Undivided blog recently asked Aidan a few questions about himself, with emphasis on what he thinks about celibacy.
He answers from the perspective of someone who has committed himself to singleness until the age of twenty-five.
I don’t know why but I couldn’t resist googling the name Aidan to see what it means.
As well as it also belonging to the well known celibate pioneer and missionary, Aidan of Lindisfarne, apparently the name itself is of Irish origin and means ‘Little Fire’ – according to that well known historical authority babynames.com, anyway.
I suspect Aidan was named with the former in mind not the latter; and when I think of Aidan and read what he has written below, I think more of the word ‘fire’ and much less of the word ‘little’.
Anyway, less of the word ‘waffle’.
Here’s what he said:
Tell us a little bit about yourself, i.e. who you are, what you do, what you like/dislike etc.
I’m 23. I love living in Christian Community. I’m a tree climber, pancake eater, Jesus man, and occasionally do church work with various groups of teenage lads. I have three jobs – Webmaster, CGI animator and Trainee Architectural Technologist, always learning in all three fields.
I like listening to Tycho, David Crowder Band, Bobby McFerrin, Propaganda, Josh Garrels and occasionally a bit of Bach or dubstep.
My claim to fame is that I once made John Campbell confused with a very long and technically dextrous sentence.
There are quite a few, but here’s one:
I used to help put up the church event marquee and through that I got to know Dave Lee, the electrician. When I was about 13 the church bought a run down cinema and Dave invited me to help him get the place ready for the builders once a week. I really appreciated someone giving me their time and inviting me into their life in a practical way. That was the start of me feeling believed in and finding other older friends around the church. He helped me to find my place just by having time for me, by taking an interest in my life.
If so, why; if not, why not?
I guess not. Some people define “celibate” as committed abstinence for a time but in my circles it’s always been defined as a lifelong commitment to singleness, which I haven’t made. That’s just a matter of definition.
When I was sixteen I’d found myself part of a bunch of young guys (aged mid-teens to mid-twenties) who’d all decided to stay single to build the church together, a genuine “brotherhood”. We knew how to love one another, serve one another, how to be honest with one another, how to work together and challenge one another and we certainly knew how to have a laugh together. I wanted to pass on what I’d found to other lads younger than me as best I could and I saw the next years as being my greatest opportunity to do that. I vowed to stay single till the age of 25, which I’ve stuck to. The key has been not focusing on what I’m not (that just makes me introspective and negative) but on what I am – living with purpose.
The word ‘pure’ is often synonymous with celibacy and singleness. Purity describes something that is only what it says it is; a bottle of pure water only contains water with nothing added. A pure person is someone who wants one thing, who is focused and not distracted. That’s the real focus of celibacy – not what it’s not about (a spouse, biological offspring, companionship, sex, visiting the in-laws etc) but what it’s about. Someone is pure if they have one devotion that they drop everything else for, and celibacy is one of the best expressions of that. Yes, married people can be pure, but purity is one outstanding mark of a truly celibate heart.
Funny question in some ways, but it might get you thinking: is God celibate?
Whoa! Now that’s a mind-bending theological question, because celibacy is really about the human condition, which God transcends.
Jesus is fully human though, and when he walked around on earth Jesus was personally celibate, so that’s the example he gave us.
However, scripture paints a picture of God’s relationship with his people as being like that of the loving devotedness between a husband and wife (sometimes a broken relationship as described in Hosea 1-3). Jesus spoke the traditional Judaic proposal lines to his disciples when he spoke of his plans for how he (with his Father and Holy Spirit) would spend eternity with reconciled humanity. And then Paul describes Jesus and his church as being married in Ephesians 5:
‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.’ This is a profound mystery – but I am talking about Christ and the church. (vv. 31-32)
Ultimately, though, both marriage and celibacy are reflections of God and His relationship with us, not labels that define that relationship. Both marriage and celibacy are avowed devotions motivated by love.
The key is that we say yes to whichever way God leads us, and in so doing keep our hands open to His blessing.
One of the websites Aidan runs:
How to cook a perfect pancake: