by Kymberli Segarra
Abstinence and celibacy are two completely different words with multiple meanings, but they both have one major thing in common–NO SEX! In God calling us to live a pure life until marriage, where do you stand? What box do you fit in? Depending on who you ask, the root and the standards differ.
The timeless Christian view is that abstinence is remaining pure by withholding from any sexual activity until marriage. While celibacy is staying true to God while remaining single/unwedded for life. However, modern-day definitions of the two are a lot more lenient. The modern day definition of abstinence requires you to be a virgin until you marry (but doesn’t include foreplay); celibate means you’ve had previous engagement in sex (penetration) but now choosing to abstain until marriage.
While neither meaning makes you better or worse than your friend down the street, it is very interesting to see such a vast difference.
Paul the Apostle who lived a single life does state, it is better to be unwed and celibacy (1 Corinthians 7); but life happens, and there are times where we do not meet God until we are way past the life that Paul recommended.
The alternative version seems to cover everyone and focused on ultimately getting married, but it is not biblical. Jesus does give us the desires of our hearts (Psalm 37:4), but what if that is your assignment?
So which definition do we follow? Pray on it and see where God leads you. Your commitment and relationship with Him is personal, so do not worry about placing yourself in a box, because with God, the sacrifice is always worth the reward.