Marriage or Celibacy?

March 21, 2007

The following discussion was provoked by Henri Nouwen’s Clowning In Rome. I strongly recommend reading this book… and re-reading it. I am so glad that I picked it back up again.

When I read the book in FITN (ages ago), I was also given a series of questions to reflect on as I read. One of them really stuck with me:

“If God would give you the grace for either celibacy or marriage, which would you choose and why?”

So… God is going to give you everything you need to walk out marriage or celibacy. You would have the strength you needed to persevere through the challenges of either. Which do you choose?


In the last three years, the reasons for my answer have changed a great deal (the effects of maturing and all that), but the answer itself is still the same. I would choose marriage.

In order to spend a bit of time on each of my top three reasons, I am only going to talk about one of them tonight. So, first on my list of reasons why I would choose marriage…


I am convinced that one of the greatest blessings of being a woman is the opportunity to have children. (Not that I don’t waver on this conviction about once every 28 days or so.) Both men and women are incredibly blessed in this, but the beauty of carrying the child within you for nine months is beyond my comprehension.

When I was younger, I wasn’t so sure about the whole parenting thing. I wanted 0.5 children. Preferably none, but maybe one. I was terrified of children. Why would I want to endure the incredible pain of giving birth to one and then be faced with the horror of being a bad parent?

In the last two years, however, this has drastically changed.

I think that working in a maternity clothing store had a lot to do with that. Seeing those women every day did something to me… continually encountering the beauty of pregnancy. I also spent a lot of time reading maternity books and magazines during slow hours in the store. And now I am watching the incredible and beautiful Jessica and Sarah become mothers.

My desire to be a mother is growing exponentially. It’s so strong within me that it’s almost absurd. I never would have guessed that I would end up here… wanting this so much. But I guess God awakens dreams in His own timing. In any case… this one is definitely growing. And pregnancy is certainly not an element of the celibate lifestyle.

On a more personal note, I’m not sure if I ever told my mom how much this had changed. I think she knew. I think she saw it. I know it came up in various ways, but I don’t think that it was ever explicitly discussed… my dramatic change of heart.

I also mourn the loss of my mother in this area specifically. She will not meet her grandchildren and be there to enjoy them as they are growing. She will not be by my side, encouraging me and counseling me as I walk through my first pregnancy. It hurts. It hurts a lot. And it is among the things that are most frequently on my mind when I am missing my mom and most intensely feeling the pain of this loss.

However… as a good friend told me the day my mother died… these (huge moments in life like my children and my wedding, etc.) are still good and beautiful things and there is still joy to be found in them. She will not be present for these events, but by her influence and impact on my life, she will be a part of them.

So… there you have it. I would choose marriage over celibacy because I really want to be a mother, and that doesn’t really fit into the whole celibacy picture too well.



  1. Hmm…those are good questions, really. As one with definite celibate leanings, I look forward to hearing your other two reasons.

  2. This encourages me (btw, I’m reading out of order because this caught my eye; way behind on my blog reading) . . . because I really want grandchildren (or at least a grandchild) but didn’t want to pressure you. 😀

    Like you said, everything is changed, but good is still good and I think you will be a great mother; plus, I’m ready to spoil your adorable offspring and then send them back home when they get unruly. ;-D

    And, concerning your mother: she knew. Um, it came up during our “Joel wants grandkids” conversations.”

  3. i read that book a number of times over the past few years and it rocks me every time. for a long period of my life, i thought i was called to celibacy. turns out that for me it was actually self-righteousness and not a call from God, but nonetheless, i spent a lot of time thinking about how my life would look as i hit those ages where marriage and children and grandchildren and growing old became important. it was those things that in the end, truly, changed my mind. i mean, i’m so completely not ready for kids right now (or grandkids! yikes!) but i think about having them and i think it would be an adventure worth going for. marriage, too, for that matter, and growing old with someone. i’m game. it sounds like a blast!

    good thoughts from you re: the kids thing, yes. i’m glad i waited to read until after i heard it out of your mouth : ) makes tons more sense. yes.

  4. I cant even claim self-righteousness. I’m pretty sure that the times when I most seriously considered celibacy (rare though they were), it was from a place of fear. My insecurities and my agreement with the lies of the enemy concerning my future had me, in many ways, petrified of marriage for a little while. (And a little bit of the whole, “Am I a bad person if I don’t want to be celibate?” thing. That made me consider celibacy more strongly.)

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