Abstinence is mastering the art of self-control, self-discipline and delayed gratification. The word doesn’t just reference sex; it goes way beyond those deep desires. It’s not just something you do or don’t do: it’s a lifestyle.
The first component of an abstinent lifestyle is self-control.
Self-control is not doing something you want to do when you want to do it. Take eating for example. Have you seen the Lays ad that says, “You can’t eat just one?” Well, self-control says, “Yes, I can eat just one. In fact, I can take it to the next level and not eat any at all if I don’t want to! Just watch me!”
Now it’s not just food where we must exercise self-control. We can learn to do it in many areas of our lives, including what comes out of our mouths. Yeah, some people can’t stop running their mouths and talking all the time… and it gets them in trouble. Self-control and wisdom knows when to speak up and when to stay silent.
The second component of an abstinent lifestyle is self-discipline.
It’s a little bit different than self-control. Self-discipline is doing something you don’t want to do. Like taking out the trash. No one really likes taking out the trash, and if everybody refuses to do it, eventually you’ll see it piling up and climbing the walls. That’s when self-discipline kicks in. You don’t want to take out the trash, but you do it because you know that there is a future reward: Your parents will stop nagging you.
Or take something simple like homework. Homework isn’t necessarily fun, but you do it so you won’t have to take the same class twice. If you want to graduate high school, you need to do your homework, even when you’d prefer to do something in that moment instead. Sometimes you just have to do something that you really don’t feel like doing, but the bright side is that there’s a future reward.
The third component of the abstinent lifestyle is delayed gratification.
Delayed gratification is the consistent practice of both self-control and self-discipline, because you realize there is a future reward if you practice those skills on a regular basis. In fact, delayed gratification recognizes that the future reward is far greater than the fleeting thrill of instant gratification.
Start with the end in mind.
Create a goal to help build these components into your life. If you can’t think of any, here are some ideas:
- HS & College Graduation
- Long Life
- Sense of Purpose
- Happy Sex Life
Success in these areas and others requires self-control, self-discipline and delayed gratification. If you’re going to achieve any of the things on the list, then you have to begin with the end in mind. You have to begin making decisions today that will lead you toward your goal tomorrow.
Being Happy in Marriage
The entry on the above checklist that probably caught your attention is a “happy sex life.” Who doesn’t want that? The fact is, the happiest sex lives are found among those who wait until marriage to have sex, which requires self-control, self-discipline and delayed gratification. Those who wait are richly rewarded.
In order to practice successful sexual abstinence, you’ll need to practice abstinence in other areas of your life as well. The more areas you practice abstinence, the stronger you’ll be and the easier it will become to know when to act out of self-control, self-discipline and delayed gratification. Choose several long-term goals that you desire for your future and work everyday toward the end goal. Know that God placed these long-term desires on your heart and He wants to see you succeed in reaching them. He will help you, guide you, give you strength and encourage you as you work along side Him to make abstinence a lifestyle.
If you’ve already lost your virginity, you can still invest time and effort into self-control, self-discipline and delayed gratification. While you can never get your virginity back physically, you can regain it emotionally, psychologically, spiritually and relationally. Ask God to heal this area of your life and find strength in Him as you walk toward a sex free life (until marriage of course) that honors His desire for your heart.