Celibacy – Time Out Of Season

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The ruins of the Bagrati Cathedral, pre-restoration, painted by Aleksandr Fyodorovich Peters

Those of us who grew up in church know that marriage is supposed to be a sacred covenant between a man and woman. Married people’s identities are wrapped up in commitment. They’re committed to each other, to their children, to their family, to their school, to their church, etc. And of course today with the same sex marriage controversy, the family values flag is held up higher and higher to represent the highest form of Christian values. But where do singles get their identity? What commitments have they made? What affirms their adulthood? What responsibilities have they been given? After college and beyond, I’m afraid singles get their identify from the same place married people do – from the county clerk’s office in the local courthouse. Indeed, the absence of a marriage license is what defines a single in today’s church culture. It’s the epitome of political correctness. However, people called to celibacy are the epitome of political incorrectness. They cannot be defined by something they do not have. They have been given a special charisma, a spiritual gift that is just as important as all the others in the workings of the Holy Spirit. Instead of being contained in seasons, it survives through eternity. And the gift of celibacy usually comes with other special abilities. It’s not just an empty vacuum floating around spreading sprinkles of love and contentment. Even though I’m not a Catholic priest and haven’t taken vows, my consecrated celibacy is just as much a commitment to Christ as a couple’s commitment to each other in marriage.

Consecrated virginity is the oldest recognized form of consecrated life in the Catholic Church. It’s much older than their religious orders. It was discontinued in the Middle Ages because of the rise of monastic communities. But it was revived again in the 1950s with Vatican II. I find it ironic that women who are members of the Catholic Church’s Order of Consecrated Virgins today do not live in a cloistered community, but out in the real world. They do not wear habits or veils and do not refer to themselves as sisters. So if Martin Luther were alive today, what would he be protesting against? He wouldn’t find them in a monastery. He couldn’t find them in churches. He couldn’t identify them on the streets. And if the Catholic Church believes all their priests have the gift of celibacy and are not forcing it on anybody else, what are Protestants protesting today? The idea of not marrying and having sex? That seems weird. If they are protesting extended adolescence and delayed marriage, then their theology is not grounded in the Bible. Martin Luther eventually left the monastery and got married. But one man cannot undo what God ordained. Does that sound like marriage language? It’s supposed to. What was a spiritual gift 2000 years ago is just as much a spiritual gift today. Unless a church has identified members with the supernatural gift of celibacy, they need to leave open its door every time they discuss the vague issue of “singleness,” especially if they refer to 1 Corinthians 7; even more so if they might have a member who is discerning a call to celibacy. I’m not aware of a church that has done this. Maybe it’s time they should. I dare think what would happen if churches expended as much energy on building up lifestyles that are biblical as they do on battling lifestyles that are evil. What would happen if they found out there were singles who lived holy lives outside traditional seasons of singleness of marriage? Who are doing what Martin Luther could not do? It would probably blow their minds. Look at it this way: I don’t argue with my spouse all the time.

My friend Justin Campbell, who blogs at More Than Don’t Have Sex, recently wrote a post about how celibacy is not a season. I completely agree. We should not use the word single as a catch-all for everyone who is not married. And this should be especially true for churches. Yes, single requires no thought. Don’t have a marriage license? That’s simple. You’re single. Single is easy. Comfortable. It’s politically correct, right? Everybody wants to be married, don’t they? The answer to that is no. That’s what makes sex the idol it is today. Our society makes room for nothing else but marriage. Young people who have the potential to live fulfilling lives of celibacy get no encouragement or counseling and end up drawn into the homosexual lifestyle. I’ve seen this firsthand. Yes, you can point to Paul in the Bible and go back to the Old Testament and read about Jeremiah. But their witness has all but disappeared from the face of the earth. The younger generation today have to see it to believe it. What they get in the church instead is another seminar on marriage and another sermon on the glories of children, with maybe a story about Lottie Moon thrown in every few years.

So churches, the fact that you don’t know who we are and don’t have a tidy label for us is not our fault. It’s yours. You have spent years decrying the evils of celibacy and linking it to homosexuality. You have spent years telling guys to man-up and telling girls to stay pure and procreate. In doing so, you threw all celibates under the bus, including Christ himself. You are the ones who need to grow up. You need to get your language together and be consistent. I’m as much a “single” as a husband is just a guy who is having state sanctioned sex. That’s right. Since my identity is just a pitiful old man who hasn’t found the right woman to turn him on, I consider marriage licenses no more sacred than a fishing license. There are a few exceptions, of course, like Justin Campbell who accurately points out:

“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.”

Yes indeed, there are single people waiting on a mate. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that. In time though, that waiting could term into long term celibacy. It’s an important thing to discern, but I don’t think there are any age deadlines. And married people are not going to be able to help with that. What is critical is leading a chaste life. That way, you’re prepared if you say yes to marriage or yes to celibacy. It’s really a requirement for both lifestyles. I’ll never forget the day I met an elderly man in the grocery store. He was in a wheelchair and I was trying to help him get a carton of milk. He asked me where I went to church and if I was married. When I told him I thought the Lord had called me to single life, he said: “Really? Well, I am too. Yes I divorced my third wife last year I’ve been as content as all get out.”

I think the main thing people miss about 1 Corinthians 7 is that Paul is not describing a person’s present circumstances or pondering the merits of married life vs. single life. He isn’t hanging “singles” signs on Sunday School doors. He is describing the reality of the only two lifestyle choices God gives to every Christian – marriage and celibacy. Given by him and freely accepted by us. Marriage can’t be urged by parents at an early age because they’re afraid their children are going to fornicate. Marrying a particular person can’t be seen as a last resort because there are no other prospects. Marriage can’t be assumed the norm by youth pastors when they could have a student with the disposition to celibacy. Likewise, celibacy can’t be forced on priests who do not have that gift. I have several Catholic friends who have accepted the call to celibacy. I support them. Most everything I have read on the subject has been written by Catholic writers. The Protestants remain mute on the subject, like they have for the last 500 years.

I find it ironic that Protestants have forgotten that their entire identity is wrapped up in protesting celibacy. The only celibacy Christians of the 16th century knew anything about was institutionalized in the Catholic Church and expressed through vows taken by priests, monks, nuns, and other religious. Protestants today don’t even know what they are protesting about. They can’t fathom a commitment to something so radical as never marrying. It’s even more ironic that Martin Luther himself, the leader of the Protestant reformation, was a monk at one time and acknowledged those with the celibate gift:

“The third category consists of those spiritually rich and exalted persons, bridled by the grace of God, who . . . voluntarily remain celibate . . . Such persons are rare, not one in a thousand, for they are a special miracle of God. No one should venture on such a life unless he be especially called by God, like Jeremiah [16:2], or unless he finds God’s grace to be so powerful within him that the divine injunction, “Be fruitful and multiply,” has no place in him. (p. 21)”

Celibacy is a long term committment, not a season of short-term singleness. Those who have said no to marriage and have consecrated their lives to the service of Christ are committed for life. Even though we may never see it reflected in church ministry groups, there is more difference between the lives of married people and consecrated celibates than between male and female human beings. My unique committment to Christ is not just for a season. Are people committed to each other in marriage for a season? More importantly, is the only meaning marriage has in the 21st century derived from the county courthouse or does it have any more sacred meaning? If its meaning goes beyond a state-sanctioned marriage license, does the meaning of singleness go beyond the absence of such a license? Does it go beyond “extended adolescence?” Does it go beyond seasons of waiting? If sex can be consecrated to God in marriage, can chastity be consecrated to God in celibacy? I think it can. And I hope this encourages others who feel they have no identity in the church. Even though our biblical identities may have been lost with time, out witnesses continues to endure.

http://justinmcampbell.net/2015/03/24/celibacy-is-not-a-season/#comments

https://books.google.com/books?id=1bLvAQAAQBAJ&pg=PA227&lpg=PA227&dq=%22consider+early+marriage%22+%22denny+burk%22&source=bl&ots=6ReNLIpE2W&sig=ZwBrqATTjs2rnjnBfq_6DY4Sgog&hl=en&sa=X&ei=eF4ZVdXZFsilNun4gegP&ved=0CC0Q6AEwAg#v=onepage&q=%22consider%20early%20marriage%22%20%22denny%20burk%22&f=false

http://www.albertmohler.com/2010/08/23/why-arent-emerging-adults-emerging-as-adults/

http://consecratedvirgins.org/prepare-FAQ

All Married People Are Adulterers

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What do you do when you want to know the definition of a word? Do you do a quick internet search and look at the results on the first few pages? If you answered yes and you’re married, you’re an adulterer. Here’s why: According to my Bible, there are only two holy lifestyles choices for the Christian – either marriage or celibacy. There have been so many thousands of books and articles glorifying marriage that I couldn’t begin to list them all. If you do a Google search on marriage and the church, the first 100 results will tell you how wonderful it is, how it holds the world together, and how to find your perfect spouse. You can read material from Focus on the Family, Crosswalk, Marriage Builders, Today’s Christian Woman, The Church of Jesus Christ of Later-Day Saints, The National Marriage Project, The Marriage Center, National Organization for Marriage, Smart Marriages, and on and on. You will think marriage is very holy indeed. You might even think it equals salvation.

However, if you do a search on celibacy and the church, the first 100 results will tell you about Catholic priests and pedophilia, ending mandatory celibacy for priests, a San Francisco church dropping celibacy requirement for gays, priestly continence, church cover-ups, church membership open to LGBT people, enforced celibacy, sexual dysfunction, endemic levels of child abuse, church dogma, homosexuality, celibacy rule, celibacy law, obligatory celibacy, and on and on. On the Google search I did of marriage + celibacy, 99 of the first 100 results were about such perversion. That’s 99%, which is more certainty than that required in most medical research. It’s enough to say that you will think celibacy is the most evil thing on the face of the earth. You might even think it’s as close to hell as you can get.

How close is the world’s perverted definition of celibacy to the freely chosen lifestyle described in the Bible, the spiritual gift that enables a person to focus on the Lord’s affairs, the lifestyle that Paul and Christ himself chose? I would say it couldn’t be further away from the truth. But this is what the world believes. This is what many church-going people believe, especially Protestant. Their definition of celibacy goes no higher than a pedophile serving time in prison. Do they view it with the same respect and holiness they do marriage? I’ll let you answer that.

This is the life I’ve chosen, though. If you’ve got a better name for it, please enter it into a dictionary and let me know. It’s just as holy and spiritual as any sanctimonious marriage. I’ve sacrificed just as much of my life as any married couple my age. And I’ve been as faithful as Mr. and Mrs. Jones in your church who just celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary. It’s just that I’ve lived 54 years of chastity. But if Mr. Jones met me on a street corner, bragging about his big bouquet of flowers and standing ovation, and asked if I was married, what would be the first thought to pass through his mind if I told him I was celibate? Holiness? Virtue? Honor? Respect? I don’t think so. More than likely, he will be reminded of the story he heard on the evening news about a sex scandal involving a Catholic priest and run the opposite direction. His thought processes will go no further than gay rights parades and same sex marriages. He may mutter something like “God help us, Sodom and Gomorrah have arrived.” After all, church culture has adopted world culture. They wouldn’t know a biblical word if it hit them over the head. Eunuchs? Who wants all that blood? Plus, the Protestants have got to keep on protesting what they started 500 years ago – those evil monks, nuns, and priests taking over the world. Martin Luther would be proud. Somebody might want to send them a text, though, to let them know the medieval period has passed and Henry VIII is no longer King of England. To be “relavent,” churches expend a great deal of energy making sure their language matches that of the brothels on the west side of town. Got to keep everything seeker friendly and oh so comfortable.

Since I can pretty much count on these assumptions about celibacy to be as certain as the sun rising in the morning, I think it’s only fair that I adopt equal assumptions about marriage. So, to be fair and treat everybody with equal respect, I am henceforth assuming that all married people are adulterers and fornicators who prowl the streets looking for their next victim. When I see married couples in churches, I will try to sit as far away from them as possible, for my own safety. If I see them hanging around children, I will have to call law enforcement, because you can never be sure about their intentions. Statistics have consistently shown that married men are the ones who sexually abuse children, not single men. To put it simply, I can’t trust husbands and wives. I really can’t think of a couple that mirrors Christ’s marriage to the church. What a joke. They’ve destroyed the institution of marriage with divorce and adultery and are working on the acceptance of same sex marriage. Now they want to destroy the institution of celibacy with fingerpointing and stereotyping, covering any dignity that was left with truck loads of suspicion and doubt. I can’t let them do that. One day soon they will see how important marriage is when they’re standing in front of a holy God, all alone.

Southern Baptists Adopt Nazi Breeding Methods

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“Abraham And The Three Angels” by Giovanni Andrea de Ferrari (1689)

The Bible has a lot to say about self control. All the way from the prophets in the Old Testament to the disciples in the New Testament, you can read about Godly men who chose to follow God rather than their lusts.

“A man without self-control is like a city broken into and left without walls.” Proverbs 25:28.

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.” Galatians 5:22-23.

There are many people today who reject God’s teaching on self-control and celebrate their newfound freedom in today’s sexually liberated world. One such group is the Southern Baptist, the largest Protestant denomination in the United States. Of course, that should come as no surprise as the Baptists are not known for self-control or wisdom. Consider what their Public Policy President, Andrew Walker, recently said in response to the statistical rise in age of first marriages:

“Frankly, it is indeed our personal opinion that marrying earlier staves off the hormonal rush that comes with sexual temptation . . . It is impractical and unhelpful to advise and encourage young men and women who reach sexual maturity at the age of 12 or 13 to wait 15 years before marriage and still remain pure.”

You know what? For the Baptists, the entire Bible is impractical. Self control is not possible in a world of deep perversion. Sexual maturity? Let me see if I can find that in my Bible. Nope. Andrew, do you have chapter and verse? Unfortunately, this is another classic example of how they make up the Bible as they go along. Whatever feels good, is the most comfortable, and makes them look good in the eyes of the public is their Bible of the moment. Your little Suzie in the 6th grade has got a crush on a boy in the 7th grade? No worry. Just hire her a pimp for the night and get all those hormone rushes out of her system. You can’t make her feel . . . uncomfortable by not acting on her sexual urges. That would be so cruel. She shouldn’t have to wait on anything. She deserves everything now! You know, it might be best if you got her two pimps to stave off her hormones a little longer. Dress her up right and she may have a full time job.

And consider their recent statement in the Baptist Press:

“A Southern Baptist pastor (Jon Akin) and an expert on moral policy issues made national headlines recently by suggesting that parents who encourage their adult children to delay marriage for educational and financial reasons unwittingly send a message that it’s OK for them to engage in premarital sex.”

Unwittingly? I wonder how that might go down? “Ok son, I know you really like that blonde you’re seeing. I think she’s pretty cute too. I know you had your heart set on getting an architecture degree and building houses. But if you feel you can’t wait to have sex with her, you’re mom and I will help pay for the wedding tomorrow. You shouldn’t have to wait. A man’s got to do what a man’s got to do. We want you to be a family man. We’ll help you with the baby if that comes along. And you can always get a job down at Joe’s Bar and Grill.” I had to reread this expert’s opinion again because it’s almost a direct copy of Adolph Hitler’s Mein Kampf. This is what Hitler had to say on the subject of marriage and reproduction:

“We will treat these social diseases like syphilis by eliminating the cause that propagates the problem which is prostitution and promiscuity and the present government’s discouragement of early marriage. Often the youth cannot marry early because they do not have the money to pay for a home and family and higher education. Germany needs scientists and engineers. The NSDAP democratic government will make the money available and provide leadership to overcome these problems.”

Oh yes, the Obama administration is making even more money available. Now, every little precious child is entitled to a free two-year college degree. But guess who foots the bill? That’s right, taxpayers. Wouldn’t Hitler be so proud of the Baptists and Jon Akin? Here we have the largest Protestant denomination in the country endorsing Hitler’s breeding control methods – asserting that pedophilia is better than fornication, that chastity before marriage is not possible because of hormones, that self control is an antiquated idea, and that character proven by time doesn’t matter anymore. They apparently did not look at the statistics that show the rate of divorce has been dropping as the age of first marriage increases. That’s not new. Teen marriages have always been associated with a higher divorce rate. Are they really worried about promiscuity? I think not. Like Hitler worried about the declining number of German scientists, the Baptists are worried about declining church membership and offering in the plates. In 2014, the SBC membership declined for the 7th year in a row. I guess it’s time for panic mode. Maybe they ought to buy stock in Pampers and Gerber’s baby food. Got to get that production line going.

I thought it was odd that Walker included an ubiquitous sentence about singleness being a “gift that God gives to some people (1 Corinthians 7) and one only has the gift of singleness if they can live a celibate life with self-control.” Now, if someone has the gift of singleness, wouldn’t that require that they live beyond 20 years of age without sex? 30 years of age? For the rest of their lives without sex? The big fat elephant in the room is this: How do you know who those “some people” are? Do the Baptist’s actually think everyone in their “singles” groups on Sunday mornings are living celibate lives under control? If they do, they’re living in fairyland. Or maybe he meant that “celibacy is a gift” instead of singleness. Someone should probably buy them a new dictionary. “Only has the gift of singleness?” I guess he’s alluding to Matthew 19 when Christ made the comment “only to whom it is given” when talking about eunuchs. There are several problems with using these verses as a marriage mandate: First, it would be equally correct to say that one only has the gift of marriage if he cannot control himself. So some people have the gift of celibacy and everybody else is called to marriage. That’s a brilliant deduction. I’m sure it took a lot of Ph.D.s to figure that out. Second, how can anyone know how many “only” is? Only is a term that denotes exclusivity – not numbers. The days are bright and blue only when the sun is shining. Wow, that is really deep.

I agree though that those called to celibacy are a small number. But how can anybody in the SBC know those numbers or make such generalizations about them? To my knowledge, they’ve never taken a survey on that. But they have done a lot of surveys to see how many of their members accept homosexuality. They’ve even called on all of their congregants to “love their gay and lesbian neighbors.” I find it rather telling that they’ve never called on anyone to love their neighbors who are called to lives of celibacy. No, that would be too . . . Catholic. Who does the SBC even have that’s even qualified to talk about celibacy at all? Nobody. They’re all married men. So what they say on this matter is as definitive as 50 shades of gray. “If they can live a celibate life?” Who is they? Poor Baptists. They can identify homosexuals, same sex partners, divorcees, transgenders, pedophiles, pornography addicts, people who don’t put money in the offering plates, etc. But they just can’t bring themselves to identify those pesky people who live “celibate lives under control.” No, that would shine just a little bit too much light on “pathetic marriage cultures within the church,” as the SBC ethics chief Russell Moore puts it. I’m sure this would be a shock to any of them, but I too take celibacy just as seriously as anybody does marriage, in a way that prompts the culture around me to ask why. As of today, nobody has asked me why. Interesting.

It’s interesting to see how the socialist mindset has spread from our government to the religious institutions. For anyone who knows history, the mere mention of church-sanctioned arranged marriages should be a social red flag. The world has already seen that socialism does not work and we don’t need a repeat of Hitler’s Nazi Germany. And I really don’t think God’s word should change based on surveys or hormonal rushes.

http://www.religionnews.com/2014/10/30/southern-baptists-change-tone-substance-homosexuality-commentary/

http://www.bpnews.net/43185/when-should-southern-baptists-get-married-thats-for-southern-baptists-to-decide

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/05/29/southern-baptist-convention-membership-decline_n_5411695.html

http://townhall.com/news/religion/2014/08/18/when-should-southern-baptists-get-married-thats-for-southern-baptists-to-decide-n1880219

http://www.russellmoore.com/2013/06/26/how-should-same-sex-marriage-change-the-churchs-witness/

Discerning Celibacy

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Who does God have picked out for you to marry? From what I’ve seen, that is the number one question young adult Christian singles are wrestling with. They are going to seminars, reading books, going to singles groups primarily to find that one person God has waiting for them. They set out to prepare their lives to be proper husbands and wives, to be ready for “the one”. “Oh God, bring him to me now!” But is that the proper question to ask when you finish school and begin your life away from parents? No it’s not. The first question should be: Are you going to serve God through a life of faithful marriage or faithful celibacy? And this can only be answered after you have accepted Christ as your savior. That is a huge idea to ponder because most of the advice being given to singles today – whether from the pulpit or the written word – is not from the Christian perspective. Is celibacy still a viable option in a society that worships sex? Of course it is.

Some people have trouble reconciling the “be fruitful and multiply” command in Genesis 2 with the “it is good for a man not to touch a woman” in 1 Corinthians 7. Christ’s arrival in the New Testament did in fact overturn the Mosaic Law of the Old Testament. The biggest change was the allowance for celibate life without children. The eunuchs, who were once despised and considered unclean, were redeemed with these simple words Gabriel said to Mary: “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God (Luke 1:35). Notice that Gabriel used the Old Testament title “the Most High” when referring to God. This is the same omnipotent creator of heaven and earth that we read about in Genesis. This is the same God who created Adam. This is the same God who said “be fruitful and multiply.” In this one verse, Luke 1:35, the greatest artist who ever lived dipped his brush into the paint of eternity and made a slight revision to his masterpiece. Since mankind had populated the earth and the people of Israel had enough soldiers in their army, he painted out “be fruitful and multiply” and replaced it with the option to marry or not to marry. He made sexual relationships optional. He replaced multiplying human children with multiplying spiritual children and making disciples of men. It’s also significant that Gabriel used the phrase “will overshadow you.” Overshadow is used throughout the Bible to represent the glory, presence, and protection of God. When the ark was completed, the glory cloud of the Lord covered the tent of meeting, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle (Ex 40:34-35; Nm 9:18, 22). The word is also used in the stories of the transfiguration of Christ (Matthew 17:5, Mark 9:7, Luke 9:34) when a bright cloud overshadowed Peter, James, and John. The creative forces of God himself overshadowed Mary so that she was able to become pregnant without any sexual relationship.

Those same forces of the Most High are still at work today when people become eunuchs for the kingdom of God. The power of the Most High can still overshadow the need for a male and female to make a baby. Christ conquered not only death with his resurrection, but life itself with his virgin birth. The reality of eunuchs was foretold in Isaiah 56:3-5: “To the eunuchs who keep my Sabbaths, who choose the things that please me and hold fast my covenant, I will give in my house and within my walls a monument and a name better than sons and daughters; I will give them an everlasting name that shall not be cut off (Isaiah 56:3-5).”

In order to keep their name from being cut off, Jesus had to give his disciples a few hard lessons in the gospel of Matthew. In fact, the lessons may be more relevant today than they were during the first century.  After Jesus told them “I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another woman commits adulteruy,” the disciples were incredulous.  “If this is the situation between a husband and wife, it is better not to marry (Matthew 19:8-10).” The situation they are referring to may be the seemingly impossible level of commitment it takes to make a faithful marriage. They were accustomed to having the option of divorce in case things didn’t work out. They were trying to trip Jesus up and get him to say something that violated Mosaic Law. By “it is better not to marry,” they probably meant “we know there’s nothing better than having sex, so we’ll just do what is assuredly impossible and live our lives without sex.” I can hear snickers in the background. Little did they know that Jesus was going to take it to a deeper level with his answer: “Not everyone can accept this word, but only those to whom it has been given.” Matthew 19:11.

My hypothesized version of Jesus’ answer in verse 11 is this: Yes, it is better not to marry in the long run and to accept the identity of a eunuch. It’s a straighter shot to eternity in heaven. But remaining faithfully unmarried is not something that everybody can do. So don’t kid yourselves. Remaining chaste your entire life is a special ability, just like all my father’s gifts. But only certain people are assigned to this one. Their DNA has been structured and their brain chemistry arranged in such a way that it makes something so impossible . . . possible. But they don’t just wake up one morning and exclaim to the world: “Wow, somebody gave me a bright and shiny gift of celibacy!” Some people have the makeup for marriage. Some people have the makeup for celibacy. You know, those sex hormones are very strong. My dad made them. It takes a miracle to overcome them. But sex is a very good thing. It takes a special grace not to give in to lust and other sexual immoralities people will face in their lifetimes. I know all about those desires because I overcame them myself. So yeah, there are people that have chosen to live without marriage and sex.  I know this is an issue of pride among you.  But there are people who have chosen to live like me and there will be until I return again. They look like everybody else. Their anatomy is intact. These men still have testicles and the women still have ovaries and reproductive systems. There are mysteries that you are not meant to understand. Accept them.

It’s interesting that Jesus used “only those” in verse 11, getting them geared up for something positive, and then going on to explain the three types of Eunuchs in Matthew 19:12. So they’re anticipating something extraordinarily wonderful.  But instead they heard this:  “For there are eunuchs who were born that way, and there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by others—and there are those who choose to live like eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. The one who can accept this should accept it.” I consider this to be one of the “shocker” verses of the Bible, one that is oft overlooked today. As he had done on several other occasions, like the parable of the three servants, Jesus used three people to tell his story. Fake, setup, left hook. Then knockout! Can you imagine what the disciples were thinking we he mentioned the word eunuch? “Whoa, dude! What’s so wonderful about that? Eunuch? Nobody mentioned anything about surgery!” The first type of eunuch described, those born that way, may have actually been a surprise for them. They didn’t have the medical laboratories and microscopes we take for granted today. They couldn’t do a sperm count and have the results back in 30 minutes. But I’m sure they caught his meaning with “made eunuchs by others.”  Yes, their imaginations may have conjured up a gruesome scene.  Much like the word does today.  After describing those two types of eunuchs, the disciples may have been thinking “what other type of eunuch could there possibly be?”  “Eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven” was the knockout punch. They were probably so dizzy they had to sit down. They had to absorb what he just said. Jesus just compared celibacy for the kingdom of God to a man who had castrated himself. Jesus Christ! He was telling them in no uncertain terms that a life without marriage required no sex and that the possibility of having sex outside marriage would be as remote as a eunuch fathering a child, if that was the life they chose. In essence, I think the concept of Christian chastity and self control is introduced in these verses.

I think it’s rather apropos that Christ came to earth as a eunuch, the lowest of the low among men on the totem pole. Jesus always had a heart for those among the low ranks of society such as prostitutes, those with diseases, the poor, etc. Some of the eunuchs who were made so by men were assigned to guard royal treasures. But most were defiled, used as sex slaves, and avoided in pubic like someone with leprosy. Christ even tells us in Matthew 20:16 that that’s the way it will be when he returns: “So the last shall be first, and the first last: for many be called, but few chosen.” When we choose celibacy today, we are standing in solidarity with all the eunuchs who came before us – all the men and women who were born without the ability to have sexual relationships and children, all those who were made that way by men, and all those who have chosen this life for the kingdom of heaven. More importantly, we are standing in solidarity with Christ himself.

We have a lot of Pharisees and misguided disciples giving advice to singles today. Many are led to believe “if marriage is that hard, we’ll just stay single.” The truth is – marriage is that hard and celibacy is that hard. I encourage Christian singles today to think about their options before they rush into the dating scene. Don’t approach the choice with the legal-mindedness of the disciples in Matthew 19, looking for the easiest way out. The celibate life of a eunuch is just as doable today as it was for Christ and Apostle Paul in the first century. If you think “only those” could never mean you, think again. You don’t know unless you consider it, pray about it, and talk to people who have chosen the celibate life. Some are in religious vestments. Some are not. Take time to discern. That’s a wiser route than getting married and then finding out you should have stayed unmarried. This week I will celebrate 54 years of celibacy.

A few questions to ask yourself:
– Can you think about love beyond the sexual?
– Can you define your manhood or womanhood without sex? Without children?
– Can you be a father or mother to children who need one?
– What’s your concept of time? Eternity?
– Can you accept your own mortality?
– Can you envision eternity in heaven beyond the concept of “pearly gates”?
– Can you see just as much beauty in something in nature as you can somebody of the opposite sex?
– Do you see beauty where others do not see it?
– Can you express yourself artistically? Have you found your artistic personality?
– Do you find yourself rebelling against this world and its injustices?
– Do you feel like you do not fit in?
– Do you feel comfortable taking risks that nobody else would take?
– Can you see Jesus’ face in your mind’s eye?
– Can you have a personal conversation with him? A real one on one talk?
– What do you want your legacy to be? Children? Or something else?

Chastity, For The Sake Of Civilization

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Everybody has heard the obvious reasons for saving sex until marriage – preventing unwanted pregnancies and STDs to . . . because the Bible says so. Some of these reasons involve a lot more than just the two people in the relationship or even their families. They affect our entire civilization. When you look at all of the consequences of premarital sexual activity, both the obvious and not so obvious, God’s commandments begin to make more sense.

One of those consequences is blackmail. For instance, a woman could threaten to tell the whole world about her relationship with a newly married husband if she didn’t get XYZ. Just when the guy thought his past had been forgiven and forgotten, real skeletons fall out of his closet. What can he do about that? Nothing much, except bite the bullet and tell everybody the truth. Why didn’t she just forget about him? It’s because mileage and distance between two people cannot separate a sexual bond and its concomitant dependencies. There is more truth than we realize in the Bible’s description of two people becoming one flesh. Sex realigns brain chemistries in such a way that certain dependencies become very natural. That is what God intended and is beautiful within marriage. For example, a newly wed couple may take turns preparing dinner every evening. Imagine what would happen if the new husband took dinner to an ex-lover one evening because she threatened to send him the bill for her abortion, a woman that just couldn’t get him off her mind. Even if it’s outside marriage, the bonding that occurs with sex is still a lot more than skin deep. Actually, it goes so deep we can’t see it all. Just because we don’t see it does not diminish its reality. In marriage, some dependencies are a good thing. But outside marriage and the safety of exclusive space, these good dependencies can turn into a nightmare worse than Fatal Attraction.

Blackmail doesn’t have to involve favors of a sexual nature, though. It could be anything that a person may gain by having a relationship with someone that they would not have gained if they had not had the relationship. For example, if a couple had the same employer, one of the wife’s past lovers could ask her to cheat on the company’s tax reports. If the tables were reversed, she could demand the husband promote her to a new job over other people who were more qualified. Sexually-based blackmail doesn’t require a married couple either. It can happen any time there is sex outside marriage. It can happen to couples who are dating or even a couple who got together for a one-night stand. Sex lends itself to blackmail for a number of reasons. It’s not something you can hold in your hand or quantify. You can’t describe its color, it’s size, it’s weight, or even what it looks like. Outside of prostitution, you can’t easily put a price on it. For example, what seemed like a meaningless one night affair for a woman could turn into a very meaningful opportunity to cash in when she learns the guy is the CEO of a fortune 500 company. As I’ve said before, in a very real sense, there is no such thing as premarital sex. When you have voluntary sex, you are married. Everybody has the choice of doing it God’s way as a beautiful part of his creation or the world’s way with a path of destruction and regret. Everybody has the choice of doing it in the safety of marriage where it is priceless or in the danger zone where it is objectified and marginalized.

Chastity also preserves our communication. It dignifies our humanness. Not only does sex create its own chemical bond between two people, it also creates its own exclusive language between them, spoken and unspoken. What felt good during those 30 minutes serves as a template for what is good and right during the remainder of their lives and interface with humanity. Their level of acceptance of each other and generosity is carried on down not only to their children, but to the next generation. The language established in marriage is affirming and forgiving. Outside marriage, it is crude and explicit. Even worse, it can be abusive and humiliating.

For two people who love each to have sex, they must be civilized and peaceful. They have to want the best for each other. There is no anger, no violence, no jealousy. How much closer can two people be? Cooperation is not an option. In a very real way, the number of people practicing chastity and waiting until marriage helps define what civility is for society. Can you think of any couples waging war in their bedrooms. Could that be a reason we have a world of wars and terrorism today?

Chastity also serves as a check and balance on greed. Even though this world is opposed to black and white, there is only one alternative to having had sex – having had no sex. To put it in modern language, there are the haves and have nots. If that sounds condemning, it’s a fact of life. Get over it. God designed it that way. What would be the value of sex if everybody had it? About as much value as a lock of hair? God gives us one alternative to marriage – celibacy. There are people who have chosen a spouse and this world to meet their needs. And there are people who have chosen God and the world hereafter to meet their needs. Chastity gives marriage its value and we cannot have faith in God without faith in the priceless things outside this world. It’s the backboard in the basketball game. Civilization depends on both of them. It all starts with the Bible. There’s no need to crash a plane to figure out how it is built when you have the owner’s manual in front of your nose. For the sake of civilization, read it.

And Then There Are Singles . . .

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The Arnolfini Marriage by Jan van Eyck

Quotes from recent online sermons –

A Christian marriage is when a marriage union takes place between two Bible believing Christians.

This grace of Christian marriage is a fruit of Christ’s cross, the source of all Christian life.

The purpose of Christian marriage is to make men and women holy.

The Christian marriage is so ennobled and raised to such a level, that it appeared to the Apostle as a great sacrament, honorable in every way.

A Christian marriage is characterized and governed by Christian principles that are taught in the Bible.

Marriage is a real supernatural calling. A great sacrament, in Christ and in the Church.

Christian marriage is proclaimed as a sacred covenant reflecting the Baptismal Covenant.

Sex within Christian marriage is a shared self-giving between equals.

The aim of Christian marriage is eternal life in Heaven with Jesus Christ.

Living out a Christian marriage is a tremendous witness, a tremendous testimony to the power of God, particularly in today’s culture.

For one, a Christian marriage is a blessing and we ought to rejoice when we see the blessings of the Lord.

In this way Christian marriage is not only sacramental, but it also must reflect the permanence of Christ’s covenant.

Christian marriage is intended to be a sign of God’s presence and love in this fallen and broken world.

There is no more lovely, friendly or charming relationship, communion or company, that a good marriage.

Christian marriage is a symbol of the covenant that unites God and people.

Living out a Christian marriage is a tremendous witness, a tremendous testimony to the power of God, particularly in today’s culture.

The premise of Christian marriage is that two people are filled with the Holy Spirit and are committed to serving one another.

Therefore what a beautiful and godly thing Christian marriage is, a promise of lifelong fidelity and self-sacrifice.

Christian marriage is not only total commitment; it is also accepting commitment, learning to love and value the other for the imperfect person he or she is.

Christian marriage is a light to the world by reveling in the gift of being created male and female in the image of God.

In fact, a Christian marriage is the greatest picture on earth of the relationship between Jesus Christ and the Church.

Christian marriage is based upon a God-given faith, hope, and love, which only the true believer possesses.

Christian marriage is intended to point beyond itself, to make two people so secure in love that they can reach out to others.

Christ’s total commitment to us, to be with us in life and death, shows us the kind of total commitment upon which Christian marriage is to be founded.

For one, a Christian marriage is a blessing and we ought to rejoice when we see the blessings of the Lord.

Christian marriage is not rooted in “philo” love but in “agape” love.

Christian Marriage is the cornerstone for happiness in God’s family.

The heart of Christian marriage is to form a relationship bond in which “two are better than one.”

Christian marriage is God’s doing because it is God’s design.

Christian marriage is more about self- denial than self-fulfillment.

A Christian marriage is part of discipleship to Christ.

Christian marriage is a fruit of Christ’s cross, the source of all Christian life.

A Christian marriage is a lifelong building project that begins on the foundation of God’s Word.

And then there are singles. God says that’s okay too.