Malcolm Lisle lives in a Jesus Fellowship community house, ‘Royal Standard’, in Sheffield and has been a committed Christian celibate for three years. He tells of the time when God offered him an important life choice.
When I was a student, I knew what I wanted out of life. I wanted a well-paid job, I wanted to get married and I wanted to have a house and a car. I was absolutely besotted with the woman who led the Sunday morning prayer meeting at the university.
My plans didn’t work out. The adorable Christian woman who led the prayer meeting remained an acquaintance. I was unemployed for twelve years after leaving university. This was a sad time in my life, but a fulfilling one. I learned to live by faith. God provided for my needs. I learned to live for Jesus, to dedicate my life to helping others. I loved giving money to Christian organisations around the world and I was faithful to my church. I learned to be less self-centred.
Some years later, God showed me a vision of a Hi-Fi catalogue that was around when I was a student. There were three categories of Hi-Fi, good, better and best. God asked me, “Malcolm, which Hi-Fi do you want?” I had always wanted the best Hi-Fi. I knew God was speaking to me about celibacy. “God,” I said, “I want what’s best from you.”
To be a fulfilled celibate, you need some definite work of God to dedicate your life to. Community goes with celibacy, so does being a volunteer in a Jesus Centre, and so does planting churches. The celibate has fewer responsibilities than married people. If I wanted to go to Swansea, I wouldn’t have to worry about whether my wife wanted to go to, I wouldn’t have to find a new school for my children; it would be so much easier than it would be if I was married. If I want to stay late at the office to write this letter, I don’t need to worry about my wife and children expecting me home. According to the Bible, the reason for choosing celibacy is to serve God more. Without that desire to serve God, singleness can become very selfish.