Celibacy After Sex: Is It Ever Too Late To Start Over?
You don’t have to go to church to learn the rewards of celibacy. Migrate on over to your social media world and you’ll find couples like Ciara and Russell and Meagan and DeVon promoting the power of “the wait,” while showcasing their happily ever afters to their millions of followers. From afar you can’t help but to admire – but from the inside looking in, it ain’t as easy as it looks. Most celibacy stories (or the ones I know) hold the same narrative. Two people with differing pasts, come together, fall in love, and stay true to their devotion of saving sex for marriage. Though they proclaim it’s a struggle, temptation never seems to successfully sway them from their path.
For some, particularly my friends, abstinence is a foggy concept. In a sex-driven society, it’s hard to envision the benefits of holding out, especially when you’ve found Mr. Right. Before pledging celibacy, I succumbed to years of running away from the sexual restrictions I felt Christianity had on me. Run as far as I might, guilt was always trailing one step behind. It was like a nagging mother screaming at me to do right, when I clearly wanted to do wrong. I had relations and relationships that didn’t survive due to this guilt, and it continued to follow me right on into my current relationship.
I entered this relationship with the same sexual momentum and freedom, only to consistently cry myself to sleep at night. Though I tried to disguise it, I couldn’t help but feel like I was living a double life — glorifying God by day but battling the devil by night. When I confessed this to my boyfriend, he comforted my internal battles but didn’t quite understand them. He was re-establishing his own relationship with God, starting to develop a healthy prayer life and become more active in church, so I didn’t want to lay any additional pressures on him. It was important that I allowed him to grow on his own terms, even if it required me to silently suffer. Many open conversations and prayers led up to what I call, Revelation Day. One early morning at work, distracted by my spirit, I called him.
“Listen Damion, I love you and you know that but either we both work on refraining from sex, or I have to be okay with letting you go,” were the exact words that came tumbling boldly out of my mouth.
Immediately, post ultimatum, I was set free and no longer swallowed whole in fear – that crippling fear of potentially losing someone you love. After just seven months together, I questioned and prayed for my boyfriend to one day be open to this drastic lifestyle change. More than anything, I wanted this for us, and to plant our feet on solid ground. After prior attempts at taking relationships into my own hands, it was time to one in the hands of God. It was time for me to start trying to take my Christianity seriously with the man that my soul grew to love.
On the other end of that phone call, I held my breathe. I was certain that his response would only ache and break me deeper, though I was prepared. This wasn’t the first time I’ve hinted at halting our sex life, but it was the very first time that I meant it.
“I’ve been praying about this, and Nikki… I’m ready,” he responded. Those words. Those freaking words. See, that’s the thing about those storybook celibacy stories – God can shift your relationship at any time. When I thought my relationship could be potentially tainted and “unequally yoked,” God moved us to the next level together. We just don’t hear enough about the relationships that start fresh mid-way; the ones who have already dabbled in sexual sin but together make a beautiful sacrifice for their faith; or even the relationships that occasionally backslide but are committed to overcoming.
To abruptly shift gears and set a new tone in a relationship is an obstacle that requires a higher level of faith and discipline that a year later, we still occasionally struggle with. To be honest, we’ve messed up a few times over the course of our commitment. What keeps us aiming to get it right is our belief in God’s forgiveness, love and mercy. I no longer condemn myself for my mistakes. I just choose not to, but I’m not settling in them either.
My story hasn’t ended yet and I don’t know where this road will take us. It’s possible that temptation can one day consume us (again), but it’s also possible that I can be happily married a year from now having successfully fulfilled our commitment to God. There’s power in trying no matter the hiccups. What I’ve learned from my experience is that it’s never too late to start over, pick up the pieces or redirect the path of your relationship. Never.