to be celibate to the time you’re married, you may get comfortable in your own abilities. Be proud of the journey you’re on, but don’t get too cocky. I can tell you from experience that it is much easier for me now coming on Year 10 than it was Year 1 or Year 2, but it still takes work. Whatever it is you promised God, don’t relax until you’ve done that thing. I’ll be even more transparent with you all…..when I originally decided I was going to get closer to God and abstain from sex until marriage, I thought I’d be waiting 3 to 4 years tops! I was fresh out of college and figured I’d still be married by the time I reached 25. I’m sitting in this chair typing this blog entry at 32 years of age. Ya’ll. YA’LL. YOU. ALL!!! I had to dig deep and really use wisdom these past 10 years to stay free of giving into sexual temptation. Of course your story details won’t look exactly like mine, but kept in mind, you never know when God will call you to marriage so you always have to make sure you’re alert. When you read this, I don’t want you to feel overwhelmed as if being celibate is another job and that you can never have fun. What I want, is for you to get a realistic expectation and realization that the moment you feel you have things under control and go over to ole dude’s or ole girl’s house to watch a movie, they will hit you with “…why are you sitting all the way over there?” This will be the moment I want my words to ring in your ear ‘DON’T LET YOUR GUARD DOWN **insert your name here**” You will have to make the decision to put your guard up and allow that wisdom and those boundaries to kick in.
Tool #4 – Don’t give up. Know that you can do it.
Celibacy is like birthing a baby. Whether your baby is coming naturally or via cesarean, you experience pains and exhaustion like you probably never experienced before. You feel like your body can’t take any more, but that’s when you remember your ‘why’…that your baby is almost here and what you’re going through is worth fighting past every ounce of difficulty. The journey of staying celibate until marriage isn’t easy and there are times (and nights) where you feel like you can’t do it anymore. You’re not strong enough. When you fall into that mindset … KEEP PUSHING! Pray, listen to Christian music, watch Christian movies or videos until you fall asleep, read Bible scripture on what God promises you. Know that this celibacy journey is worth it – not just so you can finally enjoy married sex – but so you can experience the joy in knowing that you have developed self-control that will help you stay faithful and hopeful whenever you DO actually get married!
Temptation doesn’t end when you get married – it just evolves.
If you can flex your self-control muscles NOW while you’re un-married, imagine how much more of a leg up you’ll have when you DO get married and your spouse has to be deployed for 3 months? Or you have to go out of town on business for a weekend? You’ll know that YOU CAN withstand the temptation to just go out here and cheat out of sexual desire. You’ll be able to tap into tools you’ve gained during your celibacy to keep your desires in check until you can be reunited with your spouse.
So…don’t be hard on yourself if being abstinent is tougher than you originally thought. Even if you slip up, be firm with yourself, don’t beat yourself up and recognize where you need to change. Learn from your mistakes and know what you must do to have the upper hand next time.
Point blank….temptation is a beast, but so are you. If your motives for whatever it is you’re giving up – excessive partying, alcoholism, active homosexuality, habitual lying & manipulation, drugs, premarital sex – are rooted in God, you won’t fail. You may feel a little rocky, but again if your motives are tied back to God, He will sustain you. You may experience ‘failures’ but YOU are not a failure. Old desires will always present themselves to you, but through the strength that God gives and will build up in you, you won’t be controlled by them. I hope this encourages everyone who needs this.
Be blessed, Joc