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.

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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.

 

 

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?

http://cslr.law.emory.edu/fileadmin/media/PDFs/Lectures/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?

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.

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

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.

Faith In Waiting

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We wait in retail store lines, post office lines, service station lines, doctor’s office lines, theme park lines, and restaurant lines. People actually wait for days waiting to buy concert tickets. The longer they wait, the more publicity for the show. It’s been estimated that Americans spend 37 billion hours waiting in line each year. Most of our waiting time is written off as a waste. So the big question is always the same: Is it worth waiting for? For the mundane activities of everyday life, the answer will often be no. For example, if I asked a single mom who had been standing in a checkout line for an hour, she might say “no, but I had no choice.” But if I asked a Rolling Stones fan if the concert was worth the wait, he might say, “you bet it was!” What’s even more remarkable is that some music fans would rather stand in line and get to know fellow stoners or parrotheads or whatever rather than order tickets on the internet. Waiting becomes part of the concert experience because it is so closely linked to the reward. If I had waited and asked the Walmart mom after she had gotten home and was eating some of those groceries with her family, her answer might have been “yes, it was well worth waiting for.” Then she might have told about how she switched lanes several times to get the shortest line. She might have told how she thought about going across the street to a competitive store, but that they wouldn’t have had all the items on her grocery list. She might have pointed to the smiles on her children’s faces as proof she did the right thing.

Imagine what would happen if waiting became the norm in human sexuality. What if we could break down sexual ethics like we did a mother waiting in line to buy groceries? We can to a certain extent. First, we have to identify the key elements in the process: Who is waiting? How many other people are waiting? What are they waiting for? How is waiting linked to the reward? What are the alternatives to waiting? What are the consequences for a person who doesn’t wait? Who are the witnesses and does their opinion count? Of course, with chastity we are talking about every Christian single and sex. No one is exempt from God’s commandment to save sex for marriage OR for eternity. The problem comes in with linking waiting to the reward. With marriage, what is the reward? It should be sex. Paul tells us that it’s better to get married than to burn with passion. So biblically, marriage is supposed to be a means to an end. It is the means by which a person satisfies their sexual desire. At one time, self- control and patience were marks of chivalry. They were the backbone of courage and perseverance. Now they are considered a weakness because men are expected to be in pursuit of everything they want, from sex to money.

When I was open to marriage, I was willing to wait forever for that one special girl. I dreamed about her. You know, the girl who would follow me into the Brazilian rain forest with a camera in her hand. Even though I met many girls who came close to that dream, I was never willing to compromise myself sexually with anybody until I met her. Even though my waiting did have a religious basis, I knew it was best for me emotionally and intellectually. I didn’t want to live with that guilt and knowing that I gave something of myself to someone who was not my wife. I didn’t want to rationalize such a decision to myself. I knew most other guys did not wait, but that didn’t deter me. I knew she would be worth it. Word got around about what my standards were. And while I was dating, a lot of my friends knew I was waiting. I had faith that God would take care of me whether I married or remained single.

Unfortunately, it is not sex that people are waiting on today. It is a legal document called a marriage license. Why should a guy wait on marriage today when he can have sex tonight with no responsibilities? After all, he doesn’t have to marry her. I think it’s because God’s commandments are no longer followed and faith has been exchanged for convenience. Patience has been tossed in favor of instant gratification. And faith has become something only right wing religious zealots have. The separation of the sacred act of sex from the public act of marriage ensures that sexual immorality will be handed down to future generations. Men and women now hookup one night and go their own way the next morning, pretending their temples never crossed paths. Fornication has become as ubiquitous as a smartphone app. After the couple has sex, the next stage of commitment is typically cohabitation, then maybe a baby, and possibly marriage. A marriage license is just an afterthought to “make things right” and to identify the father legally responsible for the child. Filling in the blanks on a marriage license and printing it out doesn’t take much faith. It just takes hormones, a probate judge, and $43.00 here in Alabama.

Our witnesses while we’re alive and our legacies after we die are the means by which we pass biblical values down to the next generation, whether it’s a $43.00 marriage license or something a little more long term. Whether we like it or not, our sex lives are a part of our witness. As we well know, the world likes to point out discrepancies between the principles that we live by and the principles outlined in the Bible. When we do things out of order, there will always be consequences more serious than if we broke in line while getting groceries. We can look at statistics all day and count the number of people not married and the ages at which they married. But the Christian community would not be complaining about the increasing numbers of singles in their pews and increasing ages at marriage if all of us were waiting on marriage before having sex. Instead, the church would be celebrating. They might be pointing out exemplary examples of faith and self-control. Instead, what do they do? Well, most churches practice visually based ethics. That means their faith goes no further than what their eyes can see. If the church sees only infidelity and divorce in marriage, then that becomes their ethical high bar. If the church sees only cohabitation and fornication in singles waiting on marriage, then that becomes their high bar. I think those of us called to the celibate lifestyle have just as much responsibility to show the world what we sacrifice for our faith. It’s up to us to show the world that sex is not the be all and end all of human existence. We could spend years listening to married couples tell of their sacrifices for each other and their concerns for their children and so forth. Shouldn’t celibate people do the same thing? Don’t we have just as much faith as married people? Don’t we serve the same Christ?

In the realm of sexuality, Christian standards require a level of faith the world does not know. If the church has faith in an eternal marriage with Christ and is awaiting his second coming, we must have faith that our lives will follow his will as well. The church is made up of every single believer. That means that we wait patiently for a spouse if marriage is in our plans or wait patiently for his return if celibacy is in our plans. Keeping his commandments does not require us to choose either one. It requires us to wait faithfully and not yield to the world’s temptations.