Difference Between Celibacy and Abstinence


Main Difference

Celibacy is the term that refers to voluntarily avoiding marriage and sexual activities for the sake of moral, ethical and religious values. Abstinence is the self-imposed avoidance and restriction from anything that provides inclination and indulges body into pleasure. Abstinence, most of the time, refers to sexual abstinence, which means a person willingly avoid sexual intercourse and other sex-related activities. It may involve various reason. Celibacy involves marriage and religious restriction and vows whereas abstinence is all about self-restriction.

Comparison Chart

Celibacy is voluntarily avoiding sexual activities and marriage for the sake of knowledge.Abstinence is the absence of sex in one’s life because of his or her personal will.
For the sake of religion.For the sake of own will.
Lifetime or permanentCould be permanent but usually temporary.
Not getting married and remaining a virgin, remaining pure for preaching religion.Not getting distracted from other important life goals and concentrating only on them.

What is Celibacy?

Celibacy is a practice or state of being unmarried or not getting involved in any sexual activity throughout the life as a religious vow or for the sake of religion. Celibacy is derived from a Latin word caelibatus which refers to non-marriage affairs. A person practicing celibacy is said to celibate. A celibate withholds him or herself from being involving in any sexual activity and from the marriage. And this is usually because of the religion. According to the beliefs of celibate people, being a virgin and not involving in marriage and other sexual pleasure will make them wise, and they would be able to concentrate more on the goals of their particular religion. Every religion has a totally different concept regarding celibacy. Christianity, Buddhism, and Hinduism involve celibacy to a large extent, and their priests, monks, and nuns vow to be virgin for their whole lives. Some religion like Islam and other concept does not promote celibacy but also demotivate such practice as it can disturb the balance of nature.


What is Abstinence?

Abstinence is abstaining voluntarily all the pleasure based, charming and body indulging activities for the sake of social issue, personal preference, financial problem, a moral issue or even religious reason, etc. It does not specifically include abstaining sexual activities because of sex, but it is total because to the will of the person him or herself. Sexual Abstinence is willingly avoiding sexual intercourse and all other sexual related activities. A person can avoid or not involve in sexual activity because of any reason. Any of the personal reason causing a person to abstain from sex is abstinence. A person can be skipping or avoiding or willingly not doing sex because of various reasons such as he or she don’t like their partners, they are mentally disturbed, they are not feeling well, they don’t have enough time or a variety of another personal issue. Abstinence involves abstaining the pleasure based activities so that a person could concentrate on his or her goals and other important life matters. Abstinence can also involve religion boundaries and issue due to which a person abstain the sexual activities. But in this case, he or she is not bound by religion but their will.

Celibacy vs. Abstinence

  • Celibacy is the state of avoiding sexual activities and marriage and remaining virgin for the whole life for the sake of religion.
  • Abstinence is willingly abstaining from pleasure and sexual activities because of own personal issues.
  • Celibacy is involved the religion norms, moral values,
  • Abstinence involves personal issue and problems.
  • Abstinence can be due to religion also
  • Celibate does not marry their whole lives and remain a virgin.
  • Abstinence avoids sexual intercourse and other sexual pleasure activities to be concentrated on something else.
Harlon Moss

Harlon currently works as a quality moderator and content writer for Difference Wiki. He graduated from the University of California in 2010 with a degree in Computer Science. Follow him on Twitter @HarlonMoss