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The meaning of voluntary celibacy.


To give the question of gender a thorough consideration, it is necessary to mention voluntary celibacy. Christianity teaches that voluntary celibacy means a conscious abstinence from sexual life for the sake of moral purity and spiritual perfection. Does it mean that family is a lower form of life? Should those who seek spiritual perfection remain virginal for the rest of their lives?

The chastity of virgins and monks does not debase their gender, but, rather, shows the latter’s potential holiness that remains closed due to the moral corruption of human nature. The meaning of voluntary celibacy is not a fight against gender, but a fight against sin that is present in our flesh. Chastity and abstinence from sexual life is not the purpose, but a means in this battle. In voluntary celibacy people look for the best way to overcome their passions. This task, which is valid for all people, is solved here by rejecting everything which is of this world, not because of spite for it, but because sin finds its easiest way into us through our flesh and the world. He who strives for spiritual perfection must, in his ascetic struggle, wage a severe battle against the world inside himself. He will perceive disorderly lusts of the flesh as obstacles on the way to God.

Let us also notice that remaining in marriage also sets the task of struggling with sin, only here different means are applied. The meaning of voluntary celibacy consists in the feat of crucifying one’s flesh — not because of despising marriage, but for the sake of attaining a victory of the human spirit over the flesh. The same task remains in marriage, but in a different way. Marriage is not just sexual life; it is a long and complicated spiritual way, in which there is place for chastity and abstinence. If sexual activity occupies the major place, that family is at risk of falling into excessive sexuality. The same division which tears apart the youth is intruding, dimming the image of the family as a shared life.

Thus, the family way leads to a restoration of wholesome life, given by God to man at the time of creation. As for the way of voluntary celibacy, it leads to victory over sin through the suppression of fleshly passions. That is why the monastic way is not open for all, but only for those who do not have an attraction for family life with its cares and problems or those who, having tried a family life, after its loss, seek for more spirituality in their lives.

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