[Last time I posted this, a friend commented “Well written, I am going on 2 years of celibacy. The thoughts expressed in this post are similar to mine. First time I’ve seen anyone write something along the same line. Thanks for sharing.” I believe others who have chosen a celibate existence need to know they aren’t alone.]

I’ve been celibate since 2011, and the further I get from sex, the better I understand love.

It was a choice I made when I got off drugs and a choice I make still today, “celibating” my 11th year.

Not much is written about celibacy. In this sexually-slathered world, it’s not a very popular subject. It alienates, labels and renders one less than desirable by many who still regard sex as a plaything —an inalienable right to exercise freely, frequently, and with anyone they choose without much regard for its significance or consequence beyond being a driven, primal, self-indulgent pleasure.

To be honest, I’ve had more sexual partners in my lifetime than I care to remember. Many I choose not to remember, most I can’t, and in hindsight, all I regret except for the union of love that produced my three wonderful children. And that was many, many years ago.

There’s a huge difference between mere resistance to sexual temptation and a conscious choice of celibacy. The first one spends hours fending off attacks of urges while the other refuses to wage the war. One is a choice to be in constant turmoil while the other is a constant choice of dignity and self preservation. No engagement. No frustration. Little preoccupation with momentary pleasures.

Most men find it an incomprehensible option to be celibate. Culture has made great strides over recent decades not only to make open, multi-partnered sexuality the “normal” way of life and to banish or render odd those who believe and choose differently.

Imagine, if you can, the amount of sitcom time spent on the subject of sex. Imagine the number of stories and exposés about the sexual foibles of otherwise good men and women. Imagine the volume of time, the countless pages, the vastness of entire industries spent on sexual pursuits and libido-lifting messages, telling us it’s just as healthy a way to stay in shape as aerobic exercise. No, it’s not your imagination. Since the 60s, it’s reality. Truth is, sex has become the replacement of an important need by an urgent one.

I don’t watch much TV, largely because of its stupidifying effect on the masses. I do watch movies though. Lots of movies. And even there, I see how unentertaining most plot lines might be without the sex factor. The general malaise about and lack of creativity within media is largely due to the potency of the sex factor able to arouse and stimulate single-minded misled people climaxing in applause for an on screen violation of what might have otherwise been a potentially creative story. But with sex shoved down the throats of the masses (pun partially intended) as if we were all malnourished hookers, we’ve learned to hunger for it like the rush of a smoking bowl of meth.

As a social consolation, those who promote free sexuality have successfully fended off attacks by seasoning their stimulating appeals with “love, romance and intimacy” as if to give added value to what they are really selling. Eroticism is now much wider in its appeal, equating being sexual with someone—or anyone for that matter—quite the “special” thing. Special with this one, special with that one, and each special encounter so meaningful in its own way.

But sex is not the highest form of love. Not by a long shot.

Humanity’s lie has been to suggest that sexual union with another is the most intimate expression of love in the world. As a celibate man, I believe nothing could be further from the truth.

To obey the greatest commandment to love one another is a far cry from indulging in a passionate roll in the hay with them. Loving acts have staying power while sex quickly goes…well…flaccid.

Celibacy creates a vacuum for eminently more important things.

The years I have spent without losing small pieces of my soul to random sexual partners has opened my eyes to greater forms of love I might have otherwise never known existed. When I stopped seeking pleasure, a vacuum was created inside of me and I began seeking to fill it with true love. Not a person. Not another. Love.

Big difference.

Storge, philia, agape. Go ahead. Look them up. Affection, friendship, unconditional love. These alternate kinds of love always get the shaft from sex promoters, yet they are the kinds of love expressions that make you cry at commercials, weep at songs and experience the joy of the spirit of a sports team with an incredibly moving back story. They are the kinds of loves you remember over and over again, long after that casual fling left your bed for home.

Perhaps one day I’ll rediscover that eros kind of love again and my celibate days will be over. But I’ve found that my freed mind is now capable of deep thought that births deeper experiences of love and compassion and a preoccupation with things that last much longer than an orgasmic minute. And when I do find it, I’ll have learned to respect it with much more dignity than I ever did before.

And if I never do, I will nonetheless have learned to love as a celibate man, and by then I should be a pretty good at it, because the further I get from sex, the better I understand love.