Celibacy, Discerning A Higher Love

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I have written about discerning the call to the charism of virginity (celibacy) on my blog before. Here I will try to add some new things to consider. Even though I use the word celibacy, I am addressing those who are virgins, both men and women, exclusively. I’m not talking about a period of time of not having sex or even someone choosing celibacy after having a sexual relationship. It’s just that celibacy is the word you’ll have more luck with when you research this subject. So if you read this post from the perspective of someone who has had a sexual relationship, looking for discernment, whether or not you should get remarried, etc., you will probably be lost. I happen to think it’s way past time for virginity to be given a little exclusivity. The biggest challenge when talking about discernment from a Protestant perspective is that it is a rare calling and so little is known. I usually have no idea how many people read my blog or what anybody thinks about it. I just try to picture an imaginary audience and go from there. So, how does one discern the call to celibate life? We first have to come to grips with the fact that Protestant churches, even the one you may be attending, have gotten it wrong since the Protestant Reformation some 500 years ago. So don’t expect things to change overnight.

One of the things you will definitely need is a rebellious spirit. I’m not talking about taking up arms against a rogue government or drag racing behind the liquor store. I’m talking about saying no to the idol of family worship and all the comforts and conveniences society has bestowed upon them; saying no to sex worship, mother and child worship, and all the materialism and comforts we associate with the American dream. We have to be okay with not having children to pass inheritances to. We don’t have to hate women and children, but we have to be able to prioritize their status when comparing them to eternity. So if the current status quo of “family church” makes you uncomfortable, don’t rule out celibacy just yet. Don’t rule out the chance to help bring the value of married life and celibate life more into balance. After time, you will be the one making families take a second look at their priorities. Yes, it is a rebellious lifestyle.

We also have to be able to say no to ourselves and any plans for nuptial bliss, while saying yes to a closer walk with God and serving as witnesses of the world to come. That means we have to look at our motivations very closely. If you’re in college, are you looking for a spouse? A choice for celibacy should not be made based on the notion that the opposite sex don’t find you attractive, that you can’t get a date, or that men don’t ask you out. It should be based on the realization that there are some things in the world more important than sex. It’s one thing to hear somebody say that. It’s quite another thing to live it out. When I was in college, I jokingly told people that I had so many girlfriends I couldn’t make up my mind about which one to marry. And I think that’s actually a good way to look at the call to celibate life. God has allowed us to have hearts that have enough love for more than one person or one family.

Timing. We are invariably comparing the timing of a wedding to the timing of . . . something that doesn’t even have a name in Protestant circles. The New Testament has only one mention of a wedding in Matthew 22, the marriage at Cana, where Jesus turned the water to wine. Nothing is said about the timing of the wedding or even the ceremony. What we have made of marriage today is exactly that – It’s manmade. All of the hoopla that we associate with weddings, including church ceremonies, bridesmaids, vows, dresses, cakes, marriage licenses, rings, is the product of manmade tradition. None of it is mentioned in the Bible. Does that make marriage or weddings wrong? Here’s how I answer that: Not necessarily. But to the extent marriages are undertaken with no regard for celibacy, with not even a fleeting thought given to a life with Christ, they are worse than the unfaithfulness and divorces to which most of them lead. I know that Catholic tradition is all we have to go on, but I don’t think celibate vows or ceremonies are necessary. So instead of timing a ceremony, I think it’s appropriate that we begin to tell our close friends and family of the decision we have made to remain as we are and devote our lives to other worthwhile (eternal) causes. And I think it would be okay to do that when you know you’ll never love a spouse more than you love the people you are forgoing marriage for. So it’s not about us having more free time to do God’s work. We actually have less time, because there is no free time doing his work.

It helps to understand celibacy’s role in relation to marriage. This is a big one and the one that took the most time for me. Of course, the biggest challenge is that we live in a married world. Celibacy has to be looked at with at least as much honor, value, and respect as marriage and family. If you know of a godly family, you can learn a lot by watching them in public with their kids. Watch their interactions, not only amongst themselves, but also with other people. There is a certain grace and dignity that comes with being comfortable in your own shoes. Watch a husband jump into action to protect his wife or children from harm. It’s like an inborn instinct. He doesn’t have to stop and think about it. He acts. Whether it’s pulling them out of the way of oncoming traffic or shielding their eyes from sexually explicit images, the drive to protect his family comes very natural. The same thing is true of mothers. So it is with a person called to celibate life. We are not saying no to paternal or maternal instincts. Rather, by sacrificing much more than is possible in marriage, we are taking them to a higher level. We ought to care just as much about marginalized people as a father cares about his family. Our hearts should be ready to respond in a heartbeat. If you feel that tug, a tug beyond passive empathy, then celibacy may be right for you. I’m not necessarily talking about being a missionary in a third world country. There are lots of needs all over the U.S.A. Needs that can only be met with the passion of a celibate person. Unfortunately, all that we’re likely to hear about virginity in Protestant churches is from the standpoint of true love waits on a spouse. It’s most likely to come from a very comfortable and frumpy married white preacher dude who depends on the tithes and offerings collected in church to take care of him and his family. So as far as discussing anything besides family life, he has a conflict of interest the moment he opens his mouth. I’ve heard many preachers claim that they can relate to the gift of singleness because “I was once single before I met my wife.” That is simply not true. Waiting on marriage as a single person and waiting on the return of Christ as a person with the gift of celibacy are not even in the same hemisphere. As far as someone in the Protestant church having insight into celibacy, the only exception may be a preacher who lived a chaste life into his 30’s-40’s before he got married. Then he might have a hint. So we have to be willing to educate, tactfully.

We have to understand celibacy in relation to society. One very common notion that is passed around when people talk about celibacy is that it frees us to do “greater service.” Well, okay. But that’s about as informative as saying the sky is blue. If all we understand about celibacy is that is frees up our time to do greater service to help greater numbers of people, we have missed the mark. We have become nothing more than a refried preacher. First, from a spiritual standpoint, we have to accept that celibacy itself is a higher calling than marriage. That doesn’t mean we are better than married people. It means that we have more responsibility, are better qualified to represent the love of God, and have a straighter path to heaven. If we just see celibacy as freeing up time, then it could very well become a means to an end. Our lives would be rated according to how much we did, how much we stayed busy, and how many people we served. We must see the gift of celibacy as something good in itself. Churches have to see it more than extended adolescence and a failure to “man up.” I’ve often wondered what families’ reactions to me would be if I treated them with the same suspiciousness and cynicism I see from them. “Well, congratulations on your 25th wedding anniversary Carl. How many women did you bang last year?” Or “Sorry to hear your wife has been dead 10 years. Have you found a homosexual lover yet?”

In discerning celibacy, we also must have our sexual desires under control and be content with living a life without sex. One word many Catholic authors use is sublimation, which just means that something is raised to a higher standard. For example, the short-term goal of sexual energy can be redirected to taking care of orphaned children in third world countries. The higher good has to be something we are passionate about and not just something to pass the time with until we figure out what we want to do. And we make the final call about what those other worthwhile causes are. There will always be people who will not see our long-term goals and higher values. It helps to have friends on the same journey to discuss these matters with. I think sexual desires tend to sublimate naturally as we get older, to a certain extent. When I’m with people I don’t know, I’m usually conscious about how I’m being perceived. It can be downright dangerous to be a single man in public today. I don’t want to come across as a monk in silent piety and prayer. But I don’t want to come across as a single man looking for a romantic partner either. Striking that balance is an ongoing challenge. Since I’m still the class clown, I’m always looking for ways to make people laugh. What I have found is that it only takes knowing a person is human to do that. I don’t need to know gender, age, marital status, race, or anything else society says is important. I have gotten to know several hermaphroditic/intersex-identified people through the years. It really is remarkable how people can relate to each other when cultural expectations are taken out of the picture. And it is even more remarkable how a small “hello” and recognition of another person’s existence can spark a conversation and a lifetime friendship. So if we are able to put aside our stereotypes and see all people as human beings in need of other people to relate to, God can take those desires and reshape them into passions and endeavors that far surpass romantic love.

Does Jesus Need To Get Married?

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“Love Power” Jesus mural in Minneapolis’ West Bank neighborhood.  Photo by David Joles, Star Tribune.

” . . . the most fundamental social problem every community must solve is the unattached male. If his sexual, physical, and emotional energies are not governed and directed in a pro-social, domesticated manner, he will become the village’s most malignant cancer. Wives and children, in that order, are the only successful remedy ever found.” Glenn Stanton, Focus on the Family. Read here.

If the recent Focus on the Family article is to be believed, somebody needs to send Jesus a text and tell him he needs to get married ASAP or else he is a “malignant cancer” on society.  We probably ought to copy in Paul too.  This is what happens when a country is overtaken by sex worship, or any form of idolatry.  It becomes the “social justice” norm, backed by opinion polls and stereotypes.  Unfortunately, most churches are soaking this up. Preachers from every denomination in my area are posting such rhetoric on their social media pages, telling unmarried men they are “malignant cancers” until they get married. But what makes this pagan idea so appealing? I think it’s because churches and other so called “religious” institutions have sunken to such a level of Calvinized “total depravity” that they don’t think it’s impossible for men, or women for that matter, to control their sexual desires. A lot of them have also accepted the world view that there are multiple choices on the sexual lifestyle menu.  LGBTQRSOK2BMEPANTRSRCH.  Take your pick.  I can’t keep up with the alphabet soup.  But the New Testament is clear that Christians have two choices when it comes to their sexual lifestyles – committed marriage or committed virginity.  Religious talking heads today would have everybody believe the choice is between marriage and cohabitation or marriage and homosexuality because everybody is going to have sex sooner or later, in their twisted way of thinking. That’s what the opinion polls tell them, which they put more faith in than the Bible itself.  After all, if it’s not popular, it’s not going to make people open up their purses and wallets. The possibility of leading a lifetime of chastity, as recommended by Apostle Paul, is not even part of their God-forsaken theology. It’s just too uncomfortable, too unpopular, and the preacher and his precious family might not be able to buy five thousand movies on Netflex and cable TV every month. So the choice between marriage and celibacy is not even a consideration.  For Protestants, celibacy is linked exclusively to Catholicism and homosexuality.  They have assigned the very life that Jesus himself lived to the depravity of homosexuality.  Unmet desires would be too harmful . . . or even hateful. Yes, church people today have got to have their sex, whether it’s heterosexual or homosexual. And now they are so bold as to pedestalize women and children as victims of barbaric “unattached males.”   As Stanton says, “They make men behave. All their other important contributions are secondary.” I wonder how many women take comfort in the idea that their sole purpose on earth is to make men behave and have children?

Besides pigeon-holing every unmarried man into this cohabitating/homosexual bucket, this kind of rhetoric also appeals to people wringing their hands over all the recent accusations of sexual harassment against politicians. Have you noticed they are all married men? They are not “unattached males.”  Bashing single men also appeals to parents who have children “shacking up” without the social and legal sanctification of a marriage license.   It makes things “right.”  The truth is, it’s always easier to try to make something right than to do right the first time. Little do they know that marriage licenses and wedding ceremonies are not going to help their children’s situations. If they don’t know God, they are still just as lost. So why are their sons and daughters cohabitating instead of getting married? That’s easy. It’s because so many men and women have lost site of what a biblical marriage is. With their parents’ divorces and unfaithfulness, they have come to see marriage as nothing more than a legal arrangement made necessary by the looming possibility of divorce. Marriage-mandaters serve as further evidence that the church today is all about relative morality, a morality that takes its cues from opinion polls and surveys. For instance, Stanton says that marriage is a “social justice imperative.”  Read here.  Does that language sound familiar? It should. Adolf Hitler used it in Germany’s Third Reich. He fined and over-taxed “unattached males.” Breeding a pure race was indeed his social justice imperative, just as it is with most white middle class preachers today looking at a diminishing flock.  What would Apostle say if someone told him that marriage was his social justice imperative? Actually, he answered that in 1 Corinthians 9:5: “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.” He had the right. But he did not have the obligation. Paul spent several chapters in the New Testament explaining the importance of a balanced view of marriage and celibacy. Yet, the religious talking heads today have taken his words out of their Bibles and erected their golden calves of marriage and family instead.  They have elevated opinion polls to the same level as scripture. So as students are being dumbed down today by the educational system, church people are being moralized down by preachers and others who decided to settle on a more socially acceptable view of human sexuality; one that doesn’t take too much effort, just a trip to the courthouse.  Focus on the family also believes that “marriage itself is “a wealth-generating institution.” I couldn’t find a bible reference for that either.  Sorry.  Actually, there are no Bible references in the two articles I cited.  I’m not sure if Focus on the Family knows what the Bible is.  Maybe someone should send them a copy.  Just make sure it includes the New Testament.  Money and sex.  I think that speaks for itself as to where their priorities are.  What else could possibly be more important for churches today?  I’m a senior citizen now and I know what I believe.  But there are multitudes of younger people who are hearing such false teachings.  So if you are reading this and don’t know what God’s plan is for your life just yet, I encourage you to read the Bible for yourself.  If you listen to married preachers, do so with caution.  Most of them have other ulterior motives, like daughters they are trying to marry off.   They have no clue about Christian celibacy as Paul discussed in 1 Corinthians.  By the way, Stanton has four daughters he has to marry off or they will soon become clumsy nonproductive spinsters.

It’s my opinion that when we don’t equally honor and value marriage and celibacy, we deny God’s creation. That’s the system he put in place. He did not put in place a sliding scale based on public sentiment and he didn’t put in place a system based on “the American dream.” If you like to think that the American dream is synonymous with Christianity, go right ahead. But you would be wrong. And think about this – We do not have access to God’s numbers. Would it matter if 5 people were called to celibacy since the time of St. Paul or 5 Billion? Would it matter if 5 people were called to marriage or 5 Billion? I don’t think so. But for mankind today, those numbers equal biblical certainty. There is nothing spiritual about majority opinion, just as there is nothing spiritual about the nuclear family. When we focus on opinion polls and surveys and “generating wealth,” and focus only on the family and not biblical truth, we are turning the clocks back to the Old Testament and Mosaic Law.  The shock for the church is going to come on Christ’s return when their members are standing before God individually and very “unattached,” without being surrounded by husbands, wives, children, grandmas, elves, or bunny rabbits.

 

 

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

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.

What The Gift Of Celibacy Is Not

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These points are from a Biblical perspective and not from the perspective of opinion polls, majority votes, church tradition, or doctrinal statements, etc.

First of all, celibacy is not a choice you make. It’s a supernatural ability (spiritual gift/charism) given by God to only a number of people. We can pray that we recognize and nurture it. But the choice we have is whether to accept it or not. Think of an athlete who was born with the body and balance for the high beam. She has the God given ability to win a medal at the Olympic games. But it’s up to her to start training and go for the gold.

Celibacy is not something that is instructed in the Bible. There is no formula and no special prayers. It is, however, affirmed as being a higher calling than marriage, in that heaven is higher than earth. It doesn’t matter whether or not your church respects it. It’s a Biblical fact.

The gift of celibacy is not the absence of sexual desires. It is the ability to control them. People who have it are able to remain unmarried without sex and not burn. However, they are not cold prudes with no appreciation for the mystery of sex.

The gift of celibacy (or singleness) is not what a person has while waiting for marriage. It’s not what a couple does before they get married. While God calls everybody to remain a virgin and celibate before marriage, the gift of celibacy is a long-term commitment, just like marriage.

Someone with the gift of celibacy is not going to fit any “life stage” group or similar gender/age/marital status-based group that a church may conjure up.

The gift of celibacy is not tied Biblically to the Catholic Church. It’s merely part of their church tradition. Considering the Protestant Reformation, this is probably the hardest truth Protestant churches will have to accept.

The gift of celibacy has nothing to do with monks, nuns, or any other religious persons. And it has nothing to do with living in communities such as monasteries and convents.

The gift of celibacy has nothing to do with homosexuality or same sex marriage. Many churches are simply replaying what they hear in the media because they don’t understand what the Bible says on the subject.

The gift of celibacy is not compatible with someone who has had sex. If we are to believe that a faithful marriage involves a husband and wife who have not had sex with anybody else during their marriage, we are compelled to believe the same about faithful celibacy. The Bible deals with ideals when it comes to sexual ethics. It does not deal with “should have beens.” Otherwise it would not contain the terms adultery and fornication. That does not mean a person can’t be forgiven and commit again to live without sex until marriage.

Celibacy is not a social status that affords people special privileges. It is not something given to only third world missionaries in order to do “ministry service.”

Celibacy is not perfection. If you believe that, you have fallen for a straw man.

Celibacy has nothing to do with having more time to do God’s work. Because there are so many things to do, it often results in less time.

A life of celibacy is not a life of failure. It is a life of faith and sacrifice that married life cannot attain.

Celibacy is not emptiness. It is a life that has been filled by something much more than sex.

The gift of celibacy is not a label you put on someone after their death and after a vote has been taken to determine their worthiness. If we’re going to do it that way, we should do the same for marriage – take a vote after both the husband and wife are dead to determine if they were faithful to each other and if they were really married.

Celibacy is not the denial of our maleness or femaleness and it is not the denial of our sexuality.

Celibacy is not a byproduct of some negative life experience, such as a troubled home life or a bad relationship with a mother or father.

Celibacy is not a life without commitment. It is a life with more commitment. Who is more worthy of sacrifice, a spouse or God himself? It reminds the world that there is more to commitment than the bells and whistles of a wedding ceremony.

Celibacy is not a default state a person enters when a single adult can’t find a spouse. It is an intentional choice and a positive response to God. It is made public for that very reason. It symbolizes our total dependence on God and eternal life in heaven for all believers.

Celibacy is not living selfishly for ones’ self. It’s just the opposite. It is living for everybody else. Marriage is about exclusion. Celibacy is about inclusion.

Celibacy does not lead to a life without children. That may be so from a biological standpoint. But from a spiritual standpoint, we have more children than anybody else.

The Surprising Comfort Of Celibacy

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If I live to be 100 years old, the one thing I will remember about the Supreme Court’s decision on gay marriage is their assumption that gays were “condemned to live in loneliness” without marriage. But the more I’ve thought about it, the more I’ve come to realize that they were just expressing what most Americans already felt and what most churches already taught – that a family and comfortable sex lives were required to enter adulthood in America. I’ve written for years about the church’s idolatrous worship of sex, but never thought I see the day when the U.S. Supreme Court would declare marriage a constitutional right. But this didn’t happen overnight. So what was it that made Justice Kennedy believe that gay people were “condemned to live in loneliness?” The church. Not just the Catholics and Protestants, but all of them. Where do people get married? The church. What institution has traditionally set the standards for sexual ethics? The church. I believe Kennedy was calling out churches as hypocrites because the sexual ethics that they preached didn’t match the sexual ethics that they practiced. He packed a lot of punch into that one word, “condemned.” I can hear him asking churches, “Who are you to condemn those who can’t get married when you can’t remain faithful in your own marriages?” “Who are you to talk about marriage when half of your congregations will get divorced?” With “condemned,” he was also taking a stab at church weddings and the false separation of church and state that has existed in this country since its founding. Indeed, here we have a case where the church is not condemning the state. Rather, the state is condemning the church. So this contrived separation may get even wider. What condemned gay people to live in loneliness? Are we so naive as to believe that they didn’t have sexual relationships because they didn’t have marriage licenses and the blessings of church weddings? No. What condemned them was the church’s idolatrous worship of heterosexual marriages and families. What condemned them was the absence of any other alternative besides family life. What condemned them was the church’s narrow mindedness and inability to see reality beyond their own stained glass windows and rose colored glasses. What condemned them was their own pride, greed, and unwillingness to talk about such matters in their churches. So I think Justice Kennedy was also saying to the church, “You made some false assumptions. So I’ll make some false assumptions.” For instance, the church has also seen single adults as adolescents until they married. So, the Supreme Court lumped them in with gays too. Why not? They never had an identity to begin with. It was like Kennedy was giving the faithful a taste of their own medicine. He took the church’s own traditions and unwritten rules, twisted them around a bit, and threw them right back at the pulpits.

However, all of these assumptions and elevation of marriage to a civil right also underscore why lifelong virginity is a spiritual gift. Not only is it difficult in and of itself, society’s dismissal of it does not lead to a life of comfortable acceptance. Yes, I get lonely, very lonely indeed. But I don’t think I’m any lonelier than Christ was while on this earth. I don’t expect the state, church, or anybody else to do anything about my loneliness. I accept it. I relish it. And I dare say most of us with this gift would say the same thing. I realize that for a person to live today with unmet desires is unheard of and that life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness is sacred as scripture. But all traditions and family legacies were tossed out the door when Christ entered the world. I live by different rules. In a real way, I see my role today as making comfortable people uncomfortable and taking the padded cushions out of comfortable padded pews. I don’t look to a marriage to define me as an adult. God has already done that. I don’t look at surveys. I don’t take votes. And I don’t care how popular or unpopular I may be. I think a lot of people make the mistake of thinking that just because the Bible allows for a life of marriage or celibacy that half the people must be married and half the people must be celibates. That will never be the case. Even if there have been only five people with the charism of virginity since the time of Christ, the Bible is just as true today as it was 2000 years ago. God is not a God of democracy. He is a king. He does not have to consult a supreme court. He is the court and final judge.

Virginity – Beyond The Sexual

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I know my blog is about something very personal. Most of us wouldn’t discuss virginity in a Walmart checkout line or even in church. In this post, I want to talk about why it is not always about the sexual. Have you ever wondered why it was necessary for Mary, the mother of Christ, to be a virgin? Did Joseph choose her for his wife because she was the hottest girl in the village? No, God himself chose Mary. Was she a perfect woman? No. You can read the whole story in Luke 1. Pay particular attention to Mary’s response in verse 34 when the angel Gabriel told her she was going to have a miraculous birth: “Then said Mary unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man?” In other words, she asked how she could possibly have a child when she hadn’t had sex with a man. “How shall this be” tells us she had no doubt the birth would occur, only how it would happen. Her faith was much higher than the average woman at the time, or at any time. I think that was one of the main reasons she was highly favored. Gabriel summed it up in v. 37, “For with God nothing shall be impossible.” Sometimes it’s necessary to bypass the questions of how in order to reach a level of faith like Mary’s.

A seemingly ordinary young woman pulled off the impossible. She broke a cycle that had never been broken, as no one in the history of mankind had ever been born without a biological mother and biological father. So the origin of virginity, as spoken by Gabriel, had nothing to do with locker room graffiti or sexual gratification. It was necessary for the birth of Christ to prove to a skeptical world that he was the son of God as well as the Son of Man. Also notice that her response to Gabriel was not like Zacharias. She didn’t show any skepticism. She didn’t say, “Yeah, right Gabe, you go ahead and make that happen and I’ll still be here laughing tomorrow.” She didn’t ask for a sign – “If you could just make it rain for the next week, I might listen to you.” And did Mary get a big ego out of all this? Did she put on a new dress and crown herself as one who was “highly favored among women?” It was just the opposite. Her response could only come from the mother of Christ: “Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word.” She saw herself as a lowly servant and in no way sought to bring attention to herself. Couldn’t that serve as the definition of humbleness? As Herbert Lockyer said: “ Mary exhibited a true and genuine piety, as well as a profound humility—the accompaniment of holiness.” She was highly favored among women because she was following God’s will for her life, had a very unique beauty of character; and had the faith, disposition, and determination to carry out the mission of bringing Christ into the world. Even though she knew what pain and sorrow lay ahead of her, she calmly accepted her assignment, “Be it unto me according to thy word.” In order for Christ to come into the world as both a human and God, it was necessary for his conception to be miraculous and not involve the sperm of a mortal man. To do this, she had to be a virgin. And it had to remain an eternal mystery. Men have never been able to explain how a virgin could give birth and they still can’t explain it today. It takes faith to believe in the virgin birth of Christ. To discredit it is to reject Jesus himself. It is as crucial as the resurrection in substantiating His deity. It is not an optional truth.

Does any of this associate virginity with sexual pleasure? No. It marks Mary as a faithful follower of Christ. And it associates Christ with his miraculous birth, one of such gravity that it changed the course of time. It takes time for a person to draw closer to Christ. And I think the longer a Christian lives without marriage and a sexual relationship, the more their virginity becomes about what is not sexual and remaining faithful to God. It becomes more about relating to those who Christ called “the least of these.” And virgins are among those people today. Since about my 30s, I’ve looked at virginity as one of the strongest equalizing forces in the universe – far surpassing gender, race, class, age, etc.  When talking to others who are waiting on marriage or have the gift of virginity, I don’t have to worry about what their expectations of me might be or how I compare with other men.  I don’t have to worry about comments like, “You better get a move on or time will pass you by.” I feel freer to be myself. You can’t put a price on that. When I talk to people, I don’t check ages and birth certificates first, like the world does. If I feel like talking to women much older or much younger than myself, I just let the world point and gossip. I don’t feel bad about giving them something to talk about. Not only is it an equalizing force, virginity can be so thoroughly melded into the fabric of our everyday lives that it becomes just another part of who we are. It is, after all, very natural. At some point, the question about who was out there that God wanted me to marry turned into: What else needs to be done? Who has been forgotten? Who can I help the most? What can I guard that is susceptible to being stolen? Feeling the need to guard something may in fact tie us to the role eunuchs played in Old Testament days when they guarded royal harems and jewels. For me, this does include guarding young people from the tragedy of teenage births and poverty; something that parents are responsible for, but many of them are not.

So, do you still think virginity is all about not having sex? Do you think it’s just something men look for in a wife? I hope not, because I can’t think of too many things more important in the history of mankind than following God’s will, being faithful, and having the self control to make wise decisions. How many women and men are highly favored by God today?

https://books.google.com/books?id=0YrW3bxxGAsC&pg=PA94&lpg=PA94&dq=%22mary+exhibited+a+true+and+genuine+piety%22&source=bl&ots=QEQLXFEJzG&sig=M-FXaMMN-izaVP_7WrLh24R3P0I&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjylqXuzv7NAhWIHR4KHUmJBd4Q6AEIJDAB#v=onepage&q=%22mary%20exhibited%20a%20true%20and%20genuine%20piety%22&f=false

Should A Virgin Expect To Marry Another Virgin?

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Fifty years ago such a question would have been unheard of because it was expected that everybody was a virgin when they married, men and women. That was back when self-control was valued as a character trait when people chose mates. Now we have a world void of any biblical standards where it’s unusual for either one to be a virgin at marriage, a world where experience in everything reigns supreme. I’m sure many people reading this would say times have changed and that a virgin should not expect to marry a virgin. But I don’t think it’s too late to return to those innocent times and reclaim Christian standards and dignity for those who are following God’s commandments. First, we’ve got to know why sexual relationships belong only in marriage and we have to be willing to defend those standards in a lost world. We also have to know what we’re waiting on. Since marriage is symbolic of the marriage between Christ and the church, it is also symbolic of their states before marriage. Christ is a virgin and his bride, the church, will be too at the marriage feast in heaven. I don’t think he would settle for anything else. It only follows then that two people contemplating marriage on this earth would expect each other to be virgins. St. Ambrose reflected on this rather well:

“Consider, too, another merit of virginity. Christ is the spouse of the Virgin, and if one may so say of virginal chastity, for virginity is of Christ, not Christ of virginity. He is, then, the Virgin Who was espoused, the Virgin Who bare us, Who fed us with her own milk, of whom we read: ‘How great things hath the virgin of Jerusalem done! The teats shall not fail from the rock, nor
snow from Lebanon, nor the water which is borne by the strong wind.'”

So my answer to the question about whether a virgin should expect to marry another virgin is absolutely yes. Virginity is just as much a part of God’s creation as rocks, snow, water, wind, and marriage itself. For women, what better way is there to know if a man is really serious about them and willing to commit than to find out he committed to having no sex before marriage? Men can get sex anywhere today and the images are plastered wall to wall and ceiling to ceiling. For them, what better way is there to know that a woman is going to be faithful than to find out she has never been with another man? Our memories are something we do not have control over. All of our brains’ processes are part of God’s creation. They cannot be deleted. I’m sure you’ve heard the saying, “What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas.” Actually, that’s not possible because our brains are not SD cards that can be wiped clean at the touch of a button. And I’m sure you’ve heard about “no strings attached” intimate encounters. That’s not possible either because we can’t control what strings get attached. The Bible never tells us to forget. Such unwanted memories are the consequences of having sex before marriage. They cloud our expectations, jigsaw-puzzle our dreams, and rob our futures. Do you like the idea of having sex with not only your spouse on your wedding night, but every other person he/she has had sex with? There’s no app to fix that.

If you don’t think a virgin should expect another virgin, do you think she ought to consider marrying every man who shows an interest in her? To show just how disordered that line of thinking is, would you expect her to marry a man who has served 20 years in prison for rape and distribution of pornography? Would you expect a virtuous man to marry a female teacher who is facing multiple charges of having sex with students? No? What happened to all that forgiveness and graciousness and all that convictional kindness? The truth is, no amount of forgiveness can erase memories of sexual sin. No amount of cleansing and no amount of washing in the blood can do that. It can only have a negative impact on a marriage – namely, it increases the likelihood of divorce. The world doesn’t understand that God placed sexual immorality in its own category and that it can’t be compared to lying, cheating, stealing, or any other sin. Actually, virginity would still be the best choice before marriage if it were completely untied from any religious connotations. How can a man not think about his past lovers on his honeymoon night with his virgin bride? He can’t. How can he not wonder about the men his wife had sex with before him? He can’t. How can a woman not think about the men she slept with? She can’t. How can she forget about the plans they made for the future? She can’t. It seems that men and women prefer many of the same things before marriage. If men prefer virgins, why can’t women? I think they can and I think they should. It’s hypocritical for men to sleep around and then expect to marry a virgin. It’s just as hypocritical for women to sleep around and expect to marry a virgin. If bringing up the subject of virginity scares your boyfriend away, you can be assured he was not the man for you. If he tries to get the benefits of a husband before marriage, run fast the opposite direction. God made our brains and memories for a reason. We’re responsible for using them.

Since it is God’s design for two virgins to marry, it’s also normal for them to ask questions about each other’s sexual history. Such questions are as normal as asking about what makes a rainbow, why the sky is blue, and where the wind comes from. On the other hand, it is grossly abnormal for couples to ask each other about their past partners, how many children they have, if they have to pay child support, if they used “protection” during sex, if they have a sexually transmitted disease, or if they will ever see their lovers again. But the media would have us believe the opposite and that experience of all types is normal and inexperience is abnormal. Look at how virginity is presented on TV. The characters are almost always women. They are usually awkward and see their virginity as a burden to bear. They are vulnerable, easy to take advantage of, and basically don’t have a clue. However, the ones I know are wise beyond their years. They are special to me because I relate to them, no matter what age.

Ironically, the feminist movement is all about sexual empowerment and ridding the world of double standards. I’m all for empowerment that brings women’s expectations up to men’s. But instead, it has taken us backwards and given us a generation of young ladies who think their virginity is a selling point to get the right man and get ahead. They are not supposed to value virginity in men, though. As long as the guy has the right job, money, and social status, they are expected to accept whatever baggage he brings to the table, because women are not supposed to want sex. They just have to “give it up” when he wants it. Meanwhile, men have been expected to ride the party train and sew their wild oats. They are expected to be horn dogs every time they are in the presence of women. They are expected to “get her done” and hope she’s making breakfast in the morning. Meanwhile, the good guys are left behind. So the supposed equality that feminist were fighting for has instead led to the greatest inequality the world has ever seen. It’s past time for Godly men and women to stand up and tell the world what they expect and what they won’t tolerate. If they are virgins, they should express their desire for virgin husbands and wives. Men’s virtue ought to be valued just as much as women’s. If women continue their present course and think relationships are all about giving, then there will be no virtuous men to marry because they will continue to take what they want with no commitments. Why should they marry? And the trend will continue down through the ages with men getting a free ride and women left holding the baby carriage. Gift-giving is always more complex than it seems because there are three intertwining obligations – to give, to receive, and to reciprocate. It sets in motion a binding obligation cycle where one has to reciprocate with a gift of equal value. Mutual virginity at marriage helps ensure that this cycle starts on equal ground. Yes, the whole process can start with a simple question like, “I believe in waiting on marriage before having sex. Are you a virgin too?” This is a cultural and religious crossroads of such magnitude we can’t afford to make light of it.

Not only should we expect virginity in marriage, it is commanded by God himself in the Old Testament. Consider what He told Moses in Leviticus 21:13-14: “And he shall take a wife in her virginity. A widow, or a divorced woman, or profane, or an harlot, these shall he not take: but he shall take a virgin of his own people to wife.” Matthew 19:6 also states, “Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.” Can you think of a better way for a man and woman to be joined together than by sexual intercourse? Let’s turn the tables. Should newlyweds expect each other to be faithful to each other in marriage? If you answered yes, why shouldn’t a virgin have the same expectation of faithfulness to God before marriage? Double standards are so ingrained in our society that it’s hard to separate reality from fiction. If you look at what the world says about virginity, you will get a quick lesson in how Pharisees use straw men to support false beliefs. A straw man is merely the misrepresentation of someone else’s argument. In the case of virginity, it’s popular to exaggerate its importance. “Is that the only thing you’re worried about?” “So, you think sex is going to be better in marriage because you waited?” “That is so unforgiving. Haven’t you ever sinned?” “What if she’s not waiting on you?” “Don’t you want to know if you’re compatible?” And some try to put words in our mouths. For instance, “Do you expect to marry a virgin” can be twisted to “require a virgin to marry,” “demand a virgin to marry,” or even “owed a virgin to marry,” etc. The whole idea of waiting for anything is very painful to this world. “You expect a virgin at your age?” I never understood what the cutoff age is supposed to be. Oh, those vicious virgins are breaking through the barricades. Everybody run for cover!

Our God is very generous and wants the best for us. That includes virgin brides and grooms. If that seems selfish, we’re in good company. God himself is a selfish God. “For thou shalt worship no other god: for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God (Exodus 34:14).” Is it selfish to want to see a rainbow? Is it selfish to want to see a sunrise? I don’t think so. It’s being human. Just like it is to want to marry another virgin. Do you know who first uttered the word virgin? The Angel Gabriel. He mentioned it three times when talking to Mary. It appears nowhere else in the Bible. In other words, it is a word straight from heaven. But it still makes people uncomfortable. If you feel uncomfortable about asking your potential spouse such personal questions, think about the negative consequences on your marriage when one of you finds out the other has a sexual past. The best thing to do is to not marry the wrong person. Are you going to let the world dictate what you can and cannot expect from your spouse? Or are you going to let the Bible’s standards inform you of what God expects? Of course a virgin should expect to marry another virgin. That is not being judgmental. It is acknowledging God as our creator, the Bible as his inspired word, and his wisdom that far surpasses our understanding.

Click to access 0339-0397,_Ambrosius,_De_Virginibus_Ad_Marcellinam_Sororem_Sua_Libri_Tres_%5BSchaff%5D,_EN.pdf

How Much Do I Need to Know About My Potential Spouse's Sexual Past? My Response

https://beautybeyondbones.com/

What’s The Difference Between A Wife And A Virgin?

Guercino_-_Jesus_and_the_Samaritan_Woman_at_the_Well_-_WGA10946

Many different “lifestyle choices” have been given credibility and affirmation these days. You can read to your heart’s content about the differences between transgender, pansexual, same sex attracted, homosexual, polysexual, bisexual, asexual, demisexual, gay, lesbian, polyamorous, queer, transsexual, transvestite, androgynous, bigender, bicurious, closeted, cross-dresser, gender non-conforming, drag queens, and the list goes on. Pick your flavor and raise your flag. However, there are only two lifestyle groups affirmed in the Bible, wives and virgins. “There is difference also between a wife and a virgin. The unmarried woman careth for the things of the Lord, that she may be holy both in body and in spirit: but she that is married careth for the things of the world, how she may please her husband.” 1 Corinthians 7:34. That just sounds so foreign to our ears today doesn’t it? So narrow minded. So judgemental. When’s the last time you heard a preacher talk about the differences between wives and virgins? Chances are he was shoring up his family flock. A quick internet search revealed that the Southern Baptists have discussed same sex marriage and the differences between homosexuality and heterosexuality over 250,000 times in the last year, while they have discussed the differences between wives and virgins zero times. Can you think of any better demonstration of hypocrisy? When you say something enough times, especially in the absence of biblical standards, it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

So what is it that makes talking about the difference between a wife and a virgin so uncomfortable today? At first glance, the differences would seem quite obvious. A wife has had sex. A virgin has not. But Paul never mentioned sex. As a matter of fact, the word is never mentioned in the Bible. That’s because, as the old song says, sex and marriage go together like a horse and carriage. That’s precisely what makes virginity so uncomfortable. It forces us to see that our stations in life are based on our past choices and not on social pretenses and legal documents, like the Samaritan woman at the well found out when Jesus forced her to acknowledge her husbands (John 4). And that’s why I think Paul didn’t mention the Greek “joined” in these verses. It was already a given in the difference between a wife and virgin. He would have been acknowledging the world’s separation of “premarital” and “marital” sex if he had. Rather, he said the difference between a wife/husband and virgin is in what they care about, whether it’s the affairs of God or the affairs of the world. I get the feeling that the Corinthians had turned marriage into nothing more than a sexual contract and virginity into no more than a joke, much like they have become today. Paul is simply reminding them that there is much more to marriage and virginity than the physical and that the physical and spiritual components of sex cannot be separated. In other words, being joined physically creates a permanent union, whether we call it a marriage or not. The Samaritan woman could have been very religious, even singing in the choir, and had everybody thinking she was a virtuous virgin waiting on her Boaz. But which ultimately mattered, her social identity or the one Christ himself gave her?

It’s also important to note that the Samaritan woman was actually a wife and that her sexual relationships were voluntary. She was not raped, sexually abused, or the victim of sex trafficking or any other situation she didn’t have control over. Jesus was very clear about the sexual component of her present relationship when he said “and the man you have now is not your husband.” A tactful way of saying, “and the man you’re having sex with now is not your publicly acknowledged husband.” When it dawned on her who she was talking to, she asked for his living water, went back into the city and told the men, “Come, see a man, which told me all things that ever I did: is not this the Christ?” What a way to find out your past does matter. Then the men of the city came to meet him. If she had been raped five times and was a sex slave to the man she was living with, we would have the story of the Samaritan virgin at the well. So I think Paul’s omission of any term related to sex when talking about the differences between a virgin and a wife should give comfort to those who have been the victims of such atrocities. We have to see our identities as God does, not as the world does.

The Christmas Gift Nobody Wants

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The Southern Baptists’ David Platt recently posted a transcript of one of his sermons titled “The Gospel and Singleness.” See the link below to his radical.net web site. At first I thought it was a spoof, like a standup comic routine, except I didn’t hear any laughter. Like most Baptist preachers, he denies that the gift of celibacy even exists, but now he takes it a step further and calls it the Christmas gift nobody wants. Platt has a long history of shaming single men and telling them to man up and get married. Here are a few excerpts from the sermon. He focused mainly on 1 Corinthians 7:

“It’s clear that, obviously, there’s Paul making a statement here about singleness being a gift and marriage being a gift. The discussion revolves around what kind of gift is he referring to? Some people think he is talking about a subjective gift, much like the picture we have in 1 Corinthians 12, when it comes to spiritual gifts. This divine enabling for someone to be a single. Just like you have another spiritual gift, you have a gift of singleness.”

As usual, Platt starts out ridiculing Apostle Paul and anything to do with the gift of singleness. It’s still “singleness” to the Baptists because they can’t bring themselves to utter the word celibacy. In their comfortable “focus on the family” worlds, they don’t think twice about mocking those with such a gift by calling them “divinely enabled.” There are some protestant scholars today who are so uncomfortable with celibacy that they believe Paul had been married before he wrote the epistles. To acknowledge that much self control would shed too much light on their adulterous marriages. See the link to Denny Burk’s article. Paul did not identify himself as having the gift of celibacy because he was widowed or didn’t have a marriage license, but because he was giftedly committed to God to live without a sexual relationship. Yes, he was indeed divinely enabled, just as some people are today. But Platt speculates he might have been a homosexual. Like most Baptists, he has to discuss these matters amongst his brethren to see how they match up with the Bible. It’s called moral relativism, where popular opinion determines if something is accepted as biblical fact or dismissed as a “subjective gift.” It’s a theology based on changing culture, which Platt so eloquently described:

“How many people with the gift of marriage sit around and wonder, ‘Well, do I have the gift of marriage?’ Don’t answer that too quickly. The picture is, of course, I’ve got the gift of marriage . . . the reality is Scripture said you’re married.”

Yes, reality is scripture for the Baptists. Not the Bible. And they need to sit down for this shocking revelation: Marriage licenses are not scripture. Marriage licenses are not required for salvation. It almost seems as if Platt’s treatise is a study in how to talk about a trojan horse (marriage licensees) without ever mentioning them by name. It’s unfortunate that our morally bankrupt and totally depraved and Calvinized churches today can comfortably assume that every adult who is alive and breathing either has a marriage license or is “living in sin.” As a matter of fact, the SBC’s Ethics Commission President, Russell Moore, recently said marriage “preaches” the gospel and that single people are lost without one. He even believes fornication is “more dangerous” than adultery for a man because it takes a wife to forgive him. See links below. If you’re caught in a Baptist church not preaching the gospel with sex, woe be unto you:

“Here’s what I mean. What if what Paul is saying here is not, ‘We’ve got to figure out whether or not we’ve got the gift or not’ – because let’s be honest, regardless of whether or not a single person in this room thinks they have the gift or not, the reality is they’re still single.”

They’re still single? Why is it so easy for Platt to peg everyone in his audience as married or single? It’s because marriage and celibacy are not spiritual or sexual issues for the Baptists. They are legal issues. Marriage to them means no more than a marriage license and a preacher collecting his fee and singleness means no more than the absence of a marriage license. God comes to them through courthouse doors. That’s why they still haven’t figured out there’s a difference between “single” people waiting on marriage and people with the gift of celibacy waiting on the return of Christ. That’s why they don’t recognize the difference between a wife and a virgin (1 Corinthians 7:34). They can’t see virgins. They can only see marriage licenses and wedding ceremonies, wedding rings and bridal registries. To believe in something they can’t see would take faith. How would a young man (or woman) even discern if they had the gift of celibacy today? Should they read their Bibles? Should they pray and ask the Lord for guidance? Should they talk to their pastor? No. The Baptists have some new advice for them: They should ask their frat buddies in college:

“What’s interesting is I remember in college talking with guys and this was often the topic of conversation – the gift of singleness – and guys would kind of talk about it and wonder, ‘How do you know if you’ve got it?’ And if a guy, you know, wasn’t getting a date or something, he was like, ‘Well, maybe I’ve got the gift.’ And they would talk about it. But the reality is, if we’re really honest, they were talking about it like they certainly didn’t want it. This was like the Christmas gift you didn’t want, that you would immediately return when you got it. It was like, ‘Well, I hope I don’t have the gift. You know, I hope this doesn’t mean I have the gift. And I started thinking, ‘Okay, well, how do you know if you have the gift? And if it’s a gift, then why does nobody want it?’ So thinking about this picture here, I don’t believe this is what Paul is talking about here.”

What a decision to make – a keg of beer or a weekend without sex. If you consider the divorce rate, I’d say marriage is a Christmas gift nobody wants. This is where the moral relativism and comfortable assumptions come to their rescue. Since none of his frat buddies had the gift of celibacy, he felt comfortable assuming nobody had it. Can’t get a date? The Baptists have you covered. Don’t want a date? Your fate is worse than hell itself.

“The reality is every single one of us has one of those two gifts. Some of us have the gift of marriage at this moment and some of us have the gift of singleness – not necessarily a gift of singleness that will last 60 years.”

That’s so comfortable. Everybody has to have a gift to unwrap under the Christmas tree at this moment, right? Paul wasn’t even saying that marriage is a gift. The truth is, society can never understand the commitment of marriage as long as they don’t acknowledge the commitment of celibacy for people called to that life. The disrespect for marriage has finally caught up to the disrespect for celibacy. That’s why I consider marriage today to be a “subjective gift” and a “divinely enabled” disaster. In Matthew 19, Christ made it clear that the gift of celibacy cannot be understood or accepted by everybody. That includes men with five degrees, like David Platt. It does not mean it cannot be acknowledged and respected, though. As long as there are people like him in positions of church leadership, the gift of celibacy will never see respect. I understand he’s now in charge of the SBC’s International Mission Board and has recently cut the positions of over 1000 missionaries in order to funnel the savings to one of his internet startup companies. Hypocrisy – It’s what a lot of churches do best. Maybe he’s found a new place to share all of his . . . Christmas toys.

It’s really no surprise that Platt christened himself as an expert on singleness because he’s been married all of his adult life, since he was 21 years old. The only thing that can be gleaned from his “The Gospel And Singleness” is how to make up something if you don’t know what you’re talking about and how to rewrite scripture when it becomes uncomfortable and doesn’t agree with popular opinion. We have to keep in mind, though, what “gospel” means to the Baptists. They’ve used it to describe everything from “the gospel and homosexuality” to “the gospel and the American dream.” I understand they’re working on “the gospel and fried green butterbeans.” It basically means, “This is our opinion.” There’s no telling what Platt will have his hands on next. Stay tuned, though. He could take a vote to see if Jesus was married.

http://www.radical.net/resources/sermons/the-gospel-and-singleness

Was the Apostle Paul Married?

Premarital Sex?

http://www.al.com/living/index.ssf/2016/02/pastors_should_refuse_to_marry.html

http://www.thealabamabaptist.org/print-edition-article-detail.php?id_art=35171&pricat_art=10

http://www.radical.net/sermons/sermons/the-gospel-and-homosexuality/

The Unholy Marriage License

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In Justice Kennedy’s majority ruling legalizing same sex marriage, he stated that, “The homosexuals’ hope is not to be condemned to live in loneliness, excluded from one of civilization’s oldest institutions. They ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The Constitution grants them that right.” In his mind, homosexuals are not condemned to live in loneliness because they are homosexuals. They can have “sex” and get rid of that loneliness anytime they want to. He considered them condemned because they didn’t have what every pious church-going person has worshiped for the last 500 years – a marriage license. It just took that long for these sacred pieces of paper to be declared civil rights and erected as graven images. That shouldn’t be a shock. Churches have worshiped “holy matrimony” and “family values” for years, while turning a blind eye to the biblical meaning of marriage. What happened to the people who didn’t fit this nuclear family ideal? What happened to people who didn’t marry? Justice Kennedy couldn’t have said it better. They were excluded.

It’s interesting that he used the civil rights language of “excluded” in his majority opinion. To be excluded requires that a person be denied something they feel they have a right too. When any social construct reaches the level of mass acceptance that same sex marriage has, it doesn’t matter what the church says. It doesn’t matter what it thinks the rules are. It only matters what the masses think. And right now they think marriage just exists as a kind of financial contract, to divide up property in cases of divorce and to minimize tax liabilities. On a spiritual level, it has no meaning whatsoever. So it would be inhuman to exclude someone from all its glories, not to mention adulthood itself. So the Obergefell ruling was never about Christian marriages or any of that one flesh union kind of thing, because the church took sex out of the marriage equation decades ago. It also took self-control out of the single equation and replaced it with child marriages and acceptance of sexual immorality. According to the Southern Baptist’s Al Mohler:

“Evangelicals tend to marry slightly earlier than other Americans, but not by much. Many of them plan to marry in their mid-20s. Yet waiting for sex until then feels far too long to most of them. And I am suggesting that when people wait until their mid-to-late 20s to marry, it is unreasonable to expect them to refrain from sex. It’s battling our Creator’s reproductive designs.

The truth is, churches consider sexual restraint an impossibility. Their choirs break out in glorious exaltation if their members can make it from the parking lot to the pews without breaking out in mass orgies. But celibacy? That’s just an unreasonable expectation. Without faith in those who have the gift of celibacy, they can never have any faith in the gift of marriage. What do young people in church think about marriage? What is it that they are waiting on? It can’t be sex because that’s an unreasonable expectation. It’s a marriage license, of course. For just a small fee, they are granted full adulthood status and the men are even allowed to preach. So the marriage license itself has become the tradition in which marriage is based on, not the sacred union described in the Bible. Weddings came to be about “making things right” instead of doing things right to begin with. When a woman today is identified as a wife and serves as a role model in church, does that mean she has been faithful to her husband all those years or does it mean she has a marriage license? It has to be the marriage license because sex is too dirty to talk about in church. When a woman is identified as a single, does that mean she has been faithful to God and remained chaste all those years or does it mean she does not have a marriage license? It has to be the marriage license. What witness does that send to the world? How many county clerks defended marriage like Kim Davis did? How many churches have supported single adults? When Justice Kennedy effectively broadened the plaintiffs in the same sex marriage case to include those who did not have a marriage license, he included all single people who had been condemned to this horrific fate. Justice Kennedy merely turned the tables and used the church’s own traditions against them. The church killed biblical marriage, not the Supreme Court.

Marriage should never have been associated with the state or legal system to begin with. I’m not even sure how anyone can claim there is separation of church and state in this country. Preachers and priests are still acting as agents of the state and signing marriage licenses. I guess the display of nativity scenes is a much more grievance offense. The fascination with legal documents, distribution of wealth, inheritance claims, collection of tithes, and child custody have always served as the foundational building blocks of traditional Protestant churches. It has always been the marriage way or no way. In his majority opinion, Kennedy even stated, “Marriage remains a building block of our national community.” He copied that from the Southern Baptist’s own ethics manual: “The family is the basic building block of society and a biblical understanding of the family is essential for building a healthy society.” So the church killed marriage, not the Supreme Court.

Is there anything Christian about a nuclear family? Is there anything holy about a marriage? According to the Bible, there’s not. Jesus rejected the tradition of biological kinship: “Who are my mother and my brothers?” And looking at those who sat around him he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! Whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother.” Mark 3:33-35, Luke 8:19-21, Matthew 12:46-50. So while Christ opened the doors for everyone to know him, even eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven, the church closed their doors on everybody who was not a member of a nuclear family. They may have advertized “church family” on billboards, but reality was much different inside their church walls. Some of the faithful are even expecting Christ to visit courthouses first when he returns, so that he can check the marriage and divorce records. What a shock it will be when they receive even greater condemnation than the scribes and Pharisees and come face to face with a celibate Christ who doesn’t care who their families are. However, those who have been faithful celibates will have their spiritual children by their side. So, we may end up with a longer term marriage and more kids than all the Supreme Court justices combined. And Kennedy will look like a very lonely man. Who will be condemned then?

Click to access Witte_Freedom_Christian.pdf

http://www.brookings.edu/blogs/fixgov/posts/2015/06/26-obergefell-v-hodges-same-sex-marriage-rauch

https://www.law.cornell.edu/supremecourt/text/14-556

http://www.albertmohler.com/category/topics/singleness/

https://baptistnews.com/faith/theology/item/8107-redeeming-fornication

http://www.hunewsservice.com/news/view.php/50567/Atlanta-Church-Leads-in-Accepting-LGBT-C

http://www.frontstreet.org/preschool

How Should Same-Sex Marriage Change the Church’s Witness?

The Shadow Of Death

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Code in Ambulance by Daniel Sundahl

When I woke up, I didn’t know where I was. Actually, I didn’t know who I was. I felt dizzy. Nauseated. Everything was spinning. Where was I? It was a big room with a lot of whirling machines and bright lights. I was freezing cold. I could smell rubbing alcohol and plastic. There was a lot of clanking metal. I could hear people talking. Then the faces of two ladies came into focus as they leaned over my bed. “Mr. Morgan, everything went just fine. We’ll be sending you back to your room in just a minute.” I was in an operating room. They were the anesthesia team who had put me to sleep for the first in a series of electroconvulsive therapy treatments. I was waking up. “Oh God, I’m not still alive am I? I want to die.”

I have bipolar I disorder. Medicines had failed to work on this cycle of depression and the ECTs were a last ditch effort to bring me out of the darkness. I’d rather have both arms and legs cut off than to have to go through this again. Don’t worry though. I’ve lived with bipolar disorder for about 30 years. Hospitals have become a way of life, or should I say a tortured way of life. Everybody knows me in the Psychiatric Intensive Care Unit. My art work is hanging on their hallways. The nurse sees my stretcher coming down the hall and yells, “John! You’re back again?” I call it making the most of a bad situation. They roll me into my room. Some of my memory is coming back. I’ve been here before. Hope I have a quiet roommate because I don’t want to deal with anybody. Wait, what year is it? Who are the two old people in my room? The lady bends down and hugs my neck as she wipes away tears. I know that perfume. “Just remember that mama loves you.” Mama? Is that my mother? They walk out of the hospital room and I wipe tears from my eyes. Oh God, why me? The evening wears on and some of the other patient’s gather in the day room to watch T.V. One guy walks in with a guitar. Everybody gets quite. I remember this young man from a previous admission. He’s really sick. Somebody turns the T.V. volume down. He tunes it up a bit and looks up and says, “Would you like to hear a song?” Everybody cheers him on. For about the next hour I listened to a classical guitar performance that I should have paid money to see. The most gifted people I know live in psych units and long term psych facilities.

I wake up the next morning and cannot move. “Time to get up!” the nurse yells through my door. My roommate groans. I drag myself down the hallway to the third door on the left to get in the shaving line. When it comes my turn, I step up to the same little piece of metal bolted to the wall. I always miss a real mirror. I splash water on my face, shave, and then go get in the breakfast line.  Many people question whether miracles still happen. I can tell you they do. I’m still alive. I have spent years of my life in hospitals and psych facilities, seen enough doctors to start my own medical clinic, taken enough medicine to start my own pharmacy, and had enough electrical energy passed through my brain to build my own power grid. I’ve been launched into the stratosphere of bipolar mania and buried under the shadow of death. I should have been dead a long time ago.

But wait a second. This is a celibacy blog. People with bipolar disorder have wild sex lives, don’t they? They can’t control themselves and the men rape every woman in site. You probably believe that. Unless you or someone in your family has been affected by mental illness, you’re at the mercy of public ignorance. Just based on my bio, most people would have me pegged as just another free frolicking “John” living the good life as a single dude. Some may even think I know all the girls on the streets by their first names. Chalk my case up to a miracle. I would even say that having bipolar disorder has given me insight into mental illnesses and developmental disorders I otherwise would not have. Most of my best friends live with them – schizophrenia, autism, ADHD, and OCD, etc. I try to keep up to date on the latest research and treatments and am a mental health advocate. I work with NAMI, crisis centers, and speak to classes in high schools about our brains and what can go wrong. What I really miss is my memory.

So if there are still any romanticized ideals out there about people with the gift of celibacy being highly exalted and honored and perfect people, I hope this serves to break that stereotype. I’m not a bright and happy shiny person. If you still have me pictured as a monk floating blissfully over a field of “celibate service” while performing 15th century Gregorian chants, please replace that with reality. Reality is not always pretty.

Dear 32 Year Old Virgin . . .

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There’s a recent article on Boundless titled “An Older Virgin in a Sex-Crazed World.” In it, a young lady complains about an “interrogation” she endured while undergoing x-rays to treat a ruptured lung. The technician asked her if she was on birth control, how she knows she’s not pregnant, and if there was any chance she could be pregnant now. She goes on to tell about her friend grilling her about her virginity in high school, how the world has placed pleasure before commitment, how fornication is everywhere, and how sex crazed society is today. What’s interesting is that the young lady who wrote it describes herself as a 32-year-old “older virgin.” Oh please. Do people not get out and meet each other anymore? Or are we wrapping ourselves up in our own little virtual cocoons? The 20-30 year-old young ladies who assume they are old enough to have the last word on virginity never cease to amaze me, and there are hundreds more on the internet. To quote Leslie Ann: “I’m no longer a naïve 19-year-old eager to spring into a relationship just to be romanced. I know the realities of married life by years of study and observance.” Well, gosh darn it, let’s go ahead and give her a Ph.D.  Or maybe she could write a book.  Let me just say this to Miss Leslie Ann and the hundreds of other young ladies who write on this subject – You are to be commended for making it to your 20s and 30s and still be a virgin. That does indeed put you in rare company. But there are much older virgins than you. As difficult as it is to believe, there are some old enough to be your fathers and grandmothers. I always find it quite interesting that they’re never discussed on your blogs. Honestly, I think arrogance is the fastest way for a beautiful young lady to become . . . not so beautiful. So in the big scheme of things, you are still quite a child and your opinions are not as important as you think they are. Some people may think I’m being cruel. But here’s why I think putting age in perspective is important: By making such assumptions about chastity and age and considering it only from the female perspective, we are reinforcing the age old stereotypes and double standards that cause such awkward questions as those Leslie Ann heard from her x-ray technician. When age is mentioned in the Bible, it is usually to break a stereotype – like the old ages of Elizabeth and Sarah when they gave birth. Imagine the people who scoffed when they heard about their pregnancies.  What was the purpose of them being old at childbirth?  Was it to teach them or their husbands a lesson?  Or was it to teach us a lesson today?  I tend to think it is the latter.  If 32 years of age is considered an older virgin, I guess I should see 54 years as one foot short of the grave. I could write an article and title it, “54 Year Old Virgin Calls For Priest During Last Hours.” While you may never meet me on the streets, you are able to read my story through the miracle of the internet. I do hope it inspires you. So even though the internet has brought with it a lot of bad things, I think our blogs and different ways of communicating can be very good things. Since I live in a very rural area, the internet has allowed me to get to know many people I would not have otherwise known. Plus, it allows me to stay in touch with my mentor, a virgin much older than myself. Yes, Leslie, they are out there. If we are only aware of the immediate world around us, like the people we go to school with and people we work with, then we will age much faster as virgins. At 30 we will look at ourselves in the mirror and see an old person who is odd and out of place. Sexual abstinence before marriage will indeed look very unrealistic.  But if we expand our realities with every means of communication at our disposal and humble ourselves enough to know there are older and wiser people out there, we will age much slower. Then at 30 we can look at ourselves in the mirror and see our younger selves with the confidence that comes from following God’s will and courage from knowing that others have come before us. I believe virginity is very much a relational issue on a social scale.  It’s not enough to tell someone, “We waited until we were married to have sex.  You can too.”  That rings hollow.  It takes real authentic people to pass this virtue to the next generation.  So when you put everything in perspective Leslie Ann, I hope being a virgin at 32 doesn’t feel so old after all. Let’s not bow down to the expectations of this world, but allow God to intervene in our lives beyond our wildest dreams.  He is still the same God who rescued Moses from the pharaoh and the same God who performs miracles today.

http://www.boundless.org/blog/an-older-virgin-in-a-sex-crazed-world/

The Tragedy Of Birth Control

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Sulawesi Hand Stencils

The world would probably look much different if we had kept God’s original design of human sexuality in place, monogamous sexual relationships in marriage and faithful chastity in singleness. Most of the ethical crises that we face in the world today can be traced back to breaks in that design. One of the biggest breaks came when we separated sex from life with birth control. Whether in marriage or outside marriage, it is not part of God’s plan. It’s violates the fifth commandment which prohibits us from taking a human life. Calling it birth control may have been an attempt to put some noble spin on it, like population control. But there’s not much there. How many women would take contraception if babies were really delivered by storks? Not too many, I suppose. Would we be trying to control the inbound flights of storks? Birth control is not so much about controlling births as it is opening the doors of sexual freedom. It frees up sexual pleasure from that pesky little thing called pregnancy. God did not design sex to be free of responsibility. He did not design it to be a recreational sport. Think about the dignity he built into the whole process. He could have designed our reproductive systems with a more direct link between sex and pregnancy. Sex one day. Baby next day. That would have been too easy. But he threw in the variables of ovulation, fertility windows, sperm counts, and genetics, among a host of other things to remind us of his ultimate control. We tried to take that control. It failed. The feminists looked at birth control as their salvation, the way for women to have it all – the husband, the job, the status, and the children. It was about women’s rights and their ability to take their place in society. They were no longer trapped at home raising children. Mrs. Sanger would have been so proud. But she forgot that it took men to make babies too. Men looked at the pill as their ticket to paradise. This was especially true for single guys because it meant all women were available. Guys were now free to put the pressure on all women to have sex. They could have their cake and eat it too with no worries about the responsibility of becoming a father. Now we have a culture of kids with no fathers, single mothers, deadbeat dads, child support, and child abuse. A lot of single guys have had the benefits that only husbands should have. And a lot of single girls have had the benefits that only wives should have. Their sexualization may be illegitimate, but they are still socially identified as singles. Now it’s quite socially acceptable to refer to single men as predators and single women as promiscuous. Such social dynamics make the dating process even harder for Christian singles waiting until marriage to have sex, especially single women. The odds of them finding appropriate mates fall with each successive generation. We may like to think sex is a private thing between two people. It’s not. Every sexual relationship is a public event one way or another. And when you throw in birth control, it’s like setting up a podcast from your very own bedroom.

Even in marriage, birth control separates sex from marriage. It tells the world that we know more about what’s better for our lives than God does. It replaces our faith in God with faith in technology. It affirms that sexual pleasure is greater than the responsibility of being husbands and wives and moms and dads. Separating sex from responsibility also prevents married couples from seeing the real purpose and value of sex. If they don’t see the value of their own physical relationships in marriage, how will they appreciate the single people around them who have never had sex? On a deeper level, if all married people think about when they think of single adults is the yoke of our sexual desires, how will they ever appreciate someone for whom God has taken away those desires? How will their pessimism transcend the primordial forces of this earth and allow them to see the supernatural workings of God today? Maybe it’s time for married couples in churches to explain just what they have and what marriage means to them and what role sex plays in their marriages. Then maybe singles can explain what they don’t have and what role the absence of sex plays in their lives. Is honesty to much to ask?

To Burn Or Not To Burn

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When I was a boy, Paul’s use of the word “burn” for sexual desire in 1 Corinthians 7 probably did more to educate me about sex than my parents or anything I learned in school. During the Dog Days of Summer in Alabama, one of my jobs was to help my dad rake and burn leaves in the backyard. The raking part wasn’t fun. But I always liked the fire. My dad made sure I knew everything about it. The whole process would start with him watching the weather forecast that morning. The time had to be right. If it were too wet, nothing would burn. If it were too dry, it would be too dangerous. He would choose a day that was not windy. He would put the fire in a big open space, far away from the house, usually the same spots year after year. He also made sure there was nothing else close by that could catch fire; like overhanging limbs, trees, buildings, plants, fence poles, etc. He said the flames could reach a lot higher than the pile of leaves. He allowed nothing but leaves and limbs on the fire. No rubber, glass, metal, or any kind of plastic. He did include paper bags and cardboard boxes. He said those were exceptions because they were made out of wood too. Oh, and privacy was important to him.  He didn’t want anybody to see the black scars they left on the ground.  So he would build the fires out of view of company. So, we sat off to gather the fallen limbs first. He would drive his tractor around the yard and I would pitch them in the trailer in back. After the limbs were gathered, we would start raking leaves on top of them. When the pile got to be a certain size, my dad would say “that’s enough!” Only he knew when that was. Then he got the kindling, which was usually a few shavings of heart pine or a crumpled newspaper. He put that at the base of it, on the side with the least wind. Then he struck a match and we watched the tiny flame shoot up through the wood and into the leaves. O’er the ramparts we watched! It only took a few minutes and the fire and smoke was rising over the pine trees. My dad also lectured (taught) me how the flames could leap out of the burning brush and onto the surrounding leaves and “get away from you before you know it.” He said a fire left unattended could spread out of control into a bigger fire, and that he would be responsible for anything else it burned – including a house.  He also told me about how burning embers could also be carried by the wind, land in somebody else’s yard, and start a fire – all without you knowing it. That is, until the neighbor called. That was scary. That’s why he always had either me, my sister, or my mom standing guard with a hosepipe and buckets of water. We stayed with the fire until it was extinguished. It had to be completely out with cold ashes before we went to bed. If it wasn’t, he poured water on it, and finished it another day. My dad did everything he could to minimize the risk of a fire getting out of control. It seemed to me that he actually had them contained before he built them. He planned things so meticulously.  My dad wasn’t afraid of fire, though.  He respected it and understood its capabilities. He also spent time telling me how beneficial lightning fires were in the forest, getting rid of dead trees, and making room for the sun to shine on new growth.  In 1963, fire researcher Herbert Stoddard discovered that one of the most harmful things modern man has done to birds has been his attempt to exclude fire from fire-type pine forests.  As he said:  “Within a few years most forests choke up with brush, lose their prairie-like vegetation, and can no longer support birds dependent on periodic burning for their food supply and proper cover.” There are a lot of other things a fire can do too.

A warm fire is wonderful on a cold night in a fireplace under control. But if it gets out of control, that same fire can burn your house down. The fires may look the same, but one keeps you warm and the other kills you. It’s the same way with the fires of our sexual desires. They can keep us warm in the incinerators of our own passions while we wait on a spouse, burn our houses down if we don’t contain them, or they can be transformed into something entirely different than fire. When the flames of desire leap out of control, they can consume all of our lives – and leave scars of regret and heartbreak as permanent reminders. But controlling those flames still comes down to taking away at least one of the three things a fire needs for survival – oxygen, heat, or fuel. Take oxygen, for example. Lust thrives in the right environment. I’m sure you know of places where the flames will meet you at the door. There’s hardly anywhere we can go today that is not saturated with sex. That’s where we have to be vigilant and step away from the gases of superficial pleasures.  Taking lust out of the air will work wonders in controlling your fire. The same thing is true about the heat that ignites our fires.  We can follow the masses and ignite our fires with meetups in a bar, fuel them with pornography, stoke them with our imaginations, and let them burn out of control – destroying ourselves and anyone they come in contact with.   Or we can do it God’s way and wait patiently on marriage before having sex.  If your fire has already jumped over the line, it’s never too late to get it back under control.

Paul must have understood the nature of fires very well because the word “burn” so accurately describes what I felt as a teenager. It felt like my body was the pile of leaves, that my sexual desire was the flame, and girls were the sparks. I came to understand what Christ meant when he said it was good for a man not to touch a woman. I was certain one spark would do it.  But I knew there was nothing inherently wrong with fire if it was kept under control, and that God created sexual desire as a good thing. That seemed a little less daunting when I realized God expected everybody to keep their fires under control, whether waiting on marriage or waiting on his return, and that he wasn’t holding me to any higher firefighting standards than he was anybody else.

Burning was one of the most common ways of describing unfulfilled passion throughout Greek and Roman literature, as well as the Bible. Job 31:12 describes sexual immorality as “fire that consumeth to destruction”  I think this is the fire Apostle Paul had in mind in 1 Corinthians 7:9 when he said “But if they cannot contain, let them marry: for it is better to marry than to burn.” He was talking about the sexual passion that can consume our time, energy, creativity, trust, and anything else that makes us who we are when we don’t moderate our fires with the outlet of sex in marriage. There’s a difference between the flame of natural sexual desire that is consumed (consummated) in marriage and one that is allowed to burn out of control with the heat of sexual immorality. With marriage, two unstable flames of desire come together to create one stable fire. They use each other’s oxygen, fuel, and heat. It consumes all of their energy and time and reproduces with the embers of children and the rhythm of life. It’s ignited with romance and fueled with committed love. In a marital relationship, the other person becomes the object of our love. In a celibate relationship with God, he becomes the object of our love. It is fueled with a passion to please him; whether that be meeting the needs of forgotten people or endeavors of a supernatural nature. For example, instead of the flames of passion burning your time and energy, the fire of celibacy could be fueled by a desire to end human trafficking, homelessness, or end an epidemic. Instead of being spread with human children and birthrights, it is spread with spiritual children. Of course, a married person can love both God and their spouse. But they can never love him with the same intensity and capacity as a person with the spiritual gift of celibacy can. That’s because the fire of romance is fueled by romantic love, not God’s love. Celibate fires often hidden behind the smoke of marriage, glossy photo packages, wedding ceremonies, diamond rings, and white picket fences.   Some work behind the scenes.  People who live celibate lives remind us that love is never satisfied on this earth, and that the transformation of human nature is possible through union with Christ.  The fire of romance propagates the earth.  The light of celibacy points us to heaven and propagates eternity.  Maybe it’s time to revisit the lessons a simple fire can teach us.

https://books.google.com/books?id=zMiV__25izEC&pg=PA86&lpg=PA86&dq=%22elements+in+the+bible%22+fire+water++-.com&source=bl&ots=NWUp0wDMMX&sig=vn2eH8K67mJkwNVU3XxWRcnNvTY&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwii7YeFkrnKAhXIYyYKHVuWDc4Q6AEIHDAA#v=onepage&q&f=false

https://books.google.com/books?id=q7R2NFp8mtwC&pg=PA63&lpg=PA63&dq=keener+unfulfilled+passion&source=bl&ots=c-agjPVLar&sig=FPcNMwb71BcsMsWxXL6_Ssrr3Dg&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwj2zIfM1bvKAhWEOD4KHcVVAc4Q6AEIHDAA#v=onepage&q&f=false

http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/plato-timaeus/

Click to access Luther-on-marriage-relations.pdf

https://dash.harvard.edu/bitstream/handle/1/12436318/0614%20proofs%2013%20Nasrallah%20FCNT%201%20Cor%20aca.pdf?sequence=1

https://books.google.com/books?id=s8ml0NOoOdQC&pg=PA67&lpg=PA67&dq=%22place+for+sex%22+%22song+of+solomon%22&source=bl&ots=4GVotbrdkF&sig=IhAqsTwA90PgR2Wqx1mJbBs-i1U&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjzjdDUtsDKAhUB5iYKHfkQCGgQ6AEIOjAG#v=onepage&q&f=false

Do You Have the Gift of Singleness?

 

Celibacy And Visual Ethics

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I’ve always wondered what people mean when they say men are more visual than women. Do they mean men can read an eye chart better than women, that men can see the figure of women from a greater distance, that men can’t control their sexual desires? I think it’s the latter. Our society says sexual immorality is not a self-control problem, but a visual problem. It says that men are just not able to tame their sexual desires and that their eyes focus at the mercy of a “fallen” world, a world that has “evolved” with its own innate wisdom. This reasoning falls in line with what most churches are practicing today – visual ethics. Not the ethics associated with visual arts, but a theology of ethics based on things that can be seen while ignoring things that cannot be seen. Kate Hurley has an excellent example of this on Single Matters:

“When my dad died, I lost something tangible. People called me. They held me when I cried and asked me to talk about what I was going through. They came to his memorial service. It meant the world to me. I needed family around me during that grieving process. People bound up the wounds, told me it was going to be okay, and walked with me through the healing process. They rose to the occasion and helped me recover. When it comes to being in my 30s and facing the prospect of not having a traditional family, though, people don’t know what to do with my frustration. “There’s nothing there. How could you be in pain?”

The only way to see the invisible pain of barrenness is to get to know a person on a level that is deeper than what we know as “friends.” In the parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10), consider how the concept of neighbor changed for a lawyer who was concerned with his own eternal life. At first, he was worried about definitions – like any good lawyer would be – and asked Jesus “who is my neighbor?” Then Jesus told the story of the man who was stripped and beaten and left for dead on the road from Jerusalem to Jericho. When Jesus asked the lawyer which three men was his neighbor, it would have made more sense for him to answer it was the priest or Levite. They would have been expected to show compassion to the sick and injured. But instead of answering with the only choice left, the Samaritan, he said it was “The one who had mercy on him.” Luke 10:37. Jesus forced the lawyer to see the invisible virtue of mercy. The kind of neighborliness Jesus had in mind required him to see beyond the taken for granted stereotypes of a priest, Levite, and a Samaritan. The same principles apply to us today. Meeting people’s needs should not depend on the visual of a situation. In this parable, mercy happened to be found in the least expected Samaritan, an enemy of mixed race, the very man who would be expected to walk on by. For the Samaritan to show mercy and stop and render aid, the visible stereotypes of a priest and Levite had to give way to the invisible thing called hope. Jesus did this by reframing the lawyer’s question from “who is my neighbor?” to “who is the neighbor?” He might have expected Jesus to give him the names of people he should and should not consider neighbors. Instead, Jesus expanded the question to “what does it take to be a neighbor?” In this case, it took mercy.

Likewise, meeting people’s needs should not depend on the presence or absence of wedding rings. Without the visuals of a family, soccer mom bumper stickers, and membership in the local PTA, single adults tend to disappear beneath the pews of American churches. They too have been beaten up and left for dead. Real faith does not wait on something to be seen or someone to cry for help. Just like life itself and the invisible human embryo, it puts other people first and us last. Just as we don’t need proof of God’s existence, we don’t need proof of a need before we can act on it. Consider Hebrews 11:1: “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.”

For many in the religious community though, faith goes no deeper than what they see. Their moral compass is guided by the rightness of their sex lives, the visual of a pregnant abdomen, and sanctified by the love for children. It looks good. It feels warm and fuzzy. It brings money into the church. But it’s not biblical. Family values are not Christian values. Maternal love is not the pinnacle of love in this universe. And there is absolutely nothing eternal about marriage. If churches base their faith on the superficial and tangible, they will only respond to the superficial and tangible. The assurance about what they don’t see will be replaced by evidence of things they do see. That’s a shallow faith, one just as legalistic as the lawyer in the parable of the Good Samaritan. As Abraham Lincoln said: “To believe in the things you can see and touch is no belief at all; but to believe in the unseen is a triumph and a blessing.”

Married people may be tempted to say, “but I don’t do anything to make singles feel unloved or not part of our church family.” That’s precisely my point. Silence can be louder than anything you say or do, especially in the absence of action. This is especially true when it comes to lifestyle affirmations because we have only two choices, marriage and celibacy. Affirming one often discourages the other. When married life is affirmed without a concomitant affirmation of celibate life, it results in a discrimination that cuts just as deep as any racial discrimination. It throws salt into the open wounds of barrenness. It leads to a grief more profound than the loss of a family member. Think of all the things your church does to visibly affirm marriage and family life – requiring married preachers, marriage sermons, marriage conferences, wedding announcements, wedding ceremonies, baby showers, receptions, birthday parties, wedding anniversaries, graduation celebrations, age and marital status based groups, etc. Everything a church does sends signals to the community. Singles are free to draw their own conclusions. That’s part of human preservation. For instance, if a Protestant man walked into Jewish synagogue where he was the only person not wearing a yarmulke, would you expect him to feel out of place? Would it be reasonable for him to assume that wearing one was a requirement for that group of people? I would think so. A single adult can feel the same way in a church where everyone is wearing wedding rings and all activities are centered on nuclear families. Just like the man who was beaten could rightly assume the priest and Levite did not care about his situation, he can rightly assume that marriage is a requirement for that church. He could be waiting for someone to stop and just say hello, for someone to listen to him, for a neighbor who can see beyond the absence of a wedding ring on a finger.

Why It Stinks To Be Unintentionally Overlooked

https://books.google.com/books?id=ifG7Mmp6RXUC&pg=PA139&lpg=PA139&dq=%22good+samaritan%22+%22least+expect%22+enemy+-.com&source=bl&ots=u3nu4CSf5x&sig=kLBUvmhH7HqY0cDs527afBYwjRY&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjbjvLE-KnKAhXIQyYKHa46CrgQ6AEIIjAB#v=onepage&q=%22good%20samaritan%22%20%22least%20expect%22%20enemy%20-.com&f=false

Paul’s Present Distress

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” I suppose therefore that this is good for the present distress, I say, that it is good for a man so to be.” 1 Corinthians 7:26.

Paul’s “present distress” has been used to discount this section of his letter to the Corinthians. Some think that since there a calamity of some type being inflected on the people – whether famine, disease, earthquake, etc. – that Paul was writing for people who were undergoing circumstances that we can’t relate to. This distress is often interpreted to be no more than a disclaimer that reads, “This is all my opinion. So don’t take anything too serious.” But how should we take it? I don’t think we should take one inch off of it that we don’t give the rest of the Bible. All of Paul’s words are the inspired word of God. Yes, we are living in a time when the Bible strikes a sharp contrast to surrounding culture. And I’m sure many people who are reading it for the first time are looking for “outs” and disclaimers and reasons why it doesn’t apply to their lives. But this is not one of them. Paul could have considered the present distress to be the period of time he was living in and waiting for the second advent of Christ. We are in the same distress, living in a time between ages. The distress is spreading the good news around the world and making as many children of God as possible, with the knowledge of what happens to people who perish without accepting Christ. Do you think Paul’s distress could have been any worse that Christians are experiencing in 21st century America? Paul spent time in prison for expressing his religious beliefs. People in America have too, like Kim Davis. Christians are being targeted and executed all over the world by terrorists and other extremists. The gunman in a recent shooting at a campus in Oregon shot only those students who said they were Christians. If we exhumed Paul from the grave and took him on a guided tour through our big cities and halls of government, what would be his assessment? Would he think it was a walk in the park? I tend to think he would consider our circumstances quite a distress.

Apostle Paul wrote the majority of the New Testament. By our standards today, he was beyond a genius. God could have chosen anyone to write the epistles. He could have created anyone to play the role of Paul. He did. He made Paul. He could have transported Shakespeare back in time. He didn’t. Paul was a humble man who didn’t want to appear superior or authoritative. He was not writing his letters on an iPad from the comfort of a beach side condo. He was in prison. I don’t think we should use his humility as an excuse to bypass sections of the Bible that do not fit our times or make us uncomfortable. We should use it as a reason to take him more seriously.

The Sacredness Of Celibacy

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No responsibility, no commitment, extended adolescence, wasting time. You can’t trust them. I know what the world – and the church – says about singleness. To understand the sacredness of celibacy, we first have to uncover the pretense of singleness. It all starts in church. Churches typically segregate members based on age and marital status, under the assumption that these criteria determine a person’s “life stage.” Division by age is pretty much a no brainer for kids. But things get a little more complicated with adults, especially adults who are not holding a marriage license. In a typical singles class, you could have a 20 year old virgin, a 30 year old divorcee, a 40 year old widow, a 50 year old transgender, and a 60 year old homosexual. How do they relate to each other? They don’t. It’s just more comfortable and more politically correct to pile everybody into the same boat. And it provides everybody with an equal shot in the dating game. You see, relating to each other and meeting each other’s needs doesn’t matter much to the church. What matters is that people keep coming back and putting more money in the offering plates.

But biblically speaking, what is marriage and what is singleness? According to Webster’s Dictionary, marriage is a legal contract between two people and singles are people who don’t have one. However we know in the Bible that sex initiates marriage, not a wedding ceremony or legal contract (1 Cor 6:16). Sadly, the church has adopted the standards of the world. It does not see sexual ethics as the responsibility of individual members, but of the courthouse. The courts define marriage, all types of marriages, and the courts define singleness. Sexual purity before marriage and faithfulness in marriage have been relegated to quaint old-fashioned ideas. So when Paul talks about marriage, he is not talking about our idea of a temporary living arrangement. When he talks about virgins, he is not talking about our idea of singleness. He says something else that is foreign to our ears, that everybody is either called to celibacy or to marriage between a man and woman. But if you choose celibacy, the U.S. Supreme Court will tell you that you’re doomed to loneliness. If you choose marriage, you’re expected to have kids and circle your wagon around the throne of the family. It may seem like a loose-loose situation. But it’s a decision that every Christian must make. If you enter marriage without considering celibacy, you are – in effect – denying the birth, death, and resurrection of Christ and casting doubt on salvation and spiritual rebirth.

When Paul talks about the gift of celibacy and remaining unmarried (a virgin), he is not talking about single people waiting on marriage. He is talking about a commitment between God and a believing Christian that is just as real as the commitment between any husband and wife in marriage. Matthew 19 and Jesus’ comment about eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven makes that a little clearer, I think. I know that many churches teach that if you’re single you have the gift of singleness and if you’re married you have the gift of marriage. That’s not true. When you consider the whole metaphor of the eunuch, it’s clear that choosing to be a spiritual eunuch concerned about the coming kingdom of God is much more than a default state of waiting on a spouse. Being any one of the three eunuchs in Matthew 19:12 requires an event; whether it’s a birth with genetic anomalies or an act of violence or a conscious decision. All of them preclude a sexual relationship required for marriage. In the case of a conscious decision to be a eunuch for the kingdom of heaven, it is intentionally chosen for a specific reason, much the same as husbands and wives choose each other in marriage. It is not the default state of singleness while waiting on a spouse. I would say celibacy is even a deeper commitment because it involves caring for the things that belong to the Lord, not the world. Notice also in 1 Corinthians 7 that Paul does not define those with the gift of celibacy based on their marital status and something they don’t have, but rather on something they do have. 1 Corinthians 7:32-33:

32 But I would have you without carefulness. He that is unmarried careth for the things that belong to the Lord, how he may please the Lord:

33 But he that is married careth for the things that are of the world, how he may please his wife.

I think it’s fair to substitute values for cares. The married person expresses his values for the world through marriage. The celibate person expresses his cares for the Lord through virginity. Viewed in this light, it’s easy to see why Paul considered it a better choice. So discerning marriage or celibacy comes down to a question of whom do you want to please – the world or God? That does not mean that a person cannot serve God in marriage. It means they cannot serve God with the same energy, insight, motivation, identity, or frame of mind that a virgin can. So in celibacy, a person remains totally devoted in Christ during his entire lifetime and his priorities do not change. However, in marriage, a person’s devotion is divided and his priorities do change. Change is consistent with the world. It’s not consistent with eternity.

Have you ever noticed how married people sometimes become so one flesh that they even look like each other? I have known people whose very identities are tied up with their spouses. It’s even hard for me to think of them as individuals. They’re couples. That’s a good thing and I think it’s what God intended for marriage. Think about the ramifications though when that same “oneness” occurs in the gift of celibacy. Instead of taking on the image of a spouse, we are called to take on the image of Christ. It’s our job to change the meaning of procreation from childbirth to spiritual birth. It’s our job to announce his eminent return and to bridge the time between the ages, between the Old Covenant and New Covenant. Yes, marriage is sacred. But celibacy for the sake of the kingdom of God is sacred and supernatural.

Misconceptions About The Spiritual Gift Of Celibacy

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“They’re Gay, They’re Christian And They’re Celibate!” the headline screams. I think I’ll write an article and title it, “They’re Horses, They’re Flying And They Have Four Legs!” There are so many false beliefs about the gift of celibacy I can’t keep up with them. The world has infiltrated the church and has replaced the word of God with opinion polls and statistics. In this blog, I’ll talk about some of the misconceptions surrounding celibacy.

First, the word “gift” that the world uses to describe celibacy is not the same “gift” that Paul uses in 1 Corinthians 7. It is not something that is bestowed on a person for good behavior. It’s not a reward. It is not something that can be earned. It is not a lifestyle that is set against marriage. Biblical celibacy is freely chosen. It is not associated with vows. When understood from a biblical point of view, celibacy does not disparage marriage. It can’t exist without it and marriage can’t exist without celibacy. But many people refuse to acknowledge this biblical dichotomy and choose to follow whichever road gets them a seat at the right hand of God. If you do an internet search on “marriage and celibacy – which one is better?” you’ll be reading for a long time. To the question “which one is better,” I would answer: Which is better – Day or night? Summer or winter? Male or female?

At the heart of the gift of celibacy though is self-control. The real Christian lifestyle dichotomy consists of those who cannot control their sexual desires and choose marriage and those who can control their sexual desires and choose celibacy. Both of them require faith. I think this is one of the reasons Christ chose the metaphor of the eunuch in Matthew 19 to represent those who are called to celibacy. It’s just as hard for a man to castrate himself as it is for him to bring every aspect of his life under control, including his sexual desires – just like it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God. Of course, churches lean heavy toward the marriage and family side of the equation. When they do, they are denying the part of the Bible that’s called “The New Testament.” One of the gifts that the birth, death, and resurrection of Christ brought into the world was the spiritual rebirth of those who believe in him. We have a world today that is just as blind as Nicodemus in John 3:4 when he asked, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter the second time into his mother’s womb, and be born?” During the Old Testament, there was only one path to fruitfulness – procreation through sex. After Christ, it became possible to procreate through discipleship and making spiritual believers. The focus was no longer on having sex and making babies. It was on multiplying the number of souls for the kingdom of heaven. If you deny that, you are denying Christ. So really the only gift in this whole story is Christ himself. Unfortunately, there are still churches who teach the only way to be fruitful and multiply is to get married, heave sex, and make babies. They are living under the Old Covenant and creation order mandate. I would put over 90% of all Protestant churches in that category. Consider how big the wedding business is in this country – $55 billion dollars in 2014.

Even worse, instead of associating celibacy with self-control, sacrifice, rebirth and spiritual children, churches today associate it with homosexuality. In my opinion, that is an abomination. Non-Christians are constantly mocking and laughing at the church. And right now the world could sell front row tickets to a comedy show in most any church in America. If a young man or woman today feels called to the celibate life, they’re not going to find much support in church – because gay and celibacy are talked about as if they go together like a hand in glove. Here are a few recent headlines from churches and religious organizations:

Detroit Catholic Couple Provide Example Of ‘Gay Holiness’
New Dallas Episcopal Bishop Tells Gay Members To Marry
The Next Synod Battle: Married Priests?
Priest Paid His Male ‘Sex Master’ From Collection Plate
The Challenge Of Being Gary, Married, And Mormon
Why Gay Celibacy Is Not The Gospel-Centered Answer
Heterosexuality Is Godliness
The Plausibility of the Celibate Life for the Same-Sex Attracted
At Issue: Could it be celibacy, not homosexuality?
Celibate Gay Christians: Is That Biblical?
Finding Love In The Church As A Celibate Gay Christian
Gay, Catholic, And Doing Fine
Does God Have A Plan For Same-Sex Relationships?
Is Divorce Equivalent To Homosexuality?
Same Sex Marriage And The Future
50 Resources For Equipping The Church On Homosexuality

So if you had a daughter who was trying to discern marriage or celibacy, where would you point her? Who is even talking about celibacy as a spiritual gift? Not Protestant churches. If you do a Google search on celibacy and church, 100% of the first 100 results are about homosexuality and celibacy in the Catholic Church. On their Baptist Press web site in 2011, the SBC even conceded: “In today’s twisted world, Paul’s gift of celibacy would most likely be misinterpreted as homosexual tendencies.” I’ve got news for them. It’s way beyond that point. Let’s turn the tables a while. If I viewed marriage the same way Protestants view celibacy, I may be inclined to approach a married couple in the fellowship hall of your church and make a few observations:

“Gee, are you two still married?”
“How long did you wait before you adulterated?”
“You’re really faithful to each other? I don’t believe it. Sexual desire is just too powerful for that kind of commitment.”
“How can you be faithful with so much porn around?”
“You know, only a few people are truly called to marriage.”
“What are you really doing on the weekends dude?”
“How did you know marriage was really for you?”
“So, did you rape her on your first date?”
“Well, I’m sure ya’ll had to get married.”
“After you had premarital sex, had long did it take to get married?”
“Do you have a voluntary or involuntary marriage?”
“Are you two accountable to anybody?”
“Are you sure you’re qualified to teach a Sunday School class? There are single people in there.”
“You both are getting up in age. How long are you going to keep up this extended marriage charade?”
“Do ya’ll have a clerical marriage or common law marriage?
“Just admit that you can’t be faithful to each other and get a divorce.”
“Excuse me Mrs. Jones, but you’ve been spending time alone with your refrigerator repairman. Have you any shame?”
“Marriage goes against nature because all men play the field.”

Churches, if you feel compelled to offer commentary that links celibacy with homosexuality without offering commentary on celibacy as a positive response to God, be prepared to hear negative commentary about the state of your marriages. I’m doing it face to face. It’s never pleasant.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/08/04/gay-christian-celibacy_n_5649015.html

http://www.bpnews.net/35684/at-issue-could-it-be-celibacy-not-homosexuality

Review Of “The Dating Manifesto” By Lisa Anderson

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The Dating Manifesto – A Drama Free Plan For Pursuing Marriage With Purpose. There’s been a lot written lately on the “marriage mandate” and this title suggests more of the same. You may be asking, “But John, why would you even read such a book if you have chosen a life of celibacy?” Good question. But the answer is quite simple: From a social standpoint, I am just as single as my neighbor who divorced his fourth wife last year. I’m an unknown quantity. My ring finger is just as empty as anybody else’s. So whether I like it or not, I am lumped in with the single and dating/pursuing crowd. I get all the same questions. Does Protestant theology make room for people who are neither married or looking for marriage? Not that I’m aware of. Anderson’s book didn’t make any room either. I read her biography first, which proved to be more of a puzzle. She’s 43 years old, never married, and is director of young adults for Focus on the Family and manages their boundless.org web site. I was curious to see if she would even say anything about the celibate gift. As expected, it didn’t take her long to get the exclusionary clause out of the way for those “pretty rare” people who are called to singleness.  From page 48:

“Paul had great things to say about those who are called to singleness, or celibate service. It’s a unique calling and one that should be celebrated. But it’s pretty rare, and those who are called to it generally know who they are. They should be comfortable with that calling. Those who are truly called to a life of celibate service generally don’t struggle overwhelmingly with their sex drive nor do they feel any sense of being less in God’s eyes.”

Celibate service?  I must have missed that verse in the Bible.  Married folks don’t serve God?   The other 241 pages was the dating manifesto. Let’s take a look at some of her assumptions.  Celibate lives “should be celebrated”?  Where is that being done?  “It’s pretty rare?” How many does she know?  “They should be comfortable with that calling?” I can’t find that in the Bible.  But then again, this is the 21st century and comfort is to be expected.  “They don’t struggle overwhelmingly with their sex drive”?  Oh, what torture that would be!  Oh sweet Jesus, please spare their poor miserable lives!   Maybe it’s just me, but I find it very odd that churches and religious organizations put a lot of effort into identifying those who have chosen marriage (heterosexual or homosexual), but put absolutely no effort into identifying those who have chosen celibacy. I guess most people are like Miss Anderson and think we generally know who we are. Why, of course! The Celibacy Club is meeting for brunch next Saturday evening! I need to get those invitations out. The truth is, a lot of people are trying to discern if they have the gift of celibacy and they really don’t know who they are. And the church is no help. At times, it seemed that the author was actually apologizing on behalf of all singles for being single. At other times, she lifted marriage up to such lofty heights I was wondering, “how could this be a book about singleness?” Here’s an excerpt from page 188:

“But staying connected to married friends is crucial. So is honoring their marriages. About eight years ago, I decided I would do everything within my power to honor and protect my friends’ marriages. This has a number of different faces. It means babysitting so my friends can get a night out together or finish their Christmas shopping or address an issue that’s becoming a problem in their relationship. It means building up my married friends verbally and publicly, both in front of each other and in front of our mutual friends and acquaintances. Saying what people are doing right in their marriages can go a lot further than dragging out the tired ball-and-chain metaphor in all its forms. It means praying for my friends’ marriages and refusing to gossip about their issues. It’s not participating in spousal gripe sessions. It’s not joking about marriage or lending credence to those who do. It’s vocally reaffirming God’s heart for marriage, as well as the people whom he’s blessed with it. Your single season is the best time to start preparing for your own marriage.”

Babysitting? It sounds like she’s been taken advantage of in her own church. Honoring marriages? I’d say there’s plenty of that going around. Building up my married friends verbally and publicly? I see people do that every single day of my life – whether it’s in the grocery store, post office, or in church. I wonder what she’s done to build up her celibate friends? You know, those people who have chosen not to marry or have sex. Saying what people are doing right in their marriages? Who is saying what people are doing right in their celibate lives? I can count the number I know on one hand. It’s not joking about marriage? Actually, I hear more joking about singleness and being condemned to loneliness than I do about marriage. It’s vocally reaffirming God’s heart for marriage? So, God doesn’t have a heart for celibacy?

In my opinion, The Dating Manifesto is just one in a long line of how to get married books. There’s nothing deeper here than a pink twinkie covered in chocolate syrup. It does seem that she has high standards when it comes to premarital sex and marriage and I commend her for that. But her book, like most books for Christian singles, does not present celibacy as a real alternative, other than to say there are not many of us. That is so . . . encouraging. Oh yes, let’s see, it’s right here in 1 Corinthians 7: “People with the celibate gift are pretty rare. So ye therefore assume everybody is either married or has a dating manifesto.” The Bible never says everybody should be dating and getting married. It never says anything about the numbers of people who should be married and the number who should be celibate. That is strictly the world’s assumptions and cannot be taken as scriptural. The only dating manifesto that exists is in the minds of those who idolize marriage and family and are not willing to discern if marriage or celibacy is right for them. I’d like to hear what Apostle Paul would say if Miss Anderson told him he had a “dating manifesto.”

The Procreation Of Eunuchs

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Trumpet Creeper seed pod by John Morgan

Do you remember the game Chinese Whispers? This is the one where a group of people sit in a circle and a message is whispered to one person, who must whisper it to the next person. It continues around the circle until the last person receives the message. Then this person stands up and calls out the message as he received it. The whole point of it is to see if the original message survives the round trip or if it is corrupted. When I played the game growing up, the message that the last person called out was usually totally different from the original. Sometimes it was so funny that people were rolling around on the floor laughing. For instance, “I hope that John gets better” could end up as “nope, that’s a dear John letter.”

The same thing sort of happened with the definition of the word eunuch. It was passed from ear to ear in Old Testament times and always came out the same – a male who was castrated. Eunuchs were traditionally associated with castration, no sexual feelings, no seeds, no children, no heirs, and no witnesses. They were also traditionally known as bed keepers, especially in royal palaces. They were entrusted with guarding the virtue of future kings and queens. But then Jesus came along and took a seat at Chinese Whispers. With one whisper (Matthew 19:12) the traditional job description of a eunuch was immediately transformed into a role for the sake of the kingdom of God. This amounted to the most dramatic revision of a word in the history of mankind. The castrated eunuchs with dry seeds who had been despised on earth were suddenly given an eternal role for the kingdom of heaven’s sake. The metaphor goes deeper than that though. Can you think of a eunuch who was actually despised on earth and given a special role in heaven? Could Jesus also be talking about himself? I think so. A eunuch for the kingdom of heaven’s sake goes much deeper than someone who does not marry. He’s light years from being single. The person actually forfeits the right to marry and have children and makes that decision known publically. He renounces earthly matters and embraces heavenly matters. Another thing that changed with Matthew 19:12 is that eunuchs now included women. Can you see the faces of the Pharisees twisting in confusion? “Excuse me, but how do you castrate a woman.” I think we should take it for granted that Jesus is always at least one step ahead of us. Another reason this is such a drastic change is because of the importance that Jewish society placed on offspring and covenantal blessings. Jesus is actually saying that fruit can now multiply without seeds and that spiritual children are now more important than physical children. This is what tore the veil between the holy place and the holy of holies in the Jerusalem temple and allowed everyone, including eunuchs, to enter.

The eunuch metaphor goes still deeper than that. If Jesus was just talking about people who didn’t want to get married or have kids, he could have just used the term “unmarried,” or what we refer to as single. But eunuchs could not have sex. Little did they know that there would be people ahead of them who did not want to have sex. So Jesus was also talking about renouncing sexual relations and abstinence. He is talking about dying a virgin. What a jolting thought for our culture today. Do you think a teenager today would consider that “the bomb?” Just as the ancient eunuchs guarded the royal bedchambers and depended upon the king for their very existence, eunuchs today point to eternity in heaven and dependence upon the king of kings for everything they need to live. Only eunuchs are able to keep in check the ever-growing idolatry of marriage and family. They were not only valued in ancient times because they posed no sexual threat. They were valued because they had no babies and no heirs. They posed no threat to kings because they had no line of succession. Eunuchs are still giving birth to spiritual children and guarding heavenly fortunes today. Is it time you updated your dictionary?

But As God Has Distributed To Every Man

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Many people think celibate life is what single people do when they can’t find someone to marry. After a certain age, it becomes a consolation prize, God’s second best, a life of irresponsibility and extended adolescence. Some consider it just a lack of a sex drive and fear of “manning up.” Others see it as a tragedy, a wasted life, a dry seed. When it’s a woman, it’s even more of a tragedy. With her fertile years slipping by, she wonders why God has forgotten her. Church members try to set her up with every breathing animal that has testosterone. They put her on the prayer list and assure her that God will bring the answer to her prayers in due time. They tell her to focus on God and, if she prays enough and is holy enough, God will send her a knight in shining armor. The problem is that God never promised anyone a marriage. As a matter of fact, he instructs us to do just the opposite. “But as God hath distributed to every man, as the Lord hath called every one, so let him walk. And so ordain I in all churches.” 1 Cor 7:17. In other words, if we have never married when we come to Christ, looking for a spouse should not be a priority in our lives. We walk with faith in Christ alone. In these few verses, Paul is very succinctly telling us that divisions and classes do not matter to God at all. He nails this standard of equality home in Galatians 3:28: “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.” I think it would be fair to surmise that there is neither married nor unmarried. “All one in Christ Jesus” effectively trumps and nullifies the “be fruitful and multiply” mandate of the Old Testament. It erases all the divisions that we read about from Genesis to Malachi in the Old Testament. If we accept our statuses when we become Christians, it should include the unmarried state as well. A story of someone looking for a spouse does not even appear in the New Testament. A list of qualifications for a spouse does not appear. Contrast that with the sex saturated society we have today. Think about the one birth that really matters. It was supernatural. I realize many people dismiss Paul’s words as “just his opinion.” But I have always considered the entire Bible, including every letter Paul wrote, to be the inspired word of God. Paul wasn’t just any man. He had the gift of celibacy and wrote about these subjects as a celibate man, not as a married preacher speculating about exceptions to the “marriage mandate” rule. He was living the life. He had the insight to write on these subjects. He also wrote the majority of the New Testament. His “disclaimer” only shows his humbleness and acknowledgement that it was Christ who gave him such inspiration. Of course, Paul goes on to say that it’s not wrong to want to marry and it’s not wrong to not want to marry. But our marital state does not matter in the long run. In heaven there will be no marriages, no male and female, no young and old. So if you find yourself panicking about your single state, let these verses put things into perspective for you.

But as God has distributed to every man. Those may be the most painful eight words in the Bible. Turning our focus from ourselves and comfortable family pews and focusing on God alone is not easy. We see what the world has and we want it. We want to fit in. We want our lives to be chillin’, drama free, and without fear. That’s not possible if you pick up the cross of Christ. In my opinion, living a life of faithful celibacy is just as, and probably more, difficult as living a life of faithful marriage. So the marriage equality debate going on in the country today shouldn’t be about heterosexual marriage vs. homosexual marriage. It should be about respecting those who have been called to celibacy just as much as those called to marriage. Right now, the table is tilted toward marriage and family. That has to change.

Celibate Sexuality

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The title of this post may sound contradictory. After all, how can a person be celibate and still sexual? The problem is that we have simplified human sexuality to mean one thing – intercourse. We have dumbed down male/female relationships to mean one thing – romance and pursuit of marriage. When I say dumbed down, I mean that the intelligence and culture of mankind has indeed been held back because marriage and the affairs of the world are valued more than celibacy and the affairs of the Lord. I’m not saying that the IQs of married people are necessarily lower than celibate people. But I am saying that a married person cannot reflect the omnipotent glory of God like a celibate person can. The immediate needs of a wife and children will always trump eternal aspirations. The Bible tells us that. The role of the monastic artists during the Middle Ages and Renaissance was to “transform the desert into paradise.” Rather than create art for a museum, they created art to transcend the everyday aesthetics of the monastery and bring glory to God. They defined beauty beyond the human figure. Their artwork made men think beyond tomorrow and into eternity. Hence, there is an entire field of study devoted to monastic arts. Monks didn’t lose any sleep worrying about their unmarried status or how old they were. They were monks – not husbands. At one time in the ancient world, these two ideals were given equal respect. But after the Protestant Reformation, the role of the monk was decapitated and the role of the parent was catapulted higher than the stars in heaven. Now, the very idea of a person living a chaste life without sex has been bastardized with an ongoing “national conversation” on homosexuality and pedophilia. Have you heard a sermon lately defending celibacy or the monastic ideals?

I know a lot of people probably look at my 54 years of age and think: The pressure is so great, he’s going to explode any day now.” Some people may think I avoid all contact with women and that I’m sitting at home all day taking cold showers and singing chants to myself. That’s the farthest from the truth. I enjoy talking to women – married/single, young/old, Catholic/Protestant/Jewish, whether neighbors in my community or friends in another country. I’m just as much in awe and wonder of them today as I was when I was 10 years old. In my mind, I have put the mysteries of women in the same category as Fermat’s Last Theorem. They’re not for me to understand. But that’s not what the world expects of a 54 year-old “mature” man. At my age, I’m expected to have been married at least twice, hold some kind of grievance toward all women, and have a passel of grandchildren back at home. I’m supposed to be wise to the ways of the world and know how to get what I want sexually. In that regard, I guess you could say I’m quite uneducated. Sometimes I’m embarrassed about that. That’s why I put a high a value on single women who don’t make those assumptions and who value me as a friend – not a romantic interest. Those are few and far between. Will they still accept me if I don’t pursue them romantically? Can they have an intelligent conversation with me without worrying about seeing me again? Can they enjoy a moment for a moment’s sake? Will they be able to look past my age or will they ask: “So you’re 54 and never married. What’s up with that?” Will they make me feel like a leper or a real human being? A loser or a man with dignity? Will they ask what I do for a living or delve deeper into the art I’ve been working on lately? I think human sexuality without sex is one thing that keeps us sensitive to the needs of the opposite sex, whether married or not. It brings us together and facilitates civilization. Yes, I’m attracted to the appearance of beautiful women. But I’m more attracted to kindness and gentleness, softness and gracefulness, and all things that make a woman a woman. I try to stay focused on what I can learn from them, not what I can get from them.  I am more attracted to virtuous women, but not in the kind of sexual way that the world associates with virginity. I want my legacy to encourage young people to understand the value of virginity, whether waiting chastely on the right person to come into their lives or living celibate lives for the glory of God, and I want them to understand that marriage and sexual relations are but a blink of an eye in the long run. I believe patience is still a virtue and that there are still men and women who understand the importance of waiting.

I’m still waiting too. Not for a wedding on earth, but for a marriage in heaven with Christ. So my celibacy is not about avoiding women, avoiding responsibility, getting ahead in my career, playing the field, extending my adolescence, getting the milk without paying for the cow, or getting the perks of a husband as a single man. It’s about renouncing marriage, sex, and family as the world knows it today in favor of an eternal kingdom where no one is given in marriage and no babies are born. Imagine a world with a stable population with no abortions, adoptions, birth control, infanticide, child support, deadbeat dads, or stay at home moms. I don’t just imagine it. I see it. All I can do is hope my friends see that in me and respect my renunciation as just as sacred and serious as their pursuits of romance and marriages.

http://abbeyofreginalaudis.org/art.html

Seeing Is Believing

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I recently posted something on Facebook that sparked a very interesting conversation. The other person has a name, but on the quote below I changed it to what he is, a preacher:

Me: If you believe in salvation by marriage or having children, as is taught by the majority of churches today, you’d better take some suntan lotion with you to eternity. You’re gonna need it.

Preacher: Who believes in salvation by marriage or having children?

Me: Take the population of the world, which currently is 7.3 billion, and subtract the number of Matthew 19:12c eunuchs you can name. That should give you a rough estimate.

Churches spend a great deal of time and money elevating marriage and family as the ideal lifestyle. Think of all the singles groups where people pair up and mate, the millions of wedding ceremonies every year, and all the wedding anniversaries that are celebrated. The married lifestyle is affirmed beyond recognition. I find this beyond ironic because a marriage ceremony is never described in the Bible. I can already hear people screaming, “but Jesus went to a wedding!” Yes, he did. But his attendance at the marriage in Cana is the only mention of a marriage in the New Testament. John 2:1-2: “And the third day there was a marriage in Cana of Galilee; and the mother of Jesus was there: And both Jesus was called, and his disciples, to the marriage.” What many people miss is that the wedding in Cana is not what is news here. It’s the fact that Jesus, a celibate man, chose a wedding to perform his first miracle, turning water into wine, thereby announcing his presence in the world. This was Jesus’ way of saying “I’m here.” I’m sure such a miracle turned many doubters into believers. He could have chosen any place in the world to do this. But he chose a wedding. In an instant, the ordinary nature of water and weddings was made supernatural by the presence of the King of Kings. You would think there would be many weddings to follow. After all, who wouldn’t want Jesus to show up at their wedding? But it’s the only one recorded in the New Testament. Could this in itself be telling us something? Could it be that Jesus had one hand on the urn of water and the other hand pointing to heaven where no one is given in marriage? I think so. He is telling us how insignificant marriage should be now. In an instant, he showed the “power of God” as described in the Gospel of Mark:

23 In the resurrection therefore, when they shall rise, whose wife shall she be of them? for the seven had her to wife.

24 And Jesus answering said unto them, Do ye not therefore err, because ye know not the scriptures, neither the power of God?

25 For when they shall rise from the dead, they neither marry, nor are given in marriage; but are as the angels which are in heaven.

So Jesus didn’t attend the wedding at Cana only to pronounce his blessings on marriage. He attended it to affirm celibacy and to show that the natural world of the Old Testament (water) had given way to the supernatural world of the New Testament (wine). The water of the well was transformed into the blood of Christ. Jesus could have written a letter to the couple at Cana, wishing them well in their new marriage. But he made his affirmation public by being there and taking his disciples with him. He could have gotten up and made a speech about the temporary nature of marriage and the importance of making spiritual children. But he chose this mellow transition of water to wine. It’s beautiful symbolism, but it’s been all but lost in a society today that worships sex and still holds marriage and family up to represent the be-all and end-all of human existence, one that still clings to the old Mosaic law of “be fruitful and multiply.”

It’s important to note though that Jesus found it necessary to attend the wedding. This should tell us something about the power of public commitments and the affirmation of witnesses. The names of the couple that got married that day in Cana have been long forgotten. It is Jesus’ presence and first miracle that are remembered today. He showed up to put marriage in a new perspective.

Which begs the question – How is celibacy being affirmed today? Who is checking to see if the water has been turned into wine? Are there any public ceremonies to affirm it? In the Protestant church, I don’t know of any. They have focused on the family so long that they’re walking around like blind zombies. Other than a few occasional words about how special “singles” are in mission statements, they don’t have a clue. It would behoove the church to remember that actions speak louder than words. If marriage and celibacy are of equal value, why should one be celebrated with ceremonies of public commitment and the other forgotten? Can you imagine celebrating a wedding anniversary in your church where the couple was not identified? The same thing holds true for celibacy. In order for it to be biblically affirmed and learned from, people have to be identified – whether that’s 3 in the whole world or 3,000,000. When the power of God is felt, the relationship between men and women is not governed by patriarchal marriages, sexual desire, or a man’s need to secure a name or heir. It is governed by worshipping the same God and respecting each other as equal in his site. Would you rather tell your children “it’s okay if you don’t get married” and that these people theoretically exist somewhere out there in the world or would you rather have them meet some in the real world? If you were at the wedding at Cana, would you be happy with the water, or would you want to taste the wine? Indeed, when a society is fully engulfed in idolatry, they’re not even aware of it. They know of nothing different.

Single Vs. Concencrated Life

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Ask anybody in church today what the opposite of marriage is and you’ll probably here one answer. “It’s not getting married and staying single.” Not pursuing marriage implies no commitment and staying single implies a life of selfish greed, ambition, faster cars, younger women, and older whiskey. I’ve asked a lot of church people over the years what singleness means to them and this is basically the answer I always here: There’s no commitment, no trust, no maturity, no responsibility. The only problem is that none of it is biblical. Unfortunately, the church has adopted the world’s values to replace their own. And they place too much importance on keeping everybody comfortable and entertained than preaching the truth. Take a look at what Paul said about the married and unmarried in 1 Cor 7:

“32 But I would have you without carefulness. He that is unmarried careth for the things that belong to the Lord, how he may please the Lord:

33 But he that is married careth for the things that are of the world, how he may please his wife.

Pay particular attention to verse 32. Paul used “He,” in an attempt to bring this down to a personal level. He was answering a specific letter from the Corinthians about marriage and virginity. In actuality, “He that is unmarried” is referring to all men and women who have made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven that Christ mentioned in Matthew 19:12. However, the word “unmarried” here is not the equivalent of our contemporary “single.” Paul is not basing what he says here on who has and who doesn’t have a marriage license. And more importantly, biblical celibacy has nothing to do with meetup groups, dating and mating, or compatability. Unmarried here as Paul uses it has more to do with total consecration to God and a life of celibacy for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. It is a lifetime commitment to God that a married person cannot make. In my personal opinion, it is a more profound commitment and one that the world today doesn’t know much about. Hence, my blog.

The careth in “careth for the things that belong to the world” refers to the responsibilities inherent in marriage and family life, like raising children. They are cares of an earthly kind. That isn’t to say there’s anything wrong with them. But we need to remember that neither the love between mother and child nor the love between husband and wife represents the ultimate love on this earth. Christ’s relationship with the church does. Careth in “careth for the things that belong to the Lord” refers to the responsibilities inherent with a life 100% devoted to Christ. However, I don’t like to use the word ministry to describe the charism of celibacy because I think we all have equal responsibility in that.

I think the “But” at the beginning of verse 33 is one of the most significant words Paul wrote. It marks a complete turn in the opposite direction. The unmarried man is concerned about the things of the Lord, BUT the married man is concerned for the things of the world. He is describing two completely different men (and women). What two value sets could be more different?

One of the most interesting things to see in these verses is that this is not a “teaching.” So many people today are asking what the Bible teaches on celibacy. It doesn’t teach anything. Like marriage, the celibate gift is NOT something a person can learn. Paul is not telling us how we ought to live in these verses. He is stating FACTS. He is describing reality. “Is concerned” is on the opposite side of the world than “ought to be concerned.” It would be like me walking up to an older married couple and asking “shouldn’t ya’ll be married?” They would look at me and say “we are married!” They’d probably think I’m crazy. I think the same thing when someone asks me when I’m going to get married. I think this is one of the main reasons why commitment is not associated with singleness today and it’s one of the reasons I don’t identify as being single. And I think it’s why celibacy is not regarded as an institution on the same level with marriage. Pope Francis has called for 2015 to be the Year Of Concencrated Life and I fully support it. Even though the Protestant church doesn’t even know what it means yet, I pray that this will be an educational opportunity for them to see that the Bible is as true today as it was 2000 years ago. The Lord’s concerns ought to break all barriers that exist between chuches, denominations, and even languages.

Marriage And Celibacy – The Tragedy Of Hypocrisy

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What I’m about to say may make preachers uncomfortable. And in a way, I hope it does. I think much of the problem is that you’re too comfortable with your wives, two kids, parsonages, SUV’s, tax exempt statuses, and weekend retreats. As such, you can’t begin to relate to people who fall outside of your comfortable world, like adults who never married and Christ himself. Yes, I said it. I don’t even consider most church going people Christians. I consider them sex and money worshippers. One interesting thing about our sexuality is that God allowed us to choose between only two paths – marriage or celibacy. When preachers utter one sentence or do anything to affirm married life without a counterbalancing affirmation of celibate life, they are bowing down to the God of sex. When they celebrate wedding anniversaries, engagements, mother’s day, father’s day, childbirths, etc., without even acknowledging the existence of celibate adults, they are bowing down to the god of the nuclear family, not the family of God. There is nothing eternal about a nuclear family. There is nothing eternal about sex. Imagine if an alien visited your church and you told him all about how God made the sun and how it lights the earth during the day, but you didn’t tell him about the nighttime and the moon and stars in the heavens. You didn’t tell him about the delicate balance between night and day. That’s what you would call a misrepresentation of God’s creation. Imagine if a lost soul visited your church and you told him about the glories of family values, married life, and you introduced him to your wife and kids and all the deacons’ wives and their families; but you didn’t tell him about the never married in your congregation who subside only on Christ. You didn’t tell him about the delicate balance between marriage and celibacy. That is also a misrepresentation of God’s creation. The only difference is that it really happens every Sunday morning during every sermon, during every baby dedication, during every wedding anniversary, during every engagement announcement, during every family night, and hammered home with every “Family Life Center” plastered on your church buildings. By focusing on the greed of families, you are misrepresenting what Christianity is all about to those who don’t even know Christ. Since you hold out family life as the only option, is it any wonder that some of those lost souls wind up in the lifestyle of homosexuality? What alternative to the nuclear family and white picket fence have you offered them? When’s the last time you affirmed celibacy? You have focused on the family so long that your eyes have become crossed. When’s the last time you even mentioned celibacy in your pulpits? When’s the last time you visited Matthew 19? How do you even know who’s married and who is not married in your church? Would you have to go to your local courthouse and check the marriage license register? Would you have to inspect all ring fingers? What a comical thought. Would you call up your local community gossip line? If you take away the legal aspect, how do you even define what marriage is?

This will probably come as a shock for a lot of you, but the highest form of love on this earth is not between mother and child or husband and wife. It’s between Christ and the church. Since preachers have failed to communicate this and don’t see the world outside the comfort of their bedroom windows, we now live in a society that celebrates homosexuality, same sex marriage, adultery, cohabitation, and every other perversion known to man. Yes, it may be uncomfortable to talk about human sexuality on Sunday mornings, but look where silence has led us. If sex is just as part of God’s good creation as the moon and stars, why shouldn’t we talk about it? If you don’t feel qualified, find someone who can address these issues. You may be afraid of losing church members and their tithes to another church. Do you think God is going to count church membership and tithes and offerings at the gaits of heaven? Are you willing to pay that kind of price for comfort? What are you doing to integrate singles and celibates into your church and keep them from leaving?

Please keep in mind though that the opposite of marriage is not singleness. It’s not waiting on God to send a husband or wife. It’s not youth. It’s not college and career. It’s not waiting on a wedding day. It’s not a holding state. It’s not waiting on a marriage license. Singles are waiting on a spouse. Celibates are waiting on God and they represent the opposite of marriage. There’s a big difference between the two. I think it would help if we were consistent with terminology. I do not identify myself as a single person. The person who has been called to celibacy is not waiting for anything on this earth. That’s probably the most difficult truth for churches to understand. It’s hard to undo something that has been taught for over 500 years. Married people – Think about the commitment to your spouse and your wedding vows, “until death do us part.” Do you take your marriage and faithfulness seriously? I take my celibacy and commitment to chastity just as seriously. The big difference, though, is that death will not separate me from my spouse. I have the same lifestyle today as I will have in heaven. I encourage you take age, gender, and marital status completely out of the picture of your church’s vision. They will not be part of eternity. The higher the hedge you try to put around marriage and family without addressing faithful celibate people in your congregation, the higher you will fall from grace on the day of reckoning.

Celibacy – Are Vows Necessary?

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Take a close look at how celibacy is being discussed today and the terminology used to ridicule it. Mandatory celibacy, vows, solemn oaths, compulsory celibacy, homosexuality, same sex marriage, antiquated idea, should be abolished, sexual abuse, etc. The Bible describes living without sex as a spiritual gift, not a worldly pursuit. That’s a big difference. Jesus himself in Matthew 19:12 actually said there were “eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven’s sake.” He did not say that there would be men who take vows not to marry. He did not say men had to remain unmarried to be preachers. He did not say celibacy is what gay people do to keep from sinning. No, Jesus didn’t say any of those things. Misguided men say those things. Unfortunately, celibacy has been so thoroughly catholicized today that there is no 21st century word to describe the gift that Apostle Paul spoke of in 1 Corinthians 7. And since Protestants are still riding on the coattails of Martin Luther and John Calvin, a life without marriage and family is not even part of their sexual ethic. In other words, most Protestants, as well as Catholics, don’t even know who Jesus is or what he taught. The reason that “lifelong celibacy” is so revolting today is because sex is considered a civil right. Being gay is the new black. The marriage license is the new bus. Because, let’s face it, we can’t deny ourselves of any personal pleasures. Add to this the fact that marriage and family have become idols of church worship and it’s easy to see why celibacy is the new waterboard treatment.

Actually, the origin of the word celibacy can be traced to the 1660s and it has nothing to do with vows. It comes from the Latin word caelibatus, “state of being unmarried.” Vows are NEVER mentioned in conjunction with marriage in the Bible and they are never mentioned in conjunction with celibacy. It’s all about commitment. We’re either committed to a spouse or committed to God. Let me say this very plainly. If you have to take a vow to refrain from sex for the rest of your life, you do not have the gift of celibacy that Jesus talked about, whether your a priest or not a priest, whether your a Protestant or Catholic, Jew or Gentile. You are not a eunuch for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. When you get married, do you take a separate vow to refrain from sexual relationships with other people? Authentic gifts are freely given and freely chosen. They are not compulsions. I freely chose celibacy. I could get married tomorrow. I choose not to. I could have gotten married 30 years ago. I chose not to. Even though society may not have a word for me, it is as natural for me as marriage is for husbands and wives. Even if I am one in a thousand, or whatever figure Martin Luther tossed out, that does not negate the reality of my existence. God does not operate by popular vote. He doesn’t take opinion polls. So it’s your choice. You can either live your life based on the Bible’s eternal truths, as bizarre as they may sound today, or you can live your life based on the popular vote of the masses. A eunuch for the kingdom of heaven is who I am. I don’t have to take cold showers everyday. I don’t question my manhood. Even though it may seem supernatural for the world, celibacy is very natural for those who have chosen this life. If Christ returned tomorrow, who do you think he would better relate to, the precious family on the third pew or the celibate looking in from the outside?

What Happened To Purity Culture?

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Really, the question should be what happened to the image of purity? What happened to the image of chastity? What happened to the image of virginity? Who took it upon themselves to change the meaning of these words in the first place? The short answer is that a culture of family idolatry derailed purity. Take a look at the intentions of the two men who created the whole idea of abstinence pledges and created the largest purity movement in this country, True Love Waits. The two family men who started it had one agenda – the future marriages of their teenage daughters. In all honesty, the name of the campaign should have been “True Love Waits For Marriage,” because marriage was assumed to be the ultimate goal. So what happens when teenagers wait and wait . . . and are still waiting past youth groups and pizza parties? Disillusionment. Do they wait? Why do you think the age of first marriage is increasing? In the absence of a Christian ethic, why would any man sacrifice his entire life for something he can get in 10 minutes on any street corner? Actually, what happened with all the “pretend” waiting is that the whole marriage/family worship culture came down like a house of cards, falling flat on its face in a cesspool of gay marriage, pornography, and Ashley Madisons. A single man waiting on marriage to have sex? Why, that’s funnier than a 40 year old virgin. But that’s where the family idolatry church culture has led us. While they kissed their babies and bowed down to the golden image of children, their single adult men were out on the streets putting more notches under their belts. After all, it’s not a marriage unless they make it official in a courthouse. Right? I always laugh when I hear church leaders say, “Oh, but marriage is not respected like it used to be.” “Look at all these good Christian women with no decent men to marry.” Churches – You killed marriage by placing it on a pedestal of idol worship. You killed marriage when you failed to show respect to people who chose celibate life. It’s a medical fact that a person can kill themselves by consuming too much of anything, even water. It’s also a fact that the church overdosed on sex and still doesn’t even know why it’s close to death. Even while congregations sit in “family worship centers,” they have no clue they are sitting in their own coffins.

So what’s left of purity culture today? What are people saying about it? Unfortunately, if a person is not Catholic and female, they don’t have a voice on the subject. So we are left with the same old age and gender stereotypes we have dealt with for the past 250 years. Have you heard of a Protestant conference on celibacy lately? As far as I know, there are no other 50+ year-old men “coming out” as virgins. Who wants that kind of disrespect? Honestly, it would have been easier for me if I had came out as a homosexual Mormon married to three men with a child by a previous marriage. Just think – If I were a 20-something Catholic girl, I could be lining up my next book signing tour, scheduling my next speaking engagement, mailing out T-shirts, writing my next advice column, etc.; all the while looking over my shoulder for Romeo. Oh, but I’m content with who I am. I know I make a lot of people uncomfortable. For those of us who have chosen the celibate life, I think challenging the status quo is part of our responsibility. Whose going to take the babies off the pedestals and put equal attention on people who are homeless, in prison, disabled, hungry?

Virginity – The Great Equalizer

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Virginity. I know it’s a word that’s not politically correct these days. Pedophiles get more positive press coverage than virgins. It’s unbelievable that we live in a world where virginity is ridiculed and homosexuality is celebrated, where “purity culture” is put down as condemning and and Ashley Madison is hailed as the next best thing since day after pills. And the ultra-religious right and chastity advocates are getting in on the action. For many of them, true love doesn’t wait any more, and chastity successfully integrates with whatever feels good at the time and what you need to be popular. Yes, we live in a time where a personal history does not exist. Whatever you did last week, just ask God for forgiveness and all is forgotten. After all, why should a pesky little thing like virginity get in the way of your self-discovery and the guy or girl of your dreams? Chastity doesn’t remember your past, right? It does for Christians. How can we learn and grow without a past? There are those today who are trying to remove any remnant of the Confederate Army from America’s history. They are comfortable with repeating all of our mistakes. As uncomfortable as it may be, all of us have histories. Just because a person has not had sex does not mean they are perfect. I am not trying to condemn anybody with my post, because I know that most people do not accept my belief that marriage begins with sex, regardless of the legal and social formalities. I am trying to point out that sex changes a person at all levels of their existence – physically, emotionally, spiritually, and intellectually. And that the state before marriage is just as important as the state after marriage. It doesn’t matter if we accept it or not. It doesn’t matter if we call virgins “holy rollies” or “40 year old fruitcakes.” God calls everybody to wait on marriage before having sex. And there are people who are waiting. That’s a biblical fact. The world hates the idea of sexual innocence and praises experience of all sorts, from bed post notches to orgy score cards. Its idea of sex has devolved into a cage of groping animals. The deeper it sinks into perversion, the more uncomfortable it will be with virginity. We don’t have to answer to straw men. The Bible stands on its own.

It’s always been interesting to me that the subject of Christian sexuality usually goes no further than what rules not to break, how far is too far, and what to do if you get pregnant – a two-part dumbed-down view of human sexuality. But what can we expect from a society that believes a wedding ceremony is the same thing as a marriage? It’s my belief that sex is a divine mystery, the magnitude of which we will not completely comprehend until we get to heaven. For me, over the years, virginity has become less and less about the physical – and more and more about the spiritual. That’s one of the reasons why it’s part of God’s plan for marriage. Virginity is the great equalizer that ensures two people take off on the same level and that leads to the greatest chance of a successful marriage. It neutralizes any male or female stereotypes and allows two people to interact on a spiritual level. It nixes objectification and doesn’t allow any baggage on board. It gives a couple comfort knowing that one doesn’t have any knowledge or experience that the other doesn’t have. It takes age off the table. That’s hard to believe for a world that equates virginity with adolescence. It also allows a level of communication and trust that cannot be reached if one person has already become one with another. In essence, virginity closes out the influences of the world and protects marriage from unseen calamities.

Virginity is also a paradox because inexperience becomes the one thing that results in the greatest chance of a lifetime experience with marriage. It’s also the one thing that orients a person with the celibate gift towards God’s concerns. It’s not a matter of “I think I’ll take a vow of celibacy and try to be about God’s concerns.” Those of us who have accepted it are about those concerns. It’s who we are. Just like a married person is naturally concerned about their spouse. We are naturally concerned about our spouse. Am I knocking you over the head with that? No. Am I saying celibacy is right for everybody? No. Read the Bible. Get your answers from the Bible, not from public opinion polls.

When looked at in light of God’s word, how can virginity just be about the physical? That’s where many of us have fallen to the world’s straw men. We have to articulate the divine mystery of sex. We have to explain the spiritual nature of sex, because we have separated it from marriage. For me, that involves telling the world that I have said no to sex. It involves telling the world that I believe every word of the Bible is true and that there is a life beyond the temporal pleasure of this world. My renunciation of marriage does not mean that I think marriage is a bad thing. It doesn’t mean that I’m any better than anybody else. It means that I have faith that there is something better beyond what this world has to offer. Since I do not have the sexual relationship that everybody else takes for granted, it equalizes me to be able to relate to any human condition, no matter what they have or don’t have.

Just Friends?

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When I made the choice to remain as I am, one of the things that comforted me was the thought that I could claim all girls as my girlfriends. Then I could spend all the time I wanted with any of them and wouldn’t have to worry about neglecting a wife or children. For that matter, I could call up anybody anytime, man or woman, if I wanted to talk. The only problem is that men and women can’t be friends anymore. The fastest way I know of to ensure that a single woman will not speak to me again is to ask her to be my friend. Even faster, tell her that I don’t plan on getting married and that I plan on staying single. The simple reason is because we live in a world that worships marriage and family. Sex has become the be-all and end-all of human existence. With their fertile years slipping by, many women blame men, the world, and God himself. The only men they are willing to be friends with are potential suitors. Everybody else is a waste of time. That may sound like a logical plan of action. But it’s not biblical. All of us are called to love our neighbor as ourselves. We’re also told in the Bible that whatever we do for one of the least of these, we do it to God.

Over the last 30 years, I’ve watched how men and women relate to each other change drastically. It all coincides with the increasing use of the internet and other digital technologies for communication. The “friend” on a Facebook friend list is a far cry from a real friend from the 70s. This was brought home to me recently when I went to my 35-year high school reunion. What a feeling to be in a room with real friends I’ve known for many years, several of them since first grade. Since I never dated in high school, sex was never part of the picture with any of them. But I think I know them better than any other group of people in my life. To know someone today though requires sex, and I think it’s the one thing that makes me feel out of place. Men are expected to either be having sex on a regular basis with a wife or looking for someone to have sex with, preferably with a woman. But I think churches today accept homosexuals more than they do people looking for spouses or those called to celibacy. Friends? That requires too much self control. And most churches will tell you that for men that’s just not possible. They will point you to their pornography addiction groups, unwanted sexual behavior groups, sexual addiction recovery groups, substance abuse groups, same sex attraction groups, accountability support groups, etc. Women might find a body image support group. But if a single man and woman sit together, they automatically have a romantic interest in each other. The gossip line of the church will have them having sex before lunch is finished.

Taking sex off the table is just not possible for single women either because their biological clocks are running out. They’ve invested in their education, careers, houses, etc. Now they want their baby. And they want it now! If they don’t see an acceptable prenuptial package deal, most won’t even tell a guy hello. Friends just waste time. Does that sound Christian? Not to me. It actually is one more thing that gives the church a black eye. Single men – be careful whom you sit with in church. The grapevine may have you dating her before you get home. Of course, it could be a church where two “sit downs” are required for dating. And daddy could be watching from any pew. When a society reaches the point where they can’t confer adulthood on young adults and the differences between dating and courting become a theological issue, they’ve reached a point of sex worship.

With all the talk of “just friends,” I often think, “what else do I need?” And then I have to remind myself of how the world views my alternative celibate life, whether they know that’s what I’ve chosen or not. First, I have to be careful with the word celibacy because, for many people, it only means one thing – being gay and trying to live without sex. These family-only churches know of no other Christian lifestyle but family. The only way their preachers and leaders can relate to the word “single” is from a youth perspective. They’re experts on youth. They represent potential tithes for the church. They know how to do is prepare them for marriage and tell them to wait; because if they get married, they can give more money to the church. “Get close to God and he’ll bring you the right one.” When I feel like nobody in the church knows who I am, I have to remember that they really don’t me because they don’t know what celibacy is, that the days of honest friendships are long gone – and that the church only knows how to date, court, have sex, and kiss babies. There is so much more of me to get to know. My art, photography, short stories, mentoring, etc. It would really be easier for me to make up a story of how my wife died and left me to live as a widower for all these years. Then there would be no questions asked. “So sorry John. Let us know if there’s anything we can do.” They might bring me a donut.  Let us remind ourselves that there is nothing eternal about marriage, family, sex, and children. For me, that means the lifestyle of celibacy I have chosen on earth is the same one I will spend eternity with.

What Happens During A Wedding Ceremony That Makes Sex Okay?

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The Wedding Ceremony of Andrea Kastner and Thomas Morton by Thomas Thorspecken

The good old American wedding. It’s as comfortable as applie pie. So steeped in tradition we accept it as God’s word. Wedding dates, wedding planners, wedding rehearsals, rehearsal dinners, invitations, announcements, wedding ceremonies, wedding vows, engagement rings, wedding rings, legal witnesses, marriage licenses, preachers, money for the preachers, wedding cakes, bridesmaids’ luncheons, buttercream icing, buffets, entrances, preludes, interludes, processionals, recessionals, receptions, wedding dresses, tuxedos, ball gowns, veils, headpieces, open stocks, bridal registries, place settings, bridal showers, what to toss, flowers, garter belts, trains, corsages, boutonnieres, cascades, fillers, freeze-dried petals, pomanders, English garden arrangements, Tuscan arrangements, beveled edges, deckled edges, embossed, engraved, suits, proofs, sets, albums, escorts, place cards, overlays, pickups, sweetheart tables, first dances, honeymoons, best men, bridesmaids’ dresses, maids of honor, grooms, grooms’ mothers, ushers, wedding songs, ring-bearers, flower girls, father’s left arm, wedding parties, formal photographs, guest books, rose ceremonies, thresholds, frogs, spiders, black cats, rice tosses, stag parties, toasts, tin cans, five sugar-coated almonds, candlesticks, thirteen coins.

The problem is, none of it is in the Bible.  There is absolutely no description of a wedding ceremony in scripture. And there is nothing about weddings that make them innately biblical. No vows. No marriage licenses. No punch. Did you just did dizzy? If weddings are considered spiritual events on the same order with births and deaths, at what point during the wedding does God say, “Okay, you can have sex and become one flesh now”? Does a preacher become a stand-in for God when he asks, “do you take this woman/man to be your wife/husband?” Protestant churches would have you believe that.  So if marriages don’t start with wedding ceremonies, when do they start? Maybe we should consult the Bible. Take a look at Ephesians 5:30-32:

“For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones.

For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh.

This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church.”

I cannot think of a more dignified and accurate metaphor for the sexual union than a man and woman becoming “one flesh.” Leave it to the genius of Apostle Paul and his way with words. Am I saying we’ve had it wrong all these years? Yes I am. The church slipped off the tracks when marriages became separated from sex with pomp and circumstance and assumed it could take on the role of God and unite two people forever.  Of course, all of this was done to allow and legalize divorce.  The church can’t do that. A preacher can’t do that. A thousand bowls of coconut-pineapple punch can’t do that. Even more sobering is the fact that man’s vocabulary can’t superimpose itself on top of God’s vocabulary. A classic example is “premarital sex.” If all sex before marriage is premarital, what do you call sex after marriage? Postmarital? Does all that bad sex before marriage suddenly become good when a preacher says, “You may now kiss the bride” in front of two witnesses and a gaggle of onlookers? Most churches will tell you it does because they routinely marry “cohabitating partners.”  I just don’t think so. Does that mean there are millions of people walking around today who are married through fornication and don’t know it? I’m afraid so. God’s word and commandments are so far removed from today’s reality that they’ve become unrecognizable. The church didn’t defend them and the congregants tossed them out the window in favor of comfort and pleasure. Instead of conforming our lives to God’s word, we have conformed God’s word to fit our lives.

Notice what Paul says in verse 32. I think it’s one of the most overlooked passages in the Bible. In very plain language, he is telling us that marriage is a mystery we will not understand on this earth. Could it be that sex actually bonds a man and woman beyond our comprehension so that they are more “one flesh?” than we even realize? Could sex chemically change our bodies permanently so that a man does become one with a prostitute when he has sex with her? Those are uncomfortable questions. And the world today doesn’t want the discomfort of a mystery. Every answer is in the palm of our hands. Just Google it. Is there anything science cannot explain? It tries. But, “The foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength (1 Corinthians 1:25).”

Marriage And Celibacy – A House Divided?

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Here in Alabama, the one thing that is worshipped almost as much as sex is football. Actually, most guys make it a weekend package deal with beer and sex thrown in on the sidelines. And the Alabama and Auburn game is one of the biggest rivalries in college football. People like to talk about their “divided houses,” where one spouse is an Alabama fan and the other spouse an Auburn fan. They let the world know about it by painting half of something of insignificance red and white and the other half orange and blue. Or they have both teams’ colors represented equally in some way. For instance, some “divided” automobiles have an Alabama flag hanging out one window and an Auburn flag hanging out the other window. Who would have thought football would be hit with such political correctness? If you asked them though, most fans would tell you that they root for both teams up until the Iron Bowl when Alabama takes on Auburn each year.

Isn’t it a shame that the same can’t be said about Christian lifestyles? Just like the world, churches today have bowed down to the god of sexual desires or, as they call it, God-honoring marriages. They flaunt their families with more gusto than any football fan could imagine. What’s really remarkable about this is, unlike football where there are many teams to choose from, the Christian lifestyle only has two choices – marriage and celibacy. If you ask a preacher about singleness, he’ll probably say something like “that’s okay too.” The only problem is that actions speak louder than words. Is his church flying both the flags of marriage and celibacy while cruising down the lanes of Sunday morning worship? I’m afraid not. Chances are his church has a marquee out front that reads “nursery provided.” The affirmation of singleness is only as good as the time and energy a church puts into it. That means it not only has to be talked about, it has to be demonstrated. In other words, how does the three words “that’s okay too” balance out with the thousands of hours of marriage and family seminars, premarital counseling sessions, baby dedications, weddings, marriage sermons, one flesh sermons, be fruitful and multiply sermons, youth retreats, family worship centers, missionary children, etc?  It doesn’t balance.  The truth of the matter is that the emphasis churches place on family values is in direct opposition to the emphasis the Bible places on it. Instead of the church hanging two flags out their car windows, they have one great big sign that reads “Family Comes First!” Since the same sex marriage controversy, family wagons have circled tighter around churches and the family banner has been hoisted higher and higher. Churches may be willing to occasionally talk about singles faithfully waiting on their spouses, but you won’t hear anything about a committment to celibacy that is on par with marriage. You might be saying, “but just because a church doesn’t talk about celibacy doesn’t mean they disregard its importance.” Yes it does.  If you’re talking about a football team, that may be true. But this is a matter of Christian lifestyles where silence can sometimes speak louder than words. Where silence breeds assumptions. This is even more true today because sex has socially been separated from marriage and making babies. What so many churches don’t realize though is that every time they talk about family they are talking about sex. Every time a preacher talks about children, he is talking about sex. Every time the women’s gossip line talks about weddings, they are talking about sex. As hard as he may try, man cannot undo human nature. That is difficult to grasp in an era where children have become a choice and life itself hinges on how convenient babies are. Every time children, husbands, and wives are discussed, a choice has been made, whether they acknowledge it or not. They have chosen to raise another flag in salute of marriage and hide the dignity of celibacy under another joke about gay marriage.

Respecting celibacy requires church leaders to take a look at a picture that’s bigger than the love between husband and wife and mother and child. It requires them to take a closer look at their relationship with Christ, which can be very uncomfortable. They can easily say, “but, there’s no one in our church called to singleness.” The question of course is how do they know that? Have you ever been in a church service that called for a show of celibate hands? Think of all the younger singles who passed through their doors and did not feel called to marriage, but never saw any support for celibacy. Instead, they heard about the Song of Solomon one Sunday and Daniel in the lion’s den the next. Since celibacy was never discussed, they assumed marriage to be the norm. Why shouldn’t they? Human nature will always choose support over neglect if no viable option is apparent. Many young people today are trying to discern marriage and celibacy.  They hear nothing in the sermons, read nothing in the literature, and they don’t know where to look in the Bible. They see no exit sign on the freeway of life.  If your neighbor had his radio up loud while you were doing yard work and you kept hearing “roll tide roll!” – you would probably assume he was an Alabama football fan. It’s even worse in churches, which have become more or less social support groups. What is preached and discussed is what is affirmed. What is not discussed is what is wrong. If the church operated under the same rules as the business world, preachers would have been found guilty of malpractice years ago, not to mention sex discrimination. They would be gripping their families tightly through the cold steel bars of a prison cell. The Bible actually has very little to say about families beyond husbands loving their wives, wives submitting to husbands, and children obeying their parents. Just a very few verses. That ought to tell us just how unimportant family is in the long run. It has nothing to do with eternity. On the other hand, the Bible does have much to say about virginity and how those called to celibate life are concerned with the Lord’s affairs. It also has much to say about our spiritual family and being fishers of men. It has nothing to say about a nuclear family.

It’s my opinion that the number one reason biblical marriage has failed and same sex marriage has been accepted is because the church reinforced the world view that marriage is needed to be a responsible adult, that sexual desire cannot be controlled, that marriage is nothing more than legalized sex, and celibacy nothing more than lack of sex. Instead of a one flesh union between husband and wife, marriage became a trip to the courthouse to pick up a marriage license. Celibates? “Well, those are the poor miserable people who haven’t found an outlet for their sexual desire yet.  They’re too greedy, too picky, too hung up on themselves.” “Adolescents who will never grow up.” Sexual ethics have become no more than the identification of the haves and have nots, those who have sanctified their sexual desires from those living in sin, and those who have found their sexual partners from those “condemned to live in loneliness.” That’s what happens when only one lifestyle flag flies from the steeples of churches. It allows one lifestyle to take over the house of God, which ultimately leads to the whole house being destroyed.  You can see and hear it in everything they do. The absence of visible celibates within churches and communities makes one clear statement, that marriage and sexual pleasure are idols of worship and that singles are less than whole people. We cannot recognize the goodness of God’s creation in the Old Testament unless we can recognize the goodness of Christ’s sacrifice in the New Testament and those willing to sacrifice their whole lives for him today. We will not be able to balance both marriage and celibacy if we can’t transform “Be fruitful and multiply babies” in the Old Testament to “Be fruitful and multiply God’s children” in the New Testament. As a matter of fact, only celibate people can truly represent complete love for Christ and total dependence on him. Only their witness can herald an eternity where there will be no marriages and no babies. A church without visible eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven leaves its doors wide open for sexual idolatry and every abdomination known to man. There are many people who think the opposite of a one man/one woman marriage commitment is singles who are waiting on marriage or same sex marriage. That is absolutely false.  The opposite of marriage is a commitment to celibacy.  If you can accept that there is an opposite to marriage and the committment between a husband and wife, then you have to accept that it involves a sacrifice. If a man is not committed to a wife, what is he sacrificing for? It has to be Christ. If it’s Christ, then he’s committed to celibacy. That is logically the only answer and the only answer found in the Bible. What happens to a society that chooses to only fly the flag of family values and neglect Christ? Read the news headlines from the last six months.

Letting Go Of Double Standards In The World Of Chastity

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The Planet of Armless Women by Yanidel. Paris, 2011.

I was recently listening to an interview and this question was posed to 29 year old chastity guru Arleen Spenceley:  “Do you desire to only marry a virgin man?”  I was sort of taken aback because I had never heard that question asked or answered before. What an opportunity to give some encouragement to the faithful virtuous guys who have been waiting their whole lives for that one special girl. For young men out there to hear that their virginity is valued and not ridiculed and that their patience and integrity still means something. In an age of cohabitation and sexual perversion, an opportunity for young men to be reminded that there are exceptions. And to make it even more significant, the girl who was about to answer the question was a self-professed virgin, a supporter of all things chastity. I mean, if she didn’t place any value on virgin men, who would? It was a simple yes/no question, do you desire to marry a virgin man or not? Unfortunately, she said no.

“I don’t know yet for sure that I’ll ever get married, as I’m still discerning my vocation. But I do date, and I don’t require the men I date to be virgins just because I am. I’ve dated men who are virgins and I’ve dated men who aren’t. That’s part of the beauty of chastity. A person can start practicing it now, regardless of whether he or she always has.”

Yes, that’s the beauty of feminism.  Nobody has a past.  If a woman wants it, by George she can have it, if it’s ripe for the picking.  If he’s got the money and the right color sports car, why should a pesky little thing like a sexual history get in the way?   By dodging the question, her answer in effect became louder than an actual no. It’s interesting how she turned the word “desire” in the question to “require” in the answer. I guess it would have been too dirty or unseemly for a woman to acknowledge desire of a sexual nature. Women don’t have sexual desire, do they?  It is strongly implied by the answer. And that’s all that counts. By saying it didn’t matter and not letting her yes be yes on a question of this magnitude, she denigrated all men who are waiting on marriage and put them at the back of the line with all the playboys. The question was not “do you value the lives of single men who have had sex as much as you value the lives of single men who have not had sex.” But that’s how she twisted it to avoid the question. “A person can start living a life of chastity now.” The question was not about chastity, but about virginity. I mean, there was so much dodging in this interview that you would think you were watching dodgeball. I do understand that in the Catholic Church these two words have apparently been blurred enough to mean the same things (to leave the door open for homosexual chastity?) So inclusive and so politically correct. But such a grave mistake. Ladies, if you can’t respect men enough to publically acknowledge their virginity while you place yours high up in your castles of purity and altars of marital idolatry, you can’t expect them to be your knights in shining armor. I would suggest you remain quiet on anything to do with Christian sexual ethics. All you’re doing is reinforcing the age-old stereotype that men can’t control themselves and the double standards that have existed between men and women for millennia. A good answer might have been: Yes, a Christian virgin guy is what I desire. But that’s not what I’m guaranteed.” Take a look at what Apostle Paul said in 1 Corinthians 9:24-27:

“24 Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. 25 Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. 26 Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air. 27 No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.”

What prize are you running for ladies? Are you willing to settle for second best? As long as there are virtuous single men in the world, that’s what you’re doing when you give the playboys a nod and a wink.  That’s what you’re doing when you tow the party line of feminism.  You’re witness then becomes one of compromise and defeat. Apostle Paul didn’t want to do anything sinful with his body because he didn’t want to be seen as a hypocrite. As he said, he didn’t want to be “disqualified for the prize.” Today that would be considered divisive hate speech. A person can’t be disqualified from anything today. Everybody has a right to everything, especially radical feminists.  Should we edit Paul’s disqualified to requalified?  It’s more inclusive, more loving, more forgiving . . . but oh so much more unbiblical. I think we underestimate the impact of everything we say and do on other people. And I think there are two things we’ve lost sight of: 1) Sex is not something dirty. It’s okay to have sexual desire. Got created it within us. I have sexual desire. But I have chosen not to express it and not to marry.  Are there any women left who are willing to say they desire to marry a man with no sexual history? What I find interesting is that women have been complaining for years about being objectified and valued only for their bodies. But when they have the opportunity to express what they want in a man, they become deaf. When given the chance to hold men accountable to the same standards they have been subjected to for years, they go quite. When given a chance to raise the bar of expectations in men, they slink back to the old “boys will be boys” mantra. Are there any women who know what they want and are not running aimlessly? Are there any who can show virtuous men a little respect or even recognize their existence in the world? 2) Living virtuous lives is not going to win us any popularity contests. It will make us enemies. Christianity is both inclusive and exclusive. It’s inclusive in that God gave his only begotten son to the whole world. Everybody has a chance to believe in him and have everlasting life. But for those who have already accepted Christ, our relationship to him is exclusive in that we put no other Gods before us. If you are not an enemy of the world, you are not a friend of Christ. If we are going to bring sexual ethics up to a higher level, we’ve got to leave the double standards behind. Your parents might have handed them down to you. But it’s your responsibility to let them go.

http://btscelebs.com/2014/10/27/interview-author-arleen-spenceley-we-are-created-to-love-part-1/

http://arleenspenceley.com/

What Is A Virtuous Single Man?

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Socrates first posed the question, “What is a virtuous man, and what is a virtuous society?” As a matter of fact, the word virtue comes from the Latin word man. First and foremost, a virtuous single man has to know Christ and has to be striving everyday to be more and more like him. He doesn’t compromise his standards to fit any particular political or corporate agenda. The man who has standards of virtue in private life carries those same standards to every aspect of his life. Hence, I think it’s fair to sair that a man’s work can never be greater than his virtue. He picks up the Bible for his reading pleasure instead of Car and Driver Magazine. He is a man who is conscious of everything he does and is aware of the impact he has on other people. That means he is sensitive to things that a lot of guys are not. He would rather cry than pretend everything is okay. Even though his personal virtue will stand at odds with the surrounding culture, he stands his ground and is willing to be persecuted for his beliefs. He respects God’s creation and is kind to all living things. He protects life. He treats others like he wants to be treated. He’s a good steward of everything in his care and takes what he needs and gives away what he can.

He has compassion for those who are weak and hurting and risks his life to help them. He is humble enough to not see himself as better than anybody else. That means he has compassion for all people who have been treated badly, including women and children who have been abused. He’s familiar with local shelters and safe houses and knows how to go about ensuring someone’s safety. He is generous with his time.

He is a responsible man. He owns up to his mistakes, pays for what he buys, does what he says he will do, and takes care of those who are weaker. He is concerned about the future of young people and tries to be an example for them. He’s not afraid of playing the role of a dad when called to.

He is self-disciplined. He is aware that everything his eyes and ears take in has an impact on him, and he knows about the traps of easy sex, pornography, dishonesty, etc. He is self-controlled. He does not have sex outside marriage. For the single man, that means he saves it for marriage or is an eunuch for the kingdom of heaven. For the married man, that means he is faithful to his wife. Even though the world glorifies anger and short fuses, he is slow to anger and would rather think things over than make a decision he will regret. The virtuous man has standards that are the same whether he’s alone or with a group of people, at home or on a business trip, in a church or in a crowded mall. Consistency is his middle name. He is the same today as he will be tomorrow. He doesn’t flap in the wind. If you want a good gauge of his virtue and integrity, observe what he does with his free time. Does he do anything that he wouldn’t do in public? Is his idea of pleasure all about himself or does he try to bring a smile to everyone he meets?

One thing that separates a virtuous man from others is that he holds the same standards for both men and women. He treats everybody with dignity. His vocabulary is different than the world’s is. He does not objectify women. The virtue of a single man does not depend on whether or not he is pursuing women. The older he gets, the more he is aware that this world is slipping away. He does all he can to rid the world of ageism, sexism, and classism. That is the biggest hindrance to him making friends.

It’s common today to associate the success of a man with his ethical values. The prosperity gospel has reached into every nook and cranny in society. The world looks at a prestigious job, social status, five-column mansion, six-figure salary, golf course membership, and comes to the conclusion, “He must be living right!” The simple life of a virtuous man stands in stark contrast to that. He doesn’t compare himself to anybody else and is content to have Christ. He doesn’t care about instant upgrades.

Of course, the image of a virtuous man depends a lot on how a man is defined. In the world today, a man is defined mostly by his sexual exploits, appearance, job, and money. If he’s not married, he’s expected to be “in pursuit” of women. He’s got to be climbing the corporate ladder. He’s got to have the confidence and enough notches under his belt that he can get any woman he lays eyes on. That’s where the virtuous man who is content to remain celibate falls under the radar because he is trying to cultivate spiritual friendships while the world is trying to cultivate sexual perversion. It’s unfortunate that so many Christian singles bought into Harry’s lie that men and women can’t be friends because the sex part always gets in the way. But that’s been the operating principle of every church-based singles group I’ve ever been a part of. Their idea of “fellowship” is to land their next date. “Just friends? You must be joking.” The world’s idea of a man is but a mere shadow of what a real man is.

Virtuous single men, I encourage you to stay strong. Resist the temptation to blend in with the world. Step out and be different. Hold the word of God out in front of you as your guiding light and understand the importance of self control in everything you do, whether its in your dating relationships or how you handle your money. Every little thing that we do says something about us. And you would be surprised at what people remember. So what is a virtuous single man? He’s out of this world.

Baby’s First Steps

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“Gay, celibate and Christian.” If I read it one more time, my nausea will force me to go to the hospital. Talk about an oxymoron. Putting the words gay and celibate in the same sentence only serves to prove how deep into depravity we have stumbled. Could it be another case of Christian people not defending biblical principles? I think so. How has the church defended and affirmed celibacy over the last 500 years? With more family alters? Family life centers? Family church? Do they even know what celibacy is outside the context of homosexuality? Honestly, the church today can’t even relate to a single person, much less a person who has the gift of celibacy. Just take a look at how Supreme Court Justice Kennedy slammed single people in his affirmation of same sex marriage: “Their hope is not to be condemned to live in loneliness, excluded from one of civilization’s oldest institutions. They ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law.” What’s interesting here is that he dug himself into a whole by trying to play the “either or” game. Consider the alternatives here: Heterosexual marriage, homosexual marriage, and singleness. Heterosexual marriage was off the table. But the best defense he could make for gay marriage was to present its only Christian alternative, singleness, as a crime punishable by condemnation to loneliness. So for Kennedy, celibate and gay are the ultimate contradiction. Could the mere thought of a heterosexual person living without sex even cross through his brain cells? I doubt it. We would be condemned to live in loneliness. Actually, we could be convicted and sent to prison. It has been done in the history of mankind. Being lonely is just . . . too uncomfortable. It borders on torture. We all have a right to get everything we want and be comfortable, don’t we Justice Kennedy? The reason he looked at celibacy as a state of condemnation is that he never knew what biblical celibacy was. Most churches don’t. Most Americans don’t either.

To show you just how profound an impact our language can have, I have a suggestion. All new mothers and fathers, when your baby takes his first steps, refer to them as “first steps into perversion.” Isn’t that so sweet and innocent? For example, when you call your next-door neighbors with the good news, tell them “he took his first steps into perversion.” If they ask any questions, just tell them that your baby is evil. Every time. Tell them he sleeps in the backyard with the dogs. I highly recommend this for preachers. How did that idea sit with you? Did you ask yourself what’s a baby got to do with perversion? Did you get sick to your stomach? My stomach feels the same way every time you associate my celibate lifestyle with homosexuality. What does being a eunuch for the kingdom of heaven have to do with homosexuality? I feel sick every time you bow down at the altar of family values with no other alternative for non-Christians who may be visiting the church. When you don’t recognize the lifestyle and values of single people, you leave us to be condemned by the sodomized courts in this country.

Ageism’s Hidden Role In A Lost Generation

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When most people think of segregation and discrimination they think of civil rights for minorities and employment rights for women. Those may make the news and catch the public’s attention. But are there other types of discrimination we’re not aware of? First, let’s look at the definitions. According to the Oxford Dictionary, segregation is: “The action or state of setting someone or something apart from other people or things or being set apart.” And discrimination is defined as: “The unjust or prejudicial treatment of different categories of people or things, especially on the grounds of race, age, or sex.” Usually the consequences of discrimination are visible before the lawsuits are filed; like not getting hired, not getting promotions, and not getting a pay raise. There has to be evidence. What about consequences that are not so visible? Does all segregation and discrimination have to involve lawyers and money? In my opinion, the most damaging segregation and discrimination occurs in secret with no documentation. A prime example is ageism and its invisible consequences.

Children spend the first 18 years of their life segregated with kids their own age in school. They study with their own age group. They eat in the cafeteria with their own age group. They socialize with their own age group. Many people don’t realize that the K-12 system of American education was patterned after the child labor practices following World War I. Assembly lines became the classrooms. Production units per minute became grades. The system we have today has nothing to do with the best methods of teaching or learning; but everything to do with factories, production, child labor, and quotas. Students are, in essence, still production units today. Parents accepted that system because they abdicated their responsibility as parents to teach their children anything, including moral values. And then enter divorce. Single moms with daughters felt safer because their little Suzy Qs weren’t being influenced by those big, bad, dirty, older boys. As foolish as that kind of thinking was, it was convenient. I still remember the talk in high school about how seniors did everything. Some of the senior boys in my school reached legendary status because of their sexual exploits. The lower grades were even kept from passing by seniors in the hallways. They were just that bad. That was 40 years ago. How are our schools doing today? They’re one colossal failure, not to mention the debacle of common core standards.

Marketers and social scientists now label each generation . . . in hindsight. “Traditionals” were born between 1901-45, Baby Boomers between 1945-1960, Gen-X’ers between 1961-1981, Millennials 1982-2002, and the current “Z” generation 2003 until who knows when. These generations are defined by their shared experiences, feelings, activities, music, and movies. The only reason they’re identified is to help marketers identify sales demographics. Unfortunately, churches adopted the very same failed practices because they too saw themselves as companies with a product to market. When people today ask me what happened to the youth, I tell them “the church.” If you sat down with a calculator and tried to figure the numbers of permutations and combinations for age ranges and groups, you’d be better off looking at your local church of size. You’d probably find them all. Here are some examples:

“Ages 12-18 to do mission work.” http://www.scnow.com/news/education/article_3e358974-dd89-11e4-b802-0710360d5014.html

“Children’s Church for students ages 5-11.” http://tbcgraymont.org/assets/trinity_baptist_church_history.pdf

“Wee Wow is for students ages 2-6 and WOW is for students ages 7-11.” http://www.limestonefwb.org/ministries/children-s-church/

“Glory Girls is for students ages 6 grade through 12 grade. Glory Gals is for all women who are 18 years or older.” http://www.mudcreekchurch.org/

JAM & JAM JR. makes learning about the Bible lots of fun for students ages 3 through 4th grade, with skits, singing, games and stories. Club 56 (Grades 5 & 6), Junior High E.D.G.E. (grade 7 & 8) Senior High Reach (grade 9–12) also start at 6:30 p.m. http://www.chisholmbaptist.org/ministries/family-night/

Enjoyers – 75 yrs and up – Sunday School. http://www.fbcterrell.org/#/adults/sunday-school

College & Career (ages 18-25), Median Adults (ages 40-56), Adult 3 (ages 56-70), Adult 4 (ages 70+). http://sandspringsbc.com/adults/adult-sunday-school-classes

A new class for young singles only (Age: 30-50). http://www.valleybaptist.org/pages/page.asp?page_id=173354

This class is full of singles and couples ranging from ages 25-40. http://alcoafumc.com/sunday-school-classes/

There are literally millions more. Walk in as a first time visitor into any church in this country and you’re going to be asked one thing: “How old are you?” And probably: “Are you married?” Acturally, some “worship centers” look more like bars and night clubs than churches with their ear-splitting sound systems and light shows. I wouldn’t be surprised if somebody walked up to a pulpit one Sunday evening and ordered a double on the rocks. They look and feel like the world. There are even churches like Edmond’s First Baptist in Edmond, OK that are proud of the fact that their age divisions replicate what is found in the world:

“For the purposes of Bible study and discipleship training, we divide into Connection Groups (small groups) according to age and grade. These divisions mirror those that happen naturally in life so that each class is comprised of small groups of peers who are facing similar joys, challenges, and experiences as others in the class.”

So, if anything happens “naturally in life,” well . . . glory hallelujah! It must be good!” I don’t naturally hang out with people my age. And who is my peer group? On the surface, it would seem that these kinds of age divisions in churches would be harmless. Most church members would probably say they just provide a way of dividing everybody up into neat little teachable groups. So innocent, they say. The problem is that the consequences of age discrimination usually don’t show up until years later, like the Millennials have shown up today. Only in the last 50-60 years have age groups become segregated and institutionalized. That may be because our country was not rallying around a common cause, like war.  Millennials, however, are rallying around one thing – sexual freedom and same sex “marriage.”  Why didn’t they get the same sexual ethics instilled in them as did the WWII generation?  It’s because the Millennials’ parents (Gen-Xer’s) and grandparents (Baby Boomers) didn’t have a legacy of sexual integrity to pass to their children.  And age segregation outside the home (i.e., church) prevented the few adults who did have sexual integrity from reaching them.  Their parents were too busy working and getting ahead. Children became unplanned mistakes, moms married their careers, and dads went missing in action. Parents turned over responsibility of discipline and moral guidance to the government and school system. That’s why age stereotyping became the norm. The school system became their parents, nothing more than a glorified child care service. How did the Millennials turn out? Age segregation outside school allowed them to become completely socialized by the surrounding culture instead of by parental discipline.  They learned nothing from previous generations, nothing about biblical principles and sacrifice. It became more about them, their education, and their personal goals.

So instead of generations lasting 50 years, like the greatest generation of WWII, we now have generations lasting about 15 years because values have not been passed from one generation to the next by parents.  And mentoring became a punch line for late night TV jokes, since it died at the hands of age segregation. Instead of a human touch, Millennials have grown up with the touch of a mouse, computer screens, and cell phones. That’s why they have no respect for authority or their elders. They look up answers to their most profound questions about life and the universe on the internet. They basically can’t communicate one on one. And the church has swallowed it all hook, line, and sinker. They typically have typically have youth classes, young adults, college and career, young marrieds, middle adults, senior adults, or some combination of those. It’s so bad now that some churches further segregate based on marital status and gender – “just to keep those old men from thinking bad thoughts.”

The idea of comprehensive age segregated discipleship and youth ministry is foreign to Scripture. It is not commanded by God. It is not identified as a godly pattern. It is not illustrated or legitimized by biblical principles. It is quite the opposite. It contradicts New Testament patterns and everything Jesus taught about the unimportance of age. Age segregation subverts the role of fathers, it turns the hearts of children away from their parents, it places youth in peer environments, it facilitates bullyng, and it leads churches to create offices that are not biblical. Even more tragic, it separates adults from the youth who need their help when parents refuse to be parents. And of course, it prevents mentoring, a biblical concept sanctioned in the Bible.  Consider what Moses told the people of Israel after he received the law. Deuteronomy 31:10-12:

10 And Moses commanded them, saying, At the end of every seven years, in the solemnity of the year of release, in the feast of tabernacles,
11 When all Israel is come to appear before the LORD thy God in the place which he shall choose, thou shalt read this law before all Israel in their hearing.
12 Gather the people together, men and women, and children, and thy stranger that is within thy gates, that they may hear, and that they may learn, and fear the LORD your God, and observe to do all the words of this law.

Moses wasn’t their father.  But he was a man led by God who knew where he was going. The children learned with the adults, men with women, even strangers with the local people. There was no children’s church. Comfort and entertainment were not high on their list of priorities. I don’t think they had movie nights and beech weekends. They were not segregated in any way. If groups must be formed in churches, there are better ways of going about it, like study topics. It all goes back to the definition of segregation, setting someone apart from other people. With ageism, there are two groups being set apart – the younger and the older. In school, children don’t learn at the same age. So the K-12 system should have been abolished years ago. In churches, you may not even see the different ages together. That makes it even more of a conundrum. And of course intellectual maturity has nothing to do with spiritual maturity. I was recently trying to explain this to an older man in my church. He looked at me rather puzzled and I told him, “In other words, if I have something to say that your grandson needs to hear, he will never hear it because I will never be in his presence. And if he has something to say that I need to hear, I will never hear it.”  When man intervenes in something without biblical guidance, especially something so critical to our survival, he always makes a mess of it.  Like Moses, now we are looking at generations that have been lost for years.

http://www.fbcedmond.org/age-groups

https://ncfic.org/resources/view/the-un-foreseen-consequences-of-age-segregation-of-youth

http://www.truthaccordingtoscripture.com/documents/church-practice/age-segregation.php#.Vbp22EXWSo8

Actions Speak Louder Than Words

Kim Peek, The Real Rain Man

I guess you could say I’m old school. While I do think we’ve made a lot of advances with high tech and the internet, I think we’ve also taken several steps backwards. One of the biggest steps we’ve taken backwards is allowing words to become more important than actions. We have, quite literally, allowed words to mean anything we want them too. Like the word chastity I talked about in the last post. There are many people writing about chastity today. They wax eloquently about chastity being both for men and women, for young and old, for those pursuing marriage and those who are not, and about it having a spiritual meaning. But when you look at the actions behind those words, their messages falls apart. Inconsistencies sabotage messages. That is especially true in Christian ethics because the unbelieving public is scrutinizing everything we do. For instance, I could write a book about chastity for men over 50, “Chastity For Gentlemen.” I could build it up on my blog and get the best publisher in the world. But what if I put a picture of a teenage girl on the cover holding a Bible under one arm and her boyfriend under the other? I think whatever message was in the book would be defeated by the cover, don’t you? It’s sort of like a politician you build up in your mind and then find out he had an affair with his secretary and paid her off to keep quite. Whatever image was in your mind is now history.

Consistency is a virtue that is integral to honesty and character. Yes, we grow and change as individuals and we love our freedoms and artistic expressions, as inconsistent as they may be. But the one constant that falls outside the world and must be defended is the Bible. God was the same a million years ago as he is today. He does not change. His word does not change. Not only are the virtues in the Bible consistently the same, we must be consistent in defending them. If you wrote a book on the value of human life, would you put Jeffrey Dahmer on the cover? You may say that the title of a book is still words. Yes, but those words speak louder than the words inside the book. The nonbelieving world is looking for inconsistencies in the Christian message. It’s one of their number one weapons. As a matter of fact, it’s the reason the U.S. Supreme Court just condoned same sex marriage. “Those hypocrites. They don’t have any room to talk. Look at all their divorces. Look at their live-in arrangements.” Church people preaching one thing from the pulpit every Sunday, but living another thing during the rest of the week. That is the fastest track to moral destruction. The same thing applies to barrier-breaking chastity. If we’re going to defend its biblical meaning and take down the divisions of age and gender, we must be consistent. That means it would be wise if we didn’t associate chastity with teenagers, girls, beauty pageant queens, dresses, purity balls, Cinderellas, Boazes, weddings, pink T-shirts, the Catholic church, priests, homosexuality, schools, or even marriage. You may be saying, “But John, chastity is mostly for teenage girls.” That’s the problem. We have GOT to take “most” out of our vocabulary. It is not part of God’s vocabulary. It’s a lame word. All it does is reinforce stereotypes. You may also be saying, “What’s wrong with encouraging girls to live chaste lives?” There’s nothing inherently wrong with it. But the bigger wrong is that, by leaving out guys, you’re not telling the whole story of chastity. Can you find anything in the Bible that narrows down that virtue to one gender? I can’t either. We all know that a partial truth is worse than a one hundred percent lie. That is especially true when it comes to children. You may be one who believes that young minds are not impressionable. I don’t believe that. There are many, many young people today who have no guidance on sexuality at home and turn to their friends and the internet to find out what is right and wrong. Even though it is the fault of their parents, that does not give us the right to turn a blind eye. All of us are having an impact on at least one younger person, whether we know it or not. It could be someone at your job, at church, at school, wherever. They are looking for truth and consistency. Once you do something, you can’t take it back. The same thing is true for stories. Once you put them out there, how do you control who hears them or reads them? You can’t. They become part of our legacies.

Consider other people who do not fit stereotypes, like Kim Peek, the inspiration for the character played by Dustin Hoffman in Rain Man. Even though he is severely disabled, scores well below average on IQ tests, and can’t button his shirts – he has read over 12,000 books and remembers everything about them. He reads two pages at once in about 3 seconds, one with his left eye and one with his right. He can recall facts and trivia in about 15 different subjects, from history to geography. He also remembers every musical piece he’s ever heard and can play them back on the piano. So, what pigeon hole would you put Kim in?  As far as his legacy, do you think his actions speak louder than his words?

Chastity – Is It Worth Defending?

bow lady-web

Chastity speakers, chastity blogs, chastity belts, chastity vows, chastity education, chastity veils, chastity books, chastity jewelry, chastity T-shirts. Come one, come all, get your chastity now. If you didn’t know better, you’d think the world has gone chastity crazy. Has the world really gone crazy over a biblical virtue? What does chastity really mean in the world today? I’ll give you a hint. It’s not all about saving sex for marriage. Actually, it can mean anything you want it to mean. Both the words chaste and chastity come from the Latin adjective “castus,” which means “pure.” The word chaste is found in the KJV Bible three times. According to the 1995 Holman’s Bible Dictionary, chaste means: “Holy purity demanded of God’s people with special reference to the sexual purity of women.” We all know we can never measure up to the level of purity Christ set while he was on earth. But did he give special reference to women? I can’t find that anywhere in the Bible. The 2005 New Westminster Dictionary of Christian Spirituality includes men in the definition: “Chastity has been associated with a state of a celibate lifestyle, typically of lifelong virginity, as in the case of Catholic priests, monks and nuns. Historically and outside of the religious life, concern for the preservation of chastity, understood as virginity, most often arose with regard to unmarried women.” However, the current Oxford Dictionary’s definition of chastity reflects more the sign of our times: “The state or practice of refraining from extramarital, or especially from all, sexual intercourse: vows of chastity.” How can a person be in a state and practicing it at the same time? “I think I’ll practice dying, be right back.” Or “I think I’ll practice virginity. Tell me when I’ve perfected it.”

Somewhere around the 16th century and the reign of the Virgin Queen, Elizabeth I, it seems that virginity fell away from the definition of chastity and the word came to be associated with a vague notion of purity, void of any spiritual dimensions. The Renaissance also ushered in a new awareness of emotions, feminine beauty, and intellectual achievement. During this time also, history came to be associated with the written word, including sexual histories and romantic literature. An interesting and inescapable fact about virginity is that it requires a history. So what does a society do when they want to forget their history? They redefine the language to suit their culture. In Shakespeare’s Merchant of Venice, for example, female worth is connected with chastity and increased sexual pleasure, but not with anything of a spiritual nature. Indeed, with the advent of the printing press in the 15th century and creative writers like Shakespeare in the 16th century, histories became easier to record and stories became easier to tell. Thus, personal histories associated with chastity became as erasable as one of Shakespeare’s characters. Look at how we’ve devolved today. As Shakespeare said: “All the world’s a stage.” When the words become uncomfortable, change the script. When the world wants to tax you, change your identity.

Since all taxpayers are paying for abortions, contraception, STDs, unwanted children, etc., shouldn’t every one’s sexual history be public knowledge anyway? In Old Testament times, it pretty much was. If a man raped a woman, he was required to marry her. If a new bride was found to not be a virgin, she was stoned to death. Since chastity proved to be too heavy of a cross for pleasure-seeking man to bear, we find ourselves today with a definition of chastity that has been watered down to the point you can’t tell what the original definition was. Like a feature on a car, it has become but a specification on an object of pleasure, a value added bonus. Those who still associate a sacred element with sex (and thus chastity) are at constant odds with those who see sex as a recreational sport. As John Paul II said in 2009:

“A life of chastity, poverty and obedience willingly embraced and faithfully lived confutes the conventional wisdom of the world, because it is a proclamation of the Cross of Christ (cf. 1 Cor 1:20-30).”

It has confuted the world to the point to where those who do respect the human body and sexuality are fighting for every shred of authenticity that is left in the Christian vocabulary. Fighting for chastity to mean something more than “doing the right thing regarding sex.” When the world says the word chastity and means a device, we think of virginity. When the world says rainbow and means gay rights, we think of Noah and the flood. When the world says marriage and means a relationship of convenience between two people for sexual pleasure, we think of a lifetime commitment between a man and a woman. The devaluation of chastity has been on a progressive downhill path. When the dignity of marriage fell a notch, chastity fell a notch. Our sexual motivations went from a means to a higher spiritual end (i.e., propagation of the species) to a means of sexual gratification. And when biblical language was no longer passed to children, chastity became a smug idea that “only religious people understood.” Like a fog lifting off a hot drenched highway, teenagers could only see virginity in their rearview mirrors and exclaim “If only somebody had told me about that.” For those who have chosen chastity and the celibate life, it would be wise to keep Pope Pius XII words in mind: “Virginity is not a Christian virtue unless we embrace it ‘for the kingdom of heaven.'” Likewise, fidelity in marriage is not a virtue unless we embrace the goodness of procreation and raising children in Christian homes.

If we don’t embrace and defend the language of both lifestyles, all biblical vocabulary will become meaningless and Shakespeare’s characters will once again come to life today. From The Merchant of Venice:

“Gratiano speaks an infinite deal of nothing, more than any man in all Venice. His reasons are as two grains of wheat hid in two bushels of chaff: you shall seek all day ere you find them, and when you have them, they are not worth the search.”

http://people.ischool.berkeley.edu/~nunberg/chastity.html

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chastity http://w2.vatican.va/content/pius-xii/en/encyclicals/documents/hf_p-xii_enc_25031954_sacra-virginitas.

html http://en.radiovaticana.va/storico/2009/10/20/address_of_his_holiness_john_paul_ii_to_the_bishops_of_malawi_on_their/en3-327730 https://books.google.com/books?id=bPOft7krR84C&pg=PA189&lpg=PA189&dq=chastity+virginity+dictionary+-.com&source=bl&ots=RgRpC3ygTR&sig=E5fQqdfKP06qEmIfZsFlMbAR7B0&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0CDIQ6AEwBmoVChMI0-XX7fzyxgIVTymICh2TyQow#v=onepage&q=chastity%20virginity%20dictionary%20-.com&f=false http://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/hbd/view.cgi?n=1225

What’s Better About Celibacy?

Much has been made about Apostle Paul’s statement that those who choose celibacy “doeth better.” 1 Corinthians 7:37-38:

37 Nevertheless he that standeth stedfast in his heart, having no necessity, but hath power over his own will, and hath so decreed in his heart that he will keep his virgin, doeth well.

38 So then he that giveth her in marriage doeth well; but he that giveth her not in marriage doeth better.

These verses have fueled the marriage/celibacy debate for centuries. And then of course Paul also referred to celibacy as a “gift of God (1 Cor 7:7). But why is it better than marriage?  First of all, I don’t think Paul is talking about a father-daughter relationship here.  He is still talking about single men and single women, as he was in the previous verses. He is not talking about fathers giving away their virgin daughters in arranged marriages, which is a common interpretation. He is not talking about father/daughter purity balls. “Power over his own will” can only be referring to single men who are thinking about getting married. Today we call it self-control.  Also, I think these verses apply equally to men and women.  In verse 37, he is saying that if a man makes the choice under their own free will to get married and commit to a life of sexual fidelity to their wives, he does well.

Notice that verse 38 starts with “So then.” These two simple words are a testament to the literary genius of Apostle Paul and the divine inspiration of his writing. He had just described the self-control that a man and woman need to remain chaste until marriage. “So then” transfers all of that standing “stedfast in his heart” and “power over his own will” to the man who chooses celibacy.  “But he that giveth her not in marriage doeth better” adds to it an honor and dignity that is above marriage. In other words, Paul is saying: “It takes steadfastness and willpower to commit yourselves to an honorable marriage and sex with one woman for the rest of your lives. If you think that’s tough, it takes even more to commit to a life of celibacy and no sex.”  Also notice how Paul juxtaposes a man who giveth her in marriage with a man who giveth her not in marriage.  The word “giveth” is a verb.  In order to give something, you have to make a decision.  In other words, he is placing just as much importance on the decision to get married as he is on the decision not to get married.  It is a sacred decision; not an extended period of adolescence and greedy singleness as many preachers would have you to believe.   Another point to remember from earlier verses in chapter 7 is that when a man chooses a life of virginity, he is never again defined by something he will never have.  When he chooses to giveth her not in marriage, he is not required to continually look at women in the future and contemplate the merits of that decision.  Paul hinted to that in these verses.  “His virgin” in verse 37 is carried to verse 38 as “her.”  Unfortunately, we live in a world today where virginity means only thing – waiting until marriage to have sex.  That is directly opposite of what Paul is saying here.  People who choose celibacy are only waiting on one thing – the return of Christ.  We are not waiting on weddings, on finishing college, on finding a better job, on saving enough money, etc.   We are defined by what we are saying yes to, a life of dedicated focus on God’s concerns; and not defined by what we say no to, marriage and concern for a spouse.  1 Corinthians 7:32-33:

32 But I would have you without carefulness. He that is unmarried careth for the things that belong to the Lord, how he may please the Lord:

33 But he that is married careth for the things that are of the world, how he may please his wife.

A lot of people today are asking: “What’s the difference between married men and single men?” This ought to serve as an answer.  Married men have chosen to keep their virgins and care for the things of the world (having babies, education, domestic chores, securing the home, etc).  Single men have chosen to keep Christ and care for the things that belong to him.  How do we know when we do things that please the Lord?  In general, when we do these things, it will make the world very angry.  For example, if we try to defind the very definitions of virginity and chastity in order to provide virtuous role models for children, we may be called judgmental, narrow-minded, unforgiving,, etc.  While waiting on the rain to slack up in front of a Walmart store recently, a young black man, who works as a greeter in the store, walked up to me and said “I have this ex-girlfriend and she’s thinking about leaving town with this other guy.”  I asked him what he thought about the other guy and he said “well, I really don’t know him, but the thing is they are going to live together.”  I asked him what he thought about two people living together who were not married and he said:  Well, I don’t think it’s right.  But she keeps talking about how Russell Wilson and his girlfriend did the same thing.”  I just told him that I didn’t think they provided good examples of Christian behavior.  I said the same thing about Russell Wilson and Ciara on an internet blog and was called a narcissist along with a half dozen other names.  There are a few good celebrity role models out there.  I think Lolo Jones is a good example.  She’s not afraid to tell the world that she’s a virgin and waiting on marriage.  Is Lolo a better person than Ciara?  No.  But she does provide a better role model for young adults, just as the man who giveth her not in marriage doeth better than the man who marries her from an eternal standpoint.  It’s not about being a better person than someone else.  It’s about what we take and don’t take, our actions, our witness to the world, and our availability to help other people.  It’s about humbling ourselves enough to know that our purity doesn’t even begin to compare to the standard of purity that Christ has already established.

Another thing to look at is how Paul is using the word “better.” When our 21st century consumer-driven brains think of better, we think of an object being better than another. We automatically default to objectification. This car is better than that car. This peanut butter is better than that peanut butter. Paul is not using the word in that sense. We must connect the body back to the spirit and consider man as more than a bag of tissue and bones. Paul said that the man who passes on marriage “doeth better.” The word “do” is also a verb. It is not a subject. Since it is not a subject, he cannot be saying that those who choose celibacy are better humans than those who choose marriage. So really, we’re talking about a difference that goes beyond apples and oranges. He is not disparaging marriage whatsoever. I think he’s trying to communicate that celibacy is a more efficient and straighter route to heaven. Without a spouse obstructing our vision, we can see the gaits of heaven directly in front of us. It’s like choosing flying over driving. You wouldn’t explain your choice of air to your friends by telling them that jet planes are better than automobiles. It’s just the shortest and most efficient route to your destination. Likewise, people who choose celibacy and remain virgins for their lifetimes are simply taking the shortest and most efficient route to heaven. In addition, it’s a more accurate representation of what heaven will be like because there will be no marriages or families in heaven. Also, note that virginal chastity is not compared with any other form of chastity, including conjugal chastity.  Yes, it’s difficult. But that does not negate its reality. Christ was also a virgin, which reinforces that truth. And by giving birth to Christ and remaining a virgin, Mary ushered in an era where fruitfulness did not destroy virginity and virginity did not destroy fruitfulness, because the multiplication of children of God became more important than the multiplication of human lives to populate the earth.

Eunuchs – What’s In A Name?

man-walking-through-the-desert

I had some very colorful people in my family growing up. One was my Aunt Sudie. She had a different taste in books, food, furniture, and especially music. I always thought of her as more . . . refined, cultured, even more civilized. When I went to visit her, I could always here the soft background music of Birmingham’s only easy listening radio station, WQEN. Everything was slowed down in her house. Well, everything, but intellect. She was a thinking lady. Every response was measured. And even her clothes always seemed to match. I remember playing dominoes and chess with her on Sunday afternoons. You can guess how that went. My taste in music back in the 1980s leaned toward the Bee Gees, Boston, and Bob Dylan. One afternoon on top 40 WERC, I heard that our easy listening station was switching over to country format. I thought “poor Aunt Sudie.” The next time I saw her, it didn’t take long for her to bring up the subject. “How about that? Now I’ve got to choose between being a rock and roller or a honkytonk red neck.” I sympathized with her . . . a little. While I wasn’t an easy listening fan, I didn’t like the idea of someone being forced to listen to music they didn’t like.

Replaying that scene in my mind lately has given me pause because . . . I felt like I was being forced to choose between two things I don’t want – the virginity of bubble-gum popping teenage girls or the celibacy of black-robed Gregorian-chanting bread-making Benedictine monks. I wrestled a bit with that over the years. Who did I identify with? I knew no one who had chosen this life. In the Protestant world, there’s not much to identify with if you’ve chosen a life of celibacy, other than a cold pew in the back of a church. I know what their congregations think of single men. I won’t go there. Actually I identify with refugees, hostages, people with no identity, and others displaced from war-torn areas of the world. I relate to the people of Israel. But I know my real identity is in Christ alone. As Galatians 2:20 tells me:

“I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.”

It’s interesting that the word “crucified” in this verse is in the perfect tense. The crucifixion was in fact a past action that has present results. Like Paul, I have died to all the expectations and assumptions surrounding a single man in the 21st century. Or I should say, it’s an ongoing process. All Christians are called to do this. But I think people who have chosen celibate life more fully embody that reality. We are more dependent on Christ every day of our lives. So even though a social identity may be a natural part of the human equation, it’s something we have to die to, much more so that any other segment of the population. When you get down to it, we don’t live natural lives. Those of us called to celibacy live supernatural lives. I’m sure Paul went through an identity crisis. Living a life as Saul, he had the responsibility of living in obedience to Mosaic Law. But instead of trying to find acceptance with God through following a set of rules, the person of Paul was now living by a new set of principles based on the Holy Spirit living inside of him. Just as it was the rules Paul had to cast aside, we oftentimes have to cast aside our very own language, our very own social identities. Because in a very real sense we are living outside our time zone. The world sees clocks on a wall and the oscillations of a cesium beam in the form of an atomic clock. We see an ocean of infinity that doesn’t need time. The world sees children holding hands with mom and dad. We see spiritual children in the future that can’t even be counted. We have even chosen to cast aside family and children. But remember that the Bible tells us we will not be forgotten. Isaiah 56:4-5:

4 For thus saith the LORD unto the eunuchs that keep my sabbaths, and choose the things that please me, and take hold of my covenant;

5 Even unto them will I give in mine house and within my walls a place and a name better than of sons and of daughters: I will give them an everlasting name, that shall not be cut off.

When I have an identity crisis, these are my go to verses. So I don’t like the sound of virgin? It doesn’t matter. I don’t like the sound of celibate? It doesn’t matter. I don’t want to be a monk? It doesn’t matter. One day I will have an “everlasting name.” I understand that to mean only eunuchs will have an everlasting name. Not moms. Not dads. Not preachers. Not teachers. Only eunuchs. I have no idea what that everlasting name may be. When I’m watching all the other parents pamper their children in church and I’m feeling rather childless, I remind myself that I will have an everlasting name. When the church throws a Christmas party and invites all the families but does not invite me, I remind myself that I will have an everlasting name. When I’m trying to think of people to include in my will, I remind myself I will have an everlasting name – and that my children in the future will get more than that. I don’t look at it as a consolation prize. It’s a biblical promise. All I can do now is savor the mystery.

Statistics – What Do They Mean To God?

numbers

Nowhere else will you find more statistics than human sexuality and reproduction. Marriage rate, divorce rates, pregnancy rates, birth rates, infant mortality rates, cohabitation rates, premarital sex rates, fertility rates, etc. If you wake up one morning and ask yourself, “Why am I still waiting on marriage to have sex when I’m XX years-old,” you may find yourself looking at those numbers. “Am I the only virgin left in the world.” I’ve been there and done that. If you’re just trying to find a reason to throw a pity party for yourself, I don’t recommend it. The reason is because, if we’re living in God’s will, numbers are absolutely meaningless. Yes, the ages for marriage may be going up. But I think that has more to do with guys getting marital benefits in relationships without getting married first. As long as girls are willing to have sex outside marriage to keep their boyfriends or for whatever reasons, many guys don’t see a reason to get married. But if you’re still waiting for marriage and you know what you’re standards are, you don’t need to worry about numbers. Do you want to date one of those guys who couldn’t keep his hands to himself or his pants on? God’s power is not limited by how few or how many single men are in your city. He doesn’t consult a statistics table before he allows you to meet somebody. In a lot of ways, I do think we try to put God in a box. When we do that, we only make it harder for our eyes to see miracles.

The story of how my mom and dad met is almost hard to believe. They grew up in the same small rural Alabama town. This was during the early 1950s in an area that was poverty stricken. They attended churches about 5 miles apart. One day my dad’s brother told him about a girl he had met, how pretty she was, and bet him five dollars that he couldn’t get a date with her. Her name was Jean. My dad, being the clever guy he is, found out where she went to church and showed up one Sunday night. He sat behind her and at the “right moment” asked her to come to his church. She accepted. The only problem was . . . it was not the right Jean. Unbeknownst to both of them, there were two Jeans in the neighborhood. They apparently hit it off very well. They’ve been married 57 years. This was in the days before computers and email. Neither family had a phone.

So let other people worry about statistics. If they mean anything to you, let them remind you how right you are and how far off course the world has become. If you put all your faith in God, they can also remind you of how big your miracle will be. That doesn’t mean that you should sit where you are maintain the status quo. For example, if your best friend asked you to come visit at her church – but you don’t like crowds – think twice before you say no. I have learned just how God works through other people in my life. Sometimes I’m not even aware of how much until years later when I’m trying to put together the pieces of my life. It could be that God wants you to remain unmarried, which is just as much a sacred calling as marriage is. You will have a relationship with him that not many people experience. Numbers hold about as much water as a wet feather on a duck’s back.

Chastity And Role Models

Br__Joseph_in_workshop

Brother Joseph Zoetti in his workshop at the Benedictine Monastery in Cullman, Alabama

According to Merriam-Webster, a role model is “a person whose behavior in a particular role is imitated by others.” I would add that a person’s values and standards, whatever they may be, define what those behaviors are and who models them. For example, I wouldn’t choose a terrorist to model the sanctity of life for my son. I wouldn’t choose a politician to model honesty (okay, there may be exceptions). But those are common sense values, or at least they have been. Other values and behaviors to model are not always so clear. Which brings me to chastity. Let me say up front that I’m not a saint, I don’t have all the answers, and this post is not meant to “condemn.” I really don’t think a Christian person can condemn anybody. In this atmosphere of hyper-political correctness, I think one of the biggest problems is that there has not been an ongoing conversation about sexual ethics. Everything to do with sex has been categorized as “dirty.” Then all of that silence seemed to end recently when the Supreme Court deemed same sex marriage was a constitutional right. Now everybody wants to join the conversation. From what I’ve seen, people discussing chastity, especially on the internet, fall into one of three groups: They’re looking for a mate, they’re selling chastity-related merchandise, or they’re trying to pass this virtue to the next generation. I fall in the third group. And that’s where the whole idea of role models comes in.

I think real role models don’t think of themselves as role models and don’t advertise themselves as such. I don’t. I really don’t like the phrase. One thing that makes it more complicated is terminology. We would not be able to describe values that are important to us without consistent terminology. Yes, I have been celibate for 54 years. Yes, I am a virgin. Yes, I have been chaste for 54 years. Yes, I am a eunuch for the kingdom of heaven. I’m sure there are a lot more words that have been applied to me. What it all comes down to is I haven’t had sex. Is that so complicated? Revisionists have tried to dilute these definitions over the years. Some words even have biblically-based meanings, but we are inconsistent in how we use them. For instance, chastity has come to mean just what everybody is doing when they’re not having sex – they’re practicing chastity – or at least some vague sense of its commitment. “Not having sex? You’re chaste!” “Would you like next day delivery with that?” Even the eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven in Matthew 19, which I identify with, are being redefined in some circles as homosexuals. I recently saw a headline that read, “Everybody is a Virgin!” Just think, Madonna is no longer like a virgin. She’s the real deal all over again! You would think virginity is a commodity being sold on the sidewalk along with all the books on the subject, purity programs, and jewelry. But I must say there are some very good books out there on the subject by authors who are conscious of their priorities. And forgiveness, it seems, has become but a delete button for our pasts. No consequnces. Just hit the pound key and continue. The reality is that, like all the other virtues, chastity cannot be modified with technology or dictionaries. Of course anybody can wait again on sex before marriage. That is what Christ calls for. But we have not been given the right to revise biblical language to fit the comfort level of contemporary political correctness. I think it’s one of our biggest mistakes.

The Roman soldiers who crucified Jesus knew the significance of words and symbols when they put a purple robe on him, crowned him with thorns, and put a sign on the cross that read “Jesus, King of the Jews.” But Jesus didn’t ask the soldiers to change the words on the sign. He didn’t try to revise the dictionary. He carried his cross, including those words, even while he was being mocked and degraded. And he told us to do the same in Matthew 16:24: “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.” Words and their meanings are more significant than we realize, especially when trying to pass values to the next generation. Ephesians 6:17 describes “the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” For some people, just the word “virgin” is a sword. It’s like chastity can’t even get off the ground. But it’s a biblical word. There are people today who question Virgin Mary’s virginity. “What makes you so special little miss virgin?” “Found favor with God? Yeah, right.” “You’re no better than anybody else.” “What’s your boyfriend’s name?” Now step into that scene and ask yourself what you would do to defend her. Put yourself in the shoes of virgin martyr St. Maria Goretti’s. How far would you go to protect your honor as a woman of God? Pondering these things has been critical in my wait for the kingdom of God. Remember, God invented virginity. Man didn’t. It was a requirement to be the mother of Christ. It was also designed to be the state before marriage between a man and a woman, and that standard is still in the Ten Commandments. I don’t think it’s our place to second-guess these truths or the reasoning behind them. Our responsibility is to follow them as best as possible. There are a lot of mysteries we will not understand until we get to heaven. Can we move past the “nobody’s perfect” and “that’s so judgmental” rhetoric? Chastity is just one of the many virtues. It is not a mark of sainthood. I’m working on humility. That one is difficult for me, as I have a tendency to see things in black and white and speak too bluntly and too fast.

I also tend to look at many things in life in an analytical way. I am a math and science geek. For instance, if I wanted to learn how to race at NASCAR, I would try to find a professional NASCAR driver who could teach me. I would want somebody that had been racing for years and had won some races to prove it. I would want to see the statistics. And I actually do have a good friend from high school who is a retired NASCAR driver who has won many races. I would choose him over someone who had never been behind the wheel of a stock car or someone who had never placed in the top 10. I would choose him over someone who hit a guardrail on the interstate last year and totaled his car. That does not mean that I hate all the other drivers. Even though the virtue of chastity is not even in the same universe as NASCAR, I do look at human track records or – as the old timers called it – reputations. Or, as the Bible calls it, honor. Everybody has been effected one way or the other by people in their lives. And if you’re an adult, you are affecting other people, even if you don’t know who they are. I think children listen more to our actions than our words. This is especially true when they are looking up to someone as a role model. “Divorce is wrong,” we tell them, but our actions say “as long as it doesn’t interfer with your NFL career.” “Having sex outside marriage is wrong” we tell them, but our actions say “as long as having a baby doesn’t interfer with your singing career.” Everybody makes fruit of some kind. You can’t hide it from children. This is what worked for me growingup. Something else may work for you. The few people I know today (thanks to the internet) who are remotely around my age and still waiting are a godsend to me. I wish I could transport them back in time to when I was a teenager at Chelsea High School. There were a few adults I looked up to as mentors – my dad, an uncle, a very good friend who wrote a book on purity. I personally knew these people. They weren’t just Facebook friends. There were no computers. I looked for more people, but couldn’t find any. The people involved in my life had track records I respected. Maybe it’s just me, but I have to respect somebody before I will emulate them. And I think self-respect plays a big role. As A.C. Green said “You need to have self-respect, values and a little bit of virtue in your life.” I saw him speak in Birmingham back in the 1990s. He remained a virgin until he was 38 and got married in 2002. He’s a man I respect. Of course, my number one role model is Christ, and I think it’s critical that we stay in contact with him everyday. Everybody tells me that nobody my age waits any more. I wouldn’t say nobody, just fewer. But wasn’t one of Christ’s main objectives to bring down ageism and sexism and marital statusism?

What I don’t understand is why sexuality, especially chastity, has become a divisive topic, more divisive than age and gender. We have our instructions in the Bible. They are not easy. For people who feel they are attracted to the same gender, we all have the same standards. Yes, I do have a sex drive, but I have not gotten what I want. That’s why I always feel a bit uncomfortable when I meet a stranger and their eyes go to my ring finger. I say to myself “oh gosh, I’m just another single dude.” As Olympic gold medalist Lolo Jones, who is still waiting at 32, said: “It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life. Harder than training for the Olympics.” I can relate to Lolo. She’s one of my heroes. I remember a time when waiting until marriage was something to be proud of. What has become all too common today is this: When a person says anything positive about virginity, they are automatically attacked as judgmental, condemning, better than everybody else, hater, full of pride, perfect, religious fanatic, and on and on. And so many Christian people think it’s their responsibility to make everybody feel comfortable. It is not.

When I was in my 20s and 30s, I wanted to relate to people who understood what I was going through, what it felt like to be a black sheep, what it felt like to be ridiculed because I wouldn’t do what everybody else was doing, what it felt like to be out of touch with society. Those years were excruciatingly painful. Then in my 40s, I wanted to relate to people who understood what it was like to be a “40 year old virgin” and the punch line of movie jokes. Without anybody else to relate to, I turned to other things, like the monastery of St. Bernard Abbey in Cullman, AL, which was about two hours from where I lived. It was the first place where I felt connected, where there were no stereotypes associated with being an older single guy, where I didn’t have to hide my ring finger, where I felt part of something bigger than my little world. I have spent hours in their cemetery, pondering the lives of those monks. I have studied the life of Brother Joseph Zoetti, who built their masterpiece known as “Little Jerusalem.” They were all role models for me. Especially Brother Joseph. One day I hope to meet him. Of course, my number one role model is Christ.

I think young people have the best chance of waiting until marriage with mentors who are still living and walking the same road – or who have walked it at their age and beyond. As harsh as it may sound, sometimes that excludes parents. My special friend and mentor is still very important to me. She probably does not realize how much impact she had on my life. But a lot of Christian youth today have no one. If somebody reads what I’ve written today or years from now after I’m gone, I hope it encourages them in some way. And I hope the stereotypes associated with chastity will disappear – things like it’s only for teenagers, only for girls, only for religious people, only for Catholics, only for people who can’t have fun, only for people with a low sex drive, etc. It would be nice for my legacy to be “age and gender won’t matter in heaven.” It would be nice to be remembered as the person I never found when I was a younger man. That’s all.

Thank you Julia.

http://www.avemariagrotto.com/

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/2012-heavy-medal-london/post/hurdler-lolo-jones-virginity-has-been-harder-than-training-for-london-olympics/2012/05/23/gJQAOQo7kU_blog.html

Single And Condemned

jail

Here is the summation of Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy’s ruling which gives same sex couples the fundamental right to marry:

“No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice, and family. In forming a marital union, two people become something greater than once they were. As some of the petitioners in these cases demonstrate, marriage embodies a love that may endure even past death. It would misunderstand these men and women to say they disrespect the idea of marriage. Their plea is that they do respect it, respect it so deeply that they seek to find its fulfillment for themselves. Their hope is not to be condemned to live in loneliness, excluded from one of civilization’s oldest institutions. They ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The Constitution grants them that right.”

“No union is more profound than marriage.” How did the marital union get to be so profound? How did marriage, of any form, become a civil right? There’s only one answer – Marriage had to be exalted and celibacy had to be marginalized. Of course, Protestants have become experts at that. They are still protesting celibacy just as they did over 500 years ago when the Protestant Reformation started. They hate celibacy. There’s no way to get a preacher running any faster than to mention celibacy. They believe self-control is something out of man’s reach and that it’s not part of their new Calvinism. The few churches that do whisper a few sentences about it say that the gift of celibacy Paul was referring to in 1 Corinthians is merely the state you’re in while waiting for marriage and that there can be no commitment to the celibate life. Protestants, by and large, believe if you’re not holding a valid marriage license, you’ve got the gift of celibacy. That’s an upgrade from bar-hopper status. They believe all men are called to marriage. To reinforce this, many Protestant churches sponsor “man up” conferences, “father and daughter balls,” marriage conferences, family nights, etc. Then there are the Catholics and their 24-hour continuous news cycle of priests and sexual abuse. Instead of claiming celibacy as a viable alternative to marriage, it seems they spend a great deal of time defending it; defending something that, to the world, already seems gravely disordered. And that adds to the negative image of celibacy. However, they have always held marriage and celibacy in high esteem and have penned most everything that has ever been written about celibacy and the religious life.

However, our world is obsessed with marriage and family life. It’s obsessed with sex. It’s even reflected in the TV shows we watch: The Bachelor, Couples Therapy, The Virgin Diaries, Dating Naked, A Dating Story, A Wedding Story, A Baby Story, 19 Kids And Counting, My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding, etc. They fall right in line with classics like All In The Family, Sanford And Son, The Jeffersons, The Brady Bunch, The Partridge Family, The Waltons, Leave It To Beaver, Father Knows Best, etc. But when you take away the glitz and glamor of marriage and take down the smoke screen of romantic ideals, what’s left of marriage? Not much when you consider the divorce statistics. Contrary to what Mr. Kennedy may believe, marriage is not the most profound union in the universe. And it certainly does not embody the highest ideals of fidelity and devotion. The most profound union in the universe is God’s union with his church. What grape juice has he been drinking?

“Marriage . . . embodies the highest ideals of love.” He probably reached that conclusion because our society doesn’t know any other kind of love but the romantic kind as expressed through sexual intercourse. How does that ideal of love stack up with 1 Cor 7:32-33: “But I would have you without carefulness. He that is unmarried careth for the things that belong to the Lord, how he may please the Lord: But he that is married careth for the things that are of the world, how he may please his wife.” Which is a higher ideal of love? Caring for the things of the Lord or caring for the things of the world? Is it caring for your homosexual lover or caring for your neighbor? According to Kennedy, it’s caring for your homosexual lover. It’s whatever makes the masses feel good, whether it’s sexual perversion today or assault on religious liberties tomorrow. Does he even know what the Bible says about the highest ideal of love? Mark 12:30? “And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment.” Kennedy might have watched a bit too much Love Boat growing up.

This is a profound change in American culture. We now have a Supreme Court whose definition of love no longer revolves around God; but around homosexuality, gay pride, civil rights, and self fulfillment. Pope Frances even remarked: “The family is being hit, the family is being struck and the family is being bastardized.” Instead of love being patient as God instructs in 1 Corinthians 13, love is now defiant. Can you see the image of rainbow flags being raised proudly in the air over American Streets? That has happened in every city in this country. Instead of love being kind, love is now belligerent. Can you see the image of preachers being beaten for holding signs at a gay pride parade that read “Repent or Else” and “Jesus Saves From Sin”? That happened in Seattle on June 30th. Instead of love not envying, love is now jealous and spiteful. Isn’t that what the whole same sex marriage argument is all about? Homosexuals envious of the identity and status of marriage? About money and inheritances? That’s what Anthony Kennedy says. But wasn’t the real goal to give validity to the claim that homosexuality is a matter of human genetics and evolution and not of human choice? That’s the bigger picture. More important than the redefinition of marriage is the redefinition of God’s creation to include the abomination of homosexuality and to grant homosexuals the same civil rights protections as ethnic minorities. And if we can add things willy-nilly to God’s creation, where does it stop? Why don’t we throw in pedophilia and polygamy? Kennedy fits in rather well in the land of Sodom, doesn’t he? I know he claims to be Catholic. But if he truly believes what he wrote, can he even claim to be a Christian? I don’t see how.

“In forming a marital union, two people become something greater than once they were.” All Kennedy did was validate what churches have been preaching for at least 50 years – marriage superiority. They have been preaching that married couples are something greater than single people since the Protestant Revolution. Psychology Today had this to say about Kennedy’s statement on marriage:

“What all these people are swooning over is all-out matrimania (the over-the-top hyping of marriage and weddings and coupling). The message is that marriage is magical, transforming unremarkable unmarried people into “something greater.” It is an unapologetic declaration of the superiority of the marital bond over every other bond and every other relationship that humans hold dear. And it is a crass degrading of single people as “condemned to live in loneliness.”

What I feel is sadness in knowing that my life is a few extra light years away from relating to anything in this world. Al Mohler, President of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, has been telling his students for years that married men are greater than single men: “Both the logic of Scripture and the centrality of marriage in society justify the strong inclination of congregations to hire a man who is not only married but faithfully married. If they remain single, they need to understand that there’s going to be a significant limitation on their ability to serve as a pastor.” So the Baptists shouldn’t be surprised by Kennedy’s logic. Single men have always been lesser than married men in their eyes. Single men are even banned from preaching the word of God in their churches. And I’m sure they would agree that sodomites represent a higher form of love and sacrifice and have more civil protections than people who are completely devoted to God. Gee. Thanks, church. I don’t know how I will repay you.

It’s been said that for a man to get married, he makes a lot of sacrifices for very little in return. That has a ring of truth because most single adult men have already had sex. So for them, there really is little to gain by a marriage license. They’re not waiting on anything. Their fires have already been quenched. However, for the single men who have not had sex, the chaste men who are biblically single, there is a lot more to gain by getting married than just a marriage license. Their sexual desire is being met. They have proven that they have the self control that is needed to be a real man of God. They set themselves apart by not objectifying women. For them, finding a woman with the same values who is also waiting is like finding a pot of gold. In other words, there’s a big difference between biblically married people and biblically single people. Maybe that’s what Anthony Kennedy and his kind have not been able to see. What’s the difference? Well, I don’t bring up the subject of sexual ethics with every person I meet. I don’t have a V tattooed across my forehead. I don’t have a “virgin diary” to share with the world. All I can do is conduct myself in a way I think is pleasing to God and pray that people see that I have found fulfillment in Christ. So married people, break away from your comfortable cliques and get to know us. Chaste Christian singles: Remain strong and do not let the Supreme Court of this land define who you are. You are invaluable in the eyes of God.

What troubles me the most about the Supreme Court decision is its besmirchment of singles with its assumption that all of us are “condemned to live in loneliness, excluded from one of civilization’s oldest institutions,” that we have no dignity, and its underlying assumption that a sexual relationship and marriage are the only way to not live in loneliness. Well, let me tell you Brother Kennedy, if that’s how you define marriage and fulfillment, I am surely condemned, so guilty that a trial is not even necessary. And I’m more than just excluded from one of civilization’s oldest institutions. I have completely said no to the decadent affairs of this world and yes to the affairs of God. That means that our values are on opposite ends of the universe. It also means that my dignity is not based on the world values that you espouse. It’s based on my value in God’s eyes. So let me know when my sentencing date is.

In case you’re still wondering, celibate love needs just as much a dramatic witness as married love in the wake of the Supreme Court’s recent decision. I would even say a more dramatic witness. I urge you to make your presence known and free yourself from the misguided stereotypes of the Supreme Court.

http://www.singleness.org/pr_celibate.shtml

http://1548.sites.ecatholic.com/supreme-court-decision-on-marriage

http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/what-is-being-proposed-is-not-marriage-pope-calls-for-defense-of-family-12766/

https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/living-single/201506/gay-marriage-ruling-is-matrimaniacal-shames-single-people

http://www.albertmohler.com/2011/03/25/must-a-pastor-be-married-the-new-york-times-asks-the-question/

http://arleenspenceley.com/the-questions/

Would Martin Luther Be Celebrating Marriage Today?

ssm posters

In light of the Supreme Court’s recent decision on same sex marriage, I’ve asked myself a lot of questions. Like how did we get here? I don’t think we arrived in the land of Sodom overnight. Our country has been sliding down the path of moral decay for several years. What was Martin Luther’s role in all of this, the leader of the Protesant Reformation? Since I’ve been in Protestant churches all my life, I can only speak from that standpoint. I think our problems do indeed go all the way back to the Protestant Reformation 500 years ago and their rejection of celibacy. Just think, one little misguided man – Martin Luther, who thought he had the gift of celibacy, is responsible for the misplaced theology of over 150,000,000 Protestants in the United States today. Was celibacy abused in the Catholic Church in 16th century Europe? No doubt it was. But that was no reason to completely abandon a biblical principle. I’m sure there were a lot of priests – and married people – who had inappropriate sexual relationships. Imagine if Apostle Paul’s followers came to him one day and said: “Hey, I thought you should know that some of the men in Corinth claiming to be eunuchs for the kingdom of God have been caught having sex with children.” Would Paul reply with something like: “Oh no. I guess the Big Man really got it wrong on this one. Tell you what, just go back and tell everybody that celibacy is really not possible. We’re all bent toward sexual sin. It was just a little miscommunication.” The reality is that not all Catholic priests have the gift of celibacy and not all people who have the gift of celibacy are Catholic priests.

I’ve always thought the world had two realities – man’s reality dictated by tradition, legalism, ceremonies, pride, greed, majority rule, comfort, and pleasure – and God’s reality dictated by the Ten Commandments, The Holy Bible, chastity, sacrifice, commitment, patience, and denial of self. The biggest thing that separates these two realities is language. Take the word marriage for example. Do you think it means the same thing today as it did when Jesus attended the marriage at Cana and turned the water into wine? I don’t think so. When Jesus returns as the ultimate judge of this world, do you think he’s going to stop by all the courthouses first to check the marriage records? I don’t think so. Do you think he will tell eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven, “Sorry, but I can’t find where you ever signed up for the priesthood. Are you sure you got a package that was marked celibate gift?” Or would you expect him to say: “Geez, a 40 year old virgin? You mean you didn’t find the one I had picked out for you?” See what a fantasy world we live in? Even worse is the fantasyland churches live in. They don’t even talk about sex. It’s just too dirty. The only sexuality they know is “premarital sex,” “same sex,” and “can’t deny your husband sex.” It’s always something negative. Churches can readily identify for the world what they consider sexual sin, but they can never seem to identify their own sins. Worse yet, they can’t even model Christian lives of sexual integrity. They continue to assume that all single people are “fornicators who haven’t made things right yet.” As a matter of fact, that’s the only definition they know. If you die before you get married, well . . . you might have had the gift of celibacy. They can’t fathom celibacy as a positive response to God and a commitment equal to that of marriage. If anything, celibacy today is seen as disordered and sinful. If I find a Baptist guest envelop in the back of a pew with “eunuch” listed as a choice under marital status, I’ll let you know. In an article titled “Dismantling The Cross” in First Things, Patricia Snow recently made the following comments while reflecting on the life of St Francis:

“But once the struggle was over, and the miracles and answered prayers began to appear, the celibate in former times was reclaimed by the human family, because he had proven himself fertile after all. Resistance gave way to acceptance, and acceptance to passionate acclaim. Then everyone wanted a piece of the saint; everyone wanted access to his body and his prayers. Then the one once coldly spurned for choosing heavenly over earthly goods was joyfully embraced for bringing heavenly goods to earth.”

I’m certainly no saint. But I think the same kind of prejudice happens to celibates today. Isn’t it unfortunate they have to die first in order to be accepted? That’s one of the big reasons biblical marriage has dissolved into a quagmire of same sex marriage and decadence beyond comprehension. A society cannot have a healthy view of marriage without a healthy view of celibacy. If Christian sexual ethics are taken off the table for either one, both will fail. This is especially true in a society that has no distinction between married life and celibate life, other than clerical clothing. As John Chrysostom said, quoting CCC 1620: “Whoever denigrates marriage also diminishes the glory of virginity. Whoever praises it makes virginity more admirable and resplendent. What appears good only in comparison with evil would not be truly good. The most excellent good is something even better than what is admitted to be good.” In other words, if we consider the only good in marriage is to keep us from lust and fornication and other evils, then we appreciate only half of God’s intention in human sexuality. The good of marriage can never outweigh the bad of those evils. Only when we acknowledge that there is something better than sex waiting in eternity will we understand the true meaning of both marriage and celibacy. The only way to do that is by placing proper value on celibacy today, not in a cemetery tomorrow.

There’s a quaint little slogan going around that many churches have adopted: “Celibacy in singleness, fidelity in marriage.” On the surface, that may sound biblical, but it’s not because it’s not half the story. The Bible never defines something called “singleness.” Go to any local bar and you’ll see how the world defines it. Could it be that Paul had the worldview of today in mind when he specifically addressed marrieds, virgins, widows, and divorced? He did not define his gift of celibacy as a default state because he never found someone to marry. Did Paul ever lament not finding “the one” or “manning up” because he wasn’t attractive enough or smart enough? I don’t think so. But that’s how the world would define him today. He defined his unmarried state, or celibacy, as concern for the Lord’s affairs instead of the cares of this world. Before Eve was created, imagine what Adam would have said if you had asked him: “So Adam, how long do you plan on living in that celibate state?” What do you think he would consider the default state to be, celibacy or marriage? How could he even make a “covenant commitment” and marry without first being unmarried? The same thing is true today. How is it possible to have marriage without celibacy? It’s not. How is it possible for a society to put all their focus on the concerns of the world and forget about the concerns of God? It is only possible when man thinks he knows more than God. That’s where we are today. With condoms, contraception, abortion, and fornication, he has tried to completely disconnect sex from marriage and procreation. Can you imagine God saying: “Okay, you practiced safe sex and wore condoms. That’s good enough. Come right on in.” I don’t think so. Neither can I imagine him saying: “So, you had unnatural desires for the same sex? That’s okay. At least you lived in a committed relationship. Oh, wait a second! You lived in the United States after 2015? That means your committed relationship was actually a marriage. Come on in and have a seat. I’ve got a special table for you over in the rainbow room.”

So the Supreme Court’s decision on same sex marriages grieves me just as much as any couple with a biblical marriage. It reinforces the strong belief, both by the world and by the church, that celibacy is not possible, and that marriage is the holy grail of adult life – in whatever arrangement you choose. And I’m sure Martin Luther would be very pleased. After all, he believed that to reject God’s gift of marriage, or to require celibacy for priest and monastics, was to court the sins and crimes of destructive lust. When you consider just how happy he would be, you get an idea of just how wrong Protestants continue to be.

http://www.bpnews.net/39818/the-bible-and-sex-debated-at-seminary

https://books.google.com/books?id=I5pJAwAAQBAJ&pg=PA168&lpg=PA168&dq=%22self+absorption%22+marriage&source=bl&ots=BuN4dc59SX&sig=D3thcl4wHKqu5gBw4l1Y9TxMOeY&hl=en&sa=X&ei=HqWRVfmmA4nj-QHemKOAAw&ved=0CEcQ6AEwBg#v=onepage&q=%22self%20absorption%22%20marriage&f=false

http://arleenspenceley.com/marriage-crisis/

http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1851129

Celibacy – The Commitment You Never See

bird in hat

Once in a while after reading something I will say to myself “you mean people really believe that?” I found myself saying that after reading “Five Questions With Author Andy Crouch” on Boundless. You can read it here: http://www.boundless.org/blog/five-questions-with-bestselling-author-andy-crouch/. Thanks goes to Julia Duin for forwarding it to me. After giving a rather vague answer to the question of gay marriage, he was asked question #2. This is the one I want to focus on:

2. “Unwanted singleness among Christian women is becoming more and more normal in the church. Based on your journalistic work in the church, you have a 10,000-foot view that most of us don’t enjoy. Do you see any way for us to turn this ship around and rescue a generation of families that we are losing as young men wait indefinitely to get married?”

Unwanted singleness? When did a spouse become a religious right? God never promised marriage to anybody. Note the other assumptions built into the question; that all singleness must be unwanted, that singleness is not normal, that to remain single is to head in the wrong direction, that propagating more families is more important than propagating children of God, that waiting indefinitely to get married is to lose out. And to top it all off, the person who asked the question believes that someone with a history of “journalistic work” is the most qualified to talk about marriage and celibacy. Brilliant.

Oh, and I should probably mention that Andy Crouch is a 47 year old married man who had his ship rescued by marriage years ago. So that makes him uniquely qualified to answer questions about celibacy, doesn’t it? After I read the question posed to him, I started searching my Bible for the chapter and verses that dealt with “unwanted singleness among single women.” Well, after some searching, I found it in the book of Bathsheba, chapter 13, verses 27-29:

“Now, all those women suffering with unwanted singleness, they have a right to claim a man for themselves. The nuclear family must be exalted above everything else. They cannot be allowed to suffer the pain of watching other married women parade around with children in tow. They cannot let their fertile years slip them by. If lazy men don’t want to marry, they must be forced to pay extra taxes and shunned from society – because these are beautiful irresistible women. I, Bathsheba, veto everything Apostle Paul says about singleness in his letter to the Corinthians.”

This is what happens when God’s commandments are tossed out the door and replaced with our wants and perversions. A woman wants a husband? We can’t let her wait. Get her a husband now! Diagnosis: Unwanted singleness. How excruciating. Is it any more painful than what Christ did on the cross? It’s less than a mosquito bite on the back of an elephant. We cannot take the broad stroke of cultural norms and demographic data and try to overlay that on top of God’s word. Marriage is not the answer to fornication. Self control is. Even more predictable was his advice for women dealing with “unwanted singleness.” First, he said single men are lost and need “evangelism and discipleship.” This fits in with current Protestant theology that says the only way to salvation is through marriage. It’s actually in the SBC’s Faith and Message Statement. Then he offered this scathing condemnation of single men:

“The key to changing the current patterns is to unapologetically call men to greater risk and sacrifice, including what is in many ways the greatest risk and sacrifice a man can make, binding oneself to one woman in marriage.”

Yes, let’s raise that golden sex calf higher on the altar. So he thinks single men are not sacrificing? Well, in his view, as so many other church leaders, the greatest sacrifice a man can make is not to God. It’s to a woman. In this day and time, God takes second place to self-pleasure. That’s because Crouch doesn’t include celibacy with his definition of a single man. His definition of singleness depends on one thing – the absence of a marriage license. A single man to him is just a guy who is jumping from bed to bed every night with different women. He’s the guy who doesn’t have a ring on his finger. He’s the guy who has been lucky so far and not gotten a girl pregnant. He’s the guy who likes to party and waste his time on cheap entertainment. He’s the guy not committed to anything. He’s the guy who is concerned about no one but himself. He’s the guy who has no responsibility. He’s the guy who we can’t let pastor a church. This stereotype of the single man is why I don’t like to use the word “single” to describe myself. Then Crouch does something that is so predictable for these marriage-mandate articles – he offers an exemption clause:

“Frankly, given the disparities of available men and women in the church, I don’t think many men should question whether they have a “calling” to singleness or to marriage — I think that barring clear guidance otherwise from God and your community, you should assume that you are called to marriage and fatherhood and proceed as quickly as possible in that direction. And for God’s sake, stop playing video games. Spend that time getting to know a real woman instead.”

Note that he disparagingly put “calling” in quotes, like it’s something that just can’t be in the Bible. And note how the assumes all single men are dealing with prostitutes, telling them to get to know a “real woman.” Forget Christ’s affirmation of the Eunuchs. Forget about the possibility of following Paul and remaining unmarried. It’s all about my daughter who wants to get married. It’s all about more single women than men. It’s all about having your piece of the pie. It’s all about family pride, family estates, family money, family jewels . . . family inheritances. It’s all about getting what you want. For those irresponsible singles – let’s throw them a bone. Then he chimes in with the “barring clear guidance from God” exception clause. Tossing out one-liners like this doesn’t work for several reasons. First, you would have missed it if you sneezed. Second, the Bible tells us that both marriage and celibacy are equally important and valid. Equal means they each get the same validation and affirmation – 50/50. As with most articles dealing with the subject, this one gives marriage 99% coverage and celibacy about 1% coverage. Like it or not, we live in a world where the value of anything is determined in large part by the amount of time and energy talking about it. This is particularly true in the age of the internet. How much validity does homosexuality have in the Bible? Zero percent. How much validity does it have in the media? One hundred percent. Then turn things around. How much validity do eunuchs have in the Bible? One hundred percent. How much validity do eunuchs have in the media? Zero percent. What was right has become wrong and what was wrong has become right.

If you want to know why, Crouch’s article is an example of why – It’s because the church has become part of the world. They’re indistinguishable. Their talking heads are not qualified to write a second grade essay on turtles. The main reason marriage-mandaters should sit down and be quite is that there are young people listening to and reading such babble who do not know what the Bible says about marriage and celibacy. Such false teaching could lead them down the wrong road. There have been many young men who chose the homosexual lifestyle because they did not fit in with family idolatry society and churches. Discussing marriage in a religious context and not including an equally weighted discussion on celibacy is only telling half the story of Christianity. In my opinion, this goes beyond lying and almost enters the realm of blasphemy. It’s malpractice.

Telling all single men they should marry unless they have a direct message from God or their community is sort of like saying: “Unless you have had a visit from the Angel Gabriel who told you to enter a monastery and you got a followup visit from the pope, you should get married as soon as possible.” I wonder how many guys read this and thought, “Oh gee, I haven’t heard a message from God! I need to get on the stick and start making some phone calls! Got to find that wife!” Not too many. I wonder how many men in churches have had guidance when he comes to discerning the call to celibacy? How many Protestant churches actually have older adults called to celibacy counseling young people in this regard?

Paul’s marriage exception clause has been in the Bible for over 2000 years. In contrast to the marriage-mandaters, he actually said single people would do best if they remained as they are and not look for spouses. More importantly, he spent more time talking about celibacy than he did marriage. All these marriage-mandaters accomplish is alienate younger unmarried men from the church and throw more suspicion on the older unmarried men, especially those who have been called by God to celibacy. And of course they help to bolster women as the moral authorities in the church. I guess they will have to revise their teachings 50 years from now when there are more single men that women.

The protestant churches are set up so that the identities of men and women called to celibacy are not known. It’s part of their ongoing protest against the Catholic Church. Plus, it keeps any questions about their marriages at bay. Paul did not define the celibate gift as waiting indefinitely. He defined it as focused on the kingdom of heaven and God’s concerns and as a positive response to God. So even though you may never know us or know what we do, we are still here. We are just as committed to the affairs of God as married people are to their husbands and wives. And we have direct communication with God every day.

The Golden Calf Of Child Worship

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The crowd noise died down a bit. The spotlights hit the baby bottles that were meticulously arranged around the stage. Their warm glow lit up the outline of baby blue glass and yellow nipples. You could see stuffed animals and tree houses on stage with palm trees and images of children dancing all around. The speaker took to the microphone and blared: “Lord bless the children! Precious are the children! Oh, praise God for the children!” The people started chanting, “Oh bless the children.” Can I get a burp? This wasn’t during the time of Leviticus and graven images in the Old Testament. This was during a mainstream “First Baptist” church service last Sunday morning. I witness it firsthand. As a boy, I remember reading about graven images in the Bible. But I never thought I’d see them during my lifetime. Unfortunately, golden calves have become the norm in the majority of Protestant churches in the south. They have become centers of child worship. A nice diversion from their lives of perversion. As a matter of fact, many of them are in the childcare business, with “church” on their marquees just as good business strategy. For it is not God they are worshipping. It is children. Most of their budgets are allocated toward nursery and youth programs, with senior citizens sometimes getting a consolation of what’s left over. I refer to them as grandpa/grandson churches.

It’s not what a person says that matters – it’s what he does. And often it’s what people don’t do. Because we all leave a legacy on this earth, no matter if that legacy is good or bad. Churches also leave legacies. If you take away the Sunday morning rhetoric, what do you have left? A pizza party on the way to youth camp? Vacation Bible School? Praise band rehearsals? It all comes down to our priorities. Anything in our lives that takes priority over God is an idol. That includes youth. There are many more needs in our world than changing wet diapers. The Bible even warns about this: “He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.” Matthew 10:37. What has your church done for people with mental illnesses? For the people who can’t afford their next power bill? If there is a warning in the Bible against something, we should take it for granted that our human minds have the propensity to do it. Otherwise, the edge would be taken off of the sword of the spirit, God’s word, and it wouldn’t be in the Bible. A lot of time is spent in the Bible nullifying age, gender, marital status, children status, class – and pointing to a time when none of this will matter, when family will not matter. For example, when the Bible mentions age, it is only to shatter any stereotypes that we have about it. For example, these mothers in the Bible gave birth in old age: Sarah gave birth to Isaac. Rebekah gave birth to Esau and Jacob. Hannah gave birth to Samuel. The trend continued in the New Testament when Elizabeth gave birth to John the Baptist. Then Jesus shattered any stereotypes about age when he told us: “Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 18:3. The key word in this verse is “as.” Jesus is not talking about chronological age. He isn’t hanging a hanging a “3-5 year olds” sign on the nursery door. He isn’t hanging a 19-35 year old sign on the young adult door. Instead, he is telling us that we all should have the faith of children and that our birth certificates will matter very little in the long run. So why should they matter now? They shouldn’t.

But the church today has not heeded these warnings. It has carved golden calves out of youth buses, glitzy youth centers, extravagant youth budgets, and birthday parties. Everything the youth can’t find at home, the church tries to be for them – including family. Most youth in church today don’t even have parents who attend. They’re just dropped off or picked up and taken to church. Then when they graduate from high school, they disappear faster than a bird in a hat because they fall outside the age bracket on the youth door and there’s nothing to graduate to. Their only idea of adulthood is little old men wearing pants up to their chin and little old ladies with powder perfume and purple hair. There’s nothing in it for them anymore. Sadly, churches must face the fact that they’ve caused the problem. Because what do they have to offer them after graduation? Practically nothing, until they’re married. So really, the church’s only role in a young person’s life is to serve as a baby sitter and worshipper. After the youth wears off, the gold becomes tarnished on the golden calf. Then it’s time for more fruitfulness and multiplying. And the cycle continues. As far as learning how to be an adult, married or not, and communicate with adults older then them, that’s fantasyland. They don’t even have parents who are adults. Daycare with a cross on top and a golden calf out front. Life is so comfortable in church today – if you’re under 19 or over 65. Because let’s face it, that’s the only time when most humans think about God — just out of the mother’s womb or with one foot in the grave.

The Danger In Virginity

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“Christian Celibacy In The 21st Century – Straight Renunciation.” I thought it was a pretty clever title for my blog. But there is probably a bit that needs explaining. First off, my definition of Christian celibacy has nothing to do with homosexuality or same sex marriage. A more accurate title may have been “Christian virginity,” but since the definition of virginity today does not include guys, I went with celibacy. I may change it in the future. Straight renunciation was meant to be a bit of a pun on the word “straight.” If you don’t get it, don’t worry. I have a dry sense of humor.

So what’s the danger in talking about virginity on a blog? First of all, I am one. But I don’t fit the definition you’ll find in the dictionary. I’m a guy and I’m over 21. I’m 54. One of the biggest dangers is people misinterpreting the reason for my blog. I am not advertising myself as a man looking for a wife. That has nothing to do with my blog. I am not giving dating advice. I am not encouraging men to “man up” and get married. I am not telling single women that it’s their fault if they’re not married by a certain age. What I am trying to do is encourage three groups of younger people – those who are waiting until marriage to have sex, those who are discerning a call to the celibate life, and those who have accepted the call to celibacy. This blog is part of my renunciation of marriage as a Matthew 19:12 eunuch. That in itself probably puts it out there in a near earth orbit. It is not meant to demean marriage or to elevate celibacy to a level of celestial supremacy. I am trying, with my limited theological abilities, to balance those two lifestyles. Because, as it is now, marriage has been awarded idolatry status in our churches.

So how would anybody misinterpret my blog? Well, when most people see the word celibacy, they automatically think of homosexuality and the Catholic Church. The two are linked tighter than bark on a tree. And when people see the word virgin, they think of locker room graffiti and young women waiting for their Boazes. As I’ve discussed before, not defending the Christian vocabulary will have consequences that we can’t even imagine today. So with this blog I’m trying to reclaim the language of the Bible, to bring back the dignity of celibacy, and to support all people called to be eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven, whether male or female.

This blog has another connection to danger. I almost died in 2010 and spent about six months in the hospital. When I got out, I starting asking myself some serious questions. Like what are you doing with your life? Why are you wasting time? What are you doing for God? What have you done to help anybody? What do you want to be remembered for? I came to the conclusion that if I continued on my current course, I would be remembered at best as a big question mark in a lot of people’s minds and at worst as a bitter old single man who never found his pot of gold. I didn’t want either one.

Another danger I sensed was opening up about this part of my life. Outside my family, I had only discussed it with one other person – my mentor. It was really embarrassing for me to write about virginity and celibate life and still is. Not because I’m not content with this lifestyle, but worrying about opening myself up to needless attacks from people I don’t even know. And yes I have seen my fair share since starting this blog. On top of that is the fact that I have always interpreted no response as a negative response, whether out in public talking to people or on the internet. Most everything I had read on the subject had been written by young millennial women, the majority Catholic, who didn’t define virginity beyond its value in preparation for marriage. And sadly, that is still the trend. I read about the 20-somethings confessing their virginity to the world, the young ladies who had all but given up on waiting for their Boazes, and the ladies who saw all men as bug-eyed pigs – hunting for their next victim. If they were “coming out” as virgins in their 20s, what was I doing announcing my virginity to the world in my 50s? Confessing to a crime punishable by death? So, my questions were, how will I overcome these stereotypes and will anybody even read my blogs and respond to them? I’m not sure. But I do want people to know that I’m a regular guy. I don’t live in a monastery. I find all girls beautiful and just as mysterious as when I was a little guy. For me, celibate life is the only way I know to respond to God. If the world considers it dangerous to say no to sex, then I will live as a dangerous guy.

Emotional Chastity?

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Emotional chastity. It’s one of the new buzz phrases of our times. But what does it really mean? That depends on the person you ask and what you read. It seems to be a take off of an idea St. John Paul expressed in Love and Responsibility:

“The [emotional experience for a woman] may be connected with, for instance, an impression of ‘strength’, the [emotional experience for a man] with an impression of ‘charm’, but both are connected with a whole person of the other sex, not only with that person’s ‘body’. This susceptibility (which is different from sensual excitability) to the sexual value residing in ‘a whole person of the other sex’, to ‘femininity’ or ‘masculinity’, should be called sentiment.” (page 110)

The word “susceptibility” is a little confusing here because it generally means influenced or harmed by a particular thing. It’s used in our language as something negative. Susceptible to what? Rape? Is he saying that every male-female encounter is risky business? I don’t think St. John Paul was using susceptibility in a negative sense. “Awareness” might have been a better choice. It might have been clearer if he had said: “This awareness of our femininity or masculinity should be called sentiment.” I would just call it sexual awareness. I think it’s a natural component of wisdom and discernment. If you’re comfortable meeting people and are walking in God’s will for your life, you don’t have to stop and check your emotions every few minutes. You don’t have to whip out a rule book and wonder “did I cross the line here and there?”

It’s interesting that St. John Paul never mentioned “emotional chastity.” But rather defined an emotional experience with the whole person of the opposite sex as a sentiment. But sentimental does not mean the same thing as emotional. Later on in the book he referred to it as an “affection” and wrote that: “Affectionate love is not indeed focused on the body as is sensuality. For that reason it is so frequently identified with spiritual love.” Ah, spiritual love. Isn’t that a Christian virtue? Isn’t that the kind of love all celibate people should strive for? There has been much written over the years on the four areas of compatibility that are needed for marriage – Spiritual, emotional, intellectual, and physical. And of course the lines between these are often blurred. For example, some writers put the role of sex hormones under physical and some put them under emotional. Does it really have to be this complicated? It’s as if we have absolutely no control over our thought processes and we have to turn to sources other than the Bible to lay down the rules for us. Are men and women always “susceptible” to something happening every time they communicate with each other? Or is it just part of the larger ongoing public discussion that means nothing? To me, the mere phrase “emotional chastity” sounds like an oxymoron. It’s like saying “I’ll have a sirloin sunny side up. It makes no sense. Has mankind devolved to the point where we think all of our emotions are of a sexual nature? That all sexual thoughts are evil? The Oxford dictionary’s definition of chastity is: “The state or practice of refraining from extramarital, or especially from all, sexual intercourse: vows of chastity.”

I hope we haven’t devolved that far. It seems to me that “emotional chastity” is just an effort to put a Christian spin on distrust and suspicion. What would be its opposite? Emotional sex? Can a person have sex without emotion? Honestly, I think it’s a phrase used by cold-hearted single women to rationalize their fear of the opposite sex. For example, a gentleman could be talking to a woman in Waffle House over breakfast one morning about global warming. But to reinforce her superiority over him, she could walk out the door at the drop of a hat chanting “emotional chastity.” And he’s like “what?” It’s a phrase that acts as a sword in women’s battle for moral superiority. It’s so vague she can whip it out anytime. It’s so stupid who will even know what it means? Let’s not forget that a man’s capacity for love is just as great as women’s.

“Emotional chastity” also gives single women an excuse to act cold-hearted and to turn their shoulders on all men, including Christian single men. Is that doing unto others what you would have them do unto you? I’m afraid not. It’s the epitome of selfishness and arrogance. My image of femininity is one of acceptance and support. It’s not one of competition and pride. But I don’t know many real women today, especially single women in their 20s and 30s. Even if a woman was sexually abused, raped, assaulted, or whatever, that does not give her a license to treat every man she meets in the future with disrespect. I have seen these attitudes over the years. They reach 35-40 and all of their friends are girlfriends. Then they realize that men have memories too. I’ve seen a few of these attitudes change in older age when they realize God did not guarantee them husbands. Some men are willing to forget. Some are not. Christian guys who respect women don’t need to be taught sensitivity regarding rape. They don’t need sexual sensitivity training. I know I’ve said this before on my blog, but I will say it again – I do not believe a woman can “lose” her virginity through rape. The idea of forcing a woman to do something against her will makes me literally sick. So if there are any women reading this who have been through such trauma, don’t worry about a Christian man’s response to it. If it’s ever discussed, don’t think that he’s going to hold that against you. He won’t. And just think, we haven’t even brought in the question of whether or not a person is open to marriage. That’s the worst thing about this whole conversation. It assumes that all men and women are called to be married. It assumes that all single men are looking for sex. It assumes that all women are looking for sugar daddies. It especially saddens me when I hear “emotional chastity” because it tells me that the person is not capable of being my friend, only a date.

I think this bizarre concept of emotional chastity does explain a lot of the distrust I see today. It explains why the word date now means to have sex. It explains why asking for a phone number now means asking for sex. It explains why a simple “hello” can be construed as sexual harassment. It explains why the coldest single girls are often the ones sitting in church pews, wearing their chastity rings, guarding their precious hearts of every emotion that might come there way. Should they stop and help the dying man on the side of the street? It depends on how chastely they could do it. I mean, if he’s a good-looking dude, we can’t expect them to render any help. They might have an unchaste thought. Where in the world are we going? The differences between men and women are so much greater than anatomical variations. There are so many more things to talk about. Why are we stuck on sex? Why are we using sex to stop the progress of human civilization? So single ladies, remember that if you can’t treat the men in your lives with dignity today, you can’t expect a man with dignity in your future tomorrow. And if you are called to celibacy, you better get used to talking to other ladies.

What about emotional chastity in guys? Did you just ask yourself if there is such a thing? Guys? Chastity? I think that’s an underlying theme of this whole “emotional chastity” discussion, to reinforce the idea that only women are capable of chastity. After all, do an internet search and see how many chastity sites you find that are written by men. It’s less than 1%. See how many chastity books you find written by men. It’s less than 1%. So single ladies, yes I believe you should guard your hearts. But if you lock them up and throw away the keys, I guess you should pray that the Supreme Court rules in favor of same sex marriage. Because you will only have each other to marry.

https://books.google.com/books?id=TNRY9HkssDQC&pg=PA112&lpg=PA112&dq=sentimentality+love+%22love+and+responsibility%22+john&source=bl&ots=szZj_HxUC-&sig=HMMCP6_EewSgb5O5XdAbrcBAG8o&hl=en&sa=X&ei=foFsVYLHJsOyggSLlYHwCA&ved=0CD8Q6AEwBQ#v=onepage&q=sentimentality%20love%20%22love%20and%20responsibility%22%20john&f=false

The Language Of A Eunuch

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A single life, single parent, single thread, single take, single entry, single row, single line, single player. Life is full of singles. The problem is that when a word becomes so ubiquitous it completely loses its meaning. But our society likes ubiquitous words, words that keep everybody on the same level. They are the comfort buffers of a politically correct world, especially one where socialism is the norm. Comfort words don’t single out anything or anybody and allow everybody’s opinion to have equal value. They serve the same function as cardboard cutouts of angels, feather dream catchers and scoops of ice cream with chocolate drizzled on top. Convictional kindness, diversity, inclusiveness, transparency, it takes a village. They’re supposed to make us feel good about ourselves. They also play a big part in a society’s moral standards. A society that worships sex doesn’t change its values to meet the Bible’s standards. They change the Bible to meet their standards. The fastest way to do that is through language. The media know that all too well. How fast did churches adopt gay, transgender, LGBT, equal rights, age of consent, diversity, and committed relationship? They have used the church as the biggest patsy in the history of humankind. In a world where the meaning of marriage goes no further than a courtroom, a bag of rice, and a couple of memorized prayers, the sacredness of sex has all but ceased to exist. The idea of God calling someone to live without sex and focus exclusively on his concerns is a foreign concept. It only follows then that churches define singles strictly on the absence of a marriage license. The pharisaical language of legalism is the only one they know. When it comes to celibacy being a spiritual gift, even the thought is offensive to most Protestant churches. Consider the First Baptist Church of St. John’s, MI:

“When Paul speaks of singleness as a gift, he isn’t speaking of a particular ability some people have to be contentedly single. Rather, he’s speaking of the state of being single. As long as you have it, it’s a gift from God, just as marriage will be God’s gift if you ever receive it.”

The Bible does not tell us that we choose our own spiritual gifts. God does that. We live in a world though where no one can have a “particular ability” that everybody else doesn’t have. That wouldn’t be fair. People would feel left out. It would be uncomfortable. Wait a second. She got more cookies than you? Let’s take some off her plate and give to you. Socialized values. They fit in rather well with a socialist state. Acknowledging spiritual gifts would acknowledge God’s presence in the world. Churches today can’t do that, especially when it comes to human sexuality because they think they know more than God. Every topic related to sexuality that comes up in churches has to be discussed, debated, and voted on. Take the Southern Baptists, for example. They’ve talked so long about affirming, loving, and accepting gays that their feeble “it’s a sin” holds as much water as the idea of one of their marriages lasting till death do us part. Plus, today’s Calvinist-leaning churches are so totally “depraved,” the mere thought of chastity falls way outside their glorification of sex in the “marriage bed.” Many of them even believe that the only way to salvation is through marriage. That’s why you won’t find an unmarried Protestant preacher.

As those know who are familiar with this topic, Jesus addressed the topic of the gift of celibacy in Matthew 19 by using the metaphor of eunuchs. Protestant churches deny the existence of “only to those to whom it is given” for the kingdom of heaven as described in Matthew 19. Their theology is quite elementary: If you don’t have a marriage license, you have the gift of singleness. If you have a marriage license, you have the gift of marriage. That doesn’t take much thought, does it? It’s quite comfortable. Isn’t it amazing that courthouses have been given the power of dispensing spiritual gifts? This is what happens when the sacredness of sex is separated from the commitments of marriage and celibacy. They become mere paperwork. Apostle Paul makes it clear that there are only two lifestyle choices for the Christian, both of which have equal value: Celibacy as a eunuch or marriage as a spouse. But look at where churches are today. Instead of eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven, we have support for singles meat markets. Instead of one-flesh unions, we have support for committed relationships, covenant commitments, civil unions, same sex couples, young couples, childless couples, cohabitating couples, engaged couples – and the perversion continues.

Many more comfort words have been used to replace biblical principles. How are your “family values” holding up? Who talks about fornication anymore? The church latched onto the world’s language of “premarital sex” and never looked back. Who talks about sodomy? That’s just hate speech. The church latched onto the world’s language of “gays” and never looked back. And “convictional kindness” glossed over every abomination imaginable. Where are the eunuchs Jesus spoke of? I’m starting to wonder how many pastors even know what a eunuch is. Calvary Baptist Church in Greenville, MI has an article on its web site that I think is representative of their insight. Their pastor Shaw states that:

“I don’t ever remember entertaining the thought that I might not be married. Diane and I met when she was 16 and I was 18 and we were married two years later. Looking back, that seems crazy. What were we thinking? But, after almost 34 years, I have no regrets. Yet I would not recommend the choice we made for everyone. Not because I don’t like being married but because of the words of Jesus. In our text for Sunday (Matthew 19) Jesus reminded the disciples that some people can “accept” being single and some cannot. (It appears the weak ones get married :)).”

At least he acknowledged he was married and not the best person to write on the subject. It’s interesting that he thinks everybody who does not choose marriage has automatically been granted the status of a Matthew 19 “single.” There’s only one tiny problem with that: Jesus never used the word “single.” He used the word “eunuch.” In verse 12, he used it three times. Do you prefer God’s language or the world’s langugage? Jesus tried so hard to make it clear that there was an alternative to marriage, yet so many professing Christians today, especially preachers, don’t have a clue as to what he was talking about. For most, the only alternative to marriage they can think of is homosexuality. So the big question in life is who to marry. As Rev. Shaw said: “Yet I would not recommend the choice we made for everyone.” What choice is he talking about? Which girl to marry? When to get married? Whether too continue in sexual sin or “make it right” in the eyes of the Lord? It could be all of them. But his choice was not between marriage or celibacy. “I don’t ever remember entertaining the thought that I might not be married.” And since he never understood he had a choice between marriage and celibacy, he never really understood marriage to begin with. A committment requires a default state. We come into this world alone. That is our default state. We cannot choose marriage if we don’t know what the options are. The big choice is whether or not to get married – not who, when or where to get married.

In Matthew 19 where Jesus described the three types of eunuchs, the disciples did not complain about whom they should marry, when they should get married, or if they should marry the girl they had sex with. Instead, they complained about the idea of not marrying at all! In verse 11 after hearing his prohibition against divorce, they said: “If the case of the man be so with his wife, it is not good to marry.” Jesus’s HUGE revelation here is that the opposite of committed marriage is committed celibacy and that all of us, like the disciples, have to choose between a life of sex as a spouse or a life of no sex as a eunuch. The disciples were familiar with the langugae of sex and the choice of marriage. But they were not familiar with the language of no sex and the choice of celibacy. Like today, it hardly existed in their world. Jesus communicated this with the metaphor of a eunuch, someone incapable of having sex. It probably knocked the disciples over, just like it does us today. Can you think of a better metaphor for someone with the gift of celibacy? It effectively strenthened marriage by ruling out anything short of a one man and one woman sexual relationship for life because the alternative is so difficult Apostle Paul considered it a special gift. The eunuch metaphor also did away with the option of divorce or any other infiedlity in marriage. What has always struck me about these verses is Jesus’s succinctness and matter-of-factness. I’m sure the disciples’ mouths were left gaping as they scrambled to digest what they heard. “Have sex and I’m married? Oh no! But I don’t know if I can do the eunuch thing.” A couple of them might have gone to a “man up” conference that night to think things over.

Jesus did not tell his disciples that some people can ‘accept’ being single and some cannot. The verb “accept” in Matthew 19:11 specifically refers to eunuchs, not singles who just haven’t found the right one yet. Eunuchs accept a permanent commitment to Christ, just as married people accept a permanent commitment to each other. Are there public vows? No. Wedding cakes? No. Wedding rings? No. But there other things in the spiritual world we do not see. There is a big, big difference between how the world defines “singles” and how Jesus defined eunuchs. The biggest difference is that eunuchs live chaste lives without sex. This is one of the biggest reasons it is not talked about in churches today. It reminds married people of the faithfulness God expects in marriage. I also think eunuchs include women because Jesus didn’t say anything that would exclude them. I think the metaphor of the eunuch was mainly used to signify permanence, not any specific gender or body part. Single people who don’t know Christ live as single as the absence of a wedding license allows them to. Meetups, hookups, one-night stands, friends with benefits, etc. You name it. As long as they don’t visit a courthouse, they’re legally single. But there is absolutely nothing biblical about a courthouse document.

When Jesus spoke of eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven, he was not insinuating that a celibate life was as impossible as a man castrating himself. Rather, I think he was trying to explain why celibacy is a gift given only to some, because it is that difficult. In other words, God didn’t deliver a dozen truckloads of apples to my door with a note: “This is my gift to you. God.” Instead, he delivered a small box with a note: “In the box you will find enough seeds to plant 1,000,000 apple trees. It’s up to you to buy the land, till the soil, plant the seeds, and harvest the apples. God.” I hope that puts gift in perspective for you. So, do I walk about with a bright shiny “halo” of celibacy over my head? No. Do I go through life never feeling alone or that I need someone to talk to? No. Do I never notice the beauty of a woman? No. If you’re married, think about all the things your spouse does for you. Think about how much you depend on him or her. I depend on God for those same things everyday. I’m committed to him just as you are to your spouse. You may not find the marriage license in courthouse records. But it’s just as real.

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http://www.calvarygreenville.org/blog/46-green-pastures-still-waters/400-single#addcomments

http://www.naba.org/chapters/nabambc/construct-species-page.asp?sp=spring-azure