Can a life without sex be as fulfilling as a life with sex?


#1

Guess this question came up because I’m really struggling with envying my friends who are married (and I’m already 28 and very far from marriage). Saint Teresa of Avila says that God alone suffices, and so does Saint Thomas Aquinas. So why am I always so tempted to think that sex would bring happiness? Thanks for your thoughts!


#2

since millions of human beings have lived and are living rich fulfilled lives full of love while remaining both celibate and chaste, and some have even become saints, the only answer is “yes”. If God has not called you to marriage, at least at this time, he has not called you to exercise the physical powers of sexuality. Period. Trust in God and direct your prayer to discerning and conforming to his will for you at every stage in your life. Your happiness is not relative to that of others, it depends entirely on the health of your relationship with God.


#3

[quote="chazk728, post:1, topic:251878"]
Guess this question came up because I'm really struggling with envying my friends who are married (and I'm already 28 and very far from marriage). Saint Teresa of Avila says that God alone suffices, and so does Saint Thomas Aquinas. So why am I always so tempted to think that sex would bring happiness? Thanks for your thoughts!

[/quote]

Yes!

This is coming from someone who quit cold turkey shortly after beginning to explore Catholicism. And I had a very INTENSE sex life with my then boyfriend.

I'm not saying that the thought never crosses my mind, but I am finding that immersing myself in the things of the Lord (praying, studying, attending mass) has filled in me a thirst I didn't know I had. And that thirst is greater than the thirst for sex.

If God wills it, I will remarry, but I can honestly say that right now, Jesus is my lover. And his touch is 10,000 more intense than any lover I've ever had. :o


#4

First, you don’t know these people personally, so not being in a romantic, sexual relationship might have been a very heavy challenge for many of them, a thorn in their sides. Second, one could argue that they’re a small minority when you compare them to the billions who have been/are on this earth.

My hunch is that it’s wildly variable from one person to the next. The TrueLight seems to be doing very well, for others, it’s painful and a constant challenge, mortifying even. The ambient culture is of no help also, painting sex as the most desirable and sought-after thing, so not engaging in it, it’s easy to think one is missing out big time.


#5

Hi there! :)

I would venture to say that yes, life without sex can be as fulfilling as a life with sex. I think the critical issue to keep in mind when it comes to sex and happiness is socio-cultural context. As Robertanthony said, contemporary Western society virtually worships youth, beauty and sex culture - the underlying message being that if you're not having sex, or at the very least not expressing a dying, tortured need to have sex, there's something wrong with you. :rolleyes:

The decision to remain celibate, in order to be the right one, has to be made in sincere alignment with God's will. If, in your heart of hearts, you want more than anything to be married and have children, then choosing to be celibate will inevitably make you feel frustrated, resentful, bitter, angry and permanently unhappy at some point down the road. The same logic applies to people like myself who have never felt called to marriage or having children and are happy and at peace being single and celibate.

There is no perfect state of life. Any state of life, whether married, religious or celibate, involves making a choice, i.e. commitment, which means that inevitably we choose to value something over something else. That doesn't mean that we never go through periods of doubting, questioning and wondering if the grass wasn't greener next door after all. I would venture to say that most people who choose to remain celibate struggle with their sexual urges from time to time (i.e. envying people who have sex - I know I do on occasion ;) ), just as people who are married struggle with marital problems from time to time, (i.e. envying people who aren't married).

It's all about right alignment with God, commitment, and what we value above all else.

Just my two cents. :)


#6

Yes. Marriage can be a tremendous struggle, and even good marriages(which many people do not have) are bad at times.

When I was younger I was considering being a priest or a brother, and even married, I do sometimes yearn for the life of someone who has dedicated their whole self to God. I know other people who are in the same situation, happily married, but deeply yearning for God. Even a happy marriage cannot take the place of God in your heart. Even St. Paul encourages us who are married to take mutual time away from sex in order to pray and seek the kingdom. If sex were the end all of this life, in his wisdom, he would not exhort us to do this.

Sex can be powerfully fulfilling, but it can just as easily be empty and hollow. Despite what the media and our culture would have us believe, sex can even be routine and boring! Even in a good relationship, it is not all passion much of the time. Many, many saints gave up sex for the kingdom of God, even people who were once married, and who had presumably had sex. St. Rita was a widow who happily entered the convent. St. Augustine was a wild youth before his conversion. St. Monica his mother had a terrible marriage full of hardship and abuse. Thomas Merton, the 20th century monk was also a wild youth. He had illegitimate children before his conversion, but despite this he was called to be a monk. St. Peter was presumably married, but he gave up a normal life for the Gospel. He ended his life joyfully, even though he was a martyr.

Look into the poetry of St. John of the Cross - he wrote love poetry between the soul and God, which just might make some married couples blush. Sex is a physical act, and it is pleasurable, but in and of itself it cannot fulfill you. Many, many people try to fill their broken hearts with sex among other things, and ultimately they end up longing and unfulfilled, despite as much sex as they could possibly want.


#7

Related to the original post topic: How does one improve their relationship to God? Besides living in as many ways as you can as a devout Catholic what are perhaps some specific practices or approaches to improving your relationship with God?

Cheers,
A.


#8

Such an attitude, I fear, is born more from our culture than any sort of viable reason. Perhaps though, it is me. See, my girlfriend and I have . . . been intimate before. Leading up to and during that, it seemed to be the best thing in the world - immediately afterward or (as it began to happen increasingly) during the event, guilt and restlessness and dissatisfaction entirely replaced that which before was desire. Perhaps it is merely my conscience (merely?!) but I cannot escape the creeping thought that my vocation does not include such relations.

All one can do is trust God. If He leads you to such relations - fine, you will find fulfillment in them. If He leads you away from them and down a different path, you will find your peace and fulfillment in obedience and your sacrifice. Are such relations natural and even desired by nearly everyone - yes. Does that mean that refraining from those relations causes a lack of fulfillment? No.


#9

Having lost my 25 year old husband of 2 years in an accident 26 years ago I can answer that question or at least give my opinion. I was pregnant at the time, so maybe I have a good reason for having had "no sex but a fullfilling life" that is unique in some sense. I was trying so hard to be a good mother to my son it left me little time to worry about anything else so I guess it's not fair to give you advice. I have learned many lessons in my 50 years of life. The most important one so far is that you have to set God as your priority over EVERYTHING else. This is not always easy but nothing really worthwhile is. It is something I have to work on everyday. Everyone does. You can have great relationships with people and be very happy without ever having sex become a question. I have known so many people who put sex first in their lives and were constantly looking for a happier and more fulfilling life. I think if it is God's will you will find a relationship that is fulfilling in every way, but if it isn't His will and something else is, you will ultimately be happier staying open to His will. We need to really realize how much He loves us and wants us to be happy. Unfortunately I often forget this and think I need to make my own happiness, we all do, it is part of the cross we carry. Choose your friends wisely. Pray often giving it an important part of your life, don't be afraid to ask others for their prayers. Don't be afraid you are missing something. If you honestly seek God's will you will be happier than you can know.:D
fixxer


#10

Yes, definitely. I was married for 20 years, and life now with no sex is just great.


#11

[quote="chazk728, post:1, topic:251878"]
Guess this question came up because I'm really struggling with envying my friends who are married (and I'm already 28 and very far from marriage). Saint Teresa of Avila says that God alone suffices, and so does Saint Thomas Aquinas. So why am I always so tempted to think that sex would bring happiness? Thanks for your thoughts!

[/quote]

It's so easy to think sex will bring happiness - the intimacy of the act could be such an amazing feeling with your beloved spouse. However, the act is nothing without the emotional connection first. Sex in and of itself without this emotional commitment does not equal happiness.

God alone does suffice, but as sexual creatures our desire to be with someone sexually will still exist. It's only natural, but it's our responsibility to tame it and keep it from becoming lust. It's one thing to desire a sexual encounter with your spouse for it's beauty and a completely different thing altogether to just want to "do it" for the sake of doing it.

What I'm trying to say is that sex is a wonderful thing in marriage but it's not a neccessary component to happiness. Just trust in God is all I can really follow up with. He knows what's up.

To answer your question about life without sex being as fulfilling as a life with sex I would answer yes... but... as I said before we are sexual creatures and we still desire this intimacy with another. It is fulfilling nonetheless, but it is not at all easy. Coming from experience as a sexually active person turned seminarian, I struggle still in keeping myself pure of mind (I'm only going into my second year) but it's the fact that I know that in the long run it will be all the more rewarding than anything I've ever done that keeps me going and trusting in God.

I hope I contributed well to your discussion - I'm a bit of a novice to this board, just trying to work my way around here still.


#12

[quote="TrueLight, post:3, topic:251878"]
Yes!

This is coming from someone who quit cold turkey shortly after beginning to explore Catholicism. And I had a very INTENSE sex life with my then boyfriend.

I'm not saying that the thought never crosses my mind, but I am finding that immersing myself in the things of the Lord (praying, studying, attending mass) has filled in me a thirst I didn't know I had. And that thirst is greater than the thirst for sex.

If God wills it, I will remarry, but I can honestly say that right now, Jesus is my lover. And his touch is 10,000 more intense than any lover I've ever had. :o

[/quote]

That's awesome. Thank you for sharing your experience. Pretty cool that you've found such fulfillment in relationship with God.


#13

[quote="TrueLight, post:3, topic:251878"]
Yes!

This is coming from someone who quit cold turkey shortly after beginning to explore Catholicism. And I had a very INTENSE sex life with my then boyfriend.

I'm not saying that the thought never crosses my mind, but I am finding that immersing myself in the things of the Lord (praying, studying, attending mass) has filled in me a thirst I didn't know I had. And that thirst is greater than the thirst for sex.

If God wills it, I will remarry, but I can honestly say that right now, Jesus is my lover. And his touch is 10,000 more intense than any lover I've ever had. :o

[/quote]

I'll echo TL's words. I have been celibate for three years. I have been chaste - pure in thought and deed - to a very great extent as well.

No, I'm not perfect and my mind does begin to wander from time to time. I have to careful where I go and what I expose myself to. But I had stuggled with sexual temptation my whole life and through confession and God's help, was able to stop. It is a great gift from God. I give God my purity and my efforts to maintain that purity back to him as a gift.

Fulfilling? More now than ever.

I used to obey every urge. I had no control. I was a slave to my urges - I had to obey them. Now, if I ever act on my sexual desires, it will be because I chose to do so, and not because I had some urge that I couldn't control. I will decide when and were I will use my sexuality. My sexuality does not control me. And there is great freedom there.

"a thirst I didn't know I had"

Yes, that is about right. Or it is safe to say, a love I had never experienced before. I had no idea that this sort of love was possible. It's a burning desire deep inside that never stops, and God feeds it constantly.

-Tim-


#14

The short answer is YES! A life consecrated to God is far more fulfilling and happy than anything in the temporal order of life.

Kudos to all the posters on this thread, some very thoughtful and insightful answers here!
:thumbsup:


#15

[quote="chazk728, post:1, topic:251878"]
Guess this question came up because I'm really struggling with envying my friends who are married (and I'm already 28 and very far from marriage). Saint Teresa of Avila says that God alone suffices, and so does Saint Thomas Aquinas. So why am I always so tempted to think that sex would bring happiness? Thanks for your thoughts!

[/quote]

Can you clarify the source of your envy? Is it the fact your married friends are permitted to have sex or just the fact that they're married?

Having been married many years now myself, I will tell you (at least from my own experience) that sex is a very small part of my relationship with my husband. Yes, we are still intimate, but work, our children, taking care of our home...it often leaves little time for sexual intimacy. It often is enough to just sit on a couch quietly holding hands while watching a movie.


#16

[quote="MaryTeresa2, post:14, topic:251878"]
The short answer is YES! A life consecrated to God is far more fulfilling and happy than anything in the temporal order of life.

Kudos to all the posters on this thread, some very thoughtful and insightful answers here!
:thumbsup:

[/quote]

Fulfilling, absolutely. But happy? I must be doing it wrong, because that's not the word I would use. I hope that I don't discourage anyone by saying that: that is absolutely not my intent. But to keep going, I often have to tell myself that chasteness will make me happy later (like when I get married, or after I die), and that for now there are many more important things than happiness.


#17

[quote="Binary, post:16, topic:251878"]
Fulfilling, absolutely. But happy? I must be doing it wrong, because that's not the word I would use. I hope that I don't discourage anyone by saying that: that is absolutely not my intent. But to keep going, I often have to tell myself that chasteness will make me happy later (like when I get married, or after I die), and that for now there are many more important things than happiness.

[/quote]

Hi Binary,

Life is full of ups and downs, grief and happiness.

However underneath it all is a joy that the world cannot take away. You do yourself a disservice if you believe that joy will come later. You can have joy now, no matter what your station or no matter what you're going through.

You may be going through illness, job problems, marriage issues, financial problems. There may be tears, frustration (we are human), but joy rests on the fact that God loves us. An omnipotent God, love US and his son died for US.

So whether abstaining from sex or not, that joy is constant.

John 15
9 “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. 10 If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. 11 I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.


#18

Yes, 'happiness' is a fleeting 'feeling', here one moment, gone the next. Sex is the same, don't you agree? These are temporary things of the world.

Joy is available all the time, it's a deep seated gift in one's soul. It comes from one's relationship with God. It is constant, it does not flee even when there is suffering. One can be joyful in suffering for Jesus.

This state of 'being' is above the natural and temporal state where 'happiness' and sex and many other things reside. It is a foretaste of the Joy one will experience in Heaven. It is beyond a 'feeling'. When one pursues the higher goals, joy and union with Jesus... the things of this world pale in comparison.

Remember, sex is of the world, available for only a short time... union with Jesus and all those in Heaven won't include sex, there will be no giving or taking in marriage. My husband and I look forward to the Heavenly goals.

When we were young and not mature in our spiritual journey, we couldn't imagine life without being together, romantic love, sex... these things change over time. Sometimes things happen to crucify our own wills, and yes, even one's sex life. What else does one base the marriage on then? It surely has to be deeper than sex! We have been married 40 years. There have been good and bad times, good and bad feelings... but the Sacrament, the graces, have been the foundation when all the worldly things have come and gone, ebbed and flowed.


#19

[quote="chazk728, post:1, topic:251878"]
Guess this question came up because I'm really struggling with envying my friends who are married (and I'm already 28 and very far from marriage). Saint Teresa of Avila says that God alone suffices, and so does Saint Thomas Aquinas. So why am I always so tempted to think that sex would bring happiness? Thanks for your thoughts!

[/quote]

If you grew up in the US you have been culturally indoctrinated with the idea that sex=good, since the US culturally is a Protestant country the concept of celibacy is abhorrent to many.

intimacy need not be sexual, friends can be intimate without being sexual, later on friendship can become companionate love which adds longterm commitment to intimacy.


#20

In short, sure!

Sex and happiness are 2 very different things. Even for married couples, sex brings problems and conflicts as well as pleasure.

You are longing for sex because you don't have it. It's not unlike when I get a craving for chocolate ice cream around midnight.

I'm not making light of your feelings. But we do need to lighten up about sex, sex, sex. Sex is over-rated. It comprises about 2 hours of the average couple's entire week. People think and fantasize (and argue and criticize) about sex more than they do it.

Concentrate on other things in life you enjoy. Just don't worry about it.


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