Our culture treats sex like its oxygen or food—as if it were something one needs to survive. In fact, sex isn’t necessary for survival, nor is it even necessary for the good life. Even the philosophical father of hedonism, Epicurus, understood this. But, alas, American culture is far more hedonistic than even the ancient Greek hedonists.
What sex is necessary for is procreation and marital unity. But one need not participate in either of those things to live and to live well. This is most evident in the life of Christ. Jesus lived as a virgin. He died a virgin. He rose again a virgin. And he lives forever as a fully exemplary human being . . . as a virgin. Jesus Christ is our eternal, celibate Lord.
Let that sink in.
From this it is clear that the celibate life is not unhealthy or even less than ideal. Rather, the Ideal Man lived a thoroughly celibate life. We live in a culture which constantly contradicts this by insisting that sex is necessary for a happy and fulfilled life. In fact, it tells us that the choice for celibacy is somehow unhealthy or unreasonable. (Ironically, that view itself is unhealthy and unreasonable.) And because that claim implies Jesus was unfulfilled, unhealthy, and unreasonable, it is deeply anti-Christian.
Yet many Western Christians give sexual pluralists a pass on their assumption that we all need sex. That we all must have sex to be happy. Why? Probably because we have lived so long in a hyper-sexualized and pornified culture that we’ve interiorized some of its assumptions, including this one. Consequently, in public discussions of sexual orientations and same-sex marriage, you seldom hear Christians confidently declare that celibacy is a reasonable and positive option. It’s as if we are ashamed to admit this biblical and anthropological fact.
But refusal to stand by this truth is to deny that Christ himself was the Ideal Man. It is to deny that the Apostle Paul spoke the truth when he declared celibacy to be a gift (1 Cor. 7:7-8). And it is an insult to millions of Christians around the world who practice celibacy either by choice or by necessity (due to physical disability or lack of a marriage partner, in spite of their desire for such). So let us be careful to respect Jesus, respect Scripture, and respect our celibate fellow Christians by honoring the high calling of celibacy.
Please keep this in mind the next time you hear someone talking about sex as if it were a basic human need or a necessary ingredient in a fulfilled life. Even if you lack the courage to correct them on this important point, at least remind yourself that they are rejecting an important biblical teaching.
In many ways, ours is a post-Christian culture, and nowhere is this more evident than in the area of human sexuality. As Christians, let us remain true to Scripture and the plain facts of human nature regarding this issue and thus honor Jesus Christ, our celibate Lord.
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