Schlock: What's the difference?
Reverend: When you are alone in an elevator with a beautiful woman you barely know... (sigh) There isn't a difference.
Schlock: You religious people have too many words for "responsible behavior".
Some organizations require that their members refrain from marriage or sexual relations. It's particularly common in religious groups — some churches bar their clergy from such things, and most monastic traditions forbid them as well. Typically, these restrictions will take the form of a vow of celibacy (although simply making celibacy a rule, without anyone swearing anything, has basically the same effect).
A note on terminology: people can mean different things by the word "celibacy" — sometimes it means not having sex, but it can also mean not being married. The fuzziness of definition may be due to the fact that traditionally, a ban on marriage equated to a ban on sex automatically since extramarital sex was forbidden. In fictional examples, however, this may not be so. "Chastity" usually means refraining from engaging in illicit sex. So a "chaste husband" would be one who doesn't cheat on his wife, for instance.
An obligation of celibacy can be used in stories for a number of purposes. Sometimes, it adds a complication to a love story — two characters may be attracted to each other, yet prevented from pursuing it by such a rule. It can be a cause of inner turmoil when characters are torn between their feelings and their vows, especially if the very fact that they have sexual feelings is something they feel ashamed of. If a character is supposed to be subject to rules of celibacy but has a chance to break them, whether they do or not can be used for the purposes of characterization — it's typically portrayed negatively if they do, such as to help establish a character as a Sinister Minister, although tropes like Dirty Old Monk and Naughty Nuns can be played for laughs or used as a humanizing element as well. Whether celibacy requirements themselves are portrayed as positive, negative, or a mixture will depend on the writer.
Questions about exactly what counts as a breach of celibacy may arise — in these cases, there are often parallels with Technical Virgin. In some settings, celibacy will have a practical purpose, such as to preserve Virgin Power. Being Locked Away in a Monastery can be an attempt to enforce vows of celibacy for political purposes.
Vows of celibacy may become relevant when characters are Hot for Preacher (a particular hazard for a Sexy Priest), although it should be noted that not all ministers of religion are subject to the same rules. A Celibate Hero or a Celibate Eccentric Genius might be celibate because of one of these vows, but more often, their celibacy is just a personal choice or something thrust on them by circumstances. A Pedophile Priest is a character who fails his vows of celibacy in the worst way.
When rules like this are applied to the whole of society, it's No Sex Allowed. See also Inappropriately Close Comrades, where the job-based sex ban applies only to people who share that job, not the wider world. Compare Can't Have Sex, Ever, where sex is prevented by something more tangible and hazardous than just obligations. See also Asexuality, for people who just aren't interested in sex in the first place.
- Averted in the Tales of the Jedi comic book series, which explicitly states that the Jedi Order's ban on marriage and romantic relationships came into effect later than the comics' timeframe (3996 BBY, roughly 4,000 years before the films).
- The Love Guru, the main character Maurice Pitka at 12 years old is forced to wear a chastity belt with an Elephant head codpiece. It does not protect its contents from groin attacks.
- I Confess, one of Alfred Hitchcock's films, is about a Catholic priest who is still regularly meeting his childhood sweetheart, now the wife of a prominent politician. The relationship is not actually sexual, but when the priest is (wrongly) suspected of killing a person who was blackmailing the woman in question, the public and the press assume him to have been breaking his vows with her.
- The Mexican film El Crimen del Padre Amaro deals with priestly celibacy in the Roman Catholic church. The titular Father Amaro, although initially trying to keep to his vows, has an affair with a teenage girl (who is herself the daughter of the mistress of Amaro's superior). It ends badly.
- Love, So Divine is a romantic comedy about a young Korean seminarian who finds himself questioning the celibacy that lies ahead for him as he and the female lead (a Tsundere Hard-Drinking Party Girl) gradually warm up to each other.
- In Priest (1994), a new Catholic priest starts to question his faith after embarking on a sexual relationship despite his vows (he's also gay, which makes it even more forbidden).
- In another (but completely different) film called Priest (2011), the titular priests (who are more like warriors than priests as commonly understood, but are still associated with the Church) are required to be celibate. The main character left his lover and newborn daughter behind when he joined.
- In Star Wars, the Jedi frown on having strong attachments, and Anakin Skywalker is not able to continue his relationship with Padmé Amidala openly. Although Word of God is that the prequel-era Jedi are allowed to have casual sex.
- Keeping the Faith has Brian, a Catholic priest, develop feelings for his childhood friend Anna. He falsely convinces himself that his feelings are reciprocated, and wonders about his future in the church. In fact, Anna is in a secret relationship with their mutual friend (who's a rabbi, but they aren't sworn to celibacy, though extramarital relationships are still frowned upon usually).
- In Bedazzled (1967) a trickster devil gives Stanley Moon seven wishes in return for his soul. Stanley is in love with Margaret so he wishes for them to be together. The Devil makes Margaret and Stanley nuns in love with each other; they're together in a nunnery, but since they're nuns they're celibate.
- In Sister Act, when Dolores/Mary Clarence comes to live at the abbey, the Rev. Mother tells her that she is to abide by the rules the nuns live by, including the Vow of Chastity. Dolores/Mary Clarence is not happy about that.
- From Monty Python and the Holy Grail: Sir Galahad is known as "Sir Galahad the Pure", but the many women at Castle Anthrax eventually convince him to forget it.
Galahad: I am sworn to chastity!
Woman: Back to your bed at once!
- He's rescued (very unhappily) by Lancelot before actually violating it though.
- In Star Trek: The Motion Picture, we learn Lieutenant Ilia has an "Oath of Celibacy", as she randomly informs Admiral Kirk of when she arrives on the Enterprise's bridge. Given Kirk's reputation as a ladies man it sounds like she's warning him to back off, but the reason is explained in the novelization: Deltans (Ilia's race) are highly sexual and view humans as immature when it comes to sex, and more to the point having sex with a non-Deltan can potentially kill their partner (because it involves a blending of minds as well as bodies). Deltans are compelled to take a vow of celibacy in order to join Starfleet.
- Ironclad: Marshall took one as a member of The Knights Templar, but he eventually breaks it by sleeping with Isabel, which he feels quite guilty for.
- Virgin Territory: Multiple nuns happily break theirs to have sex with Lorenzo.
- In the Chinese classic Journey to the West, the monk Xuanzang has a considerable number of opportunities to reject the celibacy that is expected of him, including several offers from supernatural sources, but he doesn't do so.
- The Three Musketeers has two examples of villains who don't respect their vows of celibacy:
- Richelieu, being a cardinal and all, is supposed to be celibate. However, he's revealed to have made unsuccessful advances to the queen, a fact used both to illustrate his character and to add to his motivations (since he's bitter at being rebuffed).
- Milady de Winter is a Femme Fatale who started out as a nun. Her first seduction was of the priest of her convent, whom she convinced to run away with her (and with the convent's sacred chalice).
- Claude Frollo, the main antagonist of The Hunchback of Notre Dame, is torn between the pious celibacy he is supposed to maintain as an archdeacon and his lust for the gypsy Esmerelda, becoming increasingly unstable as he fails to reconcile the two. (Not all adaptations maintain Frollo's status as an ordained priest, though — in the Disney one, he's a judge, and therefore bound only by his own hangups rather than by a priestly vow.)
- The title of The Red and the Black is sometimes held to refer to the ambitious protagonist's choice between civil and clerical avenues of advancement (although even among those who accept this explanation of the title, there's disagreement on which color represents which). The protagonist is never actually ordained, but he's sufficiently part of the church that the abbé sends him away to a seminary when he's revealed to have had an affair.
- Wizards of Unseen University are generally expected to stay celibate. The common/official explanation is that it interferes with their magic, but as per the book Sourcery, it's more likely to be a measure to prevent wizards from having descendants, because the eighth son of the eighth son of a wizard (himself an eighth son) is a dangerous super-wizard, and it's considered better to prevent wizards from having kids at all than to risk it. In later Discworld novels the UU vow of celibacy seems to have shifted in the same way as Oxford and Cambridge Universities (see Real Life), in that wizards can have relations with women, but can't get married.
- Esmerelda Weatherwax never had any (non-witchcraft) relations with men after Mustrum Ridcully left for Unseen University, which becomes a plot point when a unicorn shows up. In her case, it wasn't really a vow since she found it easier being the scary witch.
- In Gene Wolfe's Book of the Long Sun, priests and nuns are required to be abstinent. This has a practical purpose: only virgins can receive divine messages clearly.
- In The Unexpected Enlightenment of Rachel Griffin, it turns out that the title character's grandmother was under vows but broke them. This has an actual negative effect due to Virgin Power and causes something of a Broken Pedestal.
- The Kushiel's Legacy series has the Cassiline Brotherhood, an order of elite Warrior Monks whose vows include celibacy. This follows the example of the archangel Cassiel, who unlike the other angels that followed the d'Angelines' precursor Elua did not lie with mortals. Phedre's first bodyguard was in training for the order but was disqualified for sleeping with a farm girl, while her second bodyguard, Joscelin, eventually falls in love with her and is declared anathema by the head of the order after he's broken his vows with her. They spend the rest of their lives as a couple.
- In The Redemption of Althalus, celibacy is either required or recommended for at least some religious organisations. One village priest deals very badly with it, deciding that the women to whom he is attracted must be using witchcraft on him (since a moral person like himself wouldn't struggle so, otherwise). This results in them getting burned at the stake.
- In The Rifter, one of the priests at the monastery is secretly married. By the standards of the monastery, he's not too bad, and the implication seems to be that the rule of celibacy isn't something to defend.
- The Thorn Birds has an illicit relationship between a Catholic priest and a younger woman as its main conflict.
- One character in Dan Brown's Angels & Demons is the son of a monk and a nun who wanted to have a child but were not willing to do it by breaking their vows and having sex. They used artificial insemination. The mother was expelled anyway when she became obviously pregnant.
- In A Song of Ice and Fire, vows of celibacy are required by several religious and military orders, including the Night's Watch, the Kingsguard, the septons / septas of the Faith of the Seven, and the maesters of the Citadel. Some take their vows more seriously than others; in the Night's Watch, it's an open secret that more brothers than not make regular visits to a nearby brothel. Although the Night's Watch vow doesn't technically forbid sex - just getting married and/or fathering children.
- In The Demonata series by Darren Shan, priestesses were forbidden from romance in general since it led to a loss in magic. Over sixteen hundred years, this belief eventually turned out to be false, but the ancient priestesses still count.
- According to Amberley Vail in the Warhammer 40,000 novel Ciaphas Cain: Cain's Last Stand, it's actually a myth that the Adeptas Sororitas (Sisters of Battle) are required to be celibate. It's more a question of lack of opportunity. The footnote in question comments on Cain's discovery that Sister Julien, a senior Sister at the schola progenium, is involved with the academy's bursar.
- In Speaker for the Dead and later works in the Ender's Game series, the colony of Lusitania has a Catholic sect that requires members to marry but remain chaste as a Self-Imposed Challenge. Ender interviews two of the members in Speaker, and in Xenocide he and his wife Novinha join it.
- In Ursula K. Le Guin's Earthsea series wizards are required to be celibate. However, one entry in the novella collection Tales from Earthsea shows the origins of the Wizarding School on the isle of Roke. The order didn't originally require celibacy and admitted female members, but early in the order's history an extremist faction took it over and added those rules.
- In The Diamond Throne it notes that the Pandion Knights had originally taken an oath to never marry (and by implication never have sex). However, due to a shortage of Pandions and applicants for knighthood, they were allowed by the church to take back their vows so they could marry and have children. That it was originally enforced probably has to do with that Elene priests take an oath of celibacy, and Church Knights (including the Pandions) are technically part of the priesthood.
- Works which form part of Star Wars Legends sometimes deal with Jedi rules about relationships in more detail. Different writers seem to have taken different approaches (some of them pre-Phantom Menace backstory decisions that ended up getting Jossed by the prequel trilogy, with associated retcons to make them fit), with the result that whatever rules the Jedi are said to have had, they must have changed over time or had lots of exceptions. Some characters seem to be married without repercussion, while others are told it isn't allowed. Specific examples:
- Jedi Trial, set between Episodes II and III, has Master Nejaa Halcyon find out about Anakin's marriage to Padme and keep the secret, as he himself secretly has a wife and teenage son* whom he's training as a Jedi. Other works indicate that the Corellian arm of the Jedi Order played by its own rules.
- The Republic Commando Series has a cameo by Callista Ming from The Callista Trilogy, who is a member of a Jedi sect led by Master Djinn Altis that encourages romantic relations. The mainstream order considers them semi-heretical. Meanwhile, Etain Tur-Mukan takes the Secret Relationship approach and has a son with Darman, one of the eponymous clone commandos.
- The New Jedi Order founded by Luke Skywalker in the post-Return of the Jedi timeframe has no celibacy requirement at all, and some of their members, such as Corran Horn, were already married when they joined.
- The Darth Bane trilogy shows that the Jedi Order's current form, with a strict prohibition on marriage and romantic relationships, was established 1,000 years prior to The Phantom Menace, in the aftermath of the New Sith War. This was apparently because of multiple instances of Jedi defecting to the Sith because failed romances drove them to the Dark Side. Earlier Legends stories show that this was neither the first time the Jedi Order established such a policy nor was Luke Skywalker's New Jedi Order the first to discard it. During the Tales of the Jedi and Knights of the Old Republic era, it seems to have gone back and forth repeatedly based on little more than the personal beliefs of whoever was Grand Master of the Jedi Order at the time.
- The Obsidian Trilogy: In The Outstretched Shadow Kellen Tavadon casts a Wild Magic spell to escape the Outlaw Hunt, which summons the unicorn Shalkan as a steed. Shalkan informs him that the Mageprice is to remain celibate and chaste for a year on pain of castration, which becomes a problem when Kellen falls in love with Vestakia and has to sit on it until the end of the trilogy.
- In the Warrior Cats series, medicine cats (the healers/spiritual leaders of their Clan) — are not allowed to take a mate. It is also often said that female deputies and leaders cannot have kits, but for them, it's more of a guideline, as compared to the medicine cats, where it's a very strict rule.
- In The Initiate Brother, Brother Shuyun is supposed to be celibate, which gets in the way of his developing relationship with Nishima. However, both Shuyun and Nishima are aware of older versions of Shuyun's religion which accepted or even encouraged a sexual dimension to religious life, on the grounds that those seeking enlightenment should understand the whole world, including sex and love. Shuyun eventually decides that they were right.
- In Dragonvarld, the Sisterhood has a selective form. Generally speaking, its members aren't supposed to have relationships with men, but exceptions are made for a breeding program, and they're all quite able to have relationships with women. Melisande, the high priestess, and Bellona, the captain of the all-female guard, are lovers. When it appears that Melisande has run off with a man (actually having been rescued by him from a non-evident threat), it's a big scandal.
- In The Goblin Emperor, Kiru Athmaza is a cleric of Csaivo and celibate, which makes Maia feel somewhat better about accepting her as one of the four bodyguards who guard him even in his bedroom.
- The Han Solo Trilogy: Bria took such a vow as a Pilgrim on Ylesia, which means she's upset when Han kisses her and feels attracted to him. She also later tries to use this when Ganar Tos is having Teroenza marry them but the latter simply waves this aside by releasing her from it. After she's escaped with Han, having already learned that their religion was fake, Bria naturally no longer feels bound by this, and the pair have sex.
- The Mental State features a character called Charlie Walter. He is a celibate paedophile who is determined not to let his condition harm anyone. He is arrested for having lolicon imagery on his computer, which he uses to sublimate his urges. His vow is fairly meaningless under current circumstances.
- In Father Ted, Bishop Brennan apparently has a mistress and a son, as shown in a holiday videotape found in his bag. The main characters use this tape as blackmail when Brennan threatens to reassign them somewhere even worse.
- As in its literary counterpart, in Game of Thrones, vows of celibacy are required by several religious and military orders, including the Night's Watch, the Kingsguard, the septons / septas of the Faith of the Seven, and the maesters of the Citadel. The Exact Words of the Night's Watch oath are examined closely by Samwell Tarly: the brothers vow to "take no wife" and "father no children," but sex itself is not specifically forbidden. Note that this setting includes a well-known and apparently-safe birth control herb, and also that characters seem to believe that the pull-out method is far more effective than modern science has shown it to be in our own world. In season three, Jon Snow breaks his vow (and his cherry) with Ygritte, a Wildling woman he falls in love with while infiltrating Mance Rayder's army for the Watch. It's partly to maintain his cover but he returns her affection.
- Three's Company: in one episode Jack makes a bet with the girls to refrain from having relations with girls for a certain amount of time. The girls then try to find ways to make him lose the bet.
- Ballykissangel: Father Clifford's standard-issue vow of celibacy becomes a serious problem for him when he falls in love with Assumpta. He eventually renounces the priesthood, only for Assumpta to have a Bridge Dropped on Her.
- One Blue Bloods episode has the Reagans' now-deceased minister be investigated as a candidate for canonization. Frank discovers that Father Bill had a secret romantic relationship with a woman for a number of years, but in deference to his Catholic vow of celibacy, it was apparently never consummated. Frank compares this (and Father Bill protecting conscientious objectors during the Vietnam War) favorably to a saint who was a party to what would nowadays be considered genocide, and concludes that "the church could do a lot worse than Saint Bill from Brooklyn."
- One episode of Death in Paradise has the team investigate the murder of a nun at the convent on Saint Marie. At The Reveal it turned out the motive had to do with Catholic vows of chastity: the priest attached to the convent had previously broken his vow and fathered a daughter, who then came to the convent looking for him and joined to get close to him. The mother superior, who was in love with the priest and was trying to keep him from breaking his vow again, misinterpreted their affection and killed the daughter.
- Firefly: "Objects in Space" indicates that Shepherd Book's religious order is expected to be celibate, though we only hear about half the conversation since the scene is mostly told from River's rather warped perspective. We do hear Jayne wonder if Book is a eunuch, but Book answers, "No, I'm more or less intact; I just direct my energies elsewhere."
Jayne: What, like masturbating?
- In Emerald City, the women of Glinda's order make a vow to remain chaste and unattached in order to devote all their energies to serving the Wizard. One of them breaks this by having an affair and gets pregnant.
- Iron Fist (2017): Danny took one as part of his training under the Buddhist warrior monks. He later breaks it by having sex with Colleen.
- Implied with the Iron Sisters order in Shadowhunters: Izzy, who is (mildly) an Ethical Slut, remarks when they're first mentioned in "Dust and Shadows" that she dreamed of joining them until she found out she'd have to give up boys.
- The Dungeons & Dragons 3rd Edition supplement Book of Exalted Deeds has this as one of several "Vow of X" feats. It requires the user to abstain from both marriage and sex and grants the user a +4 bonus against charm and phantasm effects. As with its sister feats, breaking the vow intentionally costs you the benefits permanently; breaking it because of Mind Control requires an Atonement spell to be cast to regain the benefits. Vow of Celibacy is a class requirement to take the Beloved of Valarian Prestige Class, which lets you get a unicorn as a companion.
- Warhammer 40K: Some orders of the Sisters of Battle don't actually require vows of celibacy or even chastity, but there's so many heretics to burn that the effect is much the same.
- Fallout 3 has an optional Side Quest in which a woman wants you to find a certain powerful aphrodisiac—she intends to "convince" her crush to abandon his plans to enter the priesthood since that would prevent them from ever hooking up.
Diego: Angela, I'm not sure you should spend so much time around me. I am to be married to God soon.
Angela: Wouldn't you rather be with a real girl? Maybe you should try it before you decide.
Diego: Lord, give me strength.
- In Mass Effect, the Asari race have a group called the Ardat-Yakshi who are compelled to live in celibate isolation in monasteries. For Asari, sex involves a connection between nervous systems, but the Ardat-Yakshi have a genetic condition which causes this connection to be dangerous and possibly fatal for the other partner — to protect people from this, Ardat-Yakshi are subjected to monastic celibacy whether they like it or not.
- Dragon Age:
Sebastian: What? Why are you smiling at me like that... oh. Ohhhh my. I think I need to pray. A lot.
- One of Dragon Age II's companions, Sebastian Vael, is a brother of the Chantry and is therefore bound by vows of celibacy. It is possible for players to develop a non-sexual relationship with him, but he won't break his vows. Players can tease him, though.
- Near the end of Dragon Age: Inquisition, both Leliana and Cassandra become candidates to replace Divine Victoria. If Cassandra is elected and in a romance with the Inquisitor, it's technically the end of their relationship, although their actual feelings don't change at all. In the post-game DLC, their continued closeness is basically an open secret. If a Warden-romanced Leliana becomes Divine, by contrast, she not only ignores this altogether but declares that all Chantry members can now have romantic relationships.
- In Diablo III, the Templar Kormac has taken a vow of chastity as part of his initiation. This combines rather humorously with his crush on Eirena. By the time of the expansion, he's renounced most of the Templar creed, including the vow of chastity.
- Crusader Kings II:
- Roman Catholic bishops (including cardinals and the Pope) are supposed to be celibate, though Catholic court chaplains are not. It is possible to appoint a married man to a bishopric, in which case he'll divorce his wife. Appointing a character to a bishopric or ordering them to take the vows also disqualifies them from succession, though not from being claimants to a title. Of course, just because they've taken the vows doesn't mean the character will necessarily abide by them: with the Seduction focus from the Way of Life DLC, it's not unheard-of for Catholic clergy up to and including the Pope to end up with mistresses and bastard children. (It is not possible to play as a Catholic religious ruler without mods due to the object of the game being to continue your dynasty rather than any particular title.) Orthodox clergy get a lesser version of this: they're not allowed to marry, but they can freely stay married if they were before their ordination.
- A random event that may trigger if you were in love with a deceased spouse allows you to forever swear off sex in their memory, granting the trait "Celibate". Alternatively, you can go out partying and try to forget her, giving the trait "Lustful".
- Once Christian holy orders such as the Teutonic Order are unlocked, nobles in your court (including your own sons) may ask to join them. Agreeing causes them to get the "Celibate" trait and be disinherited (which can be problematic if you were grooming them as your heir). Counterintuitively, this also applies to non-Christian holy orders such as the Jomsvikings.
- Pokémon Sun and Moon: Oranguru is incapable of learning the move Attract, which may be a subtle nod to how gurus tend to eschew such earthly desires to achieve enlightenment. They can still be bred like most Pokémon, though, and they are not immune to being attracted due to having genders and not having access to Oblivious.
- In Knights of the Old Republic, Jolee Bindo reveals that he was once secretly married in defiance of his Jedi vow of celibacy, but his wife fell to the Dark Side, left him, and was killed fighting for the Sith Lord Exar Kun. Despite this, he argues to the Player Character that love itself is a good thing. In Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords, the Exile remarks that by the time she was in the Order (a couple of decades after Bindo), "pulling a Bindo" had become a slang term for leaving the Order for love.
- Schlock Mercenary: Company chaplain Rev. Theo Fobius has a vow of chastity and tries to draw a distinction from a vow of celibacy. But after spending 18 hours Trapped In An Elevator with the very well-endowed, former exotic dancer chief medical officer Edward Bunnigus, he realizes that for all practical purposes they're the same thing. They become a couple soon after.
- In RetroBlade, Guardians are sworn to celibacy, for various reasons; the main reason being that their powers can be passed on.
- On an episode of King of the Hill, all evidence points to Bobby being the reincarnation of a Buddhist Lama. He's pretty excited about it until he hears that celibacy is a requirement, which means he'd have to break up with Connie. He purposely fails the second test so that he can continue to date her. Except he still technically passed it, but the head monk was nice enough to let him go.
Bobby: [freaking out] But how do they make new Lamas if the Lamas can't— [suddenly becomes sad] oh, wait... reincarnation...
- Some Christian religious denominations require that their clergy be celibate. The most well known of these is probably the Roman Catholic Church. However, other denominations, including most Protestant groups, have no such requirement and their pastors are free to marry. Some denominations take an intermediate approach — Eastern Orthodoxy, for example, generally requires bishops to be celibate, but allows ordinary priests to be married provided the marriage predates their ordination.
- The Book of Timothy however condemns the sects who enforce this trope, especially those who forbid marriage to all members (something which Gnostic sects often did).
"They forbid people to marry and order them to abstain from certain foods, which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and who know the truth."
- This wasn't always a requirement of Catholic priests, and technically is not a dogma of the Church (that is, something held to be an infallible truth, belief in which is a fundamental requirement of Catholicism and denial of which would be innately heretical). Thus, it's technically possible that any future Pope could abolish the requirement. But celibacy of the priesthood has become such a deep-rooted tradition of the Church that's it's highly unlikely this would happen.note However, men who married before being ordained are allowed to become priests.
- The Book of Timothy however condemns the sects who enforce this trope, especially those who forbid marriage to all members (something which Gnostic sects often did).
- Even where celibacy isn't required for priests, it is generally considered fairly fundamental to the concept of monasticism, both in the West and in the East, as one component of a generally ascetic, self-denying lifestyle.
- There are also some Catholics who practice spiritual or Josephite marriage (the latter name is from the dogma that Mary and Joseph had a marriage like this) where the couple agrees to be abstinent. It has to be a freely-made mutual decision, however.
- Islam and Judaism have tended to frown on celibacy, though there are exceptions. Some of the Sufi Muslims, for instance, have practiced it.
- Ancient Rome had the Vestal Virgins, to whom the punishment for the loss of their main qualification was being put to death by live burial. The Vestals' vow was time-limited; they were inducted at the age of 10 or younger and required to be celibate for 30 years, at which point they were retired from the job and not only allowed but expected to marry and have children; the Pontifex Maximus would arrange marriages between newly-retired Vestals and high-ranking nobles.
- Until the 1880s, Oxford and Cambridge Universities had a vow of celibacy for dons. This was originally because it was assumed that all scholars would have training as priests. However by the 18th century, the definition of "celibacy" in this context had shifted; a Fellow of the College could have relations with women, but couldn't get married.
- The Shakers, a Christian sect that thrived mostly in the 1800s, required all members to remain celibate. As you'd expect, they have all but died out. Initially, they got new members through conversion, but once that stopped their days were numbered.