Tuesday, July 28, 2009

how to talk about celibacy

I wonder how one generates discussion about celibacy. It's really not the stuff of casual conversation. But everyone I've talked to about it has seemed interested and a little guilty. This guilt I don't quite understand. It's the same sort of sneaky look the boys got when one of them brought in one of his sister's tampons to giggle about with his friends. It's that same, "this is dirty" look so many people get when they talk about sex, like celibacy is just as dirty of a secret as sex. How old are we?

Anyway, people have stories to tell about being celibate by nature or by choice or both, but there isn't really any chance or place to discuss it where we don't have to feel guilty. In some ways, I guess that's another reason I started this particular blog. The faceless nature of the inner space created on the 'net can let us have some discussions that otherwise wouldn't happen. I hope.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

"Iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another." Proverbs 27:17 (NASB)

Sometimes I feel like one dull iron waiting.

I am happily celibate. Please pick your jaws up off the floor and examine the evidence.
  • I don't struggle with lust.
  • I don't seem to NEED other people to feel whole.
  • I like being alone; I don't feel lonely.
(ASIDE: Keep reading, at least until the end of this post, please, I beg you. Don't stop with this paragraph. Jesus knows me better and loves me more perfectly than any man ever could; He is the only person I NEED, but He uses people as His hands and feet and arms to hug and absorb tears in His current bodily absence. I don't mean this in a cheesy, pious way; it's just a fact.)
  • I am naturally detached, emotionally distant.
  • I don't worry about (or have) sexual desires.
  • My highest form of love is friendship.
  • I like being this way.
  • I really do.
As one of the minority who is grateful to have been given the gift of celibacy, I feel out of phase with pretty much everyone else on the planet. Their motives, actions, and reactions often baffle me, like I'm watching a film projected on swirling smoke: mind the gaps. I am mystified with the urges that result directly in romantic heartbreak and drama (and bliss and giddiness).

In her essay, "Why I Will Never Write My Memoirs," Louise Brooks said, "[T]he reader cannot understand the character and deeds of the subject unless he is given a basic understanding of that person's sexual loves and hates and conflicts. It is the only way the reader can make sense out of innumerable apparently senseless actions." Preach it, Lulu.

It's like I'm immune to the tides. I've compared it to being like a marble dropped in a box of bar magnets: there are forces of repulsion and attraction all around, and then there's me, rolling and bumping into people's edges.

My mother worries about me even more now that I understand myself a little better. She's already got a grandchild; what's her problem? (She is afraid I am guaranteeing myself a lonely, empty life, and she doesn't want that for me. She doesn't understand, but she loves me.)

I seem to have problems forming bonds of lasting friendship with women (aside from my sister). I used to think that was because I was a tomboy uninterested in pretty much anything normal girls care about. I think that's part of it, but I have had very good, amazing, quirky female friends, and they have left me behind. I suspect they sense my mental distance and know that I will survive on my own. They feel safe leaving me.

It's true I don't need them to function the way some people NEED people, but that doesn't mean I don't want an amazing, steadfast, through thick-and-thin (and impossible and hilarious and brutal life) friend I can invest in and live my life next to and with. I want a David, or a Jonathan, one whose soul is knit with mine.

Since I don't really click with girls, I tried that kind of friendship with boys. I should've saved myself the trouble and given up on that in first grade when my best friend "dumped" me for the new girl in class. (He was barely literate, as most six-year-olds are, but somehow he still knew about boyfriends and girlfriends and had the gall to think that was what our friendship was. I guess we were only proximal friends since we were the same age, and his mom was our babysitter, but there was no one I'd enjoyed playing GI Joes with more.)

I've known some smart and wonderful men, but when I let myself get close to them as friends, they want more than that, so I've started distancing myself from men, too, for all sorts of logical reasons.
  • I don't want to have to reject anyone else, especially really amazing and wonderful people who've forgotten that I told them I am neither willing nor able to enter that kind of relationship.
  • I can't very well start every conversation with, "And remember, I'm celibate."
  • I can't restrict myself to married ("safe") men because that's not fair to their wives (and I'd hate for them to get wrong ideas).
  • It's easier to let the distance stand than to bridge it and have the friendship annihilated by those beautiful words (spoken or unspoken) "I'm in love with you."
Nothing should be ruined by those words.

Since men make up about half the population in the world and the church and women make up the other half, I've painted myself into a corner, and I'm allergic to paint fumes. God didn't design us to be alone, not even introverts, but I'm lost in this morass of detachment. If I can't love the people He put around me, how can I love God right? Why can't I wrestle with the easy questions?

So there you have it: this blog will be about friendship, love, faith, community, beauty, truth, pain, relationships, and family. I invite thoughtful comments, questions, and debate.