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The "Dating-Fast"

As a young girl, I was not raised in church but I had a devotional bible that I would read often. I grew to know God, His word and His desire for my life. The more I read, the more I had a desire to grow closer to Him. Ultimately, this desire to know God more intimately was the driving factor behind my choice to be celibate until marriage; a decision I later solidified as a freshman in college. I began this walk with God as a young girl, but unfortunately, in high school, I made decisions to stray away from the commitment I made. It was not until freshman year of college, when I said that I would be celibate until marriage no matter what; and I was. Five years later, I married my husband.

Making the decision to be celibate was not easy. I can remember feeling guilty during and after having sex. It was as if I was turning my back on my promise to God. I would attend college Bible Study on campus weekly and I knew that God was tugging on my heart. When my first college relationship ended, I decided that I wanted more than a physical relationship with a man. I wanted to truly walk with God and see what he had for me. I renewed my commitment and became celibate in February 2009 during my freshman year of college.

There were many social struggles with celibacy. Many people did not believe I was celibate. I dealt with people questioning my reasons, labeling me “too religious” and sometimes even falsely accusing me of participating in sex. It was hard at times feeling like an outcast, especially during college when that was what most people were doing. I chose not to let the criticism affect me. I knew that this was what I wanted and nothing anyone said could change that. Additionally, the more I was obedient to God, the more He blessed me. God's blessings reminded me that what I was doing was right and encouraged me to keep going. I was happier and free. I was not connected to anyone physically, which allowed me to have clear judgment when building relationships with those of the opposite sex.

During dating, I was so happy to be celibate. It helped me to weed out so many bad seeds. I would happily express on first dates that I was celibate because I wanted to be clear from the beginning. It was never an awkward conversation for me, but if I did not receive a call back it helped me to see we weren’t on the same page, that much faster. Surprisingly, I did not feel lonely or rejected. I think I always knew that the man God had for me would be worth every moment of this wait. It also allowed me to build meaningful relationships with others including family and friends because I had more time; time that wasn't being wasted in frivolous relationships. While dating, I was able to get to know people and identify potential red flags a lot sooner. Not having any physical involvement always made it easier to break things off prior to even starting a relationship. Celibacy proved to be more useful than I could have ever imagined.

When I met my husband in 2013, I was on a yearlong "dating fast." During the end of 2012, I had a very painful break-up from my first spiritually-based relationship. Although, I had remained celibate the past 4 years from freshman year, I realized that I had never truly been single. I had always been talking to someone, dating someone or in a relationship with someone. I desired to be truly single with no texts, no calls and no dates. I didn't want to waste any more time entertaining people that God had not sent. I decided that I wanted to take a year to get to know myself and build my relationship with God. It was fabulous to go on dates alone and get comfortable with myself. To enjoy my alone-time. So when I met my husband, I was not looking to date. We met at a church picnic. I was impressed when I met him because he told me about his recent breakup and explained that things had ended due to his desire to be celibate and his partner’s desire not to be. I referred him to my friend who was starting a Christian men’s group. From there, we did not speak until another ministry event. It was a mountain hike and we happened to be the two leading the race. During this hike, we spent time talking and getting to know each other. After that, we remained in contact, but strictly as friends. We hung out often and I had even helped him through some difficult situations in his own life.

The more time we spent together, the more we began to realize that there was something more than friendship

present. He informed me that he that he was interested in me and wanted to date me. I still had 3 months on this "dating fast" so I told him I needed to think about it. We continued to be friends and when my fast was coming to a close in September 2013 we were official (to me). For him, we were official long before that, whether I knew it or not.

In December of 2013, almost 3 months later we decided to enter pre-marital counseling. We both wanted to complete counseling prior to engagement so we could go into an engagement with clear minds, hearts and ears to hear what God wanted from us. I felt that once engaged, it was almost a guarantee that I would have to marry him and I did not want to feel so pressured by our plans of marriage that I would not be able to hear from God. We agreed that if God said this was not right we would end our relationship.

Fast forward to the end of pre-marital counseling in March 2014. We had one counseling session remaining. The Friday prior to this session, my husband came over to hang out like any other day. As we were sitting, he said that he did not want to let another day go by with out being married to me; he did not want to die tomorrow and me not know how much he loved me. Long story short, after much praying and multiple family conversations we decided to get married. Within 24 hours, we were married in Las Vegas. Our wedding date is on the exact same day we met at the picnic a year prior. It was such a special moment because not only were we celibate but we also chose not to kiss during our courtship. Our wedding night was our first kiss!

Our courtship was not easy. We dealt with lots of temptation. In order to maintain celibacy, we established a few guidelines including no spending the night and no kissing. I know many people are concerned about finding out if their partner can satisfy them. I personally knew that God would not provide me a partner who could not meet my needs. Even after being married now, I can say that you begin to learn your partner inside and out, and that includes their sexual needs. Marriage is a growing process that no one comes into 100% prepared.

After being married for two and half years, I can say that I am grateful for celibacy because it kept me clear of so much anxiety, worry and unnecessary relationships. I can also say that my "dating fast" was so crucial in allowing me to be an individual. Marriage is a lot of work and requires partnership of two individuals. I am so glad that I got to spend time with myself and learn who God really created me to be so that I could be both a partner AND an individual in marriage.

For any women that are considering celibacy, I would encourage you to do it! It won’t be easy, but trust me it will be worth it. To the women that are celibate, hang in there. God will bless your diligence and commitment to him. You are gaining far more than you are missing.

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