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.