We all abstain from doing certain things in life, the difference is just in what individuals choose to abstain from. Depending on what it is, it can be easier for some people to abstain from it than other activities. But, to anybody, abstinence remains a difficult trick to master because of the sacrifices it involves. It takes some self-discipline and commitment from a person, moreso for those who plan to do it long-term. That’s why most people don’t even try to practice self-control but instead easily give in to doing their spur of the moment ideas. It is the exact opposite of over-indulgence. Part of the problem could be that we were born in a time of instant gratification so we are not used to waiting. Another reason I see is that, what is available to us from our environment doesn’t allow much room for making plans outside what is commonly practiced. I keep hearing that it’s hard to be a vegetarian because of the lack of choices in non-meat foods to eat. Atheists practice a form of abstinence too, it is an abstinence from any kind of religious activities.
Abstinence is done by many for religious reasons but it can also be done for other reasons such as for good health or someone’s personal views. The difference when anything is done out of religious tradition is that in traditions, somebody just told them to do it. They don’t even know why they should do it. There are even religions that require people strict adherence to a code of practice. You should feel lucky that we are not in the same situation. Here, in this country, you are allowed to make your own choices of whether to practice abstinence or not. We have been given some free will, after all.
I’m no expert on abstinence, in fact, I don’t really try to abstain from anything except for things that I just can’t bring myself to do. But I’m just trying to give you guys an answer of what I think ‘abstinence’ is all about from my own experience. I’m just now learning about this myself the more I dig deeper.
Abstinence can come from the anywhere. Like from a vegan who refuses to eat meat to a pacifist who will not commit violence even when they are threatened or an ascetic who escapes from a life of pleasure. And don’t forget about those people who wait to have sex until the time is right. Why do these people do these things? Are they so masochistic that they want to torture themselves with self-deprivation? No, they are none of those. But each does have his/her own reasons. I realize that is it not about depriving yourself from eating food like in fasting, nor saying goodbye to sex or any kind of pleasure. It is a way for someone to find out and test the limits of what they will or will not do. It is a stepping away from our excesses and over-indulgent ways to finding out what is really more important in life. It’s about sticking up for what you believe in.
So should any of us practice abstinence? That’s up to you and not for somebody else to decide.