4 Reasons To Embrace Celibacy (That Don't Involve God)

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While we often think of celibacy as a religious choice, there are plenty of people who undertake it for secular reasons — as a lifestyle choice. Why would anybody do that, you may ask?

First, we have to understand what being celibate really means.

The word "celibacy" is typically defined as a person voluntarily opting out of romantic relationships and/or sexual activity, often for religious reasons. However, the mainstream understanding of the term has come to revolve solely around sex. For most, if they hear you're celibate, they assume you're choosing not to have sex.

Now, you may ask what's the difference between celibacy and abstinence

Broadly, abstinence is largely seen as a form of restraint. When you're abstinent, you are choosing to deny yourself something that you acknowledge gives you pleasure. (This is why abstinence as a form of birth control can be a hard pitch to teenagers.) But, when it comes to celibacy, the decision isn't usually about denying yourself something that you want. 

When a person chooses to become celibate, there are often larger, more philosophical reasons involved (hence, why celibacy is so often associated with religion). In her book The New Celibacy, author Gabrielle Brown described the difference like this — "abstinence is a response on the outside to what's going on, and celibacy is a response from the inside."

But, as we mentioned, celibacy doesn't HAVE to be a religious decision. There are many, many people who have nothing to do with organized religions who choose to be celibate for a variety of reasons. Maybe they want to focus their energy on other aspects of their life. Or maybe they just never found sex to be a particularly fulfilling activity. 

Or maybe they just have their own unique personal beliefs that have nothing to do with religion or fear or denying themselves anything. (It takes all kinds.)

If you're wondering why someone who wasn't a priest or a nun would choose to opt out of having sex, here are four pretty understandable, non-religious reasons some people choose to be celibate:

1. It prevents STDs.

While we're told that regular sex is good for health, STDs are not. Not all of us are able to find a loving, monogamous, disease-free relationship, and, besides that, abstinence (as our high school sex education teachers repeatedly told us) is the only 100 percent effective method of birth control and disease prevention. Of course, having a disease yourself (and wanting to protect a partner) is another good reason to abstain.

2. It boosts (non-sexual) intimacy.

Sex is bound to intimacy. The lack of desirable partners (or just being burned badly) is reason enough to turn some of us off from sharing our bodies and emotions with others. Addiction or other unhealthy attachments to sex would fall into this category, too.

3. Celibacy creates more "me" time.

Men and women are working harder than ever. In some fields, getting ahead requires 110 percent of our time and focus. This makes it very hard to maintain a relationship, so more people are ditching the dating scene altogether and embracing celibacy. Hey, more time to yourself.


Choosing whether or not to do something gives a sense of control and purpose in our lives. A sex-free lifestyle frees up a tremendous amount of brain and emotional space that the strategizing, analyzing and agonizing over our sex lives often fills. Freeing up time allows us to focus on some of the many empowering, advancing and self-esteem-building activities that can make our lives more meaningful and productive.

While celibacy may sound like an extreme choice to some, it is liberating to others. Remember: it doesn't have to be forever.