We have been looking for the last few posts at celibacy with what Jesus teaches in Matthew 19 as the background. We have looked at the overall picture, those that are born in a way that makes them celibate for life (either physically incapable or without the mental capacity for marriage), made that way by the fall or those that choose Celibacy for the Kingdom.
Last time we started to look that the second category – those “made that way by the fall of man“. In that post I promised a post about those that are attracted to the same sex but remain celibate. Today that is exactly what I want to talk about.
Today I want to talk about the second of the three groups of people that Jesus talks about in Matthew 19 who are unable to marry. You can see the general overview from the initial post here. But as a quick refresher, Jesus said that there were three ways that a person could end up a eunuch (unable to marry). The first was that they were born that way (physically or mentally unable to marry). The second was those that were made that way by man (which I am suggesting can include those that end up there because of the fall of man). The third, which we will discussed in the previous post, are those that choose celibacy for the sake of the Kingdom.
Today I want to focus on the second group, those that because of the fall of man, because of sin, end up celibate.
In my last post, we began a discussion based on Jesus’ teaching in Matthew 19. In that Scripture Jesus discusses three groups of people that are eunuchs (unable to marry). There are those that are born that way (either physically or mentally unable to marry), those that are made that way by men (which I’m suggesting includes those made that way by the fall of man) and those who choose of their own volition to remain celibate for the sake of the Kingdom of God. Today I want to focus on this last group.
Before we go any further it is important to realize how completely revolutionary this entire conversation would have sounded to the disciples who were listening.
One of the things we have to do is our Christian culture and language is rescue the idea of Celibacy. I’ve tried to write quite a bit about this in the past but I realize that we need to talk about it even more. The good news is that more people are talking about it. The bad news is that a lot of us don’t realize what we are talking about including most of our “leaders”. We are going to need a more full theological and biblical understanding if we are going to lead in this conversation.
Most people tend to start in 1 Corinthians 7 where Paul talks about marriage, celibacy and the gifts. But I believe a better place to start is Matthew 19 where Jesus discusses the three eunuchs.
One of the recent trends in that I see in much of Christian culture is the idea that marriage makes you holy or that the point of marriage is holiness. In fact, as you look back over the last few decades (if not centuries in Protestantism), you see some groups state that it is the path to holiness.
Some of this was a reaction to celibacy for the kingdom previously being seen as more holy than the domestic life. But I see this idea of marriage as the path to holiness all of the time and frankly it’s not helpful as it views the whole frame in the wrong way.
Here are a couple of ways that this plays out in our culture:
It’s funny the things that you remember from college classes. I remember one of my favorite classes was an introduction to philosophy. I loved this class because the professor was very unbiased and we got to write some really cool papers. (One of my papers was: Is the judaeo-Christian ethic sufficient for handling environmental issues. The answer was of course yes – which I proved rather convincingly I might add).
One of the great moments of the class that has always stayed with me was a video in which a female pastor of some kind said, “The thing that separates humans from everyone else is our ability to sin. Nothing else on earth can sin.” That, friends will preach.
I bring that idea up today because I want to look at a couple of important things that we have sort of accidentally gotten backwards in the western church when we talk about singleness, marriage and sex. That is, that you are just an animal instead of a person.
One of the things that I’ve read on occasion and heard in conversations as well as from the pulpit, is the way to know if you have the gift of singleness is if you are single right now, then you’ve got it.
Now, in some evangelical circles, there is of course debate on whether singleness is a gift or even a calling at all. But I’m going to go ahead and side with 2000 years of Church history along with a straight reading of the scriptures and say that it is.
Here is the general idea of what these folks are selling. The basic idea is of course that God is sovereign and therefore whatever context you find yourself in is the one that God is “gifting” you with right now. If you are unmarried then right now you have the gift of singleness. Married? Then right now you have the gift of marriage. Both are gifts. All contexts we find ourselves in are gifts.
But in our current culture this idea is fraught with problems.