“If I’m alone, does that mean I have the gift of celibacy?” Maybe so, but maybe not! A little introspection is necessary.
First, let’s define what the gift of celibacy is as Jesus defined it. “But He said to them, “All cannot accept this saying, but only those to whom it has been given: For there are eunuchs who were born thus from their mother’s womb, and there are eunuchs who were made eunuchs by men, and there are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven’s sake. He who is able to accept it, let him accept it.” (Matthew 19:11-12 NKJV). In other words, some people are actually called to be single, and not to get married. These people do not have the desire to be in a relationship; they don’t have sexual desires (1 Corinthians 7:7-9).
No verse clearly states this, but history shows us some people may have the gift of celibacy for a specific period. The same way married couples may abstain from each other for a specific period, for a spiritual purpose (1 Corinthians 7:5), it would be reasonable to believe that a single person might have the desire to remain alone for a specific period. In this situation, some of them also ask God to mute their sexual desires until they find a partner so it could prevent them to be unduly tempted. When it is a sincere prayer with good intentions, God responds, in one way or another.
However, some people claim to be happy to be alone, and therefore believe they have the gift of celibacy, even though their feelings do not come from the Lord at all. This is what we could call a “false gift of celibacy”.
Some singles say they are fine alone because they are afraid to fall in love. Either because they do not trust themselves, because of bad choices they made in the past; or because they have been hurt in a previous relationship and are afraid of being hurt again. Like a good father, God does not want His children to be chained by fear. He wants us to be free to love, resting on His love (1 John 4:18-19). Evaluate your desire to stay alone: If you need healing or self-trust, take the time to rebuild yourself, but do not stay hidden in your cave.
Other singles say they are fine alone because nobody is good enough for them. They have such a great opinion of themselves that all potential partners around them seem insignificant. They reject any proposal because they are looking for a mystical being, perfect and therefore unreal. They prefer to be alone than to have to bear the weaknesses of another. They have no desire to stoop to serve as a future partner. This narcissistic attitude is unfortunately common in our present society, but it is far from the attitude of self-sacrifice that Jesus asked us to have in our relationships. Evaluate your desire to be alone: if it’s because no one seems to be good enough for you, it may be time to step down from your pedestal (Philippians 2:4).
Finally, other singles say they are fine alone because they don’t want to put the effort to meet someone. They do not want to go out, to make phone calls, to look nice… It’s too much effort! They are comfortable in their old jeans or their yoga pants. Sometimes this laziness is the result of deep discouragement, but not always. Proverbs speak profusely about laziness because it is indeed a bad habit! Yes, meeting our future husband or wife requires effort and investment in ourselves, with our time and our wallet, but the same goes for all the promises of God! The promised land is there, but it must be conquered. Perhaps the Holy Spirit would like to say to today’s singles the same words that Joshua said to the children of Israel: “… How long will you neglect to go and possess the land which the Lord God of your fathers has given you?” (Joshua 18:3 NKJV). Evaluate your desire to stay alone: if it’s because you do not want to make an effort, repent! Laziness is not welcome in the life of a child of God (Romans 12:11).
All of this does not mean that we should feel bad about ourselves if we are single. Being happy alone is a good thing! We can be satisfied in the state we are in while seeking to conquer the other promises of God. That is why we have to question ourselves. If we are fine alone, is it because it is God’s will for our life? Or are we missing out on a blessing from God only out of fear, selfishness, or laziness? Moreover, this is a question that applies to all areas of our lives. “Am I fine at my work because that’s where God calls me to serve, or did I convince myself that I was happy there because I’m too scared to apply elsewhere?” Taking the time to examine our heart is essential if we want to grow.