We are about to get real with ourselves about living for God through the purification of our bodies. So clutch your pearls and grab your Bible and lets talk about
having sex…NO sex in the city!
For most of us who say we are followers of Christ, we know what the Bible says about keeping your body a holy temple and abstaining from sex until marriage. However lets be honest, there is more sex in the Kingdom sometimes than in the world. And what or who is to blame? The devil? Our selfish desire to please self and not God?
Of course sex can be good in its rightful place. But in the kingdom of God, its rightful place is in the marriage bed. So why do we struggle so much with sex outside of marriage? Why is this an issue in the Kingdom?
I recently sat down with Shea Scott Edwards, author of Success in Celibacy to discuss how Christian’s can please God by honoring their bodies by abstaining from sex. Shea originally wrote Success in Celibacy as an e-book to market her Youtube channel. She soon realized that this was a conversation that needed to be more than an e-book. The conversation of sex and celibacy in Kingdom living needed to be discussed in a full-fledge book.
Shea shares her own testimony of how she failed at being celibate before finally winning at it for six years before she met her husband. As I am also living celibate and looking to continue to please God in this area of my life, I wanted to know more about how to turn away from temptation and ways to stay on the celibate journey until marriage. So of course, I asked her some tough questions. And she was ready with the answers that I know will bless not only me but you too!
TDIM: Pre-marital sex is not only a problem outside the church, but also inside the body of Christ. What advice do you give in your book for both men and women to successfully walk the path of celibacy?
Shea: I use the principals of love, obedience, a season of stillness and channeling your energy as guideposts towards a successful walk. It includes uprooting patterns of thought and behavior and replacing them with God’s truth from a place of love and empowerment, not judgement.
TDIM: How easy is it to start being celibate once you have already been physically intimate?
Shea: It depends on the person and their personal level of willpower as it relates to physical intimacy and self-control. As you can imagine, there’s a wide spectrum ranging from people who can give or take sex and just do it out of obligation and filling the status quo and people who are full blown sex addicts. For me, it was difficult at first as I was used to seeking physical and emotional companionship as a source of comfort and pleasure. Weeding out relationships that no longer served my desire to put God first in this area of my life was the first step. After that, it’s sort of like quitting smoking cigarettes cold turkey. There will be a period or various periods of withdrawal. However, this is where the Holy Spirit begins to strengthen, guide, heal and fill empty voids.
TDIM: What strategies can a person use if they are already in a sexual relationship and want to be celibate but don’t want to lose their partner.
Shea: When obedience to God and your relationship with Him becomes your #1 priority, you’ll no longer want anything God doesn’t want for you. If you’re in a relationship with a person who is unwilling to honor your decision to commit your body to Christ out of your love for God, you should RUN, not walk in the opposite direction. For they are a “seat-filler” and taking up space for God, and your pre-destined mate. The more practical answer, is to express your renewed sense of purpose and acknowledgement of who God is in your life and your desire to not have a lukewarm relationship [with Him]. Communicate you are seeking genuine peace and intimacy with God until the season of marriage. They’ll either respect it or not. During my celibate walk, I had to ask the question, “Who am I trying to please: myself, my sexual partner or God.” Once you re-evaluate and work on your relationship with God, He’ll win every time.”
TDIM: Can celibacy work if only one partner is truly committed to it?
Shea: I don’t think so. The process of courtship and marriage is all about the two merging together as one and being equally yoked and on one accord on most values (the non-negotiables). If only one partner is truly committed, that means the other partner has a hardened heart towards the issue. They’ll either go looking for lust and immediate gratification elsewhere (and justify it), or be a consistent temptation for you–always trying to lure you in and change your mind. Neither are beneficial to your celibate walk. God will not send someone in your life to dishonor what He deems most sacred. The partner God has for you, (even if they don’t fully understand at first) will respect your decision and (at the least) commit to seeing it through with you.
TDIM: When “Kingdom” men are expecting the “goodies,” how do you maintain your stance on being celibate?
Shea: Stay firm to your convictions. If they do not respect your boundaries around physical intimacy, keep it moving! They’ll only cause you to stumble. Kingdom men who aren’t willing to honor God’s highest good for your life are no different from “worldy” men. In a way they’re worse.
TDIM: Do you have any tips for seeking an accountability in this area?
Shea: Yes! Read Success in Celibacy! Find a mentor willing to hold you spiritually accountable. It’s not so much important that they’ve been celibate themselves (although that’s an added bonus). Surround yourself with people who are committed to pleasing and serving God from a place of love, freedom and joy and get rid of people who are judgmental, negative or discouraging to your walk. Have someone who you can PRAY with. Much of accountability is spiritual warfare and prayer works wonders.
TDIM: Does masturbation count? How does this affect celibacy?
Shea: I do not believe masturbation counts as “having sex” as it is a solo act. However, it has a profound impact on one’s celibate walk and intimacy with God. Masturbation is somewhat of a crutch in self-pleasuring to get over the hump or when you just need a physical release. Although I do not think it’s something God celebrates, there is grace along the way. Masturbation shouldn’t be used as a long-term tool to self-soothing until you wait for your mate. Often times, it lures us into a fantasy realm of past or imaginary lovers. In addition, watching pornography is not in alignment with God’s perfect will. The celibate walk is about self-control and purifying your flesh in order for the holy spirit to dwell within your physical body which is the temple of the Holy Spirit. Believe it or not, I address masturbation in more detail in the book.
TDIM: How do you encourage a friend who is struggling with keeping celibate?
Shea: Remind them of their worth to God and that God has and wants more for their highest good. That God is not saying no forever, just for now. That entering a season of stillness will weed out the drama and confusion and bring about healing, intimacy with God, blessings, purpose, and integrity. Temporary satisfaction is not worthy of disappointing our Heavenly Father. Celibacy is not intended to punish but to purpose you and propel you to higher heights. It’s during the season of celibacy that you learn who you are to God and who He wants you to be to and for Him. It is a gorgeous journey that brings LIFE and FREEDOM! Let them know if they fall, don’t stay wrapped up in a sexual relationship, keep striving for God’s best.
If you need some Bible verses to assist you in staying on your celibate journey, Shea recommends the following: John 14:21, Deuteronomy 28:1-3, Matthew 9:17, Proverbs 3:4-6, and 1 John 4:19.
God is a god full of grace and mercy. Everything he asks of us is for our good. He has plans for us that can blow our minds if we just follow his commandments (Jeremiah 29:11). Let us resolve this day to keep our bodies Holy and pleasing unto Him.
Do you have a celibacy journey you want to share? email us at: firstname.lastname@example.org or snail mail us at: The Diva Inc. Magazine, PO BOX 1353, Palo Alto, Ca 94302.