Marriage – Turning The Tables

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If  I read one more article or hear one more sermon telling single people they need to get married, I’m going to be sick enough to require hospialization.  So in the spirit of providing a balanced perspective, here are the marks I see today of marriage and married people.

  1. Married people are prideful and greedy. They are concerned only with their own comfort and pleasure. From the biggest SUVs to the biggest houses and white picket fences, they want the whole world to see that they have it all. They invented the phrase, “keeping up with the Joneses.” Getting ahead and making each other happy is their religion. Who needs faith in God when they’ve got faith in each other? It should come as no surprise because the Bible tells us that married men are concerned with the world’s affairs and how to please their wives (1 Cor 7:33). They live lives that are out of control, in every way you can imagine.  They really can’t be expected to please God.   They can only see how “blessed” and wonderful their lives are. Their selfishness and pride prevents them from seeing the needs of other people, especially single people. Married, white, middle-aged preachers are the worse. They take pride in reminding unmarried folks how immature they are until they “man up” and get married. And single women? Well, they’re nobody until they take their subservient place beside a man.
  2. Married people worship sex. Whatever form it takes, the church believes in sex, and lots of it. And they want to make sure everybody gets their fair share. If bestiality came into fashion next year, the church would be handing out gift certificates for the Humane Society every Sunday morning, out of “convictional kindness” of course. Marriage is the holy grail of their adulthood. Preachers have even put their beds on their rooftops to show the world just how good sex is. To make it even worse, Bible thumping married people think the only way they can combat homosexuality is by glorifying their own heterosexual relationships, whether married or not. Fornication? There’s no such thing anymore. Now it’s cohabitation.  Just get a marriage license and “make it right.” They think that since God created everyone male or female that everyone has an obligation to have as much sex as possible, to show the world their maleness and femaleness. Idolizing the nuclear family and leaving no room for any other way of life except marriage is what drove scores of young people out of their churches and into the gay culture. I’m sure there are people in that lifestyle today that God originally tapped for the gift of celibacy. But with no acceptance and no support in their churches, they were drawn to a lifestyle that offered all of those things. The worship of sex through marriage and family has consequences we can’t even imagine.
  3. Churches have never defined what a biblical marriage is. Instead, they cling to the state’s definition of a legal marriage with marriage licenses and probate judges and divestments of assets after divorce. They would have everyone think that the longstanding tradition of marriage is what makes it biblical. Unfortunately, they have never come to understand that man-made traditions are not inherently biblical. As a matter of fact, there is nothing inherently Christian about families, husbands, wives, children, grandchildren, grannies, grandpas, or white picket fences.  If you feel like you’re going into shock, you might want to call the paramedics.  It gets worse.
  4. Married people are insecure in their own gender. For them, a sexual relationship is the only thing that defines their masculinity or femininity. A man is not a man until he “mans up” with the right woman. A woman is not complete until she finds her Romeo and starts having babies to grow the offering plate.
  5. Married people worship children. Instead of seeing an eternity in heaven, they can only see the smiling faces of their children and grandchildren and how they resemble kinfolks long gone. “Oh look, he’s got Uncle Earl’s nose.” I have personally seen alters in churches made with baby bottles complete with stage lighting to add a nice warm glow to the throne of child worship. And I’ve also seen special services called to consecrate children’s lunch boxes and backpacks, complete with laying on of hands and mumbling incoherent “prayers” to Dr. Seuss.
  6. Married people don’t believe anyone has the self-control to live without sex. They didn’t, and they don’t expect their children too either. They believe we are at the mercy of evolutionary-mandated desires that are as necessary as food and water to survive. A man controlling his sexual desires would make him less of a man. A real man has to be ready when the time is right. He has to be ready to pounce on every woman to “lead her to Christ.” A real woman is one of who knows how to please her man.  If you mention Paul or Jesus and their sexless lives, they have ready explanations about how Paul was dealing with some crisis that made him forget women and Jesus didn’t have any thoughts about sex.  Right.
  7. The only salvation married people believe in comes through making sexual relationships right with a marriage license, wedding ceremony, and wedding rings. As the Baptists have said repeatedly, it is not our relationship with Christ that turns a boy into a man, but marriage to the right woman who can reign in his sexual appetite. (1) In other words, they believe their boys can have sex with as many women as they want until they decide on the one to “come to the Lord” with and get “saved.” Women are expected to remain sweet virgin angels until the right boys take them to bed.  It’s some twisted version of Mosaic Law.  This represents the highest standard of married sexuality in our present culture.
  8. Married people have very little faith. Instead of faith in God, they have faith in orgasms, fertile seasons, and making babies.   They have faith in 401Ks, bigger SUVs, and their daughters making the cheerleader squad. They believe lust is a guiding spiritual force in the world. Whatever everybody else is doing is what is right for them. If polygamy becomes popular in the next century, they will mandate that all men must have more than one wife. It’s called relative morality. The Protestants invented it. Married people have honed it to a fine art. They always want to be tuned in to the will of the people. The latest Pew Research Poll numbers fall somewhere between the Old and New Testaments in their Bibles. Whether it’s cohabitators or people marrying later in life, they have the numbers at their fingertips to “prove” the sky is falling. They are always ready to tell single people they are out of step with the times and that everybody must bow down to the God of sex.
  9. Married people are judgmental. They look down on single people as “perpetual adolescents” and accuse single men of shirking from responsibility. The real problem is that, with all their adultery and divorces, they have no ground to stand on. They are not qualified to whisper one syllable of advice to people with the charism of virginity.
  10. Marriage people are dangerous. They commit the vast majority of sex crimes; whether it’s pedophilia, sexual assault, rape, incest, etc. According to the latest Bureau of Justice statistics, 6 in 10 of the people who commit rape and sexual assaults are married people. (2)

It is clear in the Bible that, unless given the rare gift of faithful marriage, celibacy is the more Christ-like way of life.   From the prophet Jeremiah all the way down to Christ himself, celibacy has been the only lifestyle sanctioned by God to be concerned with heaven and eternal matters. Apostle Paul himself said celibacy is a spiritual gift and that all those who are unmarried should remain so (1 Cor 7).  God himself ordained, sanctified, and consecrated celibacy as the foundational institution of human society.  We should pray that married people see the err of their ways and get out of bed long enough to see the needs of people around them. We should pray that they realize God only called the few people who cannot control their lusts to marriage, and the rest he calls to holiness and contentment going about the Lord’s business. We should also pray that churches lay down their ungodly idols of sex worship and perversion, and come to understand that the birth, death and resurrection of Christ abolished the Genesis command to reproduce the human species and, instead, requires us to reproduce new spiritual beings who have accepted Christ and are ready for his return.

 

 

  1. http://www.albertmohler.com/2005/04/21/from-boy-to-man-the-marks-of-manhood-part-one/

 

  1. https://www.bjs.gov/content/pub/pdf/SOO.PDF

How Single Are You?

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How would you define single people? People who don’t wear wedding rings? People who don’t have a marriage license? People who haven’t had a wedding? People who are not cohabitating? People not married but too old to be in a youth group? People who were once married but are now divorced? People who don’t file joint income taxes? People whose spouses have died? Actually, singles can be anybody today. “Single” is merely a legal status and social euphemism that means absolutely nothing from a biblical standpoint. It offers acceptance for the divorced and all those not holding marriage licenses because traditional teaching in the church says that when God forgives he forgets everything and so should we. It’s a word created for comfort to allow those with a sexual past to pretend it didn’t happen and be available on the singles social scene again. After all, the church says, there are secondary virgins and there are real virgins. What’s the difference? Well, in case you didn’t know, my blog defends virginity. I think it’s a special physical and spiritual state, and I happen to be one myself. Bella DePaulo in the 4/3/2011 edition of Psychology Today said there are three definitions of singles:

  1. You are legally single if you are not legally married.
  2. You are socially single if you are not in a romantic relationship that other people regard as serious.
  3. You are personally single if you think of yourself as single.

 These are the world’s definitions. If it feels good, put on your hat and play the part. However, is a legal piece of paper going to matter to God? No. Is how other people regard us going to matter to God? No. Is how we think of ourselves going to matter to God? No. Our behavior matters to God. And as painful as it may be to our ears, our past matters to God. Not the legalities and formalities of current culture. Not the courthouses where we pick up marriage licenses. The Samaritan woman at the well found this out the hard way when she tried to cling to the legal definition of marriage. She probably lived an exciting life as a single woman, strutting down to the well a couple of times a day to flirt with available men. That is, until Jesus showed up for a drink. Then she found out that not having a marriage contract mattered very little to him and that she was in fact married to all the men she had had sex with. As Jesus told her, she had had five husbands and was not officially married to the man she was living with.  I have a feeling that Christ would receive an even more startled reaction by the church today. I can already hear the front row of deacons mumbling, “But she’s not wearing a wedding ring!” It doesn’t matter, Jesus says. “She doesn’t have a marriage license!” It doesn’t matter, Jesus says. “She hasn’t had a wedding ceremony!” It doesn’t matter, Jesus says. If we think of the water at the bottom of Jacob’s well as representing the fruitfulness of the womb, including Jacob’s entire lineage, and the eternal life-giving water that Jesus offered the woman as representing the end of that lineage and the beginning of eternity in heaven, the story makes more sense. It is another classic story of the world we know juxtaposed with the world that is to come. Notice too that Jesus never took a drink from the woman. But what stands out is Jesus’s vocabulary lesson. He replaced the Samaritan woman’s social status of being single with the biblical status of being married. No marriage license was needed. It was done in the blink of an eye. This is why Christ repeated the words “say” and “said.” “You are right when you say” and “what you have just said is quite true.” John 4:17-18.   He is contrasting her prior social identity and what she saith as a single woman to her current biblical reality and what she had done as a married woman. As she said, “Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did.” John 4:29. Even more important, he is contrasting her socially comfortable “singleness” with the biblical reality of her multiple marriages, which are one in the same as sexual relationships. Note too that her repentance and salvation did make her forget all her past lovers, cause her to be a “secondary virgin,” or require everybody in her neighborhood to forget her past mistakes. Nor did it erase the consequences of her sin. It was just the opposite. After she realized she was talking to Christ, she acknowledged that she had been married multiple times.  Laws and traditions say many things and leave open a lot of back doors. In Christian sexual ethics, though, they take a backseat to what we do. Words will disappear like a vapor in the presence of Christ. What we do though will remain standing. Like the common practice today, the Samaritan woman’s social identity was miles apart from her biblical identity.

The majority of churchgoing people today are of the same mindset. As long as lovers “make it right,” who’s to say what is right and what is wrong? They think once they are forgiven, all consequences of their sins are erased. “Forgive and forget” is the new seeker friendly motto. Like the Samaritan woman, they hide behind legalities and social niceties. I think a lot of people read the story of the Samaritan woman and focus only on Jesus’s “mind reading” magic show and how he revealed her past sexual relationships. That’s half the story. It’s equally important to remember that he also revealed that she was not a single woman. In modern times, she could have been masquerading as a virgin, in charge of the local purity conferences and daddy-daughter dances. Whatever the case, she lived the life of a socially single woman up to that point. She couldn’t have been divorced or widowed because everybody would have known her past. There would have been no reason for Jesus to tell her all the things she had done. I wonder how many singles dating sites she had signed up with and how many men she had waiting in the wing. She misrepresented herself to everyone she was acquainted with. To put it simply, she lived a lie. An uncomfortable fact that churches don’t like to be reminded of is that Christianity allows us two lifestyle choices – marriage or virginity. Another uncomfortable fact is that God intended marriage to be between two virgins. But how many churches defend and affirm these truths? How many churches guard biblical language? How many married couples stand up in churches and tell how they were both virgins when they married? How many married couples tell about how they have been faithful their entire 50 or whatever years of marriage? How many celibate people have you heard in churches tell how God has given them the strength and grace to remain virgins for so many number of years? I don’t know of any churches that do that. Their main focus is on forgiving the fallen, not affirming the faithful. Single donut anyone? If you believe that God’s intention in marriage is for one virgin to marry another virgin, then the only people who are biblically single are virgins. Some of them are waiting on marriage on this earth and some have the charism of virginity and are waiting on marriage in heaven. The world doesn’t know that, though. All they know is a generic singleness. When we take the expectation of virginity out of singleness, whether it be waiting on a spouse or waiting on the return of Christ, we take the expectation of faithfulness out of marriage. As Justin Campbell and other writers have pointed out, there really is no such thing as the gift of singleness because singleness in our vocabulary today points to a temporary state. The gift of celibacy, however, is a permanent state and not related to singles waiting on marriage or even a marriage between husband and wife. A lot of people today still pretend to be single. Maybe if everybody had their own moment at the well with Christ, there would be no more pretending.

Jesus didn’t change the Samaritan woman’s marital status by telling her she had five husbands. He merely took away the courthouses and traditions and told her the biblical reality of her life. If her past mattered to Jesus, should it matter to us? I think so. But we live in a world where even the thought of a sexual past is considered judgmental and hateful. Just as with the Samaritan woman, it’s not going to matter what we say when we meet God face to face, but what we have done. Matthew 16:27 tells us, “For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father’s glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what they have done.” It’s not about taking on labels and thinking certain people are better than others. It’s about relating to each other honestly and openly and coming to grips with our own moment at the well with Jesus.

Sadly, the only thing Protestants know about celibacy is in the context of what they hear in the media about the Catholic Church and pedophile priests. That’s why they cling to their comfortable “singleness.” Singleness doesn’t require a past, just a present circumstance. “Just be happy where you are,” they say. They have no clue of the celibacy Paul talked about in 1 Corinthians 7. If they go so far as to say there is a gift of singleness, most preachers still frame it as a circumstance, a period of time (or season) before you get married.   Many church people today think the gift of celibacy is but a circumstance until one gets married, a season of waiting until the right one comes along. If marriage and celibacy are to be equally valued, as many churches claim, then we could assume that marriage is but a circumstance, and that husbands are married until they fall into different circumstances with different women. When you take commitment out of the picture, whether it is commitment in marriage or commitment in celibacy, the whole house of cards falls. However we slice the vocabulary, virginity for the sake of the kingdom of heaven is not the same thing as the “gift of singleness” we know today. Justin Campbell, on his blog “More Than Don’t Have Sex,” said this very well:

“Paul essentially says that there are those who should get married and those who shouldn’t.  He says some have one gift and others another gift.  But the gift he is talking about is not the gift of singleness, he is talking about the gift of celibacy. You are not called to “season” of celibacy.  You may not be married yet, but that is not the same.”

The words we use are also going to be carried into the future by the young people today. I think the church does them a disservice by focusing on marriage and family, and not doing anything to affirm the celibate life. That’s why I’m not single. I’m not living out a temporary season of my life.  I am the same unmarried John today as I will be in heaven.  Any discomfort someone sees in my life should not be interpreted as bitterness over not having my sexual desires met. It should be seen as discomfort for still being on this earth and separated from Christ. That’s what I long for. And only a person with the charism of virginity can have that kind of longing. Am I saying that churches should ask everybody about their sexual history and attach appropriate lapel buttons on Sunday mornings, like Christ did with the woman at the well? No. We’re not Christ and can’t know what Christ knows. What I’m saying is that churches should be careful when they adopt the world’s language. I know many of them are teaching a theology of Calvinistic circumstances in which all men are assigned the same station in life. That is, they are all either married or want to get married. That is simply not biblical. Most churches make the mistake of trying to cure singles of their singleness. This is sort of like taking a group of young people to see a space shuttle liftoff and instead only seeing a remote controlled airplane whiz around a parking lot. Do you think they would feel let down? They should. They read about a God of risks and wild abandon in their Bibles, a God of unspeakable wrath and untold rewards, a God worthy of their faith and loyalty; only to have him replaced by one of feel good vagueness and comfortable velvet-backed pew inclusiveness. If we are going to continue using feel-good words like singleness, let’s at last make sure the young people know we are talking outside the principles of the Bible. When we take virginity out of singleness and faithfulness out of marriage, we take the spiritual significance of sex out of God’s hands and put it into the world’s hands.  How would you respond if Christ asked you to go get your husband or wife?  Could you honestly say you’ve never had one or would he have to remind you of things you did?   How single are you?

https://www.ccef.org/resources/blog/the-gift-of-singleness

https://justinmcampbell.net/tag/season-of-singleness/

Faith In Celibacy

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I think we would all agree that Christianity is built on faith, the belief in things we cannot see. We believe Christ is returning to earth to claim his virgin bride, the church. And we believe that the church’s virginity is only possible if individual members confess their sins. As Isaiah 1:18 states, “Come now, let us reason together, says the Lord: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool.” Or as 1 John 1:19 states, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” But we must see things the way God intended, not the way the world has twisted them. Leading up to marriage, two people have faith that someone else is waiting for them, keeping all their sexual desires under control. Yes, God designed those two people to be virgins. I know. It makes the world cringe. And it includes men. Cringe even more. Virgins are not the adjectives you see in locker room graffiti or the buffoon characters in Hollywood movies. They are probably not the people you hear your preacher describe in church. But, most importantly, these “unknown” people have a choice. They can wait on an earthly marriage, as is common today, or they can wait on heavenly marriage, which is the uncommon spiritual gift of celibacy, and have the opportunity to be unknown the rest of their lives. Yes, I said opportunity. They have an opportunity to be barren and unknown with no family for the rest of their lives as far as the world and its kinship goes, but have so many spiritual children and siblings they can’t be counted. Young people today are not conscious of such a choice.  They go through no period of discernment and the church offers no alternative other than matrimony and the standard white picket fence. It’s “ring by spring” or nothing. Why?  It’s because churches today have very little faith, they follow the ways of the world, they worship the nuclear family, and they are still under the influence of Martin Luther and the Protestant reformation of some 500 years ago. The only tomorrow they know is the one they see in the eyes of their children and grandchildren. Unbeknownst to them, virgins are actually in a win-win situation because waiting for either one of those two marriages is what every Christian is called to do. And we can only wait one time because, even though it causes great pain to the world to think about, virginity is binary. That’s the way God designed creation. This is where marriage and celibacy intersect. The person waiting on marriage on earth has faith that they will meet their spouse soon and spend their time on earth together. The person waiting on marriage in heaven has faith that they will meet Christ soon and spend their time in eternity with him. Those two waits require totally different support. When the wait of celibacy fades out of the picture and is no longer respected, there is greater risk for society to elevate marriage to a place of sanctification, which is where we are today. If we do not provide young people a choice, we will never understand the spiritual nature of marriage or celibacy.

Even if that person with the gift of celibacy is as rare as 1 in a 1000 as Martin Luther claimed or 1 in a billion, it is still true. It doesn’t matter how many times a church says “most people.” That doesn’t make it so for everybody. The Southern Baptists have their foundational origins in segregation and slavery. Millions of people bought into those beliefs. Did it make them right? God puts just enough eunuchs on earth, male and female, to meet his needs. Our rarity ought to serve as a reinforcing agent for marriage and cut through the shortsighted quagmire that passes as faith today. Here’s why. If God created everything in this universe, he also created sex and the entire sexual process. Sexual desire had to be made strong in order for us to multiply. And that is a good thing, right? It had to be so strong that it would take a supernatural act of God for someone to resist it or, as Paul put it, for someone to “have power over his own will.” 1 Cor 7:37. Hence, we have the gift of celibacy and the gift of a supernatural faith.

Even if we do not exist in the statistics and opinion polls, as churches love to quote, our presence is nevertheless real and we have a responsibility to reproduce spiritually that eclipses the responsibility to reproduce biologically. Who are we to second-guess God’s numbers or set an “ideal age for marriage”? While marriage symbolizes Christ’s (groom) marriage to the church (bride), these marriages are temporary affairs. All of them will eventually end either in divorce or death, etc. Those who have the gift of celibacy, however, have a marriage that will not end in divorce or death. Their status as a virgin is the same today as it will be in heaven. Their commitment to Christ is just as real today as it will be in heaven. Their anticipation of the arrival of Christ is more real than anybody’s anticipation of a spouse or birth of a child. But their waiting takes a much larger leap of faith, as it should, than those waiting on husbands and wives and children. Even though it may take a little more blurring of the eyes to see the symbolism, people with the celibate gift literally guard in their own personhood what the church guards symbolically. We should see ourselves already separated from this world and drawing closer to Christ, with one foot on the ground and the other foot in heaven. Our advent should be more urgent than anything expressed in traditional candles and wreaths. So while earthly marriages symbolizes Christ’s marriage to the church, the celibate gift symbolizes eternity in heaven after the wedding is over. Like a landing signal officer on aircraft carriers, we point the way to our final destination. Marriage has not caused us detours. In other words, the person with the gift of celibacy has the capacity to serve as a witness for Christ that goes beyond the symbolic because he/she is closer to landing on the ship and closer to God. Since there will be no marriages in heaven, we represent a part of eternity that can be seen today. That does not mean we are perfect. It does not mean we should climb up on rooftops and boast about it. It should be something that other people see in us, a faith so real that it’s visible. That should speak for itself.

Did You Hear Of Celibacy?

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Recently, Nic Gibson, the pastor at a mega church in Madison, WI wrote a blog post titled, “Dear Single People, From Your Local Pastor,” in which he talked about how people with the gift of singleness can “flee and hide better and cannot be extorted through dependent family members.”  I don’t know about everybody else, but I’ve been in plain site my whole life.  But  here we have another married man with multiple children who thinks he’s an expert on the topic.  Par for the course.  Let me say this right here:  Husbands and fathers, you are not qualified to write about celibacy.  When you do, you only show how much you don’t know.  In the comment section, I asked him, as I have hundreds of other supposed experts, to name one pastor who had the gift of celibacy.  Since the U.S. has over 300,000 Protestant churches and over half  the population is single, you would expect there to be at least 150,000 single pastors, especially if marriage and celibacy are of the same value, as preachers like to tout.  But he couldn’t name one (see footnote 1):

“I don’t think I can name a single pastor off the top of my head right now, however some of the great ones in church history were single. John Wesley was single most of his life. Charles Simeon I believe was single his entire life- maybe the greatest English pastor of the 18th century. John Stott was single for all of his life. The fact is that most churches won’t touch a single person, not for primarily biblical reasons, but for reasons of sociology and bigotry.”

Bigotry.  At least he was honest.  Imagine the public’s reaction if there was not a single African-American person employed in the United States today, if there was not a single minority represented in the Fortune 500 Companies.  There would be so much upheaval that what happened in Montgomery, Alabama during the 1960’s would look like child’s play. But a church?  It’s do as they say – not do as they do.  They’ll cancel church services to be with their families if Christmas happens to fall on Christmas day, as many of them did this year.  But a person has to die first and have their life analyzed to determine if they had the gift of celibacy. How encouraging.  How equal that makes celibacy to marriage. And they assume all unmarried adults are living selfish and non-committed lives, but that marriage automatically bestows a sanctified status of salvation.  That’s why I don’t recognize marriages today. Couples have to die first so that I can determine if they were faithful to each other.  Otherwise, they’re just another couple of cohabitators.  It’s beyond hypocrisy that churches stake their entire Christian theology on marriage licenses, wedding ceremonies, nuclear families, and a few bags of rice, when the Christ they worship was a never married man.  Even the word celibacy makes them uncomfortable.  I’ve seen it first hand many times, eyes dropping and face turning flush.  It forces them to think about their own bankrupt marriages and unfaithful sex lives. Because, let’s face it, most marriages today are pretenses. They are about as biblical as the fruit punch served at wedding receptions; merely social and legal arrangements setup as a means to entitlement and division of assets after they part ways. They’re not about two people becoming one flesh and being faithful to each other for the rest of their lives. They are about two people “putting a ring on it” and being socially recognized as full-fledged responsible adults with a ticket to have sex with each other, as long as both are agreeable.  As marriage-idolater and Baptist theologian Al Mohler puts it,”marriage is the God-given context for the achievement of maturity in adulthood (see footnote 4).  As a matter of fact, author Tim Challies says marriage is nothing more than a ring on a finger and the gift of singleness is the absence of a ring (see footnote 2):

“How can you know if you have the gift of singleness? I don’t meant to be trite, but you can go about it this way: Look at your ring finger. No ring? You’ve got the gift of singleness. Ring?  You’ve got the gift of marriage.”

Wow, how simple Ernie.  Can you hold up your finger?   Faithfulness?  Who cares.  Commitment?  What does it matter?  Symbolizing Christ’s marriage to the church?  Are you kidding?  All that matters to Challies and churches today is the ring on the finger.  Because faith for the church today literally goes no further than skin deep.  Challies and Josh Byers actually have a book out now titled “Visual Theology” in which they explain how their faith is based on what they can visualize (see footnote 3).  That’s why celibacy flies in the face of their superficial faith.  It remains invisible in a sex worship society.  It forces husbands and wives to look at their own culture of adultery, divorce, remarriage, broken families, legal separations, child support, alimony payments, paternity tests, pregnancies out of wedlock, abortion and fertility clinics, supervised visitations, dependent children, restraining orders, battered spouses, biological dads, biological moms, civil unions, de facto parents, inheritances,  annulments, financial statements, prenuptial agreements, shared custodies, safe houses, and same sex marriages. It forces them to think about their own chastity and the people they had sex with before they married/remarried and their own hypocritical witnesses. It forces them to come face to face with their culture of greed and entitlement and consider the few people who have said “no” to the family-centered gospel of prosperity. And importantly, it forces them to acknowledge that there are those who have not had all their desires met, whose lives have not been ruled by Maslow’s hierarchy of needs with sex as a basic human need on the same level as food, water, and oxygen. Celibacy makes them think of their comfortable cocoons of pleasure and convenience, surrounded by a white picket fence of security the church calls a “family.”  It makes them think about the possibility of somebody living a life of self-control and patience. That’s not possible in their calvinized “fallen world.” In short, it takes the air out of their sails and words out of their mouths. Where does this leave the young people who venture into church today trying to discern a life of marriage or celibacy?  Totally confused.  They will hear nothing about a choice between marriage and celibacy or see any real examples of celibate life, other than being told they’re all dead.   I get it church. I really do.  Segregation and discrimination run deep in your pews and they give you a sense of security.  Yes, you have to protect your families, but you can’t do that at the expensive of half truths.  As we all know, half truths are one hundred percent lies.  This is nowhere more evident than in the church.  Take a look at God’s creation and the natural dichotomies built into it; heaven and earth, day and night, hot and cold, sea and land, morning and evening. Then there’s marriage and . . . did you hear of celibacy?  Their balance is part of God’s creation.  It doesn’t take equal numbers, but equal value and respect.  If you don’t start demonstrating how much value you place on those called to celibate life, that void will be filled in by abominations you can’t imagine.

  1. https://hpcmadison.com/2016/10/22/dear-single-people-from-your-local-pastor-part-1/comment-page-1/#comment-3526
  2. http://www.challies.com/articles/what-is-the-gift-of-singleness.
  3. https://www.amazon.com/Visual-Theology-Seeing-Understanding-Truth/dp/0310520436
  4. http://www.albertmohler.com/2004/08/20/looking-back-at-the-mystery-of-marriage-part-two/

Celibacy – Life Beyond Circumstances

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I’ve always found it interesting that churches consider marriage a sacred commitment and “singleness” a state of selfish abandonment and uncontrolled desires, when in fact the Bible talks more about celibacy than it does marriage. How did the church come to worship sex and toss out celibacy as an unfortunate circumstance? There are many reasons. But at the top of the list is the fact that the Protestant Reformation rejected not only celibate priests, but the whole idea of spiritual rebirth and fruitfulness, claiming that making babies was the only way the human species could reproduce. Unfortunately, the church never learned to think long term and never learned anything from what Jesus taught Nicodemus:

“Jesus answered, ‘Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit. 6 Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit.'” John 3:5-6

In other words, Protestants rejected the whole message of the New Testament because they refused to move beyond the flesh. Sex in marriage became just as important as food in the stomach. And babies became the holy grail of life itself. When they abolished monasteries and convents, they erased the identities of generations of people who had the God-given charism of virginity. Christ was one of those people. Protestants no longer saw their choice as between marriage and celibacy as outlined by Paul in the New Testament, but between marriage and “living in sin” as outlined by a culture of divorce. These are the circumstances they want you to forget. When the reformers established settlements in the American colonies, they brought the Old Testament and all of its sexual fulfillment and fruitfulness with them and burned the New Testament and spiritual rebirth to make way for a new sexual awakening. Marriage was no longer a right. It was a rule. As a matter of fact, weddings were founded on divorce, courthouses and redistribution of land. Marriage became the social expectation. Honorable singles became the dishonorable outcasts because, if young people were not married by a certain age, it was assumed they were either fornicators or homosexuals. With the choice of celibacy out of the way, any lifestyle besides marriage became viewed as an unfortunate circumstance. For the Protestants, church was not about salvation through Christ. It was about circumstances. It was about salvation through marriage and children, because that was the only way they could “redeem” their sexual desires. Their idea of an afterlife never got any further than the inheritance they left their children. Indeed, the foundation of Christianity today is not built on Christ. That would take an amount of invisible faith. Rather, today’s Christianity is built on a woman’s visible ability to give birth to children and a man’s ability to be responsible for them. Christ is not in the picture. The Southern Baptists make that very plain in their Faith and Message Statement: “God has ordained the family as the foundational institution of human society. It is composed of persons related to one another by marriage, blood, or adoption.” Nowhere in the Bible does God grant any special privilege to the nuclear family or “persons related to one another by marriage.” As a matter of fact, it says just the opposite: “And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life.” Matthew 19:29. The Baptists’ “message” is merely the creation of a couple of preachers who had one too many drinks after a Wednesday night prayer meeting.  Sadly though, people still believe it.

But rejecting celibacy had long term consequences the Protestants were not aware of. While tooting their horns about how the commitment of a man and woman in marriage represents Christ’s marriage to the church, they forgot how the commitment of a celibate person represents total faith in God for the necessities of daily living and how it symbolizes eternal life in heaven where there are no marriages. The only problem is that celibacy is something that can’t be seen. For Protestants to have faith in anything, they have to see it. That’s why the invisible vocation of celibacy was replaced with the circumstance of an empty ring finger called “singleness.” They could see who had not “put a ring on it.” So the only commitment the church knows anything about today starts with “courtship” and ends with “I do” and a wedding night of sexual salvation.

Celibacy became a circumstance when the church replaced biblical truths with moral relativism and lowered their standards to the level of the masses. As Russell Moore of the SBC said recently, “We have a responsibility not only to speak truthfully. But we have a responsibility to contextualize not only to the present culture but to the future.” Contextualize?  That is so clever.  Leave it to wordsmith Moore to figure out a politically correct way of describing moral relativism. Protestants have for a long time based their beliefs on changing circumstances. They learned how to contextualize their pocketbooks too, and learned that talking about divorce and other circumstances in a “fallen world” was a lot more profitable than talking about the truth in a world that had turned its back on God or about the realities of hell.  Comfort sells. They learned that marrying a cohabitating couple with a child in tow was like money in the bank.  The church was no longer a body of believers, but a group of seekers with different circumstances. No one could claim to know the truth anymore, because the “gospel” changed with the times. DivorceCare was a lot more profitable than talking about uncomfortable subjects such as adultery and fornication. Circumstances make a lot of victims. Victims make the church a lot of money.  Can you imagine an older man standing up during a Baptist service today and saying, “I wish all men were like me”?  What a scandal!  Who does he think he is!  Celibacy is just a circumstance Protestants associate with the Catholic Church and the same sex marriage scandal.  When churches are seated at the golden calf of marriage and family, it’s not possible for them to live without sex. They must show the world visual proof of their marital bliss with wedding rings and marriage licenses, and how committed they are to their spouses until . . . they divorce. After all, it’s just a season of marriage, right?  It’s no longer about who a man is. It’s what he looks like. Who he’s married to. What his family looks like. How many children he has. Where he works.  People today believe all men have the capacity to reach the same spiritual significance, no matter what their station in life is.  That may be true if we didn’t have choices about our stations in life.  But all of us make our own choices, no matter how popular or unpopular they may seem to the rest of the world.  That’s why so many churches report the results of opinion polls and statistical charts and ring their hands over people marrying later in life. As unbelievable as it sounds, they claim to know how many people God expects to be married and how many people he expects to be single. They email a copy of the opinion polls and numbers up to God every 90 days or so and wait on his pronouncement.  I’m sure that will put a smile on grandpa’s face.  People know so little about the Bible that they buy into it.

For many Protestants, moral relativism started in 1 Corinthians 7:26 when Paul mentioned remaining a virgin because of the “present distress.” It was exaggerated to mean all of Paul’s writings in the New Testament, especially those dealing with sexual ethics, were dependent on his circumstances. They didn’t think it applied to them because they knew the “end of the world” was not going to happen anytime soon. Not only that, they really didn’t think they had to take anything Paul said seriously because it was “just his opinion.” So their solution was to consider what he wrote not even part of the Bible. That was a grave mistake. Paul was not just another bloke Christ called off the street to write some of the Bible. He wasn’t just a dude who happened to fall into these circumstances. He was heavenly inspired. God placed him in that place at that time for a reason. In actuality, Paul declared that God’s call to salvation reversed a person’s circumstances. People with the gift of celibacy pointing toward eternity are necessary for that to happen. They are necessary witnesses to spiritual rebirth and to the Christian slave becoming the Lord’s freedman and to those who were free becoming Christ’s slaves. A wedding is a very short-lived event. What happens after that? Paul did not fall into the unfortunate circumstances of celibacy because of some impending catastrophe. His choice between marriage and celibacy is the same as ours today. He had a right to marry, as he straightforwardly states in 1 Cor 9:5-6: “Don’t we have the right to take a believing wife along with us, as do the other apostles and the Lord’s brothers and Cephas? Or is it only I and Barnabas who lack the right to not work for a living?”  Paul was not secretly cohabitating with Timothy’s sister or getting free milk from a cow.  He wasn’t staying up late nights playing video games.  What “life group” class would you put him in?  What kind of circumstances would your church have to build up around him to make everybody comfortable?

My life of celibacy is something I also freely chose and something God has allowed me to do. Yes, I have the right to marry just like anyone else. But I have not denounced marriage as being evil, as popular thinking may have you believe.  I have renounced it for something better, for life beyond this earth. Denounced and renounced are two words that sound the same but have very different meanings. I know a life of sacrifice is hard to believe in churches today because their faith goes no deeper than a wet diaper and after school childcare. So while I may have not have a ring on my finger, I do know what commitment is. I ask that you keep an open mind for commitments you cannot see and levels of faith you cannot understand. While I may not have the trophy wife, passel of kids, and graduation pictures hanging on the walls, be mindful of children who are not the products of flesh, but of spirit.

http://christiandaily.com/article/russell-moore-laments-how-evangelicals-today-regard-politics-as-their-own-religion/56127.htm

The Twisted Marriage Idolatry Of Al Mohler And Southern Baptists

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Just when I think the Southern Baptists can’t sink any deeper in sex worship, somebody comes along and does even better. In this case, it’s Al Mohler. You can read his latest article, “Marriage as a Part of Adulthood,” here:

http://www.focusonthefamily.com/marriage/preparing-for-marriage/marriage-as-a-part-of-adulthood

There’s really nothing new because he has been preaching his marriage mandate for many years. He’s one of those mature Baptist brethren who think single adults over 23 are “living in sin.” And yes, he’s one of those “full quiver” men who do not think sex hormones can be controlled and recommends marriage at 12 and 13 years of age to prevent fornication.  I guess that makes sense on a primordial level if we assume men have no more self control than the apes.   And I’m sure he’s passing on his “wisdom” to the Baptist preachers of tomorrow.  He bemoans the current generation of cohabitation.  But what else can we expect from his generation, the generation of divorce and adultery? In this piece he does something I’ve written about before and, as always, I think it’s rather comical. He throws in the obligatory “unless given the calling of celibacy” footnote in one sentence, just in case somebody reminds him that Jeremiah, Paul, and Jesus himself never married.

“For all these reasons and more, Christians must understand that, unless given the calling of celibacy, Christians should honor marriage and seek to marry and to move into parenting and the full responsibilities of adulthood earlier rather than later in life.”

“Unless given the calling of celibacy.”  Isn’t it wonderful what commas can do for you?  They make it look like everything that’s wedged in between them is a passing thought.  Not only is Bro. Al a full quiver man, he’s a full Oxford comma man too.   But Al, I have a couple of questions.  I visited your fine Baptist church recently and what you need to understand is that all of your single women leave a lot to be desired. That’s right. All of them are prostitutes, except the ones who are Christian women of course. They’re on the streets of Louisville every weekend making money to buy their next fix of drugs. Your women should honor their bodies as temples of God and become full time mothers. Then they can step into their role as responsible adults.  How would I know who the good Christian women of your church are? How would I even know you have any? Would they wear different colored dresses? Have a different hairstyle? I would have no way of knowing. My question for you is this: How would you know who does and does not have “the calling of celibacy?” Since you regularly throw in this “rare exception” clause when you write about marriage, you must know such a person. Can you give us a name? Have you polled the unmarried people in your church to see who has what calling? Has anyone helped them discern celibacy? Let’s take it one step further. I’m sure you can name thousands of married couples you’ve known over the years. Of the 7,125,000,000 people on earth, can you name two Baptist preachers who are called to celibacy? If you can’t, then you probably shouldn’t mention it at all. It really is pathetic.  I can only speak for myself as one of those people called to celibate life, but I do not wish to be included in such a sordid “family focused” soap opera and Cialis sponsored worship hour.

All In The Family

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I recently wrote the pastor of a sizeable church in my area, asking him if he ever discussed the gift of celibacy during his sermons. And I asked him why his church, which is almost 200 years old, had never hired an unmarried preacher. This was his reply. I changed the names of everybody, except myself, and changed the name of the church.

Dear Mr. Morgan,

Thank you for your recent note. It is a rather interesting topic. But here at Family of Grace Baptist Church we welcome everybody. It doesn’t matter what their background is. We just want to express God’s love. There are more married folks here at Family, but that doesn’t mean we don’t love singles too. Our youth pastor spends a good deal of time with the youth and they go on a spring retreat every year. We understand their struggle to find a suitable spouse in a time when there are not many Christian singles to be found. But we share God’s love with them too and are there when they falter in their faith. As you know, many of them have problems keeping their sexual desires under control. We show them mercy and grace and give a special offering every year to the local teen pregnancy center. But the line has to be drawn somewhere and here at Family of Grace it’s drawn on the issue of homosexuality and celibacy. We cannot go down the same road that our country is and we will have no part of same sex marriage. Now, let me be clear. Here at family, we do not follow the doctrines of the Catholic Church with all of their problems with homosexuality among priests trying to follow vows of celibacy. We have a responsibility to be fruitful and multiply. And we recognize that the family is paramount and is the glue that is holding this tenuous society together. We could never hire a man as a pastor who had not matured and shown responsibility for caring for a wife and family. You’re welcome to come visit and I know one of our outreach directors would be happy to talk with you about the grace and mercy Christ offers. Just tell him what your name is so he will know who you are and where you go. Again, thanks for your letter.

Ben Wright, Pastor
Family of Grace Baptist Church