How Can You Live Without Sex?

Sexuality and Self-Control

We also need to remind ourselves that we can value our sexuality through self-control as much as through intercourse. Love isn’t just communicated by the sex one has had, but also by the sex one hasn’t had. This is true of the wife who says no to a colleague’s sexual advances on a business trip—out of love for her God and her husband. It’s true of the same-sex-attracted woman who stops sleeping with her same-sex partner after becoming a Christian—out of her new love for Jesus. It’s also true of the same-sex-attracted man who remains a virgin until his dying day—also out of love for God.

And the power of our sexual feelings can, amazingly enough, be valued most when they are most painfully experienced. As John Piper reminds us, “The ultimate reason (not the only one) why we are sexual is to make God more deeply knowable. The language and imagery of sexuality are the most graphic and most powerful that the Bible uses to describe the relationship between God and his people—both positively (when we are faithful) and negatively (when we are not).” It is God’s passionate love for his people—so passionate that it’s described in sexual terms—recorded in passages like Ezekiel 16 that most deeply communicates God’s love for me.

Life without sex for a Christian, then, should never involve an unhealthy repression or denial of their sexuality—any attempt to act like it doesn’t exist. Sexuality is a God-given gift to be valued and expressed in the ways he has outlined. That will mean lots of sex for some, and none for others—both different ways of appreciating an incredible part of what it is to be human being, made in God’s image.

Intimacy Without Sex

But doesn’t the absence of sex necessitate a life of lonely celibacy with no partner, and no children, to share yourself with? All human beings long for intimate, self-giving relationships with others, and a sexless life would seem to deny the satisfaction of this basic need.

Such thinking—far too common in churches where the nuclear family can be the only focus of attention—is not scriptural. In our Bibles, friendship is all about self-disclosure and self-sacrifice (see David and Jonathan and the book of Proverbs), and the church family is the New Testament’s central community focus—not a mom, dad and 2.4 children. Tim Chester is provocative but correct when he writes: “I shocked someone recently by asking them to name one occasion on which Jesus speaks positively about families. Every time Jesus talks about families, he sees them as competing for loyalty to him and his community.” Read the end of Matthew 12 if you don’t believe him.

So to deny someone sex is not to condemn him or her to a life empty of intimacy and full of loneliness. Loneliness will never be entirely absent (it isn’t absent in the most successful marriages and nuclear families), but intimacy can be present in close friendships and your church family. Barry Danylak rightly maintains, that it is not good to be alone. Neither Jesus nor Paul as single men was devoid of relationships. On the contrary their relationships flourished, in both number and depth, by the freedom and flexibility their singleness afforded them.”

As a single man I might not enjoy sexual intimacy with anyone, but I suspect I often enjoy greater appropriate intimacy with more people than most of my married friends—they sometimes have the greater intimacy deficit. Lauren Winner poignantly records a friend’s comment: “Lying in bed at night next to someone you once promised to love and knowing there is no way to bridge the gulf between you… That is the most crushing loneliness of all.”

I might not be so bad off living life without sex after all.

This article about life without sex originally appeared here.