It Is Not Good for Man to Be Alone

In a discussion of celibacy I think we often forget two important issues. One is that a sexual relationship is a need, not a want. The other is that a sexual relationship is legitimate in the eyes of God.

We have few real needs, and we are so used to thinking of some wants (a bathroom inside our house, for instance) as needs that it is easy to become confused. Jesus said having food and raiment we should be content, but we know that we need more than that. We need a roof over our heads or we will die in some climates. Some of us need medicine or we will die--either immediately or before our time. While I do not think we will die from a lack of sex, we may, however, be dysfunctional.

We need to be able to prosper physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. Being deprived of a need in one of these areas will cause major problems for us. Studies have shown that babies die if they are not touched. Older people that are not touched die in some ways too. They have deviate behavior if they are not given what they need in every realm. Celibacy is not simply abstaining from sex; it is "life without marriage" by definition. And being married is not just about sex. That is only a part of it, as we should not separate love and sex. They go together and what we are really seeking when we marry is to have a companion, a person with whom to share life's joys and sorrows, a mate to be sure, but mainly someone who can keep us from being alone. We want to be whole. And we need that. It is not good for man to be alone (Gen. 2:18). When he is lonely he often seeks oneness in unauthorized and sometimes bizarre ways.

I may provoke an argument about whether or not sex is a need, but I do not think anyone will argue that God has not provided a legitimate means to fulfill the desire for sex with which He has gifted us. To avoid fornication every man is to have his own wife. But who is "every man"? Every man who has not sinned once? Do we truly think God placed this strong desire in us and then, when we sin just once, He said, "Oops, you sinned. No more soup for you! Sorry 'bout that--guess the way of the transgressor is hard, huh?" (If you do not get the soup reference you have not watched enough "Seinfeld.")

If a man fails to work and provide for himself one time, is he never allowed to have another job? To avoid fornication a man is to have his own wife (I Cor. 7:2). To avoid starvation a man is to have his own job (II Thess. 3:10). Both of these are legitimate and good. Both are necessary for a fruitful life. To tell a man who has sinned sexually that he can no longer have a wife to fulfill his need for sex is parallel to telling a man who got lazy once and would not work that now he no longer has a right to work to fulfill his need for food. In some backward countries they cut off a man's hand when he steals. That might make it harder for him to steal, but it also keeps him from working to provide what he was stealing. And he continues to need food so now it is even harder for him to keep from stealing. The same applies with regard to sex. If we cut off a man's God-given means of fulfilling his sex drive, what can he do but seek sex in unlawful ways? The only way he can be happy then is to castrate himself and take away his need. Who would recommend or advocate such a procedure? Nobody would, and yet for all intents and purposes we have already attempted to castrate him if we demand celibacy of him.

We cannot take away God's means to avoid sin. We say a man can go back to his wife if he needs a woman. But not every man can do that. If his wife has divorced him and married someone else, how does he fulfill his needs? What is the answer we give him? The way of the transgressor is hard? We pretend this forced celibacy is not penance or a punishment, but what else can it be? The divorced fornicator's wife is free; therefore, the marriage is over. When Jesus spoke with a woman taken in the very act of adultery He showed compassion and did not condemn her but simply told her to go and sin no more. We, on the other hand, are more like the disciples of Jesus and would prefer to cry, "Lord, wilt thou that we command fire to come down from heaven, and consume them?"

We pick a man who has proven his weakness in this area and we tell him that, since he was not able to control his urges completely while married, now he is going to have to control them for the rest of his life with no legitimate outlet. I once asked on a Bible discussion list for anyone without sexual sin to speak up and tell us about it. Nobody spoke up and claimed to be free of sexual sin. If we who have spouses or have a hope of obtaining a spouse cannot testify that we have been perfect in this one area, then how can we expect someone who obviously has an inclination to sexual sin to go the rest of his life without a spouse and without sin?

I know the answer I will hear. I will hear that, yes, we all sin--and not just in this area but in many areas of our lives--but that means we just have to repent and try to do better. The problem with that reasoning is that this man we are condemning to celibacy has no outlet for a legitimate need. He is compelled to continue to sin. He has no other option. We can debate for years about whether Jesus and Paul said some cannot be eunuchs or remain celibate, but we all know in our own hearts that it is not a possibility for some people.

Yes, we commit other sins. But they are sins in and of themselves and God gave no lawful way to perform them—nor should He have. Corrupt communication is a sin, but we are allowed to talk. Stealing money to provide for our needs is a sin, but we are allowed to have money. Driving without a license is a sin but we are allowed to drive. And sex outside of marriage is a sin, but, thank God, we are allowed to be married. Corrupt communication is of the devil. Stealing is of the devil. Breaking civil laws is of the devil. Sex is of God. And God has provided a way to have it in a good and wholesome manner.

It is God who gave us our sex drive. It is God who provided a means to fulfill that drive. When we sin He does not take away the drive nor does He take away the means to fulfill the drive. God will not tempt us above what we are able to bear but with every temptation will provide a way of escape. We should be very careful that we not be found taking away a man's right to God's means of avoiding sin. We do not want to be found destroying God's way of escape. "It is not good that the man should be alone." That is from God. I am thinking we should not be caught messing with it.

Tina Rae Collins