Single Moms (And Other Women) Who Choose Celibacy Should Be Respected, Not Insulted

Photo courtesy of pdxdiver

Photo courtesy of pdxdiver

Recently I wrote a piece reflecting on the challenges single mothers face when dating. In the article, I noted that my decision to abstain from sex until remarriage has made this challenge more daunting; after all, not a lot of men in their thirties and forties are willing to save sex for marriage, especially if, like me, they have been married before. Still, as I mentioned, I have my reasons which make waiting worth it. In fact, over two years ago I wrote a piece   outlining my motivation for remaining celibate until I marry again.   Believe it or not, in the intervening years I’ve managed to abstain without withering into a pathetic shell of my former, sex-having self.

While many who read my most recent article responded that they respected my decision, even if it wasn’t right for them, others had less favorable reactions. Some of the responses I heard were judgmental generalizations and a few were actually quite cruel. As we are living in a time where tolerance is a popular buzzword, I was a bit taken aback by the vitriol. As such, I decided to respond to some of the feedback and shed light on the reality of being a celibate woman in a sex-saturated culture.

Photo courtesy of  Sleeping cat beads

Photo courtesy of Sleeping cat beads

Dating without having sex doesn’t mean cats will be our sole companions.

Boring. Antiquated. Unrealistic. Judgmental. Holier-than-thou. These are labels I’ve had placed upon me for saying that I choose to save sex for remarriage. I was also told I was destined to “wind up alone with   thirty cats” and that I was “not modeling healthy relationships” for my children. For the record, my friends will tell you I am anything but boring or unrealistic. As for judgmental or sanctimonious, I’ve never said that everyone must follow my example. I merely said that this was the best decision for me, based upon my Christian faith. Me. Not everyone else. Remind me–who is doing the judging in this scenario? As for winding up alone with thirty cats, that won’t happen; I have no doubt that I will wind up with a great man who will respect my standards and appreciate that I have been saving sex just for him.

The part that honestly perturbed me the most was the notion that my resolve not to bring anyone around my kids unless/until I felt it was a serious relationship was somehow bad for them. Just because I’m not currently in a relationship, that doesn’t mean I don’t have conversations with my kids about healthy patterns of interaction.   Actually we talk about relationships daily, from the lyrics of songs we hear in the car, to scenes on television and movies, to things we see play out in real life among the people around us. When something comes up that is a positive example, we talk about why it is positive. When something negative or toxic is modeled, I take time to explain why that is a relationship dynamic we should not emulate. You don’t have to be in a healthy, committed relationship to know what one is and to share that information with others. Is it really better when women bring every man they date home to meet the kids, even if he is only around for a matter of weeks before the next one comes along? Does the fact that my kids have never woken up to find a man in our home–or in my bed–really mean I’m doing them a disservice? I think not. High school students I have coached have told me they wish their single parents would spend more time with them and less time out on random dates. Besides, I haven’t ruled out the idea of dating entirely. I am open to dating someone, I just don’t want a serious relationship until my kids are older, and I prefer quality to quantity when it comes to men.

Photo courtesy of  BlackburnMike_1

Photo courtesy of BlackburnMike_1

Do or Do Not…BOTH are valid choices.

The thing is, this really isn’t even about me. It points to a larger issue that has grown more and more frustrating to witness. In our world of “tolerance”, of “choice”, of “equality”, why is it still okay to mock those who are abstinent? We applaud women like Carrie on Sex and the City, or more recently the ladies of Girls for being sexually open and adventurous. We call it slut-shaming when someone dares to call these women promiscuous or questions their willingness to engage in sex so freely. In this era of so-called tolerance and acceptance, people have no problem mocking people like Tim Tebow for vowing to be celibate until marriage. As an article in Jezebel lamented, our culture has decided “celibate men are losers; celibate women are prudes. A celibate man is worthy of pity; a celibate woman is worthy of scorn.” Why?   Why is one choice more valid, more socially acceptable than the other? If we support the idea of choice, then shouldn’t we support the choices others make, even if they differ from what we choose to do ourselves? The answer is obvious–women who make choices that work for their own lives are to be celebrated, not denigrated.