Mandatory Music: listen to this to help you focus on just being One (imagine Johnny Hartman is singing just to himself). Go on, press the button:
Although it sounds rather grim, secular celibacy has a lot going for it. Think of all the time and energy you’d free up if you weren’t chasing tail. So much time! So much energy! Celibates tend to be religious types, but really it’s a great lifestyle for any busy, goal-oriented person. Celibacy is not simply a lack of sex (that’s just abstinence); it’s about self-determination and self-empowerment. With all your life force aimed at your own growth and development, you become the master of your soul, the captain of your destiny. Also, you don’t have to hold your belly in or do your hair when you don’t feel like it.
The spiritual teacher Meher Baba had this to say about celibacy: “The value of celibacy lies in the habit of restraint and the sense of detachment and independence which it gives.” Doesn’t that sound nice? And this is the guy who brought us the phrase “Don’t Worry, Be Happy,” so he clearly is on to something. (What? If you hadn’t heard that song 8 million times, you’d like it.) (He is also the Baba in Baba O’Riley.)
Celibates can view other people differently, without the sexual lens, without the weight of obligation to please or need to generate romantic love. They can view others as people rather than prospective partners. As the spiritual teacher Lady Gaga notes, “it’s OK not to have sex, it’s OK to get to know people. I’m celibate, celibacy’s fine.” Will becoming celibate make you an international superstar? MAYBE.
Not everyone feels celibacy is a positive force. “In his book, Celibacy and Religious Traditions, Carl Olson says ‘By practicing celibacy, a person works against the natural inclinations of the human body and its drives and he or she thereby perpetuates violence on him or herself. With its inherently ascetic and violent features, celibacy causes emotional, mental, and physical discomfort and pain of an often self-inflicted kind.'” Perhaps this is an unkind assessment, but my first thought is that Carl is still angry about not getting laid enough in high school.
There’s no need to get so worked up about it as a form of violence against the self. Celibacy presents so many practical advantages (no need for birth control, no fear of STDs, no need to orchestrate Valentine’s events/gifts) that it is really more of a gift you give yourself. Here is a whole bunch of advantages I found posted in some random internet forum. I like #5 and #10 the best.
1. A whole load of worries are taken off your mind. You don’t even have to think about contraception, venereal disease, physical compatibility, who sleeps on the wet patch, impotence, frigidity, bizarre sexual injuries, whether to swallow, whether your partner is good in bed, sexual fidelity, how to stop the bed from creaking, shave or not shave, wash or not wash, whether you know enough positions, orgasm faking, whether to experiment or which flavour of condom to choose. This must surely free up several cubic inches of brain tissue.
2. The enormous amount of time and effort that other people expend in order to get laid is freed up for other things. No more hanging around in sweaty nightclubs. No more searching through ‘lifestyle magazine’ articles for the latest and cleverest way to pick someone up. No more garotting your body with tight underwear. No more worry about whether you are adequately filling out your bra/shorts. No longer will you go to a dull party just because there’s someone there that you fancy.
3. People you talk to will know that you’re not interested in them for their body.
4. If you don’t have sex, you can’t have any Sexual Disasters. None of those embarrassing moments like when you just can’t undo her bra, or when you can’t get out of your bondage gear, or when you knock over the bedside table, or when your parents come home earlier than you expected, or when you realise that your partner is in fact amazingly ugly, or when you smear them all over with peanut butter and them remember that you don’t like peanut butter, or when you wake up the next morning and you’ve forgotten their name, or their gender.
5. You will save money. How much money you save depends on how you were getting your sex in the first place.
6. Nobody will be able to blackmail you with photographs of you in flagrante delicto. James Bond would be more effective if he were celibate, because then attractive enemy agents would not be able to seduce and capture him.
7. I don’t believe in God myself, but there are a lot of folks out there who think that God will look on you more favourably if you are celibate, or if you avoid recreational sex. Remember “Every sperm is sacred. Every sperm is great. If a sperm is wasted, God gets quite irate.”? Seriously though, celibacy may contribute to a greater peacefulness and spirituality if undertaken in the right context.
8. Celibacy significantly decreases your chances of becoming pregnant. That is, unless you’re a man.
9. You have a reserve of energy that you can expend on other things. Life will come into a more sensible perspective when it isn’t dominated by the search for a mate.
10. If you spontaneously combust, you don’t take anyone with you.