Apr 3, 2013
A reader wrote that her marriage is irreconcilable, and that she now faces a life of singleness and celibacy — a life without sex.
She shared her struggle over this and asked for my thoughts.
Her questions are important. So I asked if I could post them here so others could benefit from our discussion. She graciously agreed.
I’ll start by sharing her questions, and then some thoughts from my wife and me.
Please write about resisting temptation when divorcing or divorced, because the scriptures indicate that a divorced woman cannot remarry unless her husband dies (or some say unless they were divorced on the grounds of adultery).
I am really struggling with sexual temptation. But if the above is scripturally true then I need to wait all my life until my death (or until my husband’s death). This feels unbearable not only because of the time period, but also because of the concept that I must ‘die’ to sexuality.
There is no possibility of reconciliation because my husband has behavior that would mean our children would be removed if I tried to live with him. He is also not agreeable to it anyway.
Effectively I feel this means pursuing celibacy until death – which is a lot less hopeful than trusting in God until I meet someone I can marry.
I look forward to your reply.
My Wife and I Respond
Thank you for raising this crucial question, and for allowing us to post this so others can benefit.
It sounds like your husband has committed a great wrong against you and your children, and our hearts hurt for you. Know that we are praying for you.
It’s important to understand that God will bring about justice. He will justly punish whatever your husband has done, either by punishing Jesus for your husband’s sin (2 Corinthians 5:21), or by punishing your husband for his own sin (Rom 12:19).
God also promises to comfort you (2Cor 1:3-4). This is not a cliche — it’s reality. God promises that His love and nearness are so satisfying that they will more than make up for any earthly loss — even a loss as devastating as yours. Trust Him for this, and seek Him for this (2 Cor 4:16; 2 Co 12:9-10).
You might be helped by reading how powerfully God comforted Hudson Taylor when his wife died (although I have heard that divorce is much more painful than the death of a spouse).
Now to your questions about life without sex.
You will need to fight our culture’s view that you need sex in order to be fulfilled. That is a lie from the Serpent which you must slay with the Sword of the Spirit.
If God has called you to be celibate the rest of your life, He promises that you can be completely fulfilled — completely satisfied — in Him. We see that taught in Psa 34:8-10; Psa 84:11; Psa 73:25-26; John 4:13-14; John 6:35; John 7:37-38; Phil 4:19.
He will also give you grace to resist and overcome sexual desire when it arises, and grace for complete forgiveness and cleansing if you fail. We see that in John 14:21,23; 1Cor 10:13; 2Cor 9:8; Phil 4:13; 1John 1:9. You can read more about fighting sexual temptation here.
We appreciate your honesty in saying that a future of celibacy feels less hopeful than a future which might include marriage. But even though marriage and sexual relations are gifts from God, they will not satisfy you. Only God can satisfy you.
So whether God calls someone to marriage or celibacy — they are equally hopeful — because what satisfies us is God, not marriage.
Yes, marriage would mean less battle against sexual desires when they rise. But if God calls you to celibacy and battling those desires, it’s only because through that battle God will give you even more of Himself than you would have had through marriage (2Cor 4:17).
So as you think of your future, focus on Jesus Christ. He stands before you with all the grace, all the strength, and all the heart-satisfaction in Himself that you will ever need.
We hope this helps — let us know.
Steve and Jan Fuller
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And here are some related posts you might find helpful –
- How To Overcome Sexual Temptation
- What Does The Bible Say About Sex Before Marriage?
- Seven Crucial Posts On Overcoming Temptation
- How Faith in Christ Changes Us
(Picture from everystockphoto by xiordashx.)