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