I have an older family member who never married. Because that family relation came from the generation in which sex stayed within marriage, she will always be a virgin. There was no serious contemplation or big revelation for her. That was simply the way things were. So, I have always known that people can have celibate lives. Even so, I was not personally aware of it until my freshman year of high school. The biology teacher mentioned Gregor Mendel who became a type of clergyman and who made scientific discoveries. Mendel's position required him to be celibate. One of the male students in that high school freshman class inquired, "can people actually live like that?" quite surprised and astonished. That question drew attention toward the celibacy.
I shrugged and went on with my life, not giving much thought to the matter. I contemplated celibacy and choose celibacy only after reading the Bible, especially the letters of Paul. Because I grew up in a generation where sex outside of marriage was commonplace, the question I asked myself was not whether I should marry. The question was simply whether I should continue my virginity for the rest of my life.
And the more I contemplated celibacy, the more I realized that sex is insignificant and trivial compared to the glory of what is spiritual. Reading scripture helped me to understand the proper place and purpose of sex. Understanding its proper place and purpose enabled me to choose celibacy with the full knowledge and awareness that I indeed made the right decision.
All sexual sin and lust exist because humanity is born with a fallen and sinful nature. All the fears I received from this culture were never part of God's design or intent. Some secularists might think I chose celibacy out of prudery or squeamishness. In reality, I chose celibacy because my attitude toward the act became one of bored disinterest. I discovered the spiritual to be superior and more satisfying than the physical.
"The body is sown in corruption, it is raised in incorruption. It is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness, it is raised in power. It is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body." (1 Corinthians 15:42-44)
"For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally-minded is death, but to be spiritually-minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God." (Romans 8:5-7)
The more time a person spends thinking or committing the sex act, the less time a person has to communicate with God who is Spirit and less time to think about the souls of other people. All sex apart from the biblical ordinance (Mathew 19:4-6) is gratifying one's body and ignoring the souls of the other person. I say this because during the act, there is more attention to the physical sensations that one is receiving. During the act, people are more intent upon what their own individual bodies experience, so they think less about others and regard others only in the context of physical gratification during the act. Too much preoccupation with the act or making the act a hobby leads to the deterioration and ultimate disregard of the human soul for the simple reason that the act pulls a person's attention entirely on the flesh.
The only instance in which sex can be considered spiritual is within the context of marriage between a man and a woman. (Genesis 1:27-28) Sex between a man and a woman produces children. The birth and the nurturing of children are God's intended plans for sex. Children are the biological function and result. The family bond is the only spiritual bond that comes from sex because the act brings new souls into the world.
This is one point against gay marriage, by the way. Gay marriage denies the opposite gender any emotional role or personal attachment to the children, so it turns the other gender into a breeder.
Marriage and children are not for everyone. To think that everyone is destined for another person makes that other person the most important part of everyone's fate. To think that everyone is destined for another person attributes unnecessary and unqualified power over the fate of each individual. This belief is a form of worshipping the creature instead of the Creator. Jesus is our ultimate destiny and fate. An earthly spouse is neither.
I discovered even further that as a Christian, I should remain celibate. Marriage was not for me. I did not want to dedicate myself to a man. I wanted to dedicate myself to the spiritual.
"[the person] who is unmarried cares for the things of the Lord - how he may please the Lord. But he who is married cares about the things of the world - how he may please his wife. There is a difference between a wife and a virgin. The unmarried woman cares about the things of the Lord, that she may be both holy in body and in spirit. But she who is married cares about the things of the world - how she may please her husband." (1 Corinthians 7:32-34)
Ultimately, all Christians should be dedicated to Jesus. When we dedicate ourselves to Jesus, then He will tell us whether or not we should marry. A very strong good comes from celibacy. Jesus has given us one simple commandment - love for all people. And love is seen in charity, friendships, and so many other deeds.
"Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God, and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God." (1 John 4:7)
"If we love one another, God abides in us, and His love has been perfected in us." (1 John 4:12)
"walk in love as Christ also has loved us.... but fornication and all uncleanness or covetousness, let it not even be named among you" (Ephesians 5:2-3)
The celibate individual can dedicate his- or herself to the community: to helping others, to charity, to mentoring, or to simply being a good influence on so many other people. The celibate individual is able to express love for the community in a way that families typically cannot because families must focus on themselves. And it is more than just keeping virginity. As I stated earlier, too much preoccupation with the sex act leads to the deterioration and ultimate disregard of the human soul for the simple reason that the act pulls a person's attention entirely on the flesh. Just thinking about the lustful actions pulls a person away from the spiritual glory and leads to deterioration.
Jesus said, "whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart." (Mathew 5:28)
So, I stopped thinking about the sex acts the way I used to think in order to make myself pure and acceptable. I analyze the beliefs and attitudes around it, its proper place and so forth. There is nothing wrong with that. A biblical perspective on sex does exist, and all this discussion about carnality and spirituality required considerable thinking about what these things meant. I found my way to celibacy through such analysis on what these meant to me. And this analysis led me to conclude that sex is irrelevant and insignificant compared to the glory of the spiritual. The heart must be pure, not just the body.
"walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lusts of the flesh. For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another." (Galatians 5:16-17)
This cleansing was a process. Sometimes, I prayed and sometimes I listened to Christian radio. The cleansing did not occur overnight. It was a conscious decision and dedication. When I dedicated myself to Jesus, my thoughts became cleansed, and I discovered how to truly love people. Physical sensations tend to confuse and distort perceptions about people. Genuine love comes from within the spiritual heart, from a source freed from any confusing sensations. Love is spiritual and pure. There is no confusion where love is genuine. And this is a love so beautiful and profound and deep, a love liberated from the things of this world. There are men and women who I enjoy being around simply on account of who they are, simply on account of their beautiful souls. And this spiritual love is what God is all about.
"Now, the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. But we all with unveiled face, beholding as a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord." (2 Corinthians 3:17-18)