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Like bees, they must put their lives into the sting they give.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
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Abstinence is a voluntary forbearance from indulging a desire or appetite for certain bodily activities that are widely experienced as giving pleasure. Most frequently, the term refers to abstention from sexual intercourse, alcohol, or food.


  • Abstainer, n. A weak person who yields to the temptation of denying himself a pleasure.
  • All men cannot receive this saying, save they to whom it is given. For there are some eunuchs, which were so born from their mother's womb: and there are some eunuchs, which were made eunuchs of men: and there be eunuchs, which have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven's sake. He that is able to receive it, let him receive it.
    • Jesus, Gospel of Matthew 19:11-12
  • Self denial is not a virtue: it is only the effect of prudence on rascality.
  • Usez, n'abusez point […] L'abstinence ou l'excès ne fit jamais d'heureux.
    • Translation: Use, do not abuse […] Neither abstinence nor excess ever renders man happy.
    • Voltaire, "Cinquième discours: sur la nature de plaisir", Sept Discours en Vers sur l'Homme (1738)


  • Condoms will break, but I can assure you that vows of abstinence will break more easily than condoms.
  • Complete abstinence is easier than perfect moderation.
    • Augustine of Hippo
    • Variant: To many, total abstinence is easier than perfect moderation.
  • My experience through life has convinced me that, while moderation and temperance in all things are commendable, abstinence from spiritous liquors is the best safeguard of morals and health.
  • The few bad poems which occasionally are created during abstinence are of no great interest.
  • Abstinence education gives young people the support they need in making the decision to postpone sexual activity until they are mature enough to handle the emotional, moral and financial responsibilities of parenthood. This is more than teaching kids to say no – it will help them preserve self-esteem and build character.

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