Autumn Colors by Autumn de Forest
Who has God picked out for me? When will I meet him? What should I do to prepare for my wedding? Should I save sex for marriage? Should I get married in church? There is a whole industry today built around preparing for marriage – books, magazines, newspaper articles, blogs, TV shows, conferences, etc. The list is endless. It’s taken for granted that everybody who is not married is looking for marriage. Singleness is a disease to be cured. Most church singles groups are set up for this very reason – to get you married as soon as possible. The only problem is that it’s not biblical. Take a look at 1 Corinthians 7:25-26:
25 Now concerning virgins I have no commandment of the Lord: yet I give my judgment, as one that hath obtained mercy of the Lord to be faithful.
26 I suppose therefore that this is good for the present distress, I say, that it is good for a man so to be.
“It is good for a man so to be” in verse 26 is directly referring to “virgins” in verse 25. Yes, believe it or not, virginity was defined in terms of both men and women in the Bible. What a stark contrast to the feminine based definition of virginity that permeates society today. Are you in shock? If you are, that’s not all. If it’s good for a man or a woman to be a virgin, why has marriage and family life been elevated to idolatry status? We first have to understand that marriage has become a means to an end. The golden calf of sex is what society worships today. Marriage is but a legal detail to this end. In a culture of greed and superficiality, marriage is but an artificial symbol of adulthood and responsibility. It becomes the substitution for self-control. The vocabulary of “premarital sex” has been used for quite a while in our culture. Does that mean when a person does get married that all the before sex becomes . . . okay? Does the marriage ceremony magically throw a person back in a time warp? I’m afraid not. “Premarital sex” is just euphemism for fornication. It’s supposed to make us feel better about those heavy biblical words. Biblically, marriage and sex should go together like a sunrise and sunset. Unfortunately, we have traveled light years from that ideal. Sexual purity has been separated from single life and sexual faithfulness has been separated from married life. And that adds up to moral decay. According to the latest numbers from the CDC, the average number of sexual partners in a lifetime for men ages 25-44 is 6.6 and 4.3 for women. When the scriptural definitions of marriage and singleness are obliterated and their distinctions disappear, it is only a matter of time before the world redefines both of them. Marriage you say? Would you like that adulterous, open, heterosexual, homosexual, or polygamous? Singleness you say? Would you like that cohabitating, playing the field, loving commitments, or test-drives before you buy? When viewed in light of the big picture, we can see how sexuality is much more than a private decision between two people. A biblical view of it is actually necessary for human civilization to survive. But it starts with each one of us.
It starts with a simple question. For singles waiting for marriage to have sex, I encourage you to take a step back and look at the big picture. Realize the significance of your lives in the world today. Instead of asking “who has God chosen for me?” ask yourself “is marriage right for me?” When a life of celibacy is considered as an option, the natural order of God’s creation is allowed to unfold. God’s concerns must be balanced with the world’s concerns in order for a Christian culture to survive. That cannot be done if everybody is married. Christianity has nothing to do with the majority opinion. When the default question has become “whom will I marry?” the inhabitants of a society will look inward to themselves and to their own pleasures. Self control will become a foreign concept in a land of unrestrained desire. Marriage will become a civil right, whether traditional or same sex. Everybody will have to have a slice of the pie. A baby’s cry will cause gasps of glorious anticipation. Sound familiar? The truth is that the love between a mother and child does not represent the pinnacle of Christian love. The love between Christ and the church does. Contrary to what Southern Baptists may believe, God HAS NOT ordained the family as the foundational institution of human society. No, there’s nothing wrong with marriage. But the sexual ethics overlying the scriptures require us to look forward into eternity while spiritually multiplying, not just backward into the Old Testament fruitfully multiplying with babies. That can only be done when both marriage and celibacy are seen as viable alternatives. That has not been done in 500 years.
The marriage/celibacy dichotomy is as much a part of God’s creation as night and day. It cannot be separated without disastrous consequences, like the Supreme Court’s legalization of same sex marriage. I realize there are many church leaders (especially Protestants) who echo the words of Martin Luther on celibacy: “But these are rare; not one in a thousand can do it: it is one of God’s special miracles.” The problem is that God never mentioned numbers and who are we to say who can do it and who cannot? Church leaders use this kind of worldly thinking as an excuse for not discussing the options of marriage and celibacy. And they use the “only a few” rationale as a reason to circle their wagons around traditional families, while trying to fight the onslaught of same sex marriage. “Us against them.” I guess putting God in a box does make everybody feel comfortable. But doesn’t every church have the same odds of having celibates in their congregation as well as marrieds? If you don’t expect faithful singles, how will you ever see them in your church? It becomes a tragic self-fulfilling prophecy. Could somebody pass the Pampers? When we’re contemplating God’s will for our lives, we need to throw away the calculators, toss out the statistical charts, and forget the majority opinions. They will mean absolutely nothing in heaven. Look where the faulty logic of Martin Luther got us. Do we want to continue on the road of satisfying every sexual desire or realize that God’s will requires self-control, both in marriage and celibacy.