Virginity means a state of never having had penetrative sex. Penetrative sex is the insertion of the penis into the vagina.
Abstinence means giving up a particular thing voluntarily. This thing you give up could be a particular food, drugs, drinking, or intercourse.
Celibacy refers to giving up sex by choice. A celibate person may have had sex before, but at present and the in future, they decide not to have it.
Celibacy may have different meanings for different people. Strict celibates refrain from all kinds of sexual activity including self-pleasuring. Other celibates may have romantic relationships. Some celibates engage in kissing, touching, and other methods of non-penetrative intercourse with their partners. Celibacy may be temporary or permanent.
Permanent celibacy is often pledged for religious reasons. Priests, nuns, and monks take a vow of celibacy when they are initiated into the Church. Celibacy is often dictated in other religions as well. Most religions advise both the males and females to remain celibate until they take marital vows.
Thus, celibacy is not the same as virginity. It is voluntary, and it can be practiced by those who have had intercourse before. Celibates can always go back to being sexually active.
Why do people become celibate?
There are plenty of reasons for becoming celibate. People find it helpful in different ways. Men and women can choose to become celibate at any age for several reasons, such as:
- Becoming celibate for religious reasons: Some people may become celibate for religious purposes, for example, religious figures like monks, nuns, and priests take a vow of celibacy for life and many have been celibate their entire lives. Some people may turn to religion later in life and choose celibacy to develop a closer relationship with their God.
- Becoming celibate after being diagnoses with a sexually transmitted disease: If diagnosed with a sexually transmitted disease (STD) like HIV/AIDS, people may decide to become celibate to completely avoid the risk of spread of infection.
- Becoming celibate because of one’s relationship with sex: Some people may become celibate if their relationship with sex has become unhealthy, or they may feel they need a break from it. Avoiding sex for some time may break a trend of seeking instant gratification or one-night stands.
- Becoming celibate after sex addiction: Sometimes people may completely want to stay away from any sexual activity, but this may not be a permanent thing because it is possible to return to a healthy sex life after experiencing sex addiction.
- Becoming celibate to focus on personal growth: Sex and dating can consume a lot of thought, energy, and time. Some people may find becoming celibate is helpful for reclaiming that time and using it for personal growth.
- Age and disabilities: Some people due to old age or disabilities may choose to become celibate because they are not able to engage in intercourse due to their physical and health limitations.
The decision to lose one’s virginity requires a lot of careful thought and should not be driven by peer pressure. One’s morality, religion, values, age, and relationship status also play a major role in one’s decision to have sex. You and your partner must have to be equally invested emotionally to ‘go all the way.’ Two important factors to consider are sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and birth control (such as condoms, diaphragms, oral contraceptive pills, and spermicidal lubricants). Only barrier methods of contraception like condoms and diaphragm help prevent sexually transmitted diseases. Younger individuals may discuss losing virginity and sex with a parent, relative, teacher, counselor, healthcare professional, or a trustworthy adult.
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Diderot D. Celibacy. The Encyclopedia of Diderot & d'Alembert Collaborative Translation Project. Translated by Si. Arbor A: Michigan Publishing, University of Michigan Library. 2013. https://quod.lib.umich.edu/d/did/did2222.0002.669/--celibacy?rgn=main;view=fulltext;q1=Ancient+history
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