1 Corinthians 7:28:
But those who marry will face many troubles in this life, and I want to spare you this.
Skimming over a list of recent secular advice columnist Carolyn Hax columns recently, I feel happy with never having been married, and that I am a life long celibate.
Sometimes, I feel upset at having arrived in my 40s without ever married, but then I see things online or on the TV that makes me feel glad I am still single and not having sex.
Here’s a selection of just a few of Hax’s recent column headlines:
- Carolyn Hax: History of bad partners; adulterer in their midst – OCT 17
- Carolyn Hax: When to disclose you have herpes – OCT 16
- Carolyn Hax: Boyfriend has anger issues, but he won’t go to therapy on his own – OCT 15
“When to disclose you have herpes.” –When to disclose your herpes?! Good grief. I have never been in that situation and likely never will be.
It’s hard being a celibate Christian over the age of 40.
We’re mostly invisible to the American Christian church at large, and get no encouragement or support to remain celibate.
I’m constantly inundated with pro-sex (and pro-marriage) messages and images every time I turn on the television, go to a movie, look at a magazine – and that’s just from “Christian culture,” not counting the mountain of sex messages and imagery I get from secular culture, not just in regards to sex, but the secular culture keeps up this facade that a person cannot be validated unless one is in a romantic relationship.
Regarding my point that the current American Christian culture is just as obsessed with sex as is the secular culture, here are a few examples: everything from pastor Mark Driscoll’s frequent kinky, perverted, sex-filled sermons (he even sexualizes non-sexual content, such as the book of Esther), and pastor Ed Young’s stupid, immature, weird, tacky “Sexperiment.”
You can read more about those topics here (I am not necessarily in full agreement with all views on all topics on blogs and sites I link to):
This discusses how Driscoll and other pastors are obsessed with sex:
Older celibates get treated like weirdos or failures in and out of the church, by Christians and by secular people.
The hypocrisy from Christians is amazing on this point. They frequently lecture teen aged Christians, and the 20-something Christians, to refrain from sex outside of marriage, but when these Christians actually succeed in doing this, and remain unmarried and virgins into their 40s and beyond (such as yours truly), we get treated like second class citizens and freaks by the church. (click “more” to read the rest of the post)
Some Christians treat us like odd balls or chastise us for not marrying, having sex, and not reproducing (such as, ironically, the odd ball and wacko “marriage mandaters” and the “patriarchalists,” such as the “Quiverfull” groups).
There is no support, encouragement, or sympathy for Christians (from other Christians) who have arrived to age 35 (or older) and have remained unmarried virgins. It’s astounding, really. These preachers and church groups hound Christian teens to stay virgins until marriage, but when these teens actually live this out, but don’t get married at all (or not until past age of 35 – 40), they are shunted aside or treated derisively.
There is a lot of superficial, shallow support for celibacy and sexual purity in and around Christian groups in the form of platitudes, and support for celibacy is the “party line” (especially for appearance’s sake in front of secular culture), but in reality, there is no support given to the older Christian celibate from other Christians.
This lack of deep, consistent, meaningful, practical, and emotional support for celibate, Christian singles cheapens the whole “be celibate; sex is for marriage only” message that Christians give to other Christians about abstaining from sex, and it sounds hollow when I hear Christians complaining about sexual sin in the secular culture, the amount of pornography in society, etc.
At any rate, by having not married and not having sex, I have escaped unwanted pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases, and having been used and exploited by a man for sex only to be tossed away like trash afterwards. So for that, I am glad I have not slept around or been married.
I have read countless replies left on blog entries about spousal abuse by Christian women who were married to supposed Christian men who physically, sexually, or emotionally abused them. These abusive men play the part of the Christian to the hilt; they carry a Bible around and attend church weekly. Some are even preachers.
When these abused Christian women go to their pastor or church elders or other church members for help or emotional or practical support, they actually get blamed for the abuse and are actually told to “submit more” to the husband, and are given other unhelpful, hurtful, incorrect advice.
There is also a woeful, inadequate understanding among Christians concerning biblical grounds for divorce. Contrary to what most Christians believe, adultery or having an unbelieving spouse are not the only grounds for divorce. Abuse, including on-going emotional abuse, is in fact a valid biblical reason for divorce.
I don’t have a horse in this race, as I have never married, so therefore, I have never been divorced, but based on all the reading I’ve done on this topic, yes, abuse (and other reasons, such as prolonged neglect) are in fact biblical reasons to divorce.
Marriage is not permanent if your Christian (or non-Christian) partner is abusive, or is, on a consistent basis, failing to meet your needs.
(If you are a Christian woman who is dealing with any sort of abuse from your spouse, or neglect, you may find this Christian blog for Christian targets of domestic abuse helpful, for advice, biblical support for divorce from an abuser, and for emotional support: A Cry For Justice).
After having read so many stories of Christian women (and from a few Christian men) who were abused by their “Christian” spouses (some who endured the abuse for twenty years or more!), I kind of feel fortunate that I never married.
It appears that some of these “Christian” husbands who were abusers hid their true natures well at first, for when they were dating these women, they were very pleasant and charming, but once marriage happened, they began the abuse.
It’s not that I was ignorant about all of this before.
I was engaged for a few years, in my early thirties. The guy I was engaged to was my first boyfriend, so I was inexperienced about relationships and what to expect.
The guy I was engaged to was narcissistic.
He only wanted to talk about himself and his life. He never asked me about me, my life, my interests, or my hobbies, which I thought was odd, but as it was my first relationship, I thought maybe that was normal behavior. I thought his self-absorption was something he would outgrow, but he never did (we were a couple for seven years).
I couldn’t understand why a guy would want to date me but never take an interest in me (I now realize he was narcissistic. He was not truly interested in a two-way exchange of thoughts, hopes, and feelings, but expected me to stroke his ego and take an interest in him).
He took advantage of me financially on many occasions.
My ex never put me before his mother or his family or origin. When his mother was verbally abusive to me and very rude to me on two occasions (and I had always been respectful to her, I did not give her grounds to be rude to me, which my ex very well knew), my ex took her side. My ex showed no sympathy or concern that his mother had mistreated me.
I could go on with other things he did, and more examples of his insensitivity, but my point is that due to that long term relationship I was in for years, where I was either taken for granted or mistreated, I learned that just because you are in a relationship with someone is not a guarantee that you will have your needs met, or feel loved, or that your loneliness will go away (yes, it’s possible to be sitting in the same room as your boyfriend / fiance and still feel all alone).
While there are times I would still like to marry, there are others, like today, where I see these letters to advice columnists from people who are upset about having sexually transmitted diseases, or wives who cry that their husbands are cheating on them, or blog pages filled with responses of testimonies from Christian women who were abused by “Christian” husbands, and I feel grateful that I’ve been spared all that.
There are definitely times it’s great not to be married, and never to have experienced it.
Related posts, this blog:
(Link): Rebound Guy and No Sex