This hit me between the eyes the other day. I am single but certainly not living the celibate lifestyle. After reading this, I was thinking about how many singles choose to remain single (if, in fact, it is by choice) to escape the discomfort and difficulties that marriage hold. If we really understood what biblical celibacy is…I don’t think many of us would be choosing it because it’s definitely no more comfortable and far from easy.
“If you believe you can forgo marriage and its benefits- sex, children, companionship- and be fully expended in serving the Lord, you likely have the gift of celibacy, and many blessings would confer on you for living the life of selfless service to God…
If you’re going on a missions trip once a year, volunteering at church twice a week, dating the cute new guy (or girl) in your singles group, you’re not following the celibate service job description. Just because you’re single doesn’t mean you have the gift Paul described, or the desire or capacity for the lifestyle that gift makes possible….While there are some first-class single Christians serving faithfully, most Christian singles spend their free time doing things outside the realm of biblically defined celibate service.
The kingdom ushered in by Jesus brough new esteem and opportunities for celibate service, but not a spiritual fig leaf for any and all single lifestyles. When Paul said he wished others culd be like him, he didn’t just mean his marital status. He meant his undistracted devotion to God. In His second letter to the Corinthians he gave a glimpse of what that devotion looked like:
‘We put no obstacle in anyone’s way, so that no fault may be found with our ministry, but as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: by great endurance, in afflictions, hardships, calamities, beatings, imprisonments, riots, labors, sleepless nights, hunger; by purity, knowledge, patience, kindness, the Holy Spirit, genuine love; by truthful speech, and the power of God; with the weapons of righteousness for the right hand and for the left; through honor and dishonor, through slander and praise. We are treated as impostors, and yet are true; as unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and behold, we live; as punished, and yet not killed; as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, yet possessing everything.’ – 2 Corinthians 6:3-10
…We should be honest about our current culture and recognize the epidemic of sexual immorality and demands of the leisure industry make it very difficult for many singles to be like Paul was. Were that not true, the swelling population of Christian singles in the world today could have already set off a great revival.
To women (and especially men) who aren’t prepared to lay their sexuality and time on the altar in order to ‘secure undistracted devotion to the Lord,’ Paul says, ‘each man is to have his own wife, and each woman is to have her own husband’ (1 Corinthians 7:35, 2).”
– Get Married, by Candice Waters