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Tet the Listener

"Threat" to Celibacy

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Tet the Listener

First of all, allow me to thank the many of you who have posted such engaging topics and discussions. I have enjoyed reading much since my last post, I only regret not being able to partake in these discussions myself. But, as I said in my introduction post, I would be in and out depending on my situation and really, my desire to speak. :)

The time has come for that again. As some of you probably remember (and many of you don't know), I am a self-proclaimed celibate man--chaste, if you prefer the etymologically accurate version-- and while this has been a great community to have immersed myself, I have to share some of the troubles I have had outside the community.

As I mentioned in an earlier (much earlier) post about romantic identity, I am most certainly not asexual by any sense of the word. I have, actually, a very high libido--abnormally so, in fact. It's unfortunate, though, that many people in the chaste community do not think highly of asexuals. Well, I should say, celibate asexuals, because many of them are chaste for religious reasons, and believe that the rejection of a bodily desire is most reverent or penitent.

Now, I'm currently dating an asexual, and I have a very close lady-friend who also is one. I know that it's not a sign of less devotion if, say, one of them declared chastity for religious or spiritual reasons. Simply because one isn't plagued with the desire doesn't affect the devotional quality. I think this is an interesting discussion in particular, because asexuality does not imply celibacy. Many asexuals here say they experience libido, some even enjoy intercourse, some would engage in it to please a partner, some to please themselves...etc. The list is endless. Celibate people renounce it, yes, but so do celibate asexuals, and I don't see why they should receive criticism from the rest of the celibate community for their "easier" time. To me, it would be just as meaningful, simply because the same sacrifices would be made. Celibate sexuals (is that not a pun?) and celibate asexuals would both have to tell a partner that they would not compromise--and that's a huge sacrifice in and of itself, and really only one example.

What I find most interesting is the connections between this odd form of discrimination and the discrimination of bisexuals as well. Bisexuals experience discrimination from both the heterosexual community and the homosexual community in the same way celibate asexuals would from the celibate community--and I'm not sure at all about the asexual community. Here at AVEN, it seems to be pretty well accepting.

I guess my question is this: what are the threats that celibate asexuals would pose on the celibate community, if any? have you experienced it either yourself, or witnessed, or heard of? And most importantly, what do you think is the relationship (likenesses and differences) between celibates and asexuals?

It's always fascinated me. Sorry to have taken so long to make my point. I hope to have a good discussion.

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The Oracle

Yay, Demitrius! I hunted for awhile to see if you still lurked around here. I thought you'd long-since gone. :oops:

I think this is interesting myself--especially the discrimination part on the side of the religiously celibate community. How do you think they feel about celibates who abstain for other reasons (indifference or repulsion)? To me, that would be a whole other game that they wouldn't want or need to judge. But! You know what I find interesting about this whole thing? I'm surprised a form of this still exists today. In the Middle Ages, there was a push from certain mendicant orders, some popular preachers, and some "heretical" orders who held poverty as part of a good Christian life, apostolic life. What was interesting, though, was the fact that peasants were not really welcome in the cult of Poverty for the same reasons you listed. It was more reverent to give up all your possessions if you were rich than it was for a poor peasant to give up what he or she had. When really, it's the same sacrifice in proportion.

But with chastity, I'm not so sure... A lot of the religious and chaste people that I know (you, mainly) hold their libidos with some repulsion factor, too. I've also read a few accounts that say those who struggle most, mention least, and fail not are the highest of regard. So, if a religiously celibate asexual was to follow that little credo, would he/she not be almost better off? Mention least? Haha.

I think the sole difference between celibates and asexuals is really just the fact that celibacy is a personal choice and asexuality is a lifestyle. Asexuals do not choose, though some of us would not change, to have sexual attractions. AND some of us have sexual drive, so I think that's also important to consider with your discrimination issue. I would assume that celibates and asexuals could live in as much harmony as everyone else. (By the way, I love the comparison to the discrimination faced by bisexuals... Although, I'm not sure that religiously chaste asexuals would face too much heat here.)

You rule as an ally. xD [Note: Don't you think our avatars would work well together? I know it's actually your hand, and this is hardly my face, but still...]

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Derp

Wow, that's kinda silly. I have a friend who doesn't like meat, but no one's ever accused her of being a threat to vegetarians.

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The Oracle
Wow, that's kinda silly. I have a friend who doesn't like meat, but no one's ever accused her of being a threat to vegetarians.

xD That's hardly the same, I think.

What he's saying is religiously celibate asexuals are presumed to be a "threat" to chaste sexuals--by some in the community, because there's less of a desire they are renouncing. Or at least I hope I got that right... If that IS the case, it'd be like a vegetarian who really craved meat but didn't eat it would be a "better" vegetarian than one who hated meat but didn't eat it. Which I hardly think is true... but I could see why some may think so.

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Hallucigenia

Well, I don't think that celibate asexuals are a threat to celibate sexuals (or to anybody, really) but I can kinda see how celibate sexuals might not feel that they had much in common with celibate asexuals. With celibate sexuals there's a lot to discuss in terms of how to sublimate all your sexual energy and avoid temptations and strengthen yourself, and with celibate asexuals it would be a lot easier. There would still be some struggles with peer pressure and stuff, as you mentioned, and I don't want to downplay the significance of the societal pressure that asexuals face to have sex, especially those who haven't yet found a place like AVEN and don't know that asexuality is normal. But the main problem - that of denying and sublimating your own biological urges - isn't there. I can see how celibate sexuals might not think they have much in common with asexuals.

But I think it's likely to be pure elitism - or possibly jealousy - if people are looking down on asexuals for their easier time. Like, "I struggle harder than you struggle, my faith is bigger than your faith, nyaah!" If an asexual person finds spiritual value in their celibacy, what's wrong with that? Maybe struggling harder is "better" in some ways, but you wouldn't be struggling to achieve it at all if it wasn't a good and valuable thing to achieve, right? So a celibate asexual would be doing something that might be "less good" because of the smaller struggle, but it's still good, so why not welcome them?

P.S. Here's something that occurred to me while writing this, that I'm not sure how to fit into the above, but am now curious about. Do your group of spiritually celibate people abstain from masturbation as well as partnered sexuality? Because if so, a lot of asexuals with sex drives might find it just as tough to make the sacrifice!

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Guest kos

A faction within a faction within a faction. A celibate who is more celibate than the celibates. Those who suffer more are better, the masochist is supreme. Searching for virtue, finding arrogance. False motives, nothing new.

Too bored to analyze, sleepy enough to stop. My post is worth deletion.

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Frigid Pink

Yes.

Hallucigenia posed an interesting question.

I would also like to know whether your religious group of celibate sexuals abstains from masturbation in addition to partnered sexuality.

Of course, I don't consider masturbation sex so it doesn't make much sense to me why celibates would abstain from it.

I'm still curious to know, though.

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Tet the Listener

Firstly, thank you all for the responses. I'm really glad that this did bite as something to discuss. I do worry about that a lot of the time; my mind seems to be preoccupied with things most would deem unimportant.

So, if a religiously celibate asexual was to follow that little credo, would he/she not be almost better off? Mention least? Haha.

Oracle, I love your comparison to the Middle Ages. That's a lot like what I'm talking about. I'm curious to know how the poor handled it, if at all? Rebellion, I suppose... That seemed to be the trend in the Middle Ages. Haa.

Where are you getting that credo that celibates are said to live by? I would assume that most would agree that one should complain least, since chastity is declared for a reason larger than the material world. So, I don't think complaining about something like that would be appropriate or supported. Yes, I suppose if celibate asexuals were to neglect to mention their asexuality, the discrimination would be there; it's important to remember, though, that like on AVEN, people in communities do want to hear a lot about what drew someone to the community, why you declared celibacy (in my case), and if you find it hard/easy and why. So, that's where the discrimination comes into play.

Wow, that's kinda silly. I have a friend who doesn't like meat, but no one's ever accused her of being a threat to vegetarians.

I cannot help but to laugh at this! Although, see The Oracle's post below you. She's right that the issue isn't quite that simple, humorous or no.

So a celibate asexual would be doing something that might be "less good" because of the smaller struggle, but it's still good, so why not welcome them?

This, essentially, is my argument. I would assume that people who are as spiritually driven as the religiously chaste community obviously are, that it would not be an issue at all for the sheer fact that they can identify with the spiritual aspects to the denouncing of sex. I agree with you, wholly, that it is an issue of pure jealousy--which, in my particular mysticism is just as neglected of a desire as the sexual practice. While I find no problem and really no conflict, others do. I think you put it most succinctly when you said that there is a conflict of being able to relate, and really, it does host a lot of similarities between the discrimination asexuals experience from some sexuals (brought on, of course, by ignorance to the lifestyle). Do you suppose that there are actually two religiously chaste communities, being sexual and asexual? I would like to think this difference is as arbitrary as what the religious reasons are for which you declare chastity.

P.S. Here's something that occurred to me while writing this, that I'm not sure how to fit into the above, but am now curious about. Do your group of spiritually celibate people abstain from masturbation as well as partnered sexuality? Because if so, a lot of asexuals with sex drives might find it just as tough to make the sacrifice!
I would also like to know whether your religious group of celibate sexuals abstains from masturbation in addition to partnered sexuality.

Of course, I don't consider masturbation sex so it doesn't make much sense to me why celibates would abstain from it.

Both of you asked the same thing, so I will answer them both at once. :) It varies between chaste person to chaste person--much like there seem to be aspects of asexuality that vary between asexuals here. It's one of the things most greatly discussed in my group. I, personally, do not engage in masturbation for the specific reason that when I declared chastity, I interpreted that to mean "denouncing of all sexual practice that would tempt me away from the virtuous life." Now, I won't go into my philosophy of what it means to be virtuous (which it's not in a knightly sense at all), nor will I go into why I feel that chastity helps me achieve that. This is neither the time, nor the thread. If you would like to talk theology/philosophy with me, I'd be happy to do it in another topic.

Yes, I've brought up the issue of masturbation with the group, and that seems to sway some back. There are those who still claim asexuals have an "easier" time, but I find that devotion to faith is not supposed to be weighed on a scale.

A faction within a faction within a faction. A celibate who is more celibate than the celibates. Those who suffer more are better, the masochist is supreme. Searching for virtue, finding arrogance. False motives, nothing new.

Poetic. I'm wholly jealous; I've never had the tongue of a poet. But beyond that, I think you're running the risk of over-generalization. And I apologize, since I probably skimmed over the problem too quickly to give a clear sense. The issue is not "who is more celibate" or "who suffers more," but instead, it's who is more reverent and who's sacrifice is truly greater. For many people, bodily pain represents a suffering that, say, a religious figure went through, so in exalting suffering, they are closer with their god. However, for others, it's an issue of purity. Purity needn't be painful at all-- so the masochist would not be on such of a high horse. Take for instance, my religious views: I'm a mystic. I do hope to lead a virtuous life, but it's not the virtue you've discussed at all (as mentioned above, I won't get too detailed). One of the doctrines of my spirituality is be free from desire and pain. So, if I was to be a masochist with my spiritual beliefs, I would be "condemned," for lack of an equally understandable concept. So! With that, I say, rest well, and I hope to hear a response from you.

Thank you all again.

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Lehcar

Hmmm, the comments already made are all great points, but I think I have another possibility that hasn't been explicitly mentioned *squints at the 'almost' parts* - yup.

So, depending on what religion you're following, the way I understand it is the abstinance from sin (there's another word I wanted to use, but I can't think of it right now...sry) is in two parts; one is the actuall avoidance of commiting things against the code you live by, and the other is eliminating the temptation itself.

An example in something somewhat more trivial than celibacy; if I'm wanting to cut out refined sugar and flour from my diet to improve my eating habits, I have two goals in mind - not eating those things, and getting rid of the craving or desire to in the first place. In a more serious example, a chronic or compulsive liar has the double duty of not lying, and not wanting to lie in the first place.

Finally in celibacy, the way it'd usually be would be the abstinance itself (to whatever degree the individual chooses to practice), and the attempt to ignore, or dispell, the desire for sex in the first place (though some might argue that the struggle is tantamount to an enlightened experience).

So maybe a reason celibate sexuals might find celibate asexuals is jealousy? While it's been said that maybe sexuals see less...value, I suppose, in denying oneself sex if one doesn't want it in the first place, could it also be that they are jealous that the asexual doesn't want it at all? They've essentially accomplished a desirable goal (to some), with little to no effort or thought behind it. So maybe celibate sexuals are almost jealous of asexuals who abstain with no conflict whatsoever, wheras most celibate sexuals have to fight against the urge from time to time (if I'm wrong or making assumptions, please correct me :D). I know that I get jealous of my friends who can learn complex math concepts in a heartbeat! :P

Just a thought.

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DannyKitty

Yeah, sounds like a jealousy thing.

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cijay
It's unfortunate, though, that many people in the chaste community do not think highly of asexuals. Well, I should say, celibate asexuals, because many of them are chaste for religious reasons, and believe that the rejection of a bodily desire is most reverent or penitent.

Wow! Yay! They're better than me, more reverent and penitent! Woo hoo, let's throw them a party! They're no doubt more intelligent, fun to be with and just all around happier than me too. No, strike the last bit, they can't be happier 'coz if they were, they wouldn't concern themselves with me. So...what'd I do to make them not think highly of me? Nothing! How sweet that they've decided to think lowly of me for being born this way.

I guess my question is this: what are the threats that celibate asexuals would pose on the celibate community?

Ask those mentioned above?

have you experienced it either yourself, or witnessed, or heard of?

No. Do I care? No.

And most importantly, what do you think is the relationship (likenesses and differences) between celibates and asexuals?

I can only speak for myself but the biggest difference I can see is that I don't think I'm better than they are.

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Guest kos
I think you're running the risk of over-generalization.

You're right.

Please note that your gentle way of talking is appreciated and that my words were not aiming at you.

The issue is not "who is more celibate" or "who suffers more," but instead, it's who is more reverent and who's sacrifice is truly greater.

If my understanding is correct, celibacy is the means or one of the means to an end, in this case reverence; I suppose that there is an even higher goal but i will not go that far. If someone succeeds in being totally celibate, is s/he more close to reverence?

If s/he is, then, how celibate someone is might be an issue.

One of the doctrines of my spirituality is be free from desire and pain. So, if I was to be a masochist with my spiritual beliefs, I would be "condemned," for lack of an equally understandable concept.

Sacrifice is not something pleasurable, is it? It is not easy to sacrifice, right? It has to do with striving and/or losing and/or pain. Desire is not a positive emotion is it? If i choose to sacrifice the satisfaction of my desires do i choose pain or not.

If i obtain contentment from my sacrifice due to the higher goal, am i content by desiring and not be satisfied? To make things a bit more clear, my point is that to like to be in pain is not science fiction when it comes to sacrificing for a higher goal.

There is so much to say on this matter but i'm not in the mood to elaborate. Be well.

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