Not long after Simon Shead turned 18, he decided that he wanted to be celibate for the rest of his life. Now aged 24, he tells Insight why he made that decision and the impact his choice has had on his life.
Insight talks to people to find out what the impacts are of being celibate. Watch Insight's episode, Celibacy, here.
A few years ago, I was sitting in a café opposite a girl I really, really liked. I was doing the normal routine: shuffling the food round on my plate, making light conversation, feeling my heart pounding faster and faster, and trying to pluck up the courage to tell her how I really felt. There came a pause in the conversation. I chose that moment. With what felt like a truckload of courage, I spilled my guts and feelings out on the table. And in the nicest way possible, she declined.
I hate the feeling of heartbreak. Particularly because I often feel like I am over-reacting to something, much like a character in a teen drama. Nevertheless, I felt very sad and lonely in that moment. In my recluse, I chose to spend some time with God, sitting with him and talking to him. As a Christian, I find it incredibly helpful.
And I know that sometimes, the pain I feel, he is using for my good. That was certainly the case in this heartbreak. Funnily enough, it caused me to want to get back into reading, of all things. I randomly picked up a book that I was given as a Christmas present and began reading. To my surprise, the book was actually on the topic of singleness and celibacy - I suppose I should have paid more attention to the title!
This book made me realise that I had been viewing my contribution to the world in just one way. I thought I would eventually meet someone, get married, have children, move to a nice part of the world, and buy a house. But this book showed me that Jesus speaks of another lifestyle. And this lifestyle is equally fulfilling and important for the Christian. Jesus teaches us in Matthew 19 that some people will choose to live single and celibate for the kingdom of God. For the first time I thought that might be something I can do. I can contribute to God’s kingdom by following Jesus as a single person.
Since then, I have remained celibate and intend to stay celibate until I die. I do not think I am better than my married friends by any stretch of the imagination. Rather, I think that God can use me in different ways to share the good news of Jesus with the world. And for the most part, my celibacy does not make me some crazy, weird human being. My life probably looks quite normal to a lot of people. I live with two wonderful housemates, both of whom are very close friends. We spend lots of time eating together, sharing together, playing board games, going on outings, and generally just looking out for each other. I love getting outdoors and have become particularly attached to running. I also enjoy spending time with a diversity of friends, other than just my housemates.
All of this sounds very idyllic. But, of course, it is not always that way. I often feel lonely. I sometimes feel sad and depressed. I am prone to desiring more than just a friendship with a lot of the people in my life. And I know that these feelings may compound as I get older. Particularly as more of my friends get married, and as I face the prospect of living alone. But in all of this, I always come back to my father in heaven who loves me very deeply. In fact, I think that my loneliness is a bit of a gift, in that it pushes me to want to spend more time with God. Not only that, but I am comforted that life is very short. Because, for the Christian, we have eternity waiting for us. My desire for intimacy in this world, is really just a shadow of my desire to be with Jesus in heaven.