Difference Between Abstinence and Celibacy

By: | Updated: Feb-19, 2022
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Most people think of abstinence and celibacy as being the same thing, but they are actually two different things. They are both choices that people can make, but they have different implications.

Do you know the differences? In this article we are going to talk more about the differences between the two of them. Read on to find out more!

Abstinence Celibacy
Is the choice to not have any sexual contact. Is the choice to not marry or have sexual relations.
May be chosen because they are not ready emotionally or physically. Often a requirement for people who want to become priests or nuns, both in church or other religions.
Might or might not include the decision not to masturbate. Usually include the decision not to masturbate.
Often seen as the moral high ground. Often seen as a sacrifice.
Seen as a way to protect one’s emotions. Seen as a way to protect one’s physical health.
Seen as a choice. Sometimes seen as a sign of repression.

Difference Between Abstinence and Celibacy

The main difference between abstinence and celibacy is that abstinence is a choice, whereas celibacy is a requirement.

Abstinence is the choice to not have any sexual contact, while celibacy is the choice to not marry or have sexual relations. People who vow on abstinence may or may not be celibate.

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Some people may choose to abstain from sex because they are not ready for it emotionally or physically, while others may choose to abstain for religious reasons. Celibacy, on the other hand, is often a requirement for people in the Catholic Church who want to become priests or nuns.

Celibacy is also sometimes seen as a way to focus on other things in life and not be distracted by sexual desires. Some people may choose to be celibate because they find the idea of sex to be unappealing, while others may choose to celibate because they are unable to have children. 

People who celibate often abstain from all forms of sexual contact, including masturbation. People who are abstinent may or may not choose to abstain from masturbation, but it is not typically considered to be a sexual act.

In religions, abstinence is often seen as the moral high ground. Celibacy is often seen as a sacrifice. Priests and nuns who are celibate often take a vow of poverty, chastity, and obedience.

Both abstinence and celibacy can be seen as ways to protect oneself from sexually transmitted diseases or unwanted pregnancies. However, abstinence is also seen as a way to protect one’s emotions and celibacy is seen as a way to protect one’s physical health.

Society in general tends to look more favorably upon people who are abstinent, while celibacy is often seen as a sign of repression. However, there are many people who choose to be celibate who do not feel repressed.

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