Difference Between Celibacy and Abstinence

Controlling sexual desires to develop control over the mind is scientifically proven.


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It is one of those acts that may imbibe psychological advantages to a human’s physical and mental attributes.

The benefits of sexual abstinence in any form affect the thought process in the beginning, and it shall continue for a longer time.

The thoughts become positive, and memory power goes higher.

It is like caging a monkey which is running pillar to post. Sexual refrainment for a cause creates composure.

The speed and focus improve invariably. Further, refraining from sexual intercourse is therapy. A treatment to improve self-esteem.

It is always seen and considered mental and emotional control over matters. The controlled energy is established as an innovative pursuit of selfless desires.

The confusion of desire is clarified. The rational thoughts over substances increase with the noble self of a person being brought out.

There are many ways of controlling sexual desires and many names for them too.

The prominent terms that come to mind in these contexts are Celibacy and Abstinence.

They both are used in the same context. However, they differ in how it is carried out and understood.

Key Takeaways

  1. Celibacy is a voluntary decision to remain unmarried and refrain from sexual activity, often for religious or spiritual reasons. At the same time, abstinence is the choice to temporarily or permanently refrain from sexual activity for various reasons.
  2. Celibacy is typically a lifelong commitment, whereas abstinence can be practiced for shorter periods or intermittently.
  3. Abstinence can be practiced within a relationship or marriage (e.g., for birth control or health reasons), while celibacy is associated with remaining single and not engaging in sexual relationships.

Celibacy vs Abstinence

The difference between celibacy and abstinence is that Celibacy is a vow or an oath not to indulge in sexual activities for an extended period. Abstinence is a decision not to have sexual intercourse or penetrative sex. Celibacy usually refers to a religious act, while Abstinence is an act of non-indulgence.

Celibacy vs Abstinence

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Comparison Table

Parameter of ComparisonCelibacyAbstinence
MeaningCelibacy is an act of refraining from sexual practices as a vow or an oath.Abstinence is the decision taken not to indulge in sexual activities because of many reasons.
Purpose/ ReasonCelibacy is followed chiefly as a religious practice.Abstinence is followed because of psychological reasons and medical reasons.
PeriodCelibacy is mostly followed for a more extended period. At times people follow it for a lifetime.Abstinence is an act that is followed for the short term.
Physical ContactCelibacy is a complete refrainment from sexual desires, so no physical contact with the opposite gender is possible.Abstinence is a choice; people may indulge in physical contact with the opposite gender without penetrative sex.
MandateCelibacy is a religious Mandate.Abstinence is a personal choice.


What is Celibacy?

Celibacy is an act of refraining from sexual activities as a vow taken towards remaining clean with mind and body.

It mainly refers to religious acts and is widely practised by religious priests.

The belief systems of certain religious cultures instigate celibacy. It is a belief system brought to their mind that celibacy can get closer to religion.

Celibacy is also looked like a voluntary refrain from getting married too.

Marriage is considered one legal act of sexual practice between husband and wife.

It is observed that celibacy is recorded in history and has been practised by many as a religious practice.

There is no particular religion related to it, although few denounce it.

Certain religions have mixed attitudes toward the act of celibacy.

A few cults state celibacy as an act to fight lust and bring peace to society.

The cults preach towards the pure and divine. An act of divinity is attributed to celibacy too.

The benefits of celibacy cannot be overlooked. There are indeed more profound thoughts that evolve based on career, friendship, and well-being.

The best understanding and filtering of attraction and emotional connection can happen within the self.

Although there are many advantages to practising celibacy, it also has disadvantages.

Isolated feelings may spring up; a few may also have thought of subduing the critical aspects of life like marriage, kids, and togetherness.


What is Abstinence?

Abstinence is referred to as the act of restraining from having sexual intercourse.

The reasons can be attributed to many; Psychological reasons, medical reasons, social reasons, financial reasons, and religious causes too.

Religious acts or even personal beliefs majorly inspire abstinence. Abstinence is considered noble before marriage in many cultures.

In a few countries, Abstinence before marriage is under law as well.

Abstinence is a choice made by an individual primarily because of moral reasons.

Sexual abstinence is a voluntary act chosen by an individual. Abstinence can be followed even after marriage.

Being abstinent does not confer that the person never had sexual intercourse earlier. It is the lifestyle an individual has chosen to live a life of his choice.

There are countries in the world to preach and teach sexual abstinence for various reasons. Sexual abstinence reduces violence in the community too.

The advent of HIV over some time has instilled fear and made many people abstinent from multiple partners.

By saying this, it does not mean that abstinence happens over fear.

It is a collection of reasons that a person may choose for himself. As with all worldly matters, abstinence has its benefits and disadvantages too.


Main Differences Between Celibacy and Abstinence

  1. The main difference between celibacy and abstinence is, Celibacy is a vow or an oath not to indulge in sexual activities for an extended period. At the same time, Abstinence is a decision not to have sexual intercourse or penetrative sex. 
  2. While celibacy is followed chiefly as a religious practice, Abstinence is followed for medical and psychological reasons.
  3. Celibacy is a lifetime event for a few in this world. Yes, it is practised for an extended period while Abstinence is followed for the short term.
  4. There is absolutely no physical contact in the case of celibacy. However, abstinence is an act of choice; any physical contact without penetrative sex can keep the serenity of abstinence intact.
  5. Celibacy becomes a religious mandate, while abstinence is a personal choice.
Difference Between Celibacy and Abstinence
  1. https://digitalcommons.law.seattleu.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1788&context=sulr
  2. https://www.theway.org.uk/back/s077Schneiders.pdf
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